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98 Amigo 4x4 Aka "Smeags"

9258 Views 58 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Tentin
Found myself looking at projects, hoping to snag one up before the next stimulus check hits and floods the market with buyers. Found this one, talked the guy, and knew it was right for us. 200k miles, clean title. Failed smog and the guy just didn't have the time to mess with it.

Parts list:
Old Man EMU Rear springs
Front Torsion Lift
Custom Welded on Front Bumper
Badland Winch
LED Light bar and corner lights
Weird glittery iridescent vinyl wrap

To do list:
Scan check engine light, fix, get it smogged ASAP
Clutch high up, need to lower so girlfriend can drive it more comfortably
Remove vinyl wrap, hope the factory blue paint underneath is in decent condition
Bedliner or carpet the rear interior
Find and install rear seat
Gas gauge doesn't work
Heater blower fan not working
Secure down the hardtop, right now it has no bolts
Rear glass of hardtop doesn't latch
Eventually swap the bumper set up over to the pickup, put a stock one on the amigo
...And I'm sure this list will grow the more I start inspecting it


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Codes are P0141 ("O2 Heater Circuit Bank 1 Sensor 2") and P1404 ("EGR Pintle Position"). Plan is to replace the O2 sensor with a new one, and then clean the EGR with carb cleaner and replace the gasket. Not sure if I'll get around to that today or tomorrow. If that doesn't work it's off to the local junkyard which has a few 3.2s
IIRC, the gas gauge requires a scan tool or ECM reflash. Dennis
Dang. Reading up on some threads about that right now. A few of the solutions people have are to put a newer year ECM but I don't think that would fly with CA's strict emissions. I wonder if it would just be easier to just get a calibratable aftermarket gauge.
Update, we're CA smogged! New O2 sensor and carb cleaner soak on the EGR valve did the trick. EGR pipe probably needs to be cleaned too, but that's a project for another day.

Clutch pedal travel adjustment was easy enough. Just unlocked the 12mm jam nut, turned the master cylinder rod counter clockwise, took it on a test drive, and repeat until I found the perfect position. The hydraulics self adjusted the bite point. Much easier to drive now, feels like a normal modern car.

Secured the hard top with two bolts I had laying around, need two more of a longer length to get the middle bolts. I have a feeling we're going to have to cut the trim a little bit to make the hardtop sit perfectly, I think it's an aftermarket top. Rear hatch latches were easy enough, just had to bend it back straight.
We took the amigo to the local off road park and after a lot of playing in the mud and a little front end smack into a log I noticed the gauges were acting a bit funny. Just about every warning light possible was stuck on. Had the slightest hunch it was alternator related but didnt have my multimeter on me. An hour later we decided to go home and made it about 15 miles before we lost the speedo and tach, and the windows were really slow. Knew the inevitable at this point. Eventually died on the side of the road and had to tow it. All the connections were good albeit covered in mud so it looks like it's new alternator time unless this one comes back to life after a cleaning


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Tentin, it seems like you have a habit of getting towed home from your first trip to the dirt :p Same thing with your pickup if I remember right.

Looking forward to seeing Smeagol's transformation!

I think it's a curse, happened at the same place too. AAA is about to start recognizing me by name at this point. Definitely getting our moneys worth out of the yearly free tows.

Tried cleaning the old alternator to no luck, so at this point I'm just waiting on the rock auto refurb to show up. I have to say working underneath a muddy truck on a busy street isn't exactly my idea of fun
Got the new alternator on and I'm only reading 13.5v while idling with no lights/accessories on. Seems super low for a new alternator? Took it on a 15 minute test drive and everything feels normal, including the gauge cluster returning back to normal. But still read 13.5v when I parked it, then 12.4 when I turned it off.
Took it on a longer test drive and rechecked voltages, 13.7 at the battery and 13.9 directly at the alternator. Seemed to be getting better. About a mile away from home I notice a horrific noise and decide to just keep going. Pulled into my parking spot, pop the hood, and saw the idler pulley bearing is no longer in existence. Luckily the belt stayed on. You win some you lose some. Easy fix, amazon primed a new ACDelco idler pulley and should be here tomorrow.
Glad you made it home! Which idler pulley gave up on you?
Number 5 in this diagram. New one is on although the old spacer took some damage and I had to reuse it, doesn't seem to affect anything. Also attaching a picture that shows how the vinyl wrap turns purple when the sun hits it. Not gonna lie it's starting to grow on us, and we get a lot of compliments on it while driving around.


