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.

Tools Required:

A good, low-profile trolley jack

Jack Stands

This article details how to safely raise a ZR-1, although it would work on any C4. Before starting, some safety considerations. Always, always use sturdy jack stands, properly placed under the car before getting under it. I usually leave the jack lightly contacting the frame while working under it as an extra margin of safety. With the ground clearance on these cars, if it falls on you, you're history! Don't chance it.
Here is my car on a nice summer day in Buffalo with the top removed. DO NOT jack your car up with the roof removed. It is a structural component of the car. I have heard of all kinds of horror stories about breaking windshields etc. if the car is not closed up solidly before it is raised. Put the roof on and tighten the bolts. The doors and hatch must also be closed tightly. Sounds silly, but an original ZR-1 windshield is hard to find!
Start with a good floor jack. Here's mine. Notice the custom jack pad - a hockey puck. This keeps teh frame from getting gouged up. I've used wood (it cracks) and leather (hard to see exactly where you're contacting). This is the best solution I've found to date. No this wasn't an original idea - I got it from someone on the ZR-1 net.
Here's the jack under the car. Make sure that you only contact the steel metal flange and not the fiberglass or fuel lines. Place it directly in line with the outside mirror - right under it. This position will raise the front and back at the same time. Don't raise too much - just enough to get your jack stands in place at their lowest setting.
Once lifted, place the front stand as shown. Your point of reference for this entire operation is the lower rocker flange. Notice that I use a heavy piece of leather on top of each stand to avoid frame damage.  
Here's a more detailed picture showing where the front jack stand goes.  
Here is the rear jack stand placement. It is vital that you use sturdy stands and place them properly! Rear stand location is just in front of the rear tire, inboard of the rocker flange.  
At this location you find a box section of frame that's just the right size for your jack stand to sit in. Again use the lowest setting possible and be careful with placement. There's not a lot of room so make sure everything's centered before you drop the jack and go to the other side.  
Now here you are on the other side of the car. Repeat the process, but raise the car to the final working height. Then go back to the side where you started and raise it to the final height. It takes a little longer this way, but raising in stages minimizes the stress on the body so you don't crack that expensive windshield!  
 Related Articles:
 Scott Fabre's Article
Author: J. Michael Hom
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