After doing research on a replacement car, and with a suggestion for a new car from my brother (professional mechanic), he suggested that I look for a Pontiac Vibe or a Matrix knowing what I do and want out of a car. After a week of searching, I found a private listing on CL for a vibe a couple miles away from my home, and I decided to take it for a test drive. Needless to say, I liked the car, and and the functional interior and decided to bite the bullet and make the purchase. So here is the information on the before, and after purchase, and a question section that I am interested in getting help with.
Identified the car as a 2004 Base model with a 1ZZ-FE, A246E transmission, 2WD, with the moon and tunes package in the Neptune Blue color, with cloth seats.
Looked at a vin checker for accidents and flooding, and it came back clean.
Test drive of the car, easy startup, but had a very rough idle, the codes had been reset in the computer and the check engine light was on.
After a few miles of driving and warming up, it became apparent that the timing chain was loose and needed to be replaced.
Noticed that there was green dextron in the radiator, and there was a leak in the hose and in the lower plastic section of the radiator.
Engine had signs of being worked on (hoses, aftermarket coil pack, valve cover gasket with RTV,), but the owner did not disclose much information about the car, but claimed that the oil was changed every 3,000 miles and had records to prove it (owner used only purolator filters, and 5-30), the owner was the second owner of the car.
Water pump was squeaking like crazy and had play in it.
Belt tensioner was leaking hydraulic fluid and the tensioner pulley was slightly shaky, also the belt was worn and had cracks.
Body of the car had a crack in the front lower part of the bumper from hitting a "pet carrier" on the highway that was empty.
Cruise control doesn't work, and the stem doesn't work.
Front brakes were worn and so were the rotors, rear brakes seemed to be making noise when stopping as well.
Radio has a burnt out display light making the radio basically useless.
Engine bay, for the age of the car, seems quite clean, other than the oil leak and radiator fluid.
Horn does not work, doesn't beep when you lock it.
Battery, tested fine, but it is an Advance Auto Parts battery, and leaks battery acid like crazy, but the battery connections were so corroded on the positive side that you couldn't even see it under the layer of green corrosion.
Rust, from what I can see, the car has average rust on it on the frame and suspension parts, and the wheel well plastic protectors seem to have saved the car from rusting up here in the rust belt for the most part.
Vacuum leak on the intake.
Even with all of this, and the exterior of the car having dents and scratches, clear coat coming off it, the owner wanted $2850 for the car. It had 137k miles on it. I talked the owner down to $2400, and because of the Toyota drive train, I was relatively confident with the purchase for a commuter car that is going to see mostly highway miles.
Drove the car home and started ordering from Rock Auto!
The list of parts is:
NGK Lazer Iridium Spark Plugs
Gates Belt Tensioner
Dayco drive belt
Centric Ceramic disc brake kit with all hardware
Centric Rear Drum brake kit with all hardware
ACDelco OEM Thermostat
Thermostat housing seal
ACDelco Upper and lower Radiator Hoses
ACDelco Valve Cover Gasket
Throttle Body Gasket
Oil pan with Baffle
Oil Pan Gasket
--Amazon-- 5-30 Full Synthetic 5qt oil
Wix XP Oil Filter
ACDelco Transmission Filter
Transmission pan gasket
Air Intake Filter
SKP VVT Solenoid
Melling Timing set
Timing cover gasket set
Cabin Air Filter
4 Gallons Zerex Asian Vehicle HOAT coolant
1 Gallon Idemitsu AFT - TLS (T-IV)
Intake Manifold Gasket
Water Pump - aftermarket, I'm embarrassed to say the only one available yesterday was a ValueCraft pump....might replace later, but it isn't leaking and it is doing it's job now!
Boss (cheapie) head unit from a car audio place online with mounting and wire harness adapter kit.
3D Maxpider Toyota matrix custom fit front floor liners - plastic/rubber form fit
Along with all of this, I bought all of the cleaners/fluids you need to do all of this work, MAF cleaner, Electronics cleaner, battery acid neutralizer, battery contact cleaner, 8 bottles of Brake Cleaner, WD-40, Fuel System cleaner, brake fluid, Power Steering fluid, PB Blaster.
1. Timing Chain, sprockets, tensioner, VVT Solenoid, VVT oil filter cleaned, Timing chain cover mounting surfaces cleaned, checked the spacing on the cam shaft lobes and there was basically no wear that could be measured with a spacer, and all of the surfaces were clean from any visual wear as well! The timing chain was visually loose on top of the cam shaft sprocket and VVT sprocket and was moving from side to side with ease, but the teeth on the VVT sprocket were like new, while the exhaust sprocket was slightly worn (replaced).
A. Found that the water pump was shaking and needed to be replaced, so I ran down and picked up a new pump from the local parts store.
2. Oil Pan/Gasket Changed, cleaned the pan to find 0 particles in the oil or on the pan.
3. Transmission Gasket/Filter, cleaned up only to find a coating of metal powder on the magnets and 0 particles that could be seen visually after cleaning with a shop towel and getting all of the old fluid off the pan.
4. Front and Rear Brakes, the front rotors were corroded to hell, and the brakes barely stopped the car, the rear brakes looked like they had never been changed!!! All new parts went in after cleaning them off obviously.
