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Fiero Buyers Guide: What to look for? by blue88mustang
Started on: 04-26-2005 11:40 AM
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Last post by: blue88mustang on 04-26-2005 08:28 PM
blue88mustang
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Report this Post04-26-2005 11:40 AM Click Here to See the Profile for blue88mustangSend a Private Message to blue88mustangDirect Link to This Post
I have seen mention of a few things to look for / look out for when buying a Fiero, but I thought it would be good to compile a list so everyone can refer back to one source. Please post up what you feel would be helpful to fellow Fiero lovers that are looking at buying a Fiero. I will do my best to edit this original post with your suggestions, so all the info will be at the very top of this thread.

1. *RUST* Pull back carpet in trunk to check for rust. Usually on the sides, toward the back. You'll have to reach up, sort of behind the weather strip. Rust usually starts where the side frame rails are welded to the sides of the trunk compartment. About 3-5" down from the top of the compartment. Also look at the floors where the metal plugs are fastened in.

2. Check:
...RADIATOR: a) the sides of the plastic radiator tanks for lack of crimp and leaks b) all rubber hoses and hose to metal coolant tube connections c) thermostat for proper function
...front headlight motors...
...front end alignment as front end can get bent easily...
...for oil leaks in engine and transmission...
...CV boot rot...
...BRAKES: Check fluid, pad wear and for warped rotors. Fluid should be full and relatively clear. If dark brown/black, then the brake fluid needs changed. On a flat, straight road lightly let go of the steering wheel and brake really hard. Car should brake in a straight line. If not, the brake rotors are either warped or the pads are irregularly worn/not grabbing correctly.
...SUSPENSION: shock absorbers and bushings
...CLUTCH: Check for proper clutch throw, engagement, and clutch master and slave clyinder fluid. Fluid should be clear
...ACCESSORY BELTS --> Rubber should still be "soft," belts should be tight and should not show signs of cracks or misalignment
...alternator voltage...
...ENGINE: a) engine compression, dry and wet test the cylinders. Also look for oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil --> Coolant will be dark / Oil will have a milk chocolate appearance. This usually indicates bad head gasket and should be evident during a compression test. b) fine metal dust in the oil usually indicates excessive wear of internal components (Bearings, etc) c) oil leaks in engine


3. A/C should blow cold and radiator fan should turn on when the A/C is turned on.

------------------
2 Stangs, 1 Explorer

[This message has been edited by blue88mustang (edited 04-26-2005).]

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Raydar
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Report this Post04-26-2005 12:47 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RaydarClick Here to Email RaydarSend a Private Message to RaydarDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by blue88mustang:

1. Pull back carpet in trunk to check for rust. Where to you pull the carpet back at, because I don't recall seeing an easy place to pull it back.

Usually on the sides, toward the back. You'll have to reach up, sort of behind the weather strip. Rust usually starts where the side frame rails are welded to the sides of the trunk compartment. About 3-5" down from the top of the compartment.

Also look at the floors where the metal plugs are fastened in.

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JohnnyK
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Report this Post04-26-2005 12:56 PM Click Here to See the Profile for JohnnyKClick Here to Email JohnnyKSend a Private Message to JohnnyKDirect Link to This Post
I'd just say give the underneath a good scouring for rust, on a hoist if possible.. The whole reason I dumped mine is the rust was getting out of control.. Everything else is fixable, but you have to figure the cost/time ratio of if it's worth it.. Clutch is always a ***** as well, at least on mine..
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yosemitefieros
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Report this Post04-26-2005 01:26 PM Click Here to See the Profile for yosemitefierosSend a Private Message to yosemitefierosDirect Link to This Post
Check:
...the sides of the plastic radiator tanks for lack of crimp and leaks...
...all rubber hoses and hose to metal coolant tube connections...
...thermostat for proper function...
...front headlight motors...
...front end alignment as front end can get bent easily...
...for oil leaks in engine and transmission...
...CV boot rot...
...brake shoe wear...
...shock absorbers...
...clutch master and slave clyinder liquid (clear) and throw...
...proper clutch throw and engagement...
...engine compression, dry and wet test the cylinders...
...fan belt(s)...
...alternator voltage...
...oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil...
...fine metal dust in the oil.

