kobayashimaru

Possible 1989 Reatta Purchase, "Needs Brakes," Worries

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Hey Guys,

I'm looking at possibly purchasing a 1989 Reatta as a project. Asking price is $700. Chief problem is that it has been sitting for several years and it doesn't start (though it turns over) and the pedal goes to the floor. Being as though I am in an automotive technology program at college, getting the car running and fitting new brake lines and installing new calipers doesn't really faze me. However, when I went to look at the master cylinder, I realized, oh crap, it has a Teves system. Normally after years of sitting one would either replace the master cylinder or rebuild it to replace the dried out rubber seals inside. Is that still possible with a Teves unit?

 

Thanks!

Joe

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It's very possible after you do the brake lines the brakes will be fine. The most important thing is to run direct power to the pump [look for the black and red wire] and see if it runs. If it runs then you are half way home. The rest is either the accumulator ball or the pressure switch. The ball is available aftermarket and the switch while discontinued is sold by a couple of parts vendors [myself included]. If the pump doesn't run it is a 20 minute swap out as you can buy just the pump and motor. There are a number of vendors that sell that as well [myself included]. I sell the pump/motor/switch/and ball as one unit, however all my units have bad accumulator balls. Price $195.00 delivered.

 Then once everything is done flush the old fluid out. Wouldn't hurt to do the the flexible brake lines as well, especially if the metal brake lines are shot. 

 Take a look at the fuel filter as well you might want to do that as long as the car is up in the air.

 

Edited by DAVES89 (see edit history)

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The accumulator and pressure switch (along with the wheel speed sensors) are the most common failure points in the Teves Mk II setup.  Working used parts can be sourced from vendors here,  and motors/valve assemblies are not all that difficult to find yet as many cars used this system, being phased out about 1995. Saab, Jaguar,  Lincoln, GM, Volvo and others used this system in one form or another for nearly a decade.

 

So far as I'm aware, no one is offering rebuilds of the pump and valving assembly any more, which is disconcerting but not yet an irresolvable problem. If the car is nice otherwise (i.e. not a beater) it would be worth putting the parts into the ABS to get it going again if you can buy it for $700 or so. 

Edited by KDirk (see edit history)

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Buy the car and you will be able to write a term paper on Teves brakes.

I think you are in an ideal position to take a car in that condition and put it back on the road.

When the car is not running and there is no pressure built in the Teves system, the pedal going to the floor will tend to give you a false indication of the condition.

Since you probably put a battery in it and cranked it over......the Teves system should be getting power......so the first thing to check is if 12v is getting to the motor (jumper 12v to the end of the motor)

If the motor does not run with power to it....then you might need a replacement motor....worse case as Dave said above, you spend another $195 and get pump, motor, switch etc.

The Teves master cylinder seldom goes bad.... and if you should have one of the rare ones, then maybe another $50-$100 would get you that......you could also search the Pick n pulls in your area as

the Teves system was an option on other GM cars and you might get a complete spare unit for $20-30

 

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1 hour ago, KDirk said:

The accumulator and pressure switch (along with the wheel speed sensors) are the most common failure points in the Teves Mk II setup.  Working used parts can be sourced from vendors here,  and motors/valve assemblies are not all that difficult to find yet as many cars used this system, being phased out about 1995. Saab, Jaguar,  Lincoln, GM, Volvo and others used this system in one form or another for nearly a decade.

 

So far as I'm aware, no one is offering rebuilds of the pump and valving assembly any more, which is disconcerting but not yet an irresolvable problem. If the car is nice otherwise (i.e. not a beater) it would be worth putting the parts into the ABS to get it going again if you can buy it for $700 or so. 

That first sentence is "on the money!" My '88 had some brake issues. First it was the accumulator (5 years ago), then it was a pressure switch (3 years ago). I drove it with the ABS light for a couple years. I finally bit the bullet and bought a set of front leads/sensors for the front. No more ABS light! Brakes work fine now for the last three years and I bleed the whole system each year to purge out the old fluid. The hardest part of any of it was when I had to fabricate a setup to check pressures while troubleshooting the accumulator.

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An important thing to remember regarding brake leads is that frequently  their failure is due to a broken lead wire, not the sensor head going bad. I discovered among my box of failed brake leads that the braided shield (outer conductor of coaxial cable) had broken through in one or more spots, causing the sensor to read open circuit when measured at the harness connector end. I have salvaged a couple on my own cars after discovering the same issue.

 

I was able to cut away the insulation, repair the shield to restore continuity and then cover the entire lead wire with 4:1 heat shrink tubing, restoring the sensor to normal function. Point of all this is to not write off and trash a lead until you are sure the actual sensor coil (inside the stainless barrel) has failed.

