2006 3800 engine water in cylinders, back pressure in radiator, water in oil pan. UIM or head gasket?

Mad_Coachman

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That means my 2006 Lacrosse with the series lll 3.8 V-6 probably has the same gaskets. I would guess there where and are many hundred or thousand Buick owners that have/had the same over-heating due to these small coolant holes in the gasket.
Key word here is GUESS. We all know what can happen when one assumes something. ;)
 

Tom Simpson

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Let me ask something else. When removing the rear exhaust manifold "shield", 3 out of the 4 bolt heads simply broke off when removing. Is there another way of securing this shield? These bolts look to be a major PIA to remove the broke off bolts inside the threaded holes in the exhaust manifold.
Thanks
 

2007LucerneCXL

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This may sound dumb but a hose clamp(s) will hold it place and keep it from rattling, yes I know it works as the 95 Lesabre is functional, not pretty lol. There is always stainless wire or the fancy stainless pull ties it's a matter of choice how to re-anchor it seeing how it's out of the vehicle.
 

lasabre

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what I need to know is al this leaking and other upper manifold fallers now fixed and resolved on any of the newer modules of Buicks I really like the Buick but no the repair bills for leaks. so If the 2010 lacrosse has a new engine is it better?
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2007LucerneCXL

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3 different engines in that model year Lacrosse none is this one and the individual who posted the information doesn't have a clue what they are talking about otherwise you would see a flurry of head gasket post that the 3.8L series 3 was used in on various GM makes and models.

As the reason for this one having the problem it's unknown as the OP isn't the owner, so if it was a long term or short term problem and wasn't noticed until too late any engine can have bad results. 3.8L series 3 is the best in the series and you can check the internet but most consider it bullet proof especially compared to the other earlier series.

On the 2010 you may want to check all the available engines for that MY or start a new post on the subject.
 

Tom Simpson

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what I need to know is al this leaking and other upper manifold fallers now fixed and resolved on any of the newer modules of Buicks I really like the Buick but no the repair bills for leaks. so If the 2010 lacrosse has a new engine is it better?
I've owned an Olds 94 with a 3800 engine and when I let it go...it had 240,000 and was going strong. Never had a lick of trouble.
As far as the problems I am having...as I said...this is my parents car and it had overheated in the past...several times. You may ask why? Let me give a little more history and remember...it isn't my car so I only put "out the fires" when they come up.

The first problem with overheating came from a well known issue with GM using plastic coolant elbows that go from the spring tensioner to the block. With my parents...and many others...they developed a hairline crack and leaked very slowly. My Father, being old, never checked coolant until it simply overheated and went into power reduction mode. I replaced the elbows with aftermarket metal ones but suspect this is when the head gasket developed issues...but this is only speculation.

Sooooo...AFAIK, the 3800 engine is a great engine with some design "flaws" such as using plastic elbows, intake manifolds, etc.. The series III motor (2006 and up) now use aluminum IM's which probably cured the known issue of a leaking IM. The motor you are considering may or may not have the plastic water elbows? If so...it's still a great engine, just something you may want to replace. Just my opinion from a backyard mechanic with just a little experience with these motors.
 

FD611V

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Sooooo...AFAIK, the 3800 engine is a great engine with some design "flaws" such as using plastic elbows, intake manifolds, etc.. The series III motor (2006 and up) now use aluminum IM's which probably cured the known issue of a leaking IM. The motor you are considering may or may not have the plastic water elbows? If so...it's still a great engine, just something you may want to replace. Just my opinion from a backyard mechanic with just a little experience with these motors.
About 1200 miles after I bought the 2006 Lacrosse new in May 2006, a member of our church works at a Chev-Buick dealership here. He informed me that the plastic fittings (elbows) coolant pipes from the spring tensioner will fail and the engine will over-heat. I later found that there were aluminum replacements available and I bought those from O'Rielly's. One day I decided to tackle the chore. More time was spent draining the radiator and heater core and the alternator and other items to get to the belt tensioner assembly then actual replacing the elbows. Also, I completely flushed the entire block and replace the Dex-Cool with Prestone 50/50 coolant. With 72,680 miles now, I keep watch on any leaks that may occur in and around the cooling system.

After reading your report on what happen to your parents 2006 Lacrosse, and looking at the head gasket (photo) you shown, no doubt why the car over-heated. Those holes in the gasket for the head/block water ports some how swelled to a tiny pin hole from the normal 1/4" dia. ones.
Some people realize that all parts that go into building a engine are bought from the lowest bidder. And that head gasket appears to be a $24.00 one. General Motors don't install $105.00 head gaskets in their engines.
 

