HELP ! Can this engine be saved ?.

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Jul 8, 2004
Bucks County, Pa.
Hello to all. I'm new to the board and I must say there sure is a lot of great information here, much more than I realized I needed to know. I certainly will change my future auto oil practices. However now I have a situation with my 95 Buick Regal that I hope you can help me with.The engine is the 3800 series 1 V6 with about 98K. I've owned and maintained since 22K with past oil changes at about 4/5K intervals. After reading here on the board I suspect with the type of driveing I do here in south-east Pa. winters/summers I really should have changed the oil more often. Oil has been "dino", 10W/30, API rated for the car, usually on sale brands ( Texaco, Quaker State, Castrol GTX now). A steady diet of Fram filters, however now I switched to Pur One with no improvement of condition. The problem started about two years ago at 78K when I noticed a slight knock and some valve chatter at first morning enginre start-up. Both stoped after 3/4 seconds and only repeat after the car sat overnight. My mechanic gave a listen and thought the cause was a counter-balence shaft bearing and a few valves. Estimated repair cost at $1100.00/? He sugested trying "hitach" to relieve the dry start situation and that seemed to do the job then and over time slowly returned and gotten worse. Now I usually wait about 30/40 seconds to quiet down in the morning but I did noticed this past two winters the engine ran much tighter at start-up. I know the boards thoughts of this type of product and I'm open to any better ideas or suggestions. I'm hopeing to get as many miles or even salvage this engine if I can. The cost of repair, miles on the engine and the questionable condition of the engine I would sooner consider replacement or unloading the car. I sure would appreciate any advice or ideas. Thanks in advance for your responces. Eric
[Welcome!] I'd say you did pretty decent maintenance. Any oils you mentioned at those intervals should be fine. This engine is pretty easy on oil and the Fram filter were probably ok. Is your mechanic a GM authorized Mr. Goodwrench or is he just speculating??
These engines are very easy on oil. I would not be at all that concerned with your OCI on those oils. I suspect the problem would have occured no matter the oil and OCI. I would consider ordering a free oil sample collection kit from Blackstone and then paying the $35.00 for a Used Oil Analysis and the "Dyson Package". Just write "Dyson Package" on the sample when you return it and they will forward the results to Terry Dyson. You can pay with M.O. or Credit Card. Terry should be able to tell you if the noise is a concern and what is making it after viewing your UOA in most cases. It might be better to sell or trade the car than repair at that age. If you are just trying to get rid of the noise there is a aftermarket pre-lube sytem that pressurizes the oil system before start-up that might help. If you really like the car I might consider a GM Crate Engine through a deep discount GM Parts dealer like Scoggins-Dickey Chevrolet. It will costs more than just the repair but you get a fresh engine. Gene [ July 24, 2004, 02:34 PM: Message edited by: Gene K ]
Mr. G.S.: Gene's advice is excellent. I have driven "used vehicles" since 1968 and have rareley traded one below 250,000 miles. Currently have a Dodge Ram with ca. 225,000 m. and a Dodge Ramcharger with ca 200,000 mi. You will have many issues to address with your Buick, but from what little I have heard, more diagnosis before a trade is warranted may be what to do.......Do not give up easily.
Have you tried using a 15w 40 oil or a 20w 50 ??? That may fix the noise problem....though not the problem ( worn parts) itself. [crushedcar]
When making a recommendation to someone, I always try to keep the following in mind: If this were my vehicle, what would I do? I'd first start out using a high-detergent lube with the O.E. filter in conjunction with a good fuel system cleaner: Rotella 5w-40 AcDelco filter Redline SI-1 If Redline is not available, Chevron Techron. [ July 24, 2004, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: Jelly ]
The 3800 is a good engine. I put over 85,000 on my 1995 Park Ave, it ran quite and trouble free with yearly oil changes on synthetic. My boss at work is still running a 1993 LaSabre 3800 at almost 200,000 miles. Says he is going to run it into the ground because its not worth anything with that amount of miles. His engine has not been touched and he uses cheap oil as he does not spent a $ more on anything. I can't tell from your description if you have a serious problem or its just wear and tear. Maybe with your next vehicle you might try some different products. A coworker was a Fram and Pennzoil man all his life. I recall a 1989 Olds he got new and at around 95,000 miles the engine was shot. He changed oil every 3000 miles and rarely would go past that. Did it all himself. He blamed the oil burning on GM and got a new Ford Tempo in 1995 to replace the olds.
I had an 89 park avenue that I traded in for a new '99 olds 88. Both have 3800s, the 89 had a series 1 and the 99 has a series II. The 89 had 197,000 on it when I traded it. The motor still ran flawlessly, but the tranny was rebuilt and the power toys were starting to go bad. The 99 Olds runs fantastic and has about 75K on it. My parents have an '86 Electra with over 200k on the original 3.8L motor (not a "3800" by name, but basically the same motor). All 4 of my brothers and sisters currently own a vehicle with a 3800 series motor, and all run flawlessly. My guess is something is wrong with the motor. Not trying to be negative, but motors do occationally break, and the 3800 seems like one of the best motors ever put in an automibile.
