Troubleshooting A Blown Head Gasket (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 3.4L V6 Buick Rendezvous, Oldsmobile Alero, Silhouette)

There are 4 tests that are performed to find out if a vehicle has a blown head gasket or not. In this tutorial, I'm going to explain how to do each one.

By the way, two of those four tests do not require any tools whatsoever.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. 3.4L V6 Buick Rendezvous: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.
  2. 3.4L V6 Oldsmobile Alero: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.
  3. 3.4L V6 Oldsmobile Silhouette: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.

Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket

A head gasket failure will cause 1 of 2 problems:

  • The head gasket failure will cause and engine no-start problem.
  • -or-
  • The head gasket issue will allow the engine to start and run, but it will overheat in a matter of minutes and for no apparent reason.

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 (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 3.4L V6 Buick Rendezvous, Oldsmobile Alero, Silhouette)

This first test is an easy test to do and it doesn't require any tools whatsoever.

What we'll do, is to remove the engine oil dipstick and check the color of the oil sticking to it.

If the engine oil has a milky white color, like coffee with too much creamer, then you can conclude that you've got a blown head gasket on your hands.

If the color of the oil has a normal color to it, then you can move on to TEST 2.

Let's get started:

  1. 1

    Open the hood on your 3.4L 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:

  • Rendezvous 3.4L
    • 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Oldsmobile Vehicles:

  • Alero 3.4L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Silhouette 3.4L
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004