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Car sitting for a long time-first tune up?


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huxley
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Jan 6, 2008, 1:31 PM

Post #1 of 14 (10671 views)
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Hi everyone,

I'm a newcomer to the forum, name is Nate, how's everyone?

I've read over the faq and whatnot so I can get a general idea of how this place works. If I'm not providing enough info please let me know!

Before I begin-I've never done any work whatsoever on a car. Just didn't have the interest growing up and was too scared that I would break something. However, I am a decent amateur motorcycle mechanic these days (only familiar with japanese though) and have done a fair amount of work on older motorcycles. I feel it's time to dive into the wide world of cars!

I'm not going to give the backstory, but I have a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am Quad 4 (unsure of engine size at the present time) with 26,000 miles on it. Yes, I really do mean to write 26,000 miles. It was owned by an elderly woman and then after she passed away it sat from anywhere between 1 to 3 years. It was in storage most of that time-unheated but covered. Now I need to go through the entire thing and change out the fluids and do a tuneup. It was driven about 100 miles without much trouble (I think the "torque control converter" solenoid needs to be replaced though-more on that later) and now it's back in my town. I didn't want to drive it without doing these maintenance procedures but I didn't have much of a choice.

So my question is this-if a car was sitting for at least 1 and up to 3 years without being driven-what would you do to it upon receiving said car? What kind of oil would you use, what brand of spark plug and spark plug wires, what other fluids would you change out and why the hell can't I seem to find a distributor for this car? Aside from changing out the oil, air filter, transmission fluid (which worries me a bit since I'm not understanding how that is done), what am I missing? I'm also not exactly comfortable with putting on new belts because I can't wrap my head around how that is supposed to work. Any and all info you could provide me with would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks much and take care all,
Nate


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Jan 6, 2008, 2:13 PM

Post #2 of 14 (10661 views)
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Hi Nate,

The great new is that it was covered and I hope indoors. Heated storage doesn't really matter much.

Use exact OEM replacement plugs - it matters. They might just look fine. What can go wrong is they get stuck with the tapered seat so get a good strait shot with the socket on them to remove for inspection or replacement. Don't over tighten that type on cars!

Oil: I like synthetics. Probably calls for 5-30.

Belts: Take a look. Old as they are (are there two?) they could be ok but use quality replacement if you change them out. I can't remember if this uses a rubber timing belt or not. If rubber it would be good to do it. You'll need tools and exact instructions for that.

Check for rust on brakes and perhaps the front is ready already. Plug wires and the coil packs should be fine unless you see something.

Toss the battery - it can't be much good. Tires may feel funny but might be ok with some driving around.

There would be lots more to check out if this car was exposed to moisture even if under a good cover.

Let us know and we'll do our best to get you going with this,

T
_________________________________________
Long retired now


huxley
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Jan 8, 2008, 2:09 PM

Post #3 of 14 (10650 views)
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Hey Tom,

Thanks for the reply, appreciate it. You look like you're a pretty busy guy on this forum! How do you keep up with it?

Anyway, so far I've changed the oil with Castrol Syntec 5W-30. There was a slight clicking noise coming from the engine area and that has since stopped. Replaced the oil filter as well. Changed out the air filter and the wiper blades too. Woo hoo, big stuff!

Took a quick look at the brakes-there is definitely surface rust on the rotors. The calipers are stopping the car ok but sound like they're grinding slightly (my guess is the rust). Other than the rust the rotors feel fine to me-I don't get a fingernail stuck on if I scrape through them. Would they need to be ground down or is it the sort of thing that can be ground off or just left or what? I'm guessing the brake pads should be replaced too.

I still need to replace the fuel filter. I was thinking I should take care of the transmission fluid too but that one is a bit more in depth than I'm comfortable with-I know it in theory but not in practice. Same goes for power steering fluid (is that necessary) and the coolant. Wouldn't mind flushing that out.

The battery actually seems to be okay. I only deal with lead acid batteries on the motorcycles (and really have learned to hate the things) but this one is sealed and it is starting up without an issue. I need to borrow my buddy's multimeter to get a more accurate look though. It needed to be jumpstarted when I first got this car but now that it's charged up it seems fine.

Any tips on the above would be great!

Oh-and Tom or whoever else wants to get involved in this thread-let's just pretend it was exposed to moisture (it might have been for a couple months...not likely but it's a slight possibility) what else would I be checking for? I know for a fact that it was inside a very large warehouse for most of the time it was not being driven but there is a small amount of time unaccounted for.

And the steering wheel has been rocking back and forth slightly-the tires looked good under poor lighting but upon closer inspection they don't look so great. Tread is excellent but there are some worrisome spots. I'll probably have them checked out professionally. Any good websites to order tires from?

