What a night! Tuning, coolant elbows, and wheel bearings.... - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 02-12-2007, 02:45 AM   #1
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Default What a night! Tuning, coolant elbows, and wheel bearings....

I went over to Thomas' (PDXGTP) house earlier today for some engine/transmission tuning, and ended up having a crazy evening.

First of all, this car cannot shift properly with a standard, "off the shelf" tune. We have had to explore the HP Tuners VCM Suite to figure out exactly what we need to change and the best way to go about it. The good news is that I no longer have knock at the top end of each gear, and the car is starting to have normal WOT shifting habits. It still needs some work, but we're getting there. I didn't think the car felt very strong earlier today, but I think the new 3.73 gears are deceiving. You don't feel a huge surge of power, but you get up to speed more quickly than you realize. This thing isn't a speed demon by any means, but I feel I'll be solidly in the 14s at the drag strip.

Secondly, I had a 1 month old Motormite coolant elbow fail today. We had been doing some WOT runs for tuning, and Thomas thought he saw a puff of steam come out from under the hood. We started heading back to his house, and about 2 minutes out I lost power steering. I immediately knew my serpentine belt had let go, but luck was on our side because I was able to finish the drive to Thomas' house and shut the car down right as the coolant temp started rising drastically. The elbow had been blown crooked where it connected to the LIM, and the O-ring had a large chunk missing. Coolant had been streaming out of the LIM, and from what we can tell, had caused the belt to slip off the water pump and tensioner. I was able to remove the alternator and brackets, and replace the elbow with another Motormite piece. I'm not sure if this one will fail just as quickly, but I'll be keeping a close eye on it. Also, we were able to reuse the serpentine belt despite some slight damage. I'll be watching it closely as well.

My third point is about wheel bearings. When doing my transmission swap, both bearings ended up splitting in half. They looked like this:
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We thought they were junk, but after talking to a few different BC members we decided to clean them up and repack them with new grease. After reinstalling them and driving the car for nearly a month, they're still working great. I just want to make it clear to other members that "exploded" wheel bearings are definitely reusable. It may not work in every case, but it'* worth a shot if you don't have the budget to buy new bearings. I'm very happy that I was able to save money, and even if they both fail tomorrow it has been worth it to squeeze a few more miles out of them.
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:55 AM   #2
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We've had a couple failures of the Dorman/Motormite elbows. These were maybe about a year ago. They'd warp off from the 90* and then either crack, or causing problems with the O-rings. Purchasing some newer ones, and then boiling them to see if they'd warp, did not exhibit the same failure. At least one of the ones that was a problem was stamped with "Made in China". The ones without problems did not have that marking.
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Old 02-12-2007, 08:02 AM   #3
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Welcome to the bent elbow club Ben... Archon and myself have also been in that club.

Even the GM dealership ones seem to be "made in china". This makes me wonder if both Dorman and GM have the same source.
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:07 AM   #4
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And I had a new o-ring failure on EK98'* AC Delco elbow (new). Had to replace it the next day with a Dorman (not stamped China).
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Old 02-12-2007, 12:33 PM   #5
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from the personal experience that i have had with the wheel bearings exploding....i knew for sure that they would work when you installed them back in the car
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:07 PM   #6
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Great job!! And the best part is, you saved some money. Something Boosty has been trying to do for me since buying the 97 lol

As far as elbows go, I just picked up two of them for my 97. One to replace, and one for spare.
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:17 PM   #7
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The replacement elbow I installed last night was stamped with "Made in China." This isn't necessarily bad, but it gives me more reason to watch it closely.

And Pat, you were certainly right about the bearings. I'm glad I gave them another chance
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:20 PM   #8
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Ben...I'm testing one of those elbows as well. So far.. about 4-5 months and all good.
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:29 PM   #9
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While it would not be something that I would have normally recommended, I did the same thing on the front hub for a '93 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I had to pull the axle to replace the U-joint, and the bearing came apart like that. After pulling out a few choice ones from SSE Motorhead'* big bag of cuss words, I decided to try greasing it up and reinstalling it. About 80k miles later when I got rid of it, it had not caused any problems.

The replacement Dorman elbow for the one that warped has been doing okay so far. The spare that was purchased was destroyed during a "lab accident".
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