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Old 01-26-2017, 07:32 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Erie
Posts: 633

2006 VUE Red Line
2004 ION-3 Quad Coupe
Default Re: 2008 Vue Redline, Needing New Head Gasket

Originally Posted by Barachiel View Post
So I've been fighting a coolant battle since last April. Basically, I need to replace coolant every 2-4 weeks. I've spent 1.3K on repairs so far, ranging from coolant flushings, valve replacements, and a burned out alternator (fluid leaked out into it while driving). For a few months, it actually seemed fixed.

Then over the holidays, I noticed it was super low after making the 260 mile trip to my parents house. I refilled it, and checked it closely. 3 weeks later, I'm back down to MIN. So I took it in. Mechanic kept it overnight, and says having ruled out everything else, the only thing left it could be is a bad head gasket.

The good news is that it's not cracked, as oil and coolant aren't mixing. So very faint silver lining.

The bad news, is that the mechanic says they can't verify it without taking the engine apart, which they can't do as they don't have the specialized tools that this particular model apparently needs for that. They advised I take it to the dealership, and warned me it would cost me about $2.2K, maybe more.

This seems like throwing good money after bad, and that I might almost be better off trying to sell it or trade it in.

Is there someone on here with greater knowledge and experience that can tell me if their advice is solid, or if there are any alternatives I'm not aware of? Since they recommended taking it to a dealer for repair, I'm less inclined to be suspicious of the mechanic themselves, as they wouldn't be making a profit besides the $70 diagnositc fee I already paid them.
How many miles on your Redline?

The High Feature V6's aren't really known for head gasket issues. I've seen a report or two of issues on other models, but nothing conclusive that I would consider a major issue with the head gaskets these engines.

Did your mechanic do a pressure test on your cooling system? This can point out if there is a leak somewhere in the system. The test needs to be done when the engine and cooling system are cold as some small leaks tend to stop/lessen as the engine heats.

Another potential test would be a leakdown or compression test on the engine. If you have low compression in one or multiple cylinders, it can point to a head gasket that is on it's way out.

None of these tests require an engine teardown, and are fairly standard tests.

If the tests comes back inconclusive, it might be worth sending an oil sample out for analysis to someplace like Blackstone labs. Their analysis would tell you if there is any sort of coolant contamination, and it would be a lot cheaper than just springing for the head gasket replacement. To lose as much coolant as you're describing and not have a visible leak anywhere means that the coolant is going somewhere. If you aren't seeming nasty milkshake in the coolant overflow, I would be more concerned about coolant in the oil. Usually there would be some visible residue on the oil cap, but that isn't always the case.

With all of that out of the way, the estimate provided by your mechanic may actually be a bit on the low side depending on the labor rates at your local dealer. They are telling you the truth that there are special cam tools that are required to do any sort of work on the timing chains for these engines, although that is a fairly common practice with most manufacturers. To replace the head gaskets, the timing chains would have to be removed. Although the special tools aren't the reason for the high price tag.

Anytime work is required on the transverse mounted High Feature V6's (i.e. in FWD applications like the Vue), the subframe, engine, and transmission have to be dropped out of the vehicle in order to allow for sufficient room to work on the timing chains. This adds A LOT of labor to any sort of work on the timing chains. These engines simply weren't designed with long term maintenance in mind. Any sort of major work that is required at high mileage (timing chain change, head gasket replacement, etc.) requires the engine to be dropped.

Depending on your answer to the mileage question, and the results of the tests above, you may be further along to find a low mileage junkyard engine and have that dropped in your Vue. The labor would likely be less as there wouldn't be any internal component work required. As well, if you've had coolant leaking into your crankcase for awhile, it may have caused some internal damage to your engine that could impact it's longevity even if it is repaired.

The 3.6 LY7 was used in a lot of vehicles, so you should have some good replacement options. I believe the Aura, Malibu, Torrent GXP, Equinox Sport, and Suzuki XL7 would all be options for potential replacement engines for your Vue if it comes to that. Most seem to run between $1200 and $1600.

If your Vue has otherwise been reliable until these coolant issues, I would say get it fixed. It may seem like a lot of money to spend at one time, but one big repair for a few grand is a lot cheaper in the long run than a brand new car, and a brand new car payment. Just something to keep in mind.


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