Tom Simpson

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Speaking of cheap head gaskets...can anyone recommend a quality head gasket kit that I can buy? I would like to buy all of the parts for the job at once. This means the IM gaskets, head gaskets, head bolts, Exhaust manifold gaskets, etc...
Thanks
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2007LucerneCXL

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Sorry can't help as all the 3.8L head gasket I'm aware of all have swelled the holes, what a crock. I'm guessing someone hasn't seen a 3.8L head gasket in awhile or ever.

71HXatRlwYL._AC_SY355_.jpg

Fel-Pro has a full head kit and while I never had a problem with there head gaskets it was on other engines.

Mahle may be another choice but not sure if they have a kit.
 

Tom Simpson

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Sorry can't help as all the 3.8L head gasket I'm aware of all have swelled the holes, what a crock. I'm guessing someone hasn't seen a 3.8L head gasket in awhile or ever.

View attachment 30023

Fel-Pro has a full head kit and while I never had a problem with there head gaskets it was on other engines.

Mahle may be another choice but not sure if they have a kit.
Thanks...I saw thier kits at Rock Auto. They were more expensive than the kits on Amazon but they may be worth it? I doubt this car will ever put another 10K miles on it because my parents drive it about 10 miles a week....
 

Tom Simpson

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Ok...Update:
Finished the heads. It started up so the ignition issue is fixed. But it immediately overheated. I shut down and I bled air out of coolant system and removed the thermostat. Now it is running very cool. I also checked to see if I still had back pressure in cooling system and I do not. So...the heads seem to be sealing now.
I also checked compression in front three cylinders. No water in cylinders but compression in the front 3 cylinders.

#1 - 120 psi
#3 - 75 psi
#5 - 145 psi

I think the compression issues are because of the motor ingesting water for so long. Hopefully the rings will break free and seal more after running more. If not...then I will live with it because the car is not worth spending money for a ring job .

Anyway... the car is idling rough now. Let me ask...when you disconnect the battery does this 3800 engine have a "idle learning" procedure like some cars do? If not, I assume it's idling a little rough because it's running too cool or it could be because of the compression issue?

Thanks
 

2007LucerneCXL

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Here's a relearn procedure if needed
Most will adjust when driven and on off cycles.

While #3 is low at 75 psi compared #5 all 3 cylinders numbers are the same, close enough, before the head gaskets. So it may just run as good or bad depending on viewpoint as before.

Was the extra hose located to anything? Once up and running if still running rough check for vacuum leaks.

If possible pressuring the cylinder with air may help if it may be a intake or exhaust valve leak, some times banging on the valve with a rubber mallet may seat it. Shooting some flavor of lubrication in the top of cylinder and leaving it sit for awhile may help on loosening the rings.
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SlowBoating

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Cannot believe the experts on this forum didn't recognize the problem... engine over-heating due to bad head gaskets. The head gasket appears to be a faulty one. Three out of the four water jackets holes look to be "non functional" for cooling the head and pistons. In fact never seen a head gasket that only appears to have 1/4" dia. coolant holes, and three somehow managed to swell to just a "tiny" pin hole for the coolant to flow from heads to engine block.
Might as well replace both head gaskets, and with some good $80.00 gaskets instead of those $30.00 ones that Buick love to install. That means my 2006 Lacrosse with the series lll 3.8 V-6 probably has the same gaskets. I would guess there where and are many hundred or thousand Buick owners that have/had the same over-heating due to these small coolant holes in the gasket. BTW: When you buy the replacement ones, take a 1/2" hole punch and make those coolant hoes half-inch dia.
The hole sizes appear intentional, and even $80 gaskets have tiny little holes. Below is a link to FelPro's reasoning why this is so:

 

Tom Simpson

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Here's a relearn procedure if needed
Most will adjust when driven and on off cycles.

While #3 is low at 75 psi compared #5 all 3 cylinders numbers are the same, close enough, before the head gaskets. So it may just run as good or bad depending on viewpoint as before.

Was the extra hose located to anything? Once up and running if still running rough check for vacuum leaks.

If possible pressuring the cylinder with air may help if it may be a intake or exhaust valve leak, some times banging on the valve with a rubber mallet may seat it. Shooting some flavor of lubrication in the top of cylinder and leaving it sit for awhile may help on loosening the rings.
Still don't know where the hose went? Oh well....I may spray some starting fluid and check for leaks.
Thanks
 

Tom Simpson

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Update...
I put the thermostat back in and it overheated. Sooo...I also have a bad Tstat.
I sprayed starting fluid around intake and couldn't find any leaks so I don't know where that hose went...
 

Arthur_Davies

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I've found this thread very informative and interesting.

You keep saying you're a "back yard mechanic," but I suspect you're a bit more than that! Kudos for taking on a head gasket job. I wouldn't know where to start.

Good luck with your project.
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