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Recently acquired this, obnoxiously bright, 2003 ZX3 . I'm a fabricator for work and always loved machines but never really understood cars, until she fell in to my hands.

A family I knew was going to junk it out of pure inconvenience so I offered to pay for the paperwork and scored a free car! She had a check engine light, idle'd very rough, no ac, vibrated like a monster, would overheat in extreme circumstances, and lastly was leaking oil/radiator fluid.

With no other option, I started googling, youtubing, and foruming to begin the healing process.

It was the middle of summer and being the selfish owner I was, I had to fix the AC first. First step in troubleshooting. Touch it. I flicked through the fan knob and tried turning the AC on. The AC worked on 1-3 BUT the fans only came on at 4. Easily replaced the blower motor resistor under the glovebox and it was a cool summer.

This leads me to diagnosing my second issue. Overheating. Knowing how detrimental that was to an engine. I kept my eye on the idiot gauge but never saw anything scary. Yet I still had a sneaking suspicion that the car was running hot. She smelled like burnt oil and the radiator fluid was still disappearing.

Fast Forward to September. I'm no longer using my AC and I start to notice that my "radiator fluid" (water) was needing refilled daily. I then did my research, that the radiator fans stay on while the AC is running because of pressure or something nerdy. I checked and the wiring harness was shot. By running my AC, I never ran in to an obvious heating issue. Replaced and went on my way.

Feeling more and more greasy every passing day. I was more willing to talk cars and a coworker offered to clear my check engine light. Told me it was an EGR Insufficient Flow code and that it would be back. I'm not sure if it was my brain playing tricks but the car ran great after the code was cleared and the idle calmed down but was not perfect. I had to do extensive research but learned that the egr system is just an exhaust recirculation system controlled by solenoids and nerd stuff. Following the vacuum solenoid to the back of the engine, quickly led me to a small vacuum hose with a gash (rubbing on the firewall, she's got 180k). The hose was long enough and so I cut it and put the hose back in the 90 degree rubber fitting. The light has never came back on and she idles great. Then the unthinkable happened.

I drove maybe a mile and glanced at my clean dash lights, when I saw that idiot meter spike. I pulled over and there was no water in my car! I grabbed the road bottle and as I was filling her up, I could hear the water splashing on the ground. I started the car while pouring water in the reservoir, which thankfully, caused the water pump to create enough pressure in the line to get me home. Feeling extremely confident, I got a water pump kit and planned to do the timing belt too.

Being the new mechanic that I am. I turned a 4 hour job in to an 8 hour job and didn't even get the timing belt done. :cry:

With the girl running well, I had to address how loud the cabin was. My friends who aren't very car savvy would tell me that the car sounded rough. I'm not an expert but by listening, I could tell she was firing well and the engine actually sounded powerful. Too powerful. I replaced the hydraulic and transmission mount, thinking maybe it was just the engine sitting on the chassi. I went to turn the ignition and could only hear the fans at my work. Being very emotionally attached and worried that she didnt fire up. I jumped out of the car and practically fell in to the engine bay when I saw her purring. I expected a crunch and a roar but instead got the crank and purr.

Since then, I've replaced the valve cover gasket, thermostat housing and spark plugs. I plan on doing my gaskets, replacing window regulator, and a manual swap with the help of my new found friends.

That's how I fell in love with my bright yellow paint job. I'm new here and can't express how much help the forum has been. Thanks for reading
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Discussion Starter #3
So far everything is going super well. Recently I was under the hood and noticed my engine was a lot warmer than usual. Turned out it was just a bad relay for the condensor fan. I've been putting off doing my timing belt, because I want to replace the head gasket while I'm at it. However, I did run in to a super sweet deal. I found a SVT being parted out and got the entire interior, and I've recently installed it.

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Waiting on the wire harness for the driver seat so I can put that in to. The SVT I found also had an oem sub box with the carpet. I just had to have it.

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Phone camera has a crack in it but the focus looks amazing compared to before. I swear I have more horsepower now.

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