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#1295298 - 11/27/08 05:47 PM GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem
pacem Offline


Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 522
Loc: MD

there is that well know issue with GM's 3.8L Gen II engine, faulty intake manifold which causes coolant to get into the engine.

I also heard that not all 3.8L engine were affected, that supposedly the ones with the supercharger were not.

I am looking to buy this 1998 Buick Park Avenue supercharged and need a confirmation that it's engine is OK, meaning does not use a plastic intake manifold that will melt.

http://www.topix.com/forum/com/gm/TRGPSHN4K8V7QD8GB/p5

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#1295311 - 11/27/08 06:04 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: pacem]
MrCritical Offline


Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: La.
Older Park Avenues are high maintenance, and supercharged ones are doubly so.

You've been warned.

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#1295312 - 11/27/08 06:05 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: MrCritical]
pacem Offline


Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 522
Loc: MD
I was under the impession that 3.8 supercharged did not have that issue..

My experience with high-end GM cars of that vintage was very positive... But the engine stuff is scary, the 'net is full of disaster stories. It doesn't look like GM ever admitted it had the issue.

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#1295317 - 11/27/08 06:08 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: pacem]
pacem Offline


Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 522
Loc: MD
Here is some info on the intake manifold problem:

http://www.autocarepronews.com/default.aspx?type=art&id=87714&

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#1295318 - 11/27/08 06:09 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: pacem]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 39343
Loc: New Jersey
If its a good deal, why not wait a few days, pull a UOA, send it out and see if coolant is going in... if positive, skip the buy, if not, buy it and proactively have the gaskets replaced?

if its not a good deal, why buy such an engine that while real good, will likely cause higher fuel consumption as compared to a smaller car and more benign engine?

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#1295324 - 11/27/08 06:13 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: MrCritical]
GMBoy Offline


Registered: 11/22/04
Posts: 7202
Loc: Texas
 Originally Posted By: MrCritical
Older Park Avenues are high maintenance, and supercharged ones are doubly so.

You've been warned.



I've never heard this from owners of these cars. I think benzadmiral would strongly disagree - he's got a park avenue and talks highly of it often on these pages. Also-I've had a Park Ave, Regal GS and Riveria over the years with the SC engines and never a problem.


Edited by GMBoy (11/27/08 06:15 PM)

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#1295326 - 11/27/08 06:15 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: GMBoy]
Chris142 Online   content


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 14758
Loc: apple valley, ca
I've seen the SC ones leaking from the gaskets too.
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#1295339 - 11/27/08 06:25 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: Chris142]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 33103
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Originally Posted By: Chris142
I've seen the SC ones leaking from the gaskets too.


Yup. Helped a good friend of mine tear apart his cousin's GTP that was fubar due to coolant getting into the oil and sludging it to death.
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#1295343 - 11/27/08 06:29 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: JHZR2]
GMBoy Offline


Registered: 11/22/04
Posts: 7202
Loc: Texas
 Originally Posted By: JHZR2
If its a good deal, why not wait a few days, pull a UOA, send it out and see if coolant is going in... if positive, skip the buy, if not, buy it and proactively have the gaskets replaced?

if its not a good deal, why buy such an engine that while real good, will likely cause higher fuel consumption as compared to a smaller car and more benign engine?



Good advice -

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#1295345 - 11/27/08 06:30 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: OVERKILL]
aquariuscsm Offline


Registered: 12/30/06
Posts: 14920
Loc: South Texas,USA
I`ve never heard of any problems with these engines. I took mine to almost 300K (`87 Olds Trofeo) and I never had a single hint of an issue with it. Seemed indestructable! But mine wasn`t the gen II. What`s the difference exactly between the gen II and the older ones?
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#1295362 - 11/27/08 06:47 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: aquariuscsm]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 33103
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Originally Posted By: aquariuscsm
I`ve never heard of any problems with these engines. I took mine to almost 300K (`87 Olds Trofeo) and I never had a single hint of an issue with it. Seemed indestructable! But mine wasn`t the gen II. What`s the difference exactly between the gen II and the older ones?


I think the old ones used an aluminum manifold and traditional gaskets.
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#1295381 - 11/27/08 07:12 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: OVERKILL]
SilverC6 Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 2860
Loc: Southeast
If you like the car, price the repair at the dealer and reduce your asking price that much.

Those big Buicks are pretty stately.
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#1295573 - 11/27/08 11:57 PM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: SilverC6]
pacem Offline


Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 522
Loc: MD

If the 3.8L supercharged even had that issue, then I will stay away from it, period.

It's a 98 Buick Park Avenue with 150,000 miles and the asking price is $3200.

I think I will pass on it, because on Ebay I see them going for much less than that, under $2K. So it's doubtful I can negotiate.

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#1295637 - 11/28/08 04:47 AM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: pacem]
ZZman Offline


Registered: 03/17/08
Posts: 4248
Loc: Michigan
It seems to be a hit and miss issue with the 3.8 engine. Some have the problem and some don't. I think it has to do with good maintenance of the coolant.

I had a 1998 Old 88 with 70,000 miles that all of a sudden overheated. It ended up the coolant leaked into a cylinder and
"hydrolocked" that cylinder. Since the water could not be pushed out of the water filled cylider fast enough it threw a rod thru the block! Cost me a rebuilt engine.

Those engine are great low stress engines and can last a long time if the intake gasket issue does not surface or is taken care of with the better gasket kits they have now.


Edited by ZZman (11/28/08 04:48 AM)
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#1295667 - 11/28/08 06:55 AM Re: GM 3.8L engine intake manifold problem [Re: ZZman]
kingrob Offline


Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 1372
Loc: NC
That's pretty high for that mileage and year. It would have to be immaculate for me to consider for that price.

Yes, the upper intake gaskets on the 3.8 suffer the same problem on the supercharged engines as well as the regular type. However, the upper intake gasket is much easier to replace on the 3.8's compared to the lower intakes on the 3.1's. I don't even look at used vehicles with the 3.1's anymore, but the 3.8's are easy to repair, and usually, unlike the 3.1's, they stay fixed.

In my experience, the supercharged 3800's are a nightmare to buy used. If someone hasn't run synthetic for the life of the engine then expect burnt valves, bent guides and a warped or cracked head. If you experience the coolant seepage into the block then immediately repair it. There's no margin of error to play with unlike the regular 3.8.

The Park Avenues, LeSabres and Riviera's of this vintage are great cars, I would just stay away from the supercharged ones, especially in the + $3000 range.
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