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GreaseGunner

1989 TC by Maserati - What have I gotten myself into

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Hello all,

 

I have been lurking these forums for about a month or so now, trying to educate myself on the mistake I might have made before actually posting. I was going to make a large introductory post on the vehicle I bought, problems I'm having, things to fix, etc. But I've run into an issue and can't really put it off any longer. 

 

I've bought an 89 TC, original owner was this ladies father who passed away, drive it a few times a week etc. It had less than 47k miles on it when I bought it, the lady put less than 200 on the car from 2011 to 2019. After getting the vehicles I had all the belts, fluids, plugs, wires, cap, rotors etc. replaced. The fan wasn't coming on the the temp gauge wasn't working so we replaced both temp senders, gauge works now, fan works now, but the car starts like ass in the morning/after it sits for awhile and it doesn't idle right. I didn't really drive it enough prior to this to notice if the bad starting and idle only starting after replacing stuff or not, but I'm pretty sure replacing stuff made it worse. I replaced the alternator (it wen't bad) the rubber bushings holding it at the the right angle were dried and cracked, we've replaced them (the belt only squeaks a little when you first start it now). I was looking around on here for idle issues and I saw O2 sensor come up and though "Hey, that's pretty easy, just unscrew the old one and screw a new one in". Stupid me. I checked my codes and the only code I was getting was 22, we replace the temp sender (again) and now code 22 is gone but now I'm getting a code 21, the O2 sensor. Why am I now getting a code 22? Probably because we broke the sensor trying to get the damn thing out. I need advice, how do you guys get this damn thing out, we can't get an angle good enough to remove the damn thing, it's in too tight and we can't get it out at any angle. I've managed to move it slightly, but not enough to get it out with a ratchet and obviously my efforts have made things worse as i've got from not having a code to have a code. The only things we can think of is removing the exhaust or the manifolds (6.5 hours of labor, not happening). Am I missing something easy or did someone just tighten this thing down way too much? Is there an easy way to replace the O2 sensor? Below I'm going to link a short video of the way the car idles, you can see the big dip it does every now and then but the gist is the RPMs wobble around, sometimes worse than other times but especially bad after sitting awhile. Idle air controller was clean and good and throttle body is clean (supposedly) so did I waste my time even bothering with the 02 sensor? What else could it be? I have to replace it now anyway.

 

Side note - I don't have any timing marks, anywhere, at all. How the hell am I supposed to set/check timing? Is this normal or has something gone terribly wrong?

 

I appreciate any help and sorry if my way of explaining things bothers you. It will only get worse from here. Here is the link to my tachometer, enjoy.

 

 

 

side side note - apparently my transmission oil cooler is vibrating against something and causing that rattle. Has this happened to any of you? Advice to fix or should I just shove some heat resistant foam between it and whatever it's touching?

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To remove the O2 sensor; cut the wire coming out of the sensor. If you have already broken off the top of the sensor, disregard this first step!

Use a 6 point, deep well 1/2" drive socket or a short one if the thing is already broken, with a breaker bar with ratcheting head. A ratchet head torque wrench can also work.

Get your socket on straight and just get some muscle into it. They seize in the threads due to the years and high exhaust heat. 

Be sure there is anti-seize on the threads of new sensor when you screw it in. There is a socket made for this purpose with a slit in the sidewall so the wire on the new sensor can hang outside as you tighten the sensor.

 

As for the irregular idle, disregard it altogether, it is the nature of the beast. It does not affect performance.

I have worked at Chrysler dealers all through the turbo years, the factory rep would tell the customer these very words, "That is normal "

 

Buying a very low mileage 30 year old car is a problem in the first place. You may find that there will be many other items that have suffered from years of sitting.

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Does the "irregular idle" also cover the big dip that happens 16 seconds into the video? Is the very rough starting in the morning also normal for these cars? I just want to make sure the thing isn't going to implode on itself and will survive a 4k mile journey in the future.

