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Pin holes in engine block/trouble with 2 garages

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OK, need help. I need to lay this out and get feedback as proof both of these garages are idiots, so here it goes, the complete story.

94 3.4. May 2013, broke serpentine belt, towed to garage. Replaced water pump, thermostat, belt, pulleys. Was told I had head gasket problems. Was leaking coolant somewhere when I picked up my car. Drove car to another garage, asked for pressure test to confirm. I was told there was a broken inlet valve on the bottom of the radiator, no way a pressure test could have been done on it to get to I had a bad head gasket. Took back to first garage, demanded they put radiator in my car, they did, no further leaks, no overeating problems, nothing. Drove all summer 2013 in 100+ heat with a/c going most days, top up or down. No problems of any kind. Parked it end of October for the winter. February, needed to use it to go pick up a dining room table with my trailer (it's got a factory installed trailer hitch), warmed it up, turned on the heat, blew nothing but cold air, froze my butt off for the 8 mile round trip. Parked it again for the rest of the winter. Saved up the money to get the "supposedly" blown head gaskets and decided to go ahead and have timing belt replaced at same time since it had been about 50K miles since being replaced, took it back to the garage that did the initial work with the water pump, radiator, etc., on August 31st. After 4 weeks and a lot of delays, got my car back on September 29. All seemed well. Drove for exactly 2 weeks. Went out one Monday morning to start it to go visit my brother in the hospital, it died. Tried again, it died. Got out to raise hood, oil all over my garage floor. Called garage to come get it, told them it looked like they might not have put my oil filter on tight or something, they towed it back to their garage. Called me the next day and said the oil sending unit was leaking, and oh by the way, you have a water leak. apparently they had let me leave the garage the first time, with a bad hose and didn't bother to replace it or even tell me about. After another 2 weeks, they were going to bring my car to my home since I had no way to come get it. So, manager was driving it to me, got about a mile from the store, overheated. towed it back to their garage. After another 7-10 of trying to figure out what was wrong, asked me if they could have it towed to another garage to get "correctly" diagnosed. A couple of days later, I get a phone call stating that the 2nd garage determined my heads had cracks in them and apparently the machine shop either missed it or something, so they were going to buy new heads for my car at their expense and fix it. Another week goes by. Winter is here, I have no ride, so they rent me a car to drive saying my car would be ready in a few days. Another week goes by. The 2nd shop is now telling them, they apparently repaired my heads, after I was told I was getting new ones, and now the block has pin holes in it, it's had them for over 2 years, and it's all "my fault" and the first garage isn't responsible for fixing my car as now my "piece of junk" car (their words) needs a whole new engine at a cost of over $6000. Next thing I know, my car is sitting in their parking lot torn down, they won't put it back together as "they won't be held responsible for it" and my rental car is yanked from me.

So I am back on foot, no car, and their claims department is trying to say that for 2 years, my car has had pin holes in the block, can't be repaired, and they aren't going to do anything about it. Called today to find out when someone is going to put my car back together, waiting to hear that now.

So, I need some professional opinions. Here is what I think. First garage that told me I needed head gaskets, replaced gaskets, let my car leave with a bad water hose, sent car to garage they have a "relationship" with (they send business back and forth), who are telling them I have been knowing driving my car for 2 years with a bad block, which is a lie. They repaired my heads apparently, put my car back together, guess what, still got hot I guess, so now instead of them standing behind that they told the first garage, the heads had cracks, now it's the engine block has pin holes and they aren't touching it again.

Thoughts? And I guess I am going to have to sue them to get something done.

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Sorry to hear about your car, and getting the run around by the local mechanics.

 

You can not have "pin holes" in the block causing it to leak and loose coolant.

 

You can have a cracked block, that will often get worse very quickly.

You can have bad sealing surfaces, bad radiator, hoses, clamps, intake, heads, leaking heater core (http://youtu.be/ZYh9j-mXBog?t=1m10s) , bad sealing surfaces, etc. You can have "pin holes" in the radiator, hoses, and any coolant pipe

 

You need something in writing or on tape.

