Author Topic: 1998 Trans Am daily driver  (Read 3708 times)

F-Body International

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1998 Trans Am daily driver
« on: September 05, 2016, 09:04:21 PM »
Picked up a 1998 Trans AM LS1 auto this past weekend. It's not the cleanest car out there but I got it on a straight trade for a Jeep Wrangler I was driving everyday.  My plan with this one is to keep it driving everyday and modify as I'm able to.




Found a set of Chinese knock off Corvette wheels with tires on my local Craigslist.  For $150, this was a major visual upgrade over the 16" American Racing wheels.  Rears are 18" and the fronts are 17". 



Here are some of the mechanical issues I'm having with the car right off the bat.  These will be the first things I'm addressing.

-One of the front tires on the new wheels went flat after first day of driving. 
-Front end "wobbles" at about 55 mph but it's fairly smooth above and below that speed. 
-Heater is not working.  It blows air and the a/c works but the heat is definitely not hot or even warm. 
-The ends of the hollow front sway bar are broken right at the end link.
-Check engine light came on after a day of driving.
-T-top release levers are extremely hard to move. 
-Rear trunk lid struts aren't keeping it propped up.
-Stereo speakers are pretty much blown out.
-Rust hole in the exhaust right before the muffler.


« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 11:42:07 PM by F-Body International »

Box

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2016, 10:39:24 PM »
Oooh my favourite colour, nice acquisition.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

squirrel

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 05:30:30 AM »
think that may be the rarest 4th gen color, not sure if its worth any more than others but not many produced.
Dan from Cincinnati Ohio
 
1979 Y84 S.E. 4 Speed TA
1977 Camaro 4 speed with t tops
1984 Mustang GT 5 speed 25K miles

Jack

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 06:18:26 AM »
Is that a factory color?




Regards, Jack

roadking77

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 07:41:27 AM »
Good deal, Your list doesn't seem like its too bad, sounds like normal wear n tear. What kinda car does your neighbor have under cover?
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
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79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
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85 T/A - Sold
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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 07:41:27 AM »

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2016, 07:42:23 AM »
Is that a factory color?

Yes, it's a color that was only done in '98.  It's called bright purple metallic.  GM only used for part of the year then switched to blue through 2002.  Definitely a rare color for the late cars.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 08:21:08 AM by F-Body International »

NOT A TA

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2016, 08:23:09 AM »
Congrats on the new ride! I really like those Vette wheels.
John Paige
Lab-14.com

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2016, 09:04:52 AM »
Congrats on the new ride! I really like those Vette wheels.

Thanks John!  This one unfortunately is biting into my '79 project funds at the moment but I have to make the repairs since it's my driver.  I had it at the shop yesterday and Dave already has some ideas brewing up.  He just got back yesterday morning from that national autocross race in Nebraska.

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2016, 10:59:06 PM »
Found a new issue on the way home from work today.  The driver side glass doesn't sit against the weatherstripping correctly so rain water passes through.  When the window rolls up, the front pitches slightly down and away from the weatherstripping.   Rear of the glass seems fine but the front doesn't stay up high enough.  You can actually see the gap while driving. 

I just found some links on 4th gen window adjustments.  I'm going to pull the door panel and see what I can mess around with this weekend.
Window adjustment link... http://shbox.com/1/adj_window.html
Power window motor and door panel disassembly link... http://shbox.com/page/windowmotor.html

MD79TA

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2016, 01:10:55 PM »
Beautiful color! Good luck with it!
1979 Trans Am
307 RWHP 380RWTQ / 13.8@103
1979 400 Block, 1970 Heads, Cams, Comp Cam Lifters, Edelbrock RPM Intake, Hedman Headers, Holley 750 Carb, WFO Drop Base

1968 GTO convertible
400 auto with A/C

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2016, 05:56:01 PM »
Did some minor maintenance on the car yesterday and today. 

-Replaced the heater core so the heat works.  It must've been really clogged up to not pass any heat at all. 

-Replaced front turn signals.  One was broken and the other had all the amber coating burned off.  Front turns are nice and orange/yellow now.

-Siphoned power steering fluid out of the reservoir two times.  That stuff was really black.  Clear fluid power steering has been poured in it now.

-Topped off engine oil as it was a little low.

-Mixed a bottle of Lucas fuel system cleaner in the gas tank.

-Sprayed lithium grease on the door, trunk and hood hinges.  Did the door and hood latches as well.

