Trouble with my Pontiac Transport

Hi I am having trouble with my Pontiac Transport 1992 180000 miles. The other day it wouldnt start at all and then my husband charged the battery and then it started (and i know the battery wasnt dead because i know what that sounds like), and then when I am at a stop light idling it seems to idle more roughly than before. I don’t know what is wrong with it and I am not sure where to go because I have had horrible experience with people charging me too much and not fixing problems. So please advice on what you think I should do and what to ask a mechanic! thank you very much!

Your battery may not have been dead, but it might be getting weak.
You might want to look to see how old it is, and replace it if its 4 years or older.


Do you have a check engine light on? If not, maybe a simple tune-up: new spark plugs, wires, distributor cap & rotor, air filter, fuel filter. How long since these things have been done?

All of that has been done recently. :frowning: I went and got an oil change and they said that the gas is leaking into the oil somehow, and that my piston rings are shot. I am unsure of what to do or what to beleive. I talked to my dad and he said that that was not the case, but I am tempted to just say screw it and buy a new car! My dad said that if my piston rings were shot or whatnot my car would be smoking!

I am in total agreement that you need to find a trustworthy person to evaluate your vechicles needs. I am all for using vehicles until they are “used up” but you seem to be cursed when it comes to getting a correct honest apprasial of your vehicles needs. These vehicles had such poor interior trim when new I can just picture it now BUT the 3.8 engine it uses is probably the best GM ever made. This vehicle is from the years when on board diagnostics were not real helpful (pre 1995) I believe that even though you will have hurdles to overcome with an inspection of a newer vehicle (unless you are in a position to buy new) that a much newer used vehicle would be better for you. Even though I cannot see this vehicle I still cannot reccommend putting any money that is out of the “normal money that a vehicle requires” class into it.

Best outcome for you is to get real lucky with a very high quality (mainly in condition) used vehicle)
I see the only problem listed is a rough idle, can you elaborate? gas leaking into oil is very bad but some level of this problem can be tolerated. I think you may face a challenge finding a mechanic that wants to see you get the most out of the money you spend. My thoughts on rough idle, idle re-learn issue caused by battery disconnect.

I agree! That is one of the reason’s that I got the van because of the engine, however the interior trim is lacking i agree. We are not in a position to buy new but we are looking at used vehicles, but I am overwhelmed with all the choices. The rough idle is that when it idles the vehicle shakes a bit and its seemed to have lost its power to increase in speed. It took be 3.5 RPMs to get to 40 today and that is not normal for my van. what do you mean oldschool by ideal re-learn issue caused by battery disconnect? This is one of the reasons I should have married a mechanic! lol

What I mean is that many vehicles around 1992 lost the “settings” in their “brain” that controled the idle after a battery change. Usualy after at most 20 minutes the car had relearned its idle parameters and all was well. You are now saying that idle is not the only issue as the engine is turning at a higher than normal rpm figure for a paticular speed. The next thing I would do would be to simply pull the dip stick for the transmission and smell it and see if the fluid smelled burned, it it smells bad remove the transmission pan and filter, you can even cut the filter up looking for pieces that don’t belong there. If your fluid is burned and even if no particles exist in the filter you will have to see a “transman” and discuss the burned fluid and transmission slipping, explore remedies besides a full overhaul. We may be getting way ahead of ourselves as perhaps the trans is not slipping and the issue of higher than normal rpm for a given speed is engine related. Give the fluid a smell test, burned fluid is a very distinct odor.

well that is an interesting thought. Would that be considered a transmission flush? Also when i got my oil changed, I forgot to mention this, but they said that most of my oil was gone and that whoever changed my oil hadn’t tightened the bottom part or whatever (i have no idea what that is called) and i had just put a quart of oil in not more than 2 weeks ago, and i didnt know my oil was disappearing that quickly, so i dont know if that mattered but even after my oil change it was still acting the same. :frowning: I am visiting my father this weekend who is a TOTAL genius with cars so i was wondering if there are any mroe things that i should check out with him? Thanks so much!

Let’s summarize.
We have an 18 year old vehicle with 180,000 miles that’s been run way low on oil at least once. It may or may not have a worn out engine. It’s now idling rough, and a tuneup has not helped. You were told that gas was getting into the oil and your piston rings were shot (really one comment telling you you have excessive “blowby”).

My guess is that if it was not living with excessive blowby before being run low on oil, it is now.

Your dad if he truely does know cars will know what to look for. And it won’t be hard to determine if the engine is shot. A look at the spark plugs, a listen to the engine, a compression test, at most these are all he’ll need to do. Don’t waste the money on a transmission flush until you know more.

Note that there are two types of rings on the pistons.
One is the “compression rings”. These seal gasses from the exploding fuel from blowing past the pistins and into the oil. If the rings are shot or your cylinders are scored, and they probably are from running without oil, fuel will blow past these rings and into your oil. A compression test will verify if these are shot or the cylinders scored.

The second is the “oil rings”. These wipe the cylinders down after they’re washed with oil, leaving just enough of a film to provide a bit of lubrication for the pistons and compression rings to slide down. Wear, gumming up, or loss of spring tension of these rings, or scoreing of the cylinders, can allow oil to get into the cylinders and get burned. That’s a common cause of oil loss on old engines.

Either of these conditions can result in poor engine operation and rough idling.

In all honesty, I think you should wait for your dad to check out the engine before spending any more money on this vehicle. There’s a very good chance that this vehicle is shot. Meanwhile, you may want to start car shopping.

Let us know what your dad says. We care.

Well i went up to visit my father and he didnt get a chance to take a look at it because he was working all weekend so therefor i will be visiting a family friend who is a mechanic to tell me whats up, but I am pretty sure my van is going to vehicle heaven. thank you for all your opinions and advice because it has greatly helped me with everything. i will let you know the update on what the mechanic says.