keVuVa 2kMC  

Modifications, Repairs, & Upgrades
  • Battery and Alternator Testing
  • Rear Defroster Troubleshooting
  • 3.8 L Rocker Arm Install
  • 3.4 L Underdrive Pulley
  • Wheel Bearing/Hub Replacement
  • F-body to W-body Caliper Change
  • Parking Brake Adjustment
  • Hardwiring a Radar Detector
  • Transmission Cooler Install

    Battery and Alternator Testing - [return to top]

    In order to troubleshoot your battery and alternator, you only need a mulitmeter. It can be any kind either analog or digital as long as it can read DC voltage and dc current (fuse protected).

    A fully charged battery has about 12.4 to 12.6 volts when measured across the terminals. Between 11.9 and 12.4 volts the battery is in some state of discharge. Less than 11.9 volts is considered to be "dead" and needs to be recharged with an external bettery charger. Your alternator was not designed to re-charge a "dead" battery and increased alternator wear or damage will result. A battery will only lose charge for a couple of reasons.

    1. A short in the car's wiring system (ie trunk light on all the time).
    2. Alternator not working correctly.
    3. Internal problem with the battery (shorted plates, low water).

    If it is a maintenance-free battery then it is sealed and you are not able to top off the water. If there are some covers on the top-side of the battery chances are that you must maintain the water level by adding some distilled water. Shorts in the system are very difficult to track down due to the large amounts of wiring in a car. You can get a feel of what the current draw in by using an ampmeter in series with the power lead on the battery with the ignition turned off. DO NOT TRY TO START THE CAR in this configuration as you will blow the fuse in your ampmeter.

    Alternator General Information and Testing

    The alternator has two functions. It charges then battery and provides electrical power for the car when it is running. The alternator provides all the power for a car with the battery helping when the demand gets too high, such as high-power stereo's, lights, winches etc. Alternators generally put out between 13.4 to 14.5 volts. A good test to see if your alternator is working correctly is to measure the voltage at the battery terminals when the car is running with all accessories off. If the voltage doesn't increase to 13.4 to 14.5 volts, then you probably have a problem with the alternator. Remove it from the car and take it with you to the parts store where they will normally test them free of charge (just to make sure). When the car is first started the voltage may increase and then slowly trickle down to a steady number. This is OK as it is the battery getting charged up. Most modern alternators have the regulators built-in. You can choose to rebuild your alternator if you desire, but most Auto parts store (Auto Zone) have a lifetime warranty on their alternators so it is a one-time purchase. Also in my experience a remanufactured GM alternator does not last very long. It is worth the extra expense to get a brand new one. Unless of course you like replacing your alternator!!

    Replacing the Alternator

    Chevy made it real easy to replace the alternator in their FWD vehicles. Which is good because GM alternators are notorious for having a short life span. The procedure here is for a 3.8L V-6 but the procedures will be similar for other 60º and 90º V-6 GM engines.

    1. Remove the negative battery cable. You are going to be messing with very large wires that if shorted will draw alot of current. Better safe than sorry.
    2. Remove the plastic engine cover and disconnect the power lead and connector from the alternator.
    3. Use the idler pulley to loosen the serpentine belt. Put a socket wrench on the bolt in the middle of the pulley. Use a long piece of PVC for leverage and push the pulley towards the passenger seat. It will rotate enough for you to slip the belt off the alternator. You may want to visually see where the belt is routed for the various components, but you can always use the routing diagram under the hood.
    4. Remove the 2 bolts that hold on the bracket attached to the alternator bolts.
    5. Remove the 3 bolts that attach the alternator to the engine. There are 2 that are visiable from the belt side, and one that is hidden underneath the alternator from the drivers side.
    6. There are some bushings that take up the slack in the mounting bolts. Wiggle the alternator up and down to slide it out of the bushings.
    7. Install your new alternator and reverse the procedure.

    Rear Defroster Troubleshooting and Repair - [return to top]

    There have been several instances where the tabs attached to the rear window of the Monte Carlo become detached. All of the sudden your rear defrost no longer operates. The repair is simple consisting of a soldering iron and some solder.

    Testing the system

    This is just a basic check. If you have an issue other than the tabs being off then you will have to do a lot more troubleshooting which will require the schematics and is beyond what I plan on going over. However I will provide a brief overview and places to look if you have other problems.