-Cracked front strut tower nuts loose an torqued them back down.  Dave from Pro-Touring F-Body (PTFB) is going to set this car up with a strut tower brace pretty soon so I'm prepping that area out as best as I can for a smooth installation.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 06:50:34 PM by F-Body International »

mrbandit

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2016, 01:31:56 PM »
Congrats on the new bird.  All of your issues seem to be simple purchase and install fixes with the exception of that window.  My sons 99 had that issue, which is a common issue on used\abused fbodies.  I'll dig up the link I used and post it in the morning.  It wasn't the funniest repair, but it works.  <Stupid fiberglass doors>

mrbandit

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2016, 01:04:45 PM »
I have looked and looked and can't find the page I got the fix idea from, so I'll try to explain it without pictures.  Sorry.

After you take the door panel off you will notice that the door chassis is fiberglass and like any fiberglass it gets brittle and breaks.  You may and may not have a vapor barrier to deal with depending on how many times someone has went into the door.  That barrier if it is there will have to be removed.  It is installed with a horrible glue like substance that makes a mess.  It will however allow you to reinstall later.  Once the barrier has been removed you'll notice 4 large pop rivets that hold the window channel structure in place.  There is also a tab that protrudes through a hole in that same area.  My sons car had elongated holes for the pop rivets and the tab circle was broken away.  The combination allowed the window structure to go all the way up and then drop into the broken areas when the window was in the up position.  The fix is to add structure to the door and re position the rivets and tab back to their original locations.  I visited the maintenance shop here at work and picked up an old sheet metal sign.  It was thin enough to cut with shears, but thick enough to not bend easily.  With the metal in hand I than located a piece of poster board.  I then took the poster board and cut it down to size for the area I was working on.  The area is recessed, so you'll have to cut it to fit in the area and still be large enough to hold the new fasteners that will replace the rivets and hold the tab.  With the poster board cut I then marked the location of the rivets.  The rivets and tab as they are now are correct, its the door that has allowed it to move.  With the rivet and tab placement marked you will need to use that as a template to cut two copies out of the sheet metal.  You will also need to drill the holes for the fasteners and the tab.  Drill both copies at the same time to ensure they will match up.  Before you begin the actual work on the door you need to get a piece of 2x4 and wedge it under the bottom glass edge with the window rolled up.  There is a few openings in the door area to allow for this.  This will keep the window from dropping when you drill out the rivets.  Temporarily replace each rivet with a screw or nail of some kind to hold the position.  The structure will want to scissor on you, so try to reduce that.  Now with the rivets out you'll want to put one copy of the metal template inside the door and one on the outside.  You are going to sandwich the fiberglass door structure.  I used bolt, nut, and 2 washers per rivet location, as it allowed me to apply extra pressure to my new sandwich structure.  With the sandwich in place and the bolts finger tight have someone pull the window up where it needs to be.  Now tighten the sandwich appropriately and your window should be fixed.  Its been over a year now and my sons windows on his 99 bird and only moved back a tiny bit.  I hope this helps.

I will say that I wasn't sure about trying this as I have no expierence with installing windows or track structures.  I neglected to put bolts in the rivet holes before installing the new templates and the whole structure shifted in the door.  It was nerve racking, but worth it.  One of the four bolts had to be cut down since the structure is directly behind it.  There was only a little room to work in that space. 

I removed the door speaker to gain some extra access in the door, but you may not need it.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 01:16:45 PM by mrbandit »

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2016, 07:32:51 AM »
Thank you mrbandit!  I'll be pulling it apart fairly soon and see what's going on with this window issue.  That other window link I shared has a bunch of disassembly pictures.  Hopefully I can get this figured out easily so I can move on to the next thing with this car. 

jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2017, 07:47:13 PM »
Update............there are no updates and I've been lazy about working on the '98.

With the random warm day here in Chicago yesterday, I did get a chance to clean up the car, top off the oil, and fix the turn signal (again).  I hope to be able to get on this window thing by summer.  It's really at the point of being bearable enough to deal with it. 

Lately, I've been working a lot to catch-up with some of my finances.  I'm crossing my fingers to get a third part-time job so I can have some more play money with the T/A's.  Wish me luck.
1979 Trans Am 400 T-top - Platinum Silver, Carmine Interior
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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2017, 07:47:13 PM »

Box

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2017, 08:19:27 PM »
Update............there are no updates and I've been lazy about working on the '98.

