Four years ago, my sister needed a car and wanted something better than she could outright pay for. Unfortunately, she was 16 and couldn't take out a loan. So, we went to a dealership together and I bought the car in my name so that "we" could take out a loan. She drove this car for 4 years, and now she bought a 2008 Nissan Altima coupe.
With the Altima, she no longer needed the Alero and let me "get it back." I am now using it until I fix my 99 SLO'* transmission, and it will either be sold or will be used as a during-mods car so I can take down the SLO for days and try out new camshafts.
Today, or yesterday, I tried to do some preventative maintenance and found that the car was in genuinely poor condition. Here are pics with captions to explain what'* going on.
Here, I've taken off the intake. You can see that the "upper" intake manifold is to the side of the head. The head has the spark plugs in it, and that corrugated cover with "Twin Cam" written on it is a huge ignition coil.
Old spark plugs covered by stock boots... These boots wear over time, and the sparks start hitting the camshaft holders as well as the plugs. This is a common cause of misfires on the 2.4 Twin Cam
You can see that the camshaft covers (and the timing cover) are leaking vehemently. But inside that mess are 4 brand new plugs!
The air intake was broken. There'* a large plastic tub that fits over the throttle body, and it acts as a horrible air duct. That got chipped, so it was time for a new Auto Zone-provided intake!
Next, it was time for a new ignition coil. I took a 2000 Dodge Neon ignition coil, rewired it with the Alero'* ICM box thing, and ran a 1998 Chevy *-10 2.2L spark plug wire set from the coil to the plugs. Here'* the wiring process:
I used the soldering gun to cut the connector part off of the ignition coil. That 100W gun went through plastic like a thick stick through butter! That metal/plastic thing where I was soldering is the 1994 Bonneville'* ignition coil plate, by the way.
After I took this picture, I moved the coil to the back, above the fuse box, and I rerouted the wires. Also, I needed to use that red coupler because Auto Zone was out of black ones.
So, here'* how the story ends for now... I started the Alero, and it worked! However, the idle was very rough because I let the ICM ground out by freely resting on top of the engine. I went to the back to listen to the exhaust when the door shut. Heading back to open the door, I heard the engine stall out.
The Alero has an amazing security feature in that it locks the doors when the engine dies. I don't know which genius thought that up, but I hope he gets locked out of every car every day for the rest of his life. Anyway, I called AAA, they unlocked the car, I tried starting it, and it didn't work. It turns over, but then the dash goes black and nothing happens. Feels like the battery is dead. I'll give you an update tomorrow (later today).