What does this Maintenance/Tech History tell me?

This is exactly the type of feedback I want though reality can be scary.

What I'm hoping for...is that the original owner was neurotic. I know car guys like this. What I showed you were only the things that jumped out at me. Literally, there is a log book entry every couple weeks or few thousand miles for about 15 years. He changed stuff way ahead of normal schedules.

We'll see.
I have helped people with these cars over the years that just absolutely felt better about their cars when they were having them serviced and spending money on them, usually the more they spent the better they felt about it even when it was not needed. For most of us we save our monies for go faster goodies but for some they enjoy the overly maintained type of thing. As long as the mechanic who did all of the previous work on your car did not mess any thing up all you need to do is flavor it to your taste and enjoy.
Pix will follow.

OK, so I spent the day with the car for the first time. This morning, I took care of the title, registration, Historic Tags, etc. I'm looking forward to NO inspection on this car.

Basically, even before starting the car today, I went over almost every inch of it. Some observations: other than some pin holes in the two pipes that run from the fresh new factory Y-pipe to the muffler, the exhaust is great. Paint is not perfect but I knew that when I bought it. I see some evidence of some cover-up spray to clean up the underneath but I see/felt/checked and see no real rust or cancer anywhere. Could use new tires. These aren't worn but I think they have been on the car for 10 years as I see some sidewall cracks. Power antenna needs to be replaced but I knew that. There is a used working one from Kirban in the trunk that the last owner never got around to installing. I hear the antenna job is "fun." The front dash plastic piece could use to be replaced. Outer window seals are dry cracked and need replacing. Everything else is very minor. Has Monroe shocks.

Observations from Today:

1. Looks like the factory Delco chip is in the computer.
2. Looks like a factory remanufactured Turbo is on the car.
3. 2nd owner said all the vacuum lines and most other hoses in the engine bay are new and it sure looks like it.
4. Found the Scanmaster wiring - that's very easy.
5. 2nd owner said he changed most fluids, oil, radiator, etc. Looks accurate. Not sure about Trans. The rear Diff was not changed.
6. 2nd owner said a guy who knows Grand Nationals in North Jersey looked the car over when it was tuned up and said it seemed in pretty good shape. I'd say overall this appears to be accurate.
7. I think the injectors are original.


1. There is a connector on top of the passenger side valve cover that is red (Picture Included). One of the ports coming off of it has no hose attached to it. Is this wrong?
2. There is a green connector near the alternator (Picture Included). One side connects to two white wires that come from a loom near the alternator. The other side has a small black wire that goes thru the firewall and into the car but attaches to nothing - just hangs there (Picture Included). I wonder if that formerly went to some kind of gauge?
3. Original owner Switched to Mobil1 Synthetic oil at one point but the 2nd owner told me he put conventional back in. Is that OK to switch back??? I normally prefer Mobil1 in my performance cars.
4. Coming off the back of the turbo flange there is a port that has a rubber cap on it to block it off (Picture Included). Is that OK???


God is this car fun! She rides a little soft and floaty but I think it's due to the original springs, the Monroe shocks, maybe the old tires and the general age and mileage of things. Probably needs bushings too. The brakes seem good. Car does not pull with or without braking. Alignment is close to center. No abnormal squeaks or rattles. I wish the steering felt a little tighter.

She does pull nicely and shifts fine. There is a slight jerky or lugging feeling, just barely. Wondering if that could be a driveshaft or the factory converter acting its age??? Driveshaft was probably the worst looking thing under the car.

Now, the numbers. Using the FP gauge under the hood and following along with the Scanmaster book, I wrote down a bunch of data points today.

1. Fuel Pressure: always in the 30-32 range at idle although I swear it showed 40 at idle when I first looked at the car last week.
2. At idle, the O2 millivolts bounce all over: 93, 246, 304, 136, 593, 250, 742, 851, 682.
3. TPS at idle is .46. From what I read, this is a hair high and needs to come down to .42.
4. MAF at idle: 06-07.
5. RPM at idle: bounces around 825, 750, 800, 775.
6. Idle Air Control: 41.
7. Integrator: 118.
8. Block Learn: 150.

Before I drove, there were NO Malfunction Codes.

I took the car for a 20-minute drive. I wanted to see how the Retard Degrees looked under various boost loads.

I found this weird but maybe I just don't understand Turbo cars enough yet (and I don't).

Under full throttle, I was seeing 0 (zero) most of the time. No Knock Retard.
Under medium-heavy pedal input where you knew it was making boost, I would see 3.0, 4.0 and 3.5 half of the time. Apparently, that's NOT GOOD!?!? Of course, I backed out when I saw that.

Overall, she drove great and I loved it. As I was pulling into the driveway, the Check Engine light flashed. The Scanmaster showed a Code of 44 = Oxygen Sensor Lean. So, that can mean a lot of things and I guess now the fun begins. Oh, the fan kicks on fine.

