3.8 V6 COOLING LEAK <FAILED REPAIR> - FirebirdV6.com/CamaroV6.com Message Board

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3.8 V6 COOLING LEAK <FAILED REPAIR>

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  • 3.8 V6 COOLING LEAK <FAILED REPAIR>

    I have a 1997 Camaro RS with the 3.8 V6 with 200K miles. Today I attempted to repair the dreaded 3.8 coolant leak from the stock plastic elbows. I bought the Gates kit from Rock Auto that includes the tensioner assembly, aluminum elbow, and extra idler pulley wheel. Also used the new heater hose connector's (not from Gates) on the idler assembly (old ones cracked off anyways). The old plastic elbow as predicted cracked apart on removal with each end (with O-Rings) still embedded in the block and the old idler assembly. Picked out the O-Ring and 1/2 of the plastic from the block using a pick. Used a plumber's copper cleaning brush on the engine bore fitting to remove gunk in there.

    Re-assembled everything, lube the new aluminum elbow O-Rings with pure antifreeze to assist placing it in. It was very stiff to put in, I struggled a lot with it, eventually put the elbow first into the block then the idler assembly into the elbow as it went smoother that way. Topped up with antifreeze mix, started the car and it leaked from that very elbow into the block! Agh!!!

    Looking at disassembling again, but what am I to do to insure a tight seal for the elbow into the block? Anyone have this problem and a solution?

    Next time I will top up with just distilled water and then check for leaks instead of wasting good antifreeze.

    Thanks,
    Tony

  • #2
    I did mine last year and just left the coolant elbow on the tensionor and installed it that way. No problems other then that I don't see any problems on the way you put it in, they'll line up.
    08' L76 6.0L 4X4 Chevy EXT.Cab LTZ Vortec MAX with Snug top cover, Dynomax exhaust,Hptuners& K&N intake
    96' Camaro M5 to A4 conversion, alot of mods ,see Homepage. GT35R Turbo http://www.cardomain.com/ride/244123...vrolet-camaro/

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    • #3
      I have some red RTV gasket maker in the house. I think I will slather it onto each end of the tube, let it dry, refill with water, and test again. Down side may be near impossible to remove, but I'm hoping this is the last time I'll ever do this fix. If I get another 200K miles out of the engine, that will be a surprise. But then again I'm the original owner, never winter driven and the car has gotten Mobil 1 every 3000 miles...who knows...

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      • #4
        Yeah I seem to always break the lower part of the tensioner off when removing. I had the alm. elbow fail at the O-rings and had to do it over again after 6 months, that wasn't fun.
        08' L76 6.0L 4X4 Chevy EXT.Cab LTZ Vortec MAX with Snug top cover, Dynomax exhaust,Hptuners& K&N intake
        96' Camaro M5 to A4 conversion, alot of mods ,see Homepage. GT35R Turbo http://www.cardomain.com/ride/244123...vrolet-camaro/

        Comment


        • #5
          Is it leaking from the tight side or the lose side that went in? You didn’t knick the surface at all when you picked out the pieces of the old elbow?


          2002 SOM Z28 Camaro
          1996 3800 camaro- Gone - still the fastest N/A Canadian 3.8L F-body
          V6 best: 13.43 @ 100.77 mph


          My Current Build | Synthetic Oil | Videos

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          • #6
            Could have knicked it, hard to say when you are trying to remove the leftover elbow without actually seeing in it except for a glance with a flashlight and mirror.

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            • #7
              I coated Red RTV on all three O-Ring connections (2-on tensioner assembly and the one into the block). Reassembled with heater hoses off to allow some air in there and will test tomorrow after a 24-hour cure as recommended by Permatex. Next step will be to add some rad leak if the RTV doesn't work. The RTV should at least slow the leak down, so the rad leak can do its thing...I hope.

              Comment


              • #8
                don't put rad leak in there - it just gums everything up and will lead to you replacing the radiator, water pump and potentially your engine next. Was it leaking from the tight joint you mentioned?

                2002 SOM Z28 Camaro
                1996 3800 camaro- Gone - still the fastest N/A Canadian 3.8L F-body
                V6 best: 13.43 @ 100.77 mph


                My Current Build | Synthetic Oil | Videos

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yeah I wouldn't use radiator leak been there and done that , doesn't turn out good. Worse case scenario get another coolant elbow.
                  08' L76 6.0L 4X4 Chevy EXT.Cab LTZ Vortec MAX with Snug top cover, Dynomax exhaust,Hptuners& K&N intake
                  96' Camaro M5 to A4 conversion, alot of mods ,see Homepage. GT35R Turbo http://www.cardomain.com/ride/244123...vrolet-camaro/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Stand down the Rad Leak! All hail the Red RTV! Fixed! If anyone is doing this job soon, my advice is to use red RTV sealant on the elbow connections. Don't use it sparingly, but slather it on so that it oozes out the openings and let it set-up the required 24-hours too.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I wouldn't say its a fix, just using the elbow worked for me. Its a option though. Congrats getting it fixed.
                      08' L76 6.0L 4X4 Chevy EXT.Cab LTZ Vortec MAX with Snug top cover, Dynomax exhaust,Hptuners& K&N intake
                      96' Camaro M5 to A4 conversion, alot of mods ,see Homepage. GT35R Turbo http://www.cardomain.com/ride/244123...vrolet-camaro/

                      Comment

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