    The system only works when the car is running, so start the car. First thing is to check the tabs that attach to the rear window. Make sure they are secure and measure the resistance from the tab to the window. It should be a very low reading, preferably a short. Next press the defog button and listen for the relay to click. It is located on the passenger side. If you do not hear a click you need to look at the computer or relay supply. If you hear a click then measure the voltage across the tabs on the rear glass. You should get like 10-11 volts. If you measure 13.4V+ then you have an open circuit somewhere. If you measure 0 volts you have an open. You need to see if the relay is getting power. If it is not then there is a fuseable link in the engine compartment you need to find. If you are getting power to the switched side of the relay then there is a breaker between the relay and the rear glass. You should probably check that and the wiring going to the rear glass.

    Repairing the Solder Tabs

    If you got lucky then the solder tab is the problem. Below is what you need to fix it.

    Before you start you need to make sure there is still metallization on the glass. If the metallization has come off then you will probably need to replace the glass. Otherwise you should be able to repair it.

    1. Remove the tab from the wiring harness.
    2. Apply fresh solder to both the window and tab
    3. Touch the solder on the tab to the solder on the glass
    4. heat the whole “blob” up so the solder flows.

    When you are done, measure the resistance on your solder joint. Measure from the top of the tab to the metallization on the glass without the wire hookup up. You should get a very low resistance reading.

    Re-connect the wire and test out the system.

    3.8L V6 Rocker Arm Installation Procedure - [return to top]

    Tools Needed : 3/8, 10mm, 13mm, and 15mm 3/8 drive sockets. 3/8 drive ratchet. 3/8 drive 3 inch extension. 13mm and 15mm wrenches.

    Notes: Make sure the engine has had time to cool off and that you are ready to do this cause this will take any where from 2 - 4 hours depending on your mechanical ability.

    Step one - 1st things 1st, disconnect the battery. Last thing you want is to be shocked by a Monte it does not feel good, trust me I know, lol.

    Step two - Remove the engine cover by twisting the cap with the tube extension to the left. Then simply remove the cover by pulling up at the front then out. Next we'll remove the upper engine mounts. They are located at the front of the engine and you will be able to tell what they are. Using the 15mm wrench and 15mm socket w/ ratchet remove both mounts.

    Step three - Installing the front set of rockers - There is a few electrical connections that you will want to disconnect to make getting to one particular bolt easier. You should be able to see these located by the left engine mount bracket. After that You will need to remove the bracket itself in order to get the valve cover off. This is done by 1st taking the black front half of the bracket off using the 13mm and 15mm sockets and ratchet. There is 2 15mm bolts at top and 1 13mm at bottom. The 2 at top are easy and the 1 at bottom is a lil tricky. You may have to use the 13mm wrench to break it lose and get it far enough out in order to use the ratchet. After the front half of the braket is removed you can remove the other half. it will take longer simply because the 2 bolts that hold it in are very diffucult to get to even with the 13mm wrench which will be the only thing you can use to get them out. You will be able to see where both bolts are by following the legs of the bracket. To make it just a little bit easier to get to the bolt on the left off you can unbolt a bracket that holds one of the coil connectors. It's held on by one bolt, u can use the 10mm socket and ratchet w/ the 3 inch extension. You can then move it out of the way to get to the left bracket bolt. After you finally have the braket all the way off you will have full access to all 6 valve cover bolts.

    Use the 3/8 socket and ratchet with 3 inch extension to remove the valve cover bolts. You will need to pull the bolts out after screwing them out all they way or you can leave them in the cover, they are held in place by a plug at the bottom. I thought it smarter to remove them and put them some where i wouldn't lose them so that when u turn the cover upside down to sit it down none of them have the chance of falling out and getting lost. Once all bolts are loose you can remove the valve cover. You will need to snake it out because of the spark plugs. In the install instructions for the GT they say to remove the coil packs but I found that wasn't needed for the SS. Now becarful with the valve cover it's made of a plastic/fiberglass composite and can easily be broken if mishandled. You now have access to your factory rockers. Use the 3/8 socket and rathet with 3 inch extension and remove the factory rockers and rocker plate. When putting the ZZP rockers in make sure you use the 1.85 rockers on the intake and the 1.80 on the exhaust. If your not sure which is which they should be marked, and if your not sure which is the intake and exahaust on the head you can tell by simply looking at the location of the exhaust manifoldports. Use the supplied bolts to install the new rockers. Do not try to use the ones you just removed because they are torque to yield bolts and are only meant for one time use. PLace the new rocker plate down and then install the rockers making sure the pushrod is under the rocker arm. Torque the new bolts down to 11FT-LBS and then make a 90 degree turn or a 1/4 of a turn. Once all rockers are done you can begin reassembly of the front with the exception of the upper mounts. Make sure you also use the supplied rubber gasket. You are now done with the front, which was the easy half.

