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Posted: 3/10/2012 10:17:34 AM EST
My brother in law just bought a used Alero which is having a coolant problem. I can fill the coolant up and drive it for 30min and the overflow tank will be empty when it cools down. Their is no external leak. No antifreeze in the oil. I took all spark plugs out and all look perfect with no smell of coolant. Some coolant was coming out of the overflow hose but I replaced the cap and it solved that problem but the coolant still is dropping. I don't smell any antifreeze in the exhaust or any white smoke. Its a 2004 Olds Alero 3.4L. I was a Technician and im just stumped by this. Any ideas? Thanks guys
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:21:54 AM EST
Heater core leaking on to the floor and out the evap drain? Bad Head gasket pushing coolant out of the overflow tanks vent while your driving?
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:23:10 AM EST
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:24:12 AM EST
Originally Posted By madmathew:
Heater core leaking on to the floor and out the evap drain? Bad Head gasket pushing coolant out of the overflow tanks vent while your driving?


No heater core leak. No more coolant coming out of the overflow. Dry as could be. It used to puddle up but no more.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:24:58 AM EST
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


That's what I thought but im not showing any signs for that.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:26:12 AM EST
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


+2

They make kits to test for exhaust gases in the coolant.... ~15$ or so
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:27:27 AM EST
I'd venture to say the head gaskets are leaking. I've done a ton of 'em on that motor, and they all have the same symptoms. Do a block test on it, to make sure.

When the intake leaks, it runs down the side of the block, and starts where the manifold meets the block. It's pretty obvious when there's a leak there. You can find it with just a flash light.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:29:05 AM EST
Make sure the vent and return lines arent mixed up.

I replaced a radiator on my truck once and but the hoses back on backwards. It was a hell of a mystery there for a while.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:30:14 AM EST
Originally Posted By kevhogAZ:
I'd venture to say the head gaskets are leaking. I've done a ton of 'em on that motor, and they all have the same symptoms. Do a block test on it, to make sure.

When the intake leaks, it runs down the side of the block, and starts where the manifold meets the block. It's pretty obvious when there's a leak there. You can find it with just a flash light.


No leak to be seen. I have searched every inch of the engine and all mating surfaces. Everything is completely dry.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 10:47:08 AM EST
I worked on a Blazer with the intake gasket issue. Coolant would leak into the valley and evaporate. Only symptoms were loss of coolant and coolant smell. No drips and you couldn't see the puddle in the valley (I think a lot of it was blown away by the cooling fan while driving)

Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:00:50 PM EST
Bump for more ideas.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:11:32 PM EST
3.4 L GM ?
Do what the previous owner did: GET RID OF IT...
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:13:39 PM EST
DOHC 3.4 ?


If so, get rid of it RFN.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:13:54 PM EST
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


this every time
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:15:47 PM EST
Originally Posted By LePew:
I worked on a Blazer with the intake gasket issue. Coolant would leak into the valley and evaporate. Only symptoms were loss of coolant and coolant smell. No drips and you couldn't see the puddle in the valley (I think a lot of it was blown away by the cooling fan while driving)

Which valley?I'm chasing a coolant leak on a '94 S10 Blazer with a 4.3L.

Kharn
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:22:51 PM EST
Originally Posted By Fullpower:
3.4 L GM ?
Do what the previous owner did: GET RID OF IT...


I know they are not great engines but my brother in law needed a second vehicle and bought it from a friend for $1000. It's in great shape all the way around. Just a coolant problem.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:25:19 PM EST
got a 1999 olds alero

leaks coolant

said something about something and the whole unit needs replaced

priced it at $1300

told them to FOAD

i live in 29 palms

i have 2 windows that roll down in my car

i have leather seats

i die
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:29:05 PM EST
Originally Posted By Kharn:
Originally Posted By LePew:
I worked on a Blazer with the intake gasket issue. Coolant would leak into the valley and evaporate. Only symptoms were loss of coolant and coolant smell. No drips and you couldn't see the puddle in the valley (I think a lot of it was blown away by the cooling fan while driving)

Which valley?I'm chasing a coolant leak on a '94 S10 Blazer with a 4.3L.

