02 Grand Am 3.4 LIM , Fel Pro over GM replacement?? [Archive] - GrandAmGT.com Forum


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sugar ray
03-08-2010, 10:28 PM
Hey ya all! :hay:

I have an 02 Grand Am up here in O'Canada. Original owners, never winter driven and only 95,000 kms on it. Besides new tires, I have only had to replace the cat. converter and ignition cylinder (it seized)

Fortunately with ZERO winter miles and the car virtually sitting 4 months of the year I have kept miles low, repairs minimum, and have been able to pay off the vehicle completely.

Just before parking it this past winter we had noticed the "low coolant" light coming on. A small top up and light would go away. Yet a month later it would pop back on. The coolant wasn't bone dry just a small internal weep. Head gasket seems to be ok as no milky oil. NO tail pipe smoke and no external leaks. After lots of reading I discover the infamous 3.4 LIM replacement.

I am fairly mechanically inclined and have all the tools to get the job done. So I will be tackling this project myself. One thing that I have read is to AVOID the GM replacement kit. Rumor has it this kit is NOT much better then the originals. Numerous users report a repeat occurrence short miles later.

Just wanted to know if anyone used the Fel Pro kit. Some mechanics SWEAR by them and all be it slightly pricier, are well worth it.

I am guessing an 11 hour job total but plan on stretching this over a few days.

Any thoughts on the Fel Pro kit??

03-08-2010, 11:00 PM
Alot of people swear by these kits. Most people get confused with the headgasket instead of the Lower Intake Manifold gasket. Hardly ever will a Headgasket blow. Its almost always the LIM's. There is a how to on this site under the "How-to" section that is worth checking out. Overall, yeah the felpro is the only way to go.

03-08-2010, 11:01 PM
Thoughts on gaskets:

While I wouldn't say to avoid the GM kit entirely, I'd say that its not going to match the Fel-Pro gasket kits' quality. Having worked with these cars and their gasket failures for 8 years or so, I can say that while GM did improve their kit, the plastic around the rubber gasket still has a tendency to deteriorate. The all-aluminum construction of the FelPro gaskets should rectify this.

The key to this whole thing is to use loc-tite on all the LIM bolts and torque them to spec. Its worth using a torque wrench to get that 18 lb/ft out of the corners.

Working for a GM dealership, I'd say use the Fel Pro gaskets. That's what I'd sell anyone rolling through the shop... but warranty issues prevail. I just do the job as best I can with the materials that the shop mandates I use.

It'll take you less than 11 hours unless you REALLY careful. Just make sure that your pushrods are in the right spot and all your rockers are torqued down.

03-08-2010, 11:15 PM
When you go to buy your gasket kit, ask for the Fel-Pro Permadry kit. It costs more than the regular kit does but in the long run it is a far superior gasket system.

edit: Part #MS98003T

03-09-2010, 07:26 AM
i used the felpro a little over a year ago. and being my daily driver it dosent sit much. Even after a MAJOR overheating, its still leak proof. It does cost more, but it WORKS. Like mentioned, use the permadry kit. heres a link. http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/detail/FEL0/MS98003T.oap?year=2001&make=Pontiac&model=Grand%2BAM&vi=1374746&keyword=intake+gasket&pt=02293&ppt=C0026

notice the lower intake manifold gasket is a metal of some kind ( i think aluminum?). When i did this that gasket set cost me like 130 bucks WITH my employee discount!! I guess this is getting more and more popular.. lol

sugar ray
03-09-2010, 01:35 PM
Thanks guys!

I ordered my Felpro kit today. There were 2 different ones available. Felpro made the OLD style replacement and of course the newer much BETTER version. Not sure why?? but the intake kit even comes with replacement bolts. I was thinking the original bolts with loc tight would do just fine??

Last question..........did you guys stick with the dex cool which was the cause of the 3.4 problems to begin with? Or after flushing did you just go with Prestone? GM warranty wants dex cool but since my warranty is loooooooooong gone I guess I can do whatever I want??

I assume the newer felpro gasket holds up to to dex cool just fine?

03-09-2010, 05:17 PM
the dexcool itself wasnt 100% the problem. the other part of the problem ( from my understanding..) was that the rubber in the gaskets wasnt up to par and was being eatin away from various chemicals in the dex cool. But please correct me if i have misunderstood it.

when i did it it already had the green stuff in it. Which told me it either happened before. or it was a replacement motor. So i stuck with green. no real advantage to it, or disadvantage. Other than you have to replace it sooner than dexcool.

I reused my old intake bolts. i dont think they are TTY so they are ok to be reused as long as the threads and head are in good shape. I cleaned out the holes and the actual bolt really well and used LOADS of loc tite on them. still tight. But if your kit comes with them, and they are quality. Use them.

03-09-2010, 05:41 PM
Dexcool isn't to blame for the coolant leaks on these engines. A craptastic gasket design is.

Since the gasket was composed of plastic before the metal inserts were used, heat expansion and then contraction found with normal operation would stretch and crush the gaskets repeatedly. Over time the gasket would eventually fail.

This is why GM started using metal inserts on the 3400 and made the entire gasket out of aluminum on the 3800, 4.3 V6, 5.0 and 5.7 V8s.

03-12-2010, 07:16 AM

Dexcool eats the nylon base which then allows the silicone gasket to fail.

I used the standard Fel-Pro kit when I rebuilt mine, but replaced all the Dexcool with Prestone all-purpose (any color).

Intake bolts are not TTY but they recommend replacement because they require thread locker. The torque specs are so small you use Loctite on them or buy new bolts (which come with locker already applied) to prevent them from backing out.

sugar ray
03-15-2010, 10:46 PM
Well...... got her all apart this weekend.
By the way....... this link was a HUGE help



Couple of things I noticed. First up, 2 of the LIM bolts were SCARY lose. NOT lose to the point where I could un-do by hand BUT close! Also, tough to tell in the pic but there was quite a bit of sludge that formed from the #1 cylinder port so the LIM gasket had failed in that section for sure! The other side of the LIM gasket had cracked across the bridge section.

I originally was NOT going to replace the head gaskets BUT because I am already here why NOT just finish it for the little extra work involved in pulling the heads? It would be a shame to get it all back together just to have a head gasket fail 3 months down the road. Its almost a piece of mind doing it while your in there.
Haven't decided yet, may LIGHTLY port the heads a bit. Use to love porting the old small block chebbys to squeeze that extra juice:hay:

sugar ray
04-15-2010, 11:43 PM
Well.........hectic work schedule prevented me from finishing the project earlier then I had hoped but just got it all back together today. You sure can see the difference in the re manufactured Felpro kit compared to the stock rubber gaskets.

I decided to rebuild the heads while they were out. Had a little fun with porting and have freed up some horses. All is well that ends well :applause:

04-16-2010, 03:21 PM
Very nice man. :applause: