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3800 car no start so the bill is $1,200?!

 
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Fearless2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject:  3800 car no start so the bill is $1,200?! Reply with quote

Hey everyone. First of all, I will say this is mu buddy's car I have a question about. He has a 3.8L engine and recently had some work done. In fact, the bill came to $1,200 total. There are far more knowledgeable people on here than myself so I figured I'd ask experts.

Ok so my buddy came to my house and his car had a strong smell of fuel. He said his car was taking at least 5-10 tries to start. My first thought was a leaky injector or the fuel pressure regulator. He lives in STL and I live in Chicago. Due to time, he had to have it done down there....

The bill comes and these are the items that were replaced: Thermostat, Plug (JCAP), Plug wire, upper intake manifold kit, lower intake manifold gasket, elbow, FUEL PRESSURE REGULATOR, Oil change, anti freeze, shop supplies and Labor came to $487.

SO MY QUESTION: How is all of that correlated to a strong fuel smell and the car not starting? And if the intake gasket was leaking, wouldn't he notice some symptoms prior to this?

I APPRECIATE ANY INPUT! Thanks NAIOA community.
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Lingenfelter
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:21 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Sounds like they did a lot of unrelated work. Did he OK everything? My dealer at least calls to have me approve work before doing anything further than diagnosis (that is, when I do take it to them)

Thermostat, upper intake manifold kit, lower intake manifold gasket, elbow, Oil change, anti freeze. These items are all arguably related to the manifold gasket failure. Manifold gasket failure doesn't prevent the car from starting though. To do it up right, I would have used all these parts and fluids while changing manifold gaskets as well.

Plug (JCAP), Plug wire. Probably identified through a scan as a misfire or one was messed up when they checked them, so they replaced both the plug and wire as a pair.

Fuel Pressure Regulator. The most likely issue preventing the car starting out of everything here IMO.

Sounds like the shop did a once-over and replaced components that weren't working properly, including items like the thermostat if it was prudent to replace them. I'd still expect them to contact him and have him OK this much work before going ahead with it (unless he told them to just make it right).

I can't comment on the pricing. I do know that up here, manifold gaskets (according to my parts list breakdown above) cost about $850 CDN/600-650 USD, installed. First you say the bill was 1200 then you say 487. Is the 487 just shop supplies and labor? Manifold gaskets are 6 hours labor (GM) if I remember right, so the labor seems reasonable. Maybe they installed a new upper manifold? (This would be a couple hundred dollars.... maybe it was melted at the stack, cracked or warped at the mating surface- would cause wonky air/fuel mixture)

Edit: to answer your questions, the fuel regulator would likely be the source of the fuel smell. As far as noticing manifold gasket failure: if leaking internally, you can smell the coolant in the exhaust gases. If leaking externally, it's visible on the block and/or you'll smell it evaporating off the block due to engine heat.

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00impala123
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:38 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Nearly $500 in labor sounds about right for all the work performed.

So the price doesn't seem all that bad. The only question left is did the LIM gaskets need to be replaced. I can't say without having looked at it, but it may have been failing and he didn't notice.

They probably still should have told him first and asked if he wanted that work done, since the car would still start and wouldn't smell like fuel because of that.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

I appreciate the detailed response Lingenfelter. My buddy was not notified by this shop as to what they were going to do. I gave the car a look over a week before this all happened and I didn't notice any leaks nor smells.

The total was $1200 but the labor was half of that which was $487. He replaced all 6 plugs and wires. I should have been more clear....my apologies.

I figured it was a typical case of "replace something and see if it works."

I've came to the same conclusion as you: Fuel pressure regulator was the problem but this other stuff wasn't needed for this particular problem. Is it possible that the intake manifold started going bad from the time I saw it to last week? Yes....right?

00impala123 wrote:
Nearly $500 in labor sounds about right for all the work performed.

So the price doesn't seem all that bad. The only question left is did the LIM gaskets need to be replaced. I can't say without having looked at it, but it may have been failing and he didn't notice.

They probably still should have told him first and asked if he wanted that work done, since the car would still start and wouldn't smell like fuel because of that.

My thought exactly. The shop told my buddy that the car died because of the coolant leaking into the engine....etc. Complete lie and I'm sure the engine would need to be replaced if that was the case?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:13 am    Post subject:   Reply with quote

The LIM gaskets usually leak internally and often times they leak into the engine and the offending leak burns up. The only way you will notice it is if the coolant or oil is low. The only indication I had of my LIM leak was a super slow coolant loss (about a pint a month) before it let go and started hemorrhaging oil.

My car had a considerable amount of coolant in the oil when the LIM gasket failed on me and didn't need the engine replaced. As long as the motor doesn't hydrolock, it's usually OK as long as you get the coolant flushed out after the repair.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:55 am    Post subject:   Reply with quote

IffyG wrote:
The LIM gaskets usually leak internally and often times they leak into the engine and the offending leak burns up. The only way you will notice it is if the coolant or oil is low. The only indication I had of my LIM leak was a super slow coolant loss (about a pint a month) before it let go and started hemorrhaging oil.

My car had a considerable amount of coolant in the oil when the LIM gasket failed on me and didn't need the engine replaced. As long as the motor doesn't hydrolock, it's usually OK as long as you get the coolant flushed out after the repair.

