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Hi everyone I have a 1992 Dodge Spirit LE with the 2.5L Non-Turbo engine and 3-speed automatic.

I've been working on getting it in as good running condition as possible and I've got a few things in my way. I know there are vacuum leaks (at throttle body around where the PCV is) and the car is storing a code 21 (related to lack of feedback from O2 sensor), the exhaust seems too loud, and the automatic transmission likes to shift from 2nd to 3rd way too fast and slips if I'm pushing the gas pedal hard enough on acceleration. It also has the problem of getting oil into the air box via the crankcase to airbox connection, and the heated air inlet system is inoperable due to the fact that the hose that goes to the exhaust manifold shroud is gone.
The heated inlet sensor is also strange in that it has two nipples under it, one vacuum line goes to the other end of the air box and operates the flap but the other one goes nowhere.

But the biggest mystery is that it has no EGR, but the electrical socket that goes to the EGR is sitting there anyway. I also read in the Haynes manual that the non turbo 2.5 should have an EGR.

Not to mention bad front motor mount and I probably have to do some adjusting to make sure the engine isn't putting strain on the CV joints since I replaced the two other motor mounts. I haven't checked if they needed adjusting yet. Still she shakes when idling or reversing in gear and with a/c on.

I'm especially stumped about the EGR, anyone know more about this? I can hardly find any info online.
 

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Not every combination needed an EGR to pass emissions. I would not count on Hayes as a reliable source that it should have an EGR.
Two issues you need to address right away are the blowby (oil in the airbox). this could mean the engine is worn out and not worth addressing any other issues yet (may be time for a swap or rebuild). If you are lucky it's just a problem with the PCV system
The other is the transmission. If it's slipping, it's going to destroy itself. Check the fluid level then check the cables to make sure they are moving freely and non binding. They can corrode and have issue like you are seeing.
 
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Agree with valiant67, it seems this vehicle needs a lot of repairs and maintenence. Unless the body is is great shape and you can do the work cheaply (yourself) then you may be spending a lot more than just buying something newer or in better shape. Try and diagnose these problems before putting any big money in it as it can turn into a large bottomless pit!
 

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Welcome to Allpar. Always Diagnose first. These may be mostly easy fixes.
My 1992 Shadow 2.5L (Federal) didn't have an EGR, but in 1993, they did.
Vacuum leaks must be addressed. Broken plastic vacuum lines can be replaced. The exhaust heat from behind the valve cover usually makes them brittle after a few years. Usually they will cause a fast idle.
The transaxle kickdown cable to the throttle body may be unhooked or out of adjustment if you are getting early shifts.
O2 sensor may need replacement. Always replace with OEM. Avoid Bosch. Vacuum leaks can also throw off the mixture balance that an O2 sensor needs to work properly.
The other end of the heater box valve goes to a manifold vacuum source. If your underhood vacuum hose diagram is still there, it may show where it goes.
Take the Haynes manual with a grain of salt. It is often wrong. The 1992 FWD factory service manual is a better source of information.
 

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If I remember correctly the '92's did not have an EGR. I had a '92 Acclaim and a '90 Acclaim. The Acclaims were the sister to the Spirit. Both had the 2.5L. The '90 had an EGR and as I recall the '92 did not.

As to the oil in the airbox, I'd check and replace if necessary the PCV valve and hose. As IC mentioned the vacuum lines often get brittle over time due to the engine heat. The 2.5L's are pretty stout engines. I had three and logged over 800K miles cumulatively.

Check the transaxle linkage for proper adjustment for the shift issue. If that doesn't cure the slipping, you're looking at needing a rebuild or replacing the transmission. The A413 3-speed is a pretty stout transmission, but they can wear out. My '92 had the 2-3 shift fail due to worn out clutch packs at 191K. Ended up installing a A413 from an '86 LeBaron for $500 total. It was still working 110K miles later.

Haynes are okay for basic information, but often have incomplete information.
 

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I second the kickdown cable. I had slipping in my older 92 dodge spirit. I thought there was in internal issue but just for kicks and giggles I adjusted the kickdown lever (3.0l a670) and it ended up eliminating the slipping.
 

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I can also chime in that my 92 Spirit 2.5 has no EGR. What I would try and it's cheap is to replace all the vacuum lines. I have to do it every 3 years. Provided the engine does not have excessive blow by, a leaking vacuum line can affect the PCV valve operation which will allow oil to accumulate in the air box and also lean out the mixture. As far as the tranny goes, I have been limping thru the last 3 years with a 2-3 shift slip, only when cold in the winter. Changing the fluid, adjusting the kickdown band and new filter with ATF 4 "might" help. It bought me some extra time but my tranny started acting up this winter. The throttle cable at the transmission ends at a ball and socket mechanism, I have had the ball and socket joint bind up affecting upshifts. Work it and see if it moves freely and springs back into place.
 

