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post #1 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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Need some advice

Hi gang,

I picked up a car on ebay a couple weeks back, the company selling the car had a good ebay rating, and at first, other than some minor things, the car seemed fine.

Last week I noticed the Low Coolant light coming on again when I drove it (it had flashed once previously when I first got it but I topped off and actually replaced the resevoir because it was a little dirty). I've only driven it a few times around the neighborhood, so I filled the resevoir up with the required coolant again (Dex Cool). I noticed some black bits and sludge as well in there as well so cleaned it out as best I could. I then drove it to work the next day and the car stalled on the way home, and then would not start, or even crank over. I had to have a tow truck tow it to the local Chevrolet dealership since it's a GM car.

The first thing they found was a clip for the wiring harness was missing, causing the wire to rub and cut through the engine harness and blow a fuse. The more worrying thing though is, they found coolant in the oil. They told me they'd have to see what else is going on, take a look at the amount of coolant and see if it's going to require a new head gasket or an entire new motor. Due to the holidays, they wouldn't know more until Tuesday (today). That was late last week.

Well I just got a call from the dealership. There was a few more things wrong that I didn't see. I'll just try and summarize. For the engine wiring harness replacement, the oil cooler, motor mounts, a couple hoses, and a cracked serpentine belt, plus recommending a new engine due to the amount of coolant in the oil, it's going to cost over 12 grand to repair.

I found a new engine online for under 3 grand (ZZP - LDK) and using the LNF head that should be a direct fit replacement. However even if I go that route and have it shipped to the Chevrolet dealer and then they replace that plus the other items mentioned above, they said it would be about 9 thousand dollars, which is more than I paid for the car (I paid 8 grand plus 500 shipped).

What should I do at this point?

Should I just eat the $8500 (ouch) (plus the little bits and parts I've spent fixing it up)? Or put another 9 grand into it (ouch)? I'd have to put that on some credit cards.

What do you guys recommend?

Here's a pic of it:
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post #2 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 09:10 AM
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I can only say that sounds like a high price for the engine replacement labor and other parts you mention. Have you tried looking for an independent mechanic around you that could give you a quote?

Just seems to me like the dealer is adding the individual replacement charges for all those parts together, rather than 'realizing' that the hoses, mounts etc labor would be 'free' as part of the engine replacement.

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post #3 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 10:43 AM
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I agree with TS. and will add the $8K is gone forget about it. Do you want to get rid of the car Might get $1k or or $2k or spend $9k have a great car with a new engine. Not knowing how many miles on the body, the condition of the interior and exterior hard to say. What could you go buy for that same $10k would you rather have that, or the sky with a new engine.

I am a GM Engineer.

I do not claim to be a GM representative, all of my postings are my own interpretation and personal opinions.

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post #4 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 11:26 AM
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I'm starting to write this while sitting on the phone (on hold) with my guy over at Paradise GMC in Temecula. It's the only shop I trust my car to. They work on my car even with all the extensive modification and when I shopped around to find out what it would cost for me to put a clutch in the car (labor only since I'd be supplying the clutch) they were actually the cheapest in town! (I know, shocker!!!)

I'll see what they charge for an LNF engine swap in your car labor wise if you provide the long block.

One thing though, I wouldn't get the engine from ZZP. Sky Pilot had the same issue with his Redline and he went the same route you're thinking of, LNK from ZZP and have a shop put it in. Well, the Sky (and Solstice), since they are longitudinally mounted engines and not transverse mounted, requires a different head and a couple other bits IIRC. Well, even though he told ZZP what car he had...and even though they have it on their website to specify which car you have because they know there are slight differences to the LNF based on application, they still sent him out the wrong engine.

It took him a long time to straighten that one out then, when they finally sent him the correct engine, it was found to have the head not torqued down properly. This was only discovered, however, after the engine was in the car and had been delivered to Sky Pilot. The head bolts loosened up and back into the shop it had to go. Once the shop got that squared away though, the engine was great and I haven't heard anything else happening to it since then.

I've dealt with ZZP for over 10 years now (they got started in the 3800 W-body community in the late 1990s and I got my Grand Prix in about 2003 with the Supercharged 3800) and through my own personal experience as well as the experiences of others both as ZZP customers AND ZZP suppliers I can tell you that I do not buy from ZZP unless I absolutely have to. If it is a ZZP branded product, I'll go without. If it's something like the LNK long block, I'll try to find it somewhere else first and, failing that, then may get it from ZZP.

