: Documenting a swap: N* 4.6 / 97 STS

09-03-09, 09:38 AM
So the donor car was a 95. It had had the engine replaced late '02. The car had 420,000 km's on it. Engine replaced at ~280,000. Car was purcased for $500cdn, engine pulled, lots of other spare parts pulled, and the car scrapped. There is a manufacture tag on one of the timing belt covers: " .... manufactured for Cadillac 10 2001 .. ". So we assumed this was a 2001 engine, with provisions for 2001 specs, but was designed to work in a 95 STS.

I have never replaced an engine in anything before. I have taken lots OUT. Mostly pickup trucks. But its been about 6 years since i've done any major work. I have never worked on a front drive vehicle.
It really surprised me howeasy it actualy was. People say this isa hard job. I couldnt pay anyone to do it, no one wanted the job. But they don't say why it's hard. It's not, it's just very time consuming, especialy the first time.

I lost about 200 pictures due to a corrupt SD card.... very unfortunate. But i will be starting new pics tonight. I have both cradles in the shop now sitting on skids. Car is in the air (front) on jack stands and an engine hoist.

It took me 4 days to get MY engine out, 2-4 hours a night. Big difference seeing we had the donor out in under 30 mins (we cut everything). But i am doing this job alone, except for the odd help for the heavy stuff. I had my friends dad use his tractor to lower the cradle for me and pull i out the front.

Trying to remember the order... Basicly i unplugged/unhooked everything in the top 50% of engine compartment then unbolted the cradle. Lifted the car about a foot then went at the bottom 50%. The exhaust was A LOT EASIER to get at this way. Just unhook the hangers and lift the car, and you have more than enough room to play around and get at stuff. I lifted it an inch at a time, watching to see what was still attached, going back down as needed.

I could not remove the A/C compressor. The engine is out, and i STILL can't get the compressor off. Sadly i got frustrated and cut the bottom line. But i was satisfied that was the only thing i cut. My A/C was weak anyway, and the compressor was loud. It will get replaced by spring.

The donor engine: things to note:

1 There is a rats nest under the intake. Neato....
1.5 **The coolant is green*** ???
2 There is a hole under the intake for a knock sensor. great, +1
3 The front -timing belt?- used to drive the cams... is not on straight... the top 2 pulleys the belt is shifted from the outside to the inside, it is on straight on the lower pulley. I will get a pic of this tonight. You can see that the belt is lop-sided when you look. I can't believe this engine has run 140,000 km's like that. Could it have moved or was it installed like that? I haven't touched it ye, i need to find the proper procedure to not F IT UP.
4 The starter has been changed. It could be that it was put in when the engine was put in. But there was a starter bolt laying loosley on the starter when i removed the intake.
5 There is some sort of substance in the (intake valley?) area under the intake. It reminds me of what my pickup looks like if i dont wash it.Kinda a light colored dirt/dust, but spotted, like dirty water spots from splashing hard through a big, deep puddle.
6 Clean, uniform oil line around the rim of each intake port, likewise on the gasket and the ports on the intake it self. No oil in the valley, no oil outside the gaskets. LOTS of dirt and dust around the outside of the ase of the intake. Some got into the intake ports and i can see small debree on the backs of the valves. I will find a proper cleaning procedure for that mess.
7 The intake ports are BLACK. No polish at all. A bit comes off on my finger and i get the impression a toothbrush would clean them. Is this normal?
8 Very important: i want to inspect the head bolts. Seems to me i will have to screw with the timing belt up front, so i might as well remove a valve cover. I have seen people mention before that the bolts can come loose when they pull. As in, will i be able to tell? I really do NOT want to pull the heads if i don't have to. I was thinking i would be able to tell if the donor's head bolts were bigger than what my 97 had. And if i can check them somehow without starting a tear-down....

hmmm... I'll hold here for a bit. Lots more to come but i need pics.

Edit: OH! almost forgot: MY list off tools..

~150 peice socket set with NOT enough wrenches
1 floor jack
3 jack stands (GET TALL ONES, I DIDNT)
a few bare rims (had to use to help suppor the car)
a random hammer
1 channel locks to remove hoses
an engine hoist
a medium sized flat head screwdriver for some random prying
a tractor with forks
a dog in a kennel in the shop that barks at me all freakin day.
a big pile of chopped firewood. I used 4 logs to support the cradle.
a pump truck
2 skids
I purchased after i started:
1 line wrench set $30
1 set of fuel line quick connect removers $12

09-03-09, 12:20 PM
That's not a timing belt, it's a serpentine accessory drive belt and must run true in all 6 grooves on each pulley as well as flat on the idler pulley. The water pump is on the other end of the engine.

The cams are driven by 3 chains inside the front cover (chaincase) - look into the oil filler cap hole. Once you begin removing cams or moving the chains, be prepared to follow the GM/Helm Service Manual to the letter in order to reset the cam timing. Very important.

DO NOT remove or even try to "check torque" (these head bolts are tightened by degrees of turn, not torque) a head bolt unless you're prepared to do a complete head gasket and insert/stud job in the block, all 20 bolt holes. To remove the "front" cam cover you must use a claw puller on the water pump drive pulley which is pressed onto the front intake cam extension snout - at the driver's end of the engine.

The PCV system moves a lot of oil vapor, so the black intake ports is normal.

Get a real GM shop manual - you'll be lost without it.

(The pre-2000 engines have flat tappet cam followers, 2000+ engines have roller cam followers. That's a sure indicator of the engine year group. If your engine is labeled 10 2001 and has flat tappet followers, it's a remanufactured late 90's engine.)