Pardon me for being uninformed, but what is "hitach"? And I'm surprised no one has suggested an AutoRX treatment? The Oil Analysis is probably well worth the 35 bucks.
You may want to check out the timing chain and tensioner. This is about the only that goes wrong on a 3800 otherwise they are fully capable of going 250+ on even 5k OCI. Try to better isolate the noise and move to a freer flowing filter like a Purolator Premium plus. The Fram and Pure One are more restrictive. -T
Sounds like timing set and maybe a little piston slap. Get a stethoscope and give it a listen during start up.
Have the oil pressure tested. Maybe all you need is a new oil pump. Does this GM have the bypassless oil filter? Try a filter with a bypass! Try a quart of Marvel Mystery oil/Rislone/Lubegard at the next couple 3k OCIs. Use the cheapest filter available(supertech or proline). Try a good flowing thick oil--something along the lines of a 0w/5w-40 or even a 5w50. Choices are Mobil1/Castrol/and RotellaT. Pull the oilpan/valvecovers and inspect for sludge if that is an option in your budget or within our mechanical skills. I wouldn't bother with a UOA. Either its gonna run or die. A UOA won't fix it.
Originally posted by unDummy: Have the oil pressure tested. Maybe all you need is a new oil pump. Good idea. Does this GM have the bypassless oil filter? Try a filter with a bypass!
Huh? What would this prove? If the oil pump can't get it thru the filter, it ain't gonna get it thru the bypass valve.
First of all. I doubt you need a new pump, since it's a gerator design, very reliable. Second, there is a no filter available with a bypass, nor is one needed. I agree to check the oil pressure though. I've never heard of a problem with a balance shaft either. I run a website and forum of 3800 owners, many with over 200,000 miles. The only problems that I have heard of are timing chain related. Several have experienced knocking problems which ended up being the timing chain or tensioner. Please stop, by lot's there with 3800 experience to help. -T
Where in Bucks county are you? I would start by checking oil pressure. You can also buy a mechanic's stethoscope at PepBoys and try to locate the source of the noise.
Sorry for the very delayed response. The last two weeks have been nuts with family, work related road trips and home computer problems! Many thanks to all of you for your timely and helpfull ideas. [Cheers!] All of you guys (I assume) different perspectives have help me put together a game plan. At this point I would really would like to keep this Buick Gran Sport, other than this problem the rest of the car is in excellent shape. Gene K I agree a uoa with "Dyson Package" is worth the $35.00 investment. I have about 1K on this oil change now. When should I have it performed and is it okay to have the Hitach additive included in the uoa? Should I start with a fresh oil change without the additive? How much would a pre-lube system cost? Could it be transfered to my next car? Really worth it to prolong this engine if this is the direction I go? I would consider a GM crate engine and I'll talk to my local dealer. A Jasper remanufactured unit with a 3yr/36 K warrenty goes for about $2,6000.00 installed by a local shop. Bird Thanks for the encouragement. I don't plan to give up too soon! Last week I had the rear struts and front tie-rods replaced, both were original to the car and so I have a bit more invested ($). I have to try to get some service dollars back. If I keep this car for another 50K or so, what repair issues in particular do you see? Get out your magic 8 ball. Do you remenber those from the 60's? I must admit in the past I have changed rides befor 100K on the clock. Deepsquat, Undummy, T-Keith I think I will try a good flowing thicker oil as was suggested for my next oil change (5W-50 high detergent) perhaps with marvel/rislone/lubeguard over the next three changes. I will change to the freer-oil flowing filter like purolator premium plus also. Just by looking inside the oil inlet in the valve cover all looks fairly clean from what I can see. No sludge or bad staining, and a inside dip / swipe inside the cover with my finger did not produce any either. Do you think this engine is a candidate for AutoRx treatment? Worth the effort? Results? Make things worse? T-Keith Thanks for the Lesabret invite. I had a chance to stop over today and I do like many of examples I saw. I remenber many years ago one of past neighbors had a "T-Type" coupe, fully loaded in metalic red and light gray leather interior. He was sure proud when he brought that car home from dealership and enjoyed it for many years later. My 95 Buick GS is certainly related to that vintage. It is next to the last year for the coupe, in black and gray leather interior, fully loaded with all goodies fot that year. I really have not seen anything out there thats worth droping $20K or more, and besides I still enjoy driveing the car very much. I will borrow a stethoscope and try to better isolate the noises (valve chatter / slight nocking), however I will get a second or third opinion from better professional ears than mine. I think I"ll get those opinions after the next oil change without the "hitach" additive and perhaps with the standard 10w-30 castrol gtx. I've heard of others that the 3800 engine is GM's better efforts and it's almost a bullet proof design. Gee,I hope one did not get past my kevlar vest! VVK I agree getting the oil pressure checked is a good idea. I live in lower bucks county, in the southampton area.
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