With the random warm day here in Chicago yesterday, I did get a chance to clean up the car, top off the oil, and fix the turn signal (again).  I hope to be able to get on this window thing by summer.  It's really at the point of being bearable enough to deal with it. 

Lately, I've been working a lot to catch-up with some of my finances.  I'm crossing my fingers to get a third part-time job so I can have some more play money with the T/A's.  Wish me luck.
That awkward moment you post on your actual account by mistake. :lol:

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jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2017, 08:55:53 PM »
Update............there are no updates and I've been lazy about working on the '98.

With the random warm day here in Chicago yesterday, I did get a chance to clean up the car, top off the oil, and fix the turn signal (again).  I hope to be able to get on this window thing by summer.  It's really at the point of being bearable enough to deal with it. 

Lately, I've been working a lot to catch-up with some of my finances.  I'm crossing my fingers to get a third part-time job so I can have some more play money with the T/A's.  Wish me luck.
That awkward moment you post on your actual account by mistake. :lol:

Yea, sorry about that.  I have a different account for different computer devices I use.  Thanks for noticing Box...you're still a newb on this forum to me ;)
1979 Trans Am 400 T-top - Platinum Silver, Carmine Interior
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Box

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2017, 12:33:43 AM »
You're welcome. :wink: 8-)

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2017, 11:48:00 PM »
Good deal, Your list doesn't seem like its too bad, sounds like normal wear n tear. What kinda car does your neighbor have under cover?

Just noticed I never answered your question on this thread.   That picture was done at my grandparents house.  The car under that cover is a late 60's-early 70's Cutlass.  I've never talked to the family but they haven't done much with it since I've seen the car.

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2017, 12:10:05 AM »
Most recent news on this car is that I sprang a leak on the driver front caliper.  Kind of aggravating because I replaced rotors and pads this summer along with two new front calipers. 

After this popped up, I ended up pulling the trigger on a front brake kit from Strano Performance Parts and a set of 18x9.5 Miro 111 wheels from 6LE Designs.  I ordered 275/35-18 BFG Comp 2 A/S tires for some rubber.  I was going to get Forgestar wheels from Strano as well but 8 week build-time was just too long of a wait considering this is my daily driver.

I'll post some install pictures once it all gets here.  This is pretty much going from repair to being my first upgrade on the car. 

T/A Addict

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2017, 05:07:47 AM »
I love that car!!!! Best of luck with her and if you ever consider selling her again let me know.
Jeff
2016 Victory Cross Country
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79 T/A 403 Solar Gold
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jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2017, 08:28:41 AM »
I love that car!!!! Best of luck with her and if you ever consider selling her again let me know.

Thanks Jeff.  I’ll try to keep going on this one as upgrades/repairs go.  It’s such a rare car that I think it deserves the attention.  I’m thinking it should be looking pretty good with the red Wilwood brakes and 18” silver wheels.
1979 Trans Am 400 T-top - Platinum Silver, Carmine Interior
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70TA Tony

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2017, 10:06:04 AM »
Neat car.  Purple '98's might be like green '73's someday.
Tony     '67 FB racecar,   '70 Trans Am,    '87GTA,   '94 25th Anv. TA,  '64 GTO

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2017, 10:23:37 AM »
Neat car.  Purple '98's might be like green '73's someday.

With how cheap many 4th gen owners are, I find it doubtful.  In the Information Age, it’s easy for everyone to find better deals elsewhere.  It’s a weird market and time for these cars.  Guys parting them want $4k for LS drivetrain...other guys buying them think most drivers are worth $4k. Really nice condition special edition cars go for $10k.  Maybe it’ll change soon but I’m at odds about it.  I feel like the internet put a stop to 2nd gens other muscle cars gaining value.

F-Body International

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2017, 11:19:56 PM »
Here are some updates...

After 3 weeks of waiting and emails, 6LE Designs wasn't able to supply me the Miro 111 wheels I ordered from them.  I ended up getting a refund last week so all is good there.  My new plan in regards to the wheels is ordering a set of Forgestar F14 wheels from Strano Performance.  They're off of work through the first week of January so no orders are going there.  We'll see what happens on this subject in a few weeks.

