78 TransAM Not run in a while


Old 04-18-05, 03:13 PM
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78 TransAM Not run in a while

I am a college student, and my dad as a summer project want's to get his 78 TA running again. This car has been sitting in the garage and hasn't been run in at least 6 years. Before my dad and I started baling hay, we would run the car during the summer on weekends and it was kind of a special thing for us, but as we were getting the hay business started and running, we no longer had enough time for that. Now that we are more efficient and have some extra time during the summer, I am concerned about lubrication problems or other aspects of starthing a car that hasn't run in a while. Is there anything special that we should do before we start it up this summer. The hope is just to get it running and then we can make it pretty and get it running really smoothly. I am excited, but want to make sure that we don't ruin such a beautiful car right off the bat by not taking precautions. Somebody told me that it would be a good idea to take the spark plugs out and put drops of oil directly in the cylinders. Is this a good idea? Is there anything else that we should do first? Somebody else told me that they had a manual car that hadn't been run in a while and the transmission would not shift out of the gear that it was left in? Should this be a concern of ours?
Thanks again for your help.
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Old 04-18-05, 03:45 PM
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Hi Miltons,

Your friends suggestions are both (possibly) correct. I was going to tell you to pull the plugs, and squirt some oil in each cyl. also. One thing I would do before even trying to crank it, take a big breaker bar and try and turn the engine. Plugs out of course. I wouldn't worry initially about oil circulating through the engine until I knew whether it would turn over.

Secondly, is it in fact a manual tranny? Your other friends note about the tranny seizing up is legitimate. I went through that with an 87 Mustang GT. It wasn't a big problem, but it was a hastle. Can you get it rolling by pushing it when it's apparently out of gear? If it will roll, I don't think you will have more than a whiney trans. for a while. (Not being a mechanic, I'm not sure about that.)

Lastly, if it is a manual, does the clutch move? IF it doesn't feel right, replace it and the throwout bearing as well. I figure it's better to know what you have than wonder when it's going to give up the ghost.

There will be alot of replys to this, as we all are tinkerers in our own way. Good luck, and let me know if there are any more questions I can answer, and how it turns out.

Old 04-18-05, 11:46 PM
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possibly dumb question

where do you put the breaker bar to trun the engine and get enough leverage, but not break anything?
Old 04-19-05, 04:17 AM
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'78 Trans Am, Last of the Breed of real Muscle cars!

If it is a manual tranny I would change the Gear lube & make sure the clutch will release and the shifter will move (If not, that's another project). I would also change the Diff gear lube before I drove it.

What I would do for the Engine before trying to start it is; Change the oil and filter. Prime the filter by filling it with oil before installing. Replace the fuel filter and add fresh gas (Siphon the old gas out, as much as possible). Pull the Spark plugs, add a little oil in the cly's. (About a table spoons worth in each one.) Make sure the battery is good and charged. Disconnect the Battery connection at the HEI Dist. (One Wire connecter marked "Battery", not the one marked "Tach") and try to see if it will crank over with the starter (Without the plugs in it).

I wouldn't try to crank it over by hand, the starter should do it. The starter and flywheel are designed to take the torque better that the crank/harmonic balancer bolt, to risky to break the bolt off in the crankshaft. I've seem them broken off on other cars, not fun.

If it cranks over well, I would add a little more oil to the cyl's and crank the engine over a few more times. (A few short cranks, don't want to over heat the starter) That will get the oil and fuel moving along with the engine componants, pump up the lifters, lube the rings/cyl walls and blow the oil out of the cyl's. That's why disconnect the dist battery wire! Don't need things sparking around with oil vapors & raw fuel flowing. Check to see that there are no fuel leaks. Sitting that long, the carb float may have become fuel logged and or the needle seat may stick or the fuel pump diaphragm may crack. No Leaks? If you have a fuel pressure gauge check the pressure to see that is getting fuel. If no gauge avalible crank it over a few more times and see if the carb is getting fuel, if needed. Cranks over fine & getting fuel? I would install new plugs, reconnect the dist battery connection and it should fire up. (Probably will blow some blue smoke for a bit.) I would change the T-stat and coolant before I got the engine warm, Don't want to overheat it.

If it doesn't fire up right away I would pull 1 wire off and check for spark. If no spark I would check the cap & rotor and the pick-up coil. '70's HEI Distributors where notorious for pick up coils. Wire(s) break off at the coil. If I remember correctly it's the green wire that breaks more often, some times the insulation is still attached but the wire breaks inside at the pick-up coil from the vacuum advance moving. (Put alot of money in my pocket diagnosing and replacing them.) That's my 2 cents worth.


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