“Don’t those catch fire?”
(Edit - deleted links because Kinja doesn’t like youtube?)
Believe it or not, this is/was my dream car for many years. I had an 88 Coupe that was my first car. Where my first car (circa 2001) was a base model 2.5l Iron Duke 4cyl with the 3-speed slushbox and options that included: tilt wheel, AC (non-operative), the GT I got in ‘13 had the 2.8l 60-degree V6, 5-speed Getrag manual, sunroof, (inoperative) subwoofer, and power lumbar seats. It was my daily for about 2 years, as well.
It is not anymore. It’s broken more often than not, and the list of things to-be-fixed seems to forever outnumber fixed-for-now. Some days, I just want to be rid of it. The wife supports that - she has no attraction to the 80s and 90s cars. But a considerable part of me still loves it. And regardless, I have to fix it - even if it’s to sell.
So, things that need tackling near term, that are somewhat addressed in this post:
- Control Arm Bushings
- Steering Rack Bushing
- Shocks (That I forgot to take pictures of because they were fast.)
I’d already completed the driver’s side back over Christmas, as pictured here.
So I finally got around to working on the passenger’s side. Armed with the experience of doing the drivers side already, and a vice, it went relatively smooth.
And also very messy.
So GM, in their infinite wisdom, designed 1988 Fiero control arms with bushings designed not be replaceable. They wanted you to replace the whole damn control arms. So the most commonly accepted method is burning out the rubber, leaving the sleaves in, and pressing in poly bushings.
But first, drink check:
Ale8 is from Kentucky, I had it once and it’s pretty hard to find in Kansas City.
So this weekend I set about burning out the bushings and cleaning out the sleeves before pressing in the poly.
And not going to use a slideshow because it won’t rotate pictures so....enjoy the scroll?
Yes, the garage is a mess.
Removing everything was fairly straightforward, but I knew that the next part was going to be a mess. Que the fire!
All bushings burnt and cleaned, I proceeded to press in the bushings and mount the lower control arm.
It required copious grunts, hammer slaps, and some profuse profanities, but it got in. The spring was a bigger pain in the ass, but it seated too.
Then I looked at the mess I made.
Yes, that’s a spare Fiero spoiler.
Anyway, with brake cleaner and towels, it eventually cleaned up and I got everything assembled. The house smelled of burnt rubber for two days.
Now on to the steering rack bushing, where I forgot to take a bunch of pictures. Regardless, this is a failure point of a lot of 88s (as they have a unique steering rack,) and it needed to be addressed. First, I removed the tub from the frunk, which had a cool feature I hadn’t noticed before: the approximate manufacture date of my Fiero!
8 December 1987, if I’m reading it correctly - which makes it a fairly late production car. My lovely wife kindly reminded me that somebody at the Pontiac plant would not be writing in military date format. It’s probably August 12th, 1987.
With the tub removed, and the sleeve pulled back from the inner tie rod, I have this before me.
The passenger side is our concern - underneath the sleave is a busted plastic bushing.
Here, I learned that I just cannot get the tools to twist off the inner tie rod. I’m stuck at least until tomorrow after I soak the bolts holding the rack to the car. Removing those will give me a bit more flexibility, or I can get an inner tie rod tool. Below is the plastic bushing that needs to be replaced.
The replacement bushing is from a Fiero specialty retailer, Rodney Dickman. He sells some of the higher quality, custom-manufactured parts that OEM just can’t match anymore. My clutch master and slave cylinders are from his website as well.
So I’m stuck. Here’s a video of the unwanted motion in the bushing that necessitates its replacement. Kinja doesn’t like me posting YouTube videos, apparently.
I’ll have to take care of this tomorrow or next weekend - I just can’t get wrenches in there at the moment.
I also started the Fiero for the first time in a while. It’s indicative of my later issues: valve seals, maybe head gaskets, maybe rings. Or just sell it and it’s somebody else’s issue.
So that’s where I am with my 1988 Fiero GT. One thing fixed, more things to do. There’s also a draw, which I have yet to track down.
This car is trying when I’m working on it. It resists with old, 30+-year-old bolts and weak rubber. It’s frustrating and has poor support outside of the specific Fiero community.
But damn it’s fun to drive. I would love to keep it, fix it, and autocross it - maybe even the odd track day or two. Gotta convince my better half of that, but we’ll see.
I hope you all learned something or enjoyed my suffering.
And no, it still hasn’t caught fire.