That's all I can think of right now...

Gary


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blue88mustang
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Report this Post04-26-2005 01:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for blue88mustangSend a Private Message to blue88mustangDirect Link to This Post
How far off the floor should the clutch pedal be, before it engages?
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Skybax
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Report this Post04-26-2005 02:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for SkybaxSend a Private Message to SkybaxDirect Link to This Post
Here is a Fiero Buyers Guide. It was printed in Hemmings Mag a few months ago. (even though I don't agree with some of it)

Pop quiz: Can you name the most popular two seat, mid-engine sporting car built in America in the last 20 years? Let's see, is it the fabulous new Ford GT seen elsewhere in this issue, or perhaps the $430,000, 200 mph Saleen S7? How about the aerospace-tech Vector W8? Although these cars combine mind-blowing performance with traffic-stopping looks, they make better fuel for hormone-driven teenage boy daydreams than actual daily-driver material. But there's another mid-engine sportster that you may not recall- with its willing V-6 engine, go-kart handling and mini-supercar looks, the 1986-1988 Pontiac Fiero GT was 1980s America's everyday exotic.

The Fiero, which debuted in 1984, had roots that went back nearly 20 years. Chief Engineer Elliot “Pete” Estes and John DeLorean had proposed a two-seat sports car based on a shortened Firebird chassis, but General Motors management didn't want Pontiac stealing the Corvette's thunder. By the late 1970s, Pontiac managers decided that they needed an economy car with performance flair, and the design brief was impressive; “A mid-engined two-seater with world-class fit and finish, a body that wouldn't rust, fully independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, electronic fuel injection, space frame technology for safety and spirited performance with great fuel economy… with an MSRP under $8,000,” recalls Mike Murphy, a Pontiac Motor Division district sales manager during the 1980s. He explains how they accomplished this task; “The majority of the mechanicals were right off the shelf- the engine and transmission were straight out of the X-body cars (Citation, Phoenix , Omega, Skylark), the outside mirrors and many power accessory switches were from the Firebird and Camaro, and the front suspension was modified slightly from the Chevette/1000.” But the Fiero's inherent potential for performance was realized when Pontiac delivered the V-6-powered GT in 1985. The notchback-styled GT lasted only one year before being supplanted by the handsome new fastback model. The late-introduction 1986 GT used flying buttresses inset with glass to increase rear quarter visibility; due to the car's space frame design, this roofline was a simple bolt-on change that also brought a fresh neutral-density taillamp design. While the Fiero's typically wedgy nose and hidden headlamps remained, the GT's deep front air dam was complemented by a charcoal-silver ground effects kit in 1986 and 1987; this two-tone effect was swapped for monochromatic paint on 1988 GTs. Base Fieros shared the GT's 93.4-inch wheelbase, although due to their sporty cladding, GTs were about two inches longer than the base car's 162.7-inch length.

The 1986 Fiero GT, which at $12,999 cost nearly $4,000 more than the base model, came standard with the high-output, 135hp 2.8-Liter V-6 and dual exhausts, a Muncie-built Getrag five-speed manual transmission, staggered-width 15-inch diamond-spoke alloy wheels hiding four-wheel power disc brakes, an AM/FM/cassette stereo and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. The GT cost $13,489 in 1987; this year the largest change was an increase in gas tank size from 10.2 to 12 gallons. Major changes arrived in 1988 when the Fiero's front and rear suspensions were substantially upgraded, rear discs were vented and the $13,999 GT's V-6 engine received an internally balanced crankshaft for greater smoothness. The instrument panel's previous brushed aluminum-look trim was also replaced by trim with a dot matrix pattern. Notable options included a common removable sunroof with shade or rare removable T-tops, a rear deck spoiler, air conditioning and a Turbo Hydramatic three-speed automatic transaxle.

In spite of its sporting improvements, the Fiero was cancelled after 1988 due to falling sales and rising insurance rates. And while it never threatened the Corvette's performance domination, the 2,700-pound V-6 GT acquitted itself nicely against the competing two-seat, mid-engine Toyota MR2 and front-engine Honda CRX Si; according to automotive journalists of the day, five-speed manual-equipped Fiero GTs ran 0-60 in 7.9-8.1 seconds, while automatic versions averaged 9.0 seconds in the same sprint. The quarter mile was dispatched in just over 16 seconds and top speed was about 120 mph, and the 1988 version pulled a strong .83g on the skidpad. And while more than 400,000 Fieros were built during their five year run, only ten percent were fastback GTs; 17,660 were built in 1986, 15,968 in 1987 and a mere 6,848 emerged in 1988. Despite their plebian roots, Fiero GTs are considered sporty cars worthy of real enthusiasm, and a number of clubs, online forums and vendors provide fans with technical and parts support. Offering exotic good looks, off-the-shelf parts availability, ease of modification and great bang for the buck, the Fiero GT is one of the best unheralded performance cars of the decade.

ENGINES
While base Fieros were powered by the long-running 2.5-Liter Iron Duke/Tech IV four-cylinder engine, GTs used the 2.8-Liter (173-cu.in.) V-6 that was shared with Pontiac 's 6000 and other mid-sized GM offerings. This 60-degree V-6 used a 3.50- x 2.99-inch bore and stroke in a cast-iron block with aluminum heads and an aluminum intake manifold. With 8.5-compression, computer-controlled multi-port fuel injection and high-energy ignition, 1985 and early 1986 GT V-6s were rated at 140hp at 5,200 rpm and 170-lb.ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Although no major engine revisions occurred, the V-6's power was re-rated in 1987 at 135hp at 4,500 rpm and 165-lbs.ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Exhaust was vented through sporty dual outlets, and while the V-6 was also standard on 1988 Formula models, it was optional on “lesser” Fieros. This engine received hydraulic engine mounts to quell vibration in 1988, along with internal balancing.

While its power ratings remained constant from mid-1986 through 1988, there were minor changes to the V-6. The timing covers and oil pans used in 1985-'86 were identical, as were the ones used in 1987-'88; these components cannot be mixed, although complete sets will interchange. “The 2.8 V-6s are very solid engines, but you have to watch for low oil pressure,” cautions Todd Weikal, specialist and owner of The Fiero Farm in Bates City , Missouri . “If the pressure drops, the engine will spin a rod bearing and it will need expensive low-end work. Check the oil gauge in the center dash pod for steady pressure around 60-pounds.” Exhaust leaks on the front side of the exhaust manifold and manifold cracks are also common; “The engine strut, or dog bone, is another common problem for most Fieros,” says Justin Cote, vice president of operations and tech advisor at The Fiero Store in Stafford Springs, Connecticut; “The rubber in this upper engine mount will fatigue and eventually cause the lower engine and transmission mounts to fail prematurely.”

TRANSAXLE
Similar to the Chevrolet Corvair and the 1961-1963 Pontiac Tempest, the Fiero used a transaxle that combined the transmission and the differential. When the notchback V-6 Fiero GT was first built in 1985, the only manual transmission that could stomach the engine's torque was the old Muncie four-speed; the Isuzu-sourced five-speed that was available in four-cylinder cars was a light-duty unit. A stronger Getrag-designed, Muncie-built MG-282 5-speed manual arrived with the fastback GT in late 1986, and it used the same 9 1/8-inch clutch as did other Fiero manuals. Its ratios were 3.92:1 (first), 2.19:1 (second), 1.38:1 (third), 0.94:1 (fourth), 0.72:1 (fifth) and 3.41:1 (reverse). The first two ratios were changed in 1988 (3.50:1 in first and 2.05:1 in second) to lower engine revs. The Borg-Warner Turbo Hydramatic 125C three-speed automatic, which was available in all GTs, used a lock-up torque converter and ratios of 2.84:1, 1.60:1, 1:1 and 2.07:1 (reverse). These rear-wheel-drive cars used a hypoid open differential and delivered power through constant velocity shafts, much like a front-wheel-drive car does. Final drive ratios varied between manual and automatic-equipped cars; five-speed GTs used a 3.61:1 axle ratio with an overall ratio of 2.60:1. The 3.33:1 ratio of automatic Fieros was both their axle and final drive ratio.

“The clutch system is one of the most common Fiero problems,” Justin recalls. “The clutch pedal is the most common problem on pre-1987 cars, but all years will often have a bad clutch arm, clutch line, master and/or slave cylinders. Many people have replaced the clutch thinking this was the problem, only to find out that it was an external hydraulic or pedal problem.”

SUSPENSION
The 1986 and 1987 Fiero GT independent front and rear suspensions were essentially adaptations of contemporary GM front wheel drive units; the front was based on the Chevette, while the cradle-mounted, strut-based rear was a similar to the A- and X-body front unit, but without provisions for steering. The original front suspension consisted of unequal-length A-arms, coil springs, tube shocks and an anti-roll bar. The rear suspension used Chapman struts, lower A-arms, tie rods, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The GT's comprehensive 1988 suspension revision brought a standard WS6 performance package with lengthened unequal-length A-arms and shorter spindles, coil springs, tube shocks and a larger 23-millimeter anti-roll bar. The fresh independent rear suspension used a tri-link design with redesigned Chapman struts, coil springs and a 22-millimeter anti-roll bar. The 1988 improvements were tied to revised suspension mounting points on the space frame and offered a tighter turning radius, reduced bump steer and a smoother ride.

Fiero GT enthusiasts recommend checking the front and rear wheels of a potential purchase for free play, which may indicate problems with worn tie rods or a loose steering rack. Because the 1988 suspension revisions led to such notable handling and ride improvements, these cars are highly sought. Most suspension parts are still available, including control arms, tie rod arms, bushings and ball joints.

BRAKES
Unlike many small economy-based cars, Fiero GTs came from the factory with standard power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes. The solid 10 7/16-inch rotors were swapped for vented units in 1988, and they offered 321.6-square inches of swept area. These brakes hide behind standard black or gold diamond-spoke 15 X 6.5 front 15 x 7 rear -inch alloy wheels wrapped with 205/60-R15 front and 215/60-R15 rear Goodyear Eagle GT+4 tires. The stock ventilated rotors on 1988 Fieros offer greater resistance to fading after hard use, but their one-year-only design means they are tougher to locate. If you want more braking power for your GT, some newer GM cars can donate their larger rotors and calipers.

SPACEFRAME/BODY
The Fiero's enduring legacy is its revolutionary space frame design, which was used on GM's 1990s minivans and survives today in Saturn cars. The Fiero's 600-pound space frame consisted of six modules and 280 galvanized and high-strength steel stampings joined by 3,800 welds. The finished chassis was then drilled for body panels with a precise laser system and dipped into electrically charged primer. The Fiero's unstressed body panels were painted in relation to each other, off of the car. Rigid Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) was used on the roof, the front and rear decklids, the headlamp doors and the upper rear quarter panels. Reinforced Reaction Injection Molded (RRIM) plastic could resist parking lot dents, and was used in the doors, front fenders and lower rear quarters, while Reaction Injected Molded (RIM) polyurethane made up the flexible bumper covers.

The non-corrosive body panels can hide space frame rust in northern cars; the most common rust areas are under the battery in the engine compartment, on the sides of the trunk by the wheel wells under the carpeting, and in the bolt-on radiator braces. Many Fieros have been afflicted by pop-up headlamp troubles including early mechanical relay and motor failures, but they are often fixable. Body panels are no longer produced by GM, making NOS parts highly sought and used panels the common solution.

INTERIOR
The low-slung Fiero's interior was a sporty place to be; the GT's reclining bucket seats and were covered with cloth, unless the optional suede/leather/Pallex cloth (1986-'87) or leather coverings (1988) were chosen. As in any older car, the cloth is subject to seam tears or wear. Seat bottoms and seat bottom upholstery can be interchanged from side to side by swapping the tracks, and the seat back covers are interchangeable, but only by removing the material from the frame. New headlining material is available if the optional sunroof had a damaging leak, and carpet kits are also sold. Door panels and faulty gauges must be reconditioned.

