Piston Slap: The Centurion Loses Its (Dex) Cool

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Darwin S. writes:

I have a 1999 Buick Century that now needs constant water. It happens pretty slowly. I recently drained all the water and refilled with water and antifreeze. It doesn’t appear to be leaking anywhere. What’s happening? Thanks.

Sajeev answers:

There are three possible reasons for your Buick’s dehydration.

1. An external leak—which isn’t the problem here.

2. The coolant is pouring into your oil via busted gasket. If so, please accept my apologizes for not getting to your query sooner. Now’s the time to get a locally sourced “LKQ” replacement motor.

3. You’re burning coolant along with gasoline. White smoke from the tailpipe is your best indicator.

If your problem is behind door number three, it’s not the end of the world; new head gaskets are usually the solution. Do a compression test and pull your spark plugs to find the offending cylinder.

Depending on your Buick’s motor, the intake manifold gaskets might be the problem; this was the case with earlier versions of the GM 60-degree V6. Put another way: can Government Motors interest you in one of their new, 90-day-inventory Buick LaCrosse sedans? It’s better than the Century in every way, save for the stupid name.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

When seeking the answer to life’s unsolvable questions, always consult your spark plugs. They won’t know if you’ll land that great job, or when you’ll get laid (off), but checking your plug’s condition is like a fortune cookie for your motor.

For the tin-foil hat fans in all of us, checking platinum plugs before 100k miles is a good idea. Well, provided your whip doesn’t require an Act of Congress to remove them. In those cases, just change according to the owner’s manual and hope for the best.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Omnifan Omnifan on Jul 22, 2009

    Now’s the time to get a locally sourced “LKQ” replacement motor. NO! Beware of any used parts from LKQ. They don't test them well and won't stand behind warranty!

  • Ohsnapback Ohsnapback on Jul 23, 2009

    Dexcool; what an abomination. It'll eat your gaskets and digest much else.

  • MaintenanceCosts Why do you have to accept two fewer cylinders in your gas engine to get an electric motor? (This question also applies to the CX-90.)
  • Zipper69 Do they have unique technology that might interest another manufacturer?
  • Ger65690267 The reason for not keeping the Hemi is two fold, one is the emissions is too high, it would need a complete redesign to make it comply. The other is a need for a strong modern 6 cylinder within Stellantis portfolio of vehicles moving forward.They decided they rather invest in a I6 turbo which is designed to incorporate future electrification systems and not also updating their V8 engine. Unlike both GM & Ford, a brand constantly pushing smaller displacement turbo engines has decided to still keep V8s in their truck line up, because they know it's important to their core customers.GM has invested billions for their next gen small block V8s and Ford has already updated their 5.0L V8. However, Dodge and RAM which is a brand built on the Hemi name and having a V8 has decided to drop it. I think it's clearly a strategic misstep for RAM not to do the same for their trucks, Chargers/Challengers going forward.Stellantis relies heavily on the profits from their NA operations, I think they may not fully understood how important the Hemi was in their 1500 class trucks. On a side note, no one in the media seems to be noting that while the Hurricane S.O. puts out more hp/torque to the outgoing Hemi, that for some reason has lost both towing and payload capability.  
  • Ajla I'm going to whine about it. It should have a V8 available. Preferably a new one but at least offering the old one as a mid-level option. That this brand new engine outperforms something introduced 2003 and last updated in 2009 doesn't impress me. Also, journalists seem to be unaware that it is possible to add forced induction to a V8.
  • Calrson Fan I'll say it again, terrible business model doomed to fail. If your gonna build an EV PU the only market that makes sense to go after is fleets. How many other BEV companies are making money pushing only truck type vehicles?