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Should I or shouldn't I

This is a two parter. I don’t want to sound nasty but please don’t respond unless you actually know something about the issues. Thanks.

I have a 2002 Olds Alero with a 3.4L engine - 188k miles - that suffers from GM’s infamous leaky lower intake manifold gasket problem. I have the expertise and tools to do the fix myself but I need to ask: if it were you, as it would only take another hour or so, would you also take the time and mone (~$100) to replace the head gasket and bolts as well or would you stick with the old Texas saying - if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? The engine really purrs and I’m tempted not to mess with it.

Part 2. Because I did get water in the oil I’m afraid that I created some sludge. When I finish putting everything back together, I intend to de-sludge the engine in order to make sure that what I can’t get to is as clean as what I can. I have read many mixed reviews on this matter. I was thinking of going with a 25-30% mix of transmission fluid in the oil for maybe 300 to 500 miles and then change the oil and filter to straight oil. Comments?

Thanks to all

How much coolant got into the oil? And how long was the engine operated with this coolant in the oil?


Did you get what you want by placing a limit on who can respond? “youLorship”? give me a break, your a smart guy, use you knowledge.

I would guess about a quart. It’s tough to judge because the fluid was very mikly/cloudy when I drained it so most of the water was emulsified with the oil. The only good news is that the water/oil combination in the crankcase was very oily.

You obviously have nothing pertinent to offer. Stick around and learn if you like, but please don’t bother to post. TIA

The thing you have to worry about is if the rod/main bearings were damaged with coolant in the oil. You could do this repair, and then in a month, three months, or six months down the road the engine gives out because the bearings were damaged. But how else are you going to find out?

Just put in the upper intake kit and cross your fingers.


My initial inclination was to pass on the head gaskets and just tend to the task at hand. I wasn’t getting any real sign of the manifold gasket being the culprit because I wasn’t getting the traditional white cloud out of the tail pipe just loss of coolant and that naturally leads to examination of the obvious - waterpump,thermo, heater core, radiator, etc. It wasn’t until I poked around the internet that I discovered what a chronic problem the LMG was. As you’ve pointed out, the bearings are my main concern. No sense in pouring an extra hundred into something that might have a critical part compromised. Any thoughts on the planned engine flush?

I had the intake gasket replaced on a 1993 Oldsmobile some years back. I don’t know if the car is still on the road, but as of two years ago it was going strong and had had no major work. I don’t think that these GM engines had head gasket problem-- just intake manifold gasket problems.

I had a considerable amount of coolant get into the oil of an old Pontiac that I owned (1947) due to a crack in the block around a valve (the engine was a flat head 6). After a treatment of K & W seal, I put in fresh oil and drove the car. I think if you put in new oil, and then change the oil after 1000 miles or so you should be o.k.

Bad manners, such as yours, are never appreciated. You are NOT qualified to prejudge anyone’s answer, or advice. If you want to make enemies, you have chosen a sure-fire method.

Buddy,get a clue,you can’t limit who responds to your posts,placing a qualifer on who can respond is bad manners.

All are welcome to respond to any post,we just don’t swear or try and intimidate or be dismissive of anyone here on CarTalk.

Here’s what I do when cleaning out the sludgy oil from coolant contamination.

Get three oil changes worth of oil, two cans of SeaFoam Engine Tune-up, and two oil filters. Install a new oil filter, fill with oil and add a half can of SeaFoam to the oil. Run the engine for one minute. Drain the oil and refill. Add the other half can of Seafoam. Run the engine for five minutes. Drain the oil, change the filter, refill the oil and add another half can of SeaFoam to the oil.

Good luck!


I’ve only used Seafoam as a fuel additive - both gas and diesel. My worry is that if there is a lot of hard crud built up somewhere,something like Seafoam might loosen it and the loose crud might in turn block an oil passage. Have you used Seafoam on a high mileage engine that might not have had 3-5k oil and filter changes? I was also thinking that Lucas oil in with the final oil change wouldn’t hurt anything.

I get the impression that you know little about cars but much about manners. Maybe you would be more comfortable posting on the Miss Manners website, no?

Thanks, I’m amazed that this problem extends back that far. It’s good to know that your head gasket held.
Outside of the lower intake manifold gasket, which is really an issue of the either the wrong gasket material or the wrong coolant (DexCool), I think the 3.4L engine is as solid and dependable as anything made. At least I haven’t found any recurring issue outside of the LMG. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the bearings will be ok, but unless I get talked out of it, I’m going to go with some LucasOil on the final oil fill after the engine flush.

You’ve got sludged up oil from coolant contamination. That’s crud! Now you’re worried about the other crud that might be in the engine?

Bring the intake kit back and get your money back.


I have found that hellokit’s posts on automotive problems are very helpful and he has considerable automotive knowledge.

Most people who have something worthwhile usually offer it. People with no real knowledge just make noise. He chose to make noise. I"m looking for solid, knowledgeable advice, and I need it fast as I want to get this done while the weather holds. Fortunately there are two posters who have offered just that

Got to do the job, The car’s body is A-1 and everything else seems solid. I’ll research the Seafoam as as a degunker. You’ve been a terrific help - thanks, and I really mean it.


I can’t believe your replies to oldschool and hellokit. They are a wealth of respected automotive knowledge in this forum.

Do you think an apology is in order?

I doubt that they are inclined to apologize so why even bring it up. While I’m at it, unless a post is germane to the question(s) I posed, I won’t be responding - that was my point in the first place. I should’ve stuck to it. Too much bandwidth is wasted on chit-chat when people could use legitimate help.