09-03-09, 12:28 PM
AWESOME reply thank you so much. Finaly some good needed info. Yes i realised after i though about it that thebelt was for the water pump. And its not lined up. I cant get the valve cover off without disturbing the tensioner, thre is a bolt under it thats mostly blocked. But i should be able to see the cams and finaly figure out exactly what his engine is :)

There are only 3 groves on those pulleys. The lower pulleys the belt is true. The tensioner and the pulley behind it the belt is off by one groove and rides outside the pulley's.

09-03-09, 12:45 PM
I'll bet the tensioner is shot. Cam drive pulley, tensioner, water pump. The 3-rib belt is about $5, the tensioner is $40+. Look at your year in www.rockauto.com. If you want to remove the front cam cover, you need a claw puller to get the pulley off the cam (remove the plastic trim plug in the pulley center, if installed), and either an installer tool or bolt, nut, and stack of greasy washers to press the pulley back flush with the cam snout.

Down on the block side, just under the front corner of the right ("rear") cylinder head there's a stamped or etched number on a machined pad - that's a VIN derivative of the original car serial number. A GM dealer can find out what the engine is.

09-03-09, 12:57 PM
comparing my 97 to the replacement from the 95, a lot of my pulley's look "newer". My engine looks like te tensioner up front was replaced, the donor is very rusted and corroded so i already swapped the 2. I'm wondering if i can swap the water pump tensioner from mine, and it also looks like my water pump was replaced, probably when they did the starter. But is it worth replacing used with used? I know some used stuff is ok but there are things you just shouldn;t or can't replace with used.

I assume i will be able to tell right away whether i have the 2000+ heads or not? I am looking for something similar to what i;ve seen in a classic roller engine vs a normal flat tappet engine? the "lifters" under te cams will have round ends instead of flat, basicaly.

I dont have a problem getting the claw puller and fixing the bet, oh ya the belt on my 97 also looks brand new.

The owner said he remembers the dealer saying something along the lines of "thats a great engine it has the high performance cams" when they were installing it. heh....

09-03-09, 01:05 PM
You may be able to see one cam follower, just inside the oil fill cap, with a bright flashlight. It will look like this pic rather than a cam lobe sitting on a flat tappet. (This setup is still hydraulically adjusted, but the lash adjuster never moves - the shoe "rocks" as the cam lobe rotates.) This setup is also why (one reason) the 2000+ engines run 5W-30 oils instead of 10W-30. No lifter scuffing.

Click the pic...........

09-03-09, 01:59 PM
Thats like the picure i found! heh...

my guess was right then in comparing them to roller lifters or flat tappets in classic pushrod engines, which i've seen lots of.

Cool, thanks. I'll check that out tonight.

I remember looking in there and thinking "i thought these things had roller cams" but it thouth the lobes seemed very aggressive, something along the lines of what I would see in a newer Vortech engine.

Now i am very very very curious to see what i've gotten my hands on.....

I'm starting a photo album for this project on photobucket. I lost a LOT of pictures due to a bad SD card so i missed a lot of the removal of my engine. But i wll be adding new ones from here on in.



09-03-09, 02:51 PM
The pic of the engine in your album is the older pre-2000 Northstar. Flat tappet cams and the old ignition system, among others...........that all means it's a rebuild, not a new engine.

09-03-09, 02:54 PM
yep thats another thing i read, coil on plug. Which i dont have. Oh well.

09-03-09, 05:00 PM
8 Very important: i want to inspect the head bolts. Seems to me i will have to screw with the timing belt up front, so i might as well remove a valve cover. I have seen people mention before that the bolts can come loose when they pull. As in, will i be able to tell? I really do NOT want to pull the heads if i don't have to. I was thinking i would be able to tell if the donor's head bolts were bigger than what my 97 had. And if i can check them somehow without starting a tear-down....

The head bolts have sealants and some form of loctite on them. You cannot "check" torque once the bolts are locked in. Even bad ones may snap as you loosen them.

09-03-09, 09:50 PM
Zonie - I wish to respectfully differ with you on that last sentence - if they snap, they WERE good, although they may no longer be anymore. My bad holes were mush - the bolts were greasy and looked like they had anti-seize compound on them (the corroded/decomposed aluminum block threads). In my case, all of the bolts that snapped were good, and did not carry any aluminum threads out with them; we have read of instances where clean, dry threads did come out with the bolts, but I think they WERE good, but BECAME bad when removed. I just don't think you can say a bolt that snapped was in a bad hole, but maybe I'm wrong.

I have been thinking about it, and for those people that continue to be in denial, trying to identify other causes for their overheating (radiator, radiator cap, purge line, water pump, thermostat, whatever) when we who have been through it know it's the HG, I think popping off the cam covers with the engine still in the car, and then trying to gently turn the head bolts, may give them the evidence they need to accept the truth. It was SO obvious to me which bolt holes were stripped, and which were good, I think that it's a good test. True, you might get a false negative - the hole MAY be stripped enough to lose clamping pressure, but still be hard to turn, but frankly, I doubt it; by the time you are overheating, there are probably several stripped holes, and they are probably pretty bad, at that.

I would be interested to know what other people, including Jake, think about this.

09-03-09, 10:08 PM
Agreed - even in an iron block, if the head bolt threads are toast, the bolt holds nothing. In an aluminum block, if the head bolt threads are toast, you can probably darn near pull the bolt out with a pair of channel locks.