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Wow thanks for all the replies

Not every combination needed an EGR to pass emissions. I would not count on Hayes as a reliable source that it should have an EGR.
Two issues you need to address right away are the blowby (oil in the airbox). this could mean the engine is worn out and not worth addressing any other issues yet (may be time for a swap or rebuild). If you are lucky it's just a problem with the PCV system
The other is the transmission. If it's slipping, it's going to destroy itself. Check the fluid level then check the cables to make sure they are moving freely and non binding. They can corrode and have issue like you are seeing.
This one indeed did not come with an EGR, here's a photo of the vacuum line diagram.
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00139.jpg

As for the cables for the 3-speed transmission are these the ones you're talking about? Sorry for the blur I thought I took better pictures than this.
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00142.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00164.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00163.jpg

I also checked the fluid early on and the level seemed right, I'll do another check soon. The transmission is covered in black goop on the side facing the back of the car also, but no leaks of transmission fluid (or any fluid) hit the ground under the car. I recently changed the transmission and motor mounts on either side of the engine bay, they were cheap Anchors and they helped reduce the vibrations I was feeling. The transmission mount in particular was torn up but the new Anchor mount was larger so I had to scrap off some rubber with a knife to get it in the bracket. It also resulted in the transmission being lifted a bit higher than it was before and it now sits pretty close to the CV axle boot at this point. Sorry again for the crappy image. I also hear a whirring sound when I slow down.
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00144.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00145.jpg

Another note of some recent observations on the transmission. When it slips from 2-3 it makes the whole car lunge and as usual it goes from 2-3 way too early, but oddly enough it didn't happen to me today when I pushed the throttle harder than normal from a full stop. The car went from 1st to 2nd and then 2nd to 3rd at intervals that seemed much more normal and the shifts felt good, hardly any thunk or lunge. Once I hit around 40-50mph I do feel it hit another gear something like Overdrive. To be honest if it wasn't for that strange 2-3 shift this old Torqueflite shifts pretty well. Nothing like my old Chevy Lumina that was plagued by transmission issues. Also, I have no idea when the last time the bands were adjusted. When I change the filter and fluid in the near future I'll check that too.

As for the blowby, I've heard oil in the airbox was common for the 2.5L of this year due to baffles being removed in the valve cover that used to stop oil from doing that. I don't know anything about that but I wouldn't be surprised if this thing needed new piston rings and a rebuild/overhaul. I did recently install a new PCV valve but I do also know there is a vacuum leak from these vacuum lines, I did the throttle body cleaner test and the RPMs went up when I sprayed these.
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00147.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00146.jpg <- that's the PCV valve on the right

A note on the engine, it does knock as well. Tock tock tock tock tock at idle and when my foots off the pedal and I let it coast.

Also the parking brake release cable is on the fritz, the previous owner said it gets stuck but he did also show me two springs that go in the drums that some guy that worked on his car at some point didn't put back. I still have to get to that. I read in the manual the release cable could need adjusting so I'll look into that and those springs eventually.

Another thing I forgot to mention, when I cold start the car in the morning it does a curious thing. At first no smoke comes out the exhaust, then as time goes by (seconds, minutes) more and more smoke appears until there is a substantial amount of greyish white smoke coming out. This only happens on cold start and after driving it around it goes away. The car doesn't over heat and coolant level doesn't seem to drop and it doesn't smell like coolant burning. I also pulled the airbox off and cleaned the throttle body a bit, I happened to look down into the intake manifold and it looked very wet/humid in there, I'm planning on taking the intake manifold off at some point and cleaning it up.
I'm also going to redo all those vacuum lines. I don't plan on spending any substantial amount of money on this old girl but maybe some of these things will get her running better.


