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Thread: 3100 Oil Pan Gasket

  1. #1
    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Default 3100 Oil Pan Gasket

    I've been amazed at how difficult servicing the 3100 V6 in the Century is compared to the older Buick 3300, but this one has hit a new low. I looked at the shop manual and should have known better, as changing the oil pan gasket requires disconnecting the exhaust, steering coupling and lowering the engine cradle, removing the rear cross member, besides removing a bracket on the trans axle that doesn't even exist. The aftermarket manuals are almost as bad, and they want you to disconnect the steering knuckle and disengage the right axle from the knuckle, I assume to prevent hyperextending the right axle when lifting the front of the engine, but it never says. They also say to remove the anti-sway bar.

    As I feared, I couldn't get the pan out once disconnected I had every thing out of the way (I never even removed the starter when I changed the pan gasket on the '92 3300 when I replaced the timing chain). I even went to the trouble to by a Harbor Freight engine support bar for this project. I'm glad I did.



    Since I had the pan loose but trapped, and not low enough to actually change the gasket, I figured I could separate the the engine cradle at the right front corner of the car, since it is bolted rather than welded like the left side. Rather than drive the steering knuckle apart, I marked the alignment and removed the strut as a unit.





    It sure seems like it should have come out the bottom, but I couldn't do it. It was close though. Removing the transmission pan would have allowed a fraction more clearance.



    The front cross member all cleaned and painted



    The new gasket. The leak was the worst on the odd corner (gasket doesn't go around the bolt holes). It took Simple Green, a scrub brush, and 4 cans of brake cleaner to get it this clean.



    Ready to slide into place. I still find it hard to believe it came out through the wheel well.



    All back together and everything is good, but I don't know if I'd do this again. I'd definitely plan for more than a day and a half. Took me 3 days and a couple hours in 2 evenings.

    Incidentally, doing it this way, I did not disconnect exhaust, steering coupling, anti-sway bar or bushings, and never drained coolant.
    Jerry



  2. #2
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Jerry,

    I have a question for you since you've gone real close to where I need to go. I'm going to eventually do a trans swap on my '96 (exact same setup as yours). With your exprience, would you pull the trans from the top with the engine, or attempt to drop it from below? How high did yo have to raise the car to get the pan out, and how did you support it?

    Thanks,
    Ken T.

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    I had my (qty 2) jack stands at about 15" resting in the jacking pads. I have 4 jack stands total and 2 floor jacks I moved around during the project.
    I still don't think I had it high enough for trans-axle removal. I'd like to see the dimensional height of the bell housing alone (David might know, the 4T60 was the same). It seems like coming out the top might be easier at home, but I see items in the way (brake components and possibly low pressure A/C piping, though shifting power-train to the passenger's side might clear) that might present challenges too.
    The trans-axle looks like more of a challenge than I could handle without a lift.
    Jerry

  4. #4

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    Wow, that is crazy. I thought the 3300 was bad enough with the one bolt on the far Passenger side that is barely accessible, but that's nothing compared to what you just described. It literally took me like 45 minutes to unscrew that one bolt, once I found the right tools etc.

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    I've always taken the trans out the bottom. I highly doubt it would even fit out the top. Unless of course the engine/trans are coming out as a unit. But even then, the rear trans mount tends to get hung up on the steering rack.
    -Andy

    '86 Eurosport VR coupe, '86 Eurosport sedan, '86 Eurosport sedan, '88 Eurosport VR coupe, '88 Eurosport wagon, '93 Ciera sedan

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 86euro View Post
    I've always taken the trans out the bottom. I highly doubt it would even fit out the top. Unless of course the engine/trans are coming out as a unit. But even then, the rear trans mount tends to get hung up on the steering rack.
    Andy,

    How high did you have to go? Whole cradle or a split?

    Thanks,
    Ken T.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    Andy,

    How high did you have to go? Whole cradle or a split?

    Thanks,
    Ken T.
    Normally I did them on a lift, but from what I remember you need about 2ft and that's bare minimum.

    I've done the cradle split once, I didn't feel that it really saved time or made it easier. All other times was a full cradle drop and it usually involved a helper.

    But everyone has their preferences too.
    -Andy

    '86 Eurosport VR coupe, '86 Eurosport sedan, '86 Eurosport sedan, '88 Eurosport VR coupe, '88 Eurosport wagon, '93 Ciera sedan

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Splitting the cradle worked for the oil pan, but I would agree that it wouldn't be of much help with the transmission. It might not have been the best way with the oil pan either, but it's what I did. Too afraid on my part to lower the cradle with what I have.
    Jerry

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