I'm getting water under the hood of my car on the air filter lid and under it...

Asked by Jan 27, 2017 at 11:50 PM about the 1990 Pontiac Firebird Formula

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1990 Firebird Formula that doesn't start when it rains heavy. When I
lift the hood, the top of the air filter lid is covered in water and when I take the
lid off, there is water inside of that too and you can pull out the air filter and
shake water out of it. How does that happen?

22 Answers

I don't think it's a functional one. It's sealed off. Just for looks I think.

I took the bra off after I bought it. And I'll have to look tomorrow in daylight for your questions, but it's a 305 TBI. Just moved to oregon a few months ago, and after awhile started noticing that when it rained hard it wouldn't start. When it quit raining, and the sun came out it would start right up. To me, it seemed like something was getting wet and had to dry out in order to start, but my hood was stuck shut so I wasn't able to check it forever. Over the past few weeks, it got harder and harder to start and now it won't start at all. I'm being told that my fuel pump went out, but somehow my gut feeling is different. I feel like it's more of an electrical issue. It turns over, sparks periodically, tries to start, but just isn't quite getting there. I'm wondering about the coil, distributor or a fouled spark plug. Those were the issues with my last car which was pretty much the same (88 formula) Plus, we sprayed starter fluid on it and it doesn't make one bit of difference... if it was an issue of not getting gas, I would think it would start when we sprayed starter fluid on it, wouldn't it?

Thanks so much. I really appreciate all the info. I'll take a picture tomorrow because I'm not 100% confident I know what I'm talking about, and I've never worked on a car before. All I really have on my side is gut feelings, youtube and the fact that this is the only type of car I've owned in the last 20 years. I know what it feels like and what it sounds like and I went through the ringer with my last one (probably because I'm a girl and I was young and took everyone else's word for what was wrong) but I actually know very little about cars. I'm not ruling out that the fuel pump could be bad, but if it is, I still think something else is going on and past experience has taught me to do my research before taking it in because I've been right more times than I was wrong. At least about what WASN'T wrong with the car. So I'm glad you mentioned the cap and rotor because I just got estimates on those yesterday along with plugs, wires, and filters, and it seems I'm not too far off track on where to look for other possibilities. :) I don't know if it always rains here, but we've had a lot in the couple months I've been here. It's part of the great Northwest, so I'm sure it does. And I don't know if this is dual TBI or not. My last car was TPI, so TBI is new to me, but on the carburator (I think it's the carburaetor anyway, it sits in the middle of the air filter), it has two rectangular caps on it, so maybe it's dual? I haven't looked it up yet. I'll take a picture tomorrow. Thank you again for all the help! Truly appreciated!

Here's the picture

Not really, after all the runnning around I did, it was too cold for me to do much with the car. If it's nice out tomorrow, I'll pull the distributor cap off (I hope) and see how it looks in there. I picked up spark plugs and tonight I'll try to look up what I'm suppose to gap them at for my car. But here's the other picture... about the hood. I don't know if you can tell, but it's just showing that that hump on the hood is sealed off and I looked all over the underside and checked to make sure I have the weatherstrip on there, which I do... so still not figuring out how the lid to the air cleaner or worse yet, inside the air cleaner is getting wet enough that I have to shake water out of my air filter?

Ok. Thanks. I'll let ya know how it goes if I succeed! Might take me a day or two (or more depending on weather). I don't do mornings or cold very well. Came here from California so I really don't own much in the way of winter clothes... If the sun ain't out, I might as well be an engine full of water with no antifreeze in negative temperatures...

Oh yeah, not that this probably matters, but I'm pretty sure I only have two screws on mine. I'll double check. I only remember seeing two.

Check it out! Never thought I'd be so happy to see that my distributor cap is totally toast! Don't know yet if it's the only problem... buuuuut... have a feeling he will fire up once I replace it. Just having problems getting the rotor off...

