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Consumer Group for GM Car...


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#1 of 5 Sheldon

Sheldon

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Posted December 03 2002 - 04:19 AM

Hello:Can anyone suggest any consumer groups that one can turn to when he doesn't get satisfactory response to a car problem.My problem is this...a month ago my Mom was driving my '95 Olds Achieva and it made a noise and died.The dealership ran a diagnostic and said the camshaft broke in turn causing the timing belt to break,seizing the valves and thus engine.I have been beating my head against the wall since dealing with GM office.The service mgr at the dealership told me that it was his inclination that the camshaft broke first which,in his opinion,was unusual.However,GM has come back at me and told me that their was antifreeze in the oil causing the valves to stick causing the camshaft to break.The car gets monthly oil changes and had new headgaskets put in 2 years ago so I know that their wasn't any antifreeze in the oil.Any help that you can provide on where I can take my complaint now would be greatly appreciated.

#2 of 5 Todd Hochard

Todd Hochard

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Posted December 03 2002 - 04:57 AM

What are your intentions? To try to get to the bottom of the problem, or to get GM to pay for it?
Unless GM can be proven to be directly liable (proof of faulty workmanship, known defect from TSB, etc.), then why should they pay for it?
It would be tough to know which broke first. A broken camshaft is unusual, but that still doesn't imply that it broke first. In OHC "interference" motors (or are we talking about the 60deg V6?), the timing belt breaking COULD actually break the cam, depending on how many valves actually cam into contact with the pistons.
Also, how can you know that coolant wasn't in the oil? Even though monthly oil changes seem way excessive (unless you drive 5000-6000/month), and it doesn't take long for a failing head gasket to put coolant into the oil. The coolant is the at higher pressure than the drainback holes for the oil. Unless you have a sample of the oil at the time of failure(which could be sent to an oil analysis lab for <$20), you can't say for sure. AND, generally speaking, it's my experience that engines with replaced head gaskets have a higher tendency to require them again, sooner, than engines that have never needed them.

How old was the timing belt? Do you have records showing replacement at required intervals?

So, while I can relate to your pain (having spent Christmas break last year doing engine work), from what you've said, I don't see any fault. How many miles total on the car?

Todd
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#3 of 5 Sheldon

Sheldon

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Posted December 03 2002 - 06:36 AM

Thanks for the response Todd.All that I want from GM,at this point,is decisive answers as to why the camshaft would possibly break.I didn’t say nor do I expect GM to pay for a new engine.However,if it is found that it was caused by something totally out of my control than yes,I would expect something from GM.If it was wear and tear than ok,I can live with that but,at the moment,I don’t think so.It is the opinion of several people that I have spoken with that an internal part such as a camshaft can’t be serviced by regular maintenance in the vehicle.In fact,as I said above,it was the service manager himself that said that it was his inclination that the camshaft broke first,for what reason,I don’t know.It’s a 3.1L 6 cyl and has always been dealer maintained.Oil changes each month may seem excessive to some but my point is this…it has always been taken care of and never missed any scheduled service from the dealer.It even has slick 50 in it for god’s sake.The car had an oil change 3 weeks prior and I check the oil level each week myself so when I had to have the head gaskets replaced I know what coolant in the oil looked like and this is not the case now.However,to be sure I will send a sample to an oil lab to get definite compostion.I also understand what GM is saying about coolant in the oil causing this damage but I also understand that to do this,a significant amout of coolant over an extended period of time would cause this…not 3 weeks.It is also my experience that if head gaskets were replaced by a competant mechanic such as,in this case,the dealer than you should not have a problem with head gaskets for some time.I did forget to mention that the timing belt was replaced by the dealer at 80,000km and the car now has 156,000km which is about 100,000miles not many for a 7 year old car.At this point,I am trying to find a consumer group to tell them of my experience and hopefully find other people that may have had similar experiences.

#4 of 5 Todd Hochard

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Posted December 03 2002 - 11:30 AM

Hmmm... a quick google search on "Broken Camshaft V6" turned up this-
http://www.gm-v6lemons.com

Now, as a long-time GM auto enthusiast (but never a REAL mechanic, per se), I've always thought/known the GM 60degree V6 (from the 2.8l in the early 80's, up through the 3.1, and 3.4) to be a questionable engine. I didn't specifically know about the intake gasket leak mentioned on the lemon site, but it essentially perfectly explains what sounds like happened to your car, as well. I didn't know the problem was so big.

So, please forgive my lumping you into the "it's not my fault, it's never my fault" crowd.

Lots of luck getting them to do something, though. At >100,000 miles, you may have no recourse. However, you can take my route- I still "play" with old GM musclecars, with big (and small) V8s, but my "real" cars are always Hondas.Posted Image

As for the oil analysis, check out Blackstone Labs. Get a free sample kit, then send off the sample. It's about $18. I use them to let me know if I'm destroying my Z28's engine.Posted Image

And, if the gaskets turn out to be the culprit, perhaps a good aftermarket gasket maker (e.g. Fel-Pro or ROL) makes something better than the GM pieces.

Todd

P.S. Slick 50 is not good, as teflon remains a particle, and does not dissolve in solution with the oil, and thus ends up in your oil filter. I'd recommend synthetics, and running your interval out to 5000/6 months. I do this on a 23 year old 350 (in the aformentioned Z28), that sees some 1/4 mile runs, and oil analysis still shows it to be fine. After (or should I say IF) you get the coolant leak handled, of course.
I love to singa, about the moon-a, and the june-a, and the springa...
-Owl Jolson

#5 of 5 Sheldon

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Posted December 04 2002 - 04:42 AM

Very curious...When I get a chance I will take a look at the site that you gave me.I have had several GM cars over the years including an Z28 (similar to yours) and I still have an 1986 Pontiac Parisienne Broughm (Bonneville in US)with about 113,000km on it.Never had problems with it...maybe because its a V8.I have used slick 50 in this car as well as my '65 Fastback since as far as I can remember.I forgot to mention that it's the type for older engines.On another note,why would you want to sell that car...looks like a keeper to me.