: Failing Opti symptoms?



turbojimmy
05-13-11, 08:47 AM
I'm almost afraid to ask this, but, what are the symptoms of a failing Optispark?

I have a miss that seems to be electrical. When the car is cold, it starts and idles fine. When I put it into gear, it will miss at random - feels like a single cylinder misfiring. Then just off idle, when I go to accelerate, I'll get a quick succession of misfires that has to be multiple cylinders. It seems to be okay cruising along at a constant speed. It's mostly just off idle, under a load. It will occasionally misfire when it's warmed up and idling, again a single misfire and an occasional multiple misfire.

I hate these kinds of things because they're really hard to diagnose. An improper air/fuel mixture could cause it too. I have no codes. I hate to throw several hundred $$ at a new Opti if it won't fix it. I still have the opti on the old engine, too, that I can try. It was fine when I retired it.

outsider
05-13-11, 10:08 AM
mine was doing similar but only at random...very infrequently.

had my opti replaced but I'm still seeing a slight buck at idle from time to time which I'm thinking is due to my exhaust leak. Do you have an exhaust leak or anything else that might cause your car to run rich or lean?

turbojimmy
05-13-11, 10:20 AM
mine was doing similar but only at random...very infrequently.

had my opti replaced but I'm still seeing a slight buck at idle from time to time which I'm thinking is due to my exhaust leak. Do you have an exhaust leak or anything else that might cause your car to run rich or lean?

Ahhhh - good point. I have several exhaust leaks - the biggest leaks being where the exhaust system meets the cats on both sides. It might be time to address that....

CadillacPimpinNOLA
05-13-11, 02:26 PM
i had similar issues and thought it may be the optispark, i was near the point of either burning the car or selling it. of course cant get much if it doesnt run good.


check the driver side spark plug wire on the back cylinder, next to the firewall...not only me but a friend of mine had the same issue with the same wire, my car a 95, his a 94 fleetwood.

the wire looked perfectly fine but didnt work anymore, i replaced that 1 wire and everything is perfect now

turbojimmy
05-13-11, 03:38 PM
i had similar issues and thought it may be the optispark, i was near the point of either burning the car or selling it. of course cant get much if it doesnt run good.


check the driver side spark plug wire on the back cylinder, next to the firewall...not only me but a friend of mine had the same issue with the same wire, my car a 95, his a 94 fleetwood.

the wire looked perfectly fine but didnt work anymore, i replaced that 1 wire and everything is perfect now

You might be on to something there. That's the #7 cylinder. I had a misfire earlier, but it was just a single misfire - didn't feel like multiple misfiring cylinders. At night with the engine running I could see that wire arcing against the header. I replaced that wire with one off the old engine and it didn't fix it. I thought maybe I cracked a plug so I replaced the plug. It was okay for a while, but then it developed this worse misfiring.

For fun, after I saw your post, I removed the "new" spark plug wire and put the old one on. The misfire is 10X as bad now. I put the "new" wire back on and it's back to its usual misfiring.

I think I'll gamble on a set of wires before I go too much further....

Thanks!

HUF
05-14-11, 01:48 AM
Make sure opti vent harness holds vacuum. Pull off the vacuum hose connected to that blue plastic elbow at the air intake. Plug the elbow and the hose with fingers. Wait for a couple of minutes so vacuum would build up. It should be about 20 " Hg.

turbojimmy
05-16-11, 07:20 AM
Make sure opti vent harness holds vacuum. Pull off the vacuum hose connected to that blue plastic elbow at the air intake. Plug the elbow and the hose with fingers. Wait for a couple of minutes so vacuum would build up. It should be about 20 " Hg.

I'll check that out, too.

Ordered wires. We'll see what happens. It might be in my head, but it seems worse now that I messed with that one cylinder by swapping wires around. I also lost that heat shield that goes on the plug-end of the wire. Must've left it under the hood somewhere and it fell out onto the road.

HUF
05-16-11, 04:36 PM
The shields. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Impala-SS-Spark-Plug-Heat-Shield-Caprice-LT1-Z-28-NOS-_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem563efaa232QQitemZ37042 3800370QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccesso ries

turbojimmy
05-16-11, 05:04 PM
Nice! Thanks!

Were they originally on all the plugs? I only have them on the back 4 (2 on each side).

turbojimmy
05-25-11, 05:45 PM
Okay so the new wires didn't fix it.