Thanks all,
Nate


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Jan 8, 2008, 3:24 PM

Post #4 of 14 (10646 views)
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Sounds like your off to a good start. Brakes - I'd drive them and either they clean themselves up or don't. I haven't had much luck with turning rotor/drums anymore as they don't come with lots of extra metel new and these shouldn't be that expensive. If the car's a keeper for you just do it right and forget it for a good long time.

Fuel filter: Get some PB if you don't have any now and even if you use a cup and a q-tip put some on all the fuel lines, brake lines and trans lines that use flare nuts - PS lines too. Fuel pump in particular can twist off the line ends real easy with just slight rust and time. Know that this type line rust/sticks the line to the nut as the problem, not so much the threads. Then I coat them with some grease with a flux brush and virtually never fight with them again.

Tires: Your call. Sunlight can crack the heck out of the sidewall rubber. If you need new ones know what you want - they are rated for treadwear life, traction and heat tolerance. I've seen some on line deals from www.tirerack.com for some that came with new wheels, mounted balance and ready to just put on for a wicked deal. If you get just tires you still need to have them installed, balanced, and dispose of the old ones which is now an expense.

Battery: It's probably lead/acid but the sealed type that doesn't tend to ever need to have water added. Check for how old it is. They are marked with a date or code and you can find the month and year it was made. Over 3-4 years don't expect much more. If they sit dead for a long time it takes life out of them so even now with it working it really can't be perfect for a long time. Get a voltmeter or multimeter and I can show you how to check how good it is and the alternator charging ability pretty easily.

Anti-freeze: It's probably due to change it.

Trans: Your call whether to change fluid and filter at this low mileage or not. Done carefully it can only help with life of it.

Rubber stuff - belts, hoses - take a good look. some can last that long and be ok.

You really need to get it out and use it and see what crops up. There could be a couple thises and thats the show up. I would just jump in a take a 3,000 mile trip right away - let it prove itself a while.

Any car actually: Lube the locks and hinges, latches all over the thing. 2 cents saves a ton later.

Spare tire and Jack. Check it out and tire might be flat after all the years. Most neglected thing in a car and of course you find out when you need the thing.

Timing belts if rubber is your call. Not certain but Quad4 might use a chain.

Bleeding out the brake fluid is another neglected thing. New fluid can prolong life of the hydraulic parts. It might also surface some stuck bleeders and make a headache now that might have waited. Put that on the list but do when you have time to take care of any problems that doing it may cause.

Look at the suggested list in the owner's manual for maintenance. I'm no doubt forgetting some items.

You may really have a nice low mile car with this thing. I drive stuff that old and older all the time. Wasn't all that long ago I got rid of a car that had a factory 8-track tape! Cool thing with older cars is some common problems are already known to look out for or expect but parts prices tend to drop offSmile

Let us know how you are making out,

T
_________________________________________
Long retired now


huxley
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Jan 9, 2008, 5:30 PM

Post #5 of 14 (10636 views)
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Hey All (but my guess is Tom),

I'm about to change my fuel filter but I'm stopping before I do since I don't understand the procedure exactly. I originally thought I could just pull the fuel pump fuse and run the engine until it stalls and then crank it again for a few seconds and unscrew the gas cap (first)...however, I'm looking at this crappy Haynes manual that I have and it's saying for multi-port fuel injection I need to either disconnect the fuel pump electrical connector at the fuel tank (and possibly lower the fuel tank which I don't want to do) or attach a fuel pressure gauge with a bleed off valve to a fuel rail. So....I'm guessing the 1992 Pontiac Grand Am Quad OHC 4 cylinder is multi-port? It's also a 2.3 liter I believe. So it's not a Quad 4, it's a Quad OHC? Nice Pontiac, way to make it easy on us motorcycle folks.

If someone could bring me through that procedure I'd appreciate it. I see the filter unit, it looks simple enough and I understand it in theory-but are there any tips or tricks I should know about or special pressure relief methods that might save me a headache and some gas spray?

In other news, I've noticed one odd thing with the car-when the car is stationary and I go to turn the wheel, I hear something squealing from the engine compartment (sounds like a belt) and it doesn't like to turn-it feel like it's jumping back through the wheel, I can't quite describe it. It doesn't do this while the car is in motion. Anyone have any idea what that may be? I can provide more info about it if necessary. My power steering fluid looks ok but I haven't given it a real good check to be honest.

Oh and Tom...

