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Classic/Antique Car Repair/My '87 Chevy Caprice Classic


I hope that you can answer my questions about my car. For 5 years i have owned my '87 Chevy Caprice Classic with start mileage of 70,000 132,000. This is longest that I have owned the same vehicle, as it has been the most reliable. Every year at tax time I spend 1,000 or so to do once yearly auto work (No car payments AND repairs, though). This year suspension is good for once,but had mechanic try to figure why there was a burning smell (Oil?) and valvetap coming from front end. Where valve tap would go away once warmed up from cold weather, it stays, now, especially more recently. Mechanic says it needs 16 lifters, set of intake gaskets, set of valve cover gaskets, Cam, timing chain and gear set, front cover and gasket set (1,449.00 with labor). He says that he hopes that takes care of valve tap, and it may need oil pump, too, and oil pan gasket(?) after all above mentioned repairs are made. I would like to know if this is standard needed repairs for valve tick/tap problem, or is it something simpler that's the cause (and maybe check that out, too). This car is a good car, starts Usually right up first key turn. I am willing to put the money into it, and it's cheaper than a monthly car payment on used car that I do not know (and usually have rip off issues, too). She has small cosmetic issues like cracked windshield, stuck driver's side window, surface rust only, but I know this car. Thank you for your time and response!

I too belong to the drive em forever club. My daily driver is a 1982 Benz Diesel with 200000 miles and my work truck is a 1992 Ford F 150 with just under 300000 miles. Based on what you have told me I would say that your mechanic is spot on. In doing the work that he suggest it amounts to an internal engine tune up. Replacing the lifters and timing chain will take the slop out of the valve timing mechanism and restore some lost horsepower.  Replacing some gaskets like the oil pan and valve covers will reduce oil spillage and get rid of the smell. The lifters should get rid of the tap tap. As for the oil pump I would ask hi to check the oil pressure with a gauge before doing the work and make sure that you have good pressure. If the pressure is good the replacement of the oil pump would be for insurance. And remember that the $1500 that he wants today is the equivalent of a $1000 5 or 6 years ago. Inflation. And just think that in 2 more years the car would classify as an antique in Florida and is most states it is an antique now.  

Classic/Antique Car Repair

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Brad Sears


All automotive including antique and collectible. However if the car has been modified I can only answer in general terms and maybe get you pointed in the right direction.


Automotive tech instructor. Syndicated auto columnist 1970's though the early 1990's. Syndicated auto radio talk show, Ask Brad About cars, CBS Radio 70's through 90's TV Show "Last Chance Garage" 1980's PBS-TV syndicated. Auto instructor for the following companies: Fram Autolyte Holly Carter AMF Ford Motor University Of Conn Blue Hills Technical School Sugar River Technical Center Grew up in a family garage in Needham Mass and turned wrenches from the age of 14.

Manchester Union Leader, Nashua Telegraph, Motor Service Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Popular Mechanics (Saturday Mechanic early 80's), Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and lots more.

More than I care to remember. Basically Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, Northeastern University, Fitchburg State Teachers College, Tufts University, and a lot of factory schools along the way.

Awards and Honors
Moto Award winner. And much more.

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