What fails on the OptiSpark? I can see that I can get just the distributor cap for $54 (KEM brand) from RockAuto or the entire rotor/cap assembly for $175 (Cardone brand). Do I roll the dice on just a cap or get the whole thing?

outsider
05-25-11, 06:06 PM
I've always got cap and rotor together for all my cars so that's what I did when I bought the new opti cap.

thefleetwoodguy
05-25-11, 07:00 PM
the distributor should be fine
the vented opti (all fleetwoods had)
are not the same as the earlier non vented ones
you should be fine with just the cap and rotor
also try to find a a/c delco cap, the aftermarket ones can fail big time
just ask a few members on this forum
stay away from the cheapo caps I/M/o

drmenard
05-25-11, 07:33 PM
Jim is right on this one..This is one cap you don't want to cheap out on... I learned my lesson the hard way with a ebay cap...I have had good luck with stock caps , autozone brand cap that cost about $100 and and Accel cap.. I think I got my best value searching for the best price on the Accel cap and rotor..

turbojimmy
05-26-11, 08:35 AM
I've always got cap and rotor together for all my cars so that's what I did when I bought the new opti cap.

Thanks, I meant "entire distributor/cap" assembly. The rotors and caps come together.

The Delco part is $175. The KEM brand is $55. That's a tough pill to swallow. I'll have to think about it....

turbojimmy
05-26-11, 11:03 AM
Okay - one more stupid question: How do you get that distributor cap off? Do I have to remove the water pump (again) and the crank pulley?

thefleetwoodguy
05-26-11, 12:58 PM
oh ya, water pump outer balancer, left side accessories i/e coil airpump bracket etc.. you should replace the seal behind the dist as well, since its a common leaker
if you want a gm cap I can put you onto one for around $140
you will need the reverse torx #4 if I remember correctly
to get the cap off, If you cant find one locally I could "lend" you mine

turbojimmy
05-26-11, 01:23 PM
oh ya, water pump outer balancer, left side accessories i/e coil airpump bracket etc.. you should replace the seal behind the dist as well, since its a common leaker
if you want a gm cap I can put you onto one for around $140
you will need the reverse torx #4 if I remember correctly
to get the cap off, If you cant find one locally I could "lend" you mine

Sounds like fun. At least I don't have an air pump anymore. I'm pretty sure I took the bracket off, too, since it's only function once the pump was removed was to hold up a wire loom.

I assume the seal behind the distributor leaks oil? If so, it's already leaking.

I have a reverse torx set somewhere, but thanks.

turbojimmy
06-14-11, 01:56 PM
AUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Who was the genius that designed this Optispark BS? It is so tortuous that it almost seems deliberately designed to frustrate.

I bought a Delco cap and rotor. Yanked the balancer off and the water pump too.

And yes, I needed a E-4 torx bit. Which I had, but noooooooooooo you need a DEEP WELL one, which apparently are as rare as hen's teeth. After driving all around the planet yesterday, I couldn't find one and ordered one on the Internet. Turns out I drove everywhere but to the one store that actually has them: NAPA. So I have two now.

So all happy with my E-4 deep well socket, I get back to work. Evidently, though, all the E-4 socket is good for is snapping the comically tiny bolts off of the distributor housing. The best part is that they snap flush with the housing thus thwarting any attempt to get vise grips on them. And, because they're comically tiny you'd need a comically tiny drill bit and a microscope to drill them out.

I'm going to see if I can successfully remove the distributor from the old engine.....

CadillacPimpinNOLA
06-14-11, 02:01 PM
yea, autozone here stocks the e4 deep sockets, i to have every size but not in deep...however i have no issues changing the optis, ive done a few and no problems, takes time but nothing major

outsider
06-14-11, 02:33 PM
I chickened out and had my garage do it while I was gone to Vegas :)

turbojimmy
06-14-11, 03:56 PM
I chickened out and had my garage do it while I was gone to Vegas :)

Ironically I'm on my way to Vegas. I needed to be done with this yesterday. Now the car is disabled in the middle of the driveway for the rest of the week. I fly overnight Thursday and get home Friday morning. I need to drive the car to Boston Friday afternoon. Everything has to go perfectly when I get home!

turbojimmy
06-19-11, 06:02 PM
So I finally replaced the whole distributor. It came with a new cap. Fired it up and it does the SAME exact thing it did before. Random missing, stumbling, etc. I took a 500-mile round-trip to Boston and it deteriorated quite a bit. It still idles decent, but it's way down on power. It seems to be working really hard to chug along. Seems like it's not firing on all cylinders, but it's not a single cylinder miss. The old distributor cap was significantly worn, so it needed replaced anyway.

Maybe related, the exhaust leaks got quite a bit worse. I'm going to replace the exhaust system next, but I doubt that's the problem. It seems electrical, but there's not much left ignition-wise to replace. Do the coils go bad?

outsider
06-19-11, 06:24 PM
I've heard the coil wires go bad but i haven't heard anything about the coil it's self.

turbojimmy
06-19-11, 07:28 PM
It would be nice if it were that simple (coil wire). I'll swap it out...I have a new one here. The #7 plug wire was bad, but I replaced it a while ago.