Multiple Problems, Need some advice.

Asked by Oct 22, 2010 at 12:29 AM about the 1996 Pontiac Firebird Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a '96 Firebird with the L36 3800 Series II.  When i bought it I thought it was a little hard to start but chalked it up to the fact that it had been sitting for nearly a year.  Seemed to drive fine and ran well.  Shortly after turning 100 miles of my ownership, things started to get wierd.  It started with an odd rattle from the engine.  I took it to a few shops for the old "what does it sound like to you" test and got answers from a torque converter to camshaft problem to bad accessory pulley bearing.  I started to pay better attention to the gauges and sounds while driving it.  I has the rattle at idle and at around 2000 rpms in P or N.  While driving, it appears at around 4000 rpms right before it shifts gears.  Oil pressure is varied from 60 psi while driving to 30 at idle.  SES came on and scan showed two O2 sensor code.  This morning I replaced the two O2 sensors and drove it abit.  I took a right hand turn and the car started loosing power.  SES started to flash and oil pressure dropped to 0.  I pulled over at a service station, checked the oil (which was full) then limped it to a friends shop (1 block away) at 15 psi of oil pressure.  I kept the idle abit higher to keep some oil pressure going.  I was told the oil pump probably failed and my have been the noise I heard all along.  It still has 0 psi when not on the gas but a small amount of pressure if you keep the r's up abit.  Just wondering if anyone has run into an oil pump failure and if so what symtoms did they observe.  I hate to order all the parts, have the shop rip down the front of the motor and replace all this stuff if it was not the main problem.  Also, would anything with the oil pump cause a hard starting problem?

7 Answers


well a bad oil pump wont give you a starting problem but if the pump was bad maybe thats the rattle you hear. it might be also that you need to flush out your engine and see if the holes that drain your oil from the heads back to the crank are cloged also the oil pick up to the oil pump. if you still have the rattle after you install the oil pump and do a compleat flush it might be better to pull the engine out and have it checked it might be something aelse


Put a rebuilt engine in. I am sure that it is well over 100k and the previous owner didnt drive it like you are ( 4k shifts) and the engine was probably gunked up. The oil pressure was low enough while you were driving to have a lifter pump down ( skip and blinking CES light) and you had noises already. Damage done , Replace it.

Well, the car is in getting torn down atm, they are checking for the obvious stuff (timing chain and tensioner, main bearings for pitting or failure, etc etc etc). I thought about a possible intake failure but not leaking coolant or low and did not see any coolant on the dip stick when checking the oil. As for the 4K shift, I do not rod on the car, it shifts at 4K under any amount of load. I did get a tcc code when checking it along with the O2 codes, so there could possibly be a problem there causing it to shift at a higher RPM, really not sure. I will post once I get more info after the teardown.


That is not the normal shift point. There should a throttle control cable that should be adjusted also to bring the shift to the 25-2800 level. Whern you mash the pedal it should be around 4-4500 level. I think you will find a lot of debris around the oil pump pick up screen causing the loss of pressure. The problem is what kind of damage it has caused. Make sure you have the crankshafy "mic'd' to see if you can put bearings on it with out turning it. You might be able to if it did not run long on the '0' pressure time period. Good luck

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Okay so tore the car down today. I must admit I lol'd abit when we found what happened. The previous owner did a timing chain, gears and oil pump in it. All the parts were in excellent condition. So, what was the problem you may ask. When he put everything back together he made sure everything was nicely placed, except the paper towel he left in the timing cover. Found it stuck in the main oil passage out of the pump. What are the odds. The crank, bearings and everything else made it though unscathed, no obvious damage and no knocking now. Rattle is still there, so next weekend it will be time to pull the inspection plate and check the flywheel and torque. I will probably just drive with the rattle if I cannot find an obvious problem and wait for the engine to go out then replace it with a rebuild or maybe something with a bit more play. Been doing alot of reading on the L67 swap and I have a small advantage over most. My mom lives in Australia so the Holden parts will be alot easier to obtain. For now the problem is solved though, thanks for your input all.

MIne had the problem as well, Change your muffler. It's been burnt up, probably has a hole.

Sorry May not be that severe, Check your pipes for gaps. Move them around to see how much room they move, replace or tighten grips. Although they're near the rear of the vehicle the sounds move as though it is in the front.

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