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Everything posted by pitzel

  1. Long story short, my entire strut tower assembly had to be replaced in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota by some hack mechanics with one from a junkyard off of a newer car with the bigger front brakes. Unfortunately I wasn't able to supervise the repairs. They re-used my existing 1992 calipers, rotors, slide-pins, bearings. But the caliper doesn't really ride properly in the assembly, and only makes about 2/3rds contact with the brake rotor. And everything is all bound up. My questions: 1) Are strut tower assemblies identical and interchangeable between the "small brake" and "big brake" models? 2) Could it be possible that the shop kept the 'big brake' bracket, but swapped my small-brake calipers and rotors? 3) Would going to a junkyard, finding a "small brake" caliper bracket, and fitting it fix the issue? Braking-wise, performance is perfectly acceptable, although I think it is burning up pads faster and longer-term it'll probably kill the rotors too.
  2. Yeah there's still a few kicking around in Saskatchewan, Canada (where I live..), the newer Luminas in the yards. Probably would have to buy a ball joint and a pair of rotors to complete the bilateral upgrade. They're quite the PITA to remove in the junkyard though as its hand-tools only around here, and separating everything down to just the knuckle isn't easy. And those T60 caliper bolts are a giant pain in the butt. On the bright side, very little salt used here (way too cold for salt to work), so not much rust.
  3. Ok i'll keep that in mind... I have to drive from Minneapolis to Albany sometime over the summer or early fall, so picking them up might be a possibility too... Thanks..
  4. Yeah I'm gonna have to get the part numbers off of those strut towers and see if I can get to the bottom of it... Because the donor car didn't seem like a 1996, as I'm pretty sure it still had the 'old' interior. I was hoping it was just a different caliper bracket... Would've saved me a lot of work.. But if the greater offset was implemented by way of the strut tower, then its obvious that the only way to fix the problem would be to make sure that the strut tower matches the rotor.
  5. Yeah its crazy, nothing this old in the GTA when I drove there last year (live in Western Canada). Too bad you're not closer, we could do a trade, at least for the drivers side. Well if I junkyard it next spring and end up getting the older one, I could perhaps drop the upgraded old part off for you as I have to drive by there next summer. Used to be more Luminas than you could shake a stick at in the yard, now they're rare. Are you absolutely sure the calipers and brackets are the same?
  6. Yeah about 10k miles / 2.5 years ago. I don't really notice any asymmetry or loss of performance braking-wise, but brake pads that previously had only about 1/3rds wear after 70k miles wore down extremely quickly on that side (and not on the untouched side) only making about 50% contact with the rotor's outer edge. It doesn't matter to me whether its an upgrade or not -- I'd just like it to wear the brake pads evenly, and of course, get through an inspection properly. The 1990s W bodies are starting to become rather scarce at the local pull-a-part, so whether I do the upgrade or it becomes a downgrade would be dependant on what I can actually get on the day I go. EDIT: I've been using 'strut tower', but I actually mean "strut knuckle" which I believe is the more appropriate term.
  7. Long story short, the spring seat failed catastrophically due to rust on a trip to Minneapolis. The hacks who worked on it didn't realize that the spring seat could be ordered as a separate part, so they found a 1995-ish wreck, swapped the spring/strut tower/strut assembly, and fitted my existing bearings, caliper bracket, rotor, calipers, etc. to the "new" strut tower and sent me along. Because it was in small town North Dakota, there wasn't really a lot of good options otherwise. I've since gone in and replaced the spring seats on both sides with brand new ones (the other side was pretty bad too, and not far from failure), so I've had the strut towers apart. But the brake alignment problem with the newer tower has been quite vexing.
  8. Yup, a 1995-ish strut tower assembly was put in place of the 1992 factory original. Everything else remained identical. Of course predictably it doesn't really work properly. So you're saying that the strut tower, where the holes are drilled, is different between a 1992 and a 1995? Darn... So basically I need to have identical strut towers on both sides. Which means basically I have to go to a junkyard and pull a strut tower assembly to down-grade my setup to the 1992 caliper bracket positioning? Or alternatively, upgrade the other side to the 1995-ish spec?
  9. Anyone experienced a fiberglass leaf spring failure with the spring pads installed? Or ever had to actually replace them? I think some people were previously concerned that there would be some excess wear of the spring ends when they're installed.
  10. pitzel

    1994 vert. LED Light conversion

    What parts did you use?
  11. pitzel

    Oil Change in LQ1 with 120k

    LH0, not the LQ1 engine here, but last oil change I did on it was in 2008, approximately 90,000km ago (56k miles). Had the oil pan off, no sludge whatsoever. Carefully drained the oil prior to removal into a clean container, and simply poured it back in. No, just in case someone asks, there is not a typo in my post. So modern oil in an otherwise mechanically sound engine can last a *long* time.
  12. pitzel