Lots to think about. I am going to go to the Magna meet tomorrow near my house to see if I can get some pointers from the more experienced guys as to what's going on.

Here are a bunch of pix from today in the next posts.
These are my pix where I have questions...

Should there be a hose attached to the free port on this red connector?



Is this port supposed to have a rubber plug on the end basically blocking it off??


This green connector which takes in white wires from the loom near the alternator then goes into the car but goes to nothing. What could this have been used for?


Other pix from today so folks can get a feel for what I am starting with in case something jumps out at you that I wouldn't know.










First pic-boost solenoid. That port is a vent, had a sponge on it but that all fall off at some point.
Second pic-plug on the inlet bell is good. The stock vent from the passenger side v/c went to there. Hot oily air into the intake is nfg.
Green plug is for a tack. At some point there was a tack in there is seems
You've got an adjustable wastegate rod so when you are ready you can up your boost
That stock chip is bad news. Too much timing for today's gas. Get a TT chip and an adjustable fuel pressure regulator.
Those little plastic fuel pressure gauges are notoriously inaccurate.
Check that intake hose for holes. That will mess up the MAF readings.
BLM at 150 is wicked lean.
Blm s/b 128 +- 10. You have a big vacuum leak. Could be several sources. A smoke machine is easiest way to find them. Could be from egr valve, junction block on top of throttle body, hoses, etc.
Yep, and yep. Check the things the above two posts were saying. The black plastic vacuum block screwed to the top of the throttle body leaks a lot. From every joint-meaning the seam from it to the throttle body, and at every tube coming out of it. Check all that. Check your intake hose, and definitely get that chip and fuel pressure regulator out of there. Do not get into boost until this stuff is done. I also want you to take it for a light cruise and tell me what your coolant temps and air intake temps are. Then, stop somewhere and let it idle for about 5 minutes. I want to know what the coolant temp does during that time. I'm wanting to know the health of your cooling system. Put an oil pressure gauge on there too. I'd like to know idle oil pressure. If you have a hole in that intake tube, with a stock chip and wide open throttle on a hot day, your engine will burn down in short order. Also, get the brace kit for your back seat, or you're going to start cracking your B pillars...
So, I might as well continue this thread as a baseline, restore and build-up thread.

The biggest update to report is that I did the best thing I could possibly do for this car at this stage: take it to someone who knows 1000X more than I do.

I took the car to Jim Dunn at Buick Turbo Performance across the bridge in PA. What I learned in 2 hours would have taken me 2 years. Jim and his buddy who helps him went over almost every inch of the car. I basically listened, learned and followed him with a pad and pen, taking notes and making a "parts list." Overall, they view my car as mostly original, fairly well maintained and ready for a good refreshing. Jim also drove the car and could tell instantly how it was running and why.

In the short time I was there, Jim also corrected some minor things: a) reset the TPS at idle and WOT (this is just an interim step for now), b) fixed a constricted hose coming off the top of the factory FPR, c) replaced the PCV valve that was making a weird clicking noise which was driving me nuts not knowing if the noise was normal or not (it wasn't), d) adjusted the throttle/trans linkage so the car could see WOT, e) temporarily swapped chips to a Hypertech Stage 2 chip ONLY so the fan will kick on earlier and most importantly, Jim corrected the bucking/surging feeling I was getting when at steady cruise or slight acceleration. Turned out to be the torque converter solenoid going bad so the car was having trouble figuring out whether to lock or unlock the TC. He unplugged it for now and the car cruises like a dream again. Also, the combination of setting the TPS and whatever other things he touched has made the car idle much better than it did before I took it there.

The goal now will be to accumulate the parts Jim pointed out to me so we can do a proper refreshing and baseline for the car. Once that is all squared away, I can focus on my primary goal which consists of the following: a) nice weather weekend toy, b) safely tuned, c) can put the pedal to the floor and not worry about grenading the motor, d) drive to the shore and not be afraid that I may hit traffic and overheat the car, e) have it be reliably and consistently quicker than my 12.7x daily driver (bolt-on G8 GT), and f) take it to Atco once per year and click off a mid-to-low 12-second pass.

The other Misc things I've done the last couple weeks are mostly cleanup/restore parts: replaced rusty hood spring, fixed the sun visors so they don't drop, used the Kirban kit to fix the chrome around the 3 vents, picked up some solenoid filters, replaced the MAF-Turbo Intake Hose (the one that was there had a nice split in it), new cigarette lighter, "new" ashtray, power antenna replacement to be installed, outer window sweeps to be installed, rear seat brace kit to be installed, and a new brake pedal pad as the existing one was torn up good.
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Did you do the leakdown/compression/vacuum/oil analysis tests first, to see if you're not dumping money into a car that's on it's way out soon?
Did you do the leakdown/compression/vacuum/oil analysis tests first, to see if you're not dumping money into a car that's on it's way out soon?