Kharn


The valley where the top "V" in V-6 converges (the bottom V would probably be where the crankshaft is). Depending on your intake manifold design, you may not be able to see into it.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:34:27 PM EST
Originally Posted By Kharn:
Originally Posted By LePew:
I worked on a Blazer with the intake gasket issue. Coolant would leak into the valley and evaporate. Only symptoms were loss of coolant and coolant smell. No drips and you couldn't see the puddle in the valley (I think a lot of it was blown away by the cooling fan while driving)

Which valley?I'm chasing a coolant leak on a '94 S10 Blazer with a 4.3L.

Kharn


In between the cylinder banks (where the intake is).

I found some coolant in there when I tore it down. It wasn't visible with all the clutter there.

Here's a link to a similar situation:
http://www.handymanlyness.com/archives/auto/repair/engine_mech/intake_manifold/GM_truck/gasket_replace_99_Jimmy.html
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 12:44:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/10/2012 12:48:27 PM EST by Kharn]
Originally Posted By lufthansa:
The valley where the top "V" in V-6 converges (the bottom V would probably be where the crankshaft is). Depending on your intake manifold design, you may not be able to see into it.
Hmm, I'll have to play with my dad's inspection camera and see if I can see in there. I thought for sure it was burning the stuff it doesn't drip anywhere. Truck needs a new starter solenoid and I think I have a problem with the CPI as its starting to idle rough and spit wet carbon chunks (not sure if gas or water ). I just replaced the nut kit and fuel pressure regulator two months ago as they were both leaking, I bet one of the spider lines cracked on me as I was too cheap to just replace the entire spider at that time.

Kharn
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:14:18 PM EST
Does it run slightly rough on cold start-up and then smooth out in a few seconds?

If so, it points to a SMALL head gasket leak, from coolant passage to cylinder without crossing an oil passage.


CJ
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:16:47 PM EST
Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
Does it run slightly rough on cold start-up and then smooth out in a few seconds?

If so, it points to a SMALL head gasket leak, from coolant passage to cylinder without crossing an oil passage.


CJ


Starts and then idles without skipping a beat.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:22:51 PM EST
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:26:31 PM EST
I had an 04 Alero. same fuckin problem traded it in for a 08 impala... now i have a car with tranny issues
FUUUUUUUUUUUU

Wish i could help ya OP but i got rid of it as soon as i could
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:51:04 PM EST
Originally Posted By Herc:
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.


I know it has to be going somewhere. It has to be such a small leak internally that's being burned but not as much as it takes to show in the exhaust. I never bought much specialty tools as the garages I worked at had them. But I have been thinking of the pressure tester and see if it holds pressure.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:53:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/10/2012 1:54:20 PM EST by D-RAS03]
Edit
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 1:59:59 PM EST

Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By Herc:
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.


I know it has to be going somewhere. It has to be such a small leak internally that's being burned but not as much as it takes to show in the exhaust. I never bought much specialty tools as the garages I worked at had them. But I have been thinking of the pressure tester and see if it holds pressure.
Pressure tester should find out if you have a leak or not. How many times have you had to fill the overflow? Is it possible that the previous owner didnt bleed the coolant sys correctly? There is a bleed screw on the therm. housing on that engine if im not mistaken...

Link Posted: 3/10/2012 2:03:37 PM EST
Originally Posted By WrenchBender:

Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By Herc:
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.


I know it has to be going somewhere. It has to be such a small leak internally that's being burned but not as much as it takes to show in the exhaust. I never bought much specialty tools as the garages I worked at had them. But I have been thinking of the pressure tester and see if it holds pressure.
Pressure tester should find out if you have a leak or not. How many times have you had to fill the overflow? Is it possible that the previous owner didnt bleed the coolant sys correctly? There is a bleed screw on the therm. housing on that engine if im not mistaken...



I flushed the entire system and refilled it. Yes their is a bleeder screw for air. I have had to refill the overflow three times now.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 2:12:38 PM EST

Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.

Happened to mine too.

These are great cars, once you get past a few stupid problems they have.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 2:22:16 PM EST
Originally Posted By GLOCKREAPER:

Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.

Happened to mine too.

These are great cars, once you get past a few stupid problems they have.


When I worked in a garage all that came in with coolant leaks were all intake or head gaskets. It was rediculus how many I have fixed.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 2:24:58 PM EST
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


unfortunate, yet true


Link Posted: 3/10/2012 2:39:37 PM EST
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By Herc:
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.


