is the GM 3.1hard on its oil

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pbm

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I've read on this site that certain engines like the Honda 4 cyl. and the Jeep 4.0 are "easy on their oil." Does anybody know if the GM 3.1 is easy or hard on its oil. Also is there any maintainence or driving style that can lessen the chances of having intake manifold gasket problems with this engine. Just how common is this problem with this engine. Thanks.
 
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As far as I know, the 3.1L isn't "hard" on oil. As far as the the intake manifold gasket... there's no particular driving style that will prevent the problem... and yes it is a pretty common problem. Don't beat the **** out of the engine, and it should lessen the change of the gasket letting loose or at least give you more life out of it before it does go. One suggestion. If you have Dexcool in the coolign system... don't push it the 5 years / 150K mi GM says it can go. Change it at least every 3.5 years.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Forkman: One suggestion. If you have Dexcool in the coolign system... don't push it the 5 years / 150K mi GM says it can go. Change it at least every 3.5 years.
Amen Forkman. During my brief (if you can call 2.5 yrs brief) and ill-fated foray into Buick ownership during the late 90s (got seduced by that supercharged 3.8L), I had coolant problems, among many others. One tech at the dealership, with whom I became sadly familiar, actually referred to Dexcool as "Rustcool." A far more poetic and efficient description of that fluid than I could ever muster. Whatever you do, DON'T try to go long-term with that stuff! [ April 27, 2004, 09:45 PM: Message edited by: ekpolk ]
 
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Any advice or tips on changing the coolant in the 3.1 V6? I've got to flush the coolant in a '96 Chevy Corsica. How can I get the system as clean as possible? Any recommended replacement fluids?
 
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These GM engines are easy on oil an would be good candidates for extended drains if it weren't for those blasted coolant leaks. GM had some recall notices out. You might check. The dealers put seal tab (pills) in the radiator. My dealer said the 3.1 and 3.4 were a much bigger problem with "internal" leaks. The 3.8's are more likely to be external. Easy on oil until it starts putting coolant in it. [LOL!] You'll see quite a few uoa's on here with this problem.
 
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I have a '93 Lumina with a 3.1. We have owned it since new and its never used any oil. Never once was the oil down on the dipstick. No coolant leaks in over 60,000 miles.
 
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The engine is easy on oil but hard on intake manifold gaskets and head gaskets. Watch your coolant and oil levels closely!!! I do not know why but GM can not seem to design gaskets that will routinely last. The VOrtec small blocks with the two piece intake manifolds are no haveing issues. A coworkers 1996 GMC had his uper intake manifold leak recently. The 3.1 and 3.4 really need to phased out as they are really problem prone. It is not fair to consumer base to keep these engines around when the 3.8 is so much better from a durability and power output stand point. With the new 3.6 entering the fray they really need to improve the lower tier engines. They keep the 3.1 and 3.4 around purely as a marketing game. If they put the 3.8 in their place they fel that they would have a hard time selling more upscale vechiles with the same engine for a premium like the Bonivile and Lasber etc...... One guy I worked with purchased the extended 120,000 PPC warranty plan when he bought his Malibu. It had the 3.1 in it and he had to have the intake manifold gasket replaced 6-7 times before they got it right! It is too simple to redesign the head and manifold to have a flat verticle mateing surface with a cut o-ring type seal etc.... The problem is that most customers never have clue that they have an intake manifold leak until the car is out of warranty and the damage has already been done. It is far cheaper to fix the ones that come in within warranty then it is to redesgin it and build it right! Even with the new gasket design, revised tightening patern and torque spec. it is still a problem. Almot everone I know that owns a 3.1 or 3.4 ends up with multiple gasket failures and often piston slap wheel before they hit 120,000 miles!
 
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Ok Ok it's not normal to have a leaky Intake manifold. But the life is way too short to worry about that. There is more then that frikin gasket. I like the ride of my Buick and I also like my Montana.They are quiet at highway speed, the suspension soaks the imperfection of the road, and the rest of the car and van are pretty reliable.Not too hard on gas too. They are not perfect but they are a pretty good value in my book. So if my stupid gasket start to leak I'll get them repaired. That doesn't cost more that a couple of extra monthly payment on a new cars !!! BTW I have seen a few 3.1 with lots of milleage.They are not bad engine.They have one weakest point, and if you maintain your car you will get good service out of it
 
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JohnBrowning, I think you summed it up well. Sounds like a re-play of what my Service Manager told me. They have had some melting on a couple of 3.8's, but not near the problems of the others. (Manifold melt). I think the seal tabs (pills) are realy sleazy, but it somewhat works. GM is going to kill their rental/fleet sales if they don't fix this.
 
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Well, just to show there is always an exception and nothing is a given in this world, I have had the opposite experience with the two GM motors. The Chevy wagon with the 3.1 ran 160k and never had a problem. None. But the Buick Lesabre with the 3.8 (3800) blew out the front timing chain gasket ( it was the Niagra Falls of oil leaks!), I fixed that about 3 weeks ago and now it is losing coolent so I suspect the intake gasket. Go figure.
 