    3.1 LH0 exhaust manifold leak

    I have exhaust coming out of the exhaust manifold in the engine compartment, probably from the gasket failing, in the cylinder that's behind the engine mount. Is there any way of correcting this short of removing the engine?
  13. pitzel

    3.1 LH0 exhaust manifold leak

    Just looking at the service manual, to remove the front engine mounting bracket to access the left-most cylinder's manifold bolts, I have to remove the A/C compressor. Any way around this?
  14. pitzel

    3.1 LH0 exhaust manifold leak

    Ah okay. Not much salt used up here, but i'm just scared of breaking a bolt off in the head and having the job get exponentially more involved. I'll take a look in the spring.
  15. I highly suggest a proper inspection of the coil spring seats in the front ends of these cars. Even on minimally driven vehicles, water gets in there, gets underneath the powder coating, and eats the metal as there is nowhere for it to drain properly. Unfortunately the only way to inspect is to actually remove the entire front spring/strut/ball joint/bearing assembly .
  16. pitzel

    Rear suspension

    Are you sure the leaf spring still has its end pads? They tend to fall off over time. You can either get replacements, or you can get plastic "pucks" that go into the spring seats and stop the metal to metal contact. The 'pucks' are controversial though -- some claim that they will wear at the leaf spring fiberglass ends and eventually cause failure.
  17. pitzel

    Changing an Oil Pan Gasket

    I replaced the oil pan gasket on my 3.1. Had to buy the Harbor Freight engine support bar for around $80 with coupons. And drop the subframe. I followed the procedure in the GM service manual to the letter. It mostly went well.
  18. pitzel

    premature battery demise

    There's a relay that controls the door locks that is notorious for sticking in an energized position, draining the battery slowly. When I finally figured that out, voila, battery drain problems went away and I can leave the car un-started for a month and it fires up straight away! What car is it anyways? If if has the seat belt built into in the door setup, then it probably has the bad relay.
  19. pitzel

    Front strut alignment tool

    Unless you're in a completely rust-free, salt-free area, those spring seat plates, particularly the lower ones, need to be inspected and/or replaced as they accumulate water and will rust over time, eventually to failure under the pressure of the spring and the weight of the car. One of mine let go on the highway last year in the middle of Northern Montana. Wasn't fun at all and ended up costing $1000 including the tow job, etc. The assembly also includes a bearing which can go bad, making lots of noise when you steer the car.
  20. The lower coil spring mounts/lower strut bearings are an important part to replace on a car that old as they tend to rust over time. Yes, this means that the tie rod, ball joint, axle splines, brake caliper, etc., all has to be removed and spring compressors used to take the thing apart. I had the KYB lower strut mount/bearing assemblies on order for 3+ months, and Amazon never could cough them up. Ended up ordering the Monroes for $20 a piece. Hard to imagine there's any difference worth paying twice as much to KYB for. The GR-2's/Excel-G's are nice. The bearings are probably all shot after all those years with the water and rust that tends to get involved. By the time you buy new bearings and install them, may as well just replace 'em. I personally would highly advise that one *not* try to refurbish this part unless you have a way to detect fatigue cracks (ie: dye penetration testing, ultrasound, etc.), which 99% of us probably don't have access to!
  21. How are you testing it? On mine, setting the e-brake when the car is in motion won't lock the wheels. It will slow the vehicle by causing friction, but it won't actually lock the wheels. However, it works as a parking brake, providing enough static friction to keep the vehicle in place.
  22. 35mm on mine. But I suppose 36 would work too.
  23. Nevermind... Pictures of an almost-failed spring seat coming soon. And a video of a bearing in very, very bad shape. Mine was in even uglier shape than the one in the picture. And of course, the drivers side failed altogether (see the earlier pic). Seriously, if your vehicle is over 20 years old, unless it spent its entire life in Arizona or somewhere with no water, those spring seats need to be, at the very least, inspected. If not replaced. $15 worth of parts each side at the moment through Rockauto.
  24. Okay, ran this test today. Pulled both front wheels off. Moved key out of lock. Had a helper move the wheel from full deflection in one direction to full deflection in another. Even though my spring seats didn't seem to be seized at first, the "bad" side (passenger) made a lot of noise. Glad that I'll be replacing them soon. So my advice to those reading the thread and worried -- one test you should do is basically pull both front wheels off and listen for a clunk in the strut to spring seat as a helper moves the steering through its range.
  25. Can you describe how you 'messed up your springs'? The process, once you get that assembly out, looks pretty idiot-proof to me. How can you damage a spring to the extent that it has to be replaced?