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View Full Version : Head gasket job on 96 Olds Ciera 3.1 v6



tokyo67
04-28-2014, 01:20 AM
Hello,
Nice site here, thanks for having me! My name is Jay. I have a 1996 Olds Cutlass Ciera 3.1 v6. It has 176k miles on it now, but when I first got it there was only 60k. This car has been a great car, it was eve stolen but then recovered. Anyways. I had the intake gasket replaced by a friend who is a mechanic about 6 years ago. Well temperature problems and coolant on the oil cap, though none seemed visible on the stick told me it was another intake gasket. I went ahead and put a new radiator in it, and got the felpro permadry gasket and installed it. But when I started it up I could see coolant was leaking from the head gasket. The heads have been taken to the shop. He milled them and also informed me that they had been cut once before. He suggested using washers. But searching the internet for specific washers for head bolt installation brings up just a few hits mostly regarding high performance engines. I was hoping some one here could suggest a type of washer and where I might get them at. Also I had a question regarding reusing the intake gasket. It was installed for about 26 hrs. 24 for the rtv to set up, then I started it up, realized it was leaking, shut it off and tore it back down again. The engine never even got warm. The kit cost me about 85 and I would hate to have to buy it again just for the LIM gasket but if that's the case then I don't have much of a choice. The permatorque gaskets and new bolts will be here tomorrow so I start the reassembly. This is my first major project though I am good with tools and directions. I have always worked on car interiors not the engines. I can also work on computers and laptops so I figured what they hay! Anyways I would appreciate anyone's suggestions, comments and or opinions. Thanks.

SilentWing
04-28-2014, 01:37 AM
You don't need washers, there's plenty of clearance on the threads of the bolt. Even if the heads have been cut before at absolute most between the two cuttings there should be 3-5 thousandths of an inch gone, nowhere near enough to make a difference.

As for re using the gaskets, you can... if it you dare. For $80 IMO it's silly not to just buy another kit if you're putting that much money into the head gaskets anyway.

While you're in there, replace the dummy distributor o-ring... sometimes they come in the gasket kit but that's not guaranteed.

Duke George V
04-28-2014, 03:14 AM
http://www.a-body.net/forums/showthread.php?11563-quot-What-could-possibly-go-wrong-quot-Let-s-Play-GM-3100-Head-Gasket-Job-blind

Start here. I did this exact job not too long ago.

tokyo67
04-28-2014, 04:11 AM
Thanks for the replies SilentWing and Duke George. I already read your awesome build log George. Nicely done. I often wonder if that douche ever got mouth herpes. Well I was afraid I would have to shell out another 85. Dammit man! Yeah the dummy distr oring came in the kit. I didn't know what it was until I read 3100 what could possibly go wrong. I think the machine shop said I had a total of .040 gone between the 2 grinds. I am seriously thinking about bypassing that PITA coolant feed that goes into the air intake thingy. Since I live in FL I doubt I will ever need to worry about icing. Kind of dumb since I had to go to the gm dealer and buy that pipe with the 2 little pipes coming off it, mine was corroded. Hey do you guys recommend getting the degree guage thing or just eyeball the 95degrees oafter torque?

tokyo67
04-28-2014, 04:13 AM
And thanks again guys! I was hoping to hear from at least one of you! This is a great place!

Keiths1976
04-28-2014, 09:11 PM
Tokyo a ? For u my friend where in florida since I am from here also
hehe 1995 buick century

SilentWing
04-28-2014, 10:48 PM
You shouldn't need a degree gauge, just use your best guess and it'll be fine. I would re-check what they told you, that 40 thousandths seems like an awful lot unless those heads were severely baked and warped both times...