...................if you put 20 ft/lb on a (good ??) Northstar head bolt and it turns, you got trouble in River City.

09-04-09, 01:04 AM
Zonie - I wish to respectfully differ with you on that last sentence - if they snap, they WERE good, although they may no longer be anymore. My bad holes were mush - the bolts were greasy and looked like they had anti-seize compound on them (the corroded/decomposed aluminum block threads). In my case, all of the bolts that snapped were good, and did not carry any aluminum threads out with them; we have read of instances where clean, dry threads did come out with the bolts, but I think they WERE good, but BECAME bad when removed. I just don't think you can say a bolt that snapped was in a bad hole, but maybe I'm wrong.

I have been thinking about it, and for those people that continue to be in denial, trying to identify other causes for their overheating (radiator, radiator cap, purge line, water pump, thermostat, whatever) when we who have been through it know it's the HG, I think popping off the cam covers with the engine still in the car, and then trying to gently turn the head bolts, may give them the evidence they need to accept the truth. It was SO obvious to me which bolt holes were stripped, and which were good, I think that it's a good test. True, you might get a false negative - the hole MAY be stripped enough to lose clamping pressure, but still be hard to turn, but frankly, I doubt it; by the time you are overheating, there are probably several stripped holes, and they are probably pretty bad, at that.

I would be interested to know what other people, including Jake, think about this.

I think we are on the same page. Even if they snap the HG may be bad. You are right that tightening them may show you they are actually bad. My thought when I wrote that was there is some amount of holding power from the loctite and you cannot actually retorque them once the loctite is set.

09-04-09, 08:24 AM
That stuff is a thread sealant, not Loctite. The Service Manual gives specific caution to "......and remove all old thread sealant from the head bolt holes and do not reuse the internal drive M11 head bolts.................."

Even in an iron block, some as old as a 1971 Olds 455, most of the head bolts will "crack" when you take it apart for the first time.

09-04-09, 08:55 AM
Thats what i am wanting to know. How loose will they be? An overheating engine they could be loose? The donor car... i test drove about 8km's on burlington street in hamilton, took it up to 120km/h a few times. It doesn't overheat. There wasn't much coolant in the overflow but i could see some at the bottom. No sign of anythig but green coolant.

I've added pics to my album. There are some shots of both engines in there.

The donor does not have roller cams. I found a stamp on the block, and the manufature tag on the timing chain cover. Both part numbers point to a L37 4.6 Northstar 95-99. Is there anything i can specificly look for or look at to tell if the heads have been pulled or be able to tell if it is a reman'd engine. Maybe i don't need to worry if its reman'd? What does GM do with a rebuild? The cylenders are cast in, so not replaceable. Do they replace the block or parts of it? Or coud my engine have 18 million miles on the cylenders....

I have a couple pictures of some bad bushings, along with bad drivers side top engine mounts.... all 3 cars i had this summer, the rubber was gone there. The other bushings i think are front lower control arm? Its the bar that goes from the umm.. A-arm to the frame forward.. i think thats what makes the clunk in my steering when i move the wheel jus a 1/2 inch back and forth while sitting still. It makes a horrible thud/thumping sound on the road. I can't find replacement bushings anywhere..... and a couple people told me i have tobuy te whole control arm which is rediculous.... at 800 bucks a side.

09-04-09, 09:50 AM
car with engine out, top drivers engine mount, water pump pulley on new engine.... and engine tag. Shots of old and new exhaust, and 95 vs 97 control arms.

09-04-09, 03:55 PM
That last pictures looks like that was a highly effective dog bone!

The pic in the middle looks awful familiar.

Good luck, hope you get her back on the road soon.

09-04-09, 04:52 PM
I think we are on the same page. Even if they snap the HG may be bad. You are right that tightening them may show you they are actually bad. My thought when I wrote that was there is some amount of holding power from the loctite and you cannot actually retorque them once the loctite is set.

Good point Zonie - the threads could be good, but the HG bad. I LIKE IT! I am of the opinion that it's the HGs that leak, allow coolant and combustion chamber gases to enter the head bolt bore, and corrode the threads. So... that means you are correct that a HG problem could exist, and yet every bolt could snap. The only thing is, you probably would not have any symptoms like overheating - I think that only happens once the bolts release, but I think Jake recently had one he repaired and the head had a flaw and there were still problems.

Anyway, some good insights Zonie!

09-05-09, 06:48 PM
took a couple hours to get the dead engine off the cradle. We had a hard time getting the TC off cause i was following bad instructions. Once we figured it all out it was easy. Im guessing 30 minutes to get th other engine off, but today i am way too tired to do anything........

09-06-09, 09:52 AM
Ponyboyt - do yourself a favour and bring the engine to my shop for HG replacement and re-sealing the bottom end, before you install it. A grand will have that done for you including parts and studs. You're only an hour and a half away. This way you won't go through this work twice.

Don't forget, if that's a 95 engine going into a 97 body, drill and tap the hole for the knock sensor under the intake between cylinders #3 and #5.

I would not advise trying to tighten the head bolts to check if they're still holding. Once you do that, you're in for trouble. The original threads either corrode away in liquid (coolant) or just turn to a white powder (the metal-on-metal effect) and the second you apply a bit more torque, they will strip. You're lucky if they hold the factory torque as they are- trying to apply more to see if they hold it, will finish the threads for sure. Even if you got lucky with 18 bolts, I'm almost positive that two would strip- and one is all you need to spell disaster.