Agree with valiant67, it seems this vehicle needs a lot of repairs and maintenence. Unless the body is is great shape and you can do the work cheaply (yourself) then you may be spending a lot more than just buying something newer or in better shape. Try and diagnose these problems before putting any big money in it as it can turn into a large bottomless pit!
Yeah I plan on doing any and all work on this car myself in an effort to learn how to work on cars in general. Learning a lot between this and my Camry. I eventually want a manual transmission driven vehicle with more HP and better handling (don't we all) but I got this car for free from a friend and I'll do what I can to learn from it and keep her going as long as I can without any major work.
Here's a pic of her on the outside, she has some molding that fell off and everything under the molding is in rough shape paint wise but she's not so bad. The interior is in very good shape actually, sadly I forgot to take pics of the interior. I'm planning on sanding down the steel wheels and repainting them and putting nice new lugnuts with caps on them. The bearings need replacing though, very rusty.
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y259/Cavalier_beo/Car Stuff/CAM00169.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Welcome to Allpar. Always Diagnose first. These may be mostly easy fixes.
My 1992 Shadow 2.5L (Federal) didn't have an EGR, but in 1993, they did.
Vacuum leaks must be addressed. Broken plastic vacuum lines can be replaced. The exhaust heat from behind the valve cover usually makes them brittle after a few years. Usually they will cause a fast idle.
The transaxle kickdown cable to the throttle body may be unhooked or out of adjustment if you are getting early shifts.
O2 sensor may need replacement. Always replace with OEM. Avoid Bosch. Vacuum leaks can also throw off the mixture balance that an O2 sensor needs to work properly.
The other end of the heater box valve goes to a manifold vacuum source. If your underhood vacuum hose diagram is still there, it may show where it goes.
Take the Haynes manual with a grain of salt. It is often wrong. The 1992 FWD factory service manual is a better source of information.
Thanks for the welcome friend.

From the pictures above you can see some shoddy vacuum line work with plastic T's and tubes, those are leaking for sure. I also have images of what looks like that kickdown cable maybe. I'll have to look up how to adjust that but I have no access to the factory service manual. Good thing the Haynes one was cheap from a used book store, definitely lacking in detail for too many things.
I have an NTK O2 sensor sitting in my RockAuto cart, I hear those are the good ones.
I'm actually surprised it only threw a code 21 and no others.


If I remember correctly the '92's did not have an EGR. I had a '92 Acclaim and a '90 Acclaim. The Acclaims were the sister to the Spirit. Both had the 2.5L. The '90 had an EGR and as I recall the '92 did not.

As to the oil in the airbox, I'd check and replace if necessary the PCV valve and hose. As IC mentioned the vacuum lines often get brittle over time due to the engine heat. The 2.5L's are pretty stout engines. I had three and logged over 800K miles cumulatively.

Check the transaxle linkage for proper adjustment for the shift issue. If that doesn't cure the slipping, you're looking at needing a rebuild or replacing the transmission. The A413 3-speed is a pretty stout transmission, but they can wear out. My '92 had the 2-3 shift fail due to worn out clutch packs at 191K. Ended up installing a A413 from an '86 LeBaron for $500 total. It was still working 110K miles later.

Haynes are okay for basic information, but often have incomplete information.
Again thanks for the reply.

I replaced the valve but not the hose yet, I'll get on that as I replace all those vacuum lines and connectors!

I posted images of what I think is the linkage, it's blurry but I'll work on finding out on how to adjust it and hopefully it cures the strange quick shift. Looks like a swap to another A413 isn't too pricey at all, maybe I can use that situation to learn how to do it myself once I get the space and tools I need.


I second the kickdown cable. I had slipping in my older 92 dodge spirit. I thought there was in internal issue but just for kicks and giggles I adjusted the kickdown lever (3.0l a670) and it ended up eliminating the slipping.
Good to hear it might just be an adjustment issue. Thanks for the feedback.


I can also chime in that my 92 Spirit 2.5 has no EGR. What I would try and it's cheap is to replace all the vacuum lines. I have to do it every 3 years. Provided the engine does not have excessive blow by, a leaking vacuum line can affect the PCV valve operation which will allow oil to accumulate in the air box and also lean out the mixture. As far as the tranny goes, I have been limping thru the last 3 years with a 2-3 shift slip, only when cold in the winter. Changing the fluid, adjusting the kickdown band and new filter with ATF 4 "might" help. It bought me some extra time but my tranny started acting up this winter. The throttle cable at the transmission ends at a ball and socket mechanism, I have had the ball and socket joint bind up affecting upshifts. Work it and see if it moves freely and springs back into place.
Again thank you for your time. I'll definitely redo the vacuum lines seems like the no brainer thing to do, and as far as the transmission goes I'll do as you say for that too.

Thanks everyone this has been very informative and I look forward to putting this to practical use this weekend. If anyone knows where I can get my hands on the vacuum lines and connectors I need let me know a good place. :)

Also sorry for double post my reply was too big for one!
 

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Once I hit around 40-50mph I do feel it hit another gear something like Overdrive.

That's the transmission going into lockup. It's not really a 4th gear or OD. The A413 is a 3 speed with the later versions have a lockup torque converter. Under normal conditions it will slip into lockup around 37 mph if I remember correctly.
 

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NAPA sells the vacuum line by the foot. In my area, they are cheaper than the big stores like advance and autozone. Verify the routing with the diagram under your hood before starting, it's easy to get things mixed up. Mostly the same size except the PCV lines are larger.
 

