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Have You Gotten to a Point Where You Don't Trust Your Car?

This is a discussion on Have You Gotten to a Point Where You Don't Trust Your Car? within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; Well, as the title says, I don't trust my car anymore. I love the car, but I don't know what ...

  1. #1
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    Have You Gotten to a Point Where You Don't Trust Your Car?

    Well, as the title says, I don't trust my car anymore. I love the car, but I don't know what to do with it if I don't trust it. First off, it's a 1993 Firebird Formula with 88k miles on it. It's a beautiful looking car and I REALLY REALLY don't want to get rid of it, but I'm getting depressed cause everything I do it doesn't turn out right.

    My distrust comes from two things.

    First, every year for the past three years something happens to it that kills the engine while driving on the freeway. No warning. Three years ago a wiring harness failed between the opti and the computer. Car would just die on the freeway when the harness got hot. Fixed that (and replaced the opti), and a year later, problem happens again, on the freeway. Can't figure out what's the cause this time, but I get the PCM reprogrammed and the fans turned on sooner. Problem seems to go away. This year the ICM died. Again no warning. Happened on the freeway again - definitely not the safest place to have the engine shut off. Replaced that. Also this year, fuel pump dies, though thankfully not on the freeway.

    The second cause of my distrust is that everything I replace reduces my fuel mileage. I was getting 16.7 mpg mixed city/freeway when I first got the car. I replace the optispark and I got 16.5. I get a shift kit and now I get 16. Next I get headers, and now I get 15.5. I replace the spark plugs and wires and I get 14.8. I replace the ICM and now I'm getting 13.7. After a new fuel pump I'm getting 13.3. Something is not right, and yet everything is new and checks out right. I even manually verify each and every sensor with the service manual and again, everything checks out right.

    So....I just don't trust the car. I don't drive it any more cause I never know if something is going to fail, probably without any warning again.

    If I do drive it, the car doesn't squeal it's tires anymore, the turn signal lights blink at odd rates because the wires are frayed somewhere deep inside the car, the exhaust bangs on the bottom of the car and Michigan pot holes cause an explosion of rattles despite my best attempts at keeping the car tight.

    And yet, I just can't bring myself to get rid of the car :`(

  2. #2
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    You sound like you're ready to invest in a 24x conversion.

    Here's a video that shows it.







    What is it? You get rid of opti and covert the ignition system to LS1 style. It requires either a new wire harness or repining the LT1 (takes about 3-4 hrs to do), LSx coil packs and I believe a tune. Not 100% sure if a new LSx PCM. I have a buddy currently doing this to his LT1. He's had to replace his opti every yr, sometimes 2-3 times on a yr.

    There is a kit that has all new stuff you'll need but it's costly. I last say it going for around $800-1000. But that includes everything. If you're mechanicly incline you can do it yourself and a little cheaper.



    Here is a direct link to EFI site that has the kits and instructions plus more info.

    EFI Connection, LLC - Welcome to www.eficonnection.com








    OR






    You have a great candidate for a LSx swap.


    Hell Lq4/9 or any other LSx engine





    It comes down to how much you want to spend
    Last edited by SMWS6TA; 11-01-2012 at 09:14 AM.

  3. #3
    None Shall Pass Knight's Avatar
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    Have you ever had the car tuned? Adding mods without tuning can result in lower gas mileage. Not that you'll see what the car was at stock, but it can help. The quality of gas you use can also affect mileage.

    Wiring can be a pain, but it can be replaced. It really sounds like the car is in good shape, just needs a little attention. You're the one who has to decide if you want to keep it and do the work to get it right, or accept it as it is, or sell it. If you decide to work on it, post up any questions or areas you need help with, and we'll do our best to get you squared away.

  4. #4
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Have you cleaned the MAF at all?


    Fuel economy is effected by many things. Vacuum leaks, clog fuel injectors, crappy gas, octane level of gas, type and gaps of plugs, O2 senors (have they ever been changed? Tuned for the headers?) Dirty Maf, Intake dirty from PCV blow by, etc.....what I saying is there is a lot of things that can effect the mileage.

  5. #5
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    Sounds like the reasons I got rid of my 95 LT1. I fried 3 opti's, 3 fuel pumps and a cat. I had about 70K on it and didn't trust driving it anywhere in the rain or on long trips so I up and sold it. About 8 months later I bought an 02 WS6 and only missed the sound of the LT1.

  6. #6
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    SMWS6TA - thanks for the suggestion, but an engine swap or 24x conversion is just another thing to go wrong.

    Knight - Yea, I do need a tune for the headers, but that doesn't explain why the new opti, new spark plugs/wires and new fuel pump all reduced my gas mileage and not at least restored it....

    As for the other suggestions, I do keep forgetting about that stuff. It's been several years since my last injector cleaning. Earlier this year I checked vacuum and it was high actually, but I've never looked at the hoses. My gas is always Mobile/BP 93 Octane. The O2's were new with a heated conversion when I got the headers, probably 1000 miles ago.

    Like I said, I do keep forgetting about these little things when it comes to maintenance, but beyond that, it's the constant worry that something else will fail with no warning. What do you guys do that happens? Do you just drive it anyway? I know Hot Black Trans Am said he had to get rid of his car because of this lack of trust.

    I know anything can happen to any car and any time, but I've never had a car that so far has consistently displayed this behavior of failure without warning. I wouldn't even dream of taking this car to a drag strip out of fear that it would spill its guts over the track.....

    But...I'm attached to this car.....ya know....

  7. #7
    None Shall Pass Knight's Avatar
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    LS3 conversion and be done with it!

