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Buick Forum: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.
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  1. #1
    InsanityWerks is offline Buick Newbie My Buick(s): 1996 buick regal custom
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    Question Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

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    Hello I just purchased a 1996 regal custom with the 3.1 engine and I have noticed a leak to me its pointing towards the head gasket moisture around the outside of that area no coolant signs in the oil and not overheating and no white smoke, just damp looking around the outside of head gasket. I'm looking to fix this but wondering how to do and what would be needed to fix. Willing to get hands dirty to save a bit of money.

  2. #2
    ryenie is offline Full Member My Buick(s): 95 Monte Carlo L36
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

    As far as parts i would highly recommend a head gasket kit (if you could find one with updated intake gaskets it would be a major plus), and new head bolts. You should only need basic tools, plus a torque wrench. It's just unplugging and peeling everything off of the intake and then from the cylinder heads. The timing won't have to be messed with which is a major plus (score 1 for ohv). You do need to make sure that the pushrods are kept in the order of removal (replace any that aren't circular on the end), and also the exhaust and intake pushrods are different lengths and don't follow the same order down the cylinder. Removing the exhaust cross over pipe is helpful but not required. The alternator and bracket along with the power steering pump will have to be removed. The power steering pump only needs to be unbolted, and pulled from it's location (you can leave the hoses attached and just move to the side), and not sure put the a\c compressor may need to be unbolted and moved aside and the mounting bracket for it removed in order to remove the front valve cover. I remember having to remove this bracket, but can't remember if it has to come off for the 3.1 or 3.8. So if the front valve cover won't come off with the bracket in place, the a\c compressor and bracket have to be removed. Also the oil pump drive cap has an o-ring on it, it's been my experience it will only come out with top of the engine disassembled, even if it's not leaking i would recommend replacing it, the o-ring should come with the head gasket kit, if it starts leaking it can be a pain to replace and you'll end up kicking yourself in the rear for not doing it. Good luck with your project, and if any further don't hesitate to ask. Depending on if it is leaking towards the center or the outside of the engine, it may just be intake gaskets. If it's collecting in the intake could be lower intake gaskets, if it's leaking on the exhaust side then i would say head gasket. Might want to do a compression test and confirm head gasket before having to take the extra steps of removing the heads.
    Last edited by ryenie; April 20th, 2017 at 04:10 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

    Pressure test cooling system to see if holds pressure first.

  4. #4
    InsanityWerks is offline Buick Newbie My Buick(s): 1996 buick regal custom
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

    Ok what I see when looking at engine is it being wet around the head gasket part of engine. this is on both ends of the head. With car sitting and running in driveway I see leak mark on driveway. Also looks like previous owner used stop leak product radiator looks nasty. I did drive car home 15 to 20 drive in city no overheating have checked oil and no indication of coolant in the oil. Have looked on rock auto for the part but I'm confused on the words first design and second design in the part description, How can i tell which one mine would be?

  5. #5
    ryenie is offline Full Member My Buick(s): 95 Monte Carlo L36
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

    Not sure which design is which but one design has plastic push rod guides on the top edge of the lower intake gaskets, the other doesn't. You would have to remove and inspect the old lower intake manifold gaskets to be sure.

  6. #6
    InsanityWerks is offline Buick Newbie My Buick(s): 1996 buick regal custom
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

    is there any other way besides taking it apart to tell. ordering the parts from rock auto much cheaper then buying local even with shipping. I dont have garage and dont want to leave the engine apart.

  7. #7
    ryenie is offline Full Member My Buick(s): 95 Monte Carlo L36
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

    If you order the one with guides, you can cut them off if you don't need them. You would have to get the valve cover off, or the lower intake, both require a hand full of components to come off. If you got the valve cover off i would say if there are metal pushrod guides just below the rocker arm then it has the gaskets without the guides. i don't think you could actually see the plastic guides from looking at it with only the valve cover off. Also, when it comes time to start taking it apart, when it comes to 7mm, 8mm, and 10mm bolts, make sure to use a 6pt not a 12pt socket or wrench. It doesn't take much for a 12pt to round of the bolts (more so on these three sizes than with the larger ones) sometimes you can still use a 6pt if it spins, but not always.
    Last edited by ryenie; April 23rd, 2017 at 08:03 PM.

  8. #8
    InsanityWerks is offline Buick Newbie My Buick(s): 1996 buick regal custom
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    Re: Coolant loss thinking bad head gasket.

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