I would call Dave at DDM and see what he would charge for a stock rebuilt long block LNF.

Also, I'm not sure what all ZZP or DDM send with a long block. I know they're not turn key motors with all the front accessories so things like accessory belts, AC Condenser and power steering pump all have to be swapped over from your current engine. Also, I think things like your fuel system, throttle body, and turbo/exhaust manifold (unless you order the long block with them which is what Sky Pilot did) also need to be swapped over. Getting a long block isn't just pulling the old one out and dropping the new one in. Still, like the others have said, 12K is still really high for an engine swap depending on what they're charging for the long block. I know labor wise when I had my Grand Prix engine swapped out at the dealer (before I learned to do it myself) it was about $5K with me providing the long block from a junk yard.

Your other option is to get a used LNF off a wrecked Kappa. Check out car-parts.com and they will list junkyards in your area that have used engines for sale. Obviously this can be hit and miss as you don't know what you're getting. While they will exchange an engine out for you if it is bad, often times you won't know it's bad until you try and start it up in the car...and the labor for pulling it back out and putting the replacement in will not be free. So you are gambling to try and save some money but may wind up spending more in the long run.

Well, had to leave my contact a voicemail. Will try him again here at 8:30 and see if I can get in touch with him. Dealership just opened so I'm sure they're swamped with service calls right now.


V.A.L. (#1108)
2007 2.4 Base
MagnaFlow dual outlet, quad tip exhaust test car
**Sold**

Max (#1547)
2007 TURBO 2.4
Too much to list here. See my Garage for details.

Last edited by Robotech; 01-04-2017 at 11:29 AM.
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post #5 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 11:36 AM
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With the fuse replaced it probably runs.

Pull the head you might just find a massively blown head gasket and less than $1K repair. You might get a pleasant surprise....if a blown head gasket can be called a "pleasant surprise" But I would not do that at the GM dealer because they will want to say,"See,I told you so." and might just see a cracked block where there is none. Get the car and take it home and pull the head yourself. Its not hard and what can you loose, the cars is trash now, you cant hurt it.

On the other hand, as he says,the $8k is gone. Start from there. You have a Sky that looks, from the pictures, as though it was taken care of but abused mechanically. As you say, maybe $2K if sold so only out $6500. So as Devhamm says,do you want a Sky with a new engine If the car is in good shape otherwise,, personally, I would take the $9K Sky based on the enjoyment I get just from seeing it in the driveway....come to think of it, you already have that with no expenditure.

Jim Isbell....2008 Sky Redline

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Last edited by BlueRL; 01-04-2017 at 11:49 AM.
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post #6 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 11:43 AM
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Okay, so got back in touch with him. Here's the breakdown:

The engine is $5,200 from GM. This is a 0 mile factory engine.

Labor would be $5,000.

He said he could get it out the door for $10K.

I just talked to @skersfan and he has a block that can be rebuilt and a mechanic that can do the work who has worked on all three of his cars including an LNF engine swap and his Mallett V8. He's going to talk to his mechanic and see what he'll charge to rebuild the engine block he has and install it. They're out in Beaumont though. He's calling his guy know to get a quote.


V.A.L. (#1108)
2007 2.4 Base
MagnaFlow dual outlet, quad tip exhaust test car
**Sold**

Max (#1547)
2007 TURBO 2.4
Too much to list here. See my Garage for details.

Last edited by Robotech; 01-04-2017 at 11:46 AM.
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post #7 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 01:01 PM
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Just got off the phone with Skersfan.

His guy can do $8,300 with a brand new 0 mile GM warrantied motor. He could also rebuild the motor Skersfan has but the savings wouldn't be huge and you would have no GM warranty...

...however, if you want to build it out some and have a block that can handle a bit more power, he can do that too for a bit less than the dealerships are asking.

So your options are:

The dealership it's at for $12K with a GM engine or $9K with an engine you provide. Plus side is it is already there and you get a warranty on the parts (if you use their engine) and labor. Down side is it is the most expensive.

Paradise GMC at $10K with a GM engine or $5K. Plus side is you can get the same warranty options as you are at the dealership it's at while saving about $2k on the repairs. Down side is you have to tow it Temecula and still more expensive than options 3 and 4.

Skersfan's mechanic. $8,300 with a GM engine and a warranty on parts. Plus side is it is the cheaper than the dealerships. Downside is you'd have to tow it to Beaumont and the 1 year warranty is on parts only though I trust this guy with our cars and he is a fair mechanic. After all, Skersfan has let him work on all three of his Kappas and he basically rebuilt 2 of them.

