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Floppie's Blag

Entertainment, technology, and the occasional shenanigans

It looks like my first real post since resurrecting this blog (aside from the Pep Boys thing) will be a DIY guide for the car.  Click here if you want to skip the intro and get straight to how to do this.

My starter’s been acting up for quite a while now.  The first time was probably nine months or so ago…I was riding around on a bad clutch master cylinder, backing out of a parking spot, when someone came speeding up the aisle in the parking lot.  Had to slam on the brakes, but hadn’t gotten the clutch system back up to pressure, so I couldn’t disengage it.  Car stalled, car wouldn’t start back up – the relay would click once and that was it.  Shaking the front end up and down worked, I assume this followed the same principle as the tap-it-with-a-hammer trick and just unstuck it – that was the logic that made me decide to do it.

All was good for several months, until one day this summer, I had the same problem when trying to leave for work.  I took the motorcycle that day, and the next day just tapping the key over and over unstuck it.  Again, all was good for several months.  Fast forward to Friday (December 14, 2012), me and my boss went to leave for lunch and the relay just clicked.  He drove, and at the end of the day I was able to go to Frisbee (and then home afterward) because a friend was willing to push start me.  Thanks, Doug.  I got home, found someone who could get me the starter the next day (Pep Boys), took Ashley’s car to pick it up, got home, and started ripping and tearing.

If you’re here for a DIY guide on doing the starter in this car, this is where it starts.  My first piece of advice, don’t do it yourself if you’re just a back-yard mechanic like me.  It requires pulling the intake manifold, which is really pretty shitty for a DIY.  If you’re adamant about doing it yourself though, read on. You will need:

  • A new starter (this is the starter I used)
  • A socket wrench with 10mm, 12mm, and 14mm sockets
  • A 12mm crescent wrench
  • Pliers
  • An empty cup
  • The new starter
  • A new throttle body gasket
  • A new intake manifold gasket, unless you already have a reusable gasket in place

Step one: Remove battery.. Seriously. Getting shocked sucks; do it now.

RSX Throttle Body, Intake Elbow Off

Elbow off

RSX Throttle Body, Intake Elbow On

Elbow on. Yeah, I should redo the silicone spray on that intake elbow before putting it back on.

Step two: Pull the intake.  If you have the stock intake, you’ll need to pull the whole airbox; if you have a short-ram intake, take that off; if, like me, you have a cold air intake, just take the elbow off.  Turbo guys, you know your piping better than I do. If you’re not sure how to pull the stock airbox, I’d consult the service manual or Google it.  ClubRSX probably has a DIY guide on how to remove that somewhere on the board; either that, or an aftermarket intake install guide will probably include stock airbox removal.

Next, you’ll need to start getting the throttle body out.  I’d start with the coolant lines.  Get a cup handy to catch some coolant if you don’t want it to get all over the ground.  Now, I didn’t need to worry about this because I have my throttle body coolant tracts bypassed, and as a result I don’t have a picture.  In the following marked picture, C and D are on the throttle body and if I remember correctly, A goes to C and B goes to D.  Comments welcome if I’m mistaken.

RSX Throttle Body Coolant Lines

A and B are on the engine; C and D are on the throttle body.

Disconnect the hoses from C and D, and have a cup ready to dump their contents in.  You’ll probably end up getting coolant on the ground. Next, disconnect the plugs from the sensors on top of the throttle body, as follows:

RSX Throttle Body, Top Sensors Disconnect

Throttle body with the sensors on top disconnected

RSX Throttle Body Vacuum Hose

That same hose, disconnected but resting in place

You’ll also want to disconnect that hose in the middle of the photo.  You can see in the picture that I already had the clamp off.  Disconnect it at the other end too to get it out of the way; the picture at the right shows it disconnected at both ends.  Put some tape over both ends of the hose and both ports to make sure no dust/debris gets in there, put it somewhere safe, and make sure you don’t lose the clamps.

Next, you’ll need to get your throttle linkage disconnected.  Grab your 12mm wrench and loosen the nuts holding them into the brass bracket, then pull the bolts out of the bracket itself and remove it.  After you get the bracket off, open the throttle the whole way using the swivel linkage the cables are connected to and pull the cables out.  With it open all the way, you’ll be able to see how it comes out; it will make more sense visibly than trying to explain it in text here.  Make a note of which cable went in which side of the swivel link.  Mark them somehow if you need to.

RSX Throttle Linkage Bracket

Throttle linkage, loosened from the brass bracket. You can see one of the two bolts that holds the bracket in is already removed.