Good point. I tend to think that after the inspection Jim did today, a guy who has worked on these cars for 25 years and owned maybe 100 or more, that if he thought it needed it, he would have said something.

Again, you bring up a great point and I will check on that as a starting point "insurance policy."
I say this not because I don't trust that guy, I say this because I've seen cars pass the vac test and fail a leak down, and I've seen cars pass the oil analysis test and have the engine fail a month later. I've seen cars with cracked ring lands drive 100% perfect with no degradation of performance whatsoever, until the land come completely off the piston. It's odd indeed but after seeing all this crap, and looking back at the sheer amount of sweat and money and time I spend on these cars, I can not and will not turn one more wrench until I can get a reasonable suspicion that it's not going to be all for nothing. I've done that a few times and I HATE wasting things. ESPECIALLY time, which is wayy more precious than money or 109 blocks. To see HOURS of time spent on my back on the cold concrete, getting junk in my eyes and crawling back and forth under this car go to waste KILLS me. That's why I'm soo cautious now before I do anything, to make sure it's not a waste of time. I try to help others save time to by imparting this stuff to them.
So, continuing with this "reconditioning" project, I've been VERY busy the last 2-3 months getting this car to a point where I consider it a nice, safe, stable foundation and "better than stock." :)

I can finally report back with MAJOR updates.

After my last update of having the car looked at by Jim Dunn and Eddie over at Buick Turbo Performance in Secane, PA (Philly Suburbs) and getting the green light that the car was healthy enough to build upon without fears of any prior engine, turbo or other system abuse; I embarked on a two-part mission to get me to this point.

Part 1 - address any annoying, obvious, low-hanging-fruit items that I needed/wanted to make this car an enjoyable toy. To that end, I accomplished the following:
  • Replaced the outer window, dew sweeps
  • Added the rear seat brace kit
  • Added the long, padded console
  • Add the 2" get back seat brackets
  • Replaced all shocks and springs using Bilsteins and the Kirban springs, alignment
  • Added a huge Savitsky front end brace triangle
  • Replaced the entire steering linkage
  • Sanded and painted the key lock surrounds
  • Fixed a trunk and rear bumper rattle that was driving me nuts
  • And a bunch of other small items i.e. hood spring, new vent chrome, OE cigarette lighter, ashtray, etc, etc.
Part 2 - Spring Cleaning, Baselining, Light Mods, Better Than Stock!

Car spent the last week with Jim and Eddie at Buick Turbo Performance. These guys are like the "Grand National Whisperers." The knowledge of the cars and the attention to detail is off the charts. Most importantly to me (a guy who has restored cars and modded many others), they treated my car like I would treat my own car. That it priceless to me.

Here's a rundown of what was done, although I am probably forgetting some things!
  • Valve springs and valve cover gaskets
  • Inspect and service the Transmission
  • Adjustable Fuel Pressure Regulator
  • New Thermostat
  • New Radiator Core (old one was nasty)
  • O2 Sensor
  • Serpentine Belt
  • Repair header crack (weld plate), header gasket
  • 42# Injectors, TurboTweak Chip, new Injector Harness, 15# of Boost
  • More appropriate turbo clamps and new rubber connectors
  • Hotwired the Fan for high speed
  • Inspect and/or replace Vac lines
  • New Plugs and Coil Pack
  • R&R throttle body, IAC motor, IAC housing - set base idle, IAC counts & TPS sensor
  • Reroute TB hose. Vac Block and TB Gaskets. PCV valve
  • Set all sensors & test/tune-Set fuel pressure & trans tv pressure
  • RJC Power Plate
  • Clean MAF and remove 1 screen
  • Flush Intercooler (was also nasty) and Remove Screen
  • Relocate Charcoal Canister
  • Kirban Black MAF pipe
  • 14" K&N Filter
  • New Fuel Pump and Hot Wire Kit, fuel filter
  • New battery terminal ends plus correct misc 12v wiring issues
  • Added billet valve cover breather
  • New oil cooler hoses
  • Water temp and oil pressure gauges with console pod
  • Boost gauge with a-pillar pod
  • Oil, filter, zinc
  • Power Washed engine bay, painted MANY parts, dressed hoses, etc, etc!
  • Cleaned up the car inside and out!
  • Recovered Headliner and Visors
Results from the time spent at Buick Turbo Performance:
  • Car idles great and drives fantastic!
  • Pulls strong and sounds great
  • Trans shifts perfectly
  • Car is running 10-15 degrees cooler even though it already had a 160 thermo in it (we replaced it anyway)
  • Under hood looks so good, clean and exactly how I pictured/hoped it would look
This car is a totally different beast now and I can't thank Jim and Ed enough for the work they did to my car!

Thanks also to my parts suppliers: Kirban, TurboTweak, Racetronix, Metco and Summit.

Now, it's on to planning the next phase ;)

Hopefully Jim will chime in here with comments or link to the FB page with Pix.

I'll post a bunch of Pix later...
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