This is interesting now that you mention it. His coolant was low(not by much) and the oil was about one quart low. He never checks the fluids so I'm going with the usual loss theory.

That was very helpful tips that I didn't know about...much appreciated!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Not a problem. I'd say your buddy was driving a ticking time bomb. Use this as a teaching point as to why you need to check your fluids on a regular basis.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:43 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

IffyG wrote:
The LIM gaskets usually leak internally and often times they leak into the engine and the offending leak burns up. The only way you will notice it is if the coolant or oil is low. The only indication I had of my LIM leak was a super slow coolant loss (about a pint a month) before it let go and started hemorrhaging oil.


I think this is often how they go.. a slow leak for a while that may or may not go unnoticed, then a "blowout" of the gasket, either internally or externally. When mine went, it was external and was coolant-only. When my buddy's went it was internal and it was both coolant and oil, and it immediately made a huge cloud of smoke behind him on the highway. He had to park and tow it.

OP: it's likely he had an internal leak which was slowly bringing his fluids down... and since it's not a problem that prevents starting, I can't say for sure that I would have put it together while troubleshooting, either.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Lingenfelter wrote:
I think this is often how they go.. a slow leak for a while that may or may not go unnoticed, then a "blowout" of the gasket, either internally or externally. When mine went, it was external and was coolant-only. When my buddy's went it was internal and it was both coolant and oil, and it immediately made a huge cloud of smoke behind him on the highway. He had to park and tow it.

OP: it's likely he had an internal leak which was slowly bringing his fluids down... and since it's not a problem that prevents starting, I can't say for sure that I would have put it together while troubleshooting, either.


Assuming this mechanic was not ripping him off, he had to have noticed something obvious like an external leak? It seems like it needed to be done since the 3800's are known for this failure.

IffyG wrote:
Not a problem. I'd say your buddy was driving a ticking time bomb. Use this as a teaching point as to why you need to check your fluids on a regular basis.

I'm ocd and check mine at least a few times a week. This is why I love this site...you guys know your stuff!
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:27 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

I personally don't understand what is so hard about popping the hood at a fill up and checking the fluids. It doesn't cost you any time and takes all of two minutes to do with the added bonus that it can save you costly headaches down the road.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:48 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Fearless2005 wrote:

Assuming this mechanic was not ripping him off, he had to have noticed something obvious like an external leak? It seems like it needed to be done since the 3800's are known for this failure.


An external leak isn't like fluid whizzing down the side of the block constantly. Even a somewhat severe external leak is going to boil off from the engine heat, leaving only a darkened area of metal - might not be obvious if he doesn't know what he's looking for. When my LIM went originally it was pretty severe and I only had a small amount of coolant visible in liquid form. (there was plenty which had sprayed everywhere and turned to white 'smoke', but I had done a couple hard pulls on the way home from work).

That being said, no guarantee that the leak wasn't internal and they diagnosed based on smell in the exhaust.

Its possible that the gasket was breached during the week between your inspection and his trip to the mechanic. They're crap gaskets and it wouldn't surprise me to see a sudden breach, or a slow leak that increased over time.

IffyG wrote:
I personally don't understand what is so hard about popping the hood at a fill up and checking the fluids. It doesn't cost you any time and takes all of two minutes to do with the added bonus that it can save you costly headaches down the road.


Because the motoring public is largely comprised of idiots who value 60 seconds of their free time over hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs?

Also, it's cold in Canada Laughing

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:06 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Lingenfelter wrote:

Its possible that the gasket was breached during the week between your inspection and his trip to the mechanic. They're crap gaskets and it wouldn't surprise me to see a sudden breach, or a slow leak that increased over time.


This is absolutely true. Mine went from the super slow leak to a full blown failure over a stretch of about 250 miles on the highway.

Lingenfelter wrote:

Because the motoring public is largely comprised of idiots who value 60 seconds of their free time over hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs?


Valid point. Even my own grandmother has subscribed to the 'don't bother changing your oil until the engine seizes up' maintenance plan. Laughing

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:17 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Ah ok thanks guys! It's a 2001 Buick with 88k miles. Age could have been a factor then

EDIT: Instead of posting a new thread, I figured I ask you guys a question about my 2009 Impala LS. In front of the radiator, there is a connector that is not going to anything. It's sorta a lime green and the wires are yellow and green with a black stripe. Fog lamps possibly? I can upload a picture if you guys want. Thanks
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:35 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Fearless2005 wrote:
Ah ok thanks guys! It's a 2001 Buick with 88k miles. Age could have been a factor then

EDIT: Instead of posting a new thread, I figured I ask you guys a question about my 2009 Impala LS. In front of the radiator, there is a connector that is not going to anything. It's sorta a lime green and the wires are yellow and green with a black stripe. Fog lamps possibly? I can upload a picture if you guys want. Thanks


Not positive, I think it might be the temp sensor for the DIC.


Maybe also an impact sensor for the airbags? I forget where that is.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:15 pm    Post subject:   Reply with quote

Lingenfelter wrote:
Not positive, I think it might be the temp sensor for the DIC.


Maybe also an impact sensor for the airbags? I forget where that is.


I was thinking the temp sensor as well. I was looking at my wiring diagrams but can't locate it. Just curious because it's literally just hanging.
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