5,000 miles after ownership (~120,000), engine stalls randomly, first major problem. Fuel pump went at 120000 miles. Never let a Tempo / Topaz tank get to E. There is very little reserve with the vehicle on E, letting the pump starve. I have not let the tank get to less than 1/4 now, and have had no further trouble with this part. Poor tank design.
I had thought it was the MAF sensor, or the TP sensor, but both were within factory spec. I was able to get the graph (voltage/resistance vs RPM) from www.alldata.com, via a library subscription.
Water pump failed, fairly normal, given the vehicle's age, and mileage; replaced.
Replaced spark plugs, wires, and air/fuel filters. Normal maintenance so far.
Leaking tranny fluid: Replaced transmission pan gasket, and transmission oil filter.
Leaking engine oil: Replaced valve cover gasket.
Replaced spark plugs, engine runs smoother (Bosch 4+ Platinum, ~7$ US per plug). As of 2007 I still use these same plugs, they run great.
Started running Valvoline fully synthetic (5$ US per quart). Noticed a fair (10%, estimate) increase in engine power. Between plugs, and synthetic oil, I shaved 2 seconds off 0-60 time, from 17 to 15, on the same on ramp, and ~70 degrees F, low humidity).
Low tread, replaced front tires (normal maintenance). On a FWD, and front wheel disk brake (rear drum) vehicle, the rear tires had nearly no wear at all.
Drained, and refilled radiator (normal maintenance).
Muffler fell off due to rust, not replaced until 2006. Catalytic converter stayed on.
(Preface) This year was the big one for this car, it gave me about 25,000 miles before major repairs were required. (/Preface)
Steering problems: (Center walking)
Left outer tire rod end went, needing replacement. While at local shop getting an alignment, it was discovered that both control arms were gone as well; couldn't get alignment until replaced. Purchased TRW control arms from Advance Auto, right control arm failed 3 months later, part replaced under warranty.
Tie rods (outer) ~20 USD (don't remember brand).
Control arms ~30 USD.
Alignment done by Goodyear. ~30 USD.
New (Traction Grade A) Goodyear Assurance tires, with 'triple tread' purchased cost was 110 per (including fees) x 4. Cost: 440 USD.
Right outer tie rod end failed, replaced.
Left outer tie rod end failed, replaced under warranty.
Both front rotors, and pads have been replaced (normal maintenance).
Steering gear leaking fluid, probably from an end seal, as the boot was leaking. Researching this, I found that if the end seals leak, new boots will give no more than a year of trouble free service, before they crack, and leak due to contact with the power steering fluid.
Steering gear replaced with AC Delco re-manufactured part. Cost 110 USD.
Muffler replaced with a summit racing part, made in the US! For 15 USD.
Starter failed (seized). I gave it two solid whacks on front, and rear bearing surfaces with a 12 oz hammer. This broke it free, and oddly enough has given me no trouble since.
Alternator failed; replaced. Cost: 200 USD, lifetime warranty.
Battery: 50 USD (normal maintenance).
Left wheel bearing went, replaced with Federal Mogul, bearing & hub cost was 80 USD from a parts wholesaler. 40 USD to have Napa press the bearing (not serviceable type).
Left wheel hub was replaced from a yard, as the old one would not accept the new bearing. Cost: 35 USD.
Left drive axle CV joint went, replaced with AC Delco reman. Cost: 40 USD.
Serpentine belt replaced (normal maintenance). Cost: 35 USD.
Within 200 miles the right wheel bearing went, replaced with Timken. Bearing & hub cost 80 USD from Autozone. 40 USD to have Napa press the bearing.
Right drive axle CV joint went, replaced. Cost: 40 USD.
Within 2000 miles the right bearing (Timken) failed again. I have been told they are a 'good company' whatever that means, so maybe I got a bad part. I don't know. I replaced it with Federal mogul. This time cost was: 110 USD for Bearing & hub, due to buying from a local retailer. 35 USD to have bearing pressed by retailer.