BTW thanks Daniel... that's where I talked about the distributor o ring, I couldn't remember for the life of me what post that was in.

tokyo67
04-28-2014, 11:20 PM
Thanks SilentWing, Keiths1976 I am outside Lakeland, in Polk City. BFE but close enough to the city to go there when I miss the traffic. Well I got A head gasket and my bolts. Of course the one bolt that I needed was not included. Its the front outside bolt that the ac and motor mount bracket bolt into the head bolt. They sent one with a stud sticking out so maybe I can use that with a nut. Any tips on modifying that heater pipe with the 2 little pipes that go into the manifold where the air intake is. I want to just plug those little pipes up and also the pipes they go into on the manifold. I wish now I would have bought the one without the little pipes, I could have gotten that from advanced I think. Also any tips on applying anything to the head bolts besides oil like the felpro paper says to coat the threads and underside of the bolts with oil. I will call the machine shop guy tomorrow and ask him what he cut off of them. Thanks again!

SilentWing
04-29-2014, 12:04 AM
Just a little bit of oil, not a lot since you're going into a blind hole. If you put the bolt in there with the threads dripping with oil, it can hydraulically seal and lock and as you force the bolt down to torque it, it can crack the block with the sheer amount of force needed to tighten the bolt. Lay them out on a paper towel, drizzle the oil over the threads and let them sit for about 15-20 mins and let it drip off, you only want a very fine film of oil on the threads.

As for the head bolts, sounds like you got a set for a newer gen 3100. You heed a bolt that goes through the a/c bracket... if nothing else put the new one in and don't bother trying to put a nut or anything on the top of it, it won't matter. There's plenty of other bolts holding the bracket in place.

tokyo67
04-29-2014, 12:19 AM
Thanks SilentWing. Will be putting the back head on tomorrow and the exhaust pipe and all that stuff that caused me the most grief. I pulled the dummy distributor out and as expected the oring was hard and snapped when I tried to take it off. Unfortunately I couldn't find the orings that came with the intake manifold set. I called autozone and for 1.99 they ordered it from felpro. It will be in on the 1st. The other head gasket will be on Wednesday. I have a dr's apt on wed so I may get to work on it the second half of the day. Keeping everything crossed that it all goes back together the way it came apart, and that she starts up and runs like the scalded dog she has always been. I will keep you guys posted and I am sure will have another question or three before its all said and done. Thanks again sir and have a great night!

Keiths1976
04-29-2014, 12:55 AM
West palm Tokyo another a -body friend close by :)

Keiths1976
04-29-2014, 12:56 AM
Also napa is great for those gaskets to they look up by the books on gm cars

SilentWing
04-29-2014, 12:05 PM
You're welcome, and good luck. Definitely let us know. Not that it's a big deal or anything, but I'm a ma'am ;)

tokyo67
04-30-2014, 06:51 PM
Not that big a deal, lmao! Year right, sorry about that Ma'am! Seriously! Nice to put a gender with a screen name! Its awesome that you know so much about cars! Autozone gave me the wrong o ring for the dummy distributor. 5 of them to be exact! But my guy guy up there said to bring em back alonh with LIM gaskets and he will swap em out! That just saved me 80! Still waiting on gasket #2 to show up but the rear one is on and torqued down, also got the pita exhaust pipe bolted back to the manifold. Should be smooth sailing from here. Thanks again I will talk to you soon. Just had to pop in to re-read Duke George's thread and see what the dummy distr. was called again. Oil pump drive, Doh!

tokyo67
04-30-2014, 06:54 PM
@ Keiths1976 drove through West Palm before, never stopped. Been to Ft. Lauderdale, remodeled the Hyatt Pier 66 years ago. Born in Orlando, need to visit the keys before I die!

tokyo67
04-30-2014, 07:19 PM
BONUS! I found the oil pump drive o ring that came with the felpro intake gasket set!!!! Also I meant to ask any one who would know... I bought the fail safe thermostat but it doesn't fit down into the recessed area like the regular one does. I even tried with different gaskets but it just cut them up when I bolted it down. Has anyone ever had the same problem with the fail safe thermostats? Being a 96 its at the tail end of the model year, kinda got shafted on the book and sometimes with parts its hard to find. I bought a new radiator from classic? on ebay. Got it for 75 and it fits, hope I don't have issues like I've reading about on here. Will know once I get it bak together and test drive it. Should be this weekend sometime hopefully!!!

