Attempting DIY repairs on '87 Cev Caprice Classic Wagon...


Old 09-06-09, 11:06 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 3
Attempting DIY repairs on '87 Cev Caprice Classic Wagon...

Hi Everyone,

My car had been sitting in storage in my father's garage for 13 years before he sold it to me, and prior to that had been a taxi cab for 9 years. Considering I got it for just about free it runs and drives great but won't pass emissions testing required in my area for registration. Repairs of course cost more than the value of the vehicle. Here's the list the mechanic gave me:

Tsp, Egr Valve, O2 Sensors, Catalytic Converter, Multiple Vacuum Leaks And Hoses Capped Off.

My question for you is, are these repairs that can be made by a layman with minimal tools / funds provided I be willing to do the research to learn to do it right? Also what is a TSP anyway?

My DEQ test has me only slightly too high on hydrocarbons. Which of these repairs are the easiest to make for maximum improvement on hydrocarbon emissions?

Lastly I'm getting about 10 miles per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, any suggestions for improving mileage would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-06-09, 03:02 PM
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Location: Northeastern PA.
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First things first.....On the Underside of the hood is a Vacuum Diagram.....One at a time , go thru the diagram, find the corresponding hose , and properly route it and connect it......Tedious and time consuming, but the easiest, cheapest , and probably most beneficial piece of the puzzle.

Now a word of caution.... Unless you have a certified technician do the repairs properly, you have no recourse when the car still fails......and "Catalytic Converters and Egr Valves" are NOT CHEAP.......Not to discourage you from DIY, but there is always a Touch of "Anarchy" when it comes to what will pass , what wont, and what repairs are as effective as expected.....
Old 09-07-09, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by KrisWood View Post
in storage in my father's garage for 13 years .....a taxi cab for 9 years...... I'm getting about 10 miles per gallon ......, any suggestions......
My suggestion woud be to run!

For reasons of the 3 things taken together. For example - (1)- was that car periodically run at all in those 13 years to keep fluids moving and lubricating? (2)-A cab? Yikes. (3)- 10 mpg? Hmmmm. Not good. I presume that is city driving with stop lights every block? But even so.
Old 09-08-09, 01:45 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 3
Thanks for the advice! A couple things on this: I'm not going to be able to afford a vehicle any time soon, though I realize this will cost about as much to fix as a far newer used car would to buy. In the short term I think it's still a good solution for a point A to point B vehicle.

1)No, it was not. A lot of the money I've put into it so far has been cleaning out the gunk and replacing parts that deteriorated over that time.

2)Yup, a cab, looks kinda neat actually, though if I do keep it I'm gonna have to change the color lol. Odometer currently reads 47 thousand miles but has been around at least once... :-/

3) No that was a 200 mile round trip on scenic highways to the ocean from Portland, Oregon and back. I'm sure it's much worse in town.


Part of the reason I was considering DIY for this car is that the mechanic quoted me about $1000 to fix all the problems listed in my first post. The car even in mint condition is barely worth that. It will be worth, however, the time invested in learning how the thing works because I had difficulty even changing my spark plugs. I'd like to learn at least the basic repairs so I don't have to keep going to mechanics on this and future cars for the little things. If I can learn some of the more complicated things, cool. It just means waiting a little longer to be able to drive it anywhere hehe.
Old 09-27-09, 07:31 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1
First things first

If you are still wondering about this car here are a few suggestions:
High Hydrocarbons (HC) mean a rich fuel mixture or unburnt fuel.
Causes in order to check:
1. If the engine is idling fast or rough or both
Vacuum lines - all those small black hoses for cracks, loose connections or just missing hoses.
2. Spark Plugs and wires.
Just one misfiring plug can cause high HC (and high gas consumption)
3. O2 Sensors.
These regulate the flow of gas to the injector(s).
Other things you mentioned.
A. TSP is probably TPS Throttle Position Sensor
Probably not your problem.
B. EGR Valve.
Could be a problem if malfunctioning. It often is operated by vacuum so you may solve this problem with the vacuum hoses.
C. Catalytic Converter
Probably not your problem with only high HC's

Last edited by dnbradley; 09-27-09 at 07:33 AM. Reason: adding info
Old 09-27-09, 09:38 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 3
Thanks for the reply! I actually found a much simpler repair; I drove it 200 miles round trip to the coast and back. All that freeway driving seems to have cleared out the engine and it passed emissions testing no problem, with one third of the prior HC count.

Unfortunately two days later it blew a gasket and all the oil drained out, causing the engine to freeze up. Freezing up also knocked the fuel pump loose so it started leaking fuel as well as oil. With constant additions of fuel and oil it lived a few more days then died completely on the way to college (I was able to coast a couple blocks into the parking lot in neutral, and made it into a parking space where it's now sitting until I can get a scrap yard to tow it for me).

Meanwhile I bought a 94 subaru legacy for $750 that runs and drives GREAT with no immediately obvious problems. Hopefully this car will be a bit cheaper to keep in shape.

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