VW guy new to Pontiac-Found Oil in Water? [Archive] - GrandAmGT.com Forum

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blauslc92
02-12-2008, 10:32 AM
EDIT: Updated, check page 2 for my results.


I posted in GA owners forum but it seems that there is more traffic here and slightly more technical. Please excuse my ignorance, my experience is only with European cars, mostly VW and Bmw.

Background:
My girlfriend has an 03 Grand Am, 3400 V6 with approx 78K mi. Recently I noticed the classic sounds of hydraulic lifter tapping. It does it when cold and then goes away. I realize this is a fairly "minor" problem, and should not be a threat immediately. However, doing some reading on here I ran across the "LIM" or Lower Intake Manifold problem.

Problem:
I decided to inspect it closer to see of any telltale leakage signs. Well, I could not find any signs of coolant leaking from around the manifold area. I looked into the coolant reservoir and to my dismay found lots of oil residue/sludge in it! I checked the oil dipstick and it seems ok, not foamy like it gets when mixed with water.

Questions:
Could this still be a LIM problem? OR is it more likely to be headgasket? How do I know which LIM her car has? Was it revised at some point to prevent gasket leak?
At the moment the cars seems to run ok, water temp hits almost 200 in traffic-is this ok? Please advise, thanks everyone!

Update: I looked at it again this morning with better sunlight, is it possible DEX Cool could break down and become a sludge substance that looks like oil? It sort of smells like oil, thats why I assumed it was, but is it possible it is just old an burnt? It seems to have not been changed, ever. Thanks again

Derrick

DrFabulous
02-12-2008, 10:38 AM
I would personally change out the coolant and see if you still have the problem.

alerored04
02-12-2008, 11:01 AM
Sounds like the lim to me. Good luck.

WeibSunder
02-12-2008, 11:55 AM
Install a new LIM gasket or get someone else to do it, I recommend the 2nd.

Future reference, make sure you keep your coolant system flushed at least once a month and keep tabs on your LIM.

When I had my GA it went out at 65,xxx miles.

blauslc92
02-12-2008, 12:05 PM
How do you pinpoint a LIM problem? In other words, short of dismantling it, is there any other way to know it is leaking and mixing oil into the water?

SikMindz
02-12-2008, 12:12 PM
Welcome to the forums from the only active CA/Bay Area member. lol

I've had the LIM problem fixed 3x on my car (hence why I'm getting a new car after 132K). Tell tale signs other than the ones you mentioned (sludgy Dexcool as a result of oil/water mix in) are overheating and visible leakage. I would check the gasket between the LIM/UIM for visible seepage as that is where mine tended to show.

If your g/f has an 03 she should have the revised gasket. IIRC the newer gasket was made available after 01. However it's not an end all cure all as I've had both and have developed LIM leaks.

WeibSunder
02-12-2008, 12:12 PM
Oil in your coolant tank.

Milky looking motor oil. (If you have a BAD leak)

Burnt antifreeze/oil smell when you open the hood.

Visible leaks down the front of the engine.

blauslc92
02-12-2008, 12:34 PM
Thanks guys. So the chances that the sludge in the water/coolant tank is just Dexcool breaking down is minimal then. It really looks and feels like oil, so it must point to the headgasket or the LIM. Luckily as of now the OIL looks fine, just old and needs a change, no sign of water in it.

SikMindz:

Did you change the LIM yourself? If not, who did it? Can you recommend any shops? thanks!

SikMindz
02-12-2008, 12:46 PM
No I did not. I use a mechanic at Firestone in Berkeley but have only used him for the most recent LIM. Most of the lifetime of the car I spend in San Diego so unfortunately I have no one to recommend off the top of my head.

SSRacer
02-12-2008, 02:09 PM
I got lucky and my LIM leaked externally so I spotted it. It can leak internally only with no external signs.

alerored04
02-12-2008, 03:50 PM
it is not that hard to do if you are mechanically able and have a garage and tools. There is a great walk through here on the site that will help you through it.

blauslc92
02-12-2008, 04:19 PM
it is not that hard to do if you are mechanically able and have a garage and tools. There is a great walk through here on the site that will help you through it.

I am confident in my abilities, but garage time is very limited as my gf lives in a condo with roomates, I estimate I would have one entire weekend, beginning on a Friday night going through till sunday to work on it. This is scary, considering something almost always goes wrong or ends up breaking. Can you link me to the thread with the LIM writeup? I recall finding it, now searching I can't locate it. Thanks


EDIT: duh found it:
http://www.grandamgt.com/forum/showthread.php?t=68087&highlight=lim

Great writeup

alerored04
02-12-2008, 04:36 PM
Here you go. http://www.grandamgt.com/forum/showthread.php?t=68087&highlight=head+gasketA A weekend would be plenty, the first time i did one it took 9 hours. My latest one i did in 6 with a lunch break and bs time with the buddy that i was doing it for. Read that through a few times and you should be able to tackle it.

blauslc92
02-12-2008, 05:06 PM
I don't have a diagram of the engine, I fail to see how a manifold can lead to coolant mixing with oil or vice versa. Can anyone briefly explain how this happens? Or link me too and engine diagram? Maybe I should buy a manual, which one is best for these cars? For euro cars I use Bentley Service manuals, which are extremely detailed.

alerored04
02-12-2008, 06:00 PM
haynes seems best. Look through that walkthrough, you can see the coolant passage in the lim where the oil from the cam and lifters gets into and causes sludge.