Note: audio/video taping laws vary massively! *You* could end up in jail for a very long time!

So, CHECK YOUR LOCAL AND STATE LAWS FIRST!

 

Once you have proof, you can take them to small claims court.

If it's not worth your time, just get the car back, assembled, asap.

 

In the mean time, write/email your local BBB.

Then, send the garage a letter with a copy of the complaint, and your desire/need to have your car back - KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL.

Then, the letter MUST be sent by REGISTERED MAIL.

I said the letter MUST be sent by REGISTERED MAIL. :)

If you do not send the letter by REGISTERED MAIL, then BFD - you're just an another sucker. Yawn.

 

Once you have "some legal basis" and your car back, bring the car to a GM Dealer - at least for a diagnosis.

If you bring it anywhere else, then BFD - you're just an another sucker.

Dealerships have to be responsive to the manufacture. Dealer mechanics must be responsive to the Dealership.

Your local mechanic can do: "What ever the ***** they want, and many do"!

 

Note, most local mechanics are good. But, "most" is not "all". And, "most" could still mean that 49% are out there to screw people.

 

 

Good Luck!

Edited by Cutlass350

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The block could be cracked, but it's probably not that likely. What is more likely is that there is an issue with the heads or there was an installation related error

 

 

Over that summer you drove it without any issues...Were you having to add coolant constantly or did it not leak out? If there was a crack in the block that was weeping about as slow as possible, you should have noticed a change in coolant level in all that time.

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94 3.4. May 2013, broke serpentine belt, towed to garage. Replaced water pump, thermostat, belt, pulleys. Was told I had head gasket problems. Was leaking coolant somewhere when I picked up my car. Drove car to another garage, asked for pressure test to confirm. I was told there was a broken inlet valve on the bottom of the radiator, no way a pressure test could have been done on it to get to I had a bad head gasket.

No such thing as an inlet valve on the bottom of the radiator. MAYBE they meant the drain valve. Either way, probably does not mean a new radiator is needed.

 

Took back to first garage, demanded they put radiator in my car, they did, no further leaks, no overeating problems, nothing. Drove all summer 2013 in 100+ heat with a/c going most days, top up or down. No problems of any kind. Parked it end of October for the winter. February, needed to use it to go pick up a dining room table with my trailer (it's got a factory installed trailer hitch), warmed it up, turned on the heat, blew nothing but cold air, froze my butt off for the 8 mile round trip.

Yup, by then enough coolant had leaked out to disable the heat. Heater core is now filled with air. Engine has a coolant leak, you just didn't know about it.

 

Parked it again for the rest of the winter. Saved up the money to get the "supposedly" blown head gaskets and decided to go ahead and have timing belt replaced at same time since it had been about 50K miles since being replaced, took it back to the garage that did the initial work with the water pump, radiator, etc., on August 31st. After 4 weeks and a lot of delays, got my car back on September 29. All seemed well. Drove for exactly 2 weeks. Went out one Monday morning to start it to go visit my brother in the hospital, it died. Tried again, it died. Got out to raise hood, oil all over my garage floor. Called garage to come get it, told them it looked like they might not have put my oil filter on tight or something, they towed it back to their garage. Called me the next day and said the oil sending unit was leaking, and oh by the way, you have a water leak. apparently they had let me leave the garage the first time, with a bad hose and didn't bother to replace it or even tell me about. After another 2 weeks, they were going to bring my car to my home since I had no way to come get it. So, manager was driving it to me, got about a mile from the store, overheated. towed it back to their garage. After another 7-10 of trying to figure out what was wrong, asked me if they could have it towed to another garage to get "correctly" diagnosed.

They've had it forever, they're clearly not equipped to work on this vehicle. They admit that they cannot "correctly" diagnose the problem. This is your notice to get the car, and get the hell away from them.