Last option is the same as above but with him rebuilding skersfan's spare LNF. Upside is you can built it stronger than a stock block for any future modifications you may want to make while keeping it around the same price as a dealer install of a stock engine. Downsides are same as above except no 1 year warranty on the engine...you know how it goes when you start messing with them like this.


V.A.L. (#1108)
2007 2.4 Base
MagnaFlow dual outlet, quad tip exhaust test car
**Sold**

Max (#1547)
2007 TURBO 2.4
Too much to list here. See my Garage for details.

Last edited by Robotech; 01-04-2017 at 01:07 PM.
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post #8 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks gang and Robotech I really appreciate you going the extra mile and coming up with options for me!

I got a PM from a forum member here who wants to purchase the car, so at this point I am leaning towards that route. I'll take a big hit but at least I'll get some of my money on the car back.

I need to ship the car to him and it has to drive to be able to get up onto the shipping carrier\truck, so I had the dealer replace the fuse and move\fiddle with the wiring harness as best they could so it wouldn't short out again, and then put everything back the way it was and hopefully it would be driveable enough to get it onto a shipping truck.

I then had it towed from the dealer to my house (did not want to drive it any more than necessary to avoid damage to the engine). I did need to start it up and verify it ran enough to get it onto a truck and it actually sounds fine and drove fine for the few seconds I put it in reverse, backed up a bit, and then moved it back into my parking spot.

So the car does technically run right now, and you wouldn't even know there was anything wrong with it, but they said with the amount of coolant in the oil they're pretty sure it's not just a head gasket, and they're worried about bearing damage at this point, which is why they're recommending a new engine. But they haven't actually torn it down to see, they recommended I not do that because they were worried if I did that and then it did indeed need a new engine that would basically be more money down the drain (labor to tear it down and inspect it and then it turns out to be bad enough to need a new engine anyway).

What a week. My stomach has been in knots for days, I hate this, just wish I could get back to a normal life again, hard to sleep, etc. Lot of money to just throw away. I think I just want to give this to a forum member and move on and learn from this at this point.
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post #9 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 12:02 AM
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Dont give up so easily.

You should at least verify their diagnoses. It wont cost you a cent to pull the head yourself. If the engine is already trash, you cant hurt a thing.

If you dont want to do that, you could start by just draining the oil and refilling it with fresh oil. Run it for 5 minutes and drain again and refill with oil. Then run it to see if the water comes back. Filling with good oil should keep the bearings good if they are not yet damaged.I have had cars get water in the oil from just sitting around. Maybe there is NOTHING wrong with the engine.

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post #10 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 12:08 AM
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Let us know what you decide sir but if it was me, I'd at least do a compression check and see what you get. I wouldn't run it too much though as if you overheat the car you run the risk of doing further damage. Depending on how much you drove it since it started leaking...or if it was leaking before you got it...the dealership may be right in that the bearings could be seeing damage even if it is just a head gasket.

If you're thinking about going with another Kappa, just keep in mind your options. I don't know what you got offered, but it's a game of chance that if you get another kappa it may have troubles in the engine too...a water pump is a $1000 repair. If you get a new engine for this car from GM, it comes with a warranty and should last a good long time without throwing more money into it. To see if it is worth it, take the money lost in this car, add it to the new car and see how much wiggle room you have in the difference. A lot to consider I know.

Good luck and whatever you choose we hope you come back with a Kappa. Just the worst luck with this buy. Feel bad for you. This is the second time we've seen something like this happen here. Skersfan bought the other car that had an issue like this and rebuilt it though that car had been in a huge accident which caused the problems.


V.A.L. (#1108)
2007 2.4 Base
MagnaFlow dual outlet, quad tip exhaust test car
**Sold**

Max (#1547)
2007 TURBO 2.4
Too much to list here. See my Garage for details.

Last edited by Robotech; 01-05-2017 at 12:22 AM.
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post #11 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 05:37 PM
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I hope this does not turn you off to Solstices & Skys completely, they really are fun cars and there are some well maintained Kappa's out there. I know hindsight is always 20/20 but if you buy a car unseen again you may want to have it inspected first. https://www.yourmechanic.com/service...car-inspection
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post #12 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 05:55 PM
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What was the company that sold the car?
It didn't have at least a 3 month warranty?
Do you have a link to the listing? Maybe there is something that indicates they are still responsible.

