1990 Chevy Truck Problems


When a truck becomes almost 20 years old and has more than 150,000 miles on it, a tune-up will probably help, but some new sensors for the throttle body will probably go a long way in making the truck run smoother. It is also probably time for some new brake calipers and brake pads.

Throttle Body

  • The 1990 Chevrolet pickup does not have a regular carburetor; a throttle body with sensors is used instead. A computer lets the sensors know when and how much air and fuel to place in the motor, so when these sensors are not working properly, the engine runs rough. There are two main sensors in the throttle bottle that can have a major effect on how well the engine is running. The first one is the idle control sensor, and the second is the temperature sensor. If your engine is running rough, try replacing both of these. The temperature sensor looks similar to a spark plug and screws into the intake manifold close to the throttle body. The idle control sensor has a spring on it and screws into the main throttle body. It may be necessary to reset your computer after you replace the sensors if the "service engine soon" light was on.


  • If after a tune-up and replacing the sensors on the throttle body your engine is not running any smoother, you may have to set the timing. This can be done more accurately by taking it to a garage that has a computer. In addition, if the "service engine soon" light is still on, they can cancel it with their main computer after setting the timing.

Brake Light On

  • The purpose of brake calipers is to squeeze the brake pads against the rotor to stop the truck. When you push on the brake pedal and the vehicle pulls to a side, chances are a caliper needs to be replaced, so it is better to replace both of them at the same time. While you have the calipers off, you should replace the brake pads. After replacing calipers and pads, bleed the system to get all the air out of the lines. If your brake light was on when your caliper was going out, getting all the air out of the lines should make the light go out.

Save Money on Bodywork

  • Most 20-year-old trucks need a certain amount of bodywork due to normal wear and tear. You can save money on bodywork by fixing small holes, dents or scratches yourself, and then hand spray with a rust-preventative primer spray before painting.


  • Michael Azbill; Mechanic; Santa Fe, Texas
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