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24 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is a 6 minute read, full of some of the “obvious basics”, but also full of some very “interesting nuggets” that may help solve some frustrating problems for the beginner.

This is the 10th Anniversary Edition, Black/Gold.

I believe that I am the third owner. The car was cared for tenderly, by the first owner. Second owner seriously abused it. I got it in 1992 and drove it until ‘98. Various mechanical problems, family, and job issues prevented me from truly looking after it.

The car sat in (indoor) storage from ‘98 until 2020.

To celebrate The COVID-19 vacation, my son and I decided to restore it.

We started with an archaeological excavation, a good wash, a thorough vacuuming of what was left of the carpet remnants, and a degreasing of the motor and under side. At this point we were able to see what we were working with.

It was immediately apparent that we would need to work on the clutch. We replaced the slave cylinder on the transmission, and ultimately ended up replacing the master cylinder for the clutch as well. All very affordable and easily attainable parts.
Problem solved.

Next, we removed the fuel pump, disassembled it, cleaned it, and then drained the gas tank. Checked all fluids, changed all fluids, radiator, motor oil, transmission fluid, differential.

We cleaned the gas tank from the top, (inside the hatchback)
by removing the fuel sending unit panel. Cleaned up the fuel sender (not hard to do, just be careful), and got that working, and then through the same hole, thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed out the fuel tank, replaced all rubber fuel lines, and fuel filter. Blew air, then blew fresh gas, and a bit of seafoam through the entire fuel system, “input” and “return”.

Cleaned the AFM and the throttlebody. (Never took it apart or adjusted it internally), only tweaked the idle.

Checked all vacuum lines, and replaced the cracked ones.

Checked, gapped, and cleaned all spark plugs, checked all spark plug wires, and distributor cap and rotor. Eventually replaced distributor cap and rotor.

Got a new air filter.

New oil filter, with the oil change.

Checked timing, readjusted from 13° to 10°.

After the cleanup and fluid changes we decided to get a new battery and try to start it.

It immediately fired up, but had a very loud tapping noise from the valve train. I then read as much as I could on this subject from the forums, and decided that it must be that a “lash pad” had fallen off. We removed the valve cover, and fished around in the oil in the valve train, and sure enough found a missing lash pad, it came off of number five. We put it back on and adjusted all the valves. Problem solved, no more loud tapping noise.

Car ran pretty good at idle, and with a very low amount of load.

Then we decided to try to get it on the road, but, surprise, the brakes were bad. So we ended up replacing the brake master cylinder, and bleeding all 4 brakes. (Again, affordable and easily attainable). We lubed everything that we could lube under the belly of the car suspension wise, and more), and headed out the garage door...

So we got out on the road, and before I go any further... I should say that

my previous story up to this point,
is how it should have gone.

I did do all that stuff, and I should’ve done it in that order; and life would’ve been a lot easier, but I didn’t do it in that order, and so I got to mess around with a lot of ridiculous road test problems.

Mainly RPM problems, SURGING rpm, and STUMBLING AT HIGH RPM.

First, when you wash and degrease your car engine, water gets in your TPS sensor, and will cause a ridiculous almost automatic surge between 1500 and 3000 RPM, that you have no control over. Remove the TPS
electrical connection, and dry it all out, and put it back together, and that will solve that problem.

Now it was time to get back on the road, but as I got above 3000 RPM, the car would stumble horribly. It turns out that my exhaust pipe, muffler, and the entire exhaust system all the way up to the catalytic converter was jam packed full of mouse carcasses, mouse poop, fiberglass, leaves, grass, and at least 30 pecans. Made a nice fire.
So, if your car has been sitting forever, in a less than perfect environment, do all you can to remove the crap out of your exhaust pipe. Use a vacuum, or drop the entire thing and blow air through it, do whatever you have to do, but your car will never breathe properly and will never run properly with that clogged exhaust situation.

Now, time to get back on the road, but again it only had slight improvement, and I could only get the car up to about 4000 RPM, and then it would begin to stumble again. What could be the cause? I thought that I had originally cleaned out my gas tank well enough, by draining it, cleaning the lines, replacing the fuel filter, and putting in fresh gas. But that was NOT enough. This was the point where I needed to remove about 3 centimeters (3 cm deep debris across the entire bottom interior of the fuel tank) of horrible rust, and dirt, and every kind of horrible debris that you can think of that could possibly get into the bottom interior of the fuel tank. This is when I got into the hatchback, and opened up the fuel sender panel, and got the vacuum involved, but I got it all. And yes, put, yet another, fuel filter on again.

Also, at the base of the fuel sender, is a small canister like, filter/screen shrouded fuel pick up point...
The bottom of this screened, cylinder like, fuel pick up, had fallen off, and it was picking up unfiltered fuel from the tank. I fixed this as well.

At this point, I was ready to get back on the road, but I wasn’t going to do it until I checked the timing (found it at 13°, and put it back to the prescribed 10°), replaced the rotor, and distributor cap, and cleaned the inside of the AFM and throttlebody with carb cleaner.

Cleaning out the gas tank, and replacing the fuel filter, I believe is what solved my high rpm stumble problems. But I’m sure that the new rotor, distributor cap, and a thorough cleaning of the inside of the AFM and throttlebody also helped a lot! But the car runs great now!!

I have to say, that it “started” better, for some reason, at 13° BTDC rather then the prescribed 10° BTDC. I may experiment with that in the coming days.

Now it’s onto suspension bushing replacement, and upgrades. Beefy sway bars, KYB shocks/struts. Rims and tires!

And then it’s on to buffing out the paint, improving the trim, working on the heater core, and replacing interior carpet and seat covers.

Lastly, I will get after the engine - and make it the car that I always wished for (in 1992-and now).

Remember, The Z, or ZX, all the Zcars are cool. And they deserve better! Bone stock or modified!

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep you posted.

I hope that this “process” of bringing back a car from the dead will help some of the people on this site. You guys have helped me!

Also, a special thanks to all of the experts at the various Z car supply shops that are approachable, not condescending, and patient, and take a little bit of time to directly listen, and directly answer the problems that will help us improve our cars, and also help them sell parts. But thanks guys for your expertise and advice!!

155 Posts
Sounds like you had quite the project. Glad you got it up and running. From your post, it seems like everything was mostly in working order, but just needed to blow off the dust, other than the exhaust and fuel tank situation. So glad tanks in modern cars are plastic.

There are always surprises in a vehicle that hasn't been driven for an extended period of time. Fortunately, mine had seen regular-ish use it's entire life. My uncle was the only other owner, and drove it a few times a week from Feb of 1980, until late 2018. Car mostly sat from late 2018 to my ownership in May 2019. I don't drive it as much as I'd like (working from home due to pandemic, and 2 mile commute even when going to the office)

24 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Your car seems like it's had an almost ideal life... being driven regularly. Thats cool that you ended up with it. Yes, my project has been interesting, fun, educational, and inspiring. Exhaust going on tomorrow, and bushings and suspension hopefully arriving next week.
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