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1991SL 07-20-2003 02:25 PM

OT: I have a car that's been sitting for 5 years
A 1977 (or 78 - I'm uncertain) Pontiac Trans Am. 6.6 litre V8 with 4 speed manual transmission.

The car has been sitting in the garage since 1998. It was started once in 1999, and then again last year. When we started it last year, gasoline sprayed all over the place. A friend thinks that it's the carburetor or an improperly installed fuel filter.

I want to get this thing running. Keep in mind that I can't do any of the work myself. I'm not mechanically competent. What kind of work do you guys think would be involved? And more importantly, how much do you think it's going to cost?


Saturn-Eh! 07-20-2003 02:31 PM

First thing you need to do is remove the 6.6l and install a good old aluminum 1.9! then we can all help you. :)

Kidding aside, fixing up a car that has been sitting for 5 years is going to be a major undertaking. More-so if you don't intend to do any of the work yourself.

There are so many things that could be wrong with a stored car even aside from gasoline spraying everywhere, I would recommend finding someone mechanically inclined to give you an overview of whats wrong with the car.

No mechanic buddies? have it towed to a shop, bite the bullet and spend the $100 or so dollars it's going to take to get a proper estimate. At least then, you'll know how big of a project you will be undertaking.

Dr. Bob 07-20-2003 03:03 PM

If you aren't mechanically inclined do as Saturn-Eh! says.

Otherwise... opinions will vary here on this, because it isn't an exact science...

First thing I'd do (since you think there's a leak) is carefully inspect the fuel line, filter and connection to the carburetor and get to the root of that leak. Gas flying around underhood is not a good thing.

Second, I'd check fluids to make sure they are there - engine oil, coolant, etc. Check the air filter. You probably should drop the gas tank, clean it out, flush the fuel lines, replace the fuel filter, etc.

Third, I'd pull the plugs and squirt some motor oil in the cylinders. Over three years, the oil may have drained from the cylinder walls and you don't want a dry startup. You may also want to turn it over a few seconds without the plugs in it to build up some oil pressure before subjecting it to running. Once you have it running, change oil and filter. One guy I know, will fill the engine with oil right up to the top of the engine, then let is sit a few days, then drain it back to the normal level. He does that just to make sure everything is lubed before turning it over.

Fourth, before going out on the road with it, I'd pull all the wheels and carefully examine the hydraulic system parts of the brakes - hoses, wheel cylinders, lines, etc. I'd get the old brake fluid out and replace with fresh fluid, bleeding all the brake in the meantime.

Fifth, inspect all cooling system hoses, replace as needed, but if you want to be thorough, just replace 'em. Then flush the cooling system and replace with new coolant. Replace the the accessory drive belts.

Sixth, change transmission fluid and differential lube. Use the proper lubes for this purpose.

Seventh, before driving any extended time or at speed, carefully inspect the tires. Those are old tires which may have suffered dry rot. If there is any question about 'em, have a pro look at 'em.

There's probably a lot more stuff than this to do. Maybe even fish rodents out of their hiding places!

Hope I haven't scared the bee-jee-bies out of you, but this isn't for the non-mechanically inclined.

Good luck. That's quite a car.

1991SL 07-20-2003 04:31 PM

Thanks for the info. It doesn't sound so bad, but still - you never know. Do you think any major components in the car may need to be replaced or rebuilt due to rust? Can engines and transmissions rust out?

Phil 07-20-2003 05:34 PM

Engines and transmissions can rust out, but very likely not in 5 years. I would replace every rubber component in or on the vehicle- belts, hoses, tires, etc. Then change every single fluid, from the engine oil to the differential fluid. Inspecting the brakes is necessary, as is a tuneup on the engine (and new battery). You may very well have leaky seals on the engine, but seeing as how the car is from the age of disco, that would probably occur whether driving the thing or not. My advice differs from others only in that I would go ahead and swap out the old parts and fluids without even inspecting them. Things have come a long way since that car last ran.

No major rebuilds should be required to get it running (other than the carb), but I wouldn't rule out the car needing some.

Dr. Bob 07-20-2003 08:04 PM

[QUOTE]Do you think any major components in the car may need to be replaced or rebuilt due to rust? Can engines and transmissions rust out?[/QUOTE]
Yes, gas tanks are very prone to rusting, although usually for cars of this age it's not a rust out problem so much as once serious rusting has started inside, the stuff will continue to plug up filters after some time. There are coatings which can be used to line a rusty tank, but I've never used it.

Brake mechanisms are also prone to rust - again, not rusting out, but rust interfering with proper mechanical operation.

Engines/transmissions of a stored vehicle will rarely rust out, although sometimes frost plugs will rust out (easily replaced) and sometimes rust in the block can cause cooling system problems e.g. plugging heater cores and radiators.

macdaddyjoseph 07-20-2003 09:02 PM

more importantly, where is it spraying out of?

wolfman 07-20-2003 10:22 PM

I HAD one of those! Bought from the owner who had stored it for 3 years. It did the same thing. Turned out the float in the carb. was bad and was not shutting off the fuel flow allowing the carb bowl to overflow. Other possibilities are the rubber fuel line running from the mechanical fuel pump to the carb itself. I will add that once that was fixed, I discovered the gas tank itself was also leaking requiring me to drop and reseal it. If it did not leak when started in 99', it's doubtful the fuel filter managed to "missinstall" itself while it was sitting. The STOCK fuel filters are INSIDE a round metal cylinder that is screwed right to the carb itself.

bbarbulo 07-21-2003 11:12 AM

If you can't do the work yourself, this is hardly gonna be an econmically feasable project... I'd replace all the belts, hoses, fluids, seals, some gaskets, clean the carb out, plugs, wires, fresh battery, rebuild the brake hydraulics, etc.... you are asking for trouble with this car IMO.

Russ Bellinis 07-21-2003 11:20 AM

You may also need new wheel bearings. If the car hasn't been moved in 5 years, and hasn't been up on stands or blocks, then it has been sitting with all of the weight on one or two rollers in each wheel bearing. The rollers that are bearing the weight have probably flattened on the side that is bearing the weight.

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