97 GM Cavalier - major problems

Tiny
SPARKLEBGP
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
You can snicker but no laughing out loud. I'm a technie not a car girl.

In the last 4 months I've got a new alternator, serpentine belt, head gasket, cooling system work, brake controllers, tune up, water pump, thermostat, and a LOT of other mechical [not system] work. Also O2 regulator [I think it was upstream - he said it was the cheaper of the 2 to replace]. Oil pan too.

Its a 97 Cavalier, frontwheel drive 2 door automatic. 203K on the car.

NOW it doesn't like to go past 80 unless I floor it, loss of power on incline, a/c doesn't blow very cold. If I start it after driving it at all [within the last 15 mins or so] it starts HOT - almost at or near the red zone. Its running rough, but only in first or second. When I go over railroad tracks the steering wheel rattles a lot and makes a metallic noise. It starts great, brakes well. No engine codes [a buddy checked it for me], no check engine light. When I'm driving below 60 I can feel every little bump in the road. Gas mileage is still awesome [probably why I still have the bloody thing].

When it is running hot when I first start it after letting it sit for a bit, if I drive right away the temp drops quick on the guage. I'm almost scared to let it sit idle to see what will happen.

Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks for the help, its bizarre - dropped more $ into the car then it is worth and now it is acting up again! [Now I'm stubborn and want to get some more use out of it!]
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Monday, July 17th, 2006 AT 1:18 PM

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Tiny
MIKEYBDMAN
  • MEMBER
First off, have your buddy check the compression of all the cylinders. You need to find out of your head gasket is leaking or if your rings are still good.
If the compression is bad, investigate and repair if your pocket book can still afford it. (Warrenty?)
If the compression is good, then we need to know if you have to add water to the car? If so, we need to find out where it is going. It sounds like you are getting air in the system right on top of your temp sensor. Think of it like this. When you shut the car off after driving, the water seems to be either flowing back out of your engine, or leaking out of the head while most of the heat is still in the heads. When you start it up, it is extremely hot because the water is not there to keep it cool. As soon as you drive, it circulates water from your radiator and cools the thing down.
The symptons you describe is a leak in the heads. This can because of the intake manifold, head gasket, or cracked head. I have seen hair line cracks on the ends of the heads where the freeze plugs are, and the symptons are very simular to yours.
I am going to guess that this is a 3.1L V6 engine?
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Monday, July 17th, 2006 AT 3:38 PM
Tiny
SPARKLEBGP
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This does give me a great place to start. Here are some more details:

1 - NONE of the fluids are running low. I'm checking the rad, oil even power steering. Doesn't need topping up at all

2 - The head gasket was replaced about a month ago - new part not a refurb

3 - The temp sensor is new - replaced a month ago too

I was wondering with the smattering of work I had done if something could be loose/not fitted properly. I would take it back to the place I had it done, but its about a 3 hour drive west [I live in a small town] - and here its take it to the little shop down the street [bad rep], Canadian Tire or a friend. If you couldd give me any more direction I could make sure they don't get me !

Thanks
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Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 AT 8:22 AM

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