• May 23, 2006

The bright orange Dexcool coolant used in many General Motors vehicles over the past decade promised to bring extended maintenance - 5 years or 150,000 miles - to cooling systems, but many owners instead found themselves with vehicles that required system flushes, gasket replacement, and even new radiators and heater cores just outside of the vehicle's warranty period. The blame for the problem depends on who you talk to, and the causes include the "stop-leak" pellets added at the factory, contamination with air from system leaks (Dexcool can quickly degrade when exposed to excess oxygen), and improper service that involved added non-Dexcool coolant or tap water to the cooling system.

Whatever the cause of the problem, several lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court by owners who, in many cases, are justified in their anger over the lack of performance by this coolant. A ruling may soon be forthcoming from a judge in East St. Louis, IL, that would result in a set of consolidated suits gaining class-action status - a move that would open up the lawsuits to involve potentially millions of GM customers. For its part, the automaker says that the recommend service interval in the owner's manual is exactly that - a recommendation, and not a warranty guarantee.

For what it's worth, the Autoblog staff has found that Dexcool works just fine in a cooling system that is free of contaminants and leaks, but indeed the stuff will turn into a gooey mess if mixed with anything but distilled water or if exposed to air. Also, those drivers who do not get their vehicles up to normal operating temperatures every trip may want to consider an accelerated coolant maintenance schedule.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      "For its part, the automaker says that the recommend service interval in the owner's manual is exactly that - a recommendation, and not a warranty guarantee."

      Also of note is in the owners manual it explicitly says:

      "Damage caused by failure to follow
      the recommended Maintenance
      Schedule intervals and/or failure to use
      or maintain fluids, fuel, lubricants, or
      refrigerants recommended in the
      owner’s manual is not covered."

      AND

      "Considering the investment you have made in your
      Pontiac, we know you will want to operate and maintain
      it properly. We urge you to follow the maintenance
      instructions contained in your owner’s manual or
      maintenance publication."

      So lets sum it up....

      We urge you to follow the maintenance instructions contained in your owner’s manual....failure to follow
      the recommended Maintenance Schedule intervals...will void your warranty....even if you follow the maintenance schedule we do not guaruntee anything..

      Did I sum it up correctly????
      • 8 Years Ago
      I wonder how many mechanics and how many vehicle owners were aware of how easily they could "contaminate" this coolant...doing things that any other brand of coolant allows them to do?
      GM has a long history of "rewriting the book" when it comes to engineering, and it ALWAYS comes back to bite them in the butt.
      I guess when you are the biggest, you get to change the rules, no matter how well they worked for everyone else in the past. Liner-less aluminum blocks for engines? We can do that, and who really needs to be able to rebuild/rebore an engine block, anyway? New and improved gaskets? Sure, we'll take a couple of truck loads.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The pellets are basically a gimmic
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just more proof, if any more were needed, that GM is so outside the loop that nothing will save them.

      Every time I look, GM shoots itself with something else. The corporate culture of that organization must be absolutely incredible (and not in a good way) for so much bad stuff to come out of it.

      The sooner GM does an "MG Rover" and declares Chapter 7 bankruptcy (i.e. closes it doors never to trouble innocent car buyers with their absolute crap) the better the average car buyer will be.

      GM is just beyond a joke at this point.

      Don't forget about the infamous "V8 piston slap" issue that GM has also had. The dang things sound like a diesel, yet aren't. Awful. GM refuse to fix them, too.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #12

      "A few things that cause problems with this coolant:"


      -Yeah, it was invented.

      C'mon, did GM think that this would not happen at service stations? GM made this to get back at their customers who go to service stations and not the dealer. I know, dramatic, but it's funny to look at it this way.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "15. Dex Cool was brought out for the environment."

      -Apparently that is not working out very well, when you factor in all of the repairs that have to be made.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would also to tell you folks about the problems with my 2002 Monte Carlo, 3.4., 60K-65K miles. I had several repairs in the last year, including intake manifold gasket replacement, system radiator flush (prior to gasket replacement) thermostat replacement, air conditioner not cooling properly, high temp during idle, loss of antifreeze, etc etc. I had the cat converter replaced but not with out a battle i.e getting the service tech bulletin which they would not provide.. It seems the GM normally won't tell the complete truth when asked (we all know they know maintenance history) Plus many electrical problems Thanks god I had purchased an extended warranty. still believe GM should pay for the repairs since they insist on their worthless dex cool antifreeze
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dex Cool has cost me over $3000.00 in repairs, the seam around my head gasket has gone out 2 times and now my engine is shot on at 2001 Chevy Malibu. How can a car manufacturer keep asking customers to use this antifreeze. Totally in debt and have to look for a new car.
      I wish someone would have told me sooner that there were major problems rather than just letting it go on.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just acquired a '99 Buick 3.1 with 27000 miles on it. Had to replace intake manifold gasket. $400 was cost, with my Mechanic stating this has been a problem with this engine. He has replaced many a gasket in this type engine. There has been a new type gasket (metal over that of the original plastic---hard to believe plastic) recently made. So hopefully that will solve the problem. As my mechanic stated, it probably is not the coolant that is the problem, but the poorly designed gasket had been the problem.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "If you take a car to a hack mechanic who does not know the basics of this coolant you are getting what you paid for lousy service."

      -Insert GM owners manual here. The 100,000mi coolant*

      *Please change at 50,000mi. LOL
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Detroit Free Press published an article entitled "Ruling is near on GM engine coolant" on the front page of the May 23, 2006 issue. I went to my Buick dealer with the article and the bill I paid them last November, 2005 to replace the Intake Gasket ($373.25) on my 2000 LeSabre with 67,183 miles. The dealer service manager and GM zone rep. said there was nothing wrong with Dex Cool and that the newspapers should not publish mis-information. I wanted it removed from my car and compensation, which they would not do. So, I went to my local mechanic who said they have had a large number of intake gasket replacements and recommended another extended life antifreeze (5463). I paid $140 to have the radiator flushed and replaced with 5463. The mechanic that did the work said it was well known among their customers that GM is selling undependable products and the people will no longer buy GM cars. Maybe this is why the market penetration goes down each month. Apparently, GM management does not care about product quality, only about cost. They let the lawyers pay out a few dollars on class action suits while they sell replacement parts to customers at a large profit. For example, I paid $1,326.31 on 6 repair jobs for calipers on my 1993 Regal only to receive $104.50 settlement on the 2000 GM brake repair litigation. There were 250,000 qualified claims that received a 12% settlement on average. Is it any wonder why people buy Toyota and Honda for reliability?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Someone said the Toyota engined Vibe's coolant was the "green" type. Since 2004 it's a pink Toyota extended type, 5 year 100k rated. NOT ORANGE Dexcool. I used Dexcool in my last car for the 7 years....no problems except something not related to Dexcool. The car had no cooling leaks. I changed it @5 years ...came out clean. Guess I was lucky? There are other long life coolants out there. Which one(s) is(are) truly safe???
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