Aside from that, I would double check what the dealer is stating.

My Local Idiots couldn't program my key fobs, so I bought a $30 part from Amazon and did 3 of them myself.
The service writer's job is to up sell and make more commission. IMHO they have done zero troubleshooting. I would at least spend the money on an oil change and see what the results of that are, and then you could pull the head.

Personally I would not want to just throw away almost $10k and this is a perfect example of why I don't like to buy anything used.
You can save a lot of money, but there are times like this, when you can lose as bad or worse.

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post #13 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Ok I was able to get the contact information of the owner of the car dealership where I purchased the car and gave him the full details plus the service advisor's contact info. He called her and got the details directly from her, and here was his response:

"Good morning. I didn't want to call so early due to time difference.I spoke with Maria and she explained the situation to me. She admitted they do not have any basis to determine engine has problems other than coolant oil mix. The issue could very well be the oil cooler. Its pretty disheartening that they would advise you something so drastic without any real proof. It actually makes me question the ethics of the mechanic and service advisor. They can do an exhaust gases test to check for engine/gasket leaks and/or cracks. The fact they didn't mention that to you also makes me question their integrity and honesty. We have a GM master tech that we work with. He looked the car over when we got it and gave the drive-train a clean bill of health. I spoke to him last night and he mentioned it could be oil cooler or turbo related. The oil and coolant both go thru the turbo. I would recommend calling around and finding who will replace the cooler the cheapest. I found oil coolers on ebay new from $35-79. I can look up labor hours when i get to the office. I feel confident the engine itself is good. Once i look up labor rates I'll give you a shout. "

Is the oil cooler something I can replace myself? Can't be as hard as a head gasket right? What do you guys think about his response?
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post #14 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 12:04 PM
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-The oil cooler is next to the oil filter, it's hold by 3 bolts.

-How to remove the oil cooler:

1 Disconnect the battery, if you want

2 Drain oil and coolant

3 Disconnect all electrical components and lines that are sitting on top of the intake manifold

4 Unbolt and Remove the intake manifold

5 Disconnect coolant lines from the oil cooler

6 Unbolt the oil cooler

7 Before you buy a new oil cooler take the oil cooler from your car to a radiator shop so they can pressure test the oil cooler, if it passes the test it means two things head gasket or crack block

8 To install do everything backwards, disconnecting and connecting the coolant lines to the oil cooler is going to be the hardest task!

P.s. Don't forget to buy a new intake manifold gasket, but if I where take the car to the gm dealer to replace the oil cooler because the dealer who sold the car will blame you for the engine breakdown for you work, because you are not certified gm tech or ship the car back to the dealer and let them fix the problem!

-Usually if the oil cooler is crack you are also going to see oil in the coolant

- I don't think the head gasket is bad, since it's made out of metal. Google search pourous block LNF, includes late 2008 and 2009 production LNF blocks.

Last edited by Ssky; 01-06-2017 at 12:06 PM. Reason: More information
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post #15 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black96ws6 View Post
She admitted they do not have any basis to determine engine has problems other than coolant oil mix.
That would concern me greatly. That sounds like they pulled the dipstick, saw the oil/coolant mixture, and then told you that you needed a new engine. That is NOT properly troubleshooting the car.

I don't know if we've seen many head gaskets fail in the Ecotec engines. We have seen some issues with LNF blocks failing (which is how I got my turbo for my 2.4). However, if they didn't do their due diligence to run all the tests they could to determine failure I would be concerned the engine isn't bad like they think.

As for it being a bad turbo, I doubt it. I don't know of anyone who has had a turbo go bad and found coolant in the oil. While they both go through the turbo housing, the housing would have to crack internally for them to mix. When I removed the turbo from the engine I had which did have water in the oil (though the owner pulled over very soon after he started overheating) there was NO coolant in the oil that was in the turbo or it's oil lines.

Usually when a turbo fails it's the seals that go. You get smoke from the turbo and produce no boost. Not saying it couldn't happen, but a failure of the turbo that would cause water in the oil would be the first one I've heard of on our cars. It certainly would be very uncommon.


V.A.L. (#1108)
2007 2.4 Base
MagnaFlow dual outlet, quad tip exhaust test car
**Sold**

Max (#1547)
2007 TURBO 2.4
Too much to list here. See my Garage for details.

Last edited by Robotech; 01-06-2017 at 12:23 PM.
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