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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu May 01, 2014 9:00 pm

This is not about a radio. This is a car story.

I own a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am that I bought in February 2005 as an Enterprise rental return. It had a touch over 12,000 miles on it. It now has over 168,000 on it. Absolutely the ugliest car I have ever owned, but arguably the best or maybe second best I have ever owned. I change the transmission fluid every 15,000 miles or once a year. Ditto the fuel filter. Synthetic Mobil 1 oil since I have had it, changed every 4000 miles. It is on its third set of tires. I put a new serpentine belt, plugs, plug wires and did a power steering flush and brake fluid flush at 100,000 miles. I put a new set of brake pads on at 113,000, not because the originals were worn out, but because I got a rock in the rotor, and it gouged the rotor and messed up the brake pad. This car was built witout antilock brakes and passenger side air bag. Cheap radio, plastic hubcaps, white with gray interior. 3.4 Litre V-6 and automatic trans. A nothing, yuk car. But dependable as daylight, and averages 36.4 mpg going to Arizona, even with high mileage. It has one aggravating problem. This thing EATS fuel pressure regulators. I have replaced the fuel pressure regulator 5 times in four years. It is currently out again. The original regulator went out at about 135,000 and there have been four on since then. The only three things that work with this part are the fuel pump (also original), the fuel rail, ( a static part), and engine vacuum. This regulator has been replaced in Missouri and Arizona, different brand parts, both aftermarked and OEM have been used with the same result. They do not last a year. The latest failure has less than 5,000 miles on it. The original leaked externally, the replacements all leak internally, allowing unmetered fuel into the intake, causing stalling, rough idle, and setting a cylinder misfire code in the computer. Fuel pressure is within spec, engine vacuum is within spec, and the inside of this engine is clean enough that people think I am lying when I tell them how many miles are on it. It runs and drives as well as it did the day I got it. I have a call in to GM's technical people, with whom I had a good working relationship back when I was a working somebody. They are scratching their heads. The shop keeps replacing it for free under warranty, but this is getting old. SOMETHING is wrong. The shop claims they change "a lot" of fuel pressure regualtors. I personally, have never changed one in my life, professionally. My thinking is that a fuel pressure regulator is a part that should seldom fail. Has anyone else run into this problem? Stay tuned.

WC

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Post by 35Z5 on Thu May 01, 2014 10:01 pm

I agree they should rarely fail... Generally failure is as your replacements have, ruptured diaphragm...

Problem??? Most likely junk parts... Whoever made that OEM replacement likely made the aftermarket replacements as well

If you'e going to change oil at only 4K mi, any of today's dinos will more than do the job...  I also use M1 in my good stuff and change at one year, which generally is 6-8K, but has been as far as 9500 mi...
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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu May 01, 2014 10:25 pm

I am concerned that junk parts will cause the cat and/or O2 sensors to fail prematurely. They are not happy when you dump raw fuel into the engine, unmetered. This time this car goes to the dealer. I'm sick of these little hometown repair shops who can't seem to get this right. They may cost more, but if the part fails and damages other components, the dealer is usually a little more responsive, since they want to sell you a new car someday. I have just about quit using mom and pop car repair shops.

WC

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Post by 35Z5 on Thu May 01, 2014 11:27 pm

Wildcat445 wrote:I have just about quit using mom and pop car repair shops.

WC

Yeah mee too and dealers as well...

I've done all my own repairs since 1966 when I bought my first car, replaced every thing from a park lamp bulb to a full frame on a 1970 Galaxie 500... I did recently pay a friend to replace the fuel pump in my mom's '03 Grand Marquis, but the job is almost impossible without a lift... I'd already done same job on my Marauder but did have access to a lift... The plastic intake manifold is cracked on my '98 Grand Marquis, no biggie will be replacing it soon...
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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu May 01, 2014 11:35 pm

I am a certified master auto technician, but age and cancer has taken its toll on my ability to work on this stuff anymore. I still work on my old Buick and my truck and tractor, but the newer stuff is not my kettle of fish at all. I don't have the equipment to work on it. I have no interest to work on it. That is why GM gave us Chevy dealers.

WC

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Post by 75X11 on Fri May 02, 2014 7:08 am

Sorry to hear about the problem.
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Post by Guest on Fri May 02, 2014 8:54 am

I also find it more difficult to work on my vehicles at my age without the aid of a lift. I have been looking at a few "home owner" type lifts at the auto shows. Getting old is hard!

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Post by Dr. Radio on Fri May 02, 2014 8:16 pm

I'm about half as old as you guys and even I have issues working on my daily driver. It's mostly due to the design and "service design". You simply cannot (nor is it meant to) work on front wheel drive, or even modern rear wheel/all- wheel drive cars safely or properly without a lift. Due to the safety requirements/specialized components/bean counters, do-it-yourself servicing plays absolutely no deciding factor in the engineering and design of the vehicles.

