That moment when you knew, you no longer had "just a car"

Went to wrench on the Fiero this weekend. Ran into some issues with the brake calipers but also got the thing running and shifting. It ended up being a bit of a mixed bag as I was planning on selling this in a few years after fixing it up but now.....I might have to keep it....

So a bit of backstory - the Fiero was sold to me as a non-runner due to “needing a clutch”. This was quickly revealed to be a dead slave/master cylinder, and not necessarily a bad clutch. So I got a slave cylinder and tried to bleed it only for it to struggle in keeping air out. Since both master and slave cylinders were 20$ each, I pulled the trigger and got a master cylinder and a bottle of the cheapest DOT3 that autozone had to bleed it last weekend.


I’m still amazed I don’t feel the need to get the repair manual as this car is EASY to figure out. It might be the most logically laid out vehicle I’ve ever worked on, or possibly even seen. Nothing is put at a weird angle, and everything hooks up smoothly and with purpose. I hate to agree with an advertisement for a car, but there is a lot of truth behind it.

So with everything installed, we went to try and bleed the system - only to realize that we had to somehow compress the slave cylinder while doing all of this so the slave didn’t fill with the air we were bleeding and trap it. That seems simple until you understand that the system sends full force through the slave cylinder and will knock aside whatever we were doing to hold it. It ended up being a 3-man job - One guy inside the car to work the pedals. One guy to work the bleeder valve. One guy with a prybar and muscles to hold the slave cylinder back. It was....arduous.

After a solid hour of attempts that left us, at best, with the clutch pedal needing to be almost to the floor to disengage the clutch and, at worst, with an absolutely limp and mushy feeling with no clutch travel, we gave it one more round of me on the bleeder valve/prybar assist and my friends in the driver’s seat and on prybar duties.

The evil slave cylinder is pictured as the only thing with shiny metal and fresh paint

So I finally get a bit frustrated and tired and just say “Look, I’m the only person who hasn’t been on the pedals and since I own the car, maybe I should give it a go”. Both my friends laughed and agreed. We all thought it was a joke. But then I gave the clutch pedal a stomp and the slave cylinder kicked back against the prybar so hard it nearly knocked my friend over. The guy on the bleeder valve shut it almost instantly as only clean fluid came out.


It was perfect.

Or, well, at least as perfect as a 35 year old pontiac can be.

I can hardly describe how amazing it was to have the car suddenly just *work* once you, and you alone, get behind the wheel. This cinched it - It was *my* Fiero.


With the clutch feeling great, we fired it up and rowed through the gears. 5 forward, plus a working reverse. A minute or so of running and the engine stopped smoking and missing. Not bad.

She’s still in rough shape overall, but there is no mistaking this car’s will to drive again. More Fiero content to come as summer goes on...


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