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Old 06-18-2009, 12:16 PM   #1
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01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

OK, I'm pretty sure it's a head gasket...
a little background
it's an 01 grand am SE, it has 202,000 miles on it. I have owned it since 27k. Oil has been changed every 3000 - 4000 miles, and I have used synthetic for the past 102,000 miles. At about 80k miles I had the wonderful intake gasket/antifreeze in oil issue and got that repaired (I was on a trip and didn't have any tools or a place to work).
I changed the oil 5 days ago, no trace of AF in the oil at all. I did have a running rough issue several days back, but it ended up being a hole in my PVC elbow, replaced that and it ran perfect again.
Today I drove to work with no issues, but on my way out to a customers site this AM, I noticed that I was running about 4 dashes warmer than normal. I got back in my car and it wouldn't start. I looked at the AF resovior and it was mostly empty. I let the enging cool down a bit and filled it back up with some water. It made a boiling noise and the water disappeared. That's when I got really worried. So I pulled out the oil dipstick and it was a nice frothy mix of about $45 worth of synthetic oil and antifreeze.

So I guess my question is - Is it the head gasket, could it be the intake gasket again? If it's most likely the head gasket I'll have to replace the intake gasket anyway right? How big of a job is this? Also what is recommended to flush the engine of it's newfound AF?
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:07 PM   #2
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

If you can do LIM you can do heads too,

expect 11.5 hrs to 12 hrs of work, keep everything organized, take a lot of pictures put then on your lap top if you have and later on you can use it as an easy reference. Put some wd40 on exhaust pipe bolts before trying to loosen them (they break easy) if you need instructions let us know...

also perfect time to clean carbon from your valves and piston tops..
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:04 PM   #3
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

I'm betting its the LIM gaskets again. If a head gasket was blown to the point of allowing that much coolant into the oil, you would have combustion gasses making their way into the cooling system.

Do your radiator hoses get a lot of pressure immediatly after a cold startup?

Did you pull the plugs to check for discoloration and moisture?

When your LIM's were replaced, were the fel-pro metal framed ones installed or the standard GM plastic ones?

You can remove the UIM, LIM, and once the LIM is off, check to see if you can find a leak.

I just got done putting a second set of LIM gaskets into my g/f's 3100 GP SE. Now we are trying to find a part number for a 180 stat so I can tune her fans to come on at different points with my powertuner in hopes of not blowing a 3rd set of LIM gaskets.....
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:57 PM   #4
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

My radiator hoses don't get any pressure. It feels like I could dump water into my resavoir continually and it would keep draining into the crankcase. I added about 2 gallons and the resavoir was still empty. I haven't pulled the plugs yet or done much other than see that there was a ton of AF in the oil when I pulled the dipstick out. I'll be getting it into my garage tomorrow and will be able to get a better look at things there. When my LIM's were replaced they SAID that they used the metal framed ones. Guess I'll be finding out soon.

So basically if I get the LIM off and I can find a leak there I should be good just replacing those gaskets? Also, what's the deal w/ the 180 tstat and the fan tuning? How does that help? Also I have been running the green AF for the last 120k miles since the time I had the LIM gaskets replaced the first time.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:46 AM   #5
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

since you are going to be close to the heads when working on lim, I would take couple more hours extra and do the head gaskets and get it over with, use torque specs for everything and at the end on lim bolts put some blue thread lock. Nothing worse than doing it all over after couple of months because of the head gaskets now.....

also do not forget to put new t stat since it is going to be easier to do it with lim off. What I did in hope to releave stress on lim is drilled 3 small holes on T-stat at 12, 5 and 7 o'clock. 12 should solve air pocket issues, and 5 and 7 wll provide constant slow circulation. As I said I have it on mine and it works great.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:47 AM   #6
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

thanks for all the input guys. I've got it trailered up and will be taking it to the house after work and get started sometime this weekend.
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Old 06-21-2009, 02:31 PM   #7
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

I agree with it being the LI gaskets.

I would change the head gaskets with those miles,when you pull the heads get them checked at a machine shop. Its well worth it since the LI is going ot be off anyway.

It realy sucks to do a LI and then find out after its all back together it was a head gasket. Been there done that! :bangehead:

You could do a compression check and see how the heads read.

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Old 06-30-2009, 01:16 PM   #8
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

well, I had a long rough week last week so wasn't able to even start on the grand am. I'll be starting tonight though. I'll be going all the way and replacing the headgaskets since I'll be in there anyway (even if it wasnt' them causing my issues) Is there anything else I need/should do while I'm in there? (that isn't too expensive?)
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Old 06-30-2009, 01:37 PM   #9
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

- with heads off clean carbon from valves completely, use spring compressor tool to remove them one by one and install them back in the same place
- clean top of the pistons also (when you clean the valves and pistons your engine will run like new and will waste less fuel.
- replace thermostat
- use specs to tighten everything back in the sequence suggested by repair manual
- use blue thread lock on LIM bolts (very important)
- also I suggest since you are already down there and depending on the miles I would replace belt and belt tensioner.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:18 AM   #10
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

I would also use a straight edge metal ruler and check the heads for level. They may need milled if they are not.

Also you HAVE to replace the head bolts and LI bolts. LI bolts come with thread lock already on them. On the new head bolts I'd wire brush any excess anti corrosion(white looking) off the threads or your torq procedure wont be right.

Here is a link with the updated LI torq procedures, and head gaskets..
3400 V6 SFI LIM Gasket Procedure
Head Torq Specs & Sequence on the 3.4L

And I would take pics or some notes on where plug ins and everything else goes.
I generaly use masking tape and write on it whats what.

Good Luck
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:24 AM   #11
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

Thanks for the tips guys, I got it about half way torn down last night, and plan on finishing it tonight. . .LOTS of pics thanks to the wonders of digital cameras. (My first engine rebuild I used a polaroid)

I'm hoping I won't have to mill the heads, but if I do I might as well get them ported and polished at the same time I guess.

I've seen the head bolts for sale, do the LIM bolts come with the gasket kit or are they sold separately?
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:39 PM   #12
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

LI bolts are not usualy with the gasket kit, but can be found at Napa or the stealership, those are the only two I know of that did carry them as of last summer. Napa about $40, stealership expect to pay over $60...probly $80.

The reason they need replaced is because they stretch and wouldnt torq properly.

Hope that helps
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Old 07-02-2009, 12:14 AM   #13
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

I just went through this myself and I will tell you.... "REPLACE THEM ALL" It's most likely a head gasket, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you don't want to do the work a third time since u replaced the lir's already once.
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:03 AM   #14
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

It's going a little slower than I expected being able to only work on it after the kids go to bed, but I should be ready to clean things up and start putting it back together this afternoon. My question for the day is what is the best way to clean the carbon off of the valves/piston heads. Do I need to worry about the carbon in the intake runners? I've got the entire gasket set and will be replacing all the gaskets, as well as LIM bolts and head bolts, thermostat etc while I am in there. Thanks again for the input.
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Old 07-06-2009, 05:34 PM   #15
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Re: 01 grand am 3400 head gasket?

I soaked my heads/intake in a chemical bath. Then using a fine wire brush attachment on a dye grinder or dremil tool, gently remove it from the piston tops.

Did you get valve guide seals with your gasket kit ??
Those too should be replaced. They keep oil from leaking into the combustion chamber.
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