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1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles


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lkmaryfla
User

Jul 11, 2019, 6:36 PM

Post #1 of 8 (557 views)
1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

I have a mint condition Cutlass that drove like a brand new car until the other day. I drove it to work and it drove perfect as can be. On my way home I did notice it was running slightly hotter than normal, so when i got home i checked the coolant level and it was low about 1/3 of a bottle. It wasn't low 2 weeks earlier when I changed the oil. I look all over for a leak even leave a box under it over night so i could see if some thing was leaking and nothing. I go to start it to drive to work and i have a tapping/chattering noise coming from the top of the motor. I instantly shut it off and check the oil. Its full of new oil with 800 miles on it and i changed it myself with the right oil and filter so i know it isn't an oil issue, unless its pressure. This car doesn't have an oil gauge. Just a light and it didn't come on. I checked oil to make sure coolant isn't missing and its clean of coolant or water. My thoughts are its either a valve/lifter issue or my oil pump failed on my way home? What are your thoughts? I had a Facebook mobile mechanic come by and couldn't figure it out, he thought it was the intake gasket causing the noise? This sounds like a valve tapping to me but im no mechanic. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 12, 2019, 2:39 AM

Post #2 of 8 (544 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

Doesn't seem like anyone who has looked at this has a clue but you noticed it's running warmer than you think it should AND found it low. That was probably at a tank so unknown if engine is full or not.
It doesn't need an oil pressure gauge there's a light that will come on when key turned to run, engine off all warning lights will light as a light bulb test. Does that work? A red icon of an engine most common means it's too low to run engine otherwise should be fine.
It's now an antique. Most techs will struggle with it now. It's basic but now making a noise.
How about a real shop and tech do so diagnostics on this, ask for just that if you wish. Do not let it overheat if need be run heater and open windows if no heat it's way too low on coolant - that's air or vapor in the system if all else was fine. Shut it down right away if it can't made heat for a heater.


If this car is really a nice old gem or just detailed up to look like one I'm not sure can be said just yet. You will waste this thing if you keep driving it with a noise and low coolant noted while it was warm apparently you checked after driving it should be at the "Full Hot" line marked on a plastic bottle is still not up to the top look for high and low marks when hot or cold engine there is a normal air gap on top for either.


Noise is the result of a problem yet to be found is a strong warning - pay attention it's not going to send a love letter to your phone sport,


Tom



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jul 12, 2019, 3:38 AM

Post #3 of 8 (541 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

This particular engine is one of the worst for head gasket failures. The engine design causes air pockets to remain in the back of the engine that are very difficult to get out and will cause severe overheating.

It may already be too late for that engine but you need to use a vacuum fill tool to get the air pockets out of this engine after the coolant has gone low.



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 12, 2019, 7:30 AM

Post #4 of 8 (531 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

lkmaryfla And HT: Yes - was a GREAT and powerful engine for this car but this one SIDEWAYS is what it is couldn't deal with location well. Refresh me HT, isn't this the engine/body you had to tilt engine IN NEUTRAL to so much as remove a spark plug boot on firewall side? Never mind snap off a plug!
Now a low mile probably grocery getter only those are original and even can pop right out a little or lot make a ton of noise because now it's being really driven. The curse of a clean old car of many types don't like the change of how it's used now used not just parked most of the time.
Can be good is hard to impossible just for filling coolant at HT said. Not doing it properly is fatal. Hope not but is high risk,


T



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jul 12, 2019, 7:36 AM

Post #5 of 8 (528 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

Yes, this has been a great workhorse engine with just one real weakness, and that is heat.

This engine was morphed into the 3.4 and used for many more years but head gasket failures were always in the picture.

The other problem is the temp sender is in the back corner where the air pockets start and we know coolant sensors need coolant to read correctly.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



lkmaryfla
User

Jul 12, 2019, 12:33 PM

Post #6 of 8 (508 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

I constantly check guages as i drive... I had a mustang that i ruined by driving it low on oil and since then im kinda paranoid and watch gauges. It has never ran hot, even the day before it started tapping it was just slightly over the middle where the temp gauge has always stayed. Oil changed ever 2500 to 3k miles, water pump, oil pump and shaft, plugs,wires and coils, belt and tensioner all changed with in 5kmiles. It was an older womans church and grocery car that came witha book of repiepts from dealer. I drove it 2 years without an issue. Engine went from being so quiet you couldnt hear to tapping like a lifter has collapsed or valve. I bought car for 1500$ and put over 2k$ in maintaining it. I kinda want to call junkyard to come get it but something tells me it may be fixable.


lkmaryfla
User

Jul 12, 2019, 12:39 PM

Post #7 of 8 (507 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

I drove it 2 years and never had an issue... Ive spent over $2k in last year maintaining it. It came from a wealthy family that bought it new and had it maintained at dealer, so i have a folder with over $14k in reciepts. Ive never gassed it more than half way and baby it because i figured it would be a car i could have as a backup to my towncar for a while. I dont want to send it to a junk yard if it can be fixed for a reasonable amount. Ill more than likely send it to a mechanic shop. I was just hoping it could be something that someone here has dealt with, and that i could fix. Have you ever heard of piston slap? I read the gm 3.1 is plagued with the issue. Thanks


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jul 12, 2019, 12:42 PM

Post #8 of 8 (505 views)
Re: 1994 Cutlass Ciera 3.1L 84k miles Sign In

Definitely get a professional opinion on this before making any big decisions.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.







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