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Fix-It Tips:

 

84-88 G-Body Wiper Motor Salvage Yard Tips: Some thoughts on finding a good salvage yard wiper motor. If you are looking for a salvage yard wiper motor, consider these hints: First, before even considering a wiper motor, make sure that the wipers arms are parked properly below the hood line. If they stay up on the windshield with the motor off, there may be a problem with the park switch. Second, if the wiper motor (pump) cover has taken a hit from collision or is cracked, find another motor. There is a large printed circuit board controller mounted inside the outer edge of the cover that is important to the operation of the motor. If the cover is cracked, the wiper motor is probably not worth pulling unless you already have a known good cover you can swap in. Good hunting.

84-88 G-Body Wiper Motor Removal Tips: At a first glance, the windshield wiper motor is out in the open and seems be easy to remove and replace. It can be easy, with the proper technique for dealing with that particularly pesky bottom bolt. The main tool that you will need for this operation is a socket wrench with an extension and 10mm socket. Tip #1: The length of your socket and extension must be as close to 3 3/8" as possible. Any shorter and you cannot turn the wrench due to interference with the wiper motor cover. Using 3 3/8" as a guide, you can check various socket and extension combinations in your toolbox before you ever get to the wiper motor to prevent one potential headache. Tip #2: To remove the wiper pump you only have to remove the top 2 mounting bolts and loosen, but not remove, the bottom mounting bolt. The wiper pump mounting ears are cut so that they will slide off the bottom bushing (the bushing stays on the bottom bolt). If you need to replace a bad bottom bushing, the bushing can be easily changed by removing the bottom bolt after the wiper motor is out. Tip #3: Some wiper motors were installed with special bolts from the factory with no threads on the bottom 3/16" of the bolt. If your car doesn't have these, it might be worth grabbing one while at the salvage yard to install in place of your bottom bolt. In a pinch, a pair of vice grips can be used on the tip of one of these bolts to loosen the bolt from behind the wiper pump mounting bracket without damaging the bolt. This can come in handy if you don't have a 3 3/8" socket and extension or should you ever get a dented fender that prevents access to the bottom bolt (such as when you try to pull a wiper motor from a wrecked car in the salvage yard).

Power Door Lock Restoration Tip: If you have power door locks that both work in one direction but not the other (lock but not unlock or visa versa) there is an easy fix. Because both power door locks work in one direction, you have shown that wiring is connected and the power lock motors are operational. The problem is in the power lock relay. Moving either door switch to lock or unlock energizes one side of the power lock relay to change polarity (open or close) of the door lock motors (solenoids) which operate the locks. If one side of the relay works but the other side doesn't, you have power door locks that either lock or unlock.

If you are still with me, all you have to do to fix the problem is replace the power lock relay. Seems simple enough, however, if you do not have access to a shop manual, preferably a 1986 manual, chances are you would never find the relay. The relay is located behind the ECM which is located on the passenger side floor behind a kick panel. To gain access to the relay, remove the screw securing the kick panel and pull the computer away from its clips securing it to the right hand shroud. A weather barrier is behind the computer. Gently remove the plastic retainer securing the weather barrier (so the retainer can be reused) and pull the weather barrier away from the shroud. The power lock relay sits in the cavity behind the weather barrier and is bolted to the shroud. To remove the relay, remove the sheet metal screw securing the relay and pull the relay forward to disconnect wiring.

You are not home free yet. If you simply plug in a new (or used relay) and check the operation of the power lock switches, they will not work. The relay is grounded through the vehicle frame by sharp ears on the relay bracket. The relay will not work until it is securely fastened to the shroud by the mounting bolt. You can fix this power lock problem with a phillips screwdriver and 10mm socket without ever pulling a door panel.

Glove Box Lamp/Underhood Lamp Tip: You can't understand why the glove box light will not work. The wiring appears intact, the fuse checks out and the lamp is good. Kind of a puzzler. You had no trouble checking out the Buick Regal glove box lamp. It seems that all G-Bodies are not wired the same. Some G bodies are wired so that the glove box lamp circuit is hot all of the time and power is simply controlled by the glove box switch. On the Cutlass (85, 86 for sure) power is routed through the headlight switch to the glove box switch. The underhood lamp is also wired through the headlight switch. In other words, neither the glove box lamp nor the underhood lamp will light unless the headlights/parking lights are on.

