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Q: intake manifold gasket or headgasket?? on 1997 Chevrolet Camaro

have been losing small bits of coolant for some time, seeing recently oil was very milky and has foam buildup in the crankcase. one mechanic said it has to be a headgasket but the other place i asked said the v6 models never blow headgaskets and manifold is common because its plastic?? anyone had similar issues??
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I don't like to use the word never becsuse if you run the engine low on coolant, it could leed to blown head gasket or worse. But I think yor problem will be found at the intke manifold. GM has a bulletin TSB #01-06-01-007B related to upper intake problems. Illustrations on the bulletin show the problem area of plastic degradation from the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) exhaust gas passage.
dont suppose you have any tips for when i take it in to get looked at i dont get suckered into paying for repairs that are not necessary? seems the research ive done online come up 50/50 head gasket or the plastic manifold issue on the 3800 engines, however im not sure how to figure out which one it is as im far from a mechanic. any extra input would be awesome thx
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Well I think its like anything there are a few bad eggs in every type of work that hurt the reputation of the majorirty. You should go to a shop that others have recommended....not the shop that quotes the cheapest price. Exsperince and how long a shop has been around means a lot. In you issue most techs know that the intake will have to be removed before the cylinder heads. Most know that the intakes have had issues and should naturaly inspect it before continueing pulling cylinder heads. It would proper to address other things that they will see in this process like : oil and filter should be changed and new antifreeze coolant. Plug wires and spark plugs if they have not been changed would be something else that we would normaly recommend while we are working on a car like yours. The goal in my mind is to fix your main issue and assure the engine to best possible performace.
planning on taking the car into the shop to find out if it is the manifold/headgasket. im very much debating on whether or not to repair and keep the car or attemp to sell. i suspect small amount of coolant have been mixing with oil for sometime and am worried about after effects if i decide to keep. if coolant has been mixing am i just waiting on the engine to take a crap on me even if i fix the manifold issue? wondering how much damage may already be done....
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We have done quite a few of these like yours and have not heard of any engine failures after the intake manifold was replaced. I do not beleive it actually gets very muck coolant mix in the oil due to most of the coolant is entering the EGR portion of the intake. Some is getting in the crankcase but in the early stages like yours sound like I have not seen bearing damage. Overall that engine has a great track history of durabilty.
as it turns out the mechanic said it was the intake manifold gasket. obviously a much cheaper fix than guessing on a headgasket so thanks so much for all your time and advice it was a huge help!!
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Glad it worked out for you....and now that you have found a good place to take your car...remember them the next time your car needs service or repairs. And tell you friends about that shop too.
I have a 2002 Chevy Monte Carlo SS, 3.8. Never had any over heating issues. Car started to over heat so I pulled over, let it cool, started and over heated again. Put almost 2 gal's of anti- freeze in, started it and anti-freeze- poured out at top of the motor , on the passenger side.
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