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My parents have a '90 Grand Prix with the 3.1 liter that they purchased new. It didn't use a drop of oil for many,many years. A couple of years ago, it began to pour oil though. I have heard it could be from a seal where the distributor used to be on these engines. The engine was always a decent performer, and delivered close to 35 mpg on the highway at times. It still runs good, it just leaks like crazy. My dad uses it as a work car since my mom got a new Grand Prix in 2000. I sure wouldn't put up with that leak like he does though.Like I said, it didn't use a drop and sometimes the oil went 5,000 miles without being changed. My dad always used Exxon Superflo Supreme 10w30, and the engine looked great looking through the oil fill hole. [ April 30, 2004, 01:58 AM: Message edited by: Racerjk ]
 
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136K on my 3.1 Grand Am, intake gasket replaced under warranty many years ago, no problems since. As for the Dexcool, there was a paper presented on a study done by GM and Texaco several years ago. They found the common cause for Dexcool problems was "low Coolant", period. Watch your radiator cap if it has a drop center and keep your fluid full. I have actually switched several of my cars over to Dexcool from "green stuff" because I am inpressed with the Dexcool specifications. No problems whatsoever in any of these cars. I have even checked internally in the block and radiator with a boroscope, and they are unbelieveably clean inside.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by vettenuts: 136K on my 3.1 Grand Am, intake gasket replaced under warranty many years ago, no problems since. As for the Dexcool, there was a paper presented on a study done by GM and Texaco several years ago. They found the common cause for Dexcool problems was "low Coolant", period. Watch your radiator cap if it has a drop center and keep your fluid full. I have actually switched several of my cars over to Dexcool from "green stuff" because I am inpressed with the Dexcool specifications. No problems whatsoever in any of these cars. I have even checked internally in the block and radiator with a boroscope, and they are unbelieveably clean inside.
Of course, I'm happy that the Dexcool seems to be working for you. I remain perplexed by the stuff, however. I'm an obsessive car care nut, and I can assure you that when I had difficulty with Dexcool, it was not as a result of low fluid. I checked both my overflow reservoir and the radiator itself at least once a week, and I never had low fluid. It just quickly and progressively got rustier and rustier and then started getting gummy too. I felt obliged to purge the cooling system after around 8000-10000 miles because it looked so bad at that point. This happened with the factory fill and two dealer replacements of coolant (both preceded by flushes). I have no idea why my Dexcool behaved this way. I put in no additives, and really didn't "challenge" this car (a 1998 supercharged 3.8L V-6) too badly, except for occasional "use" of its almost insane ability to accelerate. Go figure. . . [ April 30, 2004, 10:10 AM: Message edited by: ekpolk ]
 

pbm

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I'm glad I got so many responses to my original post and they were very informative. My original Dexcool still looks fine at 33k but I'll probably change it at 50K just to be safe. Does anybody know if GM fixed the intake manifold gasket problem on the new 3.5 60 degree angle V6 in the new Malibu. If its still a problem then I'll probably switch to a Toyota Camry when it's time to buy again. GM has had over 20 years to fix the problem--shame on them if they haven't.
 

Al

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It doesn't matter how you drive or how soon you replace the DexCool or whether or not you use DexCool. I have had Two- 3.1's in my stable and a 3.4. A1ll three had the dreaded disease. Upon some research and talking to a "no-bs" (honest) dealer I found that most 3.1's and 3.4 will eventually leak. Some will leak early some late. Some may only leak intermitantly and may get by. Plan on having a leak. It's the nature of the beast.
 
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I too have had a problem with my 3.8's intake manifold. I am speaking from reading literaly thousand of warranty claims each year. I also teardown engines to try and find cause of warranty problem. The 3.8 to date is the most reliable engine GM makes. It is also on Wards 10 best list. Their are so few things that really need to be improved to make the old 3.8 a world class engine. If all they did was pay my meager contrat wage I would gladly help them make this engine into an engine that could go head to head with any engine Toyota or BMW makes!
 
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Olds is being phased out as a Divison. THe 3.5 shortstar is a better engine then the true Northstar. It still suffers from some of the NorthStars gasket short comeings. Mechaicly this engine is fairly sound but not as durable as the 3.8. It is more refined in terms of NVH. It has in general not suffered the wrath of the NorthStar and Gen III small block excessive oil consuption problem as much. The weak spots on this engine are all the gaskets, the thermostat houseing and the tensioners for the timeing. If this engine is serviced under the sever schedule with a quality dino oil it will live a long life. I do not like 5W30 in this engine as the piston design while better then the Gen III and Northstars is still marginal as compared to the 3.8. THe lighter aromatics in 5W30's can plug up the ring pack on these. A good 10W30 CI-4 oil is the way to go most times with this engine. A synthetic 10W30 or %w30 for winter use will also work well. If your fuel rail has the typical Delphi tubeing setup with schrader valve I would invest in the 3M fuel rail cleaning kit. It will be money well spent and then you can clean your combustion chambers and fuel injectors once a year!
 
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quote:
Olds is being phased out as a Division.
The last Olds rolled off the line in Lansing thursday of this week (4/29/04). btw-It was an Alero. Olds it all done for.
 

pbm

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John: I like the GM 3.8 because I've seen many with over 200k. This high mileage seems attainable with only modest maintainence. It seems to be an engine that can rival Honda and Toyota in longevity. I was disappointed when GM started using the 3.5 (shortstar) in the Olds Intrigue which is a car that I like. Does anyone know why that 3.5 seems to no longer be sold. Was it any good. Also does anyone know if GM fixed its intake manifold gasket problem on the new 3.5 in the 2004 Malibu. Thanks.
 
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