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Thread: 3.2 GTS leaks coolant

  1. #1
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    Default 3.2 GTS leaks coolant

    Greetings from Finland.

    I recently bought a 2003 3.2 GTS Vectra with an auto-box.
    140tkm.(87tml.) on the clock.
    The car has been sweet, just a tad noisy because of the badly worn 17" tires.. but that is easy to fix and something I have gotten used to with vectras.

    So, all was good untill i examined the car a little closer.

    I tought that there was a slight sweet smell of coolant after longer journeys, and as i took a closer look today my worst fears came true.
    The headgasket is leaking. The leak is in head facing the firewall on the right corner. It is a really tight spot, and it was hard to find the source for the red coolant, that has smudged the starter motor and its vicinity.

    At first i tought it was the coolant tank or its cap p1ssing, but that would have been too easy to fix.
    The leak is small enough, that i have not had to fill the coolant up for the few weeks i've had the car. But still big enough to spot on the garage floor. First I tought it was the a/c that is dripping water after driving, as it is. But this time the puddles on the floor did not dry away.

    I contacted the dealer, and left the car for them to for repairs. They were willing to sort it out. I am very happy with that. I just hope I get the car back soon, the replacement hyndaewoo kamikaze that they gave me is not quite comparable with the vectra..

    But is there something that I should take a closer look at when i get the car back, or has anyone else had the same problem? As i recall this kind of a failure is not that common with this engine. More often it is the heat exchanger under the manifold mixing the oil and water or leaking.

    Just wanted to share my experience with the forum, it has been very helpful!

    Ossi

  2. #2
    Full Member Big Sig's Avatar
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    I don't think they often have head gasket problems, as long as its not going into the autobox, it should be ok
    Now I need a turbo to keep up!

  3. #3
    Vectra-C Obsessed Poster Drinky's Avatar
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    on your momma !!!!!!!!!
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    Never heard of head gasket failure as you say normally it is the heat exchanger !!!!!

    Back in a V6 !!!!!!!!!!!! And lovin it !!!

  4. #4
    Regular Member Gsi3.2's Avatar
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    they 'CAN' suffer with headgasket problems, but it is quite rare..usually it's caused by corrosion of the gasket rather than anything more sinister..

    good luck with the garage..

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    I think my engine is leaking from where you can see the 2 holes in the block, behind the head!

    I did not know that there was a separate part over there.
    Is it a thermostat housing or what, that is missing in the picture?

    http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/b...aangedraai.jpg

    If that is causing the leak, does it need a new headgasket or does it have a separate gasket?
    Sorry for the dum questions, i have no TIS or EPC handy, so i could check for myself.

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    Hi All,

    Last week my 53 plate (45k miles) GSI started loosing coolant from under the front facing banks head gasket. I've gone for the cheap option (to start with anyway) which is a coolant sealer and so far it's holding pressure okay. If this doesn't work then new gaskets I guess. Has anyone else had this and how did you get on? Rekordi how did you get on?

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    My leak was located in the rear bank, and fortunately it was not the head gasket but rather a part called a heat exchanger. It seats to the very same surface as the head, but this gasget can be replaced separately from the headgasket.

    It still required the inlet manifold to be removed, to access this part.
    If it is the front bank that is leaking with your veccy, is suppose there is no "easy" way out.

    Personally I strongly dislike radwelland other similiar products, as it makes the coolant murky, and what should you allways be looking for when buying a used autobox veccy? Clear coolant for starters.
    Cos' of the failing radiators that leak coolant to the autobox, so ruining it.

    Ossi

  8. #8
    Regular Member speedzone's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Opel Vectra Caravan

    Trim : Sport

    Engine : 3,2 V6 AT5

    Year : 2004

    Mileage : 140000km

    Default

    hi all 3,2 v6
    after replacing the cambelt and the upper/front cam seal al by my own and started the car up driving to work, my smile was replaced with anger . the oil leak was NOT cured.

