'01 Buick LeSabre complete oil loss

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Old 02-10-09, 07:46 AM
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'01 Buick LeSabre complete oil loss

Hi all,
I'm wanting to find out what I'm looking at in terms of repairs needed and possible cost for the best/worst scenario. The worst scenario being engine replacement with a rebuilt unit.
The car is a 2001 Buick LeSabre about 125K miles, 3800 v6. We had driven home Sunday evening with no problem, having put about 80 miles on the car that day, parked it overnight and had no problem. The next day, I couldn't get it to start. It would turn over but wouldn't catch -- thought I flooded it so we took the other car to work. When I got home, I checked the oil and antifreeze since I'm aware of the known Intake Manifold gasket being a problem on these cars. Surprised to find the oil was a little down -- I check it maybe every 2 or 3 days. In the last month, I've been having to add a pint or two of antifreeze every 1K miles. I went ahead a tried to start it and this time it started but was running rough and blowing blue smoke out the back -- then as quick as 2 seconds running this way the Oil light comes on and I shut it down immediately. When I checked the Oil again it was completely gone in a big pool underneath the engine. I couldn't tell exactly but it was in the area above the pan. I did check the pan and plug; and it was Ok!
We had it towed to repair shop.
My question is. As I've explained it, do you think it's repairable WITHOUT having to replace the engine. Like I said, I shut it down as soon as the Oil light came on - within a second. To me, this doesn't sound like the Intake Manifold gasket blowing because the antifreeze wasn't affected and it appeared to come out the bottom area; but again I can't say for sure.
Finally, any idea on repair cost, which I know can vary considerably but if you know approx. cost in your area, at least it will give me an idea.
One other thing, while repairing are there any other items that you'd have replaced while engine is disassembled? Belts of course, anything else?
Thanks,
Greynold99
 
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Old 02-10-09, 11:52 AM
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Possible you could have more than one problem going on. The big puddle of oil would not be a good sign. Any chance the leak is near the filter? They've been known to fail at the threads and would explain both the leak and the lack of oil pressure. Worst case scenario would be it threw a rod and there's a hole in the block, but I wouldn't panic yet. A replacement engine would run you about $2500 plus installation (that's just off the top of my head). Failed oil filter could be very quick, easy fix.

When you cranked it over was there any sign at all of binding, i.e. the engine cranked part of a revolution, paused, and then continued to crank?
 
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Old 02-10-09, 12:50 PM
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Reply to Tow_Guy

Hi Tow_Guy,
What you suggested was exactly what our tow truck driver said when he came out... Said he'd just been through the same thing with a Buick Park Ave.

Unfortunately, no way it came from the oil filter side -- which on my Buick is immediately behind and under the front passenger wheel side. The oil puddle was definitely centered where the car was parked. This is not sounding good.
I had checked the oil prior to starting it in the afternoon, and it actually started and was running. I had to turn it off at the key -- oil light came on and I shut it off right now. But it was running awful rough while it was running.

Thanks for reply. Just wanted to know what to expect.
Greynold99
 
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Old 02-10-09, 03:41 PM
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You going to at least pour some more cheap stuff in it and put something under the car, and see what happens and where it comes out?
 
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Old 02-11-09, 07:52 AM
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Concur. Have someone with a good flashlight look quick after you get some oil back in it and crank it up. Failed oil pressure sender maybe? Not sure where it is located on a LeSabre and don't think I've ever heard of one failing that badly. I'm thinking the rough running was from the oil getting in/on something that didn't like it - connector, sensor, whatever.
 
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Old 02-11-09, 11:33 AM
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Reply to Ecman & Tow_Guy

Ecman,
I was able to get the car towed over to our repair shop that evening so I won't be able to try a test pour. I suppose the first thing repair shop will do is put it up on a lift which is lot easier than what I did on my back on a gravel driveway. I did try to see where the oil was coming from by using the screw-scissor jack (wanted to be sure it wasn't my own stupidity leaving the drain plug loose when I changed the oil in December...) Well drain plug was fine and tight; and oil track and spray seemed to originate above from somewhere on the engine but I really couldn't see much even with a flashlight.
I'm just hoping for a gasket-fix or something a bit less than an engine replacment. I must admit to being surprised that the engine continued to run if it threw a rod; but to lose that much oil so fast ... I don't know.
Thanks,
Greynold99
 
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Old 02-11-09, 11:37 AM
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Does this car have an oil cooler? The reason I am asking is that when the oil cooler seal on my 95 VW Jetta went at 210,000 miles, it took 9 quarts of oil to go 20 miles. On my car that is right near the oil filter but with differences between German and American cars I thought that this could be a possibility. Good luck with your problem.
 