    My point of view is I won't keep a car that I can't drive. If it's a constant worry, get rid of it. Find another car. There's millions of them out there, and you can be just as fond of one of them. Unless you can afford to museum this one, that is.

  8. #8
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    Ever think about upgrading to an LS1 Firebird

  9. #9
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    I agree with Scott. LSx-style coil-on-wire setup, tune and done. No more headaches.

  10. #10
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    You guys really think a coil on wire/24x setup is more reliable than the factory optispark setup? I know the opti isn't, by any means, the best design, but at least for me, it does work, no matter what condition it is outside. And I never have to worry about not finding a replacement one day....

    Yea, I've certainly looked at LS1 and it is certainly a possibility - I definitely can't afford a new Camaro!

    You're all going to either laugh really hard or cringe when I say that the car I am looking to replace my LT1 with is a Fiat 500!! A 36 month lease around here is 0 down, at $200 a month for one! $200 a month spent on the LT1 is a lot of money for a car that I don't drive cause it always needs work vs $200 a month for a car that is brand new and I don't have to repair........

    Right now I leaning towards spending a little more money on the Firebird to see if new o2 sensors will help with the gas mileage....With 13miles per gallon right now I might as well have a 468 big block.....

  11. #11
    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shudson105 View Post
    You guys really think a coil on wire/24x setup is more reliable than the factory optispark setup? I know the opti isn't, by any means, the best design, but at least for me, it does work, no matter what condition it is outside. And I never have to worry about not finding a replacement one day.....



    Hell F@#kinig YES!!!!


    The point ignition systems for cars built before spark plugs were invented are better then the opti-spark system. Hell a hand crank or a pull rope on Model A's was more reliable.

  12. #12
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    Even GM High Tech Performance did an LS style swap on one of their project cars. They're not complaining.

  13. #13
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    this may sound dumb im fully aware of the coil on plug conversion for the opti cars but do they need a tune since most have a module that plugs into the opti wiring and if it needs tuned how much tuning is capable on an obd I car. 93-95s are obd I

  14. #14
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    I don't recall GMHTP stating they needed a tune for their car once the conversion was installed.

  15. #15
    Senior Member JayTA98's Avatar
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    My advise to you will be to either change from the opti spark setup or sell the car and get you another firebird/camaro with an LS1 in it. I did alot of research before buying my F body. I was going to go with the V6 or LT1 but after seeing so many issues with the opti spark I decided to invest alittle more and get a LS1. You don't have to buy a new camaro. There is plenty of good used ones with decent mileage. Just take some time and research. I got my 98 TA with 46K for $8,700. It needed some TLC in the interior. I pulled the seats out shampooed the carpet and cleaned everything. I only needed to buy the passenger side window/power lock switches and get the car aligned. It also included a pioneer after market radio unit with a 1000w 6 ch JL amp, 10inch JL subwoofer with the hideaway enclosure and 4 pioneer speakers.

    My car has 120k miles on it and I yet(knock on wood) has any electrical issues or engine problems. Everything time you add performance upgrades it will hurt the gas mileage some. It important to keep up with a tune so you can get the best of your upgrades engine wise.

  16. #16
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Hard to say why you are having issues with the car without being there. We've had 2 LT1's and driven them well over 100K miles without even a hint of an issue, opti or otherwise.
    I'm personally a fan of the LT1, opti or not.

    If there is one headache on the opti I don't like it's the difficult access to do any maintanance work. Even a simple cap and rotor tune up requires removing the water pump, and you may as well put a new water pump on too while your in there.
    The ignition upgrades on the market are nice, and would be the way I'd go if I had another LT1 just for the simple fact that it puts everything out there where it's easy to work on.

    Any 10-20 year old car is going to nickle and dime you. Staying on top of wear items and preventive maintanance will slow down or stop the unexpected break downs. That's just the nature of owning an older car. If nothing else it gives you some piece of mind. Alot of what you described can be prevented. Especially those intank fuel pumps. They get to the point where they are 10 years old or 100k miles, I replace them even if they are still working at the time. It's just good practice in my eyes. Frequently check the fuel pressure and make note of any changes or low readings, and keep the fuel filter changed every 10k miles or so. Just things I do.

    I still drive 40+ year old cars everyday, and don't even flinch at taking them on vacation trips with the family. Granted they are very simple to work on and really don't have as many things that can go wrong like a new car does, but I find them very dependable and just don't worry about it. These antiques only need some fuel and spark to run so it's easy to fix on the road if something did happen

  17. #17
    Senior Member JayTA98's Avatar
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    Very true FBJ.

  18. #18
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    I decided to keep the Firebird in case anyone was wondering. I just can't live without that exhaust note ;-) ...and the e-cutout... ...and the wide hips...I mean wide ass...no, wait, I mean the bulging rear fenders.... and the....etc, etc, etc....

    Mostly though, it does just need some TLC - in the form of money spent with a professional [getting too cold here in Mich for me to work on it] I have done too many custom things to the car to get anywhere near the value of it if I sold it.

    The more I thought about it, actually, my worry concerning the car comes from just knowing what could go wrong.....you all know the saying "Ignorance is Bliss".... Unfortunately, I know too much for my own good with an over-active imagination....

  19. #19
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    Glad to hear you're keeping it. Use that car to learn from. You never know, your experience with that car could help others in the future.

  20. #20
    M6 King Hot Black Trans-Am's Avatar
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    Once you eliminate the opti that takes 80% of the worry out of it. That option did exist when I had my LT1. Good Luck with it, hope it gets better for you.

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