Old Man Jimbo

Question about 1989 Reatta dash

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Been a while , I'm back. I hope all of you are doing well.

I am looking at a 1989 and I have had a 88 and two 90's. My concern is the dash computer read out and it's longevity . Should I be concerned ?

Thank you.

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I'd add to this that digital cluster (speedo, fuel gauge, clock) on the 88/89 is actually less failure prone than the deisgn used on the 90/91. I have seen many more failed 90/91 clusters due to failed soldering or burned out power supply boards compared.to the 88/89 unit.

 

An interesting tidbit is that  the 88/89 cluster was manufactured,  at least in part, by TRW and is built to nearly mil-spec standards with all the electronics being through-hole components. Conversely, the 90/91 cluster makes extensive use of surface mount electronics, which is part of the reason for soldering related failures.

 

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4 minutes ago, Imperial62 said:

Abby (my daughter) is not  opposed to driving a Reatta but I know she wants RELIABLE climate control and gauges.

If she is like my daughter all she really cares about is the speedometer and gas gauge. The early IPC does a good job of displaying those gauges and it's more reliable than the later models. All the other gauges are just clutter to her. If the CRT goes out she still has the gauges she needs. If the '90-91 IPC goes out all the gauges are lost.

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The reason the CRT was scrapped in the 1990 redesign wasn't a lack of reliability (they weren't failing in large numbers at only two years old) but rather because customer feedback to GM indicated that many buyers disliked the CRT for being difficult to use. Now, I understand the challenges of using a touch screen in a car, but really it was just too cutting esge for the late 80's when people weren't accustomed to interacting with a touch screen interface.

 

Look what has happened now that smart phones are ubiquitous, most new cars come with a touch screen radio and nav setup as nearly everyone has learned to use them. They aren't any easier to use now than in 1988 (probably less so as there are many more functions present now) it is simply that public perception and acceptance of the technology has changed in 30 years.

 

All that said, I suspect GM had ulterior motives for killing off the CRT; that being cost. It was an expensive bit of hardware, and the monochrome screen was already looking a bit dated by 1990 so an upgrade to color would've been needed as well as a new controller. The Reatta  CRTC was based on an Intel 8088 cpu and the 386 was already in common use by 1990. The 89-92 Olds Toronado did have just such an upgrade but it was optional equipement and a costly add-on being about $1500 if I recall. No one was going to order that on a Reatta which was already inarguably expensive and not selling well. Further, the Reatta instrumentation was, of necessity of parts sharing requirements , tied to the Riviera so was going to have whatever went in that by default.

 

Anyway, the 90/91 IPC  fails at least as much (after 28 years) as the CRT does after 30. Either way, you will have an instrumentation issue to deal with at some point irrespective which version you end up with. Rebuild cots are roughly the same for a 90/91 IPC or a 88/89 CRT, about  $250. You may find places doing the cluster for less, but $250 is about typical for a reputable rebuilder.

 

 

 

Edited by KDirk (see edit history)
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2 minutes ago, Imperial62 said:

Ronnie - I agree Abby only cars about the speedometer and gas gauge - for gauges.  But for climate control, the 1990's and 91's have simple push button operation that works. 

You are correct about the climate controls. I  agree that the CRT does have drawbacks when it comes to operating the controls while driving. After 10 years of owning my Reatta I sometimes have problems finding the right button on the screen while driving in traffic. I have always wanted a '91 and one of the reasons is I like the looks of the IPC with the full set of gauges better. I would probably like the radio and climate controls better too.

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I can easily see the appeal of the dedicated climate control, and even the conventional radio on 90/91 cars. I own both 88"s and 91"s so can make an informed comparison and ease of use on the later cars is better than the CRT cars. Aesthetically,  the 90/91 gauges look nicer, and having the ability to easily upgrade the radio with something more modern is a plus.

 

For someone who isn't all that impressed with the tech or historic significance of the 88/89 design (with it's known shortcomings) and just wants something that works, 90/91 is the wise choice. I don't mind the screwiness of the CRT setup because I can deal with failures  as they come.

 

The 88/89 inteiror has other disadvantages too. The aluminum trim pieces are sharp looking when they are clean, but are easily scratched and dented and end up looking like hell. Really nice unblemished ones are hard to find anymore, especially the console and gear shifter plate.

 

The EL backlighting on the window/mirror/headlamp/wiper switches and gear indicator are going to be a problem as they age and fail with no easy direct replacement besides used parts. This may seem like a minor thing, but having these switches visible in the dark is rather important. Finding anyplace to rebuild the 88/89 cluster - when it does fail - is not so easy anymore, either. The 90/91 interior eliminates all these concerns.