RSX Bottom-Left Throttle Body Bolt

Bottom left bolt

RSX Bottom-Right Throttle Body Nut

Bottom right nut

At this point, you should have everything disconnected from the top of the throttle body.  It’s time to pull the nuts and bolts holding it on – two of each.  These are all the same size; 14mm, I believe.  There’s one at each corner – top left and bottom right are nuts, while top right and bottom left are studs.  The two at the top are easily visible, but the ones at the bottom are harder to see.  You might be better off just feeling your way to them with your fingers, but in case you want a visual, there are photos of the bottom ones to the right of this paragraph.

Once you have all four nuts off, grab the throttle body and pull.  It may not come off willingly; if it’s been on there for quite a while, it will be stuck there.  It has a little bit of play in the space around the studs, so you can try wiggling it up and down.  This worked for me just this past time I was removing it.  If that doesn’t work for you, you’ll need to gently get a flathead or other prybar in between the throttle body and the intake manifold to get them apart.  This will definitely ruin the throttle body gasket, but you’re not supposed to reuse that anyway; just be careful not to damage the manifold or the throttle body too much.

As you get the throttle body pulled off of the manifold, you’ll notice two plugs on the front/bottom part, which you wouldn’t have been able to get to before.  Unplug those.  The one on the bottom is tough; it’s got a rubber cover that makes it difficult to squeeze the clip enough to remove it.  In this photo, you can see the one on the front, but not really the one on the bottom – it’s also black, and obscured by the one you can see.

RSX Throttle Body, Partially Removed Showing Bottom Plugs

Throttle body partially removed, showing bottom plugs

So now, you have the throttle body removed.  Set it aside, carefully.  Tape off all the vacuum ports to make sure nothing gets in there.  Time to get started ripping and tearing on the manifold.  First, pull the vacuum hose off the port on the right.  This picture only shows it disconnected from the manifold, but I’d just pull it off completely.  Don’t forget to tape off both ends of the hose and both nipples.

RSX Intake Manifold, Right-Side Vacuum Port

Vacuum port on the right-hand side of the manifold

Next, take care of the PCV port.  You can see in the photo below that, because I have a breather tank installed, that wasn’t a concern for me – but you can simply remove the PCV hose and tape things off.  I did have to disconnect the other end of the long hose coming from the PCV valve from the breather tank in order to move that hose out of the way, so if you have a similar setup, you’ll probably want to do that.

RSX PCV System With Breather Tank

My PCV system; you can see that I just have a cap on the manifold port.  You can also see a 14mm nut that you’re going to have to remove before this manifold will come off.

Next you’ll want to remove the two black brackets that sit just behind the fuel rail.  These are each just a single bolt; 10mm I believe.  Photos below.

RSX Fuel Rail Bracket, Left Side

Left bracket

RSX Fuel Rail Bracket, Right Side

Right bracket

Next, pull the injector plugs off and disconnect the injector ground.  The stock location for this is the valve cover; a lot of people move it to the intake manifold, but with the Hondata intake manifold gasket that’s no longer a great grounding location.  The photo below shows it disconnected; apologies for the motion blur, it it wasn’t blurry on my phone’s lower resolution screen.

RSX Intake Manifold, Injector Plugs Disconnected

Intake manifold showing injector plugs disconnected

Next, bleed the fuel rail.  Grab an adjustable wrench and a shop towel; stuff the shop towel around the fuel pressure regulator, get the wrench on it, and loosen it.  Photo of the regulator below.

RSX Fuel Pressure Regulator

Fuel pressure regulator; this also shows one of the 12mm intake manifold bolts you need to remove

At this point, I started to lose my patience and the photos started to get a bit sparse.  Once the rail is bled, you’ll need to disconnect the fuel line from the rail, remove the two bolts holding the rail down (12mm), and pull the rail off the manifold.  The injectors will come out with it.

Now it’s time to pull the manifold hardware.  This is two bolts and two nuts on top, and three bolts and a nut on the bottom.  I believe they were all 12mm.  The top ones are easy to see and remove, keep those nuts together as they’re the only ones of their kind and you’re going to need them again in a minute.  I have some photos of the hardware on the bottom:

RSX PCV System With Breather Tank

My PCV system; you can see that I just have a cap on the manifold port. This also shows the nut you have to remove from the bottom of the manifold.

RSX Bottom Left Intake Manifold Bolt

Bottom left intake manifold bolt

RSX Fuel Pressure Regulator

Fuel pressure regulator; this also shows one of the 12mm intake manifold bolts you need to remove

RSX Bottom Right Intake Manifold Bolt

Bottom right intake manifold bolt; it’s circled, because it’s difficult to see. This is behind where the throttle body bolts to the manifold.

