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dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/25/20 3:33 p.m.

The weekend of Import Carlisle, on Friday night, I was eating dinner with my wife and looking through FB marketplace as has become my practice searching for parts or projects. Not that I have any time for more projects and have not finished my V6 AW11 project, but sometimes a deal comes along and that makes you stop what you are working on and this was one of them. 

Besides the horrible 80's bra and steel wheels with Pepboys wheel covers, this was a rust free, running, complete 87 AW11 MR2  with a nice interior and a clean history  for $800. I quickly did the math and just parting it out for the excellent condition side skirts, engine, transmission, and interior was going to be worth the effort to get it to our house, so I contacted the seller (it had been listed for 2 hours), he did a video with me showing the car from all angles and confirming the rust free condition and I sent him the money.  I had to pay to get it shipped to my house so my cost so far is $1,100.

Car arrived yesterday and I confirmed that it is indeed rust free. Pressure washed it today, paint is really bad, been repainted at some point but none of the normal AW11 rust areas have shown their ugly face yet. Interior is really in excellent condition, seats are great and the only body work I need to do is to replace one of the front valance pieces with a good one I already have from the other car.  I spend my lunch today removing the Viper alarm system.

Car is running and as advertised, it starts and idles but won't rev (I did get it to rev by carefully playing with the throttle. Thinking TPS, timing or a vacuum leak, will start troubleshooting over the next few days. Goal is to get it drivable to evaluate the condition and then decide what I want to do with it. Body is too nice not to get it painted, so may get this one and the Black V6 car painted one after the other. I'll be looking for some wheels for it soon, should have kept the Rotas I pulled off the V6 car, but that was last week, how did I know another one would follow me home?

Not sure of my plans yet, could just get it running well and flip it, could keep it and restore it like I am doing to the black V6 car or do a more radical swap like a k-series.......

GaryC83
GaryC83 New Reader
8/25/20 11:34 p.m.

Looks like a great project. I absolutely love those cars...seems like a screaming deal at that price as well. Anything even remotely solid I come across is usually a few thousand, at least. 

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/26/20 8:29 a.m.

Thanks, it definitely was well worth the price. You can get rusty running cars or solid rollers for typically 2K, so running and not rusty, complete and with an excellent interior made this a no brainer to be sure. Now I am trying to figure out what has been done. Supposedly the PO replaced the fuel pump and filter, so that "should" be okay. It starts up immediately, but does not want to rev, but I can get it to rev over 3K with a little coaxing. I checked the TPS, which seems to be fine. Could have a cracked vacuum hose somewhere, will be bleeding the cooling system first to get the air out and then check the timing. No other history, plug wires look new, but the PO says they were on the car when he got it in 2019. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/26/20 8:50 a.m.

could be really dirty air filter. my E12 wouldn't go over 1500 rpm. air filter was almost solid with dirt. removed filter and banged rev limiter.

could be obstructed exhaust ie failed cat. friend had a honda pilot that absolutely flat-lined at 2000 rpm, but OBD2 so it threw cat code.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/26/20 9:18 a.m.

Good idea, I'll check the air filter first. There are no check engine codes, checked that this morning, just a single flash which means no codes stored.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
8/26/20 12:16 p.m.

My old 98 M3 couldn't spin the rear wheels when I dumped the clutch from a stand still.  Couldn't figure it out, decided to check the air filter.  After I'd cleaned it and the sock (K&N filter) the car felt like it had 100hp more and easily spun the tires.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
8/26/20 12:29 p.m.

I've always wanted one of those....

TVR Scott (Forum Supporter)
TVR Scott (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/26/20 12:30 p.m.

Pretty awesome!  I admire your willingness to dive into multiple projects and your ability to actually move them all forward.  I have my hands full with one!

lxnm
lxnm Reader
8/26/20 12:48 p.m.

You got another one?!  

Good job

lxnm
lxnm Reader
8/26/20 12:59 p.m.

I had a similar reving issue with mine btw, didn't want to rev over around 3k, and certainly didn't make any power.  It ended up on a tow truck...  The problem escalated back at the house, and then it wouldn't even start.  At the time, I didn't have time to fix it, so I just took it to a shop and regretted it.  They did get it running again, but it took forever, an they never really told me what the issue was.  

The mechanic thought it was the fuel filter or pump since he could start it with starter fluid.  I was pretty sure it was a grounding issue since there were others of those earlier, probably grounding issue to the injectors since it started with starter fluid.  

That specimen you have there clearly had a hub conversion in the past, so there must have been other stuff done to it as well.  For the money, and the lack of rust, it's a winner though.  

 

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/26/20 1:01 p.m.

Yes, I just like to work in tiny engine bays :-)

MGB project for my friend is wrapping up, so the MR2's and the long term re-restoration of the TR4A will be my focus for the fall.  

As far as my current situation of idle only, no power..... checked the PVC hose (cracked, so replaced), intake hose to MAF (appears good), checked and cleaned air filter, as it was not too bad for these purposes. Looked at the other vacuum lines which appear to the eye as being okay. The fact that it idles cold very low makes me think it is fuel related, isn't there a cold start injector and circuit to run the idle high until it warms up? That does not seem to be working, perhap related?

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/26/20 2:22 p.m.