This week I had a funny issue pop up.  Wednesday was by far one of the coldest days in Chicago since owning this car.  While on my way to work, my engine decided to overheat.  I pulled over right away, let the car cool down while eating breakfast/coffee.  After that happened, I have driven the car back and forth to work but haven't had any issue since.  What's odd is that I've actually had a problem with the engine not getting up to temperature since owning it.

After this popped up I searched around some places online, then decided to call a Performance Shop called Straightline Performance in Joliet, IL.  After explaining my experience, the owner Nick was pretty much thinking that the thermostat has probably been stuck open since I've owned it but probably, by random chance, got stuck closed the other day when it was extremely cold.  His explanation was pretty logical.  After talking, what he said they could do is flush the engine, run some water in the engine, flush the engine again and replace the thermostat.  Normally this is something I would want to do myself but considering how viciously cold it is, I've decided to take it into their shop. 

While on the phone with the owner Nick, I decided to ask how much labor would cost for them to install headers and exhaust.  It pretty much came down to $850 labor for installing headers, exhaust and dyno tune.  Considering the crappy Flowmaster catback exhaust rusted and fell off a few months after buying this car, I decided to pull the trigger on buying a Hooker Blackheart mid-length header and full exhaust kit.  I'm pretty excited about this kit as it's supposed to have great ground clearance, converts to dual exhaust with an x pipe, and is a full stainless design.

After purchasing the full exhaust kit, I also decided to order a Mighty Mouse catch can kit.  I'm going to order a set of polyurethane engine mounts over this weekend as well.   

One thing I'm kind of wary about in all the excitement of new parts is that there's a couple bad reviews about work quality for this shop on some other forums.  I looked at some of the other shops in my area, and found a couple negative reviews with places such as Speed Inc and Modern Muscle as well. In an opposing argument, these places also have positive reviews out there so I'm kind of at odds with choice as I've never dealt with any places in "LS world".  This is my first time sending any car I've ever owned out to a shop for modification/maintenance/repair.  We'll have to see what comes of it.

Anyways, enough rambling for me.  Here's some show 'n' tell of the Hooker Blackheart Exhaust kit I got in the mail today...

Hooker Blackheart exhaust for ‘98 Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

Hooker Blackheart exhaust for ‘98 Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

Hooker Blackheart exhaust for ‘98 Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

Hooker Blackheart exhaust for ‘98 Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

Hooker Blackheart exhaust for ‘98 Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

T/A Addict

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2017, 06:53:39 AM »
Exhaust looks great and should sound great. I had the same issue with a 4th gen Camaro I had. On a very cold morning on my way to work it decided to overheat due to the thermostat freezing up. You'll be good after getting a new one in there.

As far as negative reviews you have to remember that there are people out there that are never happy about anything other than making others unhappy. I don't pay attention to every review but more of an average out of all the reviews.
Jeff
2016 Victory Cross Country
TATA '72 455 HO Auto
79 T/A 403 Solar Gold
69 F'Bird P-Touring T/A tribute to be
2010 Challenger R/T  PCP

jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2017, 09:04:50 PM »
Got another update in regards to the exhaust system today.  I ended up laying it out and found that I'm missing the driver side bend which connects to the x pipe.  After looking up a Hooker Blackheart specific thread on LS1 Tech forum, I found that someone else had this issue pop up.  I called Summit Racing right away and they're going to contact Holley this upcoming week after New Years.  In the picture below, I have the header downpipes swapped but I am missing the driver side bend.  Hopefully this can clear up soon.  Someone probably just made a bonehead mistake at Hooker/Holley.

Missing pipe from Hooker exhaust kit. by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr
1979 Trans Am 400 T-top - Platinum Silver, Carmine Interior
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Hutchman

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2017, 10:29:48 PM »
I'll be interested to see how that system works for you.  It greats good reviews over on LS1tech.

jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2018, 06:35:47 PM »
Finally got a set wheels and tires mounted after a 1.5 months of nonsense with ordering.  Amazing what wheels can do to transform the look of a car.  Don't mind the salt.  Again, this is my daily driver.

18x9.5" wheels (38mm offset)
70.3 to 72.6 hub adapter rings
275/35-18 BFG Comp 2 All Season all around


New wheels on Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

New wheels on Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

This one is without the center caps installed but you get the idea...
New wheels on Trans Am by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr
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jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2018, 10:20:31 PM »
Some more updates.

Got my missing exhaust pipe from Hooker (Holley) after a 1-2 week span.  This one is a long story but I'll keep this one short.  They actually sent me two by accident this time...can't complain there.  Since some expenses popped up, I'm holding off on getting the exhaust installed for a little bit. 

