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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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1 minute ago, Mary Ramer said:

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.

 

Mary, don't try anything. This is not a game of trying things otherwise you'll spend a fortune-as you already know. First get the vacuum leak fixed and after that it's test, test, test. There are test for every component and even though your car is OBD1 it still means On Board Diagnostic's which means both of your computers on board under diagnostic mode can talk to you or give you diagnostic codes. 

Now if you want to sell the car go to a place like Hemmings motor news and you give a description and photos of the car here is a link and they advertise all over the world

Classic Cars for Sale - Hemmings Motor News

 

Once you get there go to the Cadillac section then Eldorado section, this will give you a idea what people are selling your type of car for.

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I don't believe any 1983 GM car had a body control computer, just an early (slow) C3 ECM probably a 1226930 possibly with a 2732 Prom.

I'd suggest contacting the SoCal Fiero Club. Since all Fieros used the early C3 system (but don't have your built-in diagnostics) and Iron Dukes have a similar TBI system they should know how to troubleshoot your 4.1 properly. It is not difficult, just different.

 

Do have a question: with all of the parts that have been thrown at it, why do you have a vacuum leak ?

 

BTW, I had several Fieros and understand the electronics and several Caddys (currently a CTS) but never a 4.1. Am looking for an 89 Allante though with the 4.5  engine.

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15 hours ago, KURTRUK said:

Mary,

Have you contacted Auto House of Clovis yet?

Let us know the results.

 

I contacted the auto house of Clovis first.  They said they don’t do smog repairs and referred me on.  

 

I ended up with Contreras Smog Repair in Fresno.  I take it in Monday. They are star certified & they had me call & get a $500 voucher for repairs.  If it costs more, they will pay as much as $850 towards repairs.  If it needs more than that, they can help me give it to the junkyard for $1000 (it has all new parts inside & cost me so much more than that!), or I hope they can waive the smog requirement.  

 

Thank you you so much for your referral!  I appreciate your kindness and the kindness of everyone on this forum who responded.

 

Thank you!!!  😃👍

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Thank you!  I am trying to get used to this message system.  I was unable to post a reply to someone yesterday.  I have a vacuum egr that has been replaced.

 

16 hours ago, 54vicky said:

what is the verdict?it has been a week

 

14 hours ago, padgett said:

The way the help desk knows a problem is resolved is the user quits calling.

 

😄 No, the problem hasn’t been resolved yet!  I just couldn’t figure out how to respond to the question for some reason. 

 

Here’s the update in this ongoing mystery saga...and at the end, I explain my reasons for trying so hard to fix this car, even when it didn’t make sense...

 

The Cadillac is at the smog repair shop, but it idles too high to test or fix right now.  They want to know about the idle speed motor which has already been replaced twice.  

 

Here are some symptoms:  I have noticed after 5 years that after the battery is disconnected or drains, the car will drive fine for 20 minutes and then surge and sputter and cut out.   It has consistently done this for 5 years, no matter which mechanic thought they fixed it (they don’t drive it for 20 minutes).

 

In the last 5 years, 3 backyard mechanics and a shop have worked on it.

 

They have replaced parts, some of them 3-4 times.  Here is what I found in my receipts for the last 5 years.  And I know I have lost some receipts.  The car supposedly passed smog the day before I got it.  It drove fine around the block.  I took my back yard mechanic to check it out and he thought it was in good shape, so I bought it.  It has not smogged since then.

 

Each mechanic thought they fixed it multiple times.  I would drive it 20-30 minutes before taking it to smog.  Just as I would arrive it would start surging and sputtering again.

 

We got a code once that the ECM/prom was not getting signal. And the first star smog repair place that I just now took it to noticed some spliced wires under the hood.  He refused to accept it and sent me to A1 Electric smog repair.  I hope they can figure it out.  

 

Here are the parts I found in my receipts, many that have been replaced more than once.  And I lost a bunch of receipts.

 

5 fuel pumps, fuel pump relay, fuel pump relay connector, fuel line, fuse holder, 4 fuel filters, Throttle body fuel injectors, Throttle position sensor (twice), Throttle body gasket, Throttle body (tps?), ECM control module (twice), EGR gasket (twice), EGR valve (twice), EGR valve control solenoid, idle speed control motor (twice), JTT 2824F sensor, spark plug wires, spark plugs, AC Delco parts 214-2287 plus another part, Brake booster, Fuel Sending Unit (twice), vacuum tubing, TBI gasket, Orifice tube, crbcin, 3 V belts 219-586, air smog pump, O2 sensor, wire harness connector plug socket.  Someone re-connected a ground to the gas tank.

 

In addition to all that, after one of the earlier mechanics told me he fixed the Cadillac, I replaced the suspension as a result of the steering being loose.  I replaced the steering gear box, front Pittman arm, front idler arm, upper & lower control arm bushings, front upper and lower ball joints, steering gear seal kit, inner tie rods, outer tie rods, adjusting sleeves, sway link kit, tie rod ends, sway bar links, and alignment.