When the engine was brand new, and those M11 threads were bright and shiny, they were adequate. But as fine as those threads are, it doesn't take much corrosion to let the bolt slip by the threads.

You know it really makes you think about the effect oil has between dissimilar metals. Every single bottom end job I've done on a Northstar, the bolt holes have NO corrosion. The threads and bolts are soaked in oil. Quite often bolts are snapping upon removal and it requires an easy-out to remove them but the threads look good, every time. Does oil stop the galvanic reaction of the dissimilar metals? Think about every other bolt in the engine. Tensioner bolt holes. The small M6 bolt holes at the end of the heads. I've never had a problem with any.

Now here's the question. Why, of all things, does the oil pump have such coarse thread bolts? Seems to me they had two different people determining which threads / bolts to use when they built the engine. If only they thought about using those coarse threads in the head bolt holes....

I would like some more opinions on the effect that engine oil has on insulating dissimilar metals.

09-06-09, 09:58 AM
One more thing ponyboyt - what is wrong with that '97 engine? I'm always interested in adding to my parts collection. I've got a 4x8 skid full of cylinder heads but my block collection is disappearing.....

09-06-09, 02:54 PM
that was nme on the phone last week or so, asking about the 95-97 swap.

The knock sensor is already in the engine out of the 95. There was already a hole there.

My 97 was overheating and eating coolant. Im sure it was doing that for the 30k km's i put on it, but it still had lots of power and it was just a weekly top-up.

A trip to Toronto changed that. The day i brought it to the shop it ate a total of 8 litres of *water* in less than 5 km's. I had put water in because the week before it had burned all the coolant out and i was only going 10-15 km's to the shop. When i got to the shop and sghut the car off, i could hear air hissing out i THINK the back of the engine.

I am seriously debating 2 options:

I don't have a grand right now to spend on a rebuild unless you wanna take payments (heh), i would really like to but i just cant, so....

I stick this donor in for now and pray it lasts until the snow hits and i should have an idea by then how it will be next summer. And then:

1: i can drop my 97 engine off any time to you. It will be lacking a starter and a few items that have pulleys attached. So basicly its blcok and heads intact. You can inspect it and tell me what its worth to you, and mail me a cheque if you want.


2: rebuild my 97 while im using the 95. If i am to go this far, we've been reading on mating a northstar to a 700R4. Since i've got 2 northstars that seem to me are worth more to me than selling..... in the end i envision 2 studded northstars (Studly N*?) and something about a 300HP 30MPG engine in my pickup seems pretty cool.

Seems like a lot of work, yes... But time is something i DO have, while lump somes of cash on the spot isn't. We'll see how i make out with all these leftover good parts i will have for sale off the 95 :) :) :)

09-06-09, 03:01 PM
lets say i bring the engine.... AND the car as is. I can trailer it there, probably can rest it on the cradle to do it. The crale has no engine in it. How much to do the rebuild and the install? The car is VERY clean for a car with 300k taht lived in ontario's winters its whole life... Was really easy to take apart, no impact gunes or torchess, just a standard mastercraft socket set :)

09-07-09, 07:51 AM
Mastercraft socket set? Oh boy.... lol actually some of their tools are quite strong but stay away from their tune-up ratchets, they snap like twigs.

How much time do you have?

I don't get into re-assembling someone's already disassembled car but if you have a little bit of time to wait, we'll work something out on the engine. Bring them both, if the '97 looks pretty decent still I can knock a chunk off the total on the engine work to the '95.

The reason I'm asking if you have time is because I'm down again. I twisted my ankle in a bowling game over the weekend. Nicely swollen up and I can't walk on it at all. Lucky for me I have a good helper who can now pretty much do everything I can, so for the next few weeks (oh man this sucks) I'll probably mostly be supervising and sitting on my @$$. Nothing gets done as quickly if I'm not doing the work but it gets done just as carefully.

What sort of truck do you have?

09-07-09, 10:20 AM
the 01 is now bolted to my trans. Just have to finish up the mounts and some brackets, and the wiring harness. I dont have a /inch torque wrench for the intake, and my new intake gaskets walked away.....

We are back at it this morning. I see the cradle being in and everything done up in about 3 hours. Maybe 1-2 PM. I still need to "rebuild" my ABS pump and look at replaceing the air ride pump.

My 97 engine with bad HG is sitting in my pickup propped up with firewood :) Still havent decided what to do with it, so i can probably be talked into anything. I'll PM you my phone number as i dont have net at the shop.

09-07-09, 07:44 PM
everything is bolted up on the cradle and the harness is all connected. Having trouble finding where one plug goes.... no FSM till at least next week. It looks like a wheel speed sensor plug but i know thats not what it is. will see what it looks like tomorow when i get the cradle under the car :)

No real problems except for umm.... hmmmm.... well i had labled every single plug, tube and line but some jackass threw my build sheet in the garbage so i am playing some guessing games. I wanted to spray the engine down, would be MUCH easier to spot plugs without 1/8th inch of gunk on the engine.

Tomorow it goes under the car, wire up whats left, dropp the car a bit and do the exhaust. Oh, rebuild the ABS pump and run a couple new brake lines while im there.

I want to do strut tower bearings but have no clue where to start on those yet. Im thinking i need a spring compressor.

09-08-09, 07:14 PM
lol fun stuff.... was putting in new strut bearings and the compressor broke. Just like the movies, SLOW MOTION! Coulda been a lot more messy than it was, but thankfuly it just got a good laugh :) 40x40 shop and there was a peice in each corner.