    Step four - Now you'll need to make sure the car is in park and push it forward to rock the engine forward to make it easier to get to the back set of rockers. Once the car is rocked forward lock the Parking brake down.

    Step five - You will need to remove the factory strut bar and the coolant overflow tank. The strut bar uses 13mm bolts and the coolent tank uses 10mm bolts. Also make sure you unplug the hose that is plug to the tank.

    Step six - Now the alternator and alternator support bracket needs to be removed. The bracket uses a 10mm bolt on the engine end and a 15mm bolt on the alternator end, after it's removed you can dissconnect all connections to the alternator and remove it by unbolting the 15mm bolts that hold it on and removing the serpintine belt. This is done by using the 15mm wrench on the belt tensioner and rotating it counter clockwise, it will be very tight and will take some effort to move it enough to loosen the belt.

    Step seven - Now the main alternator bracket needs to be removed because it over hangs the valve cover and there is no way of removing the valve cover short of breaking it with it still on. There is 3 15mm bolts holding it on. After finding and removing them it should come off and give u enough clearance. You now have access to the rear valve cover. It also has to be snaked off and is tougher to snake off as well because of the plug wires and everything else. You can unplug the spark plug wires and move them out of the way, but do take note as to where each one goes for easier reinstallation.

    Step eight - Installing the rear set of rockers - After doing the front set all you have to do is follow suit and repeat every thing you did on the front side. After you finish the rear set start to reinstall every thing in reverse order.

    Step nine - You can now take the parking brake off and let the car roll back. Now reinstall the engine mounts and make sure you have everything tight and secure.

    One additional note: the alternator bracket, when it's "wiggled" a little too far.....the coolant hose fittings (one to intake manifold, one to water pump) "pop" out (they really make that noise!). Lost a quart or so of coolant. They are "O" ring compression type. With the bracket completely out of the way, the rear cover went in and out very easily, no snaking and worming. Gave me all the room in the world! I also left the STB and coolant recovery in place. When you remount bracket, the fittings reseat. You just need to add coolant and bleed out A LOT of air.

    3.4 L Underdrive Pulley Replacement - [return to top]

    Items you will need:

    blue thread locker
    anti-thread sieze
    at least a 1" shorter than stock belt
    rubber mallet or dead-blow mallet
    wood blocks of equal thicknesses
    one helper willing to work for peanuts
    1/2" drive breaker bar and ratchet, 18mm socket (6-sided is preferrable)
    3/8" drive ratchet and 10 mm socket
    Large wrench or cheater pipe (large wrench can also be used to loosen tensioner.
    Large flat tipped screwdriver
    Buy or get loaner harmonic balancer puller
    Flat faced punch

    This project will be much easier if you have a helper if you don't have an air compressor and impact wrench, (which I didn't) it will help if one or both of you is a "tough guy". I don't think it would even be worth the effort to try by yourself without the aid of an air comp.

    1. Remove the factory belt. This is done by putting a large open end wrench on the square end of the tensioner. Lift up with the wrench, and slip the belt off one of the accessories. then remove the belt.

    2. Jack the car up, and put it on jackstands. Place one jackstand on the front of the engine cradle, and one in front of the flywheel inspection cover. Remove the flywheel inspection cover. (held on by 2 bolts, 10mm socket used)

    3. Remove the front passenger side tire, and the upper plastic splash guard. These are held on by 3 plastic "screws" which go into a sort of anchor. The first 2 are obvious; there is one towards the front that you will need either a real stubby screwdriver or a 90 degree to remove.

