1. Check all front lights, Headlamps, Parking, Side Marker, Turn Signal, Fog Lamps. Headlamps - are lenses yellow. Fog Lamps - working, broken lenses. Any broken lens can be expensive, if Fog Lamps broken probably best to remove complete assembly and replace with after market. Yellow Headlamps can be cleaned up - see Archives. Check Headlamp mounting pins (not adjusting screws), if the headlamp has been hit these are designed to break to save the assembly. These are replaceable (3 per headlamp).
2. Front Suspension - if car has 115 - 150K km (70 - 90K miles) it is a good idea to replace the anti-roll bar bushings in the lower control arm as well as the inner bushings in the same arm. If the ball joints are loose it the whole arm needs to be replaced and can be purchased with all the bushings (BAT in Florida). Bushings are typically the cause of front end vibration at highway speeds and during braking (Can also be caused by warped brake rotors). Another not so precise test is to kick the tread at the front of the tire and see how far back the wheel moves - if it's upward of an inch or more, replace. Three types available, original type, Group N (GpN), which are a little stiffer and Urethane - quite firm and can sometimes squeak. As you increase the firmness the handling becomes more precise but the road noise and vibration more noticeable (GpN is a good compromise).
3. Under Hood, if fluid hoses original, replace them all as well as the clamps - get stainless clamps. Vacuum hoses unless hard and/or cracked have a long life. Belts should be replaced as well as thermostat and coolant. Plug, wires, cap and rotor are inexpensive to replace and cheap insurance. Replace Air Filter and Fuel Filter (under driver's side of car just ahead of rear suspension arms).
4. Engine - they all have seem to have a slight lifter noise once the engine is warmed up. If oil and filter have been changed every 3K miles you should see 0 consumption between changes. Valve cover gaskets are notorious for leaking onto the exhaust manifold and causing an acrid smell when idling at a light. Replace the gaskets with rubber ones NOT cork.
5. Power Steering - fluid will more than likely be black and smell - drain (see Service Manual or Archives), and refill with synthetic ONLY. If steering is notchy this should cure it.
6. Automatic Transmission - (5 speeds are rare, 1989 only), if car has 115 - 150 K km (70 - 90K miles) and this has not been rebuilt be prepared. Prices vary from $1200 - $2700C ($850.00 - $1950.00U). Use synthetic oil. Replace the transmission mount if it is the original (more often than not the cause of vibration at
20mph during acceleration). I would also replace the vacuum modulator (
$20.00 from FLM). To evaluate a test drive, under light acceleration you should feel gentle shifts from 1-2, 2-3, lock-up and then overdrive. Lock-up requires the vacuum to be less than 15 inches (basically accelerating), and overdrive requires speeds above 60 kph (40 mph). If the tach works, lock-up is
100 rpm drop and overdrive
400. Under harder acceleration the shifts will be harder, sequence being 1-2, 2-3, overdrive and then lock-up. Highway speed of
120 kph (75 mph), should indicate
7. Driveshaft - if car has 115 - 150 K km (70 - 90K miles), replace the Guibo (rubber donut), where driveshaft connects to transmission. After the mount and Guibo have been replaced beg, borrow or steal a dial indicator and check the Guibo run out aka driveshaft alignment (see Service Manual or Archives for procedure). Check the center bearing for slop, this is not a FLM replacement item, they want you to but the whole shaft
$700.00C ($500.00U). Check the archives for Gaylon Driveshaft Services - they can rebuild your existing shaft into a new one without the center bearing. Or try www.cvaxles.com in Florida.
8. Rear Axle - check halfshaft boots for rips/tears and/or leaking grease (splatter pattern on floor pan). During test drive check for clicking noises during left and right U turns. If it clicks, time to replace both (expensive
$185.00U ea. plus labor see www.cvaxles.com - Florida). Replace differential oil.
9. Brakes - these are notorious for warped front rotors due to the fact that the cars are heavy. Check for pulsing pedal during heavy braking. Rears are not as bad. Brembo rotors and stainless steel brake lines are an expensive but final solution to the problem.
10. Dash - burned out lights, inoperative tach, intermittent speed, low reading temperature and fuel gauge are typical. Dash and idiot light bulbs are still available through FLM. Weird ones in radio, power window switches, etc. available at hobby shops specializing in model trains. Check for cracked dash pad. Use the Vacuum and Electrical Troubleshooting Guide and Service Manual to trouble shoot the gauges. Tach is usually either a break in the shielded wire from the coil to the tach or the gauge itself. Speedo is typically the sender on the transmission (FLM part). Temperature gauge is more often than not the sending unit in the engine just below the throttle body (FLM part). Fuel gauge is typically a cold solder joint on the small circuit board found on the back of the dash assembly behind the temp/fuel gauge (use a low temp. iron), check to make sure none of the solder leads on this board are piercing the blue plastic printed circuit pattern on the back (put Duct Tape on the plastic if in doubt). The System Sentry (door ajar, etc.), either works or not. Burned out bulbs are the hobby shop stuff. Fuel Door switch (console), check to see if this works, if door does not open thermal fuse on solenoid is probably open. It is inside fender behind jack - there is a recent post by me in the archives on how to repair this (quick, fairly simple and permanent).
11. Cruise Control - hopefully this works. Very complex with the brain above the glove box (remove the dash pad to access). Typical problems are vacuum leaks, tons of hoses all driven by a small motor behind passenger headlamp. Or a break in the shielded tach wire from the coil.
12. Interior - check for overall condition especially leather if it has been exposed to the sun. Critical areas are the tops of the front seats (where your butt goes), especially the driver's side, and the top of the rear seats, under rear window - dries out. Lexol makes an excellent cleaner and conditioner (non greasy Neats Foot Oil). Light for clock/outdoor temp may be burned out and not very easy to replace. Air bladders for seat bolsters may have leaks.
13. Sunroof - check that it works in both modes, fully open and 'pop up at the back'.
14. EATC - Electronic Air Temperature Control - heating and Air Conditioning system. Quite complex and can suffer from noisy fan (expensive to replace and/or repair), and/or no AC (very expensive to repair). System does have diagnostic error code capabilities through the temp display. Check to see if temp display shows A/C symbol, open hood and check if compressor clutch cycles and then check sight glass on Receiver/Dryer. This is located just behind grille on the right side - long black cylinder with 3 wire electrical connector and small glass lens on top. You should see steady flow of liquid by the glass, if none or air bubbles, system is low on Freon. Make sure electric fan in front of condenser a) spins freely and b) works in low and high speed.
15. Body - if you live in a winter climate area with road salt or close to the ocean the body can suffer some rust. Typical areas are wheel well arches, tops of doors (under chrome trim with rubber window gasket), under gray plastic lower door panels, underside of doors and bottom edge of hatch. Check the area below the windshield (where fuse box, wiper motor, blower motor, etc.), resides. This does not have a screen cover as is typical for most cars and therefore collects a great deal of debris (leaves, etc.), which can cause rust. BAT in Florida sells a proper cover for this (
$28.00U, t.941-355-0005). Check fuel and evaporator lines from fuel tank to engine, these corrode - can be replaced with standard metric or inch metal lines, good fuel injection hose (high pressure), and clamps.
16. Keys - expensive from FLM (if they have them), especially the main one with the little light. Cars originally came with 5 keys - 4 ignition/door/latch and 1 glove box. One of the combination keys had the little light and the other had a T handle (could be hidden for emergency purposes). BAT carries these
$14.00 w/light and
$5.00 without, t.941-355-0005).