1989 Yugo GVL: Operating Instructions
August 7, 2015
Our 1989 Yugo GVL certainly runs and drives, as they say, but there are a few things that uninitiated drivers should keep in mind. This came up today when Senior Road Test Editor Monticello informed me that he wants to take the Yugo tonight. Not as a punishment, mind you; just out of morbid curiosity.
Here's our email exchange in full. Hopefully I didn't scare him off.
Mike Monticello: Josh, is there anything specifically wrong with the Yugo that should keep me from driving it home this afternoon. I mean, I do have a 63-mile commute and there could be some stop-and-go traffic. How bad is the stalling issue? I've never driven this thing, and I kinda want to.
Me: The answer is "Yes, probably," but I love the spirit! In short, it usually needs throttle maintenance at idle to keep from stalling, and sometimes without warning it gets pouty and will only respond to WOT. But it has never overheated or totally broken down, so I'm not saying you might not make it. It's more a question of your pain threshold.
MM: Okay, thanks man. I'm probably going to sign up for it. If I can get out of here in the Yugo by 1:00 or so, traffic could be light enough to avoid major stalling issues. If you're around before I leave, I'd love a quick tutorial down in the garage.
Me: One issue on my end: VW is visiting from 12-2 and I'm slated to participate. In case I'm not around and you decide to give it a go, here are some helpful hints:
— Ignition key is the one with the small plastic top (big plastic top does the doors and trunk; metal top is the gas cap).
— To start the car, twist the key past the point of wrist discomfort.
— Reverse may take 10-15 seconds to locate. It's down there somewhere.
— I think one of the headlights is out.
— The gas gauge doesn't completely work. If the needle starts bouncing around, you're good for a little while, but refuel at your earliest convenience.
— The temp needle will go past 50 percent if you're doing prolonged low-speed stuff. I used to blast the heat to correct this, but now I believe it's normal and fine.
— I almost broke off the driver window crank on Friday. It's cracked and fragile.
— The e-brake doesn't work very well. Definitely park it in gear, in case you don't already do that.
Other than the stalling issue and the random needs-WOT condition, I think that should cover it. Godspeed and let me know if you have any questions.
MM: Thanks. I think.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 40,859 miles