By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper
Editor’s Note: In order to provide better answers for your questions, don’t forget to mention the year, body style and mileage of your Viper.
Q: After becoming more and more familiar with my 1998 Viper GTS I have noticed the passenger door has become difficult to shut. It seems that it needs to be adjusted, as, if I simply gently push it shut, it won’t close properly. If I hold it up as I push it shut all the way, then it shuts no problem. When I am parked on any kind of incline, the driver’s side doesn’t seem to stay open but the passenger side does. I can certainly live with these problems but I would like to get them addressed if there are simple things I can do to adjust them.
A: The passenger door sounds like it has sagged a bit. This can be easily fixed by adjusting the door hinge. Usually, this is a two-person job. You need to make sure that you only loosen the hinge bolts slightly so that the door doesn’t fall further out of adjustment. The job itself will be a bit of trial and error.
Q: After driving in the extreme heat here, I noticed that my car is running awfully hot. With the A/C on, it runs up to the notch before the red hot line. Where I live is in the mid-high 90s right now and the elevation is around 3,600 feet-plus. I took my car to a local shop to flush, refill and pressure test the coolant system. Today, it’s running hotter than ever. If 190°F is normal, is up to that notch way too hot?
A: I’m going to assume you’re Viper is an older model and built before 2003. If the car runs normally and it does not put the needle up as high when the ambient temperatures are lower, say 75°F, then you are probably OK. The car is just reacting to the high ambient temperature. Also, if the needle stays up near the mark prior to the red zone and doesn’t move higher but just stays there, that’s all right too. You must make sure that no air is trapped in the coolant system.
Q: I normally drive with my hands on the wheel and have never really noticed how much movement there is in the shifter when not shifting. I was lazy with my hand the other day and noticed that at about 2,000 rpm, if I floor it, the shifter pulls toward the passenger side about 3/4 to 1 inch whether in 2nd or 3rd gear. Is this amount of shifter movement normal?
A: The amount of movement you’re talking about sounds high. Of course, there’s always some movement, especially with high loads. I would look at the trans mount and make sure the rubber isn’t cracked. Also look at both engine mounts. If any of the three have started to separate, you’ll get excess shifter movement.
Q: I pulled the car out of the garage to let it warm up and circulate fluids. When I went to pull it back in, the clutch felt mushy. When I started to let it out, the car lurched forward and stalled. I pumped the pedal to regain resistance and got it back in the garage. When I went to pull the cap off the reservoir I noticed fluid had been leaking out around the cap. The fluid is also olive drab green in appearance. My question is that since I recently did a full cat delete and don’t know the clutch line locations, could it just be boiling?
A: You didn’t mention if you installed headers when you deleted the cats. If you did you’re probably boiling the clutch fluid. You also didn’t mention the year of your car—some Vipers had a protective insulating sleeve over the clutch line as it passes by the exhaust manifold. Make sure that the sleeve has not been removed. Regardless, make sure that there is as much room as possible between the manifold and the line. I wouldn’t worry too much about the color of the fluid. Most cars do have the fluid turn dark.
Q: I noticed today when I was driving with my top up that in third gear, if I take it past 2,000 rpm, and especially above 3,000, when I let off the gas I get a very audible whine. It sounded like an electrical whine at first, so I shut off the radio, but it was still there. Put the clutch in and it goes away. This is the only gear I have noticed it in. I’m assuming if it was the rear end, then it should whine in any gear, not just third. Perhaps this is a normal sound?
A: The whine noise you’re hearing is most likely gear noise. Since it’s when you let off the throttle, we call it coast down gear noise. It can come from the trans or the rear axle. Although it can be annoying all cars have some and it usually doesn’t mean things are going to break. Typically, rear axle noise occurs at the same vehicle speed not rpm. So if it’s the axle you should get it in any gear but at the same vehicle speed. You mentioned third gear. If you don’t get the whine in fourth at the same vehicle speed it’s probably the trans. The same idea applies, just because it whines a little doesn’t mean it’s ready to break.
Your technical questions are always welcome. Please remember to indicate the body style, model year and mileage for your Viper.
Tech Notes Editor
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