In reply to lxnm :

Thinking this is fuel pressure related, been reading on the MR2 forums and looks like this exact issue as been solved by either the fuel pressure regulator or fuel pressure damper. I'll try the fuel pressure regulator as they are cheap.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/1/20 3:21 p.m.

So still working on getting the engine running correctly. Replaced the FPR, checked the TPS and MAF and both check out fine with a ohm meter. Fuel filter and pump were replaced by the previous owner, so have not checked fuel pressure yet. Air filter is fine. It starts right up, just does not have a fast idle and won't rev. I can coax it to rev up a little, but pretty much does not have any response to opening the throttle. PVC hose was cracked, so replaced it, and cleaned the throttle body and MAF. Vacuum lines look good, but there could be something hidden I am missing. I will look at the whole ignition system next, but since I can get it to rev slowly up (with just a small amount of open throttle, it will reluctantly rev up), i would not think it would do so if the timing were off. Could the ECU be bad? I do have a spare.  Also, check engine lite shows no codes when jumpered.

Picking up a set of MR2 Spyder wheels this weekend as I want to keep this a budget runner.

Any ideas on what to try next? Could there be a sensor bad somewhere?

Try a fuel filter? Check all grounds? 4AGE distributors tend to loose seals and act funny. Air filter?

In short, eliminate all the easy E36 M3 you'd replace anyway. Sweet car.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/1/20 7:51 p.m.

Yes, definitely will check all the grounds, fuel filter was supposed to be new (looks new), but that is an easy swap, will probably check the fuel pressure at the rail first. I did check and clean the throttle body and idle control valve, both were caked with an oily mix on the intake side. Not a good sign, is is a PVC valve or am I getting blow by forcing oil into the intake? Engine does not smoke when it idles so may have to do a compression test as well. I'll find out tomorrow if cleaning out the throttle body helps as there were several plugged vacuum ports on it.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/2/20 7:48 a.m.

So reinstalled the now clean throttle body with all the vacuum ports now open . Same symptoms, starts with a low idle (800), but when it first fires, I can coax it to rev up and hold some RPM, but once I let it return to idle, it does not rev despite opening the throttle. I'll concentrate on the ignition side next and confirm the timing and check the distributor and plugs/wires next.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/2/20 8:53 a.m.

The distributor is easy to install incorrectly. Doesn't sound like your problem, but worth a check.

paul_s0
paul_s0 Reader
9/2/20 9:44 a.m.

I'm not sure if you've had the plug wires/plugs out, but just in case, my 200k mile example used to have an issue with water ingress through the engine lid cover, which would then fill up one or two of the spark plug wells - which would result in similar issues, it would start up fine, and just about rev up, but shortly after that wouldn't budge off idle.  That same water ingress would also kill alternators fairly regularly..

Ignoring my experience, it sounds like a fueling issue to me..

ebelements
ebelements Reader
9/2/20 10:10 a.m.

This find/purchase is so rad that all I want to do is scour craigslist for one of my own and put my marital equilibrium at risk.

Very VERY well done sir. yes

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/2/20 10:28 a.m.
paul_s0 said:

I'm not sure if you've had the plug wires/plugs out, but just in case, my 200k mile example used to have an issue with water ingress through the engine lid cover, which would then fill up one or two of the spark plug wells - which would result in similar issues, it would start up fine, and just about rev up, but shortly after that wouldn't budge off idle.  That same water ingress would also kill alternators fairly regularly..

Ignoring my experience, it sounds like a fueling issue to me..

Thanks, I'll be pulling the valley cover as part of checking the ignition system over lunch, could be part of the issue, sounds like you experienced the same problem on your car. 

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/2/20 10:30 a.m.
ebelements said:

This find/purchase is so rad that all I want to do is scour craigslist for one of my own and put my marital equilibrium at risk.

Very VERY well done sir. yes

Thanks, really have not done much yet except figure out what I got in the deal. So far, no surprises, car is as rust free as they can be, just hoping I can get it running properly at minimal cost. Once it is running, I'll decide where this project is headed.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
9/2/20 10:50 a.m.

Pretty nice prject there, should be fun!

ebelements
ebelements Reader
9/2/20 1:05 p.m.

In reply to dherr (Forum Supporter) :

Well I hope it heads for a long, detailed, multi-page thread with loads of images. Because if you go and sell it on here, the outcome would likely be the dog taking my place in bed—and let me assure you, my couch isn't that comfortable.

All kidding aside, ever since test driving a well-used one back in the 90s, I've always had a soft spot for the AW11. Looking forward to your journey with this one.

 

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/2/20 1:32 p.m.

Compression is 130-140 in all four cylinders, so while not new, still within specs, so now on to the distributor and ignition timing

Steve
Steve New Reader
9/3/20 12:04 a.m.

In reply to dherr (Forum Supporter) :

Maybe I missed it somewhere, but does the afm check out as in spec? I could see this causing an issue once the engine begins ingesting atmosphere. 

If you haven't checked it, I'd also take a look at mechanical timing on the belt and dizzy. 

For the vacuum lines, I would cap or replace everything to eliminate any possible issues. They don't need the gazillion lines they have from the factory to run properly during a situation like this. 

I'll see what other ideas I can brainstorm as well. These injection systems are pretty stupid, so diagnosing them should be a relatively simple affair if it isn't a mechanical issue. 

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