A few symptoms but from what ive read im not sure where to look


Asked by dled1286 Feb 05, 2013 at 01:28 PM about the Pontiac Firebird

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

So my wife has a 2002 Firebird 3800 series V6.  There are a few symptoms that worry me.  First, the car runs
hot, even if i have just filled it with coolant. To go along with that, the coolant just disappears, no leak, none in
the oil, just gone. The water pump and thermostat have been replaced but thats apparently not the issue.  Then
recently, i just changed the oil in the car and now the oil pressure gauge is fluctuating alot.  To me this would
mean that if the oil pump isnt doing its job, the pressure would drop (of course) and cause it to run hot.  But the
pressure gauge is a recent development.  Im kinda dumb founded at this point and its becoming a pain
because my wife doesnt have a car until i get this fixed.  A definite answer would help.  I see alot of different
speculations but i need a good answer so i know where to look and not end up spending money on things that
dont need fixing.

Thanks in advance

5 Answers


And to clarify the motor running hot and coolant disappearing has been going on for several months almost a year, long before the oil pressure started fluctuating.

Haralds Gr

My sister had similar symptoms - about heating and for her it was cooling radiator. It was full with mud (bad coolant, wrong adding etc). And although we didn't find a place where it was leaking (at beginning) it was one of the on going hoses to radiator, that leaked a bit, but enough for coolant to disappear, because there was bigger pressure in radiator than usually coolant couldn't go through enough fast so weakest hoses started to leak. But that's just a guess. Similar symptoms doesn't mean it's the same cause. About oil pressure - for my dad's bird it was: 1. Wrong oil filter. 2. Oil filter was installed wrong so oil leaked a little 3. Intake gasket was bad So bad smoke, heating up, no coolant and big pressure.

Jason Zane

find where your coolant is leaking! the radiator, hoses, heater hoses, intake, heater core need to be looked at if it is going dry. that could be cooking the oil. hope u find the source. sometime i've found small cracks in the radiator and hoses. all should be tight and dry. be sure to slightly open the bleeder above the thermostat to get all the air out too.


Since you see no obvious leaks, I would check places you can't readily see like the heater core (Is the interior carpet on the pass side damp?) or within the radiator fins. Are there other symptoms like rough idling that may indicate a head gasket problem (and the coolant is going out the exhaust)? Jason is right - you must first identify where your coolant is going and then work the fix.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Tom Mccrory

the 3.8 had a problem with a water passage in intake that passes close to the egr circuit and so times it will eat the intake and burn the coolant as you are driving done road and will not show any leaks on ground. as for oil pressure, when motors get hot more than one or more times you can wear crank main bearings and cam bearings and you will lose oil pressure as motor warms up, you have to put a manual pressure gauge to the motor to get an accurate pressure reading, you might have to take out oil pressure sending unit on motor to get accurate , sounds like you might be to late, and have to rebuild motor.

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