I know it has to be going somewhere. It has to be such a small leak internally that's being burned but not as much as it takes to show in the exhaust. I never bought much specialty tools as the garages I worked at had them. But I have been thinking of the pressure tester and see if it holds pressure.


Autozone rents both coolant block testers and coolant pressure testers (in the case of the latter, with common coolant cap size fittings). The coolant block tester, iirc, doesn't come with fluid, but they sell it for 5-6$ or so.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 3:13:43 PM EST
Originally Posted By lufthansa:
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By Herc:
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.


I know it has to be going somewhere. It has to be such a small leak internally that's being burned but not as much as it takes to show in the exhaust. I never bought much specialty tools as the garages I worked at had them. But I have been thinking of the pressure tester and see if it holds pressure.


Autozone rents both coolant block testers and coolant pressure testers (in the case of the latter, with common coolant cap size fittings). The coolant block tester, iirc, doesn't come with fluid, but they sell it for 5-6$ or so.


No autozone near by but have an Advance parts store. I know they rent tools. Hopefully they will have them.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 3:16:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By lufthansa:
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By Herc:
It's gotta be going somewhere. If you can't see a leak, and don't notice anything underneath it is either being burned, or being caught somewhere not visible.

I would do a block test (if a tester is available) and/or hook up a scan tool and check for a misfire.

Then hook up a coolant pressure tester, and walk away for a few hours and see if it holds pressure.


I know it has to be going somewhere. It has to be such a small leak internally that's being burned but not as much as it takes to show in the exhaust. I never bought much specialty tools as the garages I worked at had them. But I have been thinking of the pressure tester and see if it holds pressure.


Autozone rents both coolant block testers and coolant pressure testers (in the case of the latter, with common coolant cap size fittings). The coolant block tester, iirc, doesn't come with fluid, but they sell it for 5-6$ or so.


No autozone near by but have an Advance parts store. I know they rent tools. Hopefully they will have them.


I've never seen an advance with those tools––the two stores differ somewhat in the types of tools they rent. You might want to give them a call first.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 3:19:51 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/10/2012 3:21:16 PM EST by 67Charger]
2001 Grand Am with 3.4. He added coolant to it every day for months, never had an external leak or any signs of oil emulsion until one day it got hot and shut off. Coolant was gone and oil was milk-shaked. He didn't tell me about it until it was at this point, and this was the second engine in the car since the first one did this too but took out the bottom end with water in the oil. I redid the intake set on this one and time will tel if the bottom end survived. It is the 3rd set of these I have done on this type of motor for just my friends and family. It is ALWAYS the intake gaskets. Countless redesigns, and I guess Felpro finally got it with a metal set, though I never had a repeat issue with Victor-Reinz. You also need to replace the intake bolt set since they are torque-to-yield.

3 of the 4 coolant passages in the 2 gaskets were broken and leaking, but this is the one that finally went big

Link Posted: 3/10/2012 3:30:12 PM EST
Originally Posted By 67Charger:
2001 Grand Am with 3.4. He added coolant to it every day for months, never had an external leak or any signs of oil emulsion until one day it got hot and shut off. Coolant was gone and oil was milk-shaked. He didn't tell me about it until it was at this point, and this was the second engine in the car since the first one did this too but took out the bottom end with water in the oil. I redid the intake set on this one and time will tel if the bottom end survived. It is the 3rd set of these I have done on this type of motor for just my friends and family. It is ALWAYS the intake gaskets. Countless redesigns, and I guess Felpro finally got it with a metal set, though I never had a repeat issue with Victor-Reinz. You also need to replace the intake bolt set since they are torque-to-yield.