*Just so you know, this car is not even being driven yet since I'm still waiting for a title. When I say "soonish" it's because I have nothing to worry about at the moment*

1. What is PB?
2. I'll probably replace the tires. Tirerack is actually where I was looking-seems like that's the best place to get a deal then?
3. I'll replace the battery soonish. I carry a booster pack in the trunk so I'll have that just in case and I'll throw $60 somewhere in the car for an emergency replacement.
4. I'll take care of the anti-freeze after the fuel filter.
5. Still not all that familiar with tranny fluid change, but I'm willing to try
6. Rubber looks mostly good-a few tubes here and there will be replaced soon
7. I'll be doing a 1000 mile trip once I get the car legal so that'll give me a good idea I imagine
8. You know, as easy as it seems, I'm not so sure how to lube all the hinges and locks and whatnot. Do you just use engine oil or a special lubricant or what?
9. Spare tire and jack-both brand new, never used. Filled up the spare before I left the storage place it was at. I don't screw around with spares!
10. Will be doing brake bleeding when I can borrow a buddy's garage. I live in upstate NY and I think our luck just ran out with 60 degree days.
11. Yeah this car seems pretty good. My plan is to drive this until it dies-hopefully I can get some years out of her. I will do whatever it takes to make this car last and last and last.
12. Making out well so far! The next project is to install some interior stuff once I get any potential gremlins out of the mechanical stuff. Any suggestions on what forums (if not this one) I should go to in regards to simple car audio and instructions on how to install a CB radio and scanner?

Thanks again!
Nate


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Jan 9, 2008, 6:59 PM

Post #6 of 14 (10625 views)
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SmileSmile Nate - you're stuck with me because this is such a read already nobody is going to read it this far.

Here comes the book! I'll try to do this after your numbered questions in red like this.

Fuel filter: You see it in line and the filter has I think 11/16 hex ends and the line 5/8 hex flare nut. You should have flare nut wrenches for these. They are open end wrenches with either 5 or six contact points not just the two of a regular open end wrench. If you don't have them at least spray it on tube at nut and on the threads with the PB for now. Note if it's rusty as that one little job can open up a nightmare without a full set of tools for tubing problems. What Haynes or whatever is trying to warn you of is that there could be fuel under pressure in the filter. With cold engine you can just bleed the pressure off at the fuel rail so you don't get sprayed in the face at the fuel filter. Most don't but when fuel filter is loosened and or when removed it could siphon the tank so be prepared to be fast with the new filter and have a drain pan handy and plugs (clean rubber plugs) for the line if you get caught. Most don't but be prepared. If a line breaks or spins up then we have to get into a whole lot about making up new line ends and some tools you might not have. These are a nightmare in New England as would be for you (didn't you say upstate NY?) and in no time they are problems. When done with those type things - brake line flare nuts everywhere, bleeders etc., spray some grease on them and they work later without the headaches.





1. What is PB? PB is for Power Blaster which is strong penetrating oil. Don't get that stuff on anything but the metal area you will need it as it can ruin paint and some plastics/vinyls. I take the spray that they come with off and use one for like carb cleaner if they fit so I have the long spray tube to not make a mess everywhere with it. You should have some for all kinds of things metal that could be rusty. AutoZone and probably most parts stores sell it.
2. I'll probably replace the tires. Tirerack is actually where I was looking-seems like that's the best place to get a deal then?
3. I'll replace the battery soonish. I carry a booster pack in the trunk so I'll have that just in case and I'll throw $60 somewhere in the car for an emergency replacement.You are covered for now with the jumperbox. Charge battery with a charger and it should behave well starting or let's get that tested - let me know about that.
4. I'll take care of the anti-freeze after the fuel filter. Said above fuel filter may need some tools. Changing anti-freeze is a good preventative maintenance but if it looks real good now you could wait for the trip that is scaring me a little to take with this old of a car without some around town miles to see what might be lurking unknown right now.
5. Still not all that familiar with tranny fluid change, but I'm willing to try Trans fluid is dropping the pan and changing the fluid and there's a filter in there. That can wait too for now.
6. Rubber looks mostly good-a few tubes here and there will be replaced soon
7. I'll be doing a 1000 mile trip once I get the car legal so that'll give me a good idea I imagine
8. You know, as easy as it seems, I'm not so sure how to lube all the hinges and locks and whatnot. Do you just use engine oil or a special lubricant or what? I start with WD-40 on all the latches locks, hood, trunk, doors etc. For door hinges then I use spray white lithium grease - another must have. Doing this now and then about prevents problems forever!
9. Spare tire and jack-both brand new, never used. Filled up the spare before I left the storage place it was at. I don't screw around with spares!
10. Will be doing brake bleeding when I can borrow a buddy's garage. I live in upstate NY and I think our luck just ran out with 60 degree days. I don't want to skip back and lose my place here. Does this have anti-lock brakes?? If so only bleed brakes carefully and don't allow air back in between bleeds. Don't just push calipers back for brake work on cars with anti-lock for pad replacement as you really don't want used fluid going back to the master cylinder. Do you know exactly how to bleed brakes or is this new to you? Look for the bleeders and at least spray some of that PB on them now. This might wait too as again it could open up a can of worms. Let me know how things look under there!
11. Yeah this car seems pretty good. My plan is to drive this until it dies-hopefully I can get some years out of her. I will do whatever it takes to make this car last and last and last. If you give it a good start you might have this a VERY long time. My newest car is a 1989 mate, and I expect 10 MORE good years out of two of them! Only one sees salt if I can help it.
12. Making out well so far! The next project is to install some interior stuff once I get any potential gremlins out of the mechanical stuff. Any suggestions on what forums (if not this one) I should go to in regards to simple car audio and instructions on how to install a CB radio and scanner? Post that stuff under electrical or stereo with a new thread. When in doubt here just put it up top and we can move it if needed.