Ahh, I make pretty good use of my nails. They're kind of like extended tools. My nails are pretty dang strong. They're like a built in guitar pick, screwdriver, letter/package opener and mild chisel. For instance, I didn't realize I didn't need to take the little plug off at the bottom that is clipped in with a retainer clip and I couldn't get my screwdriver in there to lift the clip, so I actually used my thumbnail to lift the clip while I wiggled the plug out. Thumb is a little sore but I got it done. Just didn't need to. haha. Found that out afterwards...

Btw, I did spray it, and tapped it around with a hammer. It's on there good, so tomorrow I'm borrowing a chisel. Glad to know I'm thinking on the right track. For tonight, since it got dark, I'm just hoping some of the spray will soak in. Looks like it's probably rusted on there like rivets welded into the Titanic! I even crawled onto the edge of the engine trying to get that sucker out and it just wasn't going anywhere. So, tomorrow, hopefully I'll get it done and see what my results are. :) Really excited!

LOL That gets noticed a lot and when people ask me why I call him a "him", I say... "Cuz he has balls!" :)

Oops.. didn't mean to send just yet. I refer to 4 cylinders as "she". Kinda discriminating now that I think about it...

Guess I just kind of figure that in general guys are viewed as bigger, faster, more powerful... so if you got a bigger faster, more powerful car .... I learned to drive on a little 4 cyclinder. Ever since my 88 formula, when I learned I can pull into heavy traffic and still get the hell out of the way without making anyone have to slow down, or pass people going uphill, I've referred to them as "he's".

Definately my goal. But now that you brought it up... I'm curious. Why do guys refer to their cars as "she"? I got an 88 pickup with a 454, and I call it a he too. But my motorcycle, which is only a 250, that's a she... wondering what the logic is for you guys?

haha. I see... well.. I'm still learning to ride...could be scary. Never had anyone on the back before. Besides that... once the car is running, then I'll have to youtube how to fix my truck before I start youtubing how to fix my bike... So, might be awhile before I make it anywhere. lol

Honestly, looking at these two caps next to each other... I don't know how I was getting my car to start at all!

They tried to tell me my rotor was probably fine and didn't need to be changed. My opinion differed...

The results were a success!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=fqcMoBnZw3k&feature=youtu.be I'm so flippin happy! It sounded a little rough at first, which I expected, but five minutes down the road and he feels great!

Duuuude! I'm sooooo happy. And doing all that wasn't too bad. I'm so down to change the spark plugs now! If I succeed at that, I think I want to attempt changing the fuel filter on my own too! The estimate was $800 to fix this car. I just spent $30 to get it going! I knew I was right about it not being the fuel pump! (Yes, I'm gloating!) LOL

Feels so good to have wings again. Thanks so much Eddy for all your help! I have to say I'm feeling such a great sense of accomplishment and a most satisfying feeling right now... like the afterglow of good sex. lol I always did think I would like working on cars. Just never tried it. Think I just may be addicted now, cuz now I kind of want to go fix something else! :) haha

Course, watching my little video of success.. Now that he's running, I need to go vacuum out my car, give him a bath and clean off all the dust he collected over the last 3 weeks sitting. He's a filthy lil bird! No one ever did come bring me a chisel for that rotor either. I got it off with a flathead screwdriver and a crowbar... got a bruised knuckle for the efforts, but I sprayed it again, tapped the sides with a hammer, slid the crowbar just under the bottom of the rotor and twisted the bar because I couldn't push down on the screwdriver to try to slide it up, there were too many things in the way. But whatever works, right? End result was that I got 'er done!

Oh... well, once I put it back together, I just took a video to record the success of him starting. :) I did drop something accidentally down that distributor shaft. Didn't know if that was something I really had to worry about, but in case anyone else ever does the same thing.. .I went to the store, got some bubble gum, chewed it up, took a tiny piece off, stuck it on the end of a straightened out safety pin and played operation. Stuck the gum right to that little piece of debris and pulled it out. Don't know if that's recommended, but it worked! Just gotta say, you need a steady hand. I dropped the gum off the needle once and had to retrieve that too.

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