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Old 03-03-2009, 12:30 PM   #1
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Bird Engine Problems


I have a 1990 Firebird Formula which I think might have a seized engine. I rescued him from a man who's brother didn't take very good care of him. He's in bad shape - but his engine was always good, so I do not know why it would have stopped working.

About 2 months ago, I discovered he had a bit of an oil leak, but never let the oil drop below "concern" level on the gauge. I had taken my dogs out for a walk up at Lovel Canyon, just outside of Vegas, and he had driven over there fine, I had checked the oil before I left as well. When I came back after my hike, I started him up, fine, began to drive and that's when it started. An odd noise came from the engine, almost like a flappy-ribbony sound, no smoke, and I think I recall him not being able to go into the next gear. So I pulled off to the side of the road and popped the hood. Everything appeared fine, there was no smoke what-so-ever. So I tried to start him up again and he made a weird noise almost like a "eer" ish kind of rumble. So I tried it again after about 30-45 mins and he literally wouldn't start. Not a single noise.

So, I had to leave him there all night until the next morning I had someone come out with me with some jump cables. First we put a little more oil into him so it was at where he should be, then, we jumped him. He started up fine and began to run so we started to head back home, but a very loud clanking sound came from the engine and he began to slow down and lost all power steering and what not. We managed to get him towed back by Triple A and back home. He wouldn't even make the slightest of noises anymore after that until someone mentioned that I put a new battery in him. So, I did and tried to start him up and he did make a sort of "chuffing" noise: almost like a blast of air shooting out of something over and over again.

NOTE: I did see a spark shoot out from where the starter is located.

He's like that until this day.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Is it likely that his engine is seized? I'm in the middle of moving right now, but when I am done I will have him towed to a mechanic (or two) and have a diagnostic on him and see what they say. He's my baby and I love this car and I don't want to lose him. I keep having dreams of myself driving him once more and it depresses me to see him just sitting out there, not being driven.

NOTE: The radio, lights, and even the whirling sound of the fan work when you two the key just once in the ignition. Also, his oil leak "magically" stopped since the tragic day. I don't know where THAT came from.

Thank you so much!
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:36 PM   #2
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Wow... how many miles does it have on it? I couldn't even begin to tell you what the problem is, and I think a trip to the mechanic is well in order. If you have another car, I would suggest that you just get a diagnostic from a mechanic and bring it back home to fix it yourself. I'm sure you could find plenty of help on these forums, and you could pick up a Haynes or Chilton book as well. I'm in the process of taking my engine apart to change the gaskets, and it really isn't a huge job if you have a full set of tools and can live without having the car for two weeks or so.

Now if you need to to a rebuild, that's a different story, and you'd need much more tools and a few more weeks. You'd want to take the engine out so you could replace pistons and rings and valves a little more comfortably.

Anyway, sorry for your loss man.
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:03 AM   #3
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The shooting of air sounds like a spark plug that's been blown out of the block, but you I guess you didn't hear a loud "pop".... that's probably not the case. Always start with a visual, plugs, wires, general condition of external components. Also, check the viscosity and color of your oil and your coolant. Those can tell you a lot. If you can get up under your car, check out your starter also.

I've seen a couple of things that could cause the "chuffing" air sound. Spark plug blown out, intake valve stuck open. Is the belt intact??? The belt coming apart would account for the flappy sound, car ran off of the battery until it died, started tried to turn with too little current could cause the "err" sound. Could have possibly jumped timing, and the valves are opening at the wrong time, sending, compressed air out of the intake, that could account for your "chuffing". I don't know, just a few thoughts(not to scare you or anything!), without looking at it or a little more info it's a little hard to diagnose over the internet! :P Good luck though, keep us informed on what you find out!!
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Old 03-11-2009, 01:10 AM   #4
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is the starter actually sparking? on my 83 t/a i had one hell of a time keeping that little ground tight... with the 8mm head on it its the flat peice of steel that comes from the actual starter and then the 8mm bolt that goes into the solenoid.... it always came loose and the car would act funny and not start and what not but not sure about the other symptoms :s
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chuffing, engine, firebird, pontiac, seized

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