Checked grounding straps, and both were solidly connected, but somewhat corroded. I cleaned them with muriatic acid (Hydrochloric), and then reattached them with silicone grease (the conductive variety).
New PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve installed; was leaking oil into the airbox.
Cracked vacuum lines to EGR, and PCV valve replaced: Cost ~15 USD.
Right rear brake line blew, due to rust, I pulled the fitting off, and capped the line at the master cylinder. No one had caps, so I took the old brake line fitting, cut the brake line at the master cylinder, and used a propane torch, and silver bearing solder (for plumbing) to fill it in. Worked like a charm.
Left rear brake line blew; fixed the same way as above.
EGR pipe, from exhaust manifold to EGR valve replaced. The nipple is welded on, and not even hot dip galvanized (zinc coated). I don't expect the EGR feed back pressure sensor line to stay attached for more than 3 years because of this. Cost: 40 USD at a dealer, emissions component.
Car would not turn over again. Right before my history final at the local college. I went in with black hands... I thought it was the starter again, upon inspection it turned out that the positive cable had simply fallen off, I put it back on, and it has worked since.
Drained, and refilled radiator (normal maintenance).
The relay module died, this is located on the right strut tower. It contains the fuel pump relay, among 2 other relays. I pulled it apart, and desoldered the relay, testing it with my 12 Volt DeWalt battery. It was dead, due to no one selling this individual relay I replaced the whole relay module from a yard. I also replaced the solenoid (starter motor relay) at this time. Since the tempo in the yard had a new one, with no patina (copper corrosion) at all. Cost: Relay module: 15 USD. Solenoid: 5 USD.
Air conditioning is cold when refilled, but leaks coolant. Most likely seals need replacing, but I am unwilling to invest any effort in peripheral systems for this car. Mechanically sound however.
Driver's seat frame snapped, and fell all the way backwards, so I threw it out, and replaced it with the passengers seat.
My master cylinder had 3 different fitting sizes:
Both rear lines are on a pressure cut out switch (to keep the rear brakes from locking during a severe braking event). One was an M10 1.25 thread (factory size), and the other was a 3/16th x24 thread.
Both front line brake connections are M12 x 1.25 threads.
Both rear lines finally replaced. Vehicle was towed with the E brake on; this necessitated the replacement of all rear wheel hardware.
Cost about 60 USD for shoes / wheel cylinders / hardware kit (both rear).
All lines cost about 50 USD total.
Front rotors, and pads replaced again, front right caliper piston cracked, left showed signs of wear, both replaced due to safety concerns. Cost: Rotors: ~15 each at Autozone / Advance / Napa. Calipers ~17 each at Napa. Pads ~20 each.
As preventative winter maintenance, all metal coolant lines, and transmissions lines were cleaned and coated with POR-15, the body (what is left of it) was hit with a Napa rust stop, and the truck bed under coat (not rubberized).
Trunk has holes, due to rust, on both sides (near wheel wells), and in the spare tire storage area.
Rear wheel wells have rust on the outside.
Rear floorboard area is gone, on both sides due to rust.
The gas pedal would stick at about 1/5 travel, and not go any farther. At this time, the transmission would refuse to upshift. Per a technical Service bulletin, this is caused by the throttle valve cable. The problem was intermittent, but would usually go away. Three weeks ago, it stopped doing it completely. Fine.
Yesterday on the freeway, I pushed the pedal down to half way, to pass someone. The vehicle bucked, and dropped into neutral, while the speedometer fell to 40 (I was doing 65). Speedometer does not work now, and transmission will not upshift from 1st. Top speed of 20 miles an hour with a 4500 RPM red line.
This leads me to believe it is the plastic geared vehicle speed sensor, which the ECM uses to calculate upshift/downshift points. So that the car doesn't think it is moving, and so will not upshift.
Transmission passed power brake test, and has reverse, so appears to be mechanically, and hydrodynamically sound. No fluid leakage, or burned fluid.
Left inner tie rod (that came with the AC Delco re-manufactured gear) is failing, center is walking again, and I will be going with a Moog part this time. Probably will replace both inner tie rod ends.