 

A couple of days later, I get a phone call stating that the 2nd garage determined my heads had cracks in them and apparently the machine shop either missed it or something, so they were going to buy new heads for my car at their expense and fix it. Another week goes by. Winter is here, I have no ride, so they rent me a car to drive saying my car would be ready in a few days. Another week goes by. The 2nd shop is now telling them, they apparently repaired my heads, after I was told I was getting new ones, and now the block has pin holes in it, it's had them for over 2 years, and it's all "my fault" and the first garage isn't responsible for fixing my car as now my "piece of junk" car (their words) needs a whole new engine at a cost of over $6000. Next thing I know, my car is sitting in their parking lot torn down, they won't put it back together as "they won't be held responsible for it" and my rental car is yanked from me.

So I am back on foot, no car, and their claims department is trying to say that for 2 years, my car has had pin holes in the block, can't be repaired, and they aren't going to do anything about it. Called today to find out when someone is going to put my car back together, waiting to hear that now.

You won't get your car put back together correctly. You won't even get it put back together incorrectly unless you take legal action. Hire a lawyer, NOW.

 

So, I need some professional opinions. Here is what I think. First garage that told me I needed head gaskets, replaced gaskets, let my car leave with a bad water hose, sent car to garage they have a "relationship" with (they send business back and forth), who are telling them I have been knowing driving my car for 2 years with a bad block, which is a lie. They repaired my heads apparently, put my car back together, guess what, still got hot I guess, so now instead of them standing behind that they told the first garage, the heads had cracks, now it's the engine block has pin holes and they aren't touching it again.

Thoughts? And I guess I am going to have to sue them to get something done.

Yes. The sooner you jump on that, the better.

 

 

 

 

 

I will say this: While I wouldn't describe them as "pinholes"; when I replaced the head gaskets on my '93 3.4, the gasket surface of the block was scarred from the fire-ring of the gasket scraping back and forth over it. MAYBE this is what they mean by "pinholes"--or maybe not.

 

Block, rear bank:

Lumina_Deck_01.jpg

 

Lumina_Deck_03.jpg

 

The front bank was similar, but not as bad. The head gaskets popped in the same place, which means near cylinder 2 on rear bank, and near cylinder 5 on front bank.

 

Lumina_Head_Gasket_02.jpg

 

Lumina_Head_Gasket_03.jpg

 

My unproven theory is that the cylinder head has a "soft spot" due to lack of metal. Over time this soft-spot collapses, relieving pressure on the fire-ring, which then fails. Both my heads showed a low-spot directly over the failed section of the head gasket. The rear bank actually leaked, stranding me. The front gasket showed no symptoms--I tore the front head off "just because", and I'm glad I did. It wouldn't have lasted much longer.

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There is no way you can have pin holes on your block that leak coolant. You can have cracks which will leak coolant and make the engine run like it's dying, but you can't have pin holes that leak coolant. HOWEVER, you do have a lower intake manifold gasket made out of plastic, and it's the most overlooked item at a shop. Most shops don't even recognize the lower intake manifold gasket issue exists, despite well documented issues with the gasket on both the GM 60 degree engines (which the 3.4 DOHC is a variant of) and the 90 degree engine (famously known as the 3800, Buick V6 and Buick 3800).

 

While I'm not saying this was the case in your situation (and it may very well be too late to know), the lower intake manifold gasket is usually misdiagnosed as a head gasket leak or heater hose leak. This issue shows incompetency on the shops behalf more than anything.

 

At this point though, what we say doesn't matter. It's your word against theirs and if you can't prove that there is clear negligence and malpractice then you don't really have much of a case (which you do have a case, considering there is a paper trail, but it's on your responsibility to have it all because the shop will do what it takes to place the blame on you). If everything is documented, I would suggest finding a top notch lawyer that will help you get your money back from these people and file a claim with the BBB as well as explore local options on filing a grievance against that business locale.