Idle Stop Solenoid Operation (VIN Code 9): This solenoid looks like the idle stop solenoid used on quadrajet carburetors from the late sixties and early seventies. Those solenoids were used as idle stop solenoids. When voltage from the ignition switch was present, the solenoid plunger extended to increase idle speed. When the ignition switch was turned off, the solenoid retracted and run on was prevented. The idle stop solenoid is again used on VIN Code 9 engines (442 and Hurst/Olds), however, it is wired differently and perhaps could be named differently. The base idle on the VIN Code 9 engines is set at the carburetor slow idle speed screw. The idle stop solenoid is not energized unless an air conditioning function is selected (MAX, NORM, BI-LEVEL, or DEF). When energized, the solenoid plunger extends, increasing idle speed to compensate for A/C compressor loads. A better name for this solenoid might be "air conditioning solenoid" since the solenoid only controls idle speed during air conditioning operation.

Light Switch Light: The light switch is lighted at night (when headlights are on) on some Cutlasses. The light switch has a fiber optic holder connected to the left side of the switch. That holder positions a fiber optic that is connected to the "light switch light" buried deep in the wiring of the instrument panel. The light switch light houses a 194 bulb and directs light from that bulb through the fiber optic to the headlamp switch. When instrument panel lights are on, illumination is provided for the light switch.

Add an Underhood Lamp: If you have ever tried to check your oil on a 307 equipped "G" body, you know just how difficult it is to get the dipstick back into the dipstick tube when the outside light is not just right. The solution to this problem is to add an underhood lamp. An underhood lamp is one of the easiest accessories you can add to your car. Oldsmobile made it easy to add an underhood lamp by pre-drilling two holes in every cutlass hood and including part of the lamp harness in the engine compartment on every car, yes, even those not coming from the factory with the light. The easiest way to get an underhood lamp is to check the local salvage yard (the light may still be available at your parts department-I haven't checked) and find a car originally equipped with an underhood light. All it will take to remove the light is a socket wrench and 7 mm socket. Remove the two 7 mm bolts and disconnect the light from the harness (disconnect the harness at the second connector from the lamp, the connector harness will not be present on a non-underhood lamp equipped car) and you are ready to go. If the connector harness is not still present, a connector harness can be fabricated with a 15" length of  wire and two spade connectors. The light contains a mercury switch that will allow the light to turn on only when the hood is lifted (this can be visually checked as the hood is opened or closed). Remember what I said above about the underhood lamp circuit: "The underhood lamp is wired through the headlight switch. In other words,  the underhood lamp will not light unless the headlights/parking lights are on." Enjoy!

307 Belt Change Tip: Belt changes are particularly difficult on the Oldsmobile 307 compared to other GM motors. This is especially true if the vehicle has air-conditioning, power steering, alternator, and air pump belts to change. A few tips to save time are in order. Unfortunately, if you have to change the air conditioning belt, this is the inner-most belt and all four belts must come off. If you have to replace the power steering belt, you might as well change the air conditioning belt at the same time, it takes the same amount of work.

First Tip: If you have never attempted to change belts on a 307, you probably would never find the lock bolt that adjusts the power steering pump belt. The lock bolt is at the approximate 1-2 o'clock position on the power steering pump behind the pump pulley. Three access holes are provided through the pulley. Without these holes, the power steering belt would never get changed. A second bolt on the power steering pump is at the approximate 6 o'clock position. Both of the bolts must be loosened for removal/installation or any belt adjustment.

The air pump belt comes off first and is straight forward. The air pump belt does not even go around the fan. The alternator belt comes off second. Once the belt is removed, it is probably easiest to completely remove the alternator (Don't forget to disconnect the battery negative (-) cable before removing the alternator). With the alternator out of the way, the power steering belt and air conditioning belts are accessible. Unfortunately, there is not enough adjustment with the p/s and a/c adjusted fully in to remove and replace the two belts.

Second Tip: The trick that makes the belt change possible, is to remove the engine fan nuts first while the belts are still on the engine allowing easy removal of those nuts. Once the nuts and fan are off of the water pump pulley and the a/c and p/s have been adjusted fully in, both belts and the water pump pulley can be removed from the vehicle. For belt installation, the a/c and p/s belts must be positioned in the groove of the water pump pulley and the pulley must be positioned over the water pump studs. It may take several tries, but once the pulley has been positioned over the water pump studs with the two inner belts in place (a/c and p/s), the rest of the job is easy.

Belt Tightening: When all of the belts are in position, the right side (passenger) accessories (a/c and air pump) have square drives provided to aid with belt tightening. The alternator belts is tightened with the screw connected to the forward lock bolt. The power steering belt must be tensioned from below using a bar between two lower brackets and is probably a two person job (remember: don't pry on the power steering reservoir to tighten the power steering belt). I would allow two hours for the first belt change. Good luck!