09-08-09, 09:33 PM
Look out for those springs, there's lots of tension in them! Glad nobody was hurt. Got the PM but it's getting a bit late, I'll probably just call it a night and call you in the morning.

09-11-09, 12:27 PM
grrr cv joints kept coming apart no matter how we held em.

Car is resting on the frame. just have to do hoses and wires and then bolt it up.

I still have a loost wire up front. Its at the end of the harness that goes accross the front. Same plug as a wheel speed sensor but thats not it. Might be for the AC line, i have a dummy pulley on there and no line. Only thing i can think of and i looked everywhere.

09-11-09, 12:36 PM
Brake pad wear indicator ? The A/C clutch uses some pretty heavy wire.

09-11-09, 10:38 PM
will get a better look tomorow. My struts only have 2 plugs, sped sensor and i think hight sensor or rough road sensor.

its funny because the emal to that plug comes uo on the drivers side through the inner fender and both sensors on that side are plugged in too.... lol... maybe have to run the car tomorow and pull codes.

09-13-09, 09:03 PM
The harness that goes across the front of the engine has 8 connectors. Starting from the driver's side:

1. O2 sensor
2. Top CKP sensor (white with plastic tang)
3. Bottom CKP sensor (black, no tang)
4. Oil pressure switch (2 wire on Caddys, 4 wire on Auroras because they have a pressure guage as well)
5. Switch/sensor in the A/C line
6. Oil level switch
7. A/C compressor clutch
8. Alternator

Be super careful and use cable ties where ever necessary to make sure these wires will not come into contact with the exhaust manifold or pipe.

Hope this helps. Let me know the outcome of the PCM issue.

09-13-09, 09:06 PM
There are 3 grounds on the engine in 97 and lower, 2 grounds on 98+. One is always a chassis-to-engine ground, the thick one. The "no PCM data" has to be a wiring issue. But if you need a PCM $20 and it's yours. GM will have to program it to your car. Check one more thing - FUSES. Simple but very easy to overlook.

09-14-09, 02:31 PM
PCM is good. I cleaned the ground to trans wire and the theft system error went away, and i could now pull PCM codes. Seemed like the battery was so weak it would barely turn the car over, oddly enough even with a boost.... So i left for an hour to let it charge. When i got back i turned the key forward and it says, again, theft system problem. Pulling codes gets me "No PCM DATA". Seems thats pretty random, we left it there working and came back and all of a sudden its not....

I grounded the body (shell) of the PCM and it works. So it seems the ground wire will need to be replaced. I tried grounding it in 3 spots and nada zip ziltch ithe wire is dead. Will see if i can follow it back and see if it melted somewhere. We had an issue earlier of the starter wire grounding out.

09-14-09, 07:29 PM
another thing we found different for 95-97 is another part of the exhaust. The front side (left looking from under car) 2 bolt bracket the holes are farther apart on the 95. They are so close to be deceiving unless you measure. Engine is already in and no way am i taking it back out to fix that. I am getting the 95 downpipe modified to fit my exhaust as it is pretty easy to change. Will probably just weld it in ahead of the flex part.

09-15-09, 08:36 AM
everything is in and ready to go, this must be the most frustrating point posible. After checking, checking, and double checking twice, i have finaly decided i should have waited for the FSM.

My helper has been great, but he's just not an electronics/electrical guy. He knows his mechanical stuff. I wouldn't have gotten the trans separated without him. What looked like a ground wire, he had grounded to the block. It was a large eyelet, and was black. I knew my battery was dead, so i went to boost off my truck. After about 5 seconds of being connected to my truck battery i noticed the smoke and immediatly removed the jumpers. Turns out that ground wasn't a ground. I would have spotted this myself if i had just looked first. It was the power wire that goes from battery+ to the fuse panel. It has a black sheath, but is in fact a large red wire. I've elimiated the possibility of PCM damage as the PCM was not in the loop. Matter of fact, i dont think anything was.Basicly the only thing that could have been damaged was the battery and my truck. So we double checked everything again and hooked it all up. I did replace the PCM ground as it was in a bad spot.

The car will just not turn over. Even with a boost from the MONSTER interstate battery in my truck, it does, but very, very slowly. I checked to see if i could turn it by hand, and i can. I hooked my other starter up to the battery and hit the solenoid, and it spins just fine. Last 2 things i can think of: starter is shot, or one of the wires going to the starter got fried. I do not belive there is a ground issue, holding the key forward for 10+ seconds cranking slowly i would think to see smoke if there was a ground issue.

Another problem that cropped up, seemingly out of no-where: The ground wire for the PCM does not work any more. Seemingly random, for no easily apparent reason. It worked when i left the car alone at the shop. When i got back later, it simply did not work any more. Grounding the shell of the PCM causes the PCM to function as if it was grounded with its ground wire.

After work today, i will (ugh......) pull the intake, again, and change the starter and check the wires. The starter/turning over slow issue i am sure i can diagnose myself. But i am 110% stumped on the PCM ground.

Oh ya, i havent looked into it yet but... my emergency brake will not release....sigh lol... i cant move the car back to fit in a bearing job we want to do on an olds.

09-16-09, 12:08 AM

Goes for anything, leave me the hell alone for an hour and i'll figure it out. I pulled the starter and checked everything, all looked good. I re-checked the grounds, and there was NO engine ground, somehow we mixed up and had 2 body grounds. So i moved one to the block. The PCM works perfect and the car turned over normal. Took about 5 seconsd and VROOOOOM!