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Latest update, more adventures and more problems. We roadtripped it down to Pismo Beach to hit the dunes for the weekend. We hit some unexpected traffic and started to overheat so we had to pull over and let it cool down enough to make it to the next exit to get some food and wait out the traffic. Once that was over everything was great. The amigo was killing it at the beach and in the dunes. Pulled out two stuck cars to get our positive karma for the weekend. Even some of the more serious rigs were getting stuck, including an area that was jokingly being described as "quick sand" that we were able to clear like it was nothing. Temps were perfect too. Had a couple beers with a great ocean view and decided it was time to start the trip home.

..Except the front axles were still spinning in the parking lot. Tried everything, from prolonged reverses, driving down the street a bit, wiggling the steering wheel in reverse. Fearing for the worst (stuck in 4WD compared to stuck auto hubs), I found a dirt lot and did some "tests". First test definitely felt like RWD, that was a solid donut. To be definitive, I hit the 4WD button and did another test, and yep now we're gripping. Turned 4WD off, and back into donut mode. So the 4WD is disengaging, but the hubs won't. Tried everything to get those hubs to disengage including flooring it down an empty street 20 mph in reverse. Eventually decided to head the 200 miles home and hope I still have CV boots by the end. Drove home fine, still got intact axles, yet we're still rotating. Really want to do a manual hub conversion now, but any tips to get these auto hubs to disengage for the time being?

Also, plan for the overheating is a new Mishimoto (or similar) aftermarket radiator and a new thermostat. Coolant is topped off and looks fresh. Fan seems to be working. Any other ideas?


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I'm pretty sure that's how they are supposed to work.
The CV axles are supposed to spin in 2WD? Just due to friction in the drivetrain or something? That doesnt seem right to me. My pickup doesn't do that with the hubs unlocked in 2wd.
Yeah, that's what makes the auto hubs "auto," if you will. They are always engaged, so they always spin. That's what makes the turning feel heavy at low speeds, IMO.

The way the 4wd engages is there is a collar on the center axle where the VSV stuff is located. Actually, I'll just copy and paste from one of my threads.

Side note: Here is how the 4wd is actuated on this vehicle.

The top part is what connects to the outside axle cup, and therefor spins with the CV axle.

There is a ring with a groove in it. A two prong fork slides around that ring.

When you push the 4WD button, the fork is vacuum actuated and slides the ring up over the top shaft, connecting both shafts. This means that the transfer case is ALWAYS spinning the front driveshaft, front diff, and this long shaft, at all times. Only when the 4WD button is pushed are the CV axles engaged. This is also why you don't really save any gas mileage by getting manual hubs. It makes the steering a bit lighter, but you don't feel the increased peppy-ness that you do when you disconnect the front drive shaft.
I think I was wrong about the center section spinning all the time though. The front drive shaft and front diff don't spin all the time. When you push the 4wd button, it slides the collar inside the transfer case to turn the front drive shaft, and also slides the collar inside the VSV to lock up the front axle.
Okay that all makes sense, thank you. I was able to crawl under and spin the front driveshaft freely which makes me believe everything is working as intended. Wish I had known that before the stressful drive home haha.
I put manual hubs on my Amigo and I think it's worth it just to have lo in 2wd, and the CVs don't spin so it probably saves your boots, especially if lifted. But, it doesn't do anything for gas mileage or making the steering feel less heavy. The one time I went to Moab I took my front drive shaft off (I had a leak), and THAT makes the Amigo feel like a whole different vehicle as far as being more peppy and better steering. It was a fun few days.
Took a gamble on an ebay 2 row full aluminum radiator. Had a little bit of trouble getting it to fit at first, had to slightly hammer the lower passenger side bracket to clear the extra thickness. One of the upper mounting bracket grommets had to be trimmed as well. Other than that everything else bolted up perfect. Itll be a while until we take the amigo out to some trails and test to see if this fixed our cooling issue. The old radiator had some weird "C" shaped damage so I feel good knowing that something nice is in its place.


Also did a compression test, new ngk spark plugs, and a new Bosch fuel filter. Numbers were 190-190-190-190-190-195 (rounded to the nearest 5 psi).


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Battle tested the new ebay radiator and it has indeed solved everything. We went to a place that is basically nothing but steep low speed hill climbs. No overheating! Gonna be nice to no longer worry about blasting the heater in traffic


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