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Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

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Old 07-24-2006, 08:52 PM   #1
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Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

My 4.3 S10 is leaking coolant. I cant seem to find an answer to some questions. How many freeze plugs are there and where are the locations. According to research, on the passenger side theres one behind the motor mount and one by the starter. Im pretty sure its leaking by the starter. Is this plug accessable if i remove the starter? Some also said they removed the exhaust manifold, is this neccessary? If i have to change one i would like to change them all, but i really dont feel like pulling the motor out or anything like that. Right now i just really need to stop the current leak. If anyone has any advice or tips they could share i would really appreciate it.
Old 07-24-2006, 09:16 PM   #2
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

mine went on my 95 4.3 and yes if u remove the starter you can just get to it. but i warn you now if one is leaking then more then likely there all going to start to go slowly. i had to pull my engine and change them all cause the one at the back of the engine start seaping.
Old 07-24-2006, 10:14 PM   #3
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

I changed out the one up & behind the starter. The starter
HAS to come out. Replace with brass plug. Mine was a
bitch, but I was able to get it done in a few hrs.
Old 07-24-2006, 10:21 PM   #4
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

There are 8 ea. (2 on each side) freeze plugs. You will have to pull the motor to change them all. The trick is to roll them out, this will keep you from losing them inside the water jacket. I've been removing freeze plugs for a few years and it's hard to explain in words. But I'll try.
First you need a small rounded chisel. Tap a few times in the inside edge till you can see the inside surface of the freeze plug hole then start at the outer lip of the freeze plug. Keep tapping at a sharp angle and it should roll out. Be sure not to strike the outside cylinder wall or gouge the feeze plug hole.
If you do knock one inside a pen magnet and a pair of channel locks will work. If you have brass freeze plugs they will not a bent piece of coat hanger or baling wire can be used.
Installation can be done with a freeze plug installer and some sealant.

Hope this helps.
Old 07-25-2006, 02:30 PM   #5
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

One trick I learned from working on metal rigs and gears, is to take the freeze plugs and stick them in the freezer for a night, this shrinks them just enough to make the installation a lot easier. Just getting to the plugs on a 4.3 is painful enough.
Old 07-25-2006, 08:41 PM   #6
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

THe real trick is...Pay some one else to do it!
Old 07-26-2006, 08:18 AM   #7
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Quote: Originally Posted by MadMikeZ28
THe real trick is...Pay some one else to do it!
Only if your rich as hell or a f'ing lazy ass!
Old 07-26-2006, 10:14 PM   #8
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Quote: Originally Posted by koebbe14
Only if your rich as hell or a f'ing lazy ass!
Well I am niether. But some times if you dont know what you are doing it could end up costing you more money and aggrivation.
Old 07-26-2006, 10:51 PM   #9
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Quote: Originally Posted by koebbe14
Only if your rich as hell or a f'ing lazy ass!
I just use my alldata to run a quick estimate.
Keep in mind it is for a 97 Astro van. Little more involved.
All 8 plugs with removal of interferance parts (starter,flex plate,mounts,accesory brakets) $1152.00
The 4 on both sides (mounts and starter) $312
I figured this with an $80hr labor rate.
How much is it worth to you if you do not have the expirience and proper tools. Wait till you smash your fingers and they are so bloody you can not hold the plugs in place and you need to get your truck towed to the shop.
Old 07-28-2006, 11:46 AM   #10
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Well I fix the problem yesterday. It wasnt the freeze plug behind the starter, it was actually the one behind the motor mount. I removed the starter, removed the bolts that hold the upper motor mount to the lower mount off of both sides. Then i used a piece of a board to cover the head of a hydralic jack and carefully lifted the motor using the oil pan. With the motor lifted, it gave me enough room to get to the three bolts that hold the mount to the engine block. With the upper mount off i decided to go ahead and take the mount off the frame to give me more room to work with. To get the leaky freeze plug out, i ended up punching a hole in it, and then knocking it into the block. Then i used a screwdriver and the hole in the plug to pop it back out. No auto parts store around me had brass freeze plugs, so i had to buy another steel plug. I took some fine sand paper and cleaned the edge of the hole where the freeze plug goes. It was a real pain in the ass to try and install the new plug, considering theres only about four inchs to work with and the plug goes in at an angle. The way i finally got it in was to smear a little grease on the hole and the plug. I found a socket that fits into the cup part of the plug and used a big ass crow bar inside the socket to beat the holy hell out of it. It takes a lot of time to get the freeze plug back in, so be patient and keep beating the sh!t out of it.
Thanks to anyone who gave advice
Old 07-28-2006, 11:46 AM   #11
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

edit

Last edited by koebbe14; 07-28-2006 at 11:47 AM.
Old 07-28-2006, 02:21 PM   #12
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

You may end having to do it again. Grease is the last
thing you'd want on the surface of the plug and block
area. In fact I used Permatex aviation sealer on both
edges. I hope it stays for you. I looked at it when I
replaced the mounts on my ride.

Looks like loads of fun..

