GM 3.1 and 3.4 Intake Gasket Replacement Tips

12:43 pm Auto Specialty Tools, Chevrolet, DIY, GM Intake, How To Auto Repair

Video I made a while back showing the specialty tool in use.

© Summary: Automotive repair blog article on changing intake gaskets on GM 3.1 and 3.4 v-6 engines. Often the problem of water in the oil is mis-diagnosed as blown head gaskets. There are many time saving tips that can be used when changing the gaskets in this and Denlor’s original tech article linked within. The image above is click-able, it opens a new window for Youtube – just watch the volume! The tool is a Lisle 48500, we’ve been selling it for several years now.

It saves a lot of time when changing GM intake gaskets on Chevrolet/Oldsmobile/Pontiac 3.1 and 3.4 liter engines. Leaking intake gaskets are very common on these engines. The typical scenario is; 1. the car overheats, coolant is low but doesn’t seem to be leaking out anywhere. 2. After checking the engine oil and finding cappuccino or a chocolate milk substance… the worst is feared – a LEAKING HEAD GASKET! But in many cases on these engines it’s just a leaking intake gasket. The original type intake gaskets are a composite (which looks like a hard plastic) with a rubber insert. The intake gasket bolts have a low torque spec because of the type of gasket material. Over time the gaskets get hard and brittle and can break. The result in most cases is coolant leaking directly into the engine crankcase. Parts stores still sell the original type gaskets, but it’s important to know that if planning to keep the vehicle indefinitely upgraded steel gaskets with rubber inserts are available too.

More about the tool in the video.

The original Lisle 48500’s were too long to use on mini vans. I discovered that the tool would touch the cowl when prying the rockers on the firewall side. I simply removed the handle protector and cut off a couple of inches, rounded the corners and slipped the cover back on – it worked great. Lisle has now updated the tool to the proper length that doesn’t interfere with the cowls on mini vans and still provides sufficient leverage.

Question from a recent visitor

I’m going to tackle an intake manifold gasket on my Chevy Lumina 3.1 – I’m a “fair” shade-tree, amateur mechanic. With regard to the Lisle Push Rod Remover tool LIS48500, will this tool help me a lot? Am I crazy if I don’t order it? Any tips? THANKS! (PS: How much for freight and how soon can I get it? Thanks, again.)

