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2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems

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New User

Jan 1, 2014, 1:45 PM

Post #1 of 7 (1443 views)
2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

2002 Pontiac Aztec
V6/97000 miles

Bought a used car from an auction site hoping to do basic repairs on it myself. I really have no experience and got over my head so I took it to someone who knows what they are doing.

Originally, it had no thermostat. When I test drove it, it started to overheat which I thought was because of the thermostat. All of the dashboard lights illuminated, which I thought was because of a possible blown fuse or faulty alternator. The car I estimated was sitting for around 6m to a year, no way to know for sure.

One thing that worries me is when I was driving it off the lot to a work bay (5 miles), it had completely shut off mid way when I pulled into a gas station. I suspect there is damage to the engine? I took it to a independent shop after that.

-Replaced water pump
-New Thermostat
-New Battery

They are giving me the run around however on releasing my car. They have said now over a week past their estimate that they are bleeding the car, which they have already done once, because it is still getting too hot. They said that half of the coolant lines aren't properly distributing, which is beyond my comprehension on what exactly that means or the underlining cause.

What worries me is that they don't know what exactly they are doing. Bleeding a system doesn't take that long. I believe there are other problems. Any advice on possible problems with the car or shop is appreciated.

(This post was edited by Johnathanrs on Jan 1, 2014, 1:48 PM)

GC profile image

Jan 1, 2014, 2:39 PM

Post #2 of 7 (1421 views)
Re: 2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

The GM 3.4 engine is picky about bleeding air from the cooling system. That being said, any decent shop should have np problem with it. Whenever I see one of these come in, head gasket issues come to mind immediately. Especially one that has issues with poor coolant circulation and keeps having air appear in the system. It needs to be pressure tested for leaks. If there are no external leaks, then have to dig deeper and find one internally. The head gaskets on these engines are junk from the factory. A decent shop/tech should know all of this though, and should not take long to find the cause of the problems.

Willing to help, willing to learn... Rob

(This post was edited by goiserclause on Jan 1, 2014, 2:46 PM)

Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Jan 1, 2014, 4:32 PM

Post #3 of 7 (1413 views)
Re: 2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

I agree with G. There was a reason the thermostat was missing to begin with and that would be a logical explanation.

Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

New User

Jan 2, 2014, 9:35 AM

Post #4 of 7 (1389 views)
Re: 2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

*Resolved* You guys were right. It looks like a head gasket leak. They took out the thermostat so that people couldn't do a proper diagnostic on the vehicle. Anyone else wanting to know, you can't do a proper check on pressure without a thermostat.

Is it okay if I keep the thermostat out to keep pressure off of the car for now until I can repair the head gasket? What are the ramifications? I would like to try a head gasket sealer, any recommendations from my situation?

Thanks U2.

(This post was edited by Johnathanrs on Jan 2, 2014, 9:37 AM)

GC profile image

Jan 2, 2014, 11:17 AM

Post #5 of 7 (1381 views)
Re: 2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

All bad ideas. The engine needs to be at operating temp to work correctly. Since you bought the vehicle like this, theres no way to know how badly it was overheated, and what kind of damage has been done. Head gasket sealer is junk. At best its a very temporary almost seal that fills your cooling system with junk. At worst and most likely, it wont seal anything and could ruin other expensive parts. The heads need to be checked to see if theyre warped and likely milled to fix. IMO Since you have no idea what has or hasnt been done to this engine, I would recommend replacing the engine with either a rebuild or a known good used one, preferably that has had the gaskets replaced or this will happen again.

Willing to help, willing to learn... Rob

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jan 2, 2014, 12:35 PM

Post #6 of 7 (1369 views)
Re: 2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

Anyone else wanting to know, you can't do a proper check on pressure without a thermostat.



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.

Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

Jan 3, 2014, 5:29 AM

Post #7 of 7 (1353 views)
Re: 2002 Pontiac Multiple Problems Sign In

Why on earth you paid money to have an Aztek is beyond me. There is a reason GM cancelled that platform, they are junk and the engines were the worst part of them. Buying it at an auction was asking for trouble. The moment you said the thermostat was missing I knew someone had a blown head gasket so they yanked the thermostat to make it not instantly overheat. Every last 3.4 GM ever made blows its head gasket. The heads will always need to be machined once that happens. Agree with the others that since you have no idea how hot the last guy got it you may as well put a different engine in it. If you don't know for sure that the engine you are getting has had the updated gasket kit put in it then have it done prior to installation or you'll be doing it in chassis which is not fun.

A lot of people go to auctions thinking they are going to get a deal. Well, it didn't get sent to an auction for no reason. To buy it online without even having it inspected first was foolish and I hope you have learned not to do that again. Auctions are dumping grounds for cars nobody wants and a place for shady sellers to misrepresent vehicles and make a quick buck. The ones open to the public are even worse than the ones that are only open to dealers.

If you put a sealer in this, you will have a bad head gasket and a system full of sealer that will need to be replaced. Your radiator, lines and heater core will be plugged with crap the will not flush out. If that stuff actually worked, parts stores wouldn't sell head gaskets, they'd have a shelf full of bottles. Especially on a leak to combustion that your engine has, no sealer can plug up that amount of heat and pressure. The only fix for this is the right fix, either changing the gasket and hoping the rest of the engine is ok or replacing the entire engine.

I worry about the shop you are taking this to. If they take that long to figure out the head gasket is bad when it is a known pattern failure on this I hope they can do this job right. Is this an actual shop or some guy in his house garage that says he can do it cheaper than a regular shop? Be wary of this, as not all techs are of the same caliber and many times the cheapest price upfront becomes the most expensive in the end if there is a problem.

By the way, pressure in a cooling system during a pressure test is equal in all parts of the system. It doesn't matter if there is a thermostat in it or not to do the test. If this shop tells you different, you definitely need to get your car out of there and in the hands of someone competent. Don't just base your decision on price or you'll regret it later.

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