 

Once you have "some legal basis" and your car back, bring the car to a GM Dealer - at least for a diagnosis.

If you bring it anywhere else, then BFD - you're just an another sucker.

Dealerships have to be responsive to the manufacture. Dealer mechanics must be responsive to the Dealership.

Your local mechanic can do: "What ever the ***** they want, and many do"!

 

Note, most local mechanics are good. But, "most" is not "all". And, "most" could still mean that 49% are out there to screw people.

 

 

Good Luck!

 

While 75% of the time, the logical choice is to go to the dealer, this is not always the "proven" avenue. There have been many cases where the dealership service department is just as shady as the local shop.

 

This issue is a bit bigger considering that GM is not obligated to support their cars after 10 years of age. Many people think of this as the parts stop being made after 10 years and then are stored to become new older stock parts as time goes by, but they're also not obligated to keep the cars in the computer system. Try going to your local dealership and ask for a build sheet on anything built before 2005. The parts clerk will make a face as if you asked them to supply you with Peugeot parts. Then they will tell you in an unamused voice "I'm not sure our system goes back that far" or "If the system goes that far".

 

The NHSTA will always make manufacturers liable for manufacturing defects and to correct the defects... even 20 years after manufacture as we have seen with the Jeep Grand Cherokee situation, HOWEVER the NHSTA cannot make manufacutrers readily service cars of such vintage. This is why if you ask for an alignment at a GM dealership for a 1G W body, they will tell you they don't have the tool to align the rear. The door handles will almost never be in stock, and certain LQ1 parts have become junkyard only due to this. IN fact, some parts clerks will tell you to check a junkyard as certain parts are no longer available. (I've seen this happen with Ford too). In fact, ask the parts desk for a parts diagram on any 90's and early 2000s cars and it's a crap shoot if ithey have it.

 

My whole point is that unless they have someone that was working with Oldsmobiles in the 90's, the knowledge would be the same as a local shop (low to none).

 

The dealer can do... whatever the hell they want to do, and unless it's under warranty or run the risk of getting into issues with corporate, they can and will hit you with low blow moves like "What's an Oldsmobile?" or "We are a (insert GM brand still in production) dealership, we don't specialize in (insert defunct GM brand). Even Pontiac owners get this sometimes, and Pontiac hasn't been made for 5 years.

 

I will say if you need to get a defunct GM brand serviced at a GM dealership... take it to a Cadillac dealership. They are more expensive but they actually try to fix your car and not get you out the door. I actually know of a Cadillac dealership that has the W body alignment tool, despite that Cadillac never got a W body. My observation is that GM standards for Chevy and Buick/GMC dealership franchising is a lot lower than Cadillac's franchising, so it's pretty easy to get stupid comments like "I thought they stopped making Cutlass Supremes in 1987" or "I thought all Cutlass Supremes were RWD" at the lower tier dealers whereas Caddy dealerships will actually acknowledge the lower tier line, get you parts for it, and charge you Cadillac prices to fix something beneath it.

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Dealerships can be iffy with the LQ1. When I lost my first timing belt on my Cutlass, I went to the local Chevrolet dealership to see if I could possibly beg, borrow, or steal the specialty Kent-Moore tools from their shop to do the work. I was told they didn't even have the tools any longer. When I asked the service manager what then, did they do when someone brought in a Z34, he told me they sent them somewhere else. :(

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You guys are awesome for providing such help:thumbsup:

 

What part of the globe is the OP hailing from? I could only suggest when looking for a new mechanic to find a shop that has been there for years and see if the same owners had it back in the 90s. While its no guarantee the chances are that someone there will have exp. working on older W-bodies. Now understand most do this for money nowadays and people with Ws as choice vehicles are not as affluent as Merc and Jag owners so the best course for maintaining your car is to buy a Dealership service manual(Its a big green book for 1994) and learn how to interpret the thing to do the work yourself.

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