3 of the 4 coolant passages in the 2 gaskets were broken and leaking, but this is the one that finally went big

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v227/67Charger/Brokengasket.jpg


I really hoping its not the intake or head gasket. Parts are cheap but don't know if I want to get involved in that project again. Especially for family.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 3:46:51 PM EST
I had 11 hours in this and nearly $250 in parts, including 2 oil changes (one to flush then one to run on), $125 in gaskets, bolts, multiple cans of spray cleaner, etc.. Cleaning the water sludge is miserable and it all needs to go. The last traces of water will evaporate out over time, but you will at minimum have to do 2 oil changes, running the first change for a few hours to adequately flush it through the engine and heat cycle a few times. Power steering pump and alternator and brackets will all have to come off, heater hoses disconnected, etc. It's a chore.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 4:21:09 PM EST
Originally Posted By 67Charger:
I had 11 hours in this and nearly $250 in parts, including 2 oil changes (one to flush then one to run on), $125 in gaskets, bolts, multiple cans of spray cleaner, etc.. Cleaning the water sludge is miserable and it all needs to go. The last traces of water will evaporate out over time, but you will at minimum have to do 2 oil changes, running the first change for a few hours to adequately flush it through the engine and heat cycle a few times. Power steering pump and alternator and brackets will all have to come off, heater hoses disconnected, etc. It's a chore.


I have done dozens of them when I worked in a garage. It's one of my most hated things to do.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 6:33:34 PM EST
I concur with the intake manifold gasket leaking. If the gasket has not been upgraded to the newer redesigned style, it's going to fail. Period.
I have yet to see a 3.4 from that era that did not have this problem. ( and I work in a GM dealership)

Not a real hard job to tackle, just a bit time consuming. I replaced the intake gaskets on my wifes Impala last fall, it took me 5 hours and a few scarred knuckles. ~$75 for the gaskets, then oil and coolant. I changed the plug wires and plugs also. The whole job ran me around $150.

Car runs like a champ and does not leak or lose coolant or oil.

If you cannot do this job yourself, you gonna get raped at a shop for it.
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 6:59:01 PM EST
Shit an a $1000 car i would put in a tube of Bars leak powder or crush up the tablets.

GM has a brand that they recommend and was used in the Northstars at the dealers.

I have used the bars leak a couple times before...with great long term results.

As I said I would only use the powder/tablets.

Many say not to but I never had an issue.

Search http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/ for info on it,
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 7:03:34 PM EST
Originally Posted By longpole1234:
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


this every time


THIS tester
Link Posted: 3/10/2012 7:11:30 PM EST
I had a car that had a small crack between two freeze plugs on the back of the block that did the same thing. Took a long time to actually find the problem. The antifreeze would evaporate so there wasn't a drip.
Link Posted: 3/11/2012 6:25:13 AM EST
Seen a lot of these, GM tech for over twenty years. There is a coolant passage at both ends of the cylinder block deck. There is no matching port in the heads. The cylinder head gasket will crack at this location. Depending which way the crack forms first will either give you an external leak or internal. Couple ways to check. If you have a scanner, put it on the miss-fire chart. Cold start the engine and monitor the miss-fire chart. Most times coolant will seep into the cylinder and cause a miss-fire for the first couple minutes. A CLT test could also be used. Try pulling the #1 and #2 plug and look for discoloration, should have a tint to the porcelain part of the plug. Or you could run the engine, let it get warm and build pressure. Remove the #1 and #2 plug and let the engine completely cool done. Roll up a piece of paper and stick into the plug holes, the paper will wick up coolant in the cylinders. The aluminum heads and iron block expand and contract at different rates. It may only leak when the engine is hot or cold. You should be able to find it this way.
Link Posted: 3/11/2012 6:28:21 AM EST
This is the problem most likely My mom had one of those, and had the same issue. You might not notice any leakage.
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
Originally Posted By kevhogAZ:
I'd venture to say the head gaskets are leaking. I've done a ton of 'em on that motor, and they all have the same symptoms. Do a block test on it, to make sure.

When the intake leaks, it runs down the side of the block, and starts where the manifold meets the block. It's pretty obvious when there's a leak there. You can find it with just a flash light.


No leak to be seen. I have searched every inch of the engine and all mating surfaces. Everything is completely dry.


Link Posted: 3/11/2012 6:30:47 AM EST
Originally Posted By 67Charger:
2001 Grand Am with 3.4. He added coolant to it every day for months, never had an external leak or any signs of oil emulsion until one day it got hot and shut off. Coolant was gone and oil was milk-shaked. He didn't tell me about it until it was at this point, and this was the second engine in the car since the first one did this too but took out the bottom end with water in the oil. I redid the intake set on this one and time will tel if the bottom end survived. It is the 3rd set of these I have done on this type of motor for just my friends and family. It is ALWAYS the intake gaskets. Countless redesigns, and I guess Felpro finally got it with a metal set, though I never had a repeat issue with Victor-Reinz. You also need to replace the intake bolt set since they are torque-to-yield.

