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Too many repairs

I have a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am with very low mileage, so I’d like to keep the car. When I was approaching 50,000 miles a mechanic told me that I would need to replace the intake manifold gasket due to leaking. He showed me evidence of the leak and I had it replaced. At the time he told me it was due to an inferior gasket and that a replacement gasket would take care of the problem. It just turned 100,000 and has again started leaking. I talked to the mechanic about it and he said it was something I needed to do every 50,000 miles. This doesn’t make sense to me. Does anybody know if that’s accurate?

The leaky intake manifold gasket is very common on these cars–my dad has the same car with the same problem. I think that GM recalled it but research may prove me wrong.

Evidently, it is something you need to do every 50,000 miles, but I don’t think it is due to the mileage.

If you look at the service schedule for your car, probably found in the owner’s manual, you will find there are two service intervals; one based on mileage, and one based on time. You are supposed to service your car based on whichever comes first. If you’ve been servicing your car based only on mileage, you may have been neglecting your car.

The first place I’d look is the coolant. GM usually prescribes a long life coolant, so based on mileage alone, you might be driving around with the original coolant in your car. If this is so, that coolant is now about 13 years old.

Here is my advice (and it might set off a firestorm because the Dexcool issue is a hot button issue): Get your cooling system completely flushed and replace the coolant with Prestone (or store brand) universal coolant (the green stuff). To be safe, either buy the premixed product or mix it with distilled water. Then, regardless of how much or how little mileage you put on the car, drain and refill the coolant every two years.

I could be way off on the coolant issue, but my main point is that your car might not be getting the maintenance it needs if you are only getting it service based on the mileage, which is a common issue. We like to think we only need to worry about the mileage, but that car, and it’s engine, are exposed to the elements, so they age whether you drive the car or not. For those of us who drive a lot, we can ignore the time intervals on our maintenance schedules. They only become relevant if you don’t put many miles on your car, and clearly, you fall into this group since you seem to average less than 8,000 miles per year.

I could be way off on the maintenance issue too if you are servicing your car based on the passage of time, and not mileage. Let me know if I am.