Last edited by bg's; 07-28-2006 at 02:22 PM.
Old 07-28-2006, 05:36 PM   #13
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Quote: Originally Posted by koebbe14
No auto parts store around me had brass freeze plugs, so i had to buy another steel plug.
You shoulda called man. When I got all the plugs and the cases from an auto parts store that was discontinuing stocking them. Brass, steel ,pipe plugs, many sizes.
Old 07-29-2006, 01:56 PM   #14
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

BDepending on how bad its leeking gm makes some radaitor selent tabs that work relly badass.
Old 07-29-2006, 06:18 PM   #15
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Quote: Originally Posted by bg's
You may end having to do it again. Grease is the last
thing you'd want on the surface of the plug and block
area. In fact I used Permatex aviation sealer on both
edges. I hope it stays for you. I looked at it when I
replaced the mounts on my ride.

Looks like loads of fun..
I didnt use a big a$$ glob of grease, just enough to put a film around the hole and the plug itself. When i bought the plug i asked the guy who sold it to me if i needed a sealer or anything, and he said no. Actually he told me to smear a little oil around it to help knock it in. Its been two days and no signs of a leak. I really dont think a little grease would hurt as tight as those plugs fit. The only thing would be for the steel plug to rust out
Old 04-13-2007, 11:09 PM   #16
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

I got a 97 s10 4.3 with the same issues, can anyone give me more on how to take them out, I got one bad leak on one above starter and onother small on driver side behind exhaust?
Old 04-13-2007, 11:36 PM   #17
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Welcome to the forum. Yea you have to pull the stater for the one above it.
I really had a hell of time with mine, but I've been told if you hit the old plug
at one of the edges that are easiest to get to with a pointed chisel and hammer,
the other end of the plug with "swivel" out and then you can pull it out.

This didn't happen for me. I had to take mine out in pc's. Lots of fun. The
only way I was able to get a new one back in was to use some sealer on
the edge, then use a num of socket extensions with a socket on one end
that fit the plug pretty close and snake these over the frame to a place
where I could knock the extensions with a hammer. It took a long time to
get it in straight, but finally I guess it decided I'd stressed out enough,
and just kind of popped into place.

I don't know about the other ones, but the one at the starter was good
enough for a couple hrs of headache.
Old 04-14-2007, 02:07 AM   #18
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

I'd use one of theose rubber expandable repair plugs they sell for these situations. They work pretty good and the only sane way to install a frost plug with the engine still in

I'd do that til you have time to pull the block and replace them all.

Grease is not going to do anything to your install. The pressure fit is way more than enough... if you got it in there correctly and it comes out on you, you have much bigger problems to worry about... Like the firemen getting those jaws of life out before you burn in the fiery head on collision that cause your block to spit out that properly installed freeze plug



Better plan on doing them all sometime soon. Its true, if one rusted through, the others are right behind it. I once replaced one that was rusty. I tested some others while I was at it and I could push a screw driver right through 3 others with no force at all.


You could also get a block heater to put in there... Might as well... They are cheap ($15) and install much easier than the plugs. Come in rreal handy in the winters...
Old 04-14-2007, 04:48 PM   #19
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Quote: Originally Posted by CaptiveBred


You could also get a block heater to put in there... Might as well... They are cheap ($15) and install much easier than the plugs. Come in rreal handy in the winters...
got a link for said item?










heres a pic of them with the motor pulled.





Last edited by NotaDime; 04-14-2007 at 04:55 PM.
Old 04-14-2007, 08:37 PM   #20
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

Here is a link that has a pic. I don't know which block this particular heater fits. There are different sizes.

I selected this one cause it was the only one with a pic on partsamerica.com

Zip Code Entry at PartsAmerica.com
Old 04-15-2007, 02:54 PM   #21
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

thank you.
Old 02-12-2011, 05:20 PM   #22
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

I just found my slow coolant leak on my 95 S10 SS 4.3 (W), it is under the driver side motor mount. Now I have replaced the mount before and it was not too bad compared to the passenger side (don't want to repeat that one).
The leak is about worth a 1/2 cup of radiator fluid every other week. It has been this way for a year or so but I never found the origin until today.

I read the previous posts and I see that the job can be done, but "Generic0" mentioned some "badass" radiator sealant that GM makes. Since I just turned 282K I may have to replace more or do major work sooner or later so maybe the sealant is good enough for now.

Anyone actually used it and can comment?

There are no other leaks of any kind anywhere on it, BTW.
Old 02-12-2011, 09:46 PM   #23
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Re: Any advice or tips on changing freeze plug?

i know this is an old thread, but in case anybody reads it,
and is tempted to do what the OP did and put grease on
the plug and/or block to help it slip in better, DONT...

the plug is 1 5/8" in diameter, which gives it just over
2 square inches in surface area. whith the lowest
possible coolant pressure it can be expeted to see with a
properly functioning radiator cap is 15 PSI, which means
that just over 30 pounds of force is being applied to the
backside of the plug, minimum...
rev up the engine against a closed thermostat, and you
can easily exceed 20 PSI of coolant pressure inside the
engine block.
which means there is now more than 40 lbs. of force applied
against the plug, which was lubricated for ease of installation...

i dont think i have to explain what the potential end result
might end up being here....

if you use anything to "lubricate" it for installation, use silicone
sealant. it will help ease with tapping into place, and once cured,
it not only helps to seal it, but also helps to glue it into place.

if its a steel plug, applying a thin coat of sealant to entire backside
of the plug could help protect it from corrosion.

and just to clear up one other thing:
1995 and older blocks had a total of 8 freeze plugs,
1996 and newer blocks have only 4 total...
the '96 model block design changes eliminated the 2 plugs
on the rear face, and the 2 on the front face of the block.
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