When I got the new wheels mounted up at my local Goodyear shop this week, they notified me that my outer tie rod was a little loose.   Because of that, I just placed an order for a set of Proforged inner tie rods and a Midwest Chassis bump steer kit (https://midwestchassis.com/products/93-02-f-body-bump-steer-kit-using-stock-power-steering-rack).  After I get this installed and do an alignment, hopefully that should improve steering.  Steering isn’t bad but I imagine this will help.  This is taking a step in front of the exhaust on my to-do list at the moment.

Finally got to spend the time this weekend to install my Strano Performance Parts front brake kit (http://www.stranoparts.com/partdetails.php?ModelID=7&PartID=1354) that's been sitting my garage since the end of November while I had my wheel ordering ordeal.  My initial impressions are great.  The car stops much smoother from higher speeds than before. 

Some words of advice....if you're trying to install new flex lines on a car with old brake lines, get yourself a little torch if you don't have one!  Heat helps big time for helping old parts come apart!  Also, read the directions carefully!  I was a dumb*** yesterday and broke a bolt because I misread a torque spec.  Thankfully nothing was damaged and the bolt was a cheap replacement.

Here's a simple write-up of how to install these brakes on a 4th gen.

Before picture from the other day when I just got the wheels...
Strano Performance Brake Install by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

Step 1 - Disassemble the brakes, pull the wheel hub off and cut the spindle as pictured.  Before reassembling everything, make sure to clean the mounting surfaces....again, as pictured.
Strano Performance Brake Install by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

Step 2 - Put the mounting bracket on (caliper faces towards rear), slip the rotor on, install the caliper and plumb up the new braided hose.  Make sure to follow proper torque specs.  After that's done, bleed the system.
Strano Performance Brake Install by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr

After picture...
Strano Performance Brake Install by Jonathon Randolph, on Flickr
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 04:58:09 AM by jonathonar89 »
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Flurry

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #30 on: February 18, 2018, 03:51:05 AM »
The wheels look great, Jonathon. I'm a fan of the purple color too. All in all, I wish my daily driver was a car that's as cool as yours.

jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2018, 06:59:21 AM »
The wheels look great, Jonathon. I'm a fan of the purple color too. All in all, I wish my daily driver was a car that's as cool as yours.

Thank you and welcome to the forum.  I see this is your first post.  It’s a cool car for a daily driver but I must admit it’s not the easiest thing to do.  When you get to driving cars 20+ years old, you end having to chase down repairs.  Most of my upgrades are actually repairs to the car. 

My word of advice is that if you plan on getting one of these cars, don’t spend a lot of money and buy it in expectation that you’re not going to sell it.  They’re very hard to sell at this point in time.  A lot of people are trying to scoop up 4th gens for a couple thousand dollars and then parting them out on Facebook, Craigslist and eBay.
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jonathonar89

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #32 on: March 03, 2018, 05:39:53 PM »
Small update on parts for the '98 but I haven't done any work to it this past month.  Since ordering the headers/exhaust, I didn't realize I will need to pick up extra parts to get it done.  Over the past couple weeks I picked up GM Performance header/manifold gaskets, ICT Billet motor and transmission mounts and an EGR block-off plate for my stock LS1 intake manifold.  My new short-term goal with this car is to pick up some more stuff so I can take it into the performance shop and have them hammer out a bunch of stuff the car needs all at once.
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firebird freak

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Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2018, 02:34:04 PM »
Nice car! I had one, too. Mine was a ws6. I should’ve kept it, as I looked forever to fnd it, but, my main issue with the gen 4, is so much is plastic. I’d much rather deal with metal than plastic. They look sexy, and BPM is an amazing color. Good luck!
1975 Firebird (sold a long time ago)
2002 WS6 TA (sold)
1979 10th TA (crushed by a tree)
2002 WS6 TA(sold)
1973 TA Brewster green 455(sold)
1973 SD455 Brewster Green (sold)
1998 WS6 Trans Am M6 BPM (sold)
1979 Trans Am 403 Platinum and Blue (sold)
1976 50th TA 455 T-tops
1977 SE Y82 TA 400
1975 TA 400
1971 Formula 400
1973 Firebird esprit (rust bucket)

Re: 1998 Trans Am daily driver
« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2018, 02:34:04 PM »
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