Can my '84 cutlass run without an oil pump?

The part that appears in the pic I have attached to this post has been making a lot of noise lately - ping, bang, knock etc… but the car has driven fine for a few months like that. but today it seized up causing the belt to smoke and make a squealing noise - I was stuck in a parking lot so I just cut the belt off and drove home - now the car runs great - it no longer makes noise and I was watching the gauges and seems like no difference at all during my 5 mile trip home.

So my question to you car pros is - how important is that part? I’m low income in a ghetto apartment so money is tight and getting money for car repairs is hard right now - I assume that part is an oil pump and don’t oil pumps just circulate oil just to clean it through the filter or is there something I am missing? Can I safely run the car without that part? Thx for your help.

Sean G

That’s not the oil pump. That’s the air injection pump for emissions. Who told you it was the oil pump?

Yep, air pump, your car won’t likely miss it, and at its age I imagine it’s not going to be emissions tested. If you’re strapped for cash I’d just keep driving.

When the AIR pump fails the domino effect will begin. The catalyst which is already quite old and tired will soon fail as will the AIR check valve and then the rubber hose attached to the check valve, etc. It might be time to look for a new vehicle. I’m surprised that old 3.8L is still running.

AutoZone shows a lifetime warranty pump for about 170 bucks if you choose to fix it.

@RodKnox Right; we had a 1976 Ford Granada with severe driveability problems. Removing the catalytic converter made the car run a lot better. Then the “smog pump” failed and the mechanic said there was no need to replace it, especially since the tubes to conduct the air were rusted through. So we plugged up the air ports and took all the air injection stuff off. The car ran well after that.

I did feel like Henry Thorough in his essay on “Civil Disobedience”. If the government dictates something and the manufacturers cannot live up to it, I had the right to take corrected action with my investment. Ford’s emission control systems were dismal since the 1976 era was their early years.

Keep in mind while advocating “civil disobedience” that if OP lives in a state that does emissions testing, he’s shooting himself in the foot if he disables this stuff.

WOW! well thank you all so much! Air pump? great! So I can drive it! but there’s a tiny little problem - I live in California in LA county… and in February i need to have it “emissions tested” when registration is due - and an 84 is not old enough to be “exempt” here in Cali - so when i go to re-smog it… i would bet I need to have that part and belt in full working condition… or i will never pass smog test or even be allowed to take it… until i fix that air pump… (sigh) - but thank u all so much! I now know way more then I did a few hours ago thx 2 you car pros :slight_smile:

I can’t tell you how many air pumps I removed and tossed away. My own vehicles of course and I’ve never had to have a smog inspection.

I had an air pump on my 1990 Toyo pickup. Last of the 2-bbl carbs. It locked up and smoked the belt. Left it disconnected for years. Still passed emissions here annually for years on the tailpipe test. Never had to replace the original cat, and truck had 325,000 miles on it when the retaining wall jumped in front of it.

In Ca. you will need all smog equipment to be installed. You should get it fixed soon before the cat fails.

Isn’t there some kind of waiver in California if the cost of repair is too high on an older car? When Minnesota did this I’m sure there was an option for repairs that were unreasonable. I’m sure putting in a pump is up there in the $1000-1500 range which would be more than the car is worth. Maybe California just wants older cars off the road period.

Used pump? Junkyard. Only in Cali will u find a 84 cutlas limping along. They all rusted away elsewhere.

There are even shops that would rebuild that air pump for a modest price

There is a waiver in California for low income folks if the fee gets too high, but I don’t think it applies if any part of the emissions equipment is missing. To get the car re-registered and get you tags, you’ll have to pass emissions. I expect you know that already. And the emissions testing places know exactly what components came with the original car when it was new. And the definitely do a visual inventory to make sure you have all of this equipment installed before they’ll even begin testing.

So, yes, you’ll need to have a replacement air pump installed along with a new belt.

If you have the patience of the biblical Job, you can try looking at the California Bureau of Auto Repair and the California DMV websites to get an idea what help they can give you financially. But unfortunately these public servants of ours don’t make the job very easy to find this information. The seem to try to go out of their way in to hide it. Still, best of luck to you.

I just don’t see a rebuilt air pump costing enough to qualify for a waiver

There’s some remans on eBay for 50-75 bucks. Labor to change it unless it’s a DIY should not be much at all as the job is not that complicated.

The California waiver requires that you have to spend over (IIRC) $500 and still not be emissions compliant. That requires first, though, that ALL equipment be present. And it’s PER YEAR.

So if you spend $500 this year on emissions repairs and it still fails, you get a pass anyway. $500 again next year. I’m fairly sure you can’t keep going on indefinitely, sooner or later you just have to make it pass.