'95 3.4 rebuild/replace question
Hi Gang...I have a '95 convertible with an auto/3.4. I'll try to make this brief and to the point. I bought the car on EBay from an online dealer in AZ. This summer I discovered a leaky frost plug above the oil filter. I tried to replace it, but it wouldn't budge, so I took it to a local mechanic and had them do it. Within this same time frame, the heater began to perform badly, so I suspected the thermostat. I took it back to the same mechanic and asked him to replace the thermostat, and clean out the EGR passage at the same time, as I was having issues with that as well. He ended up doing all that plus replacing the water pump, pressure flushing the cooling system, and replacing another frost plug at the front of the engine. He said that it had a lot of rust build-up, probably due to poor care of the cooling system by previous owners. As I was driving it home, I could smell antifreeze burning, so I went back and we found another frost plug leaking, the one behind the right exhaust header. He said there were more behind the tranny and that either the tranny or the engine had to be pulled to fix those if they ever went. Based on the others that were leaking because of rust, I could expect these to leak sooner rather than later. I also suspect the heater core is still partially plugged as the heater is just lukewarm. So here are my options as I see it and I would love your input...I am not a mechanic so I don't have have more than just a rudimentary set of tools, skills and knowledge.
Option #1. Pull the tranny and fix the back frost plugs...cost around $500, defer the rebuild until it actually needs it.
Option #2. Pull the engine and have it rebuilt...quoted around $2500
Option #3. Buy and install a rebuilt 3.8...cost unknown but mechanic figured about the same as option 2 or up to $500 higher. I did find an outfit in Mission KS that sells rebuilt 3.8's for around $1750.
The mechanic I'm dealing with on these options is a Corvette shop here in town and he has his own machine shop, so he's not farming all the head work etc. out Seems to have a good rep and when we talk, seems to have a good working knowledge of GM engines. He says that the 3.8 is a superior engine to the 3.4, but maybe not enough to warrant all the extra headaches of finding a rebuilt 3.8, an ECM and wiring harness for it, and dealing with the old block. I'm assuming there would be a core charge involved with the 3.8. The existing engine has 140,000 miles on it, doesn't use oil, knock, and seems to run good and smooth. Mechanic says those facts would point to a less expensive rebuild. I also realize that I'll have to pull the heater core and replace it, but that I can do myself I hope. I am 60 and my wife and I have this car for fun and vacations, not for any kind of speed performance. So dependability and good fuel mileage are the keys here. We also want to spend the least amount of money possible and get the most bang for the buck. It should also be noted that we want to keep the car. In fact, before I typed the previous sentence, we discussed it again and agreed that we want to keep it. So what say you, guys and gals. What makes the most sense to you? Please weigh in with your thoughts, tips, experiences, and suggestions. We will greatly appreciate them.