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Sigurd Jarlson

New to W-Bodies any advice?

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On any of the particular issues I should be on the look for with a 1989 Regal coupe?
I owned two GM V-6s with the nylon toothed cam gear that failed on me. Do I need to worry with this engine?
Are there any failing particular to this year?
There's a little bit of clatter from the front passenger side, but everything up there looks good. Any advice on what to look for?

Thanks

Dan

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Almost certain a 1989 3800 will have a steel cam gear. I think the nylon gears were phased out by the time the 3800 received a balance shaft(1988).  As for the clatter: Does it sound like it's from the top of the engine or bottom on that side? If you're in the US(not sure from your username) and have a Harbor Freight nearby, pick up a cheap mechanic's stethoscope. That will help you pinpoint the noise to a specific area.

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Thanks. I am in the US. Connecticut to be precise. It's definitely suspension related. The guy I bought it from said he thinks it needs new struts, but at a glance everything looks sound under the top plate, but this would be my first car with replaceable cartridge style struts, so I'm not familiar with their idiosyncrasies.  

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5 hours ago, Sigurd Jarlson said:

Thanks. I am in the US. Connecticut to be precise. It's definitely suspension related. The guy I bought it from said he thinks it needs new struts, but at a glance everything looks sound under the top plate, but this would be my first car with replaceable cartridge style struts, so I'm not familiar with their idiosyncrasies.  

Definitely make sure you check those spring seats.  GM's awful water-retaining design + GM powdercoat + road salt = almost certain failure after a while.  And the cartridge design unfortunately allows one to get away with, at least for a while, not even taking the strut towers apart to inspect the seats properly.  

They're cheap parts to source (like $4 each side from Rockauto w/bearing), but when one of mine went it cost me $700 because it was in the middle of nowhere in northern Montana :(.  

BTW, welcome to the club!  Lots of great people here, and most things on the W-bodies are idiot-proof fortunately.  Stock brakes rather suck on the pre-1994 models.  And the rear disc brakes are prone to seizing and aren't the best design either.  Replacing ball joints can be a nasty affair as they're riveted on -- if you have the strut towers off the car for any reason (perhaps to inspect/change-out the spring seats), do give consideration to replacing the ball joints or at least grinding the rivets and replacing with good quality high-grade bolts.   3800's run forever -- that's the least of your worries with the car!  Check to make sure the pads on the rear fiberglass leaf spring are intact, and if they're missing, repair/replace accordingly.  

Edited by pitzel

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You should put your State or Geographic area in your profile.


It sounds like the strut, and/or the lower control arm.

You need 2 jacks, or a jack and jack stands.
Jack up the center front of the car high enough so that the bad wheel is also off the ground.
Put jack stands under the center of the subframe.
Take off the tire on the bad side.

Using a jack, jack up the lower control arm.
Be careful of the car lifting off the jack stands in the center!
Slowly and/or a little quickly, lower the jack on the lower control arm.
Listen and try to locate the noise.
I may take a number of tries,  But, you'll find it.
Again, be careful of the car lifting off the jack stands in the center!


The attached video will give you a better idea of what I'm taking about.
Iirc, that was from a broken spring.  That happens a lot in snow States.
The bottom of the spring rusts to the bottom plate, then there is a single flexing point.  That stress eventually breaks the spring.  Since the spring is often rusted  to the bottom plate, that means replacing the lower Control-arm(in the video), or the strut for other cars.  For the back, the rear spring may rust to the trailing arm, or the rear axle assembly.


Good Luck!
 

Edited by Cutlass350

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I'm in Connecticut, but this car has been babied by the previous owner and has't seen any road salt or snow. The springs and seat are super clean. I'm going to change out the cartridge and if that doesn't help I'll move on with your advice. Thanks for the help.

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On 9/2/2019 at 2:23 PM, Cutlass350 said:

You should put your State or Geographic area in your profile.


It sounds like the strut, and/or the lower control arm.

 

Yeah. It was the strut.
I went with Monroe OESpectrum grade. I know a lot of people don't like Monroe, but I have always had good luck with them, and I didn't go with the Sensa-Track cheapies....

Putting the new one in wasn't bad. I had to center the strut shaft and keep it centered by placing wooden shims in between the wheel well and the spring seat. That was tricky to do solo.

I also had to modify the strut  tool so it fit over the strut shaft, and even though the 4 prongs on it fit perfectly on the original strut nut, it didn't line up with the holes in the Monroe strut nut, so I had to widen the holes to fit the tool. That was a PITA, but it worked out ok.
I was surprised that there wasn't a bumper underneath the metal "cup" that holds the upper strut mount. That part threw me too, because it's not in the YT video below I used as a reference. But the 3 prong side of the W-Body strut tool fits into that so you can rotate it for removal.

 




Thanks for the help.

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