Troubleshooting A Blown Head Gasket (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 3.3L V6 Buick Century, Skylark, 3.3L V6 Oldsmobile Achieva, Calais, Cutlass Ciera)

Testing for a blown head gasket is not hard. In this tutorial, I'm going to explain the 4 different tests that you can perform so that you can find out if you have a blown head gasket on your hands or not.

All of the tests are explained in a step-by-step manner and in plain English.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. 3.3L V6 Buick Century: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993.
  2. 3.3L V6 Buick Skylark: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993.
  3. 3.3L V6 Oldsmobile Achieva: 1992, 1993.
  4. 3.3L V6 Oldsmobile Calais: 1989, 1990, 1991.
  5. 3.3L V6 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993.

Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket

Over the years that I've been working on cars, I've noticed that blown head gasket problems usually fall in one of two categories.

Either the blown head gasket problem will cause the engine to crank but not start or the engine starts, runs, but overheats within minutes.

If the engine in your vehicle starts and runs and the head gasket is blown, you'll see one or more of the following symptoms:

  1. The engine overheats.
  2. White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
  3. The engine oil is thick and a tan to off-white color (mixed with coolant).

TEST 1: Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer

Troubleshooting A Blown Head Gasket. Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 3.3L V6 Buick Century, Skylark, 3.3L V6 Oldsmobile Achieva, Calais, Cutlass Ciera)

The very first thing that we're going to do, is to check the color and viscosity of the engine oil that is sticking to the engine oil level dipstick.

What we're looking for, is to see if the oil sticking to the dipstick looks like coffee with too much creamer.

If the engine oil looks milky white and is a very thick viscosity, then you can conclude that one of the head gaskets is blown.

If the engine oil looks normal, then the next step is to go to TEST 2.

Let's get started:

  1. 1

    Open the hood on your 3.3L V6 Buick (Oldsmobile).

  2. 2

    Pull out the engine's oil dipstick.

  3. 3

    Check the color of the oil and how thick it is.

  4. 4

    You'll see one of two things:

    1.) The oil on the dipstick is a creamy, off-white color and is thick as syrup.

    2.) The oil is its normal color and viscosity.

Let's examine your test result:

CASE 1: The engine oil looks like 'coffee with too much creamer'. This confirms that one or both of the head gaskets are blown.

CASE 2: The color of the engine oil is normal. This is the correct and expected test result.

The next step is to check to see if compression/exhaust gases are leaking into the cooling system. Go to: TEST 2: Exhaust Gases Shooting Out Of The Radiator.

Buick Vehicles:

  • Century 3.3L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
  • Skylark 3.3L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993

Oldsmobile Vehicles:

  • Achieva 3.3L
    • 1992, 1993
  • Calais 3.3L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991
  • Cutlass Ciera 3.3L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993