97 grand prix 3800

by John
(Missouri)

97 grand prix (image added)

97 grand prix (image added)

I've have been working on this 97 grand prix forever it seems. This is my girlfriends car and she got it hot and cracked both heads. So, I, being the mechanic type guy said sure I'll fix it.

Getting a good set of heads for this car was a headache in itself. Finally I got good heads, took them to the machine shop, had them checked for cracks and resurfaced. Unfortunately I let a friend put the heads on. The car started but white smoke and water was coming from the exhaust.

Come to find out he didn't torque and degree them right. And the starter went out while we were starting it. So off come the heads again. I bought new gaskets and put them on myself. Everything seemed fine. Got a new starter and bingo the car started, sounded good and didn't smoke. Nice!

EXCEPT after I let the car idle for a little while I revved it up and a clanking noise sounded and the car died. Now the starter is out again and wont start the car.

Got another starter and the engine won't turn over long enough to start and tears up the starter. I put 6 different starters on this car and it tears every one of them up! I tried turning the crankshaft over with a ratchet and it seemed stuck like it was locked up. This was after I took the starter off.

I turned the crankshaft the opposite way and it frees up to turn over in both directions. The flywheel looks good-not warped, the teeth on the flywheel are good, the starter is brand new, the flywheel bolts are tight.

The engine will turn over by hand but when i put a starter in it the engine gets bound up or stuck or something and tears up the starter. The car has been sitting for approximately 8 months and I need to get this thing fixed! Does anyone have any idea what's wrong with this car?

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Apr 13, 2012
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Engine Bearings
by: Anonymous

I seem to notice if u crack heads or blow head gaskets,on a higher mileage engine that usually the bottom end will fail so i usually pull the engine change all mains and rod bearings and head gaskets.

Jan 14, 2011
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Check for hydrolocking
by: Anonymous

Pull all the spark plugs out, disable the ignition, and then try to rotate the engine. Check for coolant in the cylinders. It is possible you have a hydro-locking condition caused by a coolant leak from the upper intake manifold coolant ports. If the engine is hydro-locking, it will break the nose off the starter.

Apr 20, 2010
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97 Grand Prix 3800 engine
by: Anonymous

I am familiar with the 97 grand prix 3800 as I worked at a Pontiac dealer as a line technician in 1997. This was one cool car at the time. The 3800 engine was huge to put in a car of this size (back in the day).

It would seem the next logical step would be to pull the oil pan and see whats going on with the lower end. The way you described the engine getting stuck and if you rotate it back it frees up, is a sign of catastrophic rod or rod bearing failure.

The other possibility would be damaged main bearings. This issue could have started at the original overheat that cracked the cylinder heads. And then made worse by the improper installation of the cylinder heads (1st time).

Since you have spent so much time and effort on the project (my hat of to you) it would seem worth while to check the condition of the crank and bearings.

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