I had no idea it would be that loud. 2 missing bolts on the pass side of the Y-pipe make it THAT loud. So this friday it goes to the guy who did my cat, he says it'll be fixed up in under 30 minutes :)

My temp sensor is broken. Its readin -40c and the rev limiter is around 4k but i have a pretty good idea what plug it is. Looks like it got ripped off, it actualy broke, when we were re-raising the car an inch to get the exhaust bolted up.

Tomorow we bleed the brakes. Have to re-check all the speed sensors and stuff on the struts as i have some codes and all the plugs look the same. Tomorow or thursday when its actualy driveable its going for a full flush of coolant and a refill of green (no dexcool, ill flush it every fall before winter storage) and an oil and filter change.

Finaly a huge load off my shoulders, first time in 3 weeks im in a good mood.

Oh and there is a vacuum line missing. I think it goes to this little square box clipped the the rear valve cover beside the fuel regulator. I noticed it when i was looking for a gas leak and also noticed the regulator was wet underneath but that stopped leaking since the car finaly started.

Thanks all her much for all the help, especialy Jake. That guy really knows his stuff and pinned everything right down for me!

09-16-09, 01:19 PM
Glad to be of service, and thanks for that old Northstar!

09-16-09, 01:25 PM
Can't wait to see the pics. I never woulda though both sides were gone. How are the cams/lifters? i know it had a tick in the top-end. I hope the bottom end is good, but like i said it was a VERY strong and smooth runner, even with both gaskets gone that thing would still pull my car very very hard when i could get first gear no shakes or vibrations at all, very happy at red-line that one was :):):)

09-16-09, 03:16 PM
Don't forget that there's a Neutral rev limiter, too - 4,000 rpm.

09-16-09, 03:23 PM
Ya you just made me think. I KNOW there is a broken connector on the back. It's a 2-wire plug, kinda small. 4000 RPM in park.... either temp sensor or shift linkage position maybe. Well it must think its in neutral anyway. I just printed out the entire DTC code list. Will go over the codes this afternoon.

Oh my exaust guy is looking at making that down pipe (Y-pipe?) a bit bigger too :)

09-17-09, 12:00 AM
seems every time i fix something something else crops up lol..... temp guage works. Oh sorry Jake, check yours i think thats the one that broke heh. We bled the brakes and all seemed well. Pedal was hard as a rock. I start the car and the peal goes to the floor with no resistance until its an inch off the floor......

So thats the next job :P Has to be ready for friday morning i have an appointment to get the exhaust done! Well i start holidays tomorow at lunch so lots of time to figure it out.

09-17-09, 09:09 AM
Ignition ON
car OFF (not running, did not attempt to start yet today)

I cant remember what caegories, but the codes are stil te same:

B0856 H
B1348 H
B1552 H
B1558 H
B1983 H
B2119 CURRENT (WTF seriously lets just create random broken crap)
B2471 H
B2477 H
B2710 H (that one scares me, PASSkey open/shorted pellet)

C1217 H (this is pissing me off. Apparently cleaning the pump with WD40 and greese cleaner and baking it dry with a heat lamp and beating the SH** out of it with a mallet does NOT fix it. Who woulda thought....)
C1242 H
C1255 H
C1276 H
C1738 CURRENT (this one crops up now and then, usualy fixes itself when iwash the car or if it sees a drastic temp change overnight. I have a new(used) pump from the donor car that works)
C1761 CURRENT (ride hight sensors up front are not attached)
C1783 H
C1785 H

P0122 H
P0603 H
P1377 H
U1016 H
U1064 H
U1255 H


Ingnition ON

It took me 10 minutes to get it running. It was turning over ok (had to boost it) but before i boosted it i may have messed up the anti-theft. It was not getting enough fuel i think, and there was a code i didnt write down that said somethig along the lines of "anti-theft did not send signal to turn on fuel system" cant remember it exactly. Once the car was finaly started, i could shut it ff and start it at will.



XXXXX Fuel system error HISTORY (cleared and not returned)


And that is all. I would have thought i would see a code with such major braking problems. There is simply NO resistances whatsoever in the brake pedal when the car is running, until you get the pedal 90-95% to the floor. The booster is full. I suspect the vacuum hose to the booster as i remember the donor car's brakes feeling very similar, and i used the vacuum hose from the donor car. I ran the car for 15 minutes. There is 8 liters of distilled water in there, and about 3 litres of straight green. It is getting flshed this weekend, and will be refilled with green. I'm sorry, but after seeing about 8 sets of gaskets when i went to drop the old engine off, my car will never see a drop of dex-cool. It had green in it when i bought it. I will change it every fall.

Temp sensor works, after a 15 minute idle it got to 76 celcius and i shut it off. The fan never came on, i think it comes on at 95? But i got sick of waiting. Seemed a long time to warm up.

I parked the car outside. Didnt really drive it, but about 100 feet anyway. Stearing seemed good, no unusual squeeks/groans/snaps. Im curious if replacing the strut bearings has fixed the binding/snapping i was getting periodicly when turning.

Brakes this afternoon, and a loud-ass drive home HOPEFULY! My house is a 4 minute drive to the shop where the exhaust gets done tomorow :) Hope the police are on a coffee break when i bring it through town.... as it is kinda loud right now.... But ill go very easy on it at least til the exhaust is sealed.

09-17-09, 10:02 AM
I should have said "4000 rpm limiter in P or N. Maybe even R." You cannot over-rev the engine either in or out of gear.

