How to kill your Opti or don't do this

Discussion in 'High Tech Retrofits' started by sbca96, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    Yup ... it looks like it happened, and its ALL my fault, first from touting too often
    here that the opti failures are over blown (tempting fate) & second by pressure
    washing my Impala SS engine after dousing it with simple green. I have done it
    in the past a number of times without issue, BUT, this time while I was doing it I
    heard a "snap" sound (like a bolt breaking) and thought : 'that was weird'. So I
    fire it up, and drove to the store .. when I got there I see a lot of steam coming
    out from under the hood and again thought 'weird'. I looked under the car and I
    see a puddle .. thats not good. Pop the hood and I see coolant spraying in the
    firewall on the passenger side. I limp home and shut it down.

    Inspection found the steam crossover tube popped ('snap' I heard) and that did
    in my chance to drive the car and cook off excess water. Car sat for a week or
    so as I ordered a new steam tube from Scoggin Dickeys (80 something shipped).
    I put it back together and it fired up and ran GREAT! All was well and I put it in
    the street with plans to drive it in a couple days to work......

    Went to fire it up in the morning a few days later and it fired SLOW, grumbled &
    died. Tried again and it ran at about 300 rpm - died. Tried again and this time
    it wouldnt start. If I held the pedal to the floor it would fire and die. Later that
    evening I checked fuel pressure : 38-40 PSI, swapped out the ICM/Coil from the
    78 Camaro project, and put in an EGR I had laying around. Nadda. I can smell
    fuel VERY strong under the hood, so I have to assume its the Opti. I am sure as
    Aceshigh reads this he is laughing his ass off, and I dont blame him. What sucks
    is this is a vented opti (1995 Impala SS) and ironically its also the ONLY car I've
    had an opti fail on (the one I quote as had driven home 55 miles after failure). I
    set myself up for this .. got WAY too cocky and apparently lucky in that I have
    always driven the car a good distance after a cleaning the engine (must work!).

    So I checked around, seems since Dal retired GM Performance Optis are that of
    the rich, not going to put a Accel electrical part on my car again, MSD is quite a
    lot just because its red, and a reman spells trouble in my book.

    I ended up ordering a Cardone Select, they claim they have re-engineered it and
    fixed OEM mistakes, its also NEW, not a reman, and its a lifetime warranty. The
    best part is : Rockauto has it for $164 dollars! With a discount code it was $164
    shipped to my door. Not bad. Should be the "last" opti I buy for this car. I almost
    bought one for the '78 Camaro too, but I will hold off for now - I have one from
    my 1993 Camaro Z28 that WASNT bad (was a bad Accel coil that time).

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  2. Aceshigh

    Aceshigh Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Apr 9, 2001

    Sorry to hear that Tom.
    Hope ya get it fixed up quick.

    I've always said your good fortune has alot to do with your moderate year round California weather.
    Less moderate areas aren't as fortunate with those Opti's.
  3. danbrennan

    danbrennan Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Mar 13, 1999
    Brighton, MI
    Interesting. I saved this, some good notes about symptoms. I have a '96 Impala SS, and a '95 Formula, with LT1s. So far so good on the optispark units, although I bought the Formula used, so I don't know if it got replaced at one time or another.
  4. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    Thats probably a factor, though I live near the ocean with lots of fog, so its a
    damp climate. I dont see the opti getting road water on it even in severe rain
    but there is no way to be 100% sure. I think it was the lack of a long drive to
    burn off the water, also after typing this, I think the steam under the hood may
    have been the death push. When the steam line broke it was pretty intense. I
    actually THOUGHT the car was on fire!

    Yup, I had one fail (on this car) at 170k (or so) and now this one I killed at the
    230k (or so) mark. I had the water pump fail on two cars without taking out an
    Opti ... but perhaps I needed a reminder to be more careful. That steam line
    was a ticking timebomb ... the cooler water made a weak spot let go.

  5. camarochevy1970

    camarochevy1970 Veteran Member

    Jan 23, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    The part that is going to suck, is that no aftermarket unit is going to last as long now
  6. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    Perhaps, its hard to say really. Keep in mind that Moog makes aftermarket
    and they are leaps better quality then OEM. Its POSSIBLE for an aftermarket
    company to better GM. There are also a lot of cheap ones (a search found a
    few that claimed to be the CHEAPEST Opti available - not exactly what I want
    when there is more to swapping it then yanking an HEI.)

    I wrote this thread on the Impala forum for changing out the seals, I wont be
    doing that this time around, but there is good info here.

    This thread has 88,000 views .... imagine if everyone that read it gave me a
    dollar for my trouble ..... hmmmm. Imagine that ....

  7. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    Fed Ex says it will be on my front porch tomorrow. Rockauto = fast service!

  8. drptop70ss

    drptop70ss Veteran Member

    Jul 19, 1999
    NY zip 12538
    I never pressure wash any late model engine, for all you know you only got water inside the connector of the opti harness, the rubber seals do dry out and then the connections can corrode. I cant see anyone power washing an LS1 either, I certainly wouldnt. Simple green and a wipe off is all I will do. Did you scan for codes for the resolution loss? They can be thrown and not set off the SES.
  9. rwild1967

    rwild1967 Veteran Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Look behind you!
    Thats a darn good price on a new unit. Last one i bought for my 95 z was over $ 400.
  10. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    There were no Opti codes stored. I scanned with two scanners. The only one
    I saw were a fan 1/fan 2 error which I assumed was from the aftermarket fan
    controller I installed (Jet I believe) because the fans didnt come on until it was
    into the red and that freaked me out
    . Now that I have tuning software I have
    been thinking about re-programming the PCM like I did the '78's LT1 PCM.

    I dont THINK its water in the connector, unless its corrosion that I got from it
    sitting for a week? I will pop off the connectors and look for any before I yank
    the opti. I figured the price was low enough it was worth the risk, I needed to
    have it BEFORE the 3 day weekend and since the car is in the STREET I need to
    get it running ASAP (literally couldnt wait to diagnose the opti further).

    I had to do a "leap of faith" that Aceshigh is right.;)


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