BGerrells

1988 reatta engine issue

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Friday I was sitting at a stoplight when I started to hear a chirping sound coming from the engine area. When the light turned I gave it some gas and turned into a parking lot. Before turning I heard what seemed like something breaking under the hood. It was almost impossible to turn the steering wheel, and the battery light came on. As soon as I parked I noticed smoke coming from under the hood and antifreeze pouring out under the car. I poped the hood and the longest belt had completely fallen off.  

 

I’m trying to work out the sequence of events so I’ll know what to start replacing. Any tips would be great. Did a pulley fail, which then caused my belt to come off and the engine overheat? Could it have hurt the engine even more? Is there anything else I should replace while I’m at it? I love doing the work myself, but lack the knowledge of where to start.

 

bryan

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I forgot to mention, check all the pulleys with the belt off, make sure they spin freely with no wobble.  Your power steering pulley bearing might have froze causing it to smoke. 

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31 minutes ago, BGerrells said:

a chirping sound coming from the engine area

 

31 minutes ago, BGerrells said:

It was almost impossible to turn the steering wheel, and the battery light came on

 

31 minutes ago, BGerrells said:

antifreeze pouring out under the car.

 

31 minutes ago, BGerrells said:

the longest belt

 

First of all- there is only one belt. The Belt Tensioner and the Harmonic Balancer ('88-'90 or '91)  are both "wear items" that do need changing- at least once in the normal lifetime of the vehicle. The Serpentine Belt probably also tore the Lower Radiator Hose, spilling coolant. The belt also drives the power steering pump.

Edited by 89RedDarkGrey (see edit history)
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11 hours ago, BGerrells said:

you’re right I’ll try to find an old post showing the configuration of the belt

Look on the front grille support or shock mount for the diagram decal showing the configuration. It is a factory decal.

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Also check the harmonic balancer.....the rubber has been known to fail and the outer ring which has the pulley grooves can be loose enough to send the belt flying..

 

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I’m probably going to go ahead and replace the balancer , the serpentine belt, lower radiator hose and belt tensioner any thing else while I’m there?

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THANK YOU FOR TAKING ADVICE. :D

 

THIS IS A COMMON "CASCADE FAILURE" THAT CAN HAPPEN TO ANY SERPENTINE-BELTED ENGINE. THE BELT HAS THE SAME MAKEUP AS A TIRE. WHEN THE TENSIONER, HARMONIC BALANCER, AN IDLER PULLY (IF EQUIPPED) OR JUST THE BELT ITSELF FAILS- SOMETIMES IT WILL VIOLENTLY TAKE OUT ANYTHING IN IT'S PATH: WIRING, SENSORS, HOSES, ETC.:o

 

A VIDEO OF THIS DANGER CAN BE WATCHED HERE (WARNING: GRAPHIC):ph34r:

ANOTHER VIDEO, DESCRIBING FAILURE MODES- IS HERE

 

PLEASE- ADD YOUR YEAR OF REATTA TO YOUR SIGNATURE LINE OF YOUR PROFILE SO WE CAN MORE EASILY HELP YOU.;)

 

THERE ARE SLIGHT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE 4 YEARS OF PRODUCTION ('88-'91) WITH MANY OF THE SYSTEMS.:rolleyes:

 

THANK YOU, AND WELCOME TO THE BUICK REATTA FORUMB)

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Anyone have a picture of how the belt goes back on 1988 reatta

In my picture attached the pulley under the generator spun off completely, the one with the rusted cover.

It’s sort of to the right and below of the tensioner 

8F8164F3-9F5F-4552-801F-90477DDB1499.jpeg

Edited by BGerrells (see edit history)

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Thanks again it now sounds and seems to run perfect. I'll top off the coolant in the morning. I love being able to work on these cars, and you guys/this forum makes it possible.

 

THANK YOU

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I have never had a serpentine belt come off without some failure to cause it. About ten years ago I heard what started as a squeak and then became a screech. I tried to make it home to investigate but an alternator bearing seized and the belt then burned through and came off. Lots of smoke but nothing actually caught fire. A new alternator and belt and away I went. Check carefully all devices / bearings that the belt operates.

 

  The 3.8L engine is a very stable casting and it can take a lot of abuse in the way of heat. One day my lower radiator hose blew off at the radiator lower connection which emptied all of the radiator, all of the cylinder head coolant and half the cylinder wall coolant. I did not realize it until I got a warning message on the CRT. By then I was almost home so I drove the last few blocks as gently as I could and the engine quit just as I rolled into the driveway. I opened the hood and immediately discovered the reason why it overheated. I expected warped heads and damaged piston rings. So I let it cool off overnight and reclamped the hose and filled it with new coolant. I have seen no change in oil consumption or any other symptom. it still runs perfect. Whew.......

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Will do. I'm going to let it warm up some today while watching. I cranked it and let it run for 10 minutes and the temp showed 240. Is the normal operating temp 205? What temperature is considered hot?

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Thanks for the link. I drove it up the street and back and it hit 240 again. I did not feel comfortable pushing further than that so I'm unsure if it continues to go higher

 

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You might check the water pump. Mine made a chirping sound and my pulley was a skew, yours maybe straight but impeller may not be turning 

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My friend suggested I leave the cap off while running to get rid of any air pockets. So I let it run for about 10 minutes with the top off. Now I can drive it up and down the street and the temp stays around 198-210 it goes up and down so I'm assuming the thermostat is working. When I press it hard going down the street the engine is in fact cooling. When idling it goes up to 210 then back down a few times.

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4 hours ago, BGerrells said:

My friend suggested I leave the cap off while running to get rid of any air pockets. So I let it run for about 10 minutes with the top off. Now I can drive it up and down the street and the temp stays around 198-210 it goes up and down so I'm assuming the thermostat is working. When I press it hard going down the street the engine is in fact cooling. When idling it goes up to 210 then back down a few times.

 

With the cap on- is it still overheating? Did you ever discover the original cause for the belt problem? Do both of the fans work? KOEO, enter diagnostics, and go to ECM OVERRIDE ES07 & ES08 to check.

 

http://reattaowner.com/roj/onboard-diagnostics/computer-diagnostic-instructions-19881989#pg-7

 

When at idle- is the LOW fan on? At what temp is it when the HI fan kicks on? Someone else here- will know the programmed fan temps. I know they're in my FSM, but I'm not near it at the moment. I would still do the 170F thermostat upgrade, and use new coolant: DISTILLED water and antifreeze, 50/50. IMHO- that "pre-mixed" stuff is crap for a 30 year old car.

 

Hi temps is what kills these cars. It's hard on the engine oil, transmission and it's ATF, and the electronics (ignition).

 

That's my $0.02

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