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89T engine troubles

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  • 89T engine troubles

    Well I just made a 2,000km trip in my 89 Turbo without incident, however over the following few days the car has been acting up a bit. I believe the valve stem seals are toast because it's smoking a bit on start up and it feels a bit gutless but after cruising along for a few minutes it then clears up and it feels strong again and the smoke goes away. It's a blue-ish/white smoke and from what I know it's typically the valve stem seals if it does clear up once the pressure builds back up again.

    If this was the only problem then I wouldn't be so concerned but today it did something else strange...

    I went to start the car and it made a loud-ish clack sound like the starter locked up and it wouldn't start, I tried to start it again and it was trying to fire up but couldnt. It almost sounded as if the battery was flat, as it was repeatidly trying to fire up but it just wouldn't go. I shifted it out of neutral and into first gear, then back into neutral again and it started up fine! Im thinking that may have been a coincidence though. What am I looking at here? A screwy starter motor? I know the transmission needs a rebuild, but I'm just trying to eliminate anything else that could possibly cause this. Another odd thing is that the vacuum pump is really noisy when the air con is turned on...

    Besides the above the car runs like a champ, once it's started and the smoke clears up it pulls hard and feels normal. I have been expecting something to go wrong with this car, as I've only had it a short time and it's done 230,000kms so it's about due. I got it for a good price so I expected it to need some work but I'm just trying to get an idea at what I'm looking at here... Thanks!

  • #2
    My first guess would be the starter.
    Attached Files
    Chuck Stong
    300+ Parts and Performance owner
    2002 ZCOT president and always active member


    • #3
      Sounds like your starter motor to me... As well as the transmission as you so suggested... Is it possible that you engaged it in gear? sounds stupid but it may of happened...

      89 model eh? Just out of curiosity... what kind of price did you pick it up for? Ive been looking everywhere for an 87-89 Z31... those things are even rarer again over here.


      • #4
        I believe mine is doing this exact same thing! The clock will reset & everything, sounds like the battery is flat... turn it off turn it back on & then the car starts fine.

        1985' 2+2 Z31 Non Turbo...
        1986' 2+2 Z31 Turbo...


        • #5
          William86Turbo: I got it for a measly $5,000AU and it's insured for twice that at the moment. More about the car here, and they're just as impossible to find here too.

          As for the problems, I dont think mine is battery related as I dont lose the clock or anything. That was just how best I could describe what it does when trying to start it. It's done it twice now, it goes something like this...

          Turn key, loud CLACK, then nothing. Turn off, back on, engine trys to start up but wont. Wait some, turn it again and it starts up and runs fine.

          Both times it's done the exact same thing, a loud clacking sound always comes first like the motor is jamming up. I've never had a starter go bad on me before, but it does sound like it's locking up or something. I thought it was something much more serious but when it does finally start it idles and runs smooth (once the pressure builds up and it quits smoking due to the spent valve stem seals).

          I just dont want to rip out a perfectly good starter if it could be something else like the tranny and I'd like to pinpoint the problem exactly before tearing into it.


          • #6
            you're going to have to pull the starter if you want to check it right.

            if i remeber right theres only 2 bolts holding it in. its not that hard to get out. and 2 electrical connections.

            maybe you starter isn't engaging right. sometimes they stick when they are starting to die. when you hit the start on the ignition this causes the gear on the starter to extend into the bellhousing and then spin the flywheel.

            you should pull it and inspect it. there could be a bunch of clutch dust built up from over the years. you might be able to just spray it down with some brake cleaner and slap it back in there.

            you'll have to pull your heads to fix your valve stem leaks though. unless you can somehow keep you valves from falling through when you replace the stem seals.


            • #7
              when replacing the valve stem seals just put the piston of the cilinder you work on on TDC apply compressed air to the cilinder through the spark plug hole ( take a spark plug , take out the white part, weld a tube on the
              end connect about a foot of pressure hose to it and connect it to the hose
              of your compressor) this "tool can also be used to determin wich valves are leaking just listen at the intake and/or exhaust. you'll here when your engine is f****
              1985 na2t slicktop 87t front and rear end with 96 z32 front brakes


              • #8
                Yeah I am going to pull the starter first chance I get, the problem is I'm in the process of moving house and i have NO tools so the timing couldn't be worse lol

                As for the valve stem seals I was thinking it shouldn't be TOO hard doing it how you suggested ikomny but just a pain in the ass job more than anytihng. Take off the rockers and lifters, remove cam, attach spark plug air fitting, fill combustion chamber up with air to hold the valve up, remove one valve spring, replace one seal, put spring back on, move to the next lol! :cry:


                • #9


                  • #10
                    Yeah I've seen those, cool idea... I'll definately look into it. I just moved into my new place so I'll be able to sort stuff out soon and hopefully get it all fixed up.


                    • #11
                      Have your battery tested before pulling the starter.


                      • #12
                        Man this is whacky, started the car today perfectly and NO smoke anymore and I didn't touch a thing! lol :roll: Gremlins?


                        • #13


                          • #14
                            Yeah, Im thinking I just got lucky that morning so I'm not going to count my chickens just yet... I might just rebuild the whole damn thing, but right now I'm concentrating on the 88 as that needs a few silly things done like bushings and such so if the 89 stays good for now then all the better for me.

                            I need more money haha, moving house costs so much so it's ran me dry for a bit. Over the next few months hopefully I can start putting some more love and attention back into them but for now I'm just enjoying driving the 88T around. She runs like a new car, it's just so nice to have a Z like that. The 89 is a welcomed addition to the collection though, and it made a 1,300 mile trip over 2 days perfectly so I'm definately proud of her too problems and all lol