09-17-09, 11:47 AM
Ya it will red-line now. It gets a bit choppy around 5300-5500 but for now i will blame vacuum issues and the fact half the exhaust isnt on. Once its tidy'd up friday morning ill give it a run and see how it is. Just seeing it run now it feels so much better than the old one that had 315,000 km's on it with 2 hulksmashed headgaskets!

09-18-09, 12:08 AM
I fired my helper today. For life. He is not allowed to touch anything i own, ever again. He had hooked my steering up for me. I drove the car 18 km's to the exhaust shop, a couple 155+ km/h bursts. When i put the car in park i heard a bit of a snap. I turned the wheels each way to have a look, but was in a rush and had to go. 30 mins later the mechanic called me and said "i can't move your car, the steering linkage came off".

09-18-09, 01:13 AM
Anyone who can't competently re-connect steering linkage shouldn't do more to the car than check the oil. This is why I'm always in the shop even though I have good help. It get's done right, or not at all. Since I pull them through the top I don't even have to worry about linkages, but geez- that could have caused a huge accident. You have a wife and daughter to think about. You did the right thing by getting rid of him. There are places you just can't make a mistake. That's one of them.

So what are you doing to the exhaust system?

09-18-09, 08:51 AM
I have 2 pictures somewhere of the exhaust at the eingine where the front and rear meet. There is a left and right outlet that go to a Y-pipe. Left side has 2 smaller bolts than the right. There is a bracket on each side the bolts go into, with threaded holes. On the 95, the holes are about 1/16 to 1/8 inch farther apart than the 97. So i cannot bolt my y-pipe to my engine. The 97 y-pipe has at the bottom a big square plate with a bolt in each corner. I think it has a flex/crush peice on te engine side. the 95 does not have this. It just has an oval clamp with 2 bolt holes and a flange. They are taking the TOP part of the Y-pipe from the 95, so the bolts will mate to my engine. They will cut the down pipe off that part and re-make a kinkless pipe to match it, and then somehow attach it to my exhaust at the crush/flex peice. Im hoping it can be welded there if need, but i'd like it to remain serviceable.

They were also nice enough to re-attach my steering. The linkage was not pressed onto the shaft on the steering box. It was resting on by about 1/8 inch tops, and the nut tightened.

IMPORTANT: Does anyone know the size of the 2 smaller bolts that attach the y-pipe to the engine on the drivers side? i have 4 for the passenger side (it only needs 2 i just have 2 spares) and those 4 are clean. But all 4 i have for the drivers side are rotted and stripped. The shop doesn't have that size, he said they are some "oddball metric types". So i will go buy 2 new ones, i just dont know what they are.

09-18-09, 10:29 AM
dealer list part number 3535128 for the passenger side bolts which are larger, there is a picture but no part number for the driver's side. Mechanic thinks M10. Im guessing they are 3 inch long. I might just go buy 2 each of M8, M10, M10 4 inch. They can cut them to length after. The old bolts are at the shop and only have 2-3 threads on them (from both cars) i dont want to use them.... dammit and an hour wasted to go get them ugh i want this damn car done today.

09-18-09, 11:44 AM
Two are M10x1.5 and two are M8x1.25 - I am very sure of this. Sometimes if the exhaust bolts are a bit rusty I'll swap them with the starter bolts, as long as they're still in decent shape.

09-18-09, 11:47 AM
ponyboyt, You may have had a PITA and some lost time with the flange and bolts, but your work is now cast in stone for a LOT of other wrenchers, so the writeup is not "wasted" by a long shot. We all learned.

09-18-09, 12:05 PM
yep he just left me a message with m8 x 1.25 m10 x 1.5 but unknown lengths. But if you say starter bolts work then we will get the right lengths. thanks!

And ye i dont see it wasted at all. Learn from OTHER peoples mistakes, so i hope lots of future swaps pick all my mistakes up LOL.

oh and the exhaustwork was the least of my worries. Minimal cost, like 20-30 bucks to get this guy to weld the old pipe in and keep it "maintananceable"

Brakes are next. I had removed the ABS pump. They are hard as a rock without the car running but pretty much nothing there when its running. Pedal goes 95% to the floor with no resistace and the i have brakes enough to make the car dive if i hit em. Might just send it down to crappy tire and have em bled. Its a small town store here and they have been good to me before.

09-18-09, 04:59 PM
Exhaust is done. Apparently the Y-pipe of the 95 was quiete a bit larger in diameter than the one ooff the 97 anyway oO

Brakes flushed at Canadian tire, they are perfect. Oil change done. Top end is a bit "ticky". Too noisy for my liking, and it wasn't like that before we pulled the engine. Will see how a few miles on new oil treats it. He said the old oil was very DIRTY.

I now have an airbag light, service airbag message, and code B1126. what a PITA. i think maybe the guy who fixed the steering might have spun the wheel a few times and something is wrong in the wiring.

Also getting i think B1983. Low power on circuit 1 or something, this came up when the engine light came on about 30 seconds after canadian tire guy sprayed a water hose on my coolant res to clean some antifreeze off.....

Gona go for a drive. I have some pics and video i will deal with tonight.

09-18-09, 05:02 PM
VERY weak and sloppy engine above 4500 RPM. I dont even want to take it close to red. Gona go put on 50k or so and ill post back later.

09-18-09, 07:59 PM
p0154 ..............sigh............
p0327 ..............sighX2...........










i am starting to wonder if i still have a bad ground. I assum e the 2 PCM codes will cause a major lack of performance. A ford focus could outrun me right now.......

