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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is going to be a little bit of a long story but here it goes: 11 years ago my father passed away and just last month I inherited his old car, a 98 ZX2 with every option except leather seats. My dad loved this car. He originally bought it back in 2002 with 41K miles on it. Sadly, he passed away from cancer in early 2010. When he was diagnosed he knew he probably wouldn't make it and said he wanted my brother (then 14) to have the ZX2. Over the years, it's been driven by my brother (when he got his license) but the paperwork to transfer it to him was never done. My brother bought a truck for work and the ZX2 ended up sitting most of the time at my parent's house. My mom would drive it occasionally but the battery kept going dead from it not being used. After a brake line blew out in the driveway when she when to drive it, I told her that I would gladly take it rather than see it sitting around. Turns out my brother "didn't want the car" and now I've ended up with it. My goal is to fix it up and have some fun with it, like I have the feeling my dad would have wanted.

I'm going to track what I do with it in this thread.

As it sat, the car had a dead battery, blown RF brake line, bad shifter bushings, a loose RF out tierod, torn boot on the LF outer tierod, rusty brake rotors, and a serious A/C system leak.

Shop visit #1
No pictures, but the blown brake line was repaired and the battery was replaced just to get it driving again.

Shop visit #2

First order of business, install new, made in USA, Moog outer tierods. You can also see the Exile Autoworx shifter bushing kit.
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Old "premium" tierods vs. new actual premium tierods. How they could sell these as "premium" then the boot doesn't even seal is beyond me but NAPA sure did.
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Next was to remove the eBay short throw shifter and put the factory shifter back in the car with the new bushings. I'm not sure if this shifter was originally from the ZX2 or my old wagon but it was the only one we had left. Turns out after sand blasting that it was far rustier than I thought. The bushings actually were loose in the shifter but adding a single layer of electrical tape over them greatly helped. I also took the time to add a grease fitting to the shifter so it can easily be lubricated on the car. The linkage also got the rusty bits sandblasted and both were coated in paint.
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This is why I went with the Exile Autoworx kit. I knew the bolts/pins were going to be shot and there was no way the shifter could ever feel good without replacing them. This is what was left of the shifter bolts and bushings. One is melted because I had to heat the nut up with the torch to get it off. Exile also makes a kit for replacing the non-serviceable center pin and bushings but that was tight on my shift linkage so I didn't bother with it.
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Installed.
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The week before I recharged the A/C and added some dye to the system to locate the leak. It wasn't hard to spot... 1/3 of the charge was gone within a week, the A/C was only ran once after the charge to verify that it was working.
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Compressor leaking between the case halves. I'll get a new one and replace the rusty lower lines and accumulator/dryer while I'm at it in the spring.
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As you know, replacing tierods requires an alignment. This is how it looked before any adjustments.
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Trued up the front toe and she is good to go. No point in adjusting anything else since I'm planing on lowing the car and replacing all the struts next year.
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I have to get around to taking a picture of the car but I keep forgetting and weather and time haven't been kind to me either. There is much more to come. I already have a set of blacked out headlights to install and I'm going to be upgrading the audio system as well so stick around.
 
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Yeah, Moog parts can be found for a good price on Ebay. The crazy thing is that I bought some front struts that were Moog and they are made in China. Oh well. For ball joints I have used cheaper OEM units that also have a grease fitting. Tie rod ends are Moog. Good luck with the car. These are reasonably reliable cars if taken care of. I got my last one up to 326,000 miles before the tranny took a crap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, Moog parts can be found for a good price on Ebay. The crazy thing is that I bought some front struts that were Moog and they are made in China. Oh well. For ball joints I have used cheaper OEM units that also have a grease fitting. Tie rod ends are Moog. Good luck with the car. These are reasonably reliable cars if taken care of. I got my last one up to 326,000 miles before the tranny took a crap.
I work for a repair shop that is also a Carquest autoparts store so I just had them order the tierods. I know if anything goes wrong that I won't have issues getting a warranty replacement. My first car was a 97 Escort wagon that I owned for 8 years before it got too rusty for me to want to keep any longer so I know my way around these cars pretty well. This one currently has 154K miles on it and has had minimal issues that weren't related to wear items or rust.
 
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Sorry for your loss Matt. My sister-in-law just passed and left us my 9yr old niece to care for.

Your project seems much like my son’s. Shifter Bushings blown- used a similar brass bushing kit from a Mazda group. Freon leaking (found with dye) from the accumulator line - replaced line & Freon, and it blows ice cold.
blown gasket - refurbished head for around $400, new timing belt system including water pump.
Tune up with plugs, wires, fuel filter, fuel pump, radiator & fan.

Converted rear drums to disc, alignment, etc. I believe we still have a blown tie rod seal, so thanks for the info on tow rod quality.

The car has around 75k on it, so it’s good for him to start college and then for his brother to finish high school. For around $7k we bought it, repaired it, modded it, painted it. The money was well spent for us to work together and for him to learn mechanics while instilling ole American pride.
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I changed the coolant last weekend. Needless to say, I think it was time. It had been changed probably around 6 years ago but I was genuinely surprised how much worse it was this time compared to the 10+ year old factory coolant I drained out all those years ago.

