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Old 09-26-2015, 03:51 PM   #1
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Default Potentially picking up a 3800 powered winter beater, what to look for?

1997 Pontiac Bonneville "platinum" edition 160k, a little rusty but not bad, A/C is out and a break line is leaking but other than that it runs good, any other typical issues I should look for?
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Old 09-26-2015, 03:53 PM   #2
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the sudden desire to swap the motor into your mustang
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3800>all other technology ever
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Old 09-26-2015, 03:55 PM   #3
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the sudden desire to swap the motor into your mustang
Sacrilege
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:00 PM   #4
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Don't bother
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:11 PM   #5
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But check the overflow tank for brown mud, also on radiator cap. See if coolant elbows have been replaced or are leaking. Trans fluid is probably horrid, see how it shifts cold. Check around intake manifold for dried up coolant or fresh...
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:20 PM   #6
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97 NA would have the "weak" 4t60e
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:37 PM   #7
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Coolant elbows would be in what area of the engine bay? I looked at the trans fluid and it does look like it could use fresh fluid
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:38 PM   #8
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Belt drive. You can only see the upper. Goes from lower intake into bracket. Updated ones are metal. Usually can see white coolant residue around if their leaking
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:44 PM   #9
 
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Strut towers in the trunk they rust out
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:08 PM   #10
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shit, W bodies rust out front towers too.. my car is clean as hell and the front towers are quite rusty
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:09 PM   #11
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Strut towers in the trunk they rust out
Checked those, they look surprisingly solid
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:12 PM   #12
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Would you guys recommend changing the trans fluid if it hasn't been changed in a long time? I've heard it can do more bad than good
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:19 PM   #13
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it wont matter.. all the metal is already collected in the solenoids
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:14 PM   #14
 
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I would worry about a rusty body and the brake lines, but you covered that. If the trans seems OK, your good. The 3800 is bullet proof. I have a 1992 3800 with the same mileage, runs like a champ.

Coolant elbows are minor annoyance and easy fix. You can see one right above the water pump.

On a winter beater, I would pump the trans fluid out from the dipstick tube. You can get about a gallon that way. 15 minute job, no mess and no chance of leaking pan gasket. Better than doing nothing.
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:22 PM   #15
 
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1st of all what is price of said car? And im not much of a fan of the 4t60Es.....

Engine is all simple normal things to worry about with ANY 3800.

I mean they are like working on a lego how hard can it be.

On that note unless this is super cheap id look for a 98 or newer. (4t65 trans)

Regal, Park Ave, Leslobber, Last 2 are pretty damn easy to find cheap and usually not as beat on as the Grand Prixs and Regals.
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:44 PM   #16
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1st of all what is price of said car? And im not much of a fan of the 4t60Es.....

Engine is all simple normal things to worry about with ANY 3800.

I mean they are like working on a lego how hard can it be.

On that note unless this is super cheap id look for a 98 or newer. (4t65 trans)

Regal, Park Ave, Leslobber, Last 2 are pretty damn easy to find cheap and usually not as beat on as the Grand Prixs and Regals.
pretty cheap, I know the owner and the history of the car since new
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:48 PM   #17
 
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knowing the history is a massive help if that's the case and its cheap then why not.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:46 PM   #18
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Look for a car that isn't a 3800
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Old 09-27-2015, 12:58 AM   #19
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Nitpick on the 4t60 all you want, my '93 L67 4t60 has held up to 230k miles with a M62 with a 2.2 pulley, trans cooler and regular fluid changes. The only reason to shy away from one is if you want to build a 13 second car.

Bonnevilles only have the 'upper' coolant elbow. They also only have rust issues in the rear two subframe mounts, the rocker panels, and the frame rails under the rear seats in extreme cases. Don't lump W-body strut tower problems on every other 3800 platform

I've yet to find a trans that wasn't already FUBAR that was FUBAR from a fluid change.
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Old 09-27-2015, 01:15 AM   #20
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If you want a 3800, I would not focus on one car and just decide yes or no. If you look around, you can find many 3800s with less miles for reasonable prices. GM used them in a lot of cars.

Check all the fluids. I look at and smell them to see if they seem OK. Check the oil fill cap area and see if you see any discoloration or residue that might result from a head gasket leak. I also ask the owner if I can floor the car through the 1-2 shift. If there are trans issues, they may show up when the car shifts. It should be smooth with no hesitation or jolts. I take my hands off the wheel to see if the car tracks straight or pulls to one side. I hit the brakes hard to see if the car stops straight without complaints.

Always check the Carfax. It won't always show problems but it may show good or bad maintenance practices and any major items that have been reported. I ask for maintenance and repair records. A conscientious owner will have them. If there are no records, the car may have been maintained and repaired sporadically rather than well maintained and repaired.

Look for paint overspray in the wheel wells, under the hood, under and around the car. Overspray may indicate a repaint done by a sloppy shop.

Turn on EVERY button and switch to check accessory operation. Every window, the sunroof, lights, turn signals, door locks, etc. Open and close every door to make sure they work smoothly and properly. If you do find issues, they are a good bargaining point. Good luck!
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:50 AM   #21
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If it runs and drives, buy it. I can only assume it's really cheap and it's a winter beater. It's going to get fucked up anyways.
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