Update: Reassembling the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Sedan

Our Cobalt SS is back on the road, but it needs a little more love before it’s 100% ready for a track day.

My dad always told me, “lazy people work harder,” and I keep this in mind when I get the urge to half-ass something. It’s especially true when it comes to maintaining vehicles, because if you don’t do it right the first time, then you’re probably going to have to do it again. Such was the case when reassembling our 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS sedan, but learning from our mistakes is just a part of the process. “Turned all my L’s into lessons,” as Chance The Rapper would say.

As far as documenting this work, well, I didn’t do such a great job of that. There’s virtually no footage, though we did manage to snag some photos. The hastiness was due to the fact that Kayla’s Saab 9-2X is having drivetrain issues, so we were in a crunch and needed to get the Cobalt running as soon as possible.

LNF 2.0 Replacement Engine

If you read the first article on this project, you’ll know that we cleaned and inspected each of the components while the Cobalt was apart. We ended up ordering a new steering rack and Moog outer tie rods from Rock Auto, and a few other components which we’ll touch on below.

I goofed up the polyurethane transmission mounts that I poured, as I didn’t press the mounts hard enough into the sand, and the liquid poly ended up leaking out passed the duct tape. Some of the poly remained, so the mounts are still sturdier than stock. I did the same for the control arm bushing that sits in the subframe.

It felt so good to see the drivetrain back where it belonged.

After inspecting the clutch, we decided to order a new factory replacement kit from Crate Engine Depot, and we already had a new slave cylinder (throw out bearing) and slave cylinder pipe line. We also purchased a lightly used, resurfaced OEM flywheel from a well-known member in the Cobalt community, Jeff Reiland. Jeff’s a retired Navy Seal who sells Cobalt parts from his garage in Pittsburgh. He’s a great guy to work with, and always has the most competitive prices.

Out of all the work we did, there were two relatively small oversights that I had to retrace. The first was a ground cable I forgot to install. The engine I purchased came with the ‘hot’ wire that goes from the starter to the fuse box. The ground cable that’s attached to this wire was removed, and I didn’t realize this when I put everything together. After scratching my head for a bit, I found my mistake. The second issue surfaced when the car would would go into ‘Engine Power Reduced Mode’ consistently, and threw a CEL (check engine light) for low fuel pressure.

It turns out that when I was swapping the high-pressure fuel pump over from my old engine, I didn’t realize that there’s a plunger of sorts that’s actuated by the camshaft, so I hadn’t swapped it over. It’s shown in the images below, although it’s a bit hard to see.

After getting all that worked out, the Cobalt seems to be running OK, not good, not great, just OK. There’s still some air in the hydraulic system for the clutch pedal, despite bleeding it to perfection multiple times, and the coolant system isn’t fully burped. There’s also a set of powdercoated and rebuilt brake calipers for the front and rear are on the way, and we will be replacing the homemade charge pipes with aftermarket charge pipes manufactured by HAHN Racecraft. On top of that, it still needs to be tuned by James Rakes of RPT.

Oh, and the Dejon intake fitment leaves a lot to be desired, and it came with the incorrect coupler (I bought it used), so I’ll be mocking up a DIY short-ram intake with the filter that it came with.

Stay tuned as we get the final kinks worked out. And if you’re hungry for some visual stimuli, fret not, we’ve got more media on the way. Until then, enjoy the video of the first start below (note: I hadn’t yet figured out that I needed to swap over the “plunger” for the fuel pump).

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