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2012 Volt Blown Head Gasket 1000 Miles After Getting Oil Pan Gasket Repaired - What Do I Do Now?

1681 Views 23 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  voltdetroitvseverybody
Bought my 2012 Volt 2 years ago with 67k miles from place in Cleveland and brought it back home to where it was built in Hamtramck / Detroit. I love this car and have told everyone this over the years of owning it. About a year in, I got an oil change at an independent shop and they brought me out to look under the car to show me a minor oil leak/seepage from what they said was the oil pan gasket. They quoted me for the job but said it wasnt dire so sent me on my way. Fast forward a year later, this past November, when I got another oil change from them and was told they'd honor the quote from a year before to reseal the oil pan. After a few inquiries over the year from dealerships and other shops, I felt it was a great offer and told them to go ahead. The guy assured me they'd done several of these at their other shops mostly on Cruzes but were very familiar with the work. I picked the car up, the burning oil smell was gone and all was well. At 91k miles at this point.

A month after the fix, about three wks ago, the smell began again though not anywhere near alarm level bad. I also could not see any leaks in or under the engine. Took the car to get groceries last Monday and when I jumped on the highway for the two mile return, the engine light came on, and the engine started clicking - as if lifters were not getting oil. I drove it right to Oreilly to get the codes read - they were all knock sensor codes. I went into a couple stores to let the engine cool down, and to look up codes etc. When I got back to the car, I decided to pop the hood to see what I could and listen etc - and instantly saw the ICE coolant reservoir was empty. I was horrified because I saw no warning light for this and then read there is no engine coolant level sensor.. . Went in and got coolant, refilled the reservoir (it took half of the whole bottle), and headed home. Let the car sit a few days, hoping to figure out any resolution. Went out yesterday and the coolant level was down an inch. No coolant on the ground under the car. Turned the car on and the ticking was now terribly loud, and white smoke was billowing out of the exhaust. I am stuck now and wonder what to do. Livid that there was no warning and seriously worried because I will probably have to quit my job as I have a sales territory that is 30 plus miles away.

1. Was it the shops doing when they did the deep fix (the oil pan fix is serious on these cars) less than 1000 miles ago? Is there anything during that fix that could have caused the gasket failure or coolant leak elsewhere?

2. How is it possible that GM didnt put a coolant level sensor on the engine coolant reservoir like they did on the electric battery coolant reservoirs? There is no warning for the driver/owner until the engine is ruined??! And even then, it only CELs because the blown head gasket causes the cylinders and valves and oil to malfunction to cause a knock. 馃槥

3. Is there any possibility a dealership can get me help to pay for this? Was there ever a warranty extension or fix that I missed or that could apply? I'm a former automotive engineer and have fixed my last three cars easily because sensors for coolant went off. The electric drive works fine still .. but now I have to replace the engine!? or get the head gasket fixed and just hope the head or other surfaces arent warped so it doesn't happen again? Or do I try to sell it with all these issues to try to make back at least some of what I owe?

Any recommendations and info is much appreciated. I love this car and am devastated that I couldn't avoid this. It's never happened to me before because I am very sensitive to all the systems and fix any warnings within days. This had no warnings:/
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I can't think of anything the shop could have done wrong when replacing the oil pan seal that could have caused a blown head gasket. Unfortunately, I also can't think of any way to have GM cover it. BTW, have you checked your dipstick to see if there's evidence that coolant is getting into the oil?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can't think of anything the shop could have done wrong when replacing the oil pan seal that could have caused a blown head gasket. Unfortunately, I also can't think of any way to have GM cover it. BTW, have you checked your dipstick to see if there's evidence that coolant is getting into the oil?
None yet except the missing coolant, and insane white smoke coming out of exhaust:/
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I also had a valve cover gasket blow about 2 months ago. The replacement was like 20 bucks from oreilly and it's actually an incredibly simple job to do. Just a few bolts and you're in business. I can't speak to the coolant issues you're having though.
 

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So sorry to read this, it sounds like the head gasket has a leak from the coolant jacket surrounding the cylinders, into probably one cylinder. It put enough coolant through the cylinder that the engine overheated. The clean oil suggests that there was no breach of the coolant into the oil passages. Keep an eye open for oil contamination into the ICE coolant.

A teardown of the engine will determine what was damaged. It may be that you will need only a new head gasket, or worse, a rebuilt, used or new head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If the engine is still making bad noises after refilling the coolant and the oil level is good most likely the overheating has damaged the engine. I'm guessing more than a head gasket replacement will be needed.
Guessing it too .. which is infuriating. There is and was no engine overheating warning on the car. No coolant level warning. No temp warning. Only a coolant temp warning that does not go off if the coolant is gone. How has anyone not raised this as a warning to anyone who buys them? And to GM to ask for help?
 

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Hard to tell, but the oil is significantly overfull. The coolant went somewhere. When was the last time you checked oil/coolant levels? If checked routinely, disasters can be avoided.
 
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Use the Block Chek fluid tester to verify blown head gasket. Likely not worth the effort to tear it down, simpler to find a good used engine and swap. Are you doing it yourself?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Use the Block Chek fluid tester to verify blown head gasket. Likely not worth the effort to tear it down, simpler to find a good used engine and swap. Are you doing it yourself?
Don't have my tools here unfortunately but would love a recommendation for where to buy a "good used engine" to possibly ship to a friend's shop or my btother's.. many sites have them but I'm weary of the quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hard to tell, but the oil is significantly overfull. The coolant went somewhere. When was the last time you checked oil/coolant levels? If checked routinely, disasters can be avoided.
Had the oil pan gasket replaced less than 2 months ago. Had hardly driven it since. They changed the oil during that fix. Apparently may have overfilled it:/
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Unfortunately, the gasket needs to be replaced, but it's strange that it blew it so quickly
Agreed - I have the service records and there's nothing out of the ordinary. Wonder if it had blown before but was fixed by an independent shop off the books. And why I'm so mad and was hoping it could be anything else to cause the white smoke and coolant loss.

I put cardboard under the car for the past couple days and have no coolant or oil leaks. Started it a couple times and the smoke continues:/ Coolant level is steady. Have charged it up to take it to the nearby dealership to see what they say, and will update the thread as I can.
 

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I've had many cars without a coolant level sensor. Right or wrong it's not unique to the Volt.

Normally I wouldn't recommend this, but I found many replacement LUU engines cheap on eBay. I suspect the demand for them is basically zero and supply is far outstripping demand from wrecked vehicles, to your advantage (I haven't heard of anyone needing to replace the engine on their Volt, they don't appear to be the weak link). Also most of these engines have an easy life running at constant RPMs and seldom used, so your chances of getting a good one are pretty high.
 
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This is why our only trust the volt technician at a dealer with these things. There aren't enough of them around they didn't make them long enough and nobody knows the car except the volt technicians who are still seeing them every day. Makes me wonder if they used the wrong sealant or too much sealant on the pan and it somehow got into The oil. Who knows. I just don't trust independent shops unless they are a marque specialist. Oil changes seems so simple but there's so much that can go wrong, and then pan gaskets using the wrong sealant or too much sealant. All depends on who worked on it.
 

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I had the same oil pan seal issue with my 2017 Volt. Discovered at a similar oil change place but they wouldn't touch it and I found no reason to have them do an oil change since repairing the oil pan seal would require replacing the oil after the repair. I was told by the Chevy dealer that there was no traditional gasket on the oil pan and that they just used a sealer for the oil pan which took something like 4 hours to dry. Annoying but it caused no additional issues.
 
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