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Chevrolet Malibu 2016 LT
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Gentlemen, today I'm going to write up my experience on this journey of fixing what I expected to be a simple "head gasket replacement" on my '16 LT. What ensued going ahead was only stress and I had to be patient in this learning process. Earlier, I posted the updates on this thread between posts #29-#32. Now I've decided to instead publish an independent thread.

Problem? I've had engine oil leaking from the head gasket area which started in October 2019. Around the same time, I was transferred to London whilst my car and family were in Dubai. I went back for 7 weeks between March-May 2022 and decided to utilize this time to patch up my joy and pride. Turns out, that it would take me 5-10 days for the Head Gasket Kit [12687225] to arrive. I pulled the trigger and prepared the car at an independent shop nearby, explained to them the issue and agreed on the labour for the job. When the time came around for the work to be done, I was advised since they're going to have the head block out; might as well do some preventative maintenance! Won't hurt right? I went ahead and ordered the following as advised:


  • Crankshaft Front Oil Seal [12661527]
  • Water Pump and A/C Compressor Belt [12658091]
  • Tensioner Timing Chain Gasket [12636523]
  • Thermal Bypass Gasket [12635750]
  • Engine Mounting [84034329]
  • Vapor Canister Purge Valve [12632174]
  • Oil Drain Plug [55577568]
Since I received the head gasket kit, I asked them to do the entire overhaul instead of just the head gasket. They completed the job along with the additional items that I have mentioned above and handed me the vehicle. I test drove it very slowly at that time, everything appeared fine on the surface and there were no leaks upon further inspection. I was satisfied, I went home and left it parked for 2 days. A family emergency required me to be somewhere urgently on the third day, so I got into the car after using the remote start on the keyfob to warm it up and went on my way. The drive included speeding up to 110mph and harsh acceleration, but I started to feel there was much more turbo lag than I felt usually. The car simply was not accelerating per satisfaction. When I finally got to tend to the family affair, a couple of hours later on my way back home whilst driving in the same manner as earlier, I hear a loud bang noise from my engine bay and CEL flashing on my dashboard. From previous knowledge, I knew this had to be an engine misfire/fuel-related matter so I immediately pulled over with whatever power the car was pushing and got it towed to the workshop that I had contracted earlier. At this point, I notice that there was a lot of blowby when I opened the oil filler cap and dipstick, the kind that you see on this YouTube video, I was flabbergasted by this. Furthermore the engine was shaking violently, I turned off the car but the engine and the radiator fan remained on for quite some time. My dashboard was lit up like a Christmas Tree, I got messages such as "Reduced Engine Power' and "Service Stabilitrak". Apart from the above, the exhaust was running rough and smoke was visible.

After reading extensively on this forum and other boards, I was deeply upset that perhaps all this work has gone to waste. At this point, I was two weeks away from flying back to London. I immediately parked up the vehicle in my garage and with the help of a friend, disassembled the head block. Turns out, the mechanic did a shoddy job and had applied Silicon RTV in places he wasn't supposed to, I found that my turbo line was clogged with silicon and he sealed the head block area with the same. What rubbish! Apart from this, the mechanic had added BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner without my consent and charged me 60% extra for this product. I did not pay for it.

Codes that appeared: P00C7, P0301 [Cyl 1 Misfire], P0351 [Ignition Coil 'A' Primary/Secondary Circuit], P1101, P2227 [Barometric Pressure Circuit Range/Performance], P2229 [Barometric Pressure Circuit High], P0300 [Random/Multiple Cylinder Misfire Detected].

I had ordered Piston Rings x4 [12682502] which was on back order ~ and expected to arrive in 2 weeks. I simply did not have that much time, using an OBD2 reader that pointed out that the barometer pressure is high; I suppose the Turbo Boost Sensor [12650598] might have gone bad? I also ordered that. Furthermore, there appeared to be compression loss on Cylinders 1 and 2, I sprayed in some fuel and could see it leaking between the head/exhaust valves. At this point, I had the head block taken to a friend's machine shop. During the process, he also informed me that the Valve Stem Seals [12664250] were bad and demonstrated it to me for my understanding. It was falling into the guide quickly and smoothly, after replacing the stem seals, it took an effort to go in and a "pop" sound was observed when it was in place.


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After he had done the job on the block, I took it back praying that I had fixed the relevant issues. Whilst installing it, I had forgotten that I actually had ordered a thermostat so whilst installing it I had it replaced. You can distinguish from the picture which one is older than the newer. After everything was fixed, plugged in my OBD2 reader -> deleted all the CEL codes -> took the car out for a drive. After a whilst, CEL started flashing and I immediately got P0301 Cylinder 1 Misfire code. Luckily my old man keeps stock of miscellaneous car stuff, one of which was a set of spark plugs for my car. I quickly chucked it in, Nope! Didn't resolve the issue. At this point, I was two days away from my flight and had given up on my car. My mate on the other hand closely inspected the plugs, coils and injectors and notified me that the injectors look funny. Turns out, the independent shop which carried out the head gasket job broke my injector seals. I have pictures from when they had taken the head block assembly out, everything was perfect. For some reason they tried taking it out albeit they had no reason or work to touch that area, I tried getting injector seals but turns out no one has it in stock and they don't sell the seals only if I order online. It comes as a whole along with the Fuel Injector [55577403]. I headed towards the Hydraulics shop, the usually manufactures seals, albeit it was difficult to gauge the outer and inner diameter with broken pieces; they were able to get it custom-made for me. Furthermore... I tested the fuel rail and Cylinder 1 line had no pressure. The seal broke and the debris was clogged up the rail as well as the fuel injector. Another problem occurred whilst all of this was taking place, I started getting Codes: P0340 [Intake Camshaft Position Sensor Circuit], P0011 [Intake Camshaft Position System Performance], P0014 [Exhaust Camshaft Position System Performance], P0016 [Crankshaft Position Intake Camshaft Position Not Plausible] errors so I went ahead and ordered Intake Camshaft Solenoid [12636524]. Yikes! Holding my head, I quickly pulled up live feed data and the sensor seemed to be stuck at 33 Degrees. I swapped it out with the exhaust sensor just to check if it was the sensor only. My suspicion was confirmed, the sensor seems to have been shot. At this point, I had twenty-four hours to go before my flight. My mum jokingly suggested if I had given this much time to my fiance as I did to my car, I'd be a much happier man. Wise words, the stress was killing me but I'm not one to let go of this challenge. I ordered the Fuel Injector and Camshaft Solenoid on FedEx Overnight. It finally arrived, once I plugged everything in and reset the code. Ah! The car works perfectly, no more blowby, no more sluggish pulls, no pending error codes. I had already replaced the engine coolant (twice) and engine oil. I drove hard for two hours and went back to change the engine oil once more before finally handing over the reins to my younger brother to enjoy my hard work.

I took a few more pictures including details of my error code, but honestly, I was swamped with work since I got back and hadn't gotten to writing this post until today. If I find the other pictures, I'll post them here. This post is to arm everyone with the experience I had to go through to get my car in mint condition. My dad confirms even today, the vehicle is working absolutely fine. Another thing! Whilst I had all the bolts removed, I took this opportunity to clean in them up with wire brush and HCl 32% Acid, after that I performed Zinc Coating as per ASTM B633 Type ii. To be clear, the Piston Rings were on back-order and never made it on time; I have done everything else apart from the rings praying that it won't be an issue. According to the compression test, everything is solid!

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Let me know what you all think of this, and should I have done any other maintenance work whilst I was at it.


Thanks for reading. :)
 
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