Just getting up after a very late night for me. Haven't pulled a late nighter wrenching in a very long time! Got a call yesterday afternoon from an old friend who was in a pinch with a disabled car. I was going to work on it today but he was able to get AAA to tow it over last night. He got here about 8:30, by 9:00 I had figured out it needed a fuel pump. Fortunately there are a few parts stores open until 11:00 PM (!!!) so we were able to acquire one. Then I found out what a PITA it can be to change a fuel pump on a '97 Trans Am. One of my favorite body styles for that car!
It turns out (after some quick internet research) you don't actually have to remove the rear axle and gas tank - instead you can just cut your own access panel in the trunk floor. Had him pulling out of the garage up and running at about 12:30 AM. Very pleased with the results - he had started throwing parts at it and was getting nowhere.
List of things he replaced before calling me: MAF sensor, Coil, Ignition Module.
Thing he was going to replace next: "Optispark". (Bonus for the night, I learned what an Optispark is - basically just before they went to all electronic ignition with coilpacks, it's like a cam sensor and distributor cap all in one, but horribly placed behind the water pump... glad we didn't need to do that!)
I told him next time he had no start, go back to the basics before throwing any parts at it. Do a good check for fuel, then spark. Took me 5 minutes with a can of starter fluid then my fuel pressure gauge to lock down that it was the fuel pump dying. I could have saved him another $100 in parts if he just talked to me before he started buying parts!
Good news, I saved him from wasting further money on a replacement Optispark. More good news, helped a friend and have my Sunday free!
edit - basically I did what this guy did to get at the fuel pump. http://www.ls1lt1.com/forum/lt1-%7C-…