My 1997 Buick Park Avenue started smoking out of the tail pipe, and then wouldn’t start. We took it to a local shop called Jason Henry’s and they said it was water in the cylinders and charged us $728.49, broken down into $375.00 for labor, and $314.46 for parts. The detailed report says “Water in cylinders, Replaced Faulty upper intake manifold assembly and spark plugs.” The parts he bought was Upper intake plenum, 6 spark plus, 2 antifreeze, 3 berryman cleaner, thermostat oring and the thermostat. It ran fine for three months, then it started smoking again. We take it back the next day and he calls us three days later saying theres a leak in the lower intake valve and says it will be $550 to fix, it takes him 2 days, but he says its fixed and we are going to get it tomorrow. I do not yet have a receipt for the second visit, but does any of this sound reasonable? I do understand it is a 1997 Buick with close to 92k miles.
an OEM upper plenum would billed at around $220-ish to the customer.six spark plugs would be around $50, two gallons of antifreeze would probably be around $20, thermostat would be around $12. and 3 cans of berryman about $20. The part cost is very reasonable. I don’t know the shop rate there, but most places tend to be around $90-$110/hr but it varies quite a bit depending on where you live. so 3 or 4 hours of labor, and you’re there.
Does it make sense that the lower intake valve would go out so soon after this repair?
22 year old car, yes makes sense the lower intake valve would fail at anytime. Coincidence that it was when it was.
I’ve replaced many upper intake plenums and lower intake manifolds gaskets on these engines. And what you describe sounds about right.
What happens with the upper intake plenum is, the EGR gases eat away at the plastic intake plenum. There are water jackets around this EGR port to help keep it cool. Once the EGR gases erode the plastic, coolant is able to enter the engine and steam comes out the tail pipe.
Once the upper plenum is replaced, (I hope an updated version was installed with the stainless steel sleeve in the EGR port) the cooling system pressure is restored. When this happens, the cheap lower intake manifold gaskets that GM installed on these engines fail, and the lower intake manifold starts leaking.
Think of it like the little boy who stuck his finger in the hole in the dike to stop a leak, and another leak appears elsewhere in the dike. Same thing.
The only problem that I can see is that I would have recommended the lower at the same time during the original repair.