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97 Chevy Venture - Head Gasket Help

03-16-2006, 03:54 AM
Hello. This is my first post!

I just bought a 1997 Chevy Venture Van for $400.00 from my neighbor. This is a almost mint condition on the body, and very nice inside. What a shame. It has 147,000 miles on it.

I thought I would tackle some of the problems it has. Upon reading many posts, and at!! I can't believe all the things going wrong with these cars/engines (trans, intake gaskets, head gaskets, doors, power windows). I like Chevy, but come on...

Here is my dilema:

The previous owner said his wife was driving, then the temp gauge went up very hot. She drove home, and when her husband took a look at it and started it, WHITE SMOKE comes out the tailpipe and smells a little like anitfreeze.

The radiator is full of antifreeze.
The resavour has antifreeze in it.
The heater dosn't blow hot air, when warmed up.
The hoses don't seem to get hot either (upper rad hose).
The engine starts right up.
The engine idles very nicely.
There is no antifreeze in the oil.

* After a few seconds of starting it, a huge billow of white smoke comes out the tailpipe. Very embarrassing!

Everyone tells me it's the head gasket and that it is blown.

How did it get this way? Do you guys recommend replacing the intake manifold gasket first, then the head gaskets (both of them)? Or just the intake gasket itself and not the head gaskets?

What would be causing heads to either crack/warp/or blow a gasket?

Also - is it harder to replace the head gaskets than the intake manifold gaskets?

This car looks nice. Very roomy! Too bad such a bad rep! I just need it to haul things occassionally.

Thanks guys!


03-16-2006, 07:14 PM
To get to the head gaskets, you have to remove the heads, which require removing the intake manifold. In between removing the intake manifold and removing the heads you gain access to the intake gasket. You will replace it as part of the head gasket job.

And you have a head gasket leak at a minimum. Worst case, you could have a cracked head or cylinder wall. Pulling the heads is the only way really to tell for sure where the problem is. Take the heads to a shop and they can pressure test them as well as plane them down smooth and clean them up.

Total head gasket cost is <$400 if you do all the labor yourself and no serious problems are found with your head. Obviously if other problems are found, costs go up.

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