SilentWing
05-01-2014, 01:08 AM
Oh shoot yeah I forgot about that... Luke (husband) had the exact same thing happen with his Cutlass Supreme... well almost the exact same thing. He had replaced the LIM gaskets a year or so earlier and then the head gaskets went. When we went back to Autozone they warrantied out the LIM gaskets. Good catch on your friend's part.

On the fail safe thermostat... don't do it. They're very very touchy to even very short momentary higher coolant temperatures and will lock open (usually within a month or two of installing it) for no good reason. You'll end up having to put it in again because it'll overcool the car and you'll have no heat in the winter. Just get a regular thermostat, you'll thank yourself later.

tokyo67
05-03-2014, 11:50 PM
Well got sidelined by 2 flat tires. Got that taken care of, and also plugged the 2 little pipes on the heater water pipe, Now I think I am going to unscrew to water pipes that come out of the throttle body area of the plenum. may just cover the holes with some silicone or rtv. Also thinking about taking out the radiator and removing the compressor, since there hasn't been any freon in the system for quite a few years, so I can get the ac bracket on easier. I tried yesterday but with the compressor in the way it is hard to make sure it is perfectly lined up and with the threaded holes in the bracket as well as the block it seems like I may have better luck with everything out of the way. Besides when tax refund gets here I am going to buy a compressor kit so I can have air again. Also need to replace the blower motor since it only blows when its on high now. I guess I should replace the cabin filter too. Lots of little things that have been neglected over the years. Its also time for another headliner. I did it about 6 years ago with the visors, but headliners don't last too long here in florida with all the humidity. Anyways if the weather finallt clears up for tomorrow I may just get everything back together tomorrow! Hopefully!

tokyo67
05-03-2014, 11:57 PM
Oh shoot yeah I forgot about that... Luke (husband) had the exact same thing happen with his Cutlass Supreme... well almost the exact same thing. He had replaced the LIM gaskets a year or so earlier and then the head gaskets went. When we went back to Autozone they warrantied out the LIM gaskets. Good catch on your friend's part.

On the fail safe thermostat... don't do it. They're very very touchy to even very short momentary higher coolant temperatures and will lock open (usually within a month or two of installing it) for no good reason. You'll end up having to put it in again because it'll overcool the car and you'll have no heat in the winter. Just get a regular thermostat, you'll thank yourself later.

Thank SilentWing, I didn't think I should use it simply because it doesn't fit inside the lip correctly. I always heard that GM's run hotter than most cars. He the coolant fan doesn't come on until the temp gauge goes to halfway what ever that temp is. I want to install a real temperature gauge with numbers. I have always thought that temperature gauges should be set up to warn you way before they do, maybe even with an audible alarm, because be the time you see the red, you are most likely dead. Especially with aluminum heads. I still have the new gant thermostat that I bought before the failsafe. I should be able to reuse the plenum gasket shouldn't I? I didn't take them in to swap with the LIM gasket and I am sure they shipped the old one out already.. Hope so! Thanks again and I will update you soon! Wish me luck that I get it back together tomorrow.

tokyo67
05-04-2014, 09:08 PM
Wouldn't you know it... One more trip to the parts store to get another water inlet fitting with the quick connect on one end. When I took it apart this last time the quick connect quickly flew apart and the innards went everywhere and I lost the plastic quick connect insert. Sure was hoping to have it done by this afternoon. Got the ac and bracket back on, and the intake torqued down. If I get to the parts store tonight then I should be ready for a test crank, and maybe even a test drive by noon. Been a little preoccupied this weekend, as our mama pig had her 2nd litter on Friday. Went from 2 pigs in October to 6. And now 12. I cant believe she had 6 little piglets. One of them is red, well kinda looks like a deer. Cute as button, all of them! Anyways Will touch back when I get the car running to let you know how everything went.

babyivan
05-04-2014, 10:06 PM
On the fail safe thermostat... don't do it. They're very very touchy to even very short momentary higher coolant temperatures and will lock open (usually within a month or two of installing it) for no good reason. You'll end up having to put it in again because it'll overcool the car and you'll have no heat in the winter. Just get a regular thermostat, you'll thank yourself later.

