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Vortec Technology In GM Engines

The Vortec technology has been used in General Motors’ engines for quite some time.  Originating in January 1995, it is common in small-block V8 engines and is still in use today.  Although it has been around a while, nothing is perfect.  Some of the common problems with this technology include:

Active Fuel Management (AFM).  This is a feature that controls the cylinders to improve gas mileage.  GM says that activating the AFM will give you about a 10% improvement in gas mileage.  However, the consistent problem is that drivers report low oil pressure indicators because the oil consumption is higher than normal.  You are burning too much oil, and the light comes on.  That means you need to keep buying and adding oil or take it into a repair shop to find the source of the oil pressure drop.

Knock Sensor.  Under the Chevy 6.0 engine is the intake manifold, and under that is a sensor to determine if there are any unusual vibrations.  Most people call these engine knocks.  If the gas is burning unevenly, the cylinders fire out of sequence, causing the cylinder to shudder, and you hear a knocking sound.  There is also a check engine light that may activate.  It frequently happens if the engine is cold.

Engine knock is not something you want to leave unfixed.  Even if you don’t hear knocking but see that check engine light, you probably have a problem.  The knock sensor’s seal probably failed letting water get in that will cause the wires to corrode and then kill the sensor.  Left unrepaired, the car’s computer will start to adjust the timing even though the cylinders are not actually misfiring.  

If you get a check engine light but don’t hear any knocking, check the codes to see if the knock sensor is malfunctioning.  Since a mechanic will need to remove the manifold to get to it, this job is best left to a professional.

Exhaust Manifold.  This is the gadget that sends the air from the engine through the exhaust pipes.  Since it handles extremely high temperatures, gaskets and bolts can warp out of shape and cause a leak.

In the Vortec engine, the exhaust manifold bolts can break off.  As you can imagine, broken bolts are very difficult to remove.  You can tell if you have a problem with the exhaust manifold if you hear more noise at start up and more engine vibration.  If you have a large leak, usually from more than one broken bolt, you will need to have this repaired by having the bolts replaced or using a manifold clamp.

Water Pump.  As the vehicle ages, a water pump will probably need replacement.  The pump is subject to very high pressure and heat, and that in and of itself will cause the internal parts to wear out.  The pressure works on the gasket and will cause leaks.  

If you have the low engine coolant light coming on frequently, the engine overheats, or steam coming out of the radiator.  This is a part you will want to have examined for replacement.

If you have recently purchased a vehicle and almost immediately start to have problems, this may fall under the “Lemon Laws.”  In other words, the vehicle is simply bad from the beginning.  If you have concerns or questions, please feel free to contact our office.  We have extensive experience working with these types of cases and are here to help you make the situation right.