    4. Now you are ready to get tough...removing the crank bolt. Get a long breaker bar, 1/2 in. drive is preferable, and an 18mm socket. A 6 point socket is preferrable, so you don't round the bolt off. But I used a regular 12-point and it went fine. Also, get a large wrench for more leverage on the breaker bar, or a cheater pipe. Have your assistant get a long, thick, flat-head craftsman screwdriver. (I say craftsman so you can take it back if you break it...thanks milzy) One of you go to the flywheel inspection hole, and wedge the tip between one of the farthest back teeth you can see. You can pull down lightly on the screwdriver for more leverage, but not too hard cuz your transmission case is aluminum, remember! You can wrap your hands around the jackstand and use that as a way to hold the screwdriver tight so it will drive into the palm of your hand, or figure out some way to wedge it against the jackstand. I used method #1. Have the guy with the breaker bar (not a good guy to talk smack to right now) try to rotate the pulley a little. If you have a good bite on the teeth of the flywheel, it won't move. The good news is, the teeth are harder than your screwdriver. If you or your buddy is as strong as he says he is, give him the green light, and the bolt should break loose.

    5. Now you are ready to remove the balancer. You will need to buy or borrow a harmonic balancer removal kit. This kit has a long threaded bolt with a point on one end, 3 bolts, and a special piece which I will refer to as a "crowsfoot" (or "peace sign" if you're a hippie) to hold all the bolts and the center piece. If you borrow a kit, from somewhere such as Autozone, inspect the kit. Make sure the threads in the middle aren't stripped or banged up, as I had to deal with. Also, it is most likely that the bolts you get will be about 4" or 5" long. If there are 3 different sizes, and 2 look brand new, and 1 set looks a bit used, you better believe the used set is what you need. If this is the case, do yourself a HUGE favor and once you leave the store, go straight to a hardware store and pick up 3 3/8" bolts, coarse thread, approximately 2 inches long, and 3 flat washers. This will make your life much easier.

    6. Thread the crows foot a ways up onto the long threaded bolt. use the tapered "acorn" if this piece is separate. Slip the first bolt through the crows foot, then through one of the threaded holes in the balancer. Do not tighten too far, or the bolt could come in contact with the block, or even worse...the crank sensor housing. With these 2" bolts this will be difficult. Thread the other 2 bolts in, so that the long center bolt lines up with the hole in the balancer. Each bolt should be threaded in the same length. I had about 1/2" sticking out above the crowsfoot. You may have to install one from above the engine compartment.

    7. I HIGHLY reccommend hitting the place where the factory balancer goes on the crank with some penetrating lubricant. Go have a cold beverage of your choice and let it do its work.

    Take a 1/2" drive ratchet, and socket for the center bolt. (mine was 19mm). Start tightening the center bolt down so it pushes against the tapered part of the crank. This is what pulls the balancer off. This will NOT just fall right off once you get past a certain point, you have to keep it going the whole way.

    8. Now that the factory damper is off, you need to remove the inner ring. This is the ring that the crank sensor reads, so it is very important. You need about 4 wood blocks, of equal heigth. Place 2 stacks side by side so that the very sides of the back of the damper are on the blocks, but the ring can move down between them. You need a hammer and a flat faced punch to do this. Tap the punch on the ring very gently to make it come out. Do NOT hit in one spot more than once, or you will damage it too much. It will get small dings in it, but this is not the part that is read by the sensor. Tap around in opposite sides (give it the ol' tappy tap-eroo) of the ring so one side is never farther out than another. It will seem like slow going at first, but it will come out. Patience is a virtue here.

    9. Once the ring is out, straighten out any larger dents you may have put in the ring. It is helpful if you take some steel wool or wire brush the outer edge of the ring to remove any rust. This rust will make it harder to put the ring back in the new balancer. First, remove the 3 small set screws in the inside of the new balancer with a small allen wrench. Keep these in a safe place, as they are very tiny. To install the ring, I used the same blocks I used in the step above. Set the outside edge of the ring on the block, and set the inside of the balancer on top. Make sure you are starting equally on either side. Get another 2x4 and a rubber mallet. Very gently start tapping at the block to get the ring started in the new balancer. Note that it does not matter what orientation the ring goes back in. Make sure it is started equally on all sides. If you have one side down farther than another, it will almost be impossible to get in. If everything is OK you can start tapping it a little harder, but not much harder. Drive the ring all the way in. The outside lip if the ring should have just a small gap showing from the holes that are cut out of the ring. Rotate the unit around to check that they are all sticking up the same distance, to make sure you have it pressed in all the way.

    10. Put a small bead of blue thread locker (medium strength - not the red "impossible to ever remove" strength) around a set screw, and thread it back in the hole. This holds the inside of the ring in place. Not quite sure this is necessary since it is so hard to get in, but it makes me feel better. Repeat for the other 2. Now you are ready to install the new balancer.

