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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I just purchased a 2004 impala ss indy edition and after driving it The engine start billowing white smoke out of the rear of engine. I quickly shutoff the engine in a attempt to salvage whats left. Does anyone have an idea of what this could be? I purchased the car at a cheap price and figured a rebuild would be in the future.

Has anyone seen their 3.8 L67 profusely smoke from the rear (firewall side of the engine). I'm trying to get an idea if its a bad head or possibly a cracked block. The engine seems to have decent compression and will start but smokes out the neighborhood.:)

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.

Best,
roddergreg
 

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White smoke indicates a coolant leak. Do you see any coolant leaks on that side of the engine? I would start with inspecting the heater hoses for signs of leaks & don't forget the plastic coolant elbows if they haven't been replaced with metal ones. Those get brittle and crack
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
White smoke indicates a coolant leak. Do you see any coolant leaks on that side of the engine? I would start with inspecting the heater hoses for signs of leaks & don't forget the plastic coolant elbows if they haven't been replaced with metal ones. Those get brittle and crack
Thanks digital,

It looks like the coolant elbows have been changed and they look dry. The white smoke smells like oil burning. I'm thinking cracked block or head. But if its some less drastic that would be great but I'm expecting the worst.
 

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The primary issue with these engines is intake manifold gaskets. The coolant passage seal on the original plastic ones fails after 5+yrs, and should be changed to the updated aluminum version ASAP on any 3800 Series 2/3 at this point. This causes anything from coolant consumption by the intake ports, to coolant/oil mixing and causing spun bearings.

You can get a coolant pressure tester to see where it's pushing out, and it sounds like it'll only take ~5psi to show it. Definitely don't start the car anymore, unless it's to briefly move it to a place in your driveway/garage you can work on it (get it towed, if you're having someone elsewhere do it).
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@dezldave961 I put a pressure tester on the radiator and pumped it up to about 20 psi. The pressure held for entire time I had the tester connected. I saw no leaks while system was under pressure. Any other ideas or things I could try?
 

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Hmm, you can do a compression check for another test before having to dig in and replace gaskets, etc. Rent or buy a gauge, pull all plugs, disconnect ignition harness above coilpacks, pull fuel pump fuse (optional)... Crank ~4-5 turns on each cylinder and record the peak-hold reading. They should all be within ~10psi or so.

Since the coolant didn't seem to push under pressure, it might be getting pulled into the chamber by the piston at the head gasket.

Also check your oil for any evidence of water getting in and making it milky (under cap, dipstick, and/or drain out).
 
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