[Diy_efi] Reality check - no efi content - long winded

Leo Schneggenburger lschneg1
Mon Aug 21 00:37:49 UTC 2006

Hi Bill,
 I am not sure but I think this is an interference engine. It sure 
sounds like a bad valve at the least. Head gaskets are also a common 
issue on these engines and the fact that you are low on the adjacent 
cylinder makes me wonder about that too. Can you put air into the 
cylinder as a test? It should of course seal which it won't. Then see if 
air is coming out the intake manifold or the exhaust or look for bubbles 
in the radiator. You will know what to do after that. BTW, I am in 
"Upstate, NY" but I know that in NYC, /*anything */above the city is 
considered upstate and since you are from the tri-state area you 
probably think the same way, so where and who worked on your car if you 
don't mind answering? Privately if you wish.

Bill - Comcast wrote:
> Sorry for the off topic post but I know there's a lot of mechanical 
> knowledge here and thought I'd solicit some opinions on this situation.
> We just returned from the vacation-from-hell.  Amy's wagon ate the 
> timing chain in upstate NY.  We got towed into a garage where they 
> quoted 4-5 hours labor,  $450 to $500 to fix it.  They stumbled and 
> bumbled around with it for 3 days (each time I asked they were almost 
> done,  only a couple more hours) while we waited and finally at about 
> 5:30 on the third day they started it,  but it ran like garbage and 
> was leaking antifreeze from around the water pump and had a major oil 
> leak from the valve cover.  They fiddled with the plug wires for 2 
> more hours before they finally gave up and pushed it out of the bay 
> and into the yard.  They went home to supper and left me, Amy,  and 
> the 2 kids (7 & 4) sitting in the car for 5 hours waiting for my car 
> hauler to be brought up from CT.
> Oh yes,  before they went home they handed me a bill for $1050.  The 
> bill lists a tow ($27),  parts ($180) and the remainder labor:  
> replaced the timing chain & gears,  clean debris from the oil pan, and 
> R&R valve covers for the compression test.  The owner feels perfectly 
> justified in the 2X bill,  didn't know he had to clean the oil pan 
> when he gave the estimate,  didn't include the compression test (& 
> valve covers) in the estimate.
> Some questions for the gang:
> 1) Is the 1988 Buick 3.8L V6 an interference engine?  What are the 
> chances we bent a valve?
> 2) They did a compression check before doing the work and said all 6 
> holes were 120 to 140.  They had to pull the valve covers and loosened 
> the rockers since the cam wasn't turning.  I can't imagine how this is 
> a valid test since the valves didn't open on the suck cycle.  Is there 
> any way this could have been a valid compression test?
> 3)  I did a compression test this afternoon (cam's turning now :-) ),  
> I've got 30 psi in hole #1, 90 in #3,  and about 120 in the others.  
> Squirted oil in #1 and retested... still 30.  I pulled the valve cover 
> to try to fix the oil leak and while it was off I removed the 2 
> rockers on #1 and retested... still 30 psi.
> 4)  They spent 3.5 to 4 hours trying to remove the oil pan to clean 
> the debris out of it (billed me for 4.3 hours).  Is this reasonable 
> for a Buick Century wagon?  Seems to me there should have been another 
> way other than removing all the stuff they did.
> 5) Is there any way to check cam timing without  taking the timing 
> cover (& water pump) off?
> I did some other checks too - all injectors are firing,  I have spark 
> in all 6.  I'm thinking either a valve is bent in #1 or the cam timing 
> is off.  Any thoughts would be appreciated,  my apologies again for 
> the off topic post.
> Best,
> Bill
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