Fix It Again - 1989 Yugo GVL Long-Term Road Test

1989 Yugo GVL Long-Term Road Test

1989 Yugo GVL: Fix It Again

by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on December 4, 2015

"We need a new update on the Yugo. What's going on with it?" - @daryleason, 11/16/15

I was wondering that myself around the same time, so I signed out our beloved 1989 Yugo GVL for a night (choosing it over the Viper, incidentally). Turns out my last post needs a few footnotes.

Odometer fixed? Not anymore; we've hit a full stop at 41,838. Kinda makes me wonder if I imagined that it was working in the first place. Speedometer fixed? On further review, the needle does seem less spastic, but there's still a comical margin of error. At least the interior passenger door panel's still clipped on tight, and I have no reason to doubt that the gas tank remains sludge-free and appreciates its nice new filler hose.

But a fresh problem reared its head as soon as I twisted the key. The Italian stallion under the hood was raging, and I couldn't calm it down.

1989 Yugo GVL

Basically, it sounded like the throttle was stuck wide open, although there's no tachometer to corroborate that. We've encountered a sticky throttle in the past, but the remedy ? pumping the gas pedal ? had no effect this time. Lacking better ideas (like shutting it off, perhaps), I shifted into first and let out the clutch, which simultaneously solved the revving problem and launched the car rather abruptly from its parking space.

As I wound through the garage, keeping it in first, all my right foot had to do was work the brake. Leave it to Yugo to introduce an autonomous throttle to the subcompact segment.

1989 Yugo GVL

The engine warmed up before too long, and that brought the idle down to something reasonable, making neutral a friendlier place to be and my drive home considerably less interesting. But this aggression clearly would not stand, and just as clearly, we weren't going to drive the thing an hour south to see the Yugo Doctor.

When I got to the office the next morning, having gone through the same harrowing warm-up procedure starting at my place, I located a carburetor guy 1.5 miles away and made an appointment.

1989 Yugo GVL

His name was Tony. Because of course it was.

1989 Yugo GVL

The engine was warm and thus behaving relatively well when I got to Tony's garage, but he immediately noticed that fuel was dripping from one of the Venturis.

"The carb is over-float," he explained. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I could see that fuel was indeed dripping in there. He said he needed to rebuild the carburetor, bringing us full-circle to our original plan back in August.

1989 Yugo GVL

I'll always appreciate the Yugo Doctor for creatively resolving the chronic stalling issue in time for our triumph in Monterey, but would a rebuilt carb have been an equally effective and more lasting solution? How much of the other stuff that he did was really necessary? Wonder amongst yourselves. I still say winning takes care of everything.

In any case, Tony assured me he'd get the car running right, and he meant it. The idle is properly low and astonishingly stable, even on a cold start, with a faint yet insistent throb that leaves no doubt as to the Italian pedigree. I'm calling it officially Fixed Again. Now I just need to notify Editor Romans, our man in Fresno, who's been itching to take the Yugo for an extended loan.

Repair cost: $439

Time out of service: 2 days

Total maintenance costs divided by purchase price: Math still in progress, but almost certainly an Edmunds record.

Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 41,838 miles

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