Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:40 pm Post subject: 02 Impala 3.4L 185k: Front Cover Gasket
Shop Manual says you need to remove the oil pan as part of the front cover gasket repair. Is that really true? Removing the oil pan on this car is a very complicated procedure. Want to make sure it's abosolutely necessary before continuing.
Cover removed, oil pan did not have to come off, but looking straight down from the top, you can see the pan bulging/bowing outward beyond the front face of the engine, and there is a narrow embedded gasket in it that *appears* to be intact, but when the cover goes back on and sits down atop it, I wonder if this seal will be a problem.
A few questions (of course):
1.) Should I put a dab of Black Permatex at the 90-degree seam where the horizontal pan protrudes past the vertical face of the front of the engine (and where the front cover will 'sit' atop the pan)? The Fel-Pro gasket will hang on the locator pins and seal the sides and top of the cover, but it merely sits atop the pan like the cover. There is no real "seal" where the cover sits atop the pan (except for that embedded rubber gasket in the lip of the pan which may not be as flexible as it once was). *** UPDATE: I GUESS I SHOULD ***
2.) Should I coat the Fel-Pro front cover gasket with a thin film of Black Permatex, or is it sufficient just going on dry?
3.) Only ONE of the cover bolts (#3 on the left or firewall side), when removed, caused some residual coolant/water to gush out, however, it appears that there are FOUR of these larger-sized bolts surrounding the (2) water jacket 1.5" channels on either side. Should I put pipe sealant on these four bolts, medium-strength thread locker, or both? I used pipe sealant, which I bought at Home Depot, on my Taurus' front cover, but it's consistency was not smooth. It seemed like it had embedded *sand* in it, which made for a sloppy coating on the threads. Did I buy the wrong stuff?
4.) Check out the attached pictures.
1st Picture: The top of the timing chain and the intersection of the firewall-side head and lower intake (and front cover - if it was installed). Notice the (cast) pan-shaped "gouge" (for lack of better word) just under the head. I cleaned this area out (it had oil and grease in it). At first I thought it was a corroded hole and was the source of my leak, but it seems to be just the way the block was cast. Question is: I'm *not* going to pull the LIM and heads just yet. I'm going to put the cover back on, put it all back together, fill it up, and see if it still leaks. Should I fill in this gouge with Black Permatex?? If there's a pinhole leak here, maybe the Permatex will stop it good enough, but if not, I'll be taking it apart again down to at least the LIM (and maybe the heads). Just don't feel like tearing into this thing any more at this point.
2nd Picture: The harmonic balancer. Don't know if you can see it, but there is a feel-able groove in the outer surface of the hub. Apparently this is caused by the rubber seal contacting the outer surface of the hub as it spins??? Is that correct? I didn't buy the gasket kit with the sleeve, and I just tapped in the new seal. I should've bought the sleeve, right? It goes OVER the hub, and then the seal has a slightly wider-circumference opening ... is that how it works? Anyway, I didn't tap the new seal in as deeply as the original seal - which was just a hair past flush with the face of the hub. I'm thinking, this way, the new seal will be contacting the hub just a hair in front of that groove. The new seal is perfectly flush with the face of the hub. Do you think this will be OK?
So to address the grit in the threads. If you have a rethread kit, or a tap, run that thru till the flutes don't have garbage on them. When those covers leak the pressure forces oil and coolant into the bolt holes. As far as the harmonic balancer, get a new seal and just offset it a bit. And yes when cars get high mileage they do wear groves in the balance. I have done a few of these, lightly coating with RTV is what it calls for in the manual, just don't go too crazy with it.
Just wanted to report back that I finally got the car back together (about 3-4 weeks ago) and it *seems* to be holding coolant in the overflow tank. Runs smooth as glass (as good as when it was new, I'd say). The temp gauge *does* go slightly over mid-scale when sitting at a light (which is not normal), but otherwise it stays below mid-scale (say, on the interstate or just rolling along in town). Water pump was replaced just last June (2014), so maybe still be some air in there (or maybe air is getting back in?). I *do* have a check engine code of P0102, but I saw that one before all this coolant hemorrhaging started. Probably just need to clean the MAF sensor? Tried clearing the code, but it came back a day or two later. Think I'm done with this car for a little while. Now I'll just observe and see if the coolant starts disappearing.
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