For the spare - just make sure it's full of air and a glance should tell if the jack will work. You should have that anyway but especially on a trip.

LOOK FOR A PRIVATE MESSAGE OR ENABLE THAT IF YOU DIDN'T. THIS IS SO LONG WE MAY HAVE BROKEN THE RECORD AT THE SITE AND PERHAPS WE CAN TALK and save some typing and confusion with the length of this,

Tom Greenleaf - Marlborough, MA
_________________________________________
Long retired now


way2old
Veteran / Moderator


Jan 9, 2008, 7:07 PM

Post #7 of 14 (10623 views)
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Surprise y'all. I have raad all the post. Seems like the illustruious Mr. Greenleaf had such a good hold on the subject, I did not want to jump in and confuse anyone. Keep going Tom, you are doing a very good job with the subject line.



Being way2old is why I need help from younger minds


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Jan 9, 2008, 9:47 PM

Post #8 of 14 (10619 views)
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Oooops! Missed the power steering thing. Nate - check if the belt is tight or wet with oil, water or anti-freeze. At the miles perhaps the spring loaded tensioner isn't free (from just sitting) to self tension. Try just retracting it and let go again. Pretty sure you can do those with just a square breaker bar/flex handle - brain's losing it 3/8th or 1/2 inch on the tension idler pulley,

T
_________________________________________
Long retired now


Double J
Veteran / Moderator


Jan 11, 2008, 3:28 PM

Post #9 of 14 (10610 views)
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Hey ,i've been readin' this one all the way too. i agree with w2o...you've been doing such a great job that i didn't wanna jump in and MUDDY THE WATER, besides ,if i typed in everything i know,this thread would have ended a looooong time ago..........

but i just couldn't resist anymore....
had only a couple thoughts...

the 2.3 L engine back then was known for headgasket and/or cracked head problems....they (gm) had a special policy on these for awhile then came out with a recall.....not sure if this vehicle was affected ...something to check into....call any gm dealer with the vehicle identification # and they can check for any recalls for you.
also it was noted in the first post about the tcc...if the solenoid needs to be replaced,then that would be the time to change the transmission fluid.

JIM


(This post was edited by JIM N on Jan 11, 2008, 3:31 PM)


Double J
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Jan 11, 2008, 5:04 PM

Post #10 of 14 (10603 views)
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Hey Tom...

besides, Mr.way2old , kitty and me were on a much needed UNION BREAK......










click here tom......you'll see whats really going on


(This post was edited by JIM N on Jan 11, 2008, 5:08 PM)


ChristineH
Anonymous Poster
catholichome@optonline.net

Jun 6, 2009, 8:13 AM

Post #11 of 14 (9148 views)
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I am so glad I found this thread. My son just bought a 1988 Buick Regal with 36,000 mi. It was owned by an old man who died and has been in his garage for three years. Now we know where to start!


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Jun 6, 2009, 9:59 AM

Post #12 of 14 (9147 views)
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Let me just jump in for a second here

First Christine, Please start a new question of your own. They don't want to get off track of this one

The only thing I wanted to add here is since this is a quad 4, it has no plug wires and at the mileage you have, I wouldn't even be concerned with the spark plugs. They should still have a lot of life left in them. This engine does have a replaceable spark plug boot if you do get involved with the plugs. As you will soon find out, this engine is like nothing you have ever seen before in design and may have you stumped on even finding the plugs.

Here's where they are
Unbolt and lift the entire top cover straight up and they will be exposed.






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



trivia7x
Anonymous Poster

Aug 27, 2009, 5:56 AM

Post #13 of 14 (8738 views)
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">WHAT THE F**k **********************<"

Edited with expectations that another moderator will blow your A$$ out of the water and off this site!

TomG

(This post was edited by Tom Greenleaf on Aug 27, 2009, 6:25 AM)


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Aug 27, 2009, 6:27 AM

Post #14 of 14 (8724 views)
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Already done. I was on my way back to delete the post.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.





Car sitting for a long time-first tune up?


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