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Old 02-12-09, 05:47 AM
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Update on oil loss

I called the shop last night and while the person I spoke with didn't have all the details, it turned out to be a failure of an engine oil seal on the block. Bottom line is a replacement engine. I've heard of these seals; but never heard of one failing this way. I believe there are similar seals for the antifreeze passage ways in the engine that occasionally fail or when the antifreeze isn't strong enough and freezes in the engine.
Any comments detailing these or experiences with them failing appreciated.
Greynold99
 
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Old 02-16-09, 06:33 AM
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From all your symptoms, I am tending to lean in different direction. The most significant of your clues is the fact that you were adding antifreeze so often. It is likely that you had a coolant leak on the intake manifold gasket or possibly the head gasket. As long as the leak is tiny, and the engine is running, as you will do is burn a little water. If the leak grows while you're driving (for any reason), when you shut the car off, there is a high chance that antifreeze will drip onto the top of one or more pistons. Then, when you go to start it in the morning, you will get the symptoms you had when you went to start it. No start at first, then when the antifreeze has been pushed out of the combustion chamber, it will start. BUT, the damage has already been done and you have a catastrophic failure. In any case, it that is what happened, you're looking at engine replacement. If what the garage says is correct, that you blew an "oil seal" (excessively general term) then it would be worth it to replace the "seal," add oil and see how long the engine lasts. If you shut the engine off shortly after the light came on, you just might get away with it. It will likely mean that the engine lifespan has been reduced, but that it will still run fine for quite some time.
 
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Old 02-16-09, 08:15 AM
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Reply to Paul Anlauf

Paul,
Thanks for replying. I did neglect to mention that in addition to blowing the engine oil seal, the mechanic said we blew the oil filter seal too. We decided to go ahead with the re-mfg engine replacement already - there was about $1100 difference between a used engine from a salvage yard w/64K miles on it already and a re-mfg one with a 3yr/75K mile warranty. Didn't make much sense to go cheap here and since we are planning to keep the car.
Greynold99
 
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Old 02-16-09, 08:32 AM
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Excessive crankcase pressure due to yet an actual underlying engine problem? Sure is odd, if not that theory, that not only some actual engine seal blew, but the filter seal as well.
 
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Old 02-16-09, 10:08 AM
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Question about remanufactured engines

Ecman51 and Tow_Guy,
We stopped by shop to get the cost for replacing the engine and while there they suggested that we might want to go with a slightly higher priced Jasper engine rather than what Advance Auto or Auto Zone would carry in remfg engines... It's another $200 - $300 plus an additional optional $300 kit for replacing all the hoses, wires, alternator (I believe, everything except the coil) that don't normally come with the engine itself. Cost is quickly getting up to around $3K... Just wanted to get your advice on would you recommend a Jasper engine over what the car parts places carry? The shop person said they are better rebuilds and tested unlike some others.
Thanks,
Greynold99
 
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Old 02-16-09, 12:51 PM
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If the price difference is only $300 to go with the Jasper engine, do so, you won't regret it. The extra money in hoses and such are things you would do anyhow while doing an engine swap
Jasper comes with a 3 yr 36,000 mile warantee and you can have it repaired anywhere. I've put in a TON of Jaspers and the only one that "failed" was purposely destroyed by the young kid that owned it (long story) Quality rebuilt engines
 
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Old 02-16-09, 01:38 PM
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I'm currently running a Jasper reman (5.7L Chevy) in my wrecker and would buy another. Looks like $2777 for your car and the warranty is 3 yr/100,000 mi.
 
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