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Old 11-21-2005, 11:58 AM   #1
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Default 1998 Olds Silhouette 3400 Engine

Hi all,

I'm a brand new member but have been reading this site for two years. This is BY FAR the best site I have visited in-regard to automotive repairs, maintenance, and useful information. Kudos to everyone who is dedicated to running their automobiles at top condition.

Recently I've purchased a minivan via eBay (1998 Olds Silhouette GLS with 3400 engine from seller Stingraysinc, I will let everyone know if this is a good seller/good buy), going to pick up the vehicle in one week and drive it back from Tampa to Houston. Just want to get everyone'* comment on how I should maintain this car and keep it in top shape (since it'll transport my wife and daughters... and in-laws).

Specs for the minivan:
1998 Olds Silhouette GLS, 72000 miles, two previous owners
3400 engine, not quite sure on the transmission model

Before departuring Tampa for the 950 miles trip home:
1. Inspect vehicle. Check all fluids level, tire pressure. (anything else I should look for?)
2. Visit Wal-Mart for a quick Oil/Lube change.
3. Fill up tank with Premimum fuel and a bottle of fuel cleaner system (any recommendation? Chevron Techron? Any other additive to use to flush other system?)

After arriving in Houston safely:
4. Change transmission fluid/filter. (Should I use synthetic or something like Valvoline MaxLife for vehicle over 75,000 miles?)
5. Change/flush coolant.
6. I've read on the site about intake gasket failure on these 3400 engine, should I worry about that? Does it help if I change the thermostat to 180F?
7. Check A/C system for any leak. Anyone knows how to do this easily? Check for any other leaks after the 950 miles trip.
8. I plan to use regular motor oil and change them at regular 3000-5000 miles interval.

Any other suggestions? Thanks for all your input!
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Old 11-21-2005, 12:03 PM   #2
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Many of the post return items are good. The trip will tell you if there is an AC leak. Otherwise a mechanic with dye can answer that one.

Tranny fluid, synthetic isn't recommeneded at that mileage because of the extra lubricating properties.
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Old 11-21-2005, 12:29 PM   #3
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you will find out pretty quick whether or not the tires are out of balance, if they are go ahead and get them done too while youre at Wal-Mart...because the extra 20 bucks or so sure beats driving 900+ miles with out of balance tires.
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Old 11-21-2005, 03:18 PM   #4
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Also with the 3400 engine in 98 look for the intake manifold gasket leak. This is a very prevalent problem and not to be taken lightly. If you are losing coolant you have the problem. Check to see if there is coolant in your oil. We were lucky and the leak did not go into the crankcase. It was still a $700 repair.

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Old 11-21-2005, 03:52 PM   #5
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If there are coolant in the oil, what does it look like? Can you describe it or best, show some pictures? Greatly appreciate it.

Can this job of changing intake manifold gasket done by individual (without any speciality tools)? Ouch, $700 is something I don't want to pay. Any idea how often or what percentage this fails for the 3400 engine?
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Old 11-21-2005, 04:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneeHowMa
If there are coolant in the oil, what does it look like? Can you describe it or best, show some pictures? Greatly appreciate it.

Can this job of changing intake manifold gasket done by individual (without any speciality tools)? Ouch, $700 is something I don't want to pay. Any idea how often or what percentage this fails for the 3400 engine?
This may get a bit winded...

The first thing you will want to do is see if the Van still has Dex-Cool in it.... Noted by the Pinkish-Red color... This may tell us that the coolant has not been changed due to the lower intake gaskets...

When you check it over look at the oil, make sure it has been changed, Also look to see if the coolant is full cold( Do this before you crank it up )... Also check the condition of the oil... And pull the Tranny dip stick to see the condition of the trans fluid... Should at the least be reddish pink, if it has a slight brown Reddish, it will be due for a change when you get back to texas, Or I would at least reccomend the change...

The 3400 should have a 100,000 miles tune up interval.... But personally I would be tempted to change out the plugs and wires before that point... Once you have driven the Van till it warms up, get to a strech where you can get into 4th gear( OD ) and then slowly apply some throttle without a downshift or the TCC unlocking, just keep you foot steady... If there is any bucking while under the load of OD then there would be a missfire present... If its smooth, chances are you are ok for the trip as far as the plugs and wires are concerned...

I do reccomend that you get the oil and filter changed, have them install a new air filter too while you are at it...

Coolant in the oil.....

This can be a bit difficult to explain, as the gaskets may leak internally or externally, and even then the leak may bo so slow that you may not notice it right away... If the leak is bad, the Oil will look like chocolate milk, and the oil cap may look like mayo... If its dry with the exception of a little oil, than you should be ok...

