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Dallas, GA

To machine or not to machine...

Came into a 2000 Alero with the 3.4L six in it, odo sitting at 130k miles. Orig owner said car was being driven by his kid when the engine locked up going down the road, had it towed to his house, and not being mechanically inclined, parked the car. About a year of sitting later I was offered the car as a bonus for some work done to have it for parts, scrap, or try to fix it.

I've been piddling on the car in my garage in my spare time and finally got the initiative with the cold weather here to tear into the engine and I found a mess.

The car, from looking at other boards, has suffered the infamous GM lower intake gasket leak that allowed water into the crankcase. But wait, there's more horror-show, I pulled the front head tonight and bam! all 3 front cylinders are holding water. The rust looks to be fatal without the help of a machine shop.

At this point, I have ZERO money in the car, and a few hours of time pulling parts off to get to where I am now. I've done a few top-end rebuilds, and a bottom end where the block was still mounted in the car, but never done a full tear-down, carry to the machine shop, and then rebuild and am thinking I wouldn't mind going through the process to have it for reference for a future project.

But I'm having a hard time determining if this is the car I should "bust my cherry" on with going through said process. I can't quantify if the end return would be worth the money spent. My plan was to give the car over to my GF to drive for the time being if the engine was in a salvageable state. Her Expedition is getting to the 250k mark and is coming into some real issues and with the fuel economy being crap...

But for me getting 100k out of the engine rebuild, along with the current trans, would make it worth it. How would you seasoned guys play this one? I don't know if I should just call the local tow for $$$ place or start throwing some money into it.

Irreverent or irrelevant?
Kelowna, BC
If it were me, I'd scrap it. It ain't worth the agro, man.

What Would Scooby Doo?

Sycamore, IL
reply to RipTides
I would go for the experience, especially if the body is good. I'd get another motor and drive it into the ground.
GM 3400's grow on trees. They were used in everything. You could easily find one cheap if you looked.
I have a '99 Grand Am, and the thing still runs as good today as when I bought it.(original owner)

If there is a lot of rust,or other body damage, or the interior is shot, then I'd scrap it.
Knowledge Is Power. Power Corrupts. Study Hard, Be Evil!


Dallas, GA
Orig owner ran it up to 110k, got a truck, and gave his out of college kid the car to drive and I don't think the kid popped the hood once to check anything.

Here's the kicker, the battery and starter on it are brand new, the orig owner pretty much handed them to me with the car when he trailered it over, and I threw them in with the car in the driveway and BAM! the car started right up but was burning water bad so I backed into the garage, shut it off and forgot about it.

The interior is actually NICE and the body is as well, can't spot anything on it that turn me off other than the engine internals. Air works, etc.. Living in the south body rust is negligible.

If I did the engine and flipped it I'd get $2k out of the car easy in my area, and that'd be giving it away. But after some thought I'm leaning towards getting a "less-abused" 3.4L from the junk-yard, checking the lower intake gaskets and swapping it in would be less "aggro" and worth the life of the car in the long run.

Monroeville, PA
said by RipTides:

But after some thought I'm leaning towards getting a "less-abused" 3.4L from the junk-yard, checking the lower intake gaskets and swapping it in would be less "aggro" and worth the life of the car in the long run.

That's what i would do if everything else works as you say and there is no body rust.

Powered By Infinite Improbabilty Drive
Stone Mountain, GA
·Atlantic Nexus
reply to RipTides
My '90 Cherokee threw a rod last year. Odd, as I can find no measurable wear in the engine. It destroyed the block in the process.

I do not have the $1800 for a new longblock. So, I found an equivalent engine of Craigs list for $200. It has some wear.

Without $$ for new pistons and having it bored. I opted to just install all new gaskets, bearings and rings (and new lifters, i think one was the cause if the failure.) Probably total cost is $500. I took the better

You could probably get a new bottom end off pull-a-part for under $150. Biggest cost is the time to pull it, cheap rebuild and do the swap.

Hope to get it running soon, just won't run right. Looks to be crank sensor, probably cracked on engine pull. Wish it was possible to pull ECU codes.
Scott Henion

Embedded Systems Consultant,
SHDesigns home - DIY Welder

Put me on hold? I'll put YOU on hold
Parsippany, NJ
·Verizon FiOS
reply to RipTides
I say go for it! It's actually not a bad driving car. I had an '00 Grand Am and enjoyed driving it between intake manifolds. With your rebuild, you'll use the updated gasket that shouldn't fail in the same manner. Also recommend not using Dexcool and changing back to 'ol Prestone. Those 2 things should stop any further intake problems.


Dallas, GA
reply to RipTides
Working on tracking down a good used engine at this point, came in today and pulled the rear head and first thing I see is a crack in one of the piston bores.

The piston and bore were cooked.

We Dont Dial 911

Tucker, GA
reply to RipTides it before install.....then drive the wheels off of it.
Protect your right to keep and arm bears!

The Wheel Weaves As The Wheel Will
Sun City, CA
reply to RipTides
Try this »

...looks like you'll pay between 600-750 for a complete engine. Not bad.