Apparently i need a balljoint on the drivers side :):)

09-18-09, 09:21 PM
Negative battery terminal is hotter than my top rad hose at temp........

im thinking ill pick up some 6 or 4 gauge wire tomorow and re-do the grounds.

09-18-09, 09:39 PM
Battery cables and connectors should be (relatively) stone cold. If the cable/terminal itself is hot, the problem is the cable and terminal, not some obscure ground.

09-20-09, 01:24 AM
Might have narrowed down the massive loss of power at high RPM.

Battery and alternator. The plug in the alt was loose and finaly popped itself out. When i left the shop i hit the gas and it bagged. Still revved but it was like spinning in snow, and my LIGHTS went dim. drove 2 km;s and shut the car off, and the battery was dead. Alternator would not charge obviously, and the loose plug was turning it on and off intermitantly? sound plausible to me.

So i fixd that all up and called it a night. Left my friends and jumped on the main drag and the water pump tensioner seized..... i shut the car off at 115 celsius and called a tow truck, not taking chances. The cam pulley has strands of rubber wrapped up in it, ill probably have to rent a puller and clean it up.

I had totaly forgotten about the belt being on not straight, i had straightened it and forgot i was going to change the tensioner. Will hit the scrap yard tomorow :)

Oh, i have a smashed rear drivers side door window now too.

What a night.

09-21-09, 01:18 PM
Don't know why no one has ever thought of this, i don't necessarily mean here. I have a lot of friends who work on cars.... Anyway...

I shopped around and the lowest cost to repair my water pump issue was about 260 bucks with new parts.

I dont have a lathe, so i made one out of a drill and a stud. Couple big 3/4 drive sockets and some washers. I filed and sanded down the pulleys. Lots of rubber melted on them. Bearing is fine in the tensioner pulley. I did the cam pulley on the car, just ran it for a minute or so and let it spin itself. I went for a 100km test drive last night and the belt is nice and clean, no rips or anything, it looks new, and the pulleys are pretty much silent. So it cost me 13 bucks.

Im still getting an engine light for O2 sensor. It only comes on if the RPM's see over 3000 with lots of pedal. I almost wondered if my trans was messed up. The lack of power at high RPM just feels weird, its like its missfiring cause it pulls and slips and pulls and slips but its not a missfire. I dont really think its actualy slipping (trans). I guess the best way to describe it is umm... like im driving through a bunch of puddles, you know how it kinda makes the car dive cause they slow you down. It feels like that with the pedal to the floor. I still think it might be vacuum, plus that O2 sensor.

09-22-09, 05:44 PM
:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: :thumbsup:

09-24-09, 04:49 PM
Started her up today after it sat for a bit.

P0135 Current - Heated Oxygen Sensor (HO2S) Heater Performance Bank 1 Sensor 1

P0147 Current - Heated Oxygen Sensor (HO2S) Heater Performance Bank 1 Sensor 3

P0155 Current - Heated Oxygen Sensor (HO2S) Heater Performance Bank 2 Sensor 1

P0327 History - Knock Sensor Circuit Low Voltage - That one has been popping my engine light every so often and immediatly goes to history. Clearing it puts out the engine light til it randomly pops again.

09-25-09, 02:59 AM
so after 500km's or so i notice i am using a lot of oil (a litre gone). I look under the car and see the drip. Further inspection: i can see it running down the side of the oil filter..... i JUST had the oil and filter changed 450km ago by canadian tire so.... off we go to CT. The part he calls the "spiggot" ?? where the oil filter screws to, is pitted and gouged to hell. There is next to no seal. So he changed the filter and put it on tight and topped up the oil again, put in a bit extra. No charge. Looks like its pretty simple to change, off to the scrap yard tomorow.

I never saw the above codes all day. Except for the low voltage O2 sensor. My main concerns now are the car's ride and noise. Need some front end work done ....

09-25-09, 10:48 AM
I have all kinds of oil filter mounts, let me know if you need one. I find that very strange, that it's pitted?

Any time you see that many sensors failing, check the wiring diagrams and circuits just in case something's not grounding or a fuse is burnt.

I remember doing the HG's on a 1993. The cooling fans were inoperative because of a blown fuse. Changed the fuse, and the new one blew right away. The O2 sensor was shorting out, which was blowing the fuse, which is why the cooling fans were inoperative. Interesting....

09-25-09, 04:19 PM
i need the oil filter adaptor, the part where the filter screws to. Its not leaking as bad but its leaking, and a leak is a leak. At least its the only leak :)

I've been through all the fuses twice. The codes only come up at first start in cool morning. The only one thats consistant is the O2 sensor low volt one and it instantly goes to history. I just got a 3 bay heated shop, so i will get lots of work done when the funds start rolling in again.

In the mean time, ya i need that part. I think it has the oil level sensor built in? I can live with topping it up til next friday, let me know what you'd want for one?

10-02-09, 09:01 AM
3000 km and 246 liters of Shell VPower (91) used :) that's about 8/100 ? Pretty insane....

Some rough cold starting (and its cold here), bit of a shaky idle, but every day seems to get better. Might be dreaming but almost seems like the PCM is learning the engine. Would think 3k would be done by now so maybe not... Almost tempted to let it go for the winter but damn this car is nice to get into in the morning when it's cold. Im not looking forward to warming up my truck every morning when the snow hits :(

Gonna go see Jake this weekend and fix the oil leak. It's not bad at just under 3 litres so far but obviously needs to be fixed. Heck the other engine burned a couple litres per oil change.

Im definitly impressed so far. Couldn't have done it without this forum :)