    I have been depressed and not posting

    nxt ugly thing

    then the orange coolant on the left side of the motor + the oil running on the right side down to the exhaust and burning up to smelly smoke!

    I thinking... this is the same problem

    front cyl. bank head gasket failure!

    i might need some help here.. on replacing the gasket
    have anyone of you vectra/ signum v6:ers done this ?

    on my knees...
    i have to fiddle withe the belt one more time, it took one hole weekend last time replacing the belt.

  9. #9
    fuzzie
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    Default

    I've got a 2004 Holden Vectra CDX 3.2 v6 in Australia, only 82K kilometers on the clock. I've been having a minor coolant leak for a couple of months and am well out of warranty period.

    Last week I parked the car up over the roadside gutter to get enough room to crawl under and have a look around and poked the digital camera around where I couldn't see. Conclusion there was a leak from the heat exchanger as described in this thread.

    For the record here are the pictures. From a casual look from the ground under the car the only indication of a leak was the hard to spot drip from a bolt on the sump, bottom left first pic (Thats the driver shaft top of the picture). If it's on a hoist or you've got enough room to look you can see the leak trail down over the starter motor and the little stalactite of evaporated coolant that looks like the leak has been there for some time in picture 2.

    Picture 3 was taken with my hand down between the firewall and the motor. Its facing the heat exchanger. You can sort of make out a stain on the cast iron block where the coolant is leaking. It looks like there is now, or perhaps never was, any gasket goo on the down side of the fitting. Pic 4 is the same corner of the block from a different perspective showing the telltale trace of red coolant running down the block.

    Armed with that information I trotted off to a couple of local mechanics whose main response was throw up hands, it's a Vectra, I don't want to touch it, too complicated and not enough room to work!

    I ended up taking it to the local Holden dealer, who charged $66 for a diagnosis and to give a quote to fix. Diagnosis: yep its leaking from the heat exchanger. That's a 5 hour job to replace ($500) plus $400 for gaskets and o rings needed to refit and 'the coolant etc because the system will have to be drained to work on it. Total $900, but with the added caveat that the heat exchanger might need replacing as well and that will be another $900.

    So I think I now know why the trade in value of the car is now so low, around $10k :-(

    I didn't get the work done, thinking maybe it's time to trade on something else, notwithstanding the current financial crisis. Spent the day looking around yesterday, but realize there's very little around in the same size and power and body configuration, that isn't going to cost a lot of $$$$. Very few cars of that capacity in estate or hackback models on the Australian market. Cars with engine sizes over 1.8 litre seem to be mainly sedans with silly little boot openings. If you want an estate these days you have to buy a bigger car or an SUV, bah humbug! If you only want a hatchback then you have to down size to a Corolla or an Astra or smaller size car.

    I'm now wondering if it's worth the cost of fixing the heat exchanger. What are the down sides of
    a) Continuing to run with this leak and just keep topping up every month? Will the leak get worse? Quickly?
    b) If I spend $900 on repairs what are the chances something else is going to break on a Vectra before I get value for my money? (It will need the front disc rotors changed soon, they are now under spec and the dash warning comes on all the time, which doesn't really help when trying to sell or trade in the car!

  10. #10
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    Default

    It is the same problem as on my Vectra.

    Mine leaked more when driven hard. It was the sweet smell of coolant burning that really go to my nerves, not the amount it was losing.
    The leak did not get any worse on the few thousand kilometers I drove it.

    If you are on a tight budget, you could do the repairs at a later date.. But the cooling system is on a much harder use there than it is here in Finland.

    The inlet manifold has to come off, so it would be good time to renew the sparkplugs, and thermostat at the same time.

    As for the appreciation of the car, I am feeling you. The Vectra is not worth much anymore, and I should get the whole suspension sorted, thermostat, sparkplugs, ignition coil, brakedisks, pads, wheel alignment, tyres .. the list goes on.

    I am pretty sure i'll just bite the bullet and get it done. I'll do most of the work myself to save a few pennies.

    Regards
    Ossi

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