Piston Slap: The Full Monte, Revisited

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC commentator SonWon writes:

Hi Sajeev, this is part two of my Monte Carlo saga discussed in an older Piston Slap. I finally had the transmission codes read on my Monte Carlo. Just to remind everyone it is a 2000 with 196,000 miles, engine is a V6 3800, series 2. The transmission lost overdrive. It shifts fine through first, second, and third. The transmission shop said there are no codes and it must be a mechanical failure. They also said it could last a long time or fail very soon. So far there no strange noises except a small faint whine at 70 MPH. So I am actually asking about the engine codes. P0128, coolant thermostat (I know how to fix this); P0440, evap emissions system fault; P0463, fuel level sensor (i can live with this); P0481, fan control 2/3 circuit; P1115, ECT circuit intermittent voltage high. So there is my list: what to fix? Oh, I should add the car runs okay.

Sajeev replies:

Nice to hear the Monte is still running after almost five months of use! I kinda thought it’d be recycled into Wal-Mart grade cookware by now.

Now to your stored engine codes, and something I thought I’d never say: don’t touch a damn thing. But that’s if you the state’s emissions test, the car runs safely (no overheating, etc) and the MPGs are reasonable for the car’s rather precarious (i.e. high miles, no overdrive gear) mechanical condition. If the car fails inspection, fixing the codes relating to your evaporative emissions and coolant temperature are the first place to look. Judging by a quick Google search, there’s a remote chance that replacing the thermostat will take out more than one of these codes.

Drive this car into the ground and save your money. Or perhaps piss it away when you pity your dead Monte Carlo and want to bring it back to life. Either way, enjoy the good times while you can.

[Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Oct 10, 2009

    Welcome to the world on the other end of the odometer! This is where the clean fingernail reliability "experts" get weeded out. I would suggest ignoring the evap issues if it is a problem beyond the cap. Checking for these kind of leaks may be difficult and time consuming. You don't want to pay an pro $100 an hour to chase leaks. However, there are a few areas in these systems that are typically the weak links and you can try to address them if you are inclined to have a zero code ECU. Signing up for ALLDATADIY is very helpful. If you have a state inspection that requires the light to be off, fill the tank completely and reset the computer, then go to the testing center. Evaporative leakdown tests do not run under full tank conditions. Of course, the car needs to know the tank is full, something that your car can't tell at the moment with the fuel sensor issue. Fix the coolant temperature related issues. Without proper temperature readings, the ECM is no doubt substituting default values for real data. That kills mileage, performance, and raises the chance for an emissions related failure. Autojuunkie's post on the coolant issue is correct. You should be able to get the car running at the right temperature yourself for a small amount of money and some time. It is worth the fix because this drivetrain will outlast the body of the car. 3800's are today's slant six (well, mostly). No disrespect meant to Autojunkie on the transmission advice, but if you have not changed the trans fluid in years, don't start now. The clean fluid may cause slippage to start in high mileage transmissions. How important that OD fourth gear is depends on your driving. If you are a short tripper, don't worry about it. However, if you spend 50% of your time on the highway commuting 50 miles a day, the higher RPM's will kill your economy. Good luck! There's no reason to abandon this car if you can fix it for small money and the body is good.

  • Bubba Gump Bubba Gump on Oct 10, 2009

    yes you need to fix the fan and ECT issues. If the thing is on the edge of overheating becaust the fans are not working properly the transmission shift schedules will be screwed. Not to mention the transmission is probably being cooked because the transmission cooler is in the radiator.