The lower intake gaskets can be changed by the average mechanic( Shadetree or the like ) But all of the upper parts, and the lower intake will have to come off, as well as the valve covers, rocker arm bolts, and the Pushrods will be diffrent lengths for the intake and exahust.... The heads on the 3400 are alluminum and in 1 case I have seen we had to replace the helicoil to be able to torque the rocker arm bolt back down, so you may want to be careful there....

The failure rate for the lowe intake gaskets in the 3100 Vin M, 3100 Vin J and 3400 Vin E is high and chances are you will have to deal with this problem during ownership... I have seen them pop the gaskets at 60,000 miles and I have seen others go 180,000 before it happened... So its hard to say when it may become a problem...

Generally, it the car or minivan is in good shape, and drives and looks good, then chances are it was taken care of... 70,000 miles is not bad for a 3400... Just have to keep an eye on the coolant levels.... Other than that i think you will be ok...

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Old 11-21-2005, 04:15 PM   #7
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My son bought a Chevy Venture van used that needed the intake gasket done. Fromm what I've read on them , it is a common failure. The thermostat is a b**** to get to. They were supposed to change it when they did the intake. I took one look at what it would take to change it, and had him send it back to complete the job.

If there is coolant in the oil, it will have sort of a creamy color to it, like coffee with cream. Look at the oil fillter cap too, see if any has built up there.

The gasket is doable if you're good at working on cars. It too will be a PITA to get at. Look under the hood and you'll see why with both the intake and the themostat.
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Old 11-21-2005, 04:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon
My son bought a Chevy Venture van used that needed the intake gasket done. Fromm what I've read on them , it is a common failure. The thermostat is a b**** to get to. They were supposed to change it when they did the intake. I took one look at what it would take to change it, and had him send it back to complete the job.

If there is coolant in the oil, it will have sort of a creamy color to it, like coffee with cream. Look at the oil fillter cap too, see if any has built up there.

The gasket is doable if you're good at working on cars. It too will be a PITA to get at. Look under the hood and you'll see why with both the intake and the themostat.
Thats agreed... That thermostat is a PITA...

And I almost forgot, look for an oil leak under the throttle body... There will be a small plug of sorts thats sealed with an O-Ring.... When the 60* V6'* went to DIS or Distributorless ignition, the Oil pump drive shaft remained but the Distributor was nixed... So there is a plug there can can leak like crazy when the O-Ring hardens.... We have replaced several of those....lol

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Old 11-21-2005, 04:52 PM   #9
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jr, you are scaring me and making me want to back out the deal....

Ok, here is my new check list when inspecting the vehicle (but before I sign the paper):
1. Check Coolant, if it'* dex-cool, safe to assume intake gasket hasn't been changed.
2. Check oil cap for deposit. Check oil dipstick for milky oil or any contamination.
3. Check transmission oil for any sign of burned ATF.
4. Check for the O-ring mentioned by jr (anyone got pictures of this?). It'll worth a thousand words.
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneeHowMa
jr, you are scaring me and making me want to back out the deal....

Ok, here is my new check list when inspecting the vehicle (but before I sign the paper):
1. Check Coolant, if it'* dex-cool, safe to assume intake gasket hasn't been changed.
2. Check oil cap for deposit. Check oil dipstick for milky oil or any contamination.
3. Check transmission oil for any sign of burned ATF.
4. Check for the O-ring mentioned by jr (anyone got pictures of this?). It'll worth a thousand words.
Don't be scared... Just want you to undestand what you are getting into... I always reccomend that the Gaskets on the 3100-3400 engines be replaced before 100,000 miles to avoid the gaskets leaks.... Most make it beyond 100,000... I have seen a few that fell shy of it tho...

If you see no oil on the ground under the van as most likely it will have sat for a while than you should be ok... By 70,000 miles it has a seep... Should not be noticeable for a while...

Thats a good list, Just want you to be safe and have no trouble... I think you will be fine on the trip... The 3400'* are good motors, They just have intake gasket problems in the manner that out 3800'* have upper intake problems( they like to rupture )... Each engine and trans combo has its own set of issues...

My cousin and her husband has a 2001 Montanna with the 3400... I like it, loaded and it rides good with the FE2( ride and handling suspension )... I feel its a bit underpowered, but on the road he had no problems passing me at 80+, it was more than happy to move him along... Driving it is odd as I have always driven cars, but I felt pretty good about the overall ride and handling.... Didn't care for the 4T65-E trans he has tho... Too overly controled by the PCM... He has had no issues to date.... I think he may be near 40,000 miles... Still looks like showroom too...

I think you should have a pretty good Minivan that should give you long life as long as you watch for coolant consumption, if you catch it early on, you may have that van 200,000 miles

Please don't be scared, I think you'll make the trip with no issues

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