Need short-term protection against a coolant leak

Messages
66
Location
Indiana
Hey all, For the time-being I'm daily driving a 1998 Grand Am GT with the 3100 engine and I recently had the low coolant light pop on. The reservoir was definitely low so I re-filled with the appropriate Dex-Cool coolant. Thing is, the car is barely over 60k, so I didn't expect to intake gaskets to be on their way out yet, but I guess that's certainly possible. I have two different oils in my stash and I want some short term protection against the coolant leak until I can get a couple more paychecks in the bank and get the intake gaskets done. The engine bay is still spotless and I don't see any pooling of coolant anywhere around the lower intake, but I guess that doesn't mean it isn't making its way down into the crankcase. I've got some GC 0w-30 and YB 5w-30 in the stash. Is the GC going to be any more effective at saving my bottom end if there really is a coolant leak? I'd hate to use it for a 500-1,000 mile interval if isn't going to offer any better protection, but it'd be a small price to pay for not suffering a spun bearing. Thanks all.
 
Messages
22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
Nothing is going to protect an engine that has coolant leaking internally. The 3.1L will leak through the intake gaskets darn near from the factory. Your best bet is to get it fixed ASAP. If you have to wait, I'd do short intervals with YB Pennzoil and keep an eye on the coolant level.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
44,777
Location
New Jersey
Id run a 15w-40 HDEO. If youre lucky, it may provide a bit more viscosity at the bearings, if you only have a low-level leak. If there is any indication of a milkshake in your oil pan, fix it.
 

pbm

Messages
8,741
Location
New York
I would put a bottle of Barsleaks in (through the lower radiator hose) to seal it until you get the $$$ to fix it properly. Use the Fel-Pro Problem Solver gasket and loctite on the bolts and it should hold for a long time. The 3.1 and 3.4 GM V6 had a poorly designed engine sealing system which helped cause GM's bankruptcy, IMO.
 

Coogles

Thread starter
Messages
66
Location
Indiana
 Originally Posted By: JHZR2
Id run a 15w-40 HDEO. If youre lucky, it may provide a bit more viscosity at the bearings, if you only have a low-level leak. If there is any indication of a milkshake in your oil pan, fix it.
The oil looked fine when I changed it last (about 1500 miles ago), but that doesn't mean it isn't contaminated. I'll try the Bar's Leaks and change the oil ASAP. I don't plan on driving more than a few hundred miles on the new oil. Maybe I'll stop by Wally World and see what I can pick up that's a bit heavier.
 
Messages
207
Location
USA
GM makes some stop leak tablets. You crush them up and toss them in with the coolant. They work very well at stopping coolant leaks. I know you can get them from NAPA for sure. Probably from Autozone too. Even Wal-mart sells some stop-leak tablets but they aren't nearly as good as the ones I mentioned. I used them in a 1998 Chevy Malibu that was leaking a gallon of coolant every couple of weeks into the engine. The tablets stopped the leak completely. I drove it for another year until I hit a deer with it. Try the tablets, then change the oil immediately. If the leak continues, just keep changing the oil every 500-1000 miles. Just use the cheapest oil on the shelf so you don't go broke. Also, the Dex-cool is what destroyed your seals. Don't use it again.
 
Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Subaru's fix for their leaking head gaskets (internal leak 98-99, external leak 00-01) was a "special" coolant additive that was required to be put in the radiator whenever the coolant was changed, or right away if you've never done it. Not sure if it's anything more potent than a standard "stop leak" product, but saved them from having to replace head gaskets on hundreds of thousands of cars. But here's my point-- the stuff works, and works really well! My external head gasket weep on the Legacy is fixed, and when I had a weepy hose fitting that I could not reach on the Saab, a bottle of that stuff worked GREAT! It should not plug any passages up, and if it is good enough to be used by a major manufacturer to fix a manufacturing defect with little to no adverse side affects, cool by me. You can get it from any Subaru dealer, and I think full List price is $1.87 (one dollar & eight-seven cents...correct).
 
Messages
22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
Be careful adding stop leak to your Grand Am, as it has the pressurized recovery tank. I'd drain the radiator, then add the stop leak, then refill. That way, the stop leak will get mixed in good and not just sit in the recovery tank. I've used Bars Leaks, and use it as an insurance policy on our GMs that have had the gaskets replaced before. The stuff does work, but you should still get the gaskets replaced as soon as possible.
 
Messages
19,528
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Bar's Leaks is the best temporary solution for fixing a coolant leak, and you need to check the coolant level and oil condition via dipstick every day to make sure the leak isn't getting worse. After few weeks, you need to do the correct fix for the coolant leak, if it's still a problem.
 

Coogles

Thread starter
Messages
66
Location
Indiana
 Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
Be careful adding stop leak to your Grand Am, as it has the pressurized recovery tank. I'd drain the radiator, then add the stop leak, then refill. That way, the stop leak will get mixed in good and not just sit in the recovery tank. I've used Bars Leaks, and use it as an insurance policy on our GMs that have had the gaskets replaced before. The stuff does work, but you should still get the gaskets replaced as soon as possible.
Couldn't I crush the tablets, remove the radiotor cap, and put them directly into the radiator when the car is cold?
 
Messages
22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
 Originally Posted By: Coogles
 Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
Be careful adding stop leak to your Grand Am, as it has the pressurized recovery tank. I'd drain the radiator, then add the stop leak, then refill. That way, the stop leak will get mixed in good and not just sit in the recovery tank. I've used Bars Leaks, and use it as an insurance policy on our GMs that have had the gaskets replaced before. The stuff does work, but you should still get the gaskets replaced as soon as possible.
Couldn't I crush the tablets, remove the radiotor cap, and put them directly into the radiator when the car is cold?
Well, does your car have a separate radiator cap on the radiator, with an overflow line to a non-pressurized overflow tank?
 
Messages
3,756
Location
CA
Besides the stop leak I would run straight water for now. The antifreeze (at least the old green stuff) eats the rod, main, and cam bearings even with the engine off.
 
Messages
1,714
Location
CA.
 Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
Be careful adding stop leak to your Grand Am, as it has the pressurized recovery tank. I'd drain the radiator, then add the stop leak, then refill. That way, the stop leak will get mixed in good and not just sit in the recovery tank. I've used Bars Leaks, and use it as an insurance policy on our GMs that have had the gaskets replaced before. The stuff does work, but you should still get the gaskets replaced as soon as possible.
The few times my father had to use the stuff, that is how he did it and it worked well. I would use it as a temp fix, and not totally depend on it. AD
 
Messages
3,756
Location
CA
 Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
Isn't propelyene glycol safer for bearings?
Could be. My only experience is with the old stuff and with 6 blown headgaskets in one year I'm pretty experienced unfortunately.
 
Messages
11,184
Location
Bad Axe, MI
Don't run any stop leak that c rap just snots up your rad and heater core makes a mess of the cooling system,you'll be alright for a few weeks till you get the cash up, sounds like it's just a small leak anyway,change your oil often with some cheap $1 oil and you'll be fine. i've ran em with small leaks before they can take it. here's a pic of a '98 vortec 5.7 that had a BAD leak driven for months!!!, cleaned up flushed out and it lived to run another day!!! so don't panic.
 
Messages
3,756
Location
CA
I've been there plenty times. I can guarantee you that if that motor has a flat tappet cam, some damage has been done. Same with the rings and piston pins. It may seem fine for a while but the milkshake will eventually kill it. In my engines, the mains and rods didn't sustain any real damage from it.
 
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