Once you have all those removed, you need to pull the left stud on the top.  To do this, spin one nut on backwards and the other on normally, and tighten the nuts together (so you’re turning the inside one to the left and the outside one to the right).  You can then use them together to turn the entire stud.  Once that stud is removed, you can rotate the manifold clockwise to get it out from behind the power steering pump bracket.

At this point, my patience was entirely gone and I have no more photos.  My apologies.  Once you have the manifold off, though, the starter’s right there on the front of the engine, below where the manifold was.  Three bolts and it’s off.

Putting it all back together is relatively easy, but make sure you consult your service manual for torque specifications.

  1. Install starter
  2. Put manifold back in place
  3. Reinsert stud, tighten
  4. Bolt the manifold back down
  5. Reinstall fuel rail/injectors
  6. Bolt those brackets behind the fuel rail back on
  7. Plug the fuel injectors back in and bolt down the ground
  8. Put the PCV hose back in place
  9. Reinstall that vacuum hose on the right side of the manifold
  10. Put the throttle body part way back in place so you can plug the two bottom plugs back in
  11. Bolt the throttle body on
  12. Plug the two top plugs back in
  13. Get the throttle linkages back in place and bolt their bracket on; tighten the linkage nuts down to the bracket
  14. Plug the vacuum line back in the top
  15. Get all the coolant lines on the bottom of the throttle body back in place
  16. Reinstall your intake piping
  17. Put the battery back in

And you’re done.  Mission accomplished.

Protip: Don’t Use Pep Boys

Posted by Floppie on 2012-12-18
Posted in AcuraCarReviews  | Tagged With: , , , , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Unfortunately, it looks like my first real post after returning from the grave is a bad review for an automotive parts/service shop.  I was hoping for it to be a DIY guide on doing a starter in a 2002-2004 Acura RSX Type-S, but this one comes first.  The DIY guide will be coming later.

On Saturday, I purchased a new starter for my car from Pep Boys (the one in College Square in Newark, DE).  Now, the starter in this car is a huge ordeal to replace – it requires pulling the intake manifold, but there’s a separate post coming with that DIY guide.  The starter was $200.  They wanted $240 for labor to replace it, but after horrifying experiences there in the past (I’ll get to that in a minute), I opted to do it myself.

It took me three days, including a work day, to replace it.  After getting the car put back together, the starter didn’t work – it just clicked, like the old one did.

So I tried replacing the relay, hoping that would be it – no go, it must be the starter.  Pep Boys will not work with me on the labor to pull it, “test” it, and replace it – they want me to pay the full labor rate; the bad part claim only extends to the cost of the part.  I can’t sit here and lose another three work days to this thing.

The company that was going to tow the car to Pep Boys, which American Express hooked me up with (AmEx Gold gets me four free tows, up to $50 each, per year), is coming to the rescue.  They are a full-service shop and are willing to give me a significantly reduced labor rate ($100) for pulling it, replacing it, and putting it back together.

Now, on to my horrifying past experience with Pep Boys technicians.  Ashley had two tires go bad due to road hazards and took it to Pep Boys for a couple new ones.  While it was in there, she had them do an oil change.  They failed to replace the drain plug gasket (it’s copper, if it were plastic like mine it wouldn’t matter) and, as a result, the thing leaked like a sieve.  She was down to about a quart of oil before we caught it, and the Subaru stealership charged $315 for Pep Boys’ mistake.  Again, same Pep Boys in College Square in Newark, DE.  If they can’t pull off an oil change, I don’t want their hands anywhere near my car, let alone pulling the intake manifold off.

tl;dr:  Don’t use Pep Boys.  For anything.  Ever.

Breather Tank for the RSX Type-S

Posted by Floppie on 2009-08-19
Posted in AcuraDo-It-YourselfLinkReviews  | Tagged With: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Basic design

Basic design

A few months back I started building a breather tank (known in the Club RSX community as an “oil catch can”), based on the design in this thread. The prototype image is over on the right side.

An overview of the finished product

An overview of the finished product

I ran out to Home Depot, picked up some 3″ diameter PVC pipe, a couple end caps, a PVC weld two-pack (one can of the thick, clear chemical and one can of the thin, purple, toxic one), a handful of various brass fittings, and a length of thin clear hose – like what you’d use on a home freshwater fish tank. I made all the markings with some black Sharpie, then cut the pipe to the proper length (I did about 7 inches), and drilled all the holes. It’s important to make sure that the holes, which are