 

91 models get some positive attention for their lack of Teves, but truthfully finding parts specific to the 1991 Bosch ABS system is probably tougher than finding Teves parts now, due to its being used on far fewer cars overall. The one advantage of the 91 brakes is that you don't lose all braking in an accumulator failure as the system simply defaults to normal non-ABS brakes. I do suspect certain modulator valve block failures could result in catastrophic loss of brakes,  and that is a special Bosch part that is not so easy to source. Of course, only so much redundancy is practical to engineer into a system so there you are in any case.

 

 

 

 

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Like Kevin I also have both cars, and I still prefer the '89. Maybe it's like the "first" girlfriend I don't know, but as boxy as the dash is in comparison to the 90/91 I still believe that the 88/89 is the original Reatta and I prefer it. I like that I get "The Show" on entry and that when the car is done with it's show I get a personal greeting [I'm Cruzin with Dave] that I programmed in.

  I also agree with Kevin on the future brake issues to come on the '91. I believe that the front ABS leads will be a bigger problem with those cars then the '88/89.

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2 hours ago, KDirk said:

The EL backlighting on the window/mirror/headlamp/wiper switches and gear indicator are going to be a problem as they age and fail with no easy direct replacement besides used parts. This may seem like a minor thing, but having these switches visible in the dark is rather important.

 

Is this suitable, to simply mimic what's already there? Inverters, too.  My '89 shift indicator is getting a relamp with something similar soon. My switches work fine- although not as bright as I'd prefer, so I'll probably be doing them too. I had them all apart to clean, and the EL looks simple.  http://www.kr4.us/el-tape-bluegreen-1m.html?source=cashback

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That EL tape is on the correct order, the inverters are another story. The inverters used in the Reatta take a nominal 12VDC in but can be dimmed along with the other interior instrumentation lighting and VF displays. Most inexpensive inverters such as those linked aren't really equipped to dim like the OE units are.

 

As far as the gear indicator, that is a complex custom EL sheet with multiple circuits turned on and off by means of copper buss points on the pc board substrate underneath the EL. As the shifter is moved, voltage is applied to different points to change which "ring" around the selected gear is illuminated. This is accomplished by a brass finger contact tied to the gear shifter so that the shifter alignment energizes the circuit for the correct gear position indicator.

 

There is no easy way to replicate this EL sheet by cutting up another piece of stock EL, I tried multiple times and came up with nothing satisfactory. My eventual intent is to scrap the EL and make a whole new indicator unit from LEDS that will run off 12VDC rather than the 110VAC output of the inverter.

 

I'll probably similarly mod window and mirror switches and eliminate the console inverter entirely, leaving just the dash inverter for the headlamp and wiper switch backlighting.

 

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I did an LED strip in my shifter after removing the el strip. It throws so much light that I really don't need the back lighting [but they do work thanks to Kevin] on the window/mirror switch.

LED shifter.jpg

Edited by DAVES89 (see edit history)

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42 minutes ago, KDirk said:

My eventual intent is to scrap the EL and make a whole new indicator unit from LEDS that will run off 12VDC rather than the 110VAC output of the inverter

 

I have already done nearly the same as DAVES89 has, I connected individual led (series) to the 12VDC of the console inverter. The slider works to dim the led. I also plan to install an orange led to the shifter, as to indicate the gear. All of this is under, and shaded by- the PRNDDL2L1 plastic sheet. I am also changing the blue led to green to match the other scheme.

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Thanks guys for all the info. My first Reatta was a 88 and I had no problems with it at all but that was 20 years ago. I had heard that the display was prone to go out although that could have been an UN-reliable sourse.

Once again , thanks and I am looking forward to own another one !

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18 minutes ago, 89RedDarkGrey said:

 

I have already done nearly the same as DAVES89 has, I connected individual led (series) to the 12VDC of the console inverter. The slider works to dim the led. I also plan to install an orange led to the shifter, as to indicate the gear. All of this is under, and shaded by- the PRNDDL2L1 plastic sheet. I am also changing the blue led to green to match the other scheme.

 

 I know that blue is Pontiac, but I went with blue over green was because the Headlight/Wiper switch are back lit blue...

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Just a comment but while the CRT display was expensive and not all liked it a big reason for change was that it was not "sunlight readable" which was needed in the convertible and at the time displays that were also had a hefty price tag.

 

So while I consider my 88 Coupe a landmark car that gets more comments today about the display than when I first bought it (and rib people who have cars from the outies that lack touchscreens), I understand the need for something more conventional in the 'vert (was also a lot easier to add a Bluetooth head unit to the '90).

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