5. Radiator and hoses replaced, but found a large dent in the AC Condenser, however the AC works well!
6. Spark plugs - Replaced, checked the pistons while we had them out, and no sign of head gasket failure, and nothing in the cylinders. The original spark plugs weren't terrible, but the gaps had obviously spread with the iridium being essentially gone.
7. Intake system - Took everything apart and found cracks on most of the hoses connecting to the intake system as well as PCV Valve and other air hoses, so after cutting off 1/2 inch of material from each of the hose ends of each of the hoses, along with intake and all other gasket replacements in the car, fixed the intake leak.
8. Cleaned the MAF, all throttle Body parts, cleaned the intake and checked the intake valve stems while we had the intake off the car, All the parts looked like I could have ate off of them, extremely clean with 0 wear or carbon buildup.
9. Discovered that a wheel stud was cross threaded and had to pound it out and get another one on one hub.
10. Head unit install was seamless, and after reading here that you need to connect the amp signal wire to the ignition wire, made installing the new head unit a breeze.
11. Brake fluid flush/bleed of the whole system all 4 tires.
12. Power steering system fluid change
After all of the work was done on the car, we reinstalled the clean battery and turned it over with the fuel pump relay disconnected to ensure it was turning over correctly, pump oil up into the engine and circulate the ATF fluid, and also to start bleeding the air in the coolant and fill it back up with fresh coolant.
We reinstalled the Fuel pump relay after confirming that the car turned over fine, and lo-and-behold, the car lives again! I watched a video on the idle reset procedure and combined withe about 50 miles of giving the car an Italian tune up, the car runs like a clock! Smooth shifts, engine shaking gone from rough idle, no timing chain noise what-so-ever, and after a little oil burned out of the engine, the car runs great!
I refilled the ATF with the hot high/low dipstick measurement over the next 20 miles until I confirmed that it is full, and as of then, thought the car was good to go!
First... so I must be crazy to have done all of this, and to have paid what I paid for the car right? Honestly, I don't feel like this was a bad decision, but I am open to suggestions on what I could/should have done differently.
After flushing the oil coolant out, I notice that I have white flakes from the Dex that the previous owner used in the coolant visible from the radiator cap. Is there anything else I should do other than doing another coolant change in another 200 miles? Should I change the fluid now?
I think after cleaning the battery contacts and getting out all of the corrosion, the ECU is liking running off of battery power better than it did the running essentially off the the alternator, but I am able to get more diagnostic information about the car now, and the OBD2 system doesn't kick my brother's scan tool off scanning it anymore, which might also have been affected by the old coolant conducting electricity.
Now that the car is together and running like a top with the 50 miles I've driven so far, I am not getting an air bag warning light on and now I am getting the following codes -
B0101- Open in "D" squib circuit
B1181-Open in "D" 2nd squib circuit
Does anyone have any suggestions for fixes on this? From what I can tell from recall information, this car doesn't have any recalls that need to be fulfilled, but the takata airbag system and the steering wheel clock spring need to be replaced. Is there something going on here I am missing? The ribbon cable that most people report on this car as being an issue seems to have already been fixed, but would Toyota or GM fix this since it has been recalled? If not, is there a code clear that I can do to get back my horn functionality and ensure my safety while driving the car (airbags)? Keep in mind, I have a mechanic at my disposal (yes I do pay him, and pay him well for his time and expertise just fyi).
I noticed that there is more rust on the rear axle assembly than anywhere else on the car. Other than a junk yard, is there any place to get a new assembly for this vehicle?
Other than a couple issues, and needing to detail the car myself since the seats and front door fabric trim are nasty (old owner claimed that she is allergic to all cleaning chemicals), I am also going to install legal tint for the states I travel in the car, I have a rear backup distance sensor system to tie into the back-up light, and covering some of the chrome dash trim with matte grey 3M vinyl (the light it reflects drives me crazy already), I am extremely happy with the driving of the car already and how it runs, as well as the functionality of the interior of the car.
Is there anything else that I should change out or do maintenance on in this car?
I noticed that the front and rear strut assemblies are coming to the end of their life, the front control arms and tie rod ends will need to be replaced in the spring (not much wear right now), I was thinking of doing new wheel bearings, and a full suspension kit for the front and rear in the spring as well. All of the motor and transmission mounts have started to crack, but still hold the engine properly, but will be added to the list of things to change in the spring. Being 15 years old, I am also considering ordering new bearings and hubs for the car, possibly new CV axles, possibly replacing the alternator which is not putting out the full 80 amps that it should currently.
Along with all of that, I might have the rust repaired by a professional body guy I know to prevent further rust, and repair any current problem areas (but from what I inspected on the underside of the car, the rust isn't all that bad at all except on the rear axle.
I also noticed that on the moon roof, that the rubber is starting to wear out, is there anything I can do, or product anyone would suggest for helping to restore the rubber seals? Not just there, but everywhere on the car.
Overall, with my maiden voyage having gone extremely well, the car runs like a clock now, after all the work my brother and I have done on this car, I am happy to be an addition to the GenVibe community and look forward to at least a couple hundred thousand miles of worry free (if a bit slow) driving in this car!
2004 Pontiac Vibe - 1ZZ-FE - 4 Speed Auto - 137k and going, moon and tunes package, Neptune Blue