    11. Apply a liberal coating of anti-seize to the inside of the hub. This will ensure that if you ever have to remove it, you can. Then apply a light grease or some oil to the inside of the hub that goes against the motor. (this is a sealing surface.) Now line up the balancer on the keyway, and push it in as far as you can. It probably won't get very far. Try to get the crank bolt threaded into the crank. If it won't reach, get a rubber mallet (or deadblow hammer) and a block. Put the block over the balancer, and GENTLY tap on the block, while making sure the balancer is centered. In a battle of iron vs. aluminum, iron will win, and your shiny new balancer will be chewed up on the inside of the hub. Once the balancer is started, it will not rock back an forth anymore if you try to move it. Now try to start the crank bolt. If it goes in, you're in business. Tighten the bolt down as far as you can. It's almost amazing how easy it goes on with that anti-seize on it. Now back that bolt off a little and Put a dab of silicone sealer in the keyway to seal it all up. Re-tighten the bolt, and once you have it on as far as it can go without the crank turning, reverse step #4 to torque the crank bolt. I believe the proper tq setting is 150 ft-lbs.

    12. You're almost there!! You will need a belt that is 1" shorter than stock. YOUR STOCK ONE IS TOO SHORT, I tried this. The one I got is actually about 1.5" shorter because the next size down was only .6 in. shorter. Reverse the belt remval process in step #1 to install the belt. MAKE SURE that you have all the grooves on the belt lined up with the grooves on the pulley. (i.e. get your groove on!! ;) )

    13. Put your splash guard back on, and your wheel. Cinch up the lug nuts. Put your flywheel inspection cover back on. Jack up the car and remove the jackstands, and let her back down. Tighten lug nuts. Now you're ready to fire it up! Don't be nervous!!

    Wheel Bearing / Hub Replacement - [return to top]

    The front wheel bearings in the Monte Carlo is a non-servicable unit. Basically that means you have to replace the entire hub assembly. This make a $5 repair turn into a $75 one. It is fairly simple to do it helps if you have replaced front brake pads before, but this is not a requirement. Doing this repair myself saved me $125 over what a my mechanic would have charged me.

    There are only a couple of tools that you will need.

    1. 36mm socket
    2. 3-way universal puller
    3. Torque wrench up to 160 ft/lbs
    4. 10mm - 15mm sockets
    5. Torx bit T-60
    6. Wobble socket extension or U-joint.
    7. 2-5 ft piece of 1 1/4 PVC piping or larger

    The Puller and 36mm socket can be loaned from Autozone for free. All you need is a deposit which is returned when the tools are. The other stuff should be part of your tool-box anyway.

    Removal Procedure

    1. Start by jacking up the vehicle so the front tire is still touching the ground but some of the weight is removed (remeber to use the parking brake and chock the rear wheels). Remove the cap on covering the lug nuts. Put the 36mm socket on your driver and insert the handle of the driver into the PVC pipe. (This is not necessary but will give you enough leverage to remove the bolt tightened to 159 ft/lbs.) Break the nut loose. Loosen all the lug nuts. Jack up the vehicle so the tire is off the ground. Remove the lug nuts completely. Remove the tire.

    2. Remove the 2 bolts from the caliper (15mm I think). Slide the caliper and brake pads out of the mounting bracket. Hang them from the spring ans be careful of the brakelines. Use the torx bit to remove the caliper mounting bracket (use the PVC for more leverage). Remove the rotor from the hub.

    3. Remove the axle nut (the 36mm one) from the axle. If you look at the new wheel hub assembly, you will see 4 mounting holes in the rear flange. They are bolted from the backside of the steering knuckle. It take somes manuevering but you can get in there with the wobble extension and remove the bolts. To make room you will also have to remove the ABS sensor bracket.

    4. Attach the puller to the hub and pull the hub off the axle. Do not attempt to pull this off without the puller as damage to the CV joint will result and just about ruin your day. Installation is the reverse procedure. When you tighten up the axel nut it will push the axle splines into the new hub, so keep torque applied until you hit 159 ft/lbs then you can stop. Do not tighten the nut until the wheel is mounted and touching the ground. This will prevent you from applying all that torque to your transmission again ruin your day.

    As you can see it is pretty straight forward and should only take about 1 - 1.5 hours to complete. Make sure you have all the specialty tools up front or you will be making a couple of trips to the parts store.

    The next time I have to take off my front wheels I will get some pictures to add as a reference.