Question about 1997 Buick Riviera

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97 Buick Riviera leaks coolant. Engine is a V6 3800 Series II, supercharged. I noticed the coolant leak the other day. Heres what I know: Definitely a coolant leak, have filled coolant only to find it near empty after a couple days. Oil level is consistent and appears good in color. Coolant leaks from under the front carriage and appears to be coming from somewhere under or very near the radiator. Car is running a little hot. Car gets up to about half way on temp gauge much faster than it used to and it also goes a bit past half way now as well. Car has funny coolant smell after shutting it off. Help! Being that the coolant doesnt appear to be leaking into the oil, I feel that maybe its not the head gasket. I have read that this model engine has had some reports of seal issues with the coolant. Any ideas on what it could be? Radiator leak? Bad hoses? Head gasket? Am I in trouble? If it is the head gasket, is it worth it to fix? How much am i looking at possibly? Thank you so much!

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  • 17,970 Answers

Review this list of things that easily you can checked at home, and can always add to your knowledge of cars in general:

  1. Understand that overheating problems may be caused by a low coolant level, the radiator being plugged, the thermostat may be stuck, or other related common cooling system problems.
  2. Check the coolant level at the radiator overflow/plastic coolant reservoir tank to see if you're low on coolant (see "How to Check Your Car's Coolant Level," under Related eHows). Add if necessary.
  3. Open the radiator cap and look inside the radiator when the engine is cold.
  4. Fill the radiator with a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water if it's empty or low, and close the cap.
  5. Look at both the lower and upper radiator hoses located at the top and bottom of the radiator on the back side and held by hose clamps. Make sure the hoses are securely clamped to the radiator and aren't leaking.
  6. Touch both the upper and lower radiator hoses when the engine is warm and the car turned off. They should both be somewhat warm. If one is cold, you may have a thermostat that's stuck closed.
  7. Use the palm of your hand to feel the outside of the radiator from top to bottom when the engine is warm and the car turned off. It should be warm to the touch evenly throughout. If there's a cold section, you may have a radiator that's internally blocked.
  8. Check under the car, inspect the radiator and look around the engine compartment for telltale signs of a coolant leak: Coolant is usually greenish, slippery and sweet-smelling.
  9. If there is always a puddle of coolant under your car it could be due to water pump failure, or a cracked coolant reservoir.
For me, sound like any bad hose or seals in the water pump. Check here for several tips to previus diagnosis.

Hope helped.

Posted on May 22, 2010

  • 4 more comments 
  • thomas langer May 25, 2010


    thanks for the great reply. i have a couple questions for you:

    how can i tell if its a problem with the water pump, radiator, or thermostat?

    heres a little more info...

    car leaks coolant from underneath the radiator and appears to come out from the side of the radiator.

    when radiator cap is removed the level is very full.

    car is beginning to run hot but has not yet overheated completely.

    havent heard engine fan come on for a couple weeks now.

    ac works fine, no weird smoke from tailpipe.

    thank you!!!!


  • ZJ Limited
    ZJ Limited May 25, 2010

    According to what you said, we could start
    by going through the radiator.
    these leaks occur, these are housed in the base of the radiator and then
    overflowing for some area of the bottom tray.
    It could be lower
    radiator cap (bottom tray) or perhaps a panel of pipes that are
    corroded at the ends.
    Let's start by removing the radiator, fill with
    air, seal the inlet and outlet of coolant, and immersed in a tub to
    detect bubbles.

    Tell us news.

  • thomas langer May 25, 2010

    hi again and thank you for helping me!

    being that i havent hear the cooling fans run - is this related? could this cause a coolant leak?

    can a bad thermostat cause a colloant leak or is a coolant leak primarily mean there is a hole somewhere in the radiator....


  • ZJ Limited
    ZJ Limited May 25, 2010

    being that i havent hear the cooling fans run - is this related? could
    this cause a coolant leak?


    First, check for 12-volts to the fan motor when the air-conditioning is
    on, if is has
    12v replace relay; if there is not 12v check the fusible link at the
    starter for the cooling fan circuit, cut open by a previous repair.
    check the wiring for damage and poor ground connections. The fan is
    controlled by
    an integrated controller. You may need a cooling fan motor.
    function of the fan is generating a stream of cool air that the system, a
    malfunction could lead to overheating, this is what generates a pro
    flight fatigue of materials or dilatation of materials.

    Fig. ...right front of firewall, on bracket


    can a bad thermostat cause a colloant leak or is a coolant leak
    primarily mean there is a hole somewhere in the radiator....


    A thermostat
    in bad condition, make it does is generate overheating, send wrong
    signals to the system and the fan will not start at the right time, when
    the temperature of the engine you need.
    failure generates overheating the seals and gaskets in the cooling
    system, very small leaks can occur that will eventually become more
    I suggest turning off the
    engine, and dry the entire cooling system (hoses, caps, thermostat housing, etc.).
    Use the
    vehicle for a moment and once you have acquired a high operating
    temperature, make a detailed inspection to determine where it would be
    starting the

    Keep in touch.

  • thomas langer May 25, 2010

    hello again!

    i found a good local mechanic who showed me where the leak is coming from in my radiator. he told me its best to replace the radiator and he quoted me a good price.

    im still worried about the fact that i havent heard the cooling fans running lately. could the cooling fans not running or being broken have caused the radiator to break or leak? could it be the opposite, could the leak have caused the cooling fans to short out?

    i havent heard them running at all lately.

    i guess ill ask the mechanic to check the cooling fans when he fixes the radiator.

    thank you so much,


  • ryan_hilaski Sep 15, 2012

    hello thomas- did you find out why the fans weren't running? I am having the same problem. No overheat, but the fans won't run and when I shut the egine off, coolant leaks from the radiator. Thanks!



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Posted on Jan 02, 2017


Jeffry Williamson

  • 5 Answers

SOURCE: 95 buick riviera supercharger

you can not put a regular 3800 intake in place of the 3800 super charged engine,the compression ratio is lower than the regular 3800 engine.......!

Posted on Feb 16, 2009


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SOURCE: water pump

Too complicated to explain a Chiltons Manual at Auto Zone or NAPA $25...not too bad of a job but you should have a thorough knowledge of tools.
Good Luck

Posted on Jun 22, 2009


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SOURCE: fuel filter

the fuel filter is located on drivers side underneath the car about six inches past where the door shuts

Posted on Nov 30, 2009

Ralph Johnson

  • 645 Answers

SOURCE: I need a diagram illustrating the location of the

I don't have a diagram of where the starter is located but's easy to find. It's located above the frame between the radiator and the engine block. its bolted to the engine block just above the frame. It has two bolts holding iit in place. You will need a 15mm socket and extension to remove the bolts. There is a 13 mm nut that holds the battery cable to the starter. Than there is a smaller wire that is held into place with an8mm nut. There is also a plastic cover that is attached to the transmission that can be removed with a 10mm socket. Infact you will have to remove this cover first before trying to remove the 15mm bolts. oh yeah make sure you jack the car up so you can see everything from underneath. use jack stands.

Posted on Feb 14, 2010



  • 3113 Answers

SOURCE: 1995 buick riviera engine

In A chilton repair manual at the library.

Posted on Jun 02, 2010

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