So true!! Failsafe t-stats are nothing more than a gimmick!
They are complete junk, IMO.

Here's a t-stat thread (http://www.a-body.net/forums/showthread.php?27248-Thermostat&p=94454#post94454) that I talked all about it on....

I use the Stant Superstat with great results! My fan kicks on less with it, which means less HOT/COLD HOT/COLD cycling.

tokyo67
05-06-2014, 02:11 AM
So true!! Failsafe t-stats are nothing more than a gimmick!
They are complete junk, IMO.

Here's a t-stat thread (http://www.a-body.net/forums/showthread.php?27248-Thermostat&p=94454#post94454) that I talked all about it on....

I use the Stant Superstat with great results! My fan kicks on less with it, which means less HOT/COLD HOT/COLD cycling.

Thanks for the read babyivan. Glad I have a regular stat in there. Well I now have a question. I know I should have taken pictures or labeled connection but since I had just done the intake gasket I figured I didn't need to. This thing: picture from Duke George's thread about what could possibly go wrong... Well I can seem to find enough connectors to have 2 extra that would plug into this thingy:
http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/mm30/tokyo67/VaifiSyh.jpg (http://s292.photobucket.com/user/tokyo67/media/VaifiSyh.jpg.html)

I know it goes on the studs that the coil pack dingus mounts on, but I can't remember if there were any connectors that went to it. It would seem pointless if there wasn't. I am going to tear off behind the back head area and look closely for connectors that may have fallen into the void. If all goes well I will have it together and try starting it up tomorrow @ noonish. Just got back from the part store where I swapped out the water inlet quick connect fitting and used some of my rewards cash to get a new lower rad hose. I hope the farce is with me tomorrow!

tokyo67
05-06-2014, 12:52 PM
STOP Looking, I found it... A whole cluster of connectors. Doh! Had to pull the plenum back off to attach the fuel lines. I wonder how many times I will forget to do the same damn thing! A little break, then back to finish buttoning it up. Guess I will put the battery charger on it now too. Nearly done now. Starting to get nervous!

tokyo67
05-06-2014, 07:30 PM
Ok, after pulling the plenum back off to put a better fitting o ring in the fuel inlet line, its all back together and its not leaking at the fuel rail... Now it is leaking at the fitting where the rubber fuel line meets the metal one. I have tried pulling on it until it kind of feels like it locks into place, and pushing it in until it stops, but it still leaks a little fuel. Not pouring but enough to not be safe. I am at a stand still now for this. Any ideas. Can you remove the fitting and clamp it to the metal inlet line?

tokyo67
05-06-2014, 07:45 PM
Here is a picture of the fuel line. The one on the right is the one that's leaking.
http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/mm30/tokyo67/fuellines.jpg (http://s292.photobucket.com/user/tokyo67/media/fuellines.jpg.html)

tokyo67
05-06-2014, 09:44 PM
Stop looking I found it! Started up, ran rough for a few minutes. And smoked from the front and back of the engine. Guess it was stuff burning off cuz it slowly went away. The temp gauge goes up to a little over half then the fan kicks in and drops down to a little under half. Seems higher than I remember. Will actually take it on the road after dinner. Gottta bleed the coolant first though. Oh an d the gas leak dried up!

tokyo67
05-06-2014, 10:04 PM
The good news: No steam or smoke coming from the exhaust. It started and ran ( I moved it to a different spot in the yard and seemed to run ok, no sputtering) All nervousness now gone.
The bad news: The temp gauge goes up to half (never really noticed that before), check engine light ( could be any number of sensors that should be replaced especially since its got 175k miles.