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I also ordered a pair of 6.5" subwoofers and some speakers adapters. I plan to mount the subs on the rear deck in place of the factory 6x8 speakers and eventually run some 5 1/4" components in the front doors. The subs came in today but it took the adapters over a week to ship so I can't install them yet. :( I did swap in a better Pioneer HU I had laying around from my Mazda. Now I have an aux in that actually works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
i would say that moog is no longer associated as a 'quality premium brand' anymore. sweet progress though.
Their tierods typically still hold up pretty well in most applications. I feel their R-line (cheap) parts are what largly contribute to their bad reputation. If a Moog part number starts with "R", avoid it.
 

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Many people don’t flush systems. Any chance some of that fluid was 16 years old?

I drain, add distilled, run & drain again, add distilled & flush agent, run & drain again. Sometimes I’ll run with the flush around town before draining, then continue to drain, add distilled, run & drain until clear. Once all is clear I add non-diluted coolant/antifreeze (premix is not cheaper in the end and does not use distilled water), run it through a few thermostat cycles (or drive for a couple days) and double check the fluid with a concentration gauge.

it sounds like a long process, but it’s a lot less time consuming, and a heck of a lot cheaper, than changing water pumps and heater cores, or worse yet head gaskets.
 

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Sorry for your loss Matt. My sister-in-law just passed and left us my 9yr old niece to care for.

Your project seems much like my son’s. Shifter Bushings blown- used a similar brass bushing kit from a Mazda group. Freon leaking (found with dye) from the accumulator line - replaced line & Freon, and it blows ice cold.
blown gasket - refurbished head for around $400, new timing belt system including water pump.
Tune up with plugs, wires, fuel filter, fuel pump, radiator & fan.

Converted rear drums to disc, alignment, etc. I believe we still have a blown tie rod seal, so thanks for the info on tow rod quality.

The car has around 75k on it, so it’s good for him to start college and then for his brother to finish high school. For around $7k we bought it, repaired it, modded it, painted it. The money was well spent for us to work together and for him to learn mechanics while instilling ole American pride.
Of all of those things the one thing I would like to do the most on my car would be to get rid of those crappy drum brakes in the rear and put on some discs. I truly do not like the fact that they skimped by putting drums on. That and all of the cheap plastic connections in the engine bay. Drums just look cheap and cheesy even if they work correctly. Is there any way that you could share what it takes to do that conversion?
 

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Many people don’t flush systems. Any chance some of that fluid was 16 years old?

I drain, add distilled, run & drain again, add distilled & flush agent, run & drain again. Sometimes I’ll run with the flush around town before draining, then continue to drain, add distilled, run & drain until clear. Once all is clear I add non-diluted coolant/antifreeze (premix is not cheaper in the end and does not use distilled water), run it through a few thermostat cycles (or drive for a couple days) and double check the fluid with a concentration gauge.

it sounds like a long process, but it’s a lot less time consuming, and a heck of a lot cheaper, than changing water pumps and heater cores, or worse yet head gaskets.
I think you are right that doing routine flushes is a good idea. I looked at my coolant the other day and it did not look all that "fresh". It may be time to do that soon.
 

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Of all of those things the one thing I would like to do the most on my car would be to get rid of those crappy drum brakes in the rear and put on some discs. I truly do not like the fact that they skimped by putting drums on. That and all of the cheap plastic connections in the engine bay. Drums just look cheap and cheesy even if they work correctly. Is there any way that you could share what it takes to do that conversion?

There are a couple of routes, by far the cheapest option is to find an Escort GT, tear out all of the necessary components, and convert it over. Alternatively if you can find an Escort Wagon, or an S/R (Good luck) these have the necessary components as well.

The other route is to buy the parts individually and bolt them on that way, I listed all of the part numbers I used. Make sure to go through all of my notes as some parts were actually unnecessary, at least with the KAInjection adapter plate. The adapter plate is discontinued, so if it's sold out you'll need spindles that have the brackets for the disc brakes instead (and will need the bolts I mentioned were unnecessary in my case).
 

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The biggest item is the rear knuckles which are obsolete. You can get rear calipers w/brackets, hoses, rotors, pads from a parts store. The calipers with brackets will most likely be overhauled units.

Two types of calipers and knuckles are available.
The older (pre 1997) Mazda, Escort GT, & Escort wagon take different calipers than the ZX2 and newer models. First photo is of an obsolete knuckle (other side is a different part number of course).
The only mod you may need for older knuckles is a spacer on the rear control arm (the one hanging in the 2nd photo waiting on my spacer at the time).


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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finally grabbed some pics of the car today. Not bad looking for a 23 year old car that spent it's life in upstate NY.
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
My speaker adapters finally came in today. I had to trim them a bit to fit the speakers because a home audio 6 1/2" speaker cutout is larger than a car audio one, but I got them in. I'm only running them off HU power at the moment but the difference is HUGE. Eventually I would like to add a 4 channel amp and some components up front but for now, I'm pretty happy.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just scored an armrest on eBay for a decent price. I always wanted one but there was NO WAY I was paying $200+. Will install once it arrives.
 
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