RESTORATION PARTS
Because the Fiero GT is a relatively modern car with a low production volume, it doesn't have the huge supply of aftermarket reproduction parts of an early Firebird. But its common GM mechanicals make it easy to locate new, NOS or used replacements both from Fiero specialists and from your local auto parts store. “Many GM parts are still available,” says Fiero enthusiast and restorer Paul Vargyas of Lisle, Illinois . “The most difficult GT parts to locate are the lexan quarter windows and the taillamp covers, because they're currently not being made. They will often delaminate or fissure crack with sun and heat; unfortunately, OEM replacements are rare and expensive, and the quality of some aftermarket replacements isn't up to snuff.” Paul did note that while many parts aren't being remanufactured, it's very easy to find and recondition items ranging from body panels, wheels, trunk carpeting and rear spoilers. And although factory exhaust systems aren't sold, aftermarket systems can be made to look stock with Fiero exhaust tips.

PERFORMANCE PARTS
Because they were over-engineered, Fieros are ripe for engine upgrades, and a surprising number of enthusiasts take on the challenge. “Purists who want to keep a stock appearance but increase power will stroke the 2.8-Liter into a 3.4-Liter,” Todd notes. Stock 2.8-Liter V-6s also respond well to turbocharging and computer calibration upgrade chips, and larger fuel injectors, oil coolers and free-flow exhaust systems with headers and will also add power. Todd says that actual engine swaps are easy, with popular alternatives being GM's normally-aspirated or supercharged 3800 V-6 and Cadillac's 4.9-liter V-8, although Chevrolet's 3.4-liter V-6 and Cadillac's 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 add some complication but are feasible. The ubiquitous small-block Chevy V-8, in all its wildly upgradeable forms, has also successfully found a home between the Fiero's rear wheels.

CHASSIS UPGRADES
Because of its super-strong space frame, the Fiero is a great base for chassis upgrades. Spring, shock and strut rates can be upgraded for taunter handling, and stock Delco shocks can be replaced by adjustable Konis. Upgrading the brakes of a pre-1988 GT is easy; install the vented front rotors and calipers from 1988 Grand Am and the master cylinder from a full-size 1992 Chevy Blazer 4x4, or use four rear 11.25-inch rotors from a 1989-1995 Chrysler LeBaron with 1982-1992 Camaro front and 1979-1985 Eldorado, Seville or Riviera rear calipers. If you have a 1988 GT, you can re-use your stock calipers and upgrade the front rotors to the 12-inch versions from a 1988-1995 Corvette. Fit your upgraded brakes behind a set of 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels; if you don't care for aftermarket wheels, nearly any stock wheel with a 5 lug, 100-mm bolt pattern will fit a Fiero, including those from a Pontiac Grand Am or Vibe, those from a Beretta GTU, a Celica GTS or a PT Cruiser. With minimal cash and some creativity, you can make a Fiero GT into the corner-carving semi-exotic sports car of your dreams.

FOCUS POINTS
• Headlamps- Headlamp motors tend to weaken with age; the inner gear, pins and brushes will often wear, but they can sometimes be rebuilt.
• Brakes- Although the Fiero's power four-wheel discs were standard, its brakes are easily upgraded with larger, vented off-the-shelf GM or Chrysler discs.
• Coolant pipes- Careless use of jacks or lifts can damage the rocker panel-mounted pipes that carry coolant from the radiator to the engine; check for bends.
• Body panels- Although most body panels aren't reproduced, Fiero specialists carry many replacements, and bumper cover repair is feasible.
• Engine- Low oil pressure can damage the 2.8-Liter V-6, but performance upgrades and engine swaps can make Fieros into extraordinary performers.
• Interior- Dashboards and interior trim panels aren't reproduced, so restoring originals or locating nice used examples are the only choice for many owners.
Transmissions- The Getrag/Muncie 5-speed manual was specific to the Fiero, isn't reproduced, and used or reconditioned examples are becoming very pricey.


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blue88mustang
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Report this Post04-26-2005 08:28 PM Click Here to See the Profile for blue88mustangSend a Private Message to blue88mustangDirect Link to This Post
Skybax - Thanks for the info. That should cover most things, but if anyone else has any input, please feel free to post it up.
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