I did it. Now I can add that to the list of things I can do. YAY! Almost time for a road trip after chow time! Thanks every body for your help!

tokyo67
05-07-2014, 01:43 AM
OK just back from an apr 50 mile test drive, some highway some stop and go. In traffic the highest it would get was halfway, but on the highway stayed about a quarter on the gauge. Seems good to go. Thanks for the help everyone, @SlientWing, @DukeGeorge, @babyivan, @keiths. If anyone needs any tips on the interior feel free to hit me up. @ tokyo67@hotmail.com. Thanks again!!

tokyo67
05-07-2014, 04:15 PM
The dang thing is still leaking a little fuel. I relieved the pressure and I am going to let it dry up and then put rtv down into the area surrounding the pipe where it goes into the fitting and hope that does. Its not leaking bad like dripping or anything but enough to get your finger a little wet when you touch it. Just another pita! Guess I should look into changing out the fitting. Of course you probably have to change the whole pipe and I just don't fel like taking the plenum off and messing with the fuel line again dammit!

babyivan
05-07-2014, 04:24 PM
The dang thing is still leaking a little fuel. I relieved the pressure and I am going to let it dry up and then put rtv down into the area surrounding the pipe where it goes into the fitting and hope that does. Its not leaking bad like dripping or anything but enough to get your finger a little wet when you touch it. Just another pita! Guess I should look into changing out the fitting. Of course you probably have to change the whole pipe and I just don't fel like taking the plenum off and messing with the fuel line again dammit!

I recommend the doing right and changing out the line. RTV won't help.

A fuel leak effects fuel pressure, not a good thing.

SilentWing
05-07-2014, 11:09 PM
There's an o-ring in there, if you can get at it with a pick and get it out and find another one that's the right size and compatible with fuel you might be able to fix it... if you're lucky. If not it's time to replace it, like babyivan said RTV won't work. Glad to hear you got it running though :)

tokyo67
05-08-2014, 03:24 AM
Well i was able to cut an o ring to fit inside the recessed area then used jb weld steel epoxy to cover it all up nice and thick. Stopped the leak. But I have a studder from time to to time. Going to check the plug wires in the morning, they are new, and the plugs are as well. Other than that the temp stays around a quarter unless I am in stop and go traffic then it gets closer to half. And no more steam coming from the exhaust pipe. No smoke either. Of course it never has smoked.p

tokyo67
05-09-2014, 08:04 PM
Ok I got the fuel leak fixed. But this thing is still missing. Seems to do it sometimes when accelerating, and sometimes worse than others. Sometimes not at all. This morning took a trip into Tampa and it was missing all the way there. But on the way back it was fine until I said out loud hey its not missing anymore, then it started but not as bad. I put some heet (water remover) and a bottle of lucas tune up in a bottle and a full tank of fresh gas but it still does it. I double checked the plug wires to make sure they weren't touching the manifold and grounding out. That happened once on a Silverado I had after I did a tune up before a trip out to phoenix. I took off from tampa and didn't slow down until I hit rush hour in new Orleans the I noticed it missing. When I got to phoenix I found a plug wire had stuck to the manifold and was grounding out. I put a fuel pump and sending unit in the olds about about 2 years ago, but didn't change the fuel filter. I guess I will go ahead and do that since it needs it anyways. The temperature is spot on though and besides the missing it runs great! I am amazed that I was able to take on this project and my nerves are all better now that its over and car runs. Thanks again to everyone here!

thesam1984
05-11-2014, 02:52 PM
I would guess that a coil or the module they sit on is bad... when moisture gets in there it misses and when it dries up it gets a good connection and goes away... mine does this when it rains. I wrapped it with rescue tape and it stopped so I know that it was it

tokyo67
05-12-2014, 05:08 AM
Thanks thesam1984, yes I have had that problem with severe flooding. Once after a rainstorm it was cutting off and back on, and missing all the way home, and wouldn't start the next day. I took the coil assembly off and took it apart and cleaned and dried it, let it sit inside overnight. I put it back in the next day and it ran perfectly again. I will check it though I have yet to drive in any rain since I put it all back together. Thanks again.