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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

It's been a while since I've had a 3800 powered car.. I wandered for a few years, after owning four 3800 powered cars in a row. I'm thinking of coming back into the fold, but I'm finding mostly Series III powered vehicles for sale in my area. Are there any things to check for on a Series III engine? I'm thinking something along the lines of plastic coolant elbows on the Series II, stuff like that. Is there anything on a Series III that I should keep an eye out for when browsing used cars?

I'm mostly looking at naturally aspirated Series IIIs, hence the creation of this thread in this section.

Any help is greatly appreciated, I'm hoping I can snag another 3800 car and get the same dependability I enjoyed with older engines.

Thanks!
 

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There's just the typical items that are the same. Lower intake gaskets may benefit from upgrade to aluminum if they weren't already there, and you can check coolant elbows & valve covers for leaks that may require a simple replacement to seal up.

Beyond that, it's just how much you want to spend on any minor or major modifications. Otherwise, it has the potential to run like a top for as long as you take care of it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Right on, thanks for the quick reply!

I'm mostly looking at Buick Lucernes, having come from Park Avenues and Oldsmobile 88s. I likely won't get into performance too much, just looking for a decent commuter car that gets acceptable mileage.

I took a quick look around, the aftermarket for L26 3800s seem to be rather sparse, is that fairly accurate?
 

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It's all the same as far as hard parts, as long as you stay pre-2008 so HPTuners still works, I believe (check their compatibility listing). I ran an L26 engine in my GTP for years before having to pull it when the car rusted out, and an L26 intake manifold on my turbo Regal up until this year.

Dialing it in with an HV3 insert, some rockers, a Plog, downpipe, and slightly larger intake tubing/MAF would gain you plenty for about a grand or so, and still run like stock.

I'd lean towards a LaCrosse if you are looking Buick still, since it'll be a little lighter and handle better with minimal loss of space, along with benefitting from the W-body suspension aftermarket, if you decide to tinker there.
 

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OD mileage can be an indicator and a scan of the PCM could be benefical. On the series III GM did change to the improved intake manifold gaskets so that should be ok. Since you will probably be unable to do a leakdown test on any motor in a car that you will purchase you will dependent on engine sound, exhaust smoke when starting (if any) and the condition of engine and trans oil. Pull the dipstick. Does the oil look brown or black? Any grit on it? . Pull the trans dipstick and look at it. Is it red in color or black? Then smell it for a burning odor. Again listen to the engine running for any loud sound of ticks or knocks beyond those of the injectors opening and closing. While 3800's are well built and can last a long time how they were maintained can tell the story.
 

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I’ll link what I went through with my 3800. That car was totaled this year and I’ve since purchased another one. But, this one now has the 3.6, so I’m out of the 3800 scene currently.

 

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Look at the coolant overflow, is it dirty, is the coolant dirty looking?
Open radiator cap, is there a lot of brown sludge in it?
If so you know to do a LIM job ASAP.
 
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