With my 1970 Chevy, no big deal to have all 4 tires on the ground, slide an oil catch pan and loosen the drain plug.

With my 2000 Chevy, that is simply impossible.
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Post by tuberadiogeek on Tue May 06, 2014 12:08 am

It is even difficult for me to work on my 1988 Regal. The way the cars are designed anymore it is a royal pain in the rear to do much of anything yourself. I managed to change the oil in my car, but just barely. I've worked on all types of cars for the past 15-17 years and it has just gotten to the point where you either have to take everything apart to get to one component or have to have special tools to remove certain things.
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Post by 35Z5 on Tue May 06, 2014 9:17 am

If you are gonna do your own work/service, then you buy what's easiest to work on... I'll ONLY buy RWD Fords, nothing else even considered(I did pull a hitch with the General, but those were all RWD as well)... Never owned a wrong way drive vehicle unless it was purchased to resell, that's maybe 5% of approx 175 vehicles in close to 48 years...
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Post by Greg Davis on Tue May 06, 2014 12:41 pm

My wife used to own a Grand Am (forgot the mode... '92, maybe). She always thought it was a nice car. I never liked the look of it, but couldn't argue with its performance... until things started failing. Then we traded it in on a Saturn SL1, nicknamed "The Blandmobile". She was never as happy with The Blandmobile as she was with the Grand Am, but the Saturn gave her virtually no mechanical problems.

We both have a tendency to buy new cars and drive them for about 10 years before trading up to another, so when her 10 years was up we swapped out the Blandmobile for a Nissan Altima SL, nicknamed "The Bentley".

Neither of us does much work on our cars. I've done some work on my 1987 MR2 (e.g. repairing the hand brake), but for the most part we farm out the mechanical work. I found a nice unaffiliated shop to work on the MR2, but for the other vehicles (apart from fluid changes) we take the cars to the dealer. That gives them a record of the maintenance, which gives us warranty protection.

Anyway, good luck with the Grand Am. They may be ugly, but they seem to be tough.
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Post by 75X11 on Tue May 06, 2014 1:03 pm

35Z5 wrote:If you are gonna do your own work/service, then you buy what's easiest to work on... I'll ONLY buy RWD Fords, nothing else even considered(I did pull a hitch with the General, but those were all RWD as well)... Never owned a wrong way drive vehicle unless it was purchased to resell, that's maybe 5% of approx 175 vehicles in close to 48 years...

Hear, hear! Even my Mustang GT is easier to work on than a transverse mount vehicle.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue May 06, 2014 5:05 pm

We are going to try a part from GM's parts division. Allegedly the same as used in manufacture. Nobody has any theories on this failure, other than bad parts. There has been the original, two Borg-Warners, two Airtex, now another GM part. There are no TSB's on this failure. Nothing else more we can do. I will keep you posted. Thanks, everybody.

WC

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Post by 75X11 on Tue May 06, 2014 5:22 pm

I wonder who originally supplied the part to GM? Each of my vehicles use a similar setup and I have had the regulator fail on my oldest, a V6 once in ten years. I know it was not an uncommon problem on the Ford 2.9, enough so I knew what was happening when it failed, though it looked and acted like the head gasket had blown. My 5.0's has the same system.
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Post by 35Z5 on Tue May 06, 2014 9:08 pm

Back on track...

I've only seen two FP regulators failed on my EFI Fords(prob 30 vehicles) and both were on T-Bird Turbo Coupes that in addition to vacuum, also see as much as 15psi boost(which is often if I'm driving)... One failed while idling in the street, a friend had just brought it back from paint and we were walking around it when it stumbled and quit... Had to push it in the driveway(I was cutting grass or it would have been in driveway anyway)... The second had a weak fuel pump when I bought it and after pump replacement, pressure was over 80 psi(or about 25 psi higher than what it should be at max boost)... I did repl the one on daughters old Stang just because it had over 150K mi and figured it may fail at any moment(she finally sold it at over 190K mi)... Also installed a new regulator on the fresh 5.0 engine I installed in my '88 T-Bird(that one is a orig 4cyl Turbo)... The 5 speed Turbo Coupes are fun but the automatics kinda suck, I wanted a whole motor in the car...
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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue May 06, 2014 10:43 pm

My understanding is that GM original equipment was made by Johnson Controls. I have not confirmed that to my satisfaction. When I was wrenching, the only time I replaced a fuel pressure regualtor was on those early Cadillac fuel injected turds from the middle 70's. Those things would go out and flood the engine bad enough that you would have to remove the spark plugs and crank the engine to clear the flood. I would expect a fuel pressure regulator failure to be a one time occurance, or less, for the life of the car.

WC

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