My Response

I just did my brother’s car last weekend – a 95 Olds Cierra with a 3.1 engine. Coolant was entering the crankcase so bad that it was coming out of the dipstick tube! His regular mechanic/friend was impressed with the tool. Like our tech article says (linked below) “it saves you from having to remove the rocker arms to get the pushrods out to access the gaskets.” What this means on the backside of the motor is “you don’t have to take the coil, rear spark plug wires, alternator, etc off for access.” Also, these engines seem to be prone to threads stripping in the aluminum head where the rockers attach – I like not having to unbolt the rockers, as to not cause any wear on those threads.
As far as freight, just add the item to the cart and calculate shipping – we have them in stock at different warehouses throughout the country and ship from the closest one so usually transit times are range from 1-6 days – but usually is a couple days. Also, I recommend using the Lisle Funnel to help burp the air out of the system.
Dave from Minnesota – Prior to the Repair
I bought the tool!
I’m starting to tear down the Chevy 3.1 we communicated about a couple o’ weeks ago.
QUESTION:  The video, and the tech article, and everything seems to say you don’t need to take off the REAR valve cover (coil and stuff too)….. but does the Push Rod Removal Tool also work on the front set of push rods?  Before I go any further (and do any unnecessary work!) , can you let me know?  Will the tool work just as well for the front set of push rods?
DennisB – Answer
Yes. You will be taking the front valve cover off though.
Dave from Minnesota – After the Repair
I finished my lower intake manifold gasket projecton our 1996 Chevy Lumina with the 3.1L V-6.  It has 190,000 miles on it and we’ve owned it since it was new.
I am a fairly accomplished shade tree mechanic.  Over the years I’ve tackled brakes, starters, alternators, radiators, tune-ups, routine maintenance, and all manners of little car repairs.  Until this project, the “deepest” I ever got into an engine was to do some fuel injectors on another Lumina we owned (same 3.1 engine.)
Let there be no doubt, this IS a big project.  But I was very careful during the “tear down.”  I put all bolts in “baggies” and labeled the bags with a permanent marker.  Whew!  What a job!
Here’s the kicker:  I cannot begin to imagine tackling this job without the Lisle Pushrod Removal Tool !!!  This tool is an absolute life saver!  Without this tool I would not have tried this job.
(A tip to anyone who tackles this job, keep absolute perfect track of the pushrods!  There are short ones and longer ones.  I DID keep good track and had no problems…. but the internet is filled with horror stories and lots of chatter about keeping the pushrods in perfect order.)
The result:  The car started (my prayers worked!), there are no leaks (yay!), and we’ve got a fairly dependable “3rd car” again for our family.  As I’ve said earlier, we bought this car brand new.  I am a faithful 3000 miles “oil-changer.”  That, I believe, it the key to this car’s longevity.
But again, the highest praise for the DenLors Company and the Lisle Pushrod Removal Tool.   My costs for this job?  I spent 50 bucks or so on the gasket set, about 18 bucks (plus shipping) for the TOOL, and a few bucks here and there for some Loctite and other stuff.  I also bought an inexpensive torque wrench at Menard’s (I can’t remember … 15-20 bucks?)  Anyway, all together, I didn’t spend 100 bucks.  This job would easily go for 500 bucks or more for labor!  I saw one source that said “8 hours” of shop labor…. at 50, 60, 80 bucks an hour – – – you do the math!!
This car will be 15 years old this fall.  Spending hundreds of dollars on the repair was just not reasonable.  But now, we have a good used car again!  We have a 23-year-old-kid who’s been driving this car the most…. she wants to buy her own new car, so we’ll probably let her have this car to trade-in on a car… but now it’s worth several hundred dollars! Before the repair, it was worth salvage value only.
To any other “do-it-yourself-ers” out there: even if you never use this tool again, it is totally, totally worth the cost!  Don’t even think about doing this project without buying this tool!
Thanks again.  A great product!  And it was a pleasure to do business with DenLors Tools!

Related Links

Our Original Tech Article on Servicing Intake Gaskets with the Pushrod Tool (Skip un-needed steps)

Lisle Pushrod Tool Product Listing

Automotive Helper Forum  (Some of the issues discussed at this forum can be avoided by using our tips)

Hub Pages (Some good tips for DIYers but the author did more work than was needed)

All GM Intake Articles on this Repair Blog

Please reference this auto repair article when quoting, linking to this page is welcomed and appreciated. If you are new to linking a page. 1. Left click the link;  to highlight 2. Right click, select copy 3. Right click and paste to forum, blog web page etc. Thanks! Disclaimer: Auto repair information/tips are designed for informational purposes only, without warranty of any kind, in no event shall the author of this site be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages sustained in the course of using the information in this article.


3 Responses
  1. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: November 13, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    Need help from a dealer tech? Start by ask your question below.

  2. JERRY :

    Date: June 10, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    hello dennis ,I have already replaced the intake gasket ( wish I would of had this tool )and now 2 months later it’s leaking again and would like to know if there is a better gasket maybe a thicker one you might know of ? . it’s for a 99″ Pontiac grand am 3.4 I would like to not do this again in a couple of months. thank you

  3. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 10, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

    Jerry, there are metal gaskets with rubber which seem to be a better design. However, a leak within two months does not sound like a bad gasket. Cleaning the surfaces and torquing is crucial for a successful job. Also lock-tite on the bolts will help prevent from them backing out which would also result in a leak. Good Luck.

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