diy car repair: am I insane or just dumb?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by OutThere, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #1
    So my car has been eating coolant for lately, and I can see it seeping out from around the intake manifold gasket. This is a model notorious for intake manifold issues. The leaks have been getting faster, and I need to address the issue soon.

    My parents have always leased cars, so when I got an older car with more than 50,000 (85k to be precise) miles I was kind of breaking the mold. I've only ever done basic maintenance myself. I've read the step-by-step on how to install a new upper intake manifold on this particular engine, I'm armed with the tools for the job, and I'm reasonably confident. I think I can do it. If I start on a Friday night I could spend the whole weekend on it if necessary. The $1000 or so to have it done professionally certainly wouldn't break any banks, but I feel I could do it for the cost of the part ($150), learn something and get more comfortable under the hood along the way.

    I'm good with my hands and have been taking things apart (and putting them back together with moderate success) since I was a little kid. My car-ignorant upper-middle class suburbanite family and friends think I'm insane. Am I?
     
  2. RITZFit macrumors 65816

    RITZFit

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    #2
    Completely! I think you will have a deeper appreciation for your car if you do the repairs w/ your own hands. Just make sure you thoroughly understand what you're doing and TAKE YOUR TIME! Also, I would look for a car club/forum for you particular make/model. You can usually find manuals and lots of expertise there.

    But more to the point, it sounds like you might just need to replace the gasket (unless you actually see the mani cracked?)
     
  3. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #4
    I've done this sort of stuff myself, with no previous experience. Despite an assortment of cuts, bruises minor frostbite, bumped heads, knees and arms, broken tools rust-in-the-eyes, ruined clothes, and so forth, I enjoy working on my car when I can. And if you play your cards right it can save you a chunk of money.

    My recommendation is to have a Chilton's or Haynes or factory service manual handy - and to try and find a good How-to on an automotive enthusiasts forum (these unoffical how-tos often have better pictures and answer some of the common-sense questions that the official manuals may gloss over). Once you've read through all that - read it again. Then set aside a weekend and always have a second car or friend with a car available to take you to the parts store in case you forget something.

    I think it's all good fun though, and you become more familiar with your car. If you don't mind asking, what kind of car is it? A GM? 85k isn't a huge number of miles these days, I bought my current car with 100k on the clock.
     
  4. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #5
    Take it from someone with ASE Certification...Don't use this crap. It might help for a bit, but it's only a patch job, not a fix.

    First off, get the gasket kit, you will need to replace the gaskets you remove along the way. Take the intake manifold to a shop and have it checked for hairline cracks. Hairline cracks are very dificult to spot, and if there is one, then a new gasket won't help. Be EXTREMELY careful about tightening everything back up. Proper torque is important. Too loose is obviously not gonna work, too tight and you could cause more damage, especially if it is cast aluminum.
     
  5. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #6
    Yes, a torque wrench in every pot.

    My suggestion was a stop-gap, until he could dump the car onto someone else.

    ;)
     
  6. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #7
    Yeah, I am going to guess it is a model with the old POS GM 3.1 or 3.4 V6.
     
  7. RITZFit macrumors 65816

    RITZFit

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    #8
    Mabey this is the only issue w/ the car and he wants to keep it?
     
  8. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #9
    Fair enough, but he fails to tell us the year and engine he is dealing with.
     
  9. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #10
    LOL funny you should say that. About 6 months ago I had to have the heads resurfaced and replace the intake manifold gasket on my '96 Grand Am 3.1L. 6 hours of hell...I am relatively certain those are my least favorite engines to tear down.

    On that note, another tip just came to mind. When you start pulling it apart to get to the intake, you will have to disconnect several wires/wire harnesses for various sensors and stuff. Get yourself a pack of those different colored electrical tapes, and when you disconnect wires, put a matching piece of tape on each connector. That way, when you put it back together all you have to do is match the colors.
     
  10. OutThere thread starter macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #11
    Thanks for the encouragement. I have a repair manual and an excellent step-by-step from an internet forum. The project is tentatively slated for next Saturday. Thankfully I have a heated garage to work in, as it's in the single digits outside. ;)

    It's a 96 Oldsmobile with the 3.8 V6. I inherited it from my grandfather and it was certainly not my first choice of car, but the fact that it was free and had only been driven 6k a year was hard to pass up. Plus it's got tons of space, and I find myself with passengers often. I'll drive it for a while and then it's onto something new, the dealership has been bugging me ever since I test drove a 3 series last summer :D.

    The entire manifold will likely have to be replaced, as it'll go eventually, even if it's just the gasket right now. This is certainly the only issue with the car, though. It's essentially brand new otherwise, so I figure I can get some more mileage out of it no sweat.
     
  11. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #12
    Oh yeah, some 3.8's had the issue too( shared the same POS material as the 3.1 and 3.4 V6). Which is a shame since the 3.8 has such a bulletproof image.
     
  12. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #13
    This is a surprise, because the 3.8 was usually considered the workhorse of the V-6's.

    I would say it is definitely worth the effort.
     
  13. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #14
    Oh that is a very good engine. As I said, get a good torque wrench and be very careful...

    It is not too dificult if you just take your time and don't rush. Let you in on my mistake a few years back the first time I tore one down...On the top of the engine is a cast aluminum part that makes up the most visible part of the intake. It usually has the engine size printed on it. That is called the plenum. It is a softer metal than you realize.

    The first time I ever tore one of those engines down, everything went perfect, got it almost all back together, until I went to torque the bolts on the plenum down. I went not even a quarter turn too far, and it broke the plenum wide open, and that is an expensive part.
     
  14. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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  15. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #16
    LOL Don't go there...the last thing this forum needs is a GM/Ford flame war...domestic/foriegn is one thing, just no GM/Ford...
     
  16. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #17
    Camaro SS> Mustang GT and soon Camaro Z28> Mustang GT500. :D

    :p
     
  17. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #18
    Piss off. AC Cobra 289, or 427. :p
     
  18. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #19
    Corvette> wait, Ford doesn't have a 'Vette competitor........ Such a shame. ;)
     
  19. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #20
    Well, I have no allegiance on that front. Though I wonder why GM continues to have such a love affair with pushrod engines.
     
  20. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #21
    What is wrong with pushrod engines? The Small Block V8 is a good motor. OHV engines are also smaller and easier to package. And the Small Block V8 is the last OHV engine in GM's lineup that is getting further investment.

    Before we get into the whole age thing, DOHC's are older. They date back to the late 1800's where OHV came around in the early 1900's.
     
  21. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #22
    Push rod .... say no more. SAY NO MORE!!!!
     
  22. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #23
    There's certainly no questioning that GM makes the most advanced pushrod engines ever made - I just don't understand what kept them designing new pushrod engines after the OHC designs became much more de rigueur.

    The Small Block V8 in its current form is a great engine, possibly the best engine GM has ever made.
     

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