3800 Engine Replacement Bottom Drop

I dropped down the front K-Frame of my 97 Camaro RS to replace the 3.8 V6 motor. This job is not for an amateur, I have 7 years experience wrenching and still found some parts of this swap challenging. I have included some pictures for certain things.

Before starting this job. Spray up all bolts with penetrating oil and let them soak for a day or two! If your from a rusty/salty area, this will help you greatly and reduce the risk of breaking bolts!

To start off, I did some very basic things while the car was still on the ground: Disconnected and removed battery, Drained coolant, removed the alternator (had to swap them anyway), Removed the air induction system

I also relieved the fuel system pressure through the schroeder valve and disconnected the fuel lines:

I then removed the radiator hoses & Since my motor I was switching out was a fly by wire, I had to switch throttle bodys:

I also took this time to disconnect all of the wiring harness from the front of the motor.
Disconnected the cooling hose lines to the belt tensioner assembly.
Disconnected the power steering pump from the rack and reservoir
Also Disconnected the a/c lines from the condenser and canister (since no charge in system, its safe to remove.)
I disconnected the brake lines from the ABS module and pulled them free off to the side.
I unplugged everything I could see on the top of the engine for emissions, ignition coils (has a small bolt that holds it in), fuel injectors, EGR.
I then ran the seat belt through the steering wheel and locked it into the buckle to keep it from moving.
I unbolted the stop bolt to the steering coupler (picture is shown through the bottom because it the picture that came out the best.) It is the very wet bolt just past the exhaust flange.

So I raised the vehicle.
I first started by disconnecting the transmission shifter cable and moving the transmission into neutral manually so I could remove the drive shaft and disconnecting the u-joint bolts. Then manually spinning it around and placing it into park to get the other u-joints bolts out.

Next I removed a frame support or tie i guess you could call it to clear room for the torsion bar.

The torsion bar has 2 -21mm bolts in the back, and a 15mm and 13 mm at the front that bolts it up to its support at the transmission:

The 15mm top bolt will not come all the way out, just push it off as far as you can. 13 mm is just diagonally below the 15mm. Then the torsion arm will come off pretty easy and the rear end will slope down.
Next I unbolted my exhaust y-pipe and disconnected all the ABS & Oxygen sensors I could reach, as well as the sensors on the oil pan and grounds as well:

Normally I would remove my starter now, but I had taken it out and the transmission cover off way earlier to make sure I didn’t have a cracked flywheel. (Didn’t want to do all this work for a cracked flywheel.)
Also take this time to remove the metal shield that protects your brake lines and holds them close to the body on the drivers side.
After the y-pipe was disconnected from the headers, I had to cut my mid pipe (back by the large opening for the drive shaft and torsion arm because my mid pipe and muffler were all welded together. (I used an exhaust sleeve to piece them back together and welded accordingly later.)
So I pulled the cat mount out and the exhaust was set on the ground.
Next I moved onto the front sway bar to frame mounts. I removed these:

I did both left and right sides so the sway bar hangs free. The links stay intact!
I then removed the bottom steering coupler bolt and removed it completely by pulling up and away.
You can either disconnect your transmission cooler lines or just cut them by the sway bar and plan on installing 2 patches of transmission hose and some clamps when reassembly comes. (in the meantime, use those small sections of hose to connect both ends of the lines you just cut together, so you don’t make a mess)
I then unbolted the lower shock bolts as was told by ZexGX and then the upper ball joints!

Now was the big time. lowered the vehicle and positioned 2 jack supports under the front K-Frame and 1 under the transmission pan. (all with blocks of wood between.)
Next I bolted the 6 K-Frame Bolts that hold the krame to the body. I used an impact gun for those wondering.

We then very slowly raised the vehicle. Unplugged the wire harnesses and grounds that we missed. Eventually about 30 minutes into the raising the 2 were separated!

Take some fun photos with your friends and celebrate because your only 1/3 of the way through changing the motor.

Before you put in your new or used 3.4 or 3.8 you need to check all the wiring harnesses plugs and injectors. Apparently my used 97 3.8 wasn’t the same motor. I had to change manifolds, oil pressure switch, oil dip-stick tube, fuel injectors & rails (injectors were completely different, old ones were larger and square plugged), Several emission components had different plugs or were missing. Replace any leaking gaskets as well. I am still changing things over and going through the motor to double check everything. If you have any broken studs, they are easier to remove when the engine is not in the body. BELIEVE ME!

When you go to reinstall your K-frame. if it has moved at all, tape and hang long brake lines from the holes to align yourself up. Set yourself up once instead of many times.

Go slow when bringing the body down. Take the time to re-weave the wiring harness before you let the body all the way. It will save you the frustration of forcing it and tugging into the needed spots when there isn’t the room.

After you have re-bolted & hooked everything up, installed new gaskets where needed. Don’t forget to bleed the brakes and pump the pedal. Hate to see someone not be able to stop.
Add oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and coolant.
Check for any fluid leaks & Bleed the cooling system.
Add an engine flush cleaner & conditioner if you are using a used engine to help clean it out. Change the oil after letting it run for 20-30 minutes.
Give it a road test.

This was my first time replacing a motor going through the bottom. The motor was out from the body and getting changed within 4 hours. Having everything reassembled without any broken bolts I would probably say another 5-6 hours. With broken bolts… how ever long it needs to take. I am on 14 hours of reassembly and still counting. My used motor had lots of little surprises I didn’t find out until after I reinstalled the motor. So check your used motor over thoroughly before reinstalling it!

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