AaronGTR
02-12-2008, 06:10 PM
That ticking sound you hear is most likely piston slap and not lifter noise. If it was lifters you'd hear it all the time. The piston slap in not an uncommon thing (although not found on all cars) and goes away when the engine warms up like you said. It's nothing to worry about.

Are you sure it's oil in the coolant tank? Usually there would be no way oil would get in there. The long life coolant that the car uses gets some sludge built up sometimes in areas where it gets exposed to air though so that might be it. Just drain a little bit of coolant out so you can disconnect the tank and take it out and flush it really well. Re-install and fill the system back up and keep an eye on it. It should be good.

gasedup
02-12-2008, 07:31 PM
I had a simular issue on my 03 GA. I drained the coolant and flushed the system. I took some of the old coolant to a GM Tech and was told it looked like that (dull brown, sludge like) , from regular green antifreeze being added to the DEX-COOL. They are not compatable and will breakdown. He went on to say that the coolant would have a white frothy film floating on top if it had oil in it. He recomended to do a vacum test outlined in the Haynes manual. In this test you connect a vacum gauge to the main vacum port on the intake and compare it to the manual. This diagnostic test will help you diagnose you engines health including the head and intake gaskets. As for the ticking noise listen closely to the top idler pully and see if the noise is coming from it. I had simular noise coming from that pully before replacing mine.

alerored04
02-12-2008, 08:23 PM
my buddies car that i did the lim on had oil floating in the coolant. The section of the lim gasket that you make with RTV had tore away on the inside allowing oil to seep up into the coolant passages but held strong enough to prevent leaking down the outside of the block. Good thing he pays attention to his car.

hass
02-13-2008, 02:40 PM
regarding the ticking noise...

What kind of oil filter/oil does she use?

I used to have a ticking noise on startup, then it would go away as the engine warms up.
I used to use a Fram high mileage oil filter [I got them mad cheap from my work] and just some nice 5w-30 or 10w-30 [depending on summer/winter]...

Then I read a lot about it, and found out it's actually the crappy oil filter that causes it.
So I talked with the guy at Advanced Auto, and told him what I wanted... AC Delco PF-52 I believe it was... then he recommended me to a Pure One oil filter, which is over sized and a better filtration. I installed it, about 300 miles later, no ticking on start up at all.
I switched to using K&N Oil filters now since then, and still no ticking at all.
So it could possibly just be the oil filter/oil that does that.
I thought it was piston slap at first... but the oil filter changed it, so I don't know. But it went away, so it's one less thing I have to worry about ;]

blauslc92
02-13-2008, 04:04 PM
regarding the ticking noise...

What kind of oil filter/oil does she use?

I used to have a ticking noise on startup, then it would go away as the engine warms up.
I used to use a Fram high mileage oil filter [I got them mad cheap from my work] and just some nice 5w-30 or 10w-30 [depending on summer/winter]...

Then I read a lot about it, and found out it's actually the crappy oil filter that causes it.
So I talked with the guy at Advanced Auto, and told him what I wanted... AC Delco PF-52 I believe it was... then he recommended me to a Pure One oil filter, which is over sized and a better filtration. I installed it, about 300 miles later, no ticking on start up at all.
I switched to using K&N Oil filters now since then, and still no ticking at all.
So it could possibly just be the oil filter/oil that does that.
I thought it was piston slap at first... but the oil filter changed it, so I don't know. But it went away, so it's one less thing I have to worry about ;]

I agree, this ticking may have to do with the oil. As of now it does NOT tick anymore, after I topped it off (was 1qt low) with 10w-30. Who knows what's in it now, hopefully 10w-30, but I didn't get a clear view of oil filter, but Im sure its a cheapie since she had her last change done at a Jiffy Lube. Will replace with a higher quality oil and filter soon.

blauslc92
02-14-2008, 03:04 PM
Guys-

Which intake gasket set do I need to use? Does it come with both upper/lower gaskets or do I purchase separately? Anyone have part numbers?

blauslc92
02-19-2008, 01:37 AM
All,

Thanks to everyone who posted with help/suggestions. Special thanks to angrysk8r who's write up helped me immensely.

Well, it ended up being a bad LIM gasket combined with heavy sludge due to either improper coolants being mixed or just lack of maintenance.

Halfway through the dismantling I doubted my diagnosis. I took a good sample of coolant and did not see much oil, if any. I began to think that a good flush may have been good enough. But, I was too far along to stop. I continued and was somewhat relieved to find that the gasket was leaking, although very little, on the #1 cylinder side. Plus I found lots of coolant gunk and buildup in the passages.

Cleaned it all up, along with some new parts, and fired her back up today and she sounds good. Flushed heavily with regular water and then filled with distilled water and Dex cool. I wish I would've purchased a New coolant expansion tank to replace the nasty discolored one, but oh well.

Here are some shots I took:
http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh65/blauslc92vr6/Picture009.jpg

Close up of where oil was barely leaking into coolant passage.
http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh65/blauslc92vr6/Picture011.jpg

http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh65/blauslc92vr6/Picture013.jpg

http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh65/blauslc92vr6/Picture014.jpg

http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh65/blauslc92vr6/Picture015.jpg

SSRacer
02-19-2008, 07:42 AM
Man, that's some nasty sludge build up.

Bryan
02-19-2008, 07:46 AM
Yuum. Congrats on your first GA LIM job, I hope there aren't many more to follow. lol