ZR-1 Maintenance Tips

General Maintenance

by Jim VanDorn


The most common call we receive by far is from a confused ZR1 owner. After years of reading everything from which thermostat to use, to what type of spark plug is best, the average owner is totally and completely confused...and for good reason. There are many varied opinions of what is best for our cars but that may depend greatly on how you use your ZR1.


After seven years plus, many ZR1's are finally accruing some mileage. We have had the opportunity to closely inspect many engines with a variety of types of use from normal street driving to severe "weekend" use (track time). Compiling this information we can now offer the ZR1 owner some observations. One rule we've adopted after hearing so many owners say the same thing is the "DIMWIT" or "Darn, if I didn't Mess With IT" rule. In other words, if you didn't have a problem, then what are your intentions in the first place? To date, the only company known to have a fleet of engineering ZR1's to test with was GM and it's affiliates.


Therefore, we must ask ourselves if their suggested procedures and parts recommendations should have a considerable amount of merit. Obviously they do, but on the other hand, there are no doubt areas for improvement. Although we will begin our segment discussing the routine and normal maintenance of the ZR1, there are many areas where an upgrade will be suggested.


Please understand that these are personal opinions and experiences and are not intended to conflict with service procedures outlined in the appropriate service manual.

The side window would not go all the way up, caused by a break in the window 'ribbon'. Note: while this is for an 85 it will prove instructive in some areas for the ZR-1
First remove all obvious screws holding the door panel in. There are about six around the bottom (his 85 had the bose speaker grill to be removed) A tricky one is on the back of the door near the clasp. Another tricky area is in the door handle area (inside door handle). There are two philips head screw in there that are not difficult to remove but can be a pain in the butt to put back in.


There is a bit of detail left out above sorry. It requires you to disconnect all the electrical connectors. Some are a royal pain. Be careful to study each one as to where and how the retainer works so you don't break one.
Remove the plastic barrier.
Disconnect the remaining connectors.
There are about 10 hex head sheet metal screw holding in the aluminum sheet metal piece.
Here is the last of the sheet metal screws, don't drop the little suckers in the door panel!
There are two bolts holding a bracket (above). Don't drop the bracket once the bolts come off.  
Next are the actuator rods. There are two of them. This was the tricky one in that there is no need to disconnect the end at the left side that connects to the door latch. Just pry the two tangs shown above apart so that the rod can be separated from the aluminum sheet panel. There is also a white plastic piece that the rods run through behind the aluminum just pop the rods out of the plastic. There just a pressure fitting.  
Now for the little white rod end retainer.
This comes off by pushing back and to the left on just the plastic piece.  
Now you should be able to pull out the sheet metal piece to expose the rod end clasp for the inside door release latch. Remove the retaining clip by inserting a small flat blade screw driver under the clip then work it away from the rod and toward the inside of the door.  
Swing the sheet metal out of the way. (see it just above my right hand?)  
Remove the two bolts in this area and the one to the right but make sure someone is
holding onto the window glass!
This picture and the next few are technically out of order. The were actually taken while putting the fixed unit back in but hey, same deal as taking it out. To remove this piece take off the two nuts holding the top and the two on the bottom of the door. NOTE: the two on the bottom of the door can be felt by running your hand along the bottom of the door. They are 10mm (I think, sorry this was yesterday... already out of my short term memory)  
After all the fasteners are out, rotate left, pull the top out and then lift up and pull out the bottom.  
Here I am pulling out the bottom.  
Now let's get it up on the bench to take a look.  
A full view of the unit.
Here is the break.  
Drill out the 5/32 in rivets on the top.  
Remove the allen head screw.  
To remove the broken ribbon pieces apply 12v to the motor.  
Now the first of two ribbon pieces can be removed. DON'T FORGET to remove the small broken off piece. Use the motor with 12V again to get the little piece off.  
Here is the extracted broken ribbon.  
Here is where you can try to install the new ribbon but wait. It won't fit. I wonder why?  
Hmmm, seems to be a bit longer than the two old pieces put end to end. You will need to cut the new one to the same length as the two old broken pieces.  
Ok, all better now. New ribbon piece is in and the allen head screw is in place. (NOTE: the round shaft will look bent in more than one place almost as if it were in an accident then rebent back. This wavy bend is normal. Do not try to make the bend a single curve)
Now a word of warning. The two replacement pop rivets sent with the kit are the wrong size. Pitch these because they are too big. (3/16 in). Use 5/32 in pop rivets.  
When reassembling use loctite on all critical window mechanisms. You don't want to have to get back in there for a loose screw/nut. I used the blue loctite. ( I don't know what the number is and don't care) Virtually any paint will work here too. That's all loctite is.  
Now for a little mineral oil on the ribbon to metal contact area.  
When putting the aluminum sheet metal piece back in don't forget to put it in FRONT of this captive nut flange. It is a real pisser if you forget. (note: the picture shows how to do it WRONG!)  
And then it was all back together again like magic.  
Author: Scott Fabre
Posted in: Body, Glass, Doors
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