Window Glass Adjustment Tip: Prior to adjusting the glass in a Cutlass, make sure that the problem is not from a misaligned door. The large doors on G-body two door coupes are particularly prone to sagging. When a door begins to sag, it must be adjusted prior to making any glass adjustments. To adjust the door, loosen the three upper and three lower hinge bolts, adjust the door into position, and retighten the bolts. Normally this requires the use of a floor jack and a helper. Once the door is adjusted properly, the fit of the window can be viewed and the amount of adjustment required can be determined.   If the window is adjusted too high, it may contact either the window moulding or the upper lip of the weather seal and it will be difficult to close the door. If the window is adjusted too low, the window will not fully close, allowing excessive wind noise and rain to enter the vehicle. These problems are solved by adjusting the forward and rear up limit stops.

To adjust one or both of the up limit stops, the upper portion of the door panel must first be removed. Once the upper door panel is removed the vapor barrier can be carefully moved aside for access to the up limit stops. The up limit stops are located at the front and rear side of the inner door about three inches from the edge of the door in a 2" verticle slot. Simply loosen the adjustment bolt on one or both stop as required and move the stop in the direction you determined that you would need (i.e. 1/8" too high in the rear, move rear stop 1/8" down). Do not replace the weather barrier and upper door panel until the adjustment is where you want it (Note: Remember the inner panel weatherstip provides some of the support to the glass and will slightly affect how the glass seals). With a relatively simple adjustment, you can have a door that seals like new. Plan on about ten minutes for this adjustment.

Brake Lights: Brake light failure is a common problem with many G body cars. This tip will point out how to deal with that problem, and point out a fix that is not particularly obvious.

You have tried most of the usual troubleshooting and found that there is voltage at the brake light switch but not back at either brake light socket. Just to make sure, you changed the brake light switch, but had no success. Upper and lower tail lights on both sides worked and the bulbs (dual filament) checked good, but still no brake lights. You probably figured that this was a wiring related problem, but thought that it was a weather or wear related break in a totally inaccessible area that would require re-wiring from the brake light switch all of the way back.

You were intuitively right about the wiring problem but you were looking in the wrong place. The problem is in the turn signal wiring on the steering column just prior to the harmonica connector. The wiring from the turn signal takes a sharp turn just prior to the harmonica connector, and the white wire on the inside of the turn frequently gets pulled from the harmonica connector. That wire completes the circuit to the brake lights.

This problem was particularly evident during a search for a good used steering column in salvage yards. A number of cars had the white wire pulled from the connector on the turn signal switch and many cars showed evidence of re-wiring in an attempt to solve the brake light problem. If they had only known!

The fix is simple, either re-crimp or solder the wire to the connector. This is an easy fix with the turn signal switch out of the column or the steering column out of the car. However, to solder from underneath the steering column in the car is a task that will take the greatest of patience.

Dash Lights: If your dash illumination is very dim, the 161 lamps can be replaced with brighter 194 or 168 lamps for better night illumination.

161 1 Candlepower
194 2 Candlepower
168 3 Candlepower

Package Shelf Here is my experience in finding and restoring a good 85 rear package shelf: First, I had to find a descent one. Some of the earlier Cutlass's had cardboard package shelves and others were made of pressed board covered with carpet. I needed one of the carpeted versions for my car. The carpeted package shelf used a molded pressed wood base and can get very brittle after spending years in the sun. As a result, most of the shelves I found had cracks in various places or suffered grill damage in the area above where the speakers sit. I checked about 100 to 125 cars in 10-12 different salvage yards until I found one that didn't have holes cut for larger speakers or other problems.

To remove the package shelf, I first had to dismantle most of the rear portion of the vehicle's interior in order not to crack it (old parts do not like to flex). The back seat (upper and lower) had to come out along with trim all around the inside of the rear window. When I got the shelf out, the base was undamaged, but the carpeting was worn and stained. Carefully using a razor blade, it took a couple of hours to gently remove the carpet in one piece. Next I used that piece of old carpet as a template to cut a new piece of automotive carpet ($9.99 at the neighborhood auto parts store) in the proper shape. Finally, I used 3M spray adhesive to attach the carpet to the base. After the adhesive set up, I reinstalled the package shelf.

Note: When cut to fit, the package shelf carpet is more of a wide crescent shape rather than a perfect rectangle. Without cutting the carpet properly, it would be very difficult to attach it to the base without creating wrinkles.

The new carpet was an exact match for the factory color (fortunately light grey was available). The carpet had a thin foam backing that the factory carpet didn't have and has quieted the interior somewhat. The new package shelf looks great and gives the car a showroom look. I probably have 5 hours invested in the project, but it was well worth it and I would recommend it to anyone.

 

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