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Those vacuum lines are stretched and not fully pressed on - if you look at the elbow connection, it's not on all the way.
Those parking brake cable springs that are in the drums at the end of the cable are essential for the brakes to release. And they are not sold separately, they come installed on the cables. You can buy new cables at rockauto.com for most cars.
 

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I see from the pictures that someone had used a lot of RTV silicone around the valve cover for sealing. If they removed the rocker inside quiet idle curtain, it would also explain why the engine has severe blowby into the air cleaner housing. This valve curtain replaces the old style VC which had separate baffels for PVC and helps to quiet the engine and separate the oil fumes from the PCV. All the later 2.2./2.5 TBI engines had this feature from about late '87. I've seen people thow it away thinking they were doing the engine a favor! Big mistake!
 

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This is the baffle that you should find underneath the valve cover on your engine. You can see it through the oil filler cap opening. If it's missing, that means someone threw it away, and it will allow a LOT more valvetrain noise. If missing, you'll see the camshaft instead through the oil cap opening. It is a junkyard-only item, should you need another one.

baffle.JPG
 

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Once I hit around 40-50mph I do feel it hit another gear something like Overdrive.

That's the transmission going into lockup. It's not really a 4th gear or OD. The A413 is a 3 speed with the later versions have a lockup torque converter. Under normal conditions it will slip into lockup around 37 mph if I remember correctly.
Yeah I verified today that it locks up at 40mph. Also that it does the 2nd to 3rd lunge randomly depending on how I press the throttle. Can't wait to work on the shift cable linkage to see if that helps, also some ATF4 and a filter.

NAPA sells the vacuum line by the foot. In my area, they are cheaper than the big stores like advance and autozone. Verify the routing with the diagram under your hood before starting, it's easy to get things mixed up. Mostly the same size except the PCV lines are larger.
I'll check it out, sadly they closed a NAPA that was near my house so I have to go to the next town but it's not too far. I definitely will be all over that diagram, I'll probably take pieces of the vacuum line system with me to make sure I get the right sizes. Also take photos to remember how they were put together before, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they were put back together improperly.

Those vacuum lines are stretched and not fully pressed on - if you look at the elbow connection, it's not on all the way.
Those parking brake cable springs that are in the drums at the end of the cable are essential for the brakes to release. And they are not sold separately, they come installed on the cables. You can buy new cables at rockauto.com for most cars.
Yeah I tried to get them to fit in there better but it seems the lines are too short it's all wrong.
I was thinking of buying the drum brake hardware kit off of RockAuto and replacing all those old springs with new ones. I'd really like to get that parking brake working.

I see from the pictures that someone had used a lot of RTV silicone around the valve cover for sealing. If they removed the rocker inside quiet idle curtain, it would also explain why the engine has severe blowby into the air cleaner housing. This valve curtain replaces the old style VC which had separate baffels for PVC and helps to quiet the engine and separate the oil fumes from the PCV. All the later 2.2./2.5 TBI engines had this feature from about late '87. I've seen people thow it away thinking they were doing the engine a favor! Big mistake!
Good call, the previous owner did say they had replaced the head gasket before. Looks like when they went in there they might have done just that. Damn how do I get my hands on one of those.
I really ought to get to a salvage yard.

This is the baffle that you should find underneath the valve cover on your engine. You can see it through the oil filler cap opening. If it's missing, that means someone threw it away, and it will allow a LOT more valvetrain noise. If missing, you'll see the camshaft instead through the oil cap opening. It is a junkyard-only item, should you need another one.

View attachment 4283
Thanks Bob I'll take a look under the valve cover if possible, but all that RTV has me dreading the idea until maybe I have the baffle in hand and a proper valve cover gasket.
 

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Yeah I tried to get them to fit in there better but it seems the lines are too short it's all wrong.
I was thinking of buying the drum brake hardware kit off of RockAuto and replacing all those old springs with new ones. I'd really like to get that parking brake working.
The brake hardware kit does NOT include the springs for the parking brake. As I said, they are not sold separately. If yours are missing or broken, you must buy new parking brake cables.
 

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The brake hardware kit does NOT include the springs for the parking brake. As I said, they are not sold separately. If yours are missing or broken, you must buy new parking brake cables.
Oh I see, but the springs sitting in my glove compartment are definitely ones that go in the drums themselves. Well if it comes down to getting new cables then that's what I'll do.
 

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brakeadjust-s.jpg

It would be the spring that you see at the bottom of the picture, underneath the spindle.
 

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Those are not parking brake springs, the lower right is the self-adjuster. The brake drum hardware kit has all the springs EXCEPT for the parking brake return springs.
 
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