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Pontiac of the Month

gscherer78ta's 1978 Trans Am

2019 February
of the Month

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LiveRiveted64

64 Bonneville cuts out in reverse

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I have been having an issue with my 64 Bonneville Vista. It will start right up and run just fine but as soon as it gets to operating temperature it will shut off if I put it in reverse. Once it dies  I can't get it to even turn over or click. I know the proximity of the alternator to the exhaust manifold heats the alternator up really fast and it needs to cool off before it will start again, but is the issue with it cutting out in reverse a separate issue? I bought a heat shield to put on the alternator and if that doesn't solve the problem with the nonstart, I might just end up going with a mini-starter. Any help or suggestions about the stalling in reverse would be helpful. Thanks in advance

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Hi LiveRiveted64. I think we might be fighting a couple of issues here.

Pontiac engines have a notorious heat soak re-start problem, especially if you have wrap-around headers. The problem is the starter or solenoid gets so hot from the heat of the exhaust manifolds/headers that it won't engage. You can buy a heat shield, and add some heat resistant material to the shield from most of the catalogs. However, for the actual starter, you have two choices, purchase a heavy-duty Pontiac starter (Pontiac had 2 different starters back in the day - a standard starter and an optional heavy duty starter - if your car is mostly original you may have the standard starter) or a more modern compact mini-torque starter. Also, check your battery cables, are they in good shape or could they stand to be replaced?

On my 455, I run factory reproduction HO/Ram Air exhaust manifolds (factory headers essentially). I have a heat shield with no material and a heavy-duty starter. I make sure the wires don't come in contact with engine (no burn through - I had that happen once before too). I make sure the engine's intial and total timing is within proper spec.

Now your reverse problem I think is something else. Is you car an automatic or manual? Since it is a 4-door Vista, I am going to assume for the moment is an automatic. I am wondering if your neutral safety switch has partially or completely failed thus cutting off the ignition when you go to shift. You can't restart the car because the engine is already too hot (problem #1).

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Thanks everybody. Not sure why I kept saying alternator. Yes, I meant the starter. The car is 100% stock and is a column shift automatic. Sounds like I was on the right track with the starter. Thanks for everyone’s input! I love driving my Bonny but it gets frustrating and embarrassing when I need to sit for an extended period of time for it to start again. One last question on the same vehicle. Wipers aren’t working. Fuse is good and switch has been replaced. Anybody know of a place to source a wiper motor? I have looked high and low and have only found one online through the auction site that starts with an E for big money. It’s a two speed motor with three connections. 

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If you're having a hard time locating the wiper motor assembly....Or would like to keep the original...It is a serviceable unit and can be repaired...took photos with my phone hope you can see them OK...Hopefully this helps....

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Very cool. Thanks for all of the help! 

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