 

Future fixes include the power antenna, it pops up but won't go very far up and won't go down at all (debating just replacing it with a little rubber antenna), the controls on the passenger door don't work and I think the AC needs to be recharged. It wasn't kicking on at all so we took the belt off for now. I'm mostly concerned about just making sure mechanically it is fine though.

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Here is another short video of the idle, if it's within normal tolerances then I'm happy with that. I just want to be absolutely sure ya know.

 

 

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Sounds and looks normal to me. The turbo cars have what I call the "TD miss". At idle they have this intermittent miss/surge. Some have said it has to do with the way the engine controls work, but I've never heard of anyone who's been able to pinpoint it.

 

As for the rough starting, could be a clogged injector, or fuel filter/pump sock. The car sitting long periods has me thinking there's probably varnish and such all in the fuel system.

 

Hemi nailed the O2 sensor stuff. Only things I would add are penetrating oil (PB Blaster or Kroil) and HEAT...bust out the blue-tip wrench and get that bad boy smoking hot, then put the whammy to it. I bet it'll come out then!

 

Check your grounds. They have a tendency to get corroded and cause issues.

 

For timing, the timing marks and scale are on the bellhousing. The easiest way to see it is to take the air box out (use a little bit of WD40 on the little nipples that go through the rubber grommets to prevent breaking the box). You have to unhook the CTS for the computer (the sensor next to the turbo coolant return line on the head) while it's running. This puts the computer in "limp mode" locking the timing so that you can actually see it and adjust it. It will set a temporary code, but this goes away once you plug it back in and restart the engine.

 

I hope this helps!

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I'll have to give it all a try, thanks guys. I tried to read as much as I could before I started posting but we were at a loss. It took us forever to find those rubber bushings for the alternator.

 

As for the fuel system, I've been letting the tank get to about half or a quarter and filling it up and putting fuel system cleaner in it. Do you think that's enough or should I do more? The rattling is also driving me nuts lol. I may just put some heat resistant foam between the oil cooler and whatever it's vibrating against. Is this a normal issue or is this unique to me? 

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, GreaseGunner said:

Does the "irregular idle" also cover the big dip that happens 16 seconds into the video? Is the very rough starting in the morning also normal for these cars? I just want to make sure the thing isn't going to implode on itself and will survive a 4k mile journey in the future.

 

Future fixes include the power antenna, it pops up but won't go very far up and won't go down at all (debating just replacing it with a little rubber antenna), the controls on the passenger door don't work and I think the AC needs to be recharged. It wasn't kicking on at all so we took the belt off for now. I'm mostly concerned about just making sure mechanically it is fine though.

I'll have to give it all a try, thanks guys. I tried to read as much as I could before I started posting but we were at a loss. It took us forever to find those rubber bushings for the alternator.

Also the timing is still confusing us, how the heck are we supposed to make sure it's right with no timing marks?

 

As for the fuel system, I've been letting the tank get to about half or a quarter and filling it up and putting fuel system cleaner in it. Do you think that's enough or should I do more? The rattling is also driving me nuts lol. I may just put some heat resistant foam between the oil cooler and whatever it's vibrating against. Is this a normal issue or is this unique to me? 

If you had some sort of diagnostic tester connected, you would be able to see what is going on. I would suspect that the computer is switching from OPEN LOOP to CLOSED LOOP at the time you see the dip, but not being there doesn't help me to be correct or incorrect. I would not worry about it as it appears that the engine merely slows down but does not stall. Leave this out of your concerns for at least until we resolve the difficult starting problem.

 

WE, my wife and I, have 4 vehicles of around this vintage, however, I don't think age is the problem. (Age of the cars, I mean😉😉) I had my '85 Laser parked from September to February. It has (had) en engine equipped as your '89 TC. It has been a great running and starting car over the years. YET, when I went to start it, I thought it wouldn't. When it started it ran on only a couple of cylinders and then cleared up after a time and hit on all 4.  (next vehicle)

My wife's 94 Dodge Shadow with a 3.0L always an "instant starting: engine began being hard to start, missing and sputtering in the first few moments. Some hesitation when attempting to drive away. 

There were NO trouble codes in either car. The Laser, because it was to be sold, When the day came I just filled the tank at our nearby service station and drove it to Las Vegas some 100 miles from home. The engine ran perfectly all the way, and the driver who took it to deliver it to the buyer stated that it ran great at 90 to 100 MPH on the trip some 800 miles.

 

Back to the Shadow 3.0L, I checked all I could and found nothing wrong. ALL I DID, was add 2 cans of BG fuel additive to the gas tank, which was 3/4 full. That is actually an overdose but I needed this thing to run. I drove it around a little that day and today, a week or more later, the engine stared right up and ran perfectly right away.

 

So my suggestion to you is to with 3/4 of a tank of fuel is this; Acquire and add a double dose of fuel injector cleaner to the tank and drive the car some, A LOT, and see if this does not help. I suspect that you have old, stale fuel in the tank. You should also replace the fuel filter, FIRST, found along the fuel line behind the right rear tire right ahead of the gas tank.

 

It seems that more and more people have this sort of problem due to lack of driving your 'Show Car'. This is one reason I have for always saying how well my 89 TC runs because it has hardly ever been idle for long periods throughout it's life and has now around 286 thousand miles on the 'clock'

I hope this looooong story is helpful to you.

 

As for the timing mark, it is shown within the black outline. In the photo below.

fullsizeoutput_195f.thumb.jpeg.1faddf98cde1b7090460dca5afcf9b91.jpeg

You must also disconnect the "Coolant Temperature Sensor" locates in the thermostat housing of the cylinder head. (See below) The 2 wire connector, do this when the engine is already started and running for a few minutes and it is at operating temperature. With your timing light aimed at the timing slot, you will see the TDC line in the torque converter and the timing setting should be at 10-12 Degrees on the east in numbers. Adjust as needed, then reconnect the connector to the sensor and you will hear the engine go back to closed loop mode.

fullsizeoutput_1285.thumb.jpeg.3fbdbfe7989ebca8ab888a2081b9aa9d.jpeg

Edited by Hemi Dude
Spelling error & word location. (see edit history)
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Not sure if this contributed to your issues, but "modern" gas containing ethanol simply does not retain it's potency very long.  Once I started running ethanol-free premium in my TC's their drivability improved.  Also, ethanol attracts water - not good.  Over the winter I use an enzyme-based additive, Startron, in my TC's and other old cars and mowers to keep the fuel fresh and water out.  And like Hemi said - replace the filter.

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Thanks guys. I've been putting fuel system cleaner in every time I fill it up, didn't think about the filter though so I'll have a look at that. I was running 89 octane ethanol free in it at first but wasn't sure if it mattered so I've been done premium a few times too, might go back to ethanol free then.

 

It's nice to finally see where those timing marks are now too. I'm only getting a code 21 now so once the O2 sensor is replaced maybe I'll be done for awhile. Hopefully. 

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When you replace the fuel filter, be sure to look at the color and the amount of contamination inside the filter by allowing the filter to drain into some sort of open container where you can observe the fuel and debris in the fuel. You may find that you have rust accumulation in your gas tank. This often affects the electric fuel pump in the tank and will cause it to fail.

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PLEASE, for everything that's holy and good in the universe, replace the fuel hoses if you haven't done it yet. ESPECIALLY the ones under the hood. Make sure it's Fuel Injection Hose and use the correct clamps. More turbo MOPAR's have been sent to the great racetrack in the sky due to busted fuel lines and the resulting car-B-Q than just about anything else.

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Reaper1 is absolutely correct, and be sure to follow his instructions without exception!

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