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2002 Chevy Venture coolant leak

2002 Chevy Venture with the 3.4L V-6, w/about 105k miles with a coolant leak.



History: In winter 2006, with about 45k miles, we noticed a coolant leak and took it in to the shop. They thought it was the intake manifold gasket and replaced it. Got the car back and it was still leaking. Took it back and they found it was the head gasket. They replaced the head gasket and pretty much compensated us for the intake manifold gasket, so we paid about $2100 total (which is their price just for head gasket).



Now, with 105k miles, we are noticing another coolant leak and it seems to be getting worse (along with an oil leak, which I can deal with). I looked underneath hoping it was coming from the radiator, but no such luck. Looks like it's coming from the engine area, which leads me to believe head gasket again. Any other possibilities? I guess I need to call the shop that did the work and see if it is covered? Any chance that GM has a recall or something like that for this vehicle right now?



I hate to spend another $2k plus, but we don't really want to spend money for another new or 1-2 yo vehicle right now.
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Comments

  • edited January 2010
    The only way to sort it out is with an actual visual inspection which no one here can do. I'd certainly take it back to that shop as they seem to be reasonable about how they approach things. I'd ask if they used the improved intake manifold gasket kit that was put out after all of the GM intake gasket headaches.
  • edited January 2010
    I'm pretty sure they used the improved gasket kit. My 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix had the intake manifold plus the Gasket replaced in 2004 and they used the improved kit plus newer, improved fasteners.

    I made an appointment w/our local Chevy Dealer (as their prices are very close to the independent shop's--if they are the same in price, I'd rather go to the dealer) and they'll inspect it for $57. The independent we used warranties the parts/labor for 12 months, 12,000 miles, which is standard. They said it could be a coolant line near the engine area or waterpump, which are both much less expensive than intake manifold gasket and/or head gasket.
  • edited January 2010
    Well, looks like it's good news/bad news. I decided to take it into the local Chevy Dealer as I found the local independent I was using pretty much charges the same as the dealer (plus, the dealer may give me a free loaner if the car can't be finished today).

    Good news is it's not the head gasket. Bad news is it's the lower intake manifold gasket. Also bad news is I recently had the engine flushed and refilled and changed the oil (Mobil 1), so they're going to need to replace the oil and antifreeze, too. So $1300 - $1400 with the flush they recommend (as I had the green antifreeze in and they need to flush it out well).
  • edited January 2010
    $800 to $1k is the norm for a intake manifold gasket replacement on these vans.

    6 hours labor due to having to remove a lot before the actual manifold.
  • edited January 2010
    Well, $800 to $1000 would be a great price to pay, but part of the Dealer price is a flush to go from the green antifreeze back to Dexcool (I switched out a few years ago), which is $150, new thermostat, new camshaft sensor (they said mine was partially detached and they recommended a new one for $80).

    I had the intake manifold gasket replaced in 2006 by an independent shop who charged me $1100. That shop came highly recommended on this cartalk.com website.

    One thing I'm hoping for is another problem to go away. When I drive in the mountains here say from 5200 feet to 7000 continuous climbing, the engine heats up. It doesn't heat up on the highway driving smaller hills and flats. Just when I go into the mountains. Am hoping the new thermostat fixes that problem.
  • edited January 2010
    Every time the engine runs hotter than normal the tranny takes a hit too.
    Heat is the number one killer of trannys.

    You might want to install an aftermarket tranny cooler to the front of the rad.

    I had one added to the rad on a 2000 Silo I used for towing a pop up camper.

    You can look around the web or local auto shops for sizes and prices. Get the largest one possible.
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