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Malibu Gasket - Replacement Estimate

I have a 99 malibu and it appears the time has come…the gasket is leaking coolant. Have been adding coolant monthly for the last year but now it appears the gasket crack is large enough to openly leak.

Changed my oil yesterday and it had the terrible ‘blue tint’ to it leading me to believe coolant is entering my oil reserve.

I don’t have the resources/time/settings to pull the block out and replace this gasket myself so I’m going to have to take it to a mechanic. Anyone have a good estimate on cost for this sort of chore?

I know there was a settlement prior to the gov’t takeover of GM but that time has come and gone. I was also told that GM has a kit to replace this defect and that it was better to have them service it because nearly 50% of the time, the mechanic will crack a piece of plastic and that would get added to my mechanic’s cost. But, if GM does it, they can’t charge for it.

What say you, car guys?

Since labor charges and even parts vary from region to region I suggest you call a couple of local independent mechanics and get their estimates. There are a lot of Malibus out there with this problem so the repair costs are probably uniform by now. It’s a very basic and common problem everywhere. I don’t know about the plastic part but it would not surprise me.

I had this done on my daughters 97 Skylark, 3.1 V6. It cost $800

Called a Chevy dealership here in Westchester and was quoted $1200!!!

Anyone looking to demolition-derby a malibu?

Someone said there was a chance we could ‘seal’ the gasket with some goo after draining the coolant and running it with this goo and water until it bubbles up to the gasket. Anyone try this? I don’t really care if it works or not but is it worth even trying?

Try some other repair shops. $1200 is OUTRAGEOUS for lower intake gaskets for GM 3.1L engine. I used to do them left and right, knocking them out in 3-4 hours for $500 out the door, and made good money doing it. Surely someone in your area has figured this one out? You shouldn’t have to scrap the car over this. Call around and get some more estimates. The dealership is the worst place to go for something like this.

Some parts vendors do carry an improved gasket set for the 3.1/3.4 GM which replaces the plastic framework for the gasket with sheetmetal. They seem to be less prone to recurring problems than the plastic ones, so you can request those specifically. They do cost a little more, but are probably worth it. I have installed a few of those with good luck.

I wouldn’t bother. The only way to make this problem go away is to replace the gaskets. There is no cheating this one. Do read my other post below.

Just talked to another mechanic and he quoted me $700 with the caveat that he’d rather NOT do the job because of the likelihood of breaking the plastic ‘spider’ under the lower intake gasket. That spider would cost upwards of $1000 to replace.

Starting to make that $1200 dealership bid much better.

Decisions, decisions.

this is what I was recommended

kinda pricy but worth a shot?

I had it done on a V8 Caprice and it came to $250 or so. That was 10 years ago.

If the car were mine I’d run an oil pressure test first. At this point you have no idea how long coolant has been diluting the engine oil.

Since coolant is not a lubricant it’s very easy for diluted engine oil to wash out crank bearings, cam journals and lobes, wash out rings and cylinder walls, etc.
This brings up the point about spending X dollars to fix a leak that has been going on for quite a while and finding out later the lower end is going south.

All you said was “the gasket” - are you talking about the intake manifold gasket or the head gasket?

What is this plastic ‘spider’ you speak of, and are we talking about lower intake gaskets or head gaskets? The product you linked is supposed to fix blown head gaskets. I have never tried it, but would only try it on a car I no longer care about that has a blown head gasket. If you have a lower intake gasket leak, those are O-rings set in plastic, and once the plastic has cracked, softened, or otherwise deteriorated, they start leaking and will leak until they are replaced.

The closest thing to a plastic ‘spider’ I can think of on these engines is that plastic framework for the lower intake gaskets. They sort of wrap around the pushrods, and in order to get them out, you have to remove some of the pushrods. No way around it.

I had a 2002 Malibu that developed this same problem, and my local GM dealer quoted me $700 or so to fix it. I actually got rid of the car shortly afterward. I could smell coolant in the exhaust, and couldn’t stomach the potential internal engine damage. We’d gotten 8 good years out of the car.

Now we have two Hondas in the garage, and I couldn’t be happier. Good luck.