 

Several years ago, once I got the green light from my mechanic (😅) and got the suspension done, I was so exited the car was finally fixed.  I breathed a sigh of relief and joy as I drove

 it off their lot...but...the steering was still loose, and the car surged and sputtered and cut out...again...before I could even drive it home.

 

It is true I have wasted time and money on this car that I probably shouldn’t have.  I think it’s kind of like an addiction to gambling.  I keep thinking...the car starts and runs good for 20 minutes.  It has already had every part replaced in it, surely someone is going to find the source of why it surges and sputters after 20minutes.  And then I’ll have a nice running beautiful car.  And I do have an emotional tie to this car.  I bought it for my son for his 18th birthday because he was crazy about it and wanted it so badly.  And I wanted leverage past his 18th birthday.  I told him I would put the title in his name after he was tested and stayed clean from pot and alcohol for 6 months.

 

Pot and alcohol made him suicidal and we almost lost him.

 

The car never worked right and it was worthless as leverage.  But after 5 years, our son has finally been sober for 5 months.  I would sure love to surprise him with this car finally working, after he has been sober for 6 months!

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OK makes perfect sense to me, the car is special to you and live in California. It is also a very early "computer car".

 

"after the battery is disconnected or drains, the car will drive fine for 20 minutes and then surge and sputter and cut out."

When you disconnect the early Computer Control (CCC), it loses all memory and presets. It then defaults to a "safe" setting. When started after 2-3 minutes it goes into "Closed Loop" operation and starts to relearn its trims evidently that process is " surges and sputters after 20minutes" 20 minutes long. And then it sounds like it is trying to go lean suges and overheating are common symptoms of a lean condition. I am "assuming" you have a 1226930 ECM (computer) and a 4.1 V8 and it has 2 O2 sensors, one on each bank. It must be working and the ALDL (assembly line data link) operational or the car would not run so

 

"steering was still loose" after "steering gear box, front Pittman arm, front idler arm, upper & lower control arm bushings, front upper and lower ball joints, steering gear seal kit, inner tie rods, outer tie rods, adjusting sleeves, sway link kit, tie rod ends, sway bar links, and alignment. " you really need a new mechanic.

 

" idles too high to test or fix right now" vacuum leak will do that. Has it been fixed ?

"We got a code once that the ECM/prom was not getting signal" see that a lot with someone who does not understand what an ALDL connection (is not OBD-II) is.

 

I now have an 89 Caddy with a 4.5 engine (opened up 4.1) so may be able to give more pointers

 

BTW 83 Caddies of that era had built in diagnostic that are as good as most scan tools (I use an OTC 2000 with 93 "Pathfinder" cartridge). See if you can follow this video:

 

 

BTW from your parts list you had someone who had not a clue and was just throwing part$ at it. Is anyone close who can help this lady ?

 

 

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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10 minutes ago, padgett said:

OK makes perfect sense to me, the car is special to you and live in California. It is also a very early "computer car".

 

"after the battery is disconnected or drains, the car will drive fine for 20 minutes and then surge and sputter and cut out."

When you disconnect the early Computer Control (CCC), it loses all memory and presets. It then defaults to a "safe" setting. When started after 2-3 minutes it goes into "Closed Loop" operation and starts to relearn its trims evidently that process is " surges and sputters after 20minutes" 20 minutes long. And then it sounds like it is trying to go lean suges and overheating are common symptoms of a lean condition. I am "assuming" you have a 1226930 ECM (computer) and a 4.1 V8 and it has 2 O2 sensors, one on each bank. It must be working and the ALDL (assembly line data link) operational or the car would not run so

 

"steering was still loose" after "steering gear box, front Pittman arm, front idler arm, upper & lower control arm bushings, front upper and lower ball joints, steering gear seal kit, inner tie rods, outer tie rods, adjusting sleeves, sway link kit, tie rod ends, sway bar links, and alignment. " you really need a new mechanic.

 

" idles too high to test or fix right now" vacuum leak will do that. Has it been fixed ?

"We got a code once that the ECM/prom was not getting signal" see that a lot with someone who does not understand what an ALDL connection (is not OBD-II) is.

 

I now have an 89 Caddy with a 4.5 engine (opened up 4.1) so may be able to give more pointers

 

BTW 83 Caddies of that era had built in diagnostic that are as good as most scan tools (I use an OTC 2000 with 93 "Pathfinder" cartridge). See if you can follow this video:

 

 

 

 

Thank you!!!

 

I don’t understand much about cars.  But I am going to send your comments to DARYL at A1 Electric star smog repair that has my car.

 

Thank you!  😁 👍💕

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Hope he is not the one that has been throwing parts at it. Sometimes you really need a hobbiest who doesn't care about "billable hours" when dealing with a 40 year old car.

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