3 of the 4 coolant passages in the 2 gaskets were broken and leaking, but this is the one that finally went big

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v227/67Charger/Brokengasket.jpg


As just a humble observor in this thread, I have to say this is a great post. That pic is worth a thousand words.

vmax84

Link Posted: 3/11/2012 6:39:09 AM EST

Originally Posted By leadnbrass:
Shit an a $1000 car i would put in a tube of Bars leak powder or crush up the tablets.

GM has a brand that they recommend and was used in the Northstars at the dealers.

I have used the bars leak a couple times before...with great long term results.

As I said I would only use the powder/tablets.

Many say not to but I never had an issue.

Search http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/ for info on it,

I have used this on my GM. It slowed the leak and so far has saved me an engine swap.
Link Posted: 3/11/2012 6:47:20 AM EST
Originally Posted By longpole1234:
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


this every time


my 03 impala had this- brought to GM for warranty fix- of course, being GM they argued up and down there was no issue....they filled up the resivoir and said "there- you are good to go."
finally got it to another dealer- they said they would fix it- cool––-dropped it off and like two hours later they said it was done...i was like, ummmm...how did you get the head off fix it and get it back together...they said it wasz done...ok....
got it back- nothing looked touched...took it home and drove it- never had another issue- but then the overflow had this brown chunk shit floating in it––-i think they just added radiatior "fix" goo to it...fucking fucks.
Link Posted: 3/11/2012 3:01:43 PM EST

Originally Posted By Kharn:
Originally Posted By LePew:
I worked on a Blazer with the intake gasket issue. Coolant would leak into the valley and evaporate. Only symptoms were loss of coolant and coolant smell. No drips and you couldn't see the puddle in the valley (I think a lot of it was blown away by the cooling fan while driving)

Which valley?I'm chasing a coolant leak on a '94 S10 Blazer with a 4.3L.

Kharn

4.3l typically leaks at the front or rear corners. A lot of time you can't see it in the front because of the accessories.
Link Posted: 3/11/2012 3:06:25 PM EST
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
My brother in law just bought a used Alero which is having a coolant problem. I can fill the coolant up and drive it for 30min and the overflow tank will be empty when it cools down. Their is no external leak. No antifreeze in the oil. I took all spark plugs out and all look perfect with no smell of coolant. Some coolant was coming out of the overflow hose but I replaced the cap and it solved that problem but the coolant still is dropping. I don't smell any antifreeze in the exhaust or any white smoke. Its a 2004 Olds Alero 3.4L. I was a Technician and im just stumped by this. Any ideas? Thanks guys


We have found the problem.

BigDozer66
Link Posted: 3/11/2012 3:14:34 PM EST
Originally Posted By BigDozer66:
Originally Posted By D-RAS03:
My brother in law just bought a used Alero which is having a coolant problem. I can fill the coolant up and drive it for 30min and the overflow tank will be empty when it cools down. Their is no external leak. No antifreeze in the oil. I took all spark plugs out and all look perfect with no smell of coolant. Some coolant was coming out of the overflow hose but I replaced the cap and it solved that problem but the coolant still is dropping. I don't smell any antifreeze in the exhaust or any white smoke. Its a 2004 Olds Alero 3.4L. I was a Technician and im just stumped by this. Any ideas? Thanks guys


We have found the problem.

BigDozer66


Link Posted: 3/11/2012 3:23:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By Truth2882:
Intake manifold gasket. The 3.4s were notorious for them going out.


The 3.8s are notorious for the same intake manifold gasket ("Plenium") problem as well. Often times, the problem can be very difficult to pick up, even with a pressure test. When you operate the vehicle, the heat from the engine causes the plastic gasket to warp and eventually leak. I had a Pontiac that had the problem a few years ago. It needed another this past summer- about 2.75 years after I had it fixed. I know of another Pontiac 3.8 that haqd a similar problem and immediatly stopped operation because of where the coolant seeped (only thing that saved the engine).
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