 

This can be determined easily enough by doing a simple resistance  check on the lead. If it is outside spec (too high or too low) or shorted (zero resistance) chances are the sensor has been fouled with moisture and is junk. However, if it reads open, it is more likely that the lead wire has a break in the shield. The latter is repairable in most cases given some patience along with the right tools and materials  to repair or just splice the coax.

 

This typically occurs on front leads at the points on the lead wire that are subject to stress from the bend radius when installed on the car. Between the first and second retainer grommets, and between the second retainer grommet and the wheel well pass through  are subject to mechanical stress from the way the cable is curved and from the front wheels turning.

 

Once the insulation starts to go bad from dry rot and environmental exposure, the failure of the shield is usually not far behind. Ideally,  the lead wire should be sleeved with heat shrink before the damage gets to that point. Preservation and repair of salvageable parts is going to be key to keeping our cars on the road long term, so don't chuck anything that may be repairable even If you lack the tools and talent to fix it yourself.

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Thanks for all the information! I'm glad to hear the system isn't a horror story. At the moment, I have only seen the car as it sits in the seller's driveway without him there, so I'm getting most of my info from him. As far as the rest of the car, the red interior is in pretty nice shape, though the seats have flattened out. No sunroof or 16 way driver's seat, though it still has the car phone. According to the seller the touchscreen works. The silver paint is faded. It would be getting painted... eventually. Tires hold air but are dry-rotted.

It's kind of funny that almost all of the cars my school has for us students to wreak havoc on are 3800 Buicks. I would sort of know going in what I'd be in for. 

With regard to the engine, will the diagnostic program on the CRT tell me anything at to why it isn't starting if it's being caused by a faulty sensor? I don't think any other than the crank position and the mass airflow would cause a no-start

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Ignition control module is a common fault on 88-90 Reattas at this age, especially if you find light green sticky ooze coming out of the connector end of the module. An ICM failure will not set any codes, at least on this iteration of the 3800 with OBD-1. Make sure you have good pressure at the fuel rail (a capped Schrader valve is supplied to check with a gauge) though as long as the car has sat, it may have bad gas in it.

 

You can manually prime the fuel system by applying 12v to the green quick connect terminal one wire lead near the drivers side of the engine bay (usually near the ABS unit). If you hook an open ended hose to the fuel rail Schrader valve (dump into a suitable container), you can drain the tank of most fuel  and then put good gas in it. If the fuel pump is bad, you will have to drop the tank.

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16 hours ago, kobayashimaru said:

With regard to the engine, will the diagnostic program on the CRT tell me anything at to why it isn't starting if it's being caused by a faulty sensor? I don't think any other than the crank position and the mass airflow would cause a no-start

 

KDirk gave you excellent advice. The on-board diagnostics isn't likely to tell you why the car won't start. Like most cars, the best way to troubleshoot a no-start condition is to get down to basic troubleshooting procedures. Checking codes is a good place to start but if the car won't run diagnostics probably won't give you much useful information.

 

For an engine to run it needs three things. A strong spark at the plugs - the correct fuel/air mixture - good compression - and they all have to happen at the proper time. The on-board diagnostics doesn't tell you about any of that if the engine won't run.

  • I always check for a good spark first. It is quick and easy to do.  Ignition System Troubleshooting
  • If you have a strong spark check fuel pressure. Fuel Pressure Testing 
  • If you have good fuel pressure check injector(s) to see if they are opening. You can do this by using a Noid light OR by listening to the injector for a clicking sound with a stethoscope or putting your ear to a long screwdriver  placed on the injector.

Usually the engine will start and run once you get those things working properly. If not you are probably looking at an internal engine problem like a timing chain failure. Members of this forum have a lot of knowledge about the Buick Reatta through their hands-on experience. You can get plenty of help here doing all the above when the time comes.

 

BTW, don't worry about the MAF sensor keeping the engine from running. It could possibly keep the engine from running but if you suspect it being the problem just unplug it and see if the engine starts. The engine will run without it although it won't run the way it should.

 

 

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The on board diagnostics on the touch screen on '88 and '89 models were a marvel that was and still is "over the top".  However as already stated there was no programming that could detect bad Ignition Control Module or bad Crankshaft Position Sensor.  I carry spares and the tools to change them. Either failure will produce a no start condition.

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,Thanks again for all the information, Everybody! I'm going to see the car Saturday. I got a little more info out of the seller regarding the brakes. Initially he said that it would "likely need all new brake pads, rotors and calipers at a minimum, due to rust." Now, he also just said that the brakes were fine when he parked it four years ago. Now, from my limited experience, even four years isn't enough to seize a brake caliper, though it can certainly take it's toll on rubber brake hoses. I'll be bringing a floor jack with me, along with a fuel pressure gauge and a few other do-hickeys

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