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Loss of oil AND coolant

Indian 1

New member
Sorry in advance for the long post. My daughter's 98 NA Bonneville stopped running on the interstate a couple days ago. It wouldn't restart, and I towed it to a truck stop to try to figure it out. I jumped it from my car until it would start, and when it did, it made a spooky telltale squealing noise. I had her shut it off and started checking fluids. That was when I noticed that the upper radiator hose had collapsed. The oil didn't reach the dipstick and I couldn't see coolant in the radiator. I started it for a few seconds and it had no oil pressure.
She's generally pretty good about checking fluids, so I don't think she simply neglected it to death. Well, after getting oil and coolant in it, it had less than 40 psi at any RPM, and it rattled.
My worst fears confirmed, I started off to her apartment with it and it quickly went downhill. It had very little power, and died several times. Finally it didn't make it up a hill and died the final time. After sitting for a minute or so, the upper hose blew and spewed coolant. At this point I gave up and called a roll off.
Does anyone have an idea how it would have lost so much oil and coolant at the same time? The oil didn't seem to have coolant in it after I filled it, and I didn't notice steam coming from the exhaustat that point. It did have steam rolling out from under the hood as I drove it. I've had two prior Series II 3800 engines that needed the inevitable upper intake repair, so I'm familiar with that issue.
The car has 124K miles on it and is otherwise pretty solid. My daughter decided to buy a different car, and I'm considering replacing the engine and keeping it. I just want to try to make sure there's not a cause for this happening that's external to the engine so that it doesn't happen again.
What do you think?
 

melsg5

Staff member
SUSTAINING MEMBER
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how many miles since the previous oil change?
if it was leaking oil or coolant would your daughter have noticed it?
were the intake gaskets replaced by your daughter or previous owner?
have you done a compression test?
have you done a coolant hydrocarbon test?
at idle do you hear any knocking noises?
 

Indian 1

New member
melsg5, The oil (Mobil 1 5W30) had about 4k miles on it, I was going to change it soon.
I think she would have noticed a significant leak, as she's fairly vigilant about issues with her car, and she parks on asphalt almost everywhere she goes.
I don't know about the intake gaskets, the previous owner had it from 95K to 117K miles, and didn't know if they had been replaced either. He was a car guy and gave me an extensive set of records and receipts for literally everything done to the car while he owned it. He also mentioned that it had been a company car, so it would make sense that it had been taken care of.
I have not done a compression test, but I'm fairly certain that it doesn't have much, and I haven't done a coolant hydrocarbon test. The car is sitting at her apartment complex 35 miles from my house and I haven't had time to get it home so that I can look it over.
It knocked and rattled at any speed after I refilled the fluids and fired it up. I'm fairly certain that the engine is a total loss.
cammerjeff, I wasn't previously aware of the coolant elbow leak. I must have been getting lucky as this is the fourth 3800 I've had and none of the previous ones had that issue when I owned them, including the '96 Bonneville that I had from 16K to 180K.
I realize it might help if I had done a little forensic investigation before I asked the question, (I did search first) I was just wondering if anyone had any anecdotal recollection of something like this happening.
Thanks.
______________________________
 

melsg5

Staff member
SUSTAINING MEMBER
19,270
57
48
Unless you open the hood every few weeks to check oil and coolant levels a small issue can become catastrophic, which I suspect unfortunately happened in your case.
 

Indian 1

New member
I suspect you're right, and I'm guessing it fell through the cracks. If she wasn't keeping track of the fluid levels, this will be a hard lesson because the next car isn't coming out of my pocket as previously agreed upon.
I'll probably swap a running engine into it and watch it closely.
Thanks for your input.
 
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