Mary Ramer

Smog repair for vintage car

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I have a 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz that won’t pass smog.  It has high Nox and a big vacuum leak.  I spent too much money with backyard mechanics trying to fix it cheap.  I need a smog repair shop that can do vintage cars that is inexpensive.  Can you please recommend?

 

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Posted (edited)

Retard the timing, put a cold or no thermostat in it. Jam a new universal cat converter in it. It will pass............how high is the NOx reading?

 

Also, post location. And, only use a mechanic over 55 years old, they will know how to deal with it.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Thank you so much for your response!  😃👍

 

I don’t know cars, but I was told the Nox is very high.  I don’t know any smog mechanics.  Do you know a smog mechanic over 55?

 

Also, do you know an inexpensive place to get a cat if I need it?

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I am looking for inexpensive smog repair in Fresno County, California.  Clovis or Fresno.

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Who is saying your readings are high? Whoever is testing your car may know a good mechanic., Any good parts store should be able to supply a converter and other parts you may need. The car is not so old that parts would be a problem. Please remember cheap and good usually do not come in the same package. You will be way ahead to spend a little extra and have it done right

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Thanks!  It has failed smog 3 times, and turned away once because the idle was too high.

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Lots of ways to help cheat it through. Modern fuel has alcohol and makes more NOx. Running race fuel or non ethanol will lower NOX also. Cheap doesn’t work. Any craftsman aka mechanic won’t be cheap. But they will be worth what you pay them. Since the car is very early, the standards  for HC’s should be high. You need a five gas result to figure out a proper fix. If you lower NOx, CO, HC’s and other readings will increase.

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Start by fixing the vacuum leak.

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1 hour ago, Mary Ramer said:

I might be willing to sell it.


If you were in Southern California I have a perfect place

 

its failing because of the vacuum leak it’s making the car not running right 

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Vacuum leak will cause the high idle......it will not cause high NOx. NOx is caused by high temperatures in the combustion chamber. As one number increases, others drop, it’s a delicate balancing issue when tuning the car. EGR problems will also cause high NOx. As would a bad converter. Back in the day with IM 240, you could dump in a new cat every two years and get away with murder.........depends on the equipment and requirements.

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Now I am feeling bad about selling my '83 H&E Biarritz.

 

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4.1 is not one of Caddys best, good 3800 makes the same power. The LT8 V8 needs someone who understands ALDL tuning (Was first Caddy computer car with a TBI).GM predecessor to OBD-II) should be able to sort it out. That also uses a single wire O2 sensor that may be confused.

 

Sounds like the ECC (HVAC) control can display engine diagnostics so may be able to be used in place of a scan tool for diagnosis (common in Buick and Cadillac cars of the period)

 

Bottom line, you need someone with the proper knowlege and tools to sort that out. Just throwing a O2 sensor and a new cat at it might help but a real fix requires understanding what is going on. Would take me about 10 minutes but am in Florida.

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30 minutes ago, padgett said:

4.1 is not one of Caddys best, good 3800 makes the same power. The LT8 V8 needs someone who understands ALDL tuning (Was first Caddy computer car with a TBI).GM predecessor to OBD-II) should be able to sort it out. That also uses a single wire O2 sensor that may be confused.

 

Sounds like the ECC (HVAC) control can display engine diagnostics so may be able to be used in place of a scan tool for diagnosis (common in Buick and Cadillac cars of the period)

 

Bottom line, you need someone with the proper knowlege and tools to sort that out. Just throwing a O2 sensor and a new cat at it might help but a real fix requires understanding what is going on. Would take me about 10 minutes but am in Florida.


 

 

I agree, just throwing parts at it won’t work. You need a skilled tech. If the cars entire emission and engine control system are intact it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to get it to pass if there are no major engine issues. 

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2 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

Now I am feeling bad about selling my '83 H&E Biarritz.

 

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Come buy & fix up this one!

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16 minutes ago, KURTRUK said:

Mary,

Auto House of Clovis will take care of you.  (not me, just a satisfied customer) Darrel's diagnostic skills are excellent and they work on older stuff all the time.

https://www.autohouseofclovis.com/

Thanks!

16 minutes ago, KURTRUK said:

 

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful responses!  I just joined today and I am not sure how to reply the right way, but thanks to all of you!

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5 hours ago, edinmass said:

Vacuum leak will cause the high idle......it will not cause high NOx. NOx is caused by high temperatures in the combustion chamber. As one number increases, others drop, it’s a delicate balancing issue when tuning the car. EGR problems will also cause high NOx. As would a bad converter. Back in the day with IM 240, you could dump in a new cat every two years and get away with murder.........depends on the equipment and requirements.

A vacuum leak will not only cause a high idle but will spike the HC's due to the lean condition or a lean misfire.

    For California's emission testing there is a Visual test and everything must be as it came from the factory, or if a part is changed but is not original it must have a CARB ( California air resources board) number for compliance. If you don't pass the visual the testing station will not even run the test. Running the test there is three parts to the test. One is getting the car on the dyno and hooking every thing up to the engine and tailpipe and then doing the visual inspection-engine compartment, complete exhaust and evaporate emission control. Then the start up checking engine timing, engine speed, EGR function, ATC function TVS function etc. etc. If something is not there, not within specifications of functionable the test is terminated. Then we have the Idle emission testing, this test idle CO and HC. NOX or EGR is not tested because EGR doesn't operate at idle. Then there is the cruise mode that is done with car driving the dyno at a certain cruise speed. This checks CO, HC, and NOX.  

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8 hours ago, Mary Ramer said:

I might be willing to sell it.

Just remember if you sell the car to someone in CA.

 

 Smog certifications are required for all sales or title transfers of gasoline-powered vehicles that are four or more model years old. ... A smog inspection and certification are required with the sale of your motor vehicle in the state of California unless your vehicle is: Gasoline powered, 1975 model year or older.

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1976 and newer need smog tests? That could be quite a challenge. In Massachusetts the system has evolved that OBDII stuff needs to pass, everything else they don’t bother with. 

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Thanks for your suggestions!

 

I have spent lots of money on repairs that did not fix this problem.  If I do need another new cat, the ones rated for California were around $1500 not including labor.  That is a lot of money for me and I don’t know if it will fix it.  I really like the car.  I hope I can find a less expensive way to fix it.  After all the work that’s been done to it, all the parts that have been replaced, and all the money that has been spent, I hate to have to have to just give it to the junk yard for parts because I can’t smog it.  But I can’t see paying another $2-3,000 to hopefully, maybe, possibly fix it.

 

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15 minutes ago, edinmass said:

1976 and newer need smog tests? That could be quite a challenge. In Massachusetts the system has evolved that OBDII stuff needs to pass, everything else they don’t bother with. 

  I live in Arizona, in metro areas they smog test to 1967.

  In California cars that are exempt with exhaust controls ( 1966-1975) still must retain their emission control devises and systems. If the state air quality, or the state cannot meet it's self imposed carbon offset, the state can and without referendum bring 1966-1975 cars back into smog check and that's why they need their emission systems on the car and working. 

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3 minutes ago, Mary Ramer said:

Thanks for your suggestions!

 

I have spent lots of money on repairs that did not fix this problem.  If I do need another new cat, the ones rated for California were around $1500 not including labor.  That is a lot of money for me and I don’t know if it will fix it.  I really like the car.  I hope I can find a less expensive way to fix it.  After all the work that’s been done to it, all the parts that have been replaced, and all the money that has been spent, I hate to have to have to just give it to the junk yard for parts because I can’t smog it.  But I can’t see paying another $2-3,000 to hopefully, maybe, possibly fix it.

 

 Selling it out of state is a option. But let the shop in Clovis have a look. Your situation is not unique when it comes to these cars and that is a big problem with people trying to collect them.

 None of my friends want anything to do with cars that are built after 1975 and it's not so much the mechanic's or electrics as being the problem, but rather the annual or bi-annual emission testing and all the rules and regulations.

 BTW, that body style is one of my favorites, but I would only buy a 1979 or 1980 model because of the engines. 1979= Oldsmobile 350 and 1980= Cadillac 368   

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17 minutes ago, Mary Ramer said:

Thanks for your suggestions!

 

I have spent lots of money on repairs that did not fix this problem.  If I do need another new cat, the ones rated for California were around $1500 not including labor.  That is a lot of money for me and I don’t know if it will fix it.  I really like the car.  I hope I can find a less expensive way to fix it.  After all the work that’s been done to it, all the parts that have been replaced, and all the money that has been spent, I hate to have to have to just give it to the junk yard for parts because I can’t smog it.  But I can’t see paying another $2-3,000 to hopefully, maybe, possibly fix it.

 

$1500?!?? Haha they are taking you to the cleaner. An OBD1 catalytic costs around $200 to $400 installed. 

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3 minutes ago, Pfeil said:

 Selling it out of state is a option. But let the shop in Clovis have a look. Your situation is not unique when it comes to these cars and that is a big problem with people trying to collect them.

 None of my friends want anything to do with cars that are built after 1975 and it's not so much the mechanic's or electrics as being the problem, but rather the annual or bi-annual emission testing and all the rules and regulations.

 BTW, that body style is one of my favorites, but I would only buy a 1979 or 1980 model because of the engines. 1979= Oldsmobile 350 and 1980= Cadillac 368   

Thanks for the suggestion to sell it to someone in a different state.  I don’t know how to do that.  It keeps looking like ongoing repairs may be too costly.  I might be willing to try a California cat, but I don’t know if that will help and I need a much cheaper source than I have found so far.

 

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