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Discussion Starter #1
Im going to take off my oil pan for the first time this weekend to check out how things look. Ive had an ongoing problem with oil seeming like its not draining down into the pan properly/fast enough and it makes my dipstick show no oil despite there being at least 5 quarts in there...even after letting my car sit for a long time on a level surface.

Aside from cleaning out any sludge that may be in there and making sure the pump/filter isnt blocked, is there anything else I can do? Would galley brushes come in handy to maybe unblock passages, or would that possible push a clog further in and cause more trouble?
 

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I don't know if GM techs use this method, but Im gonna tell you how Honda techs do it. It may work, but def ask to speak to a local GM tech before actually doing this.

Drain all oil from the drain plug first, remove oil pan and gasket. Remove spark plugs and Coil on plugs. Remove valve cover and valve cover gasket. Now here is where its tricky, there are 3 ways I have seen it done. Honda puts ATF +4 transmission oil on top of valve train, sits there for 24 hours (ATF +4 is also a high detergent, breaking down oil sludge and deposits). Make sure you also have a 10 gallon bucket to catch the trans oil. Flush it down with new oil. Run car for 15 minutes while maintaining RPM's @ 1200-1400. Drain oil with new oil and filter.

That's Honda's way of cleaning out sludge, Nissans is same method, but with Ethos Oil (unless you have a VQ37HR engine which requires Ethos Oil). Ask someone who has done this at a Chevy Dealer first before any attempts.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think Id be a bit paranoid doing that, but I may be looking for something drastic that doesnt involve a complete tear down of the engine if there is a lot of sludge in the oil pan and if the galleys do seem to be plugged.

Im not leaking oil at all and dont ever see any smoke, but I still wonder if Im burning oil. My engine bay smells a bit different these days.
 

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Paranoid? I can understand that a bit. It sounds crazy, but ATF+4 has detergents that will work better than any Autozone engine cleaning kit you can buy for internals. It produces a crazy glob and falls down by gravity. Like I said before, Honda techs including performance engine tuners (not ricers, but NHRA Pro FWD techs) use that stuff. Its not only a great detergent, but also one of the best hand lotions around :)
 

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Gravity will allow for it to fall through. There is always a risk no matter what you do to a car.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

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God! Seafoam is the worst Band-Aid ever sold. Its talked about all the time, but its only a temp fix and will come back after time. Best engine cleaning kit I have seen is that GM valvetrain cleaner, it costs only $35 and is a one time deal fix. It will not clean any oil clumps in your lower block, but does wonders for gritted valvetrain, smells like the dickens and you have to run your car at 1200rpms for 10 minutes, then flush your oil with new oil and tada!

Saw that forum link you posted. Yes, its an old backyard trick and still contains more detergents than any bottom end cleaning kit available. The forum is referring to just ATF, now ATF+4 has 30% more detergents and chemical lubrications added as well. You also have to look at forums, not everything is fact nor proven. Its based upon their words, but good advice to follow if they know what their talking about :)

I have used ATF+4 on 90s Acura Integra blocks and work flawlessly, that forum says newer engine blocks blah,blah,blah...they still use cast iron blocks and aluminum heads today, so technology has not changed in the basic function of the engine. The only thing different from what they were saying is that today's engines have more sensors and electrical monitors than 60 years ago.

I would not suggest going the ATF way, but if you have tried everything else, it would not hurt it. I would first try to remove the oil clumps physically to what you can reach and use the power of gravity to get it out. For the ones not visible and hard to get to. Try using some of that GM engine cleaning kit mentioned above.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Im going to pick up everything today so I can get it done this weekend. Im thinking of taking care of a few things while at it:

-Use a top end cleaner like the GM kit. Ill have to see whats available around here.
-Remove spark plugs and related parts. Im going to replace the spark plugs after done with the oil.
-drain oil. drop oil pan
-inspect for sludge, aluminum debris, etc. Remove as much as I can, close things back up with new silicone unless running atf+4 through it. Ill leave the pan dropped until time for oil flush if I use the atf+4.
-Run a cheaper oil through the system to flush things out. Maybe add a little MMO or something...Ive seen people recommend using a slightly higher viscosity if adding something like MMO, but thats one of those things Im always doubtful of.
-Drain oil and replace it with higher quality oil and replace filter. Probably drop the pan again to clean out any new sludge and such before refilling.

Should I replace the filter while running the cheaper oil and flushing things out or just leave the older one?

How long should I run the cheap oil to flush things out? For a few min, hours, or many miles?
 

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Get a replacement oil fill tube while you're at it. Mine was seized in so tight it broke off in the pan. I don't know about hydraulic tensioners but I know older mechanics swear by putting a liter of atf in with an oil change and running it for 1000km then draining it. I've seen it help boost oil pressure after only running for an hour in a Silverado.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So I did what I could over the weekend. Ran the top end GM cleaner, drained my old oil, put in some cheap stuff with a gunk flush type stuff in it, ran that for a little while, then drained again and dropped the oil pan.

The oil was very dirty both times I drained it, and there is some build up on the pan and bottom end of the engine, but overall there was pretty much no sludge or anything serious looking considering the engine is at about 110,000 miles.

Im running my usual mobil one now with a little marvel mystery oil in it, not even the full recommended amount, and things are definitely running smoother. I also changed the spark plugs when done with everything else. They seem to be getting burnt up rather quickly, so I think thats the next thing Im looking into.

I cleaned the pan and bottom end a little before putting things back together, heres what they looked like while dirty.






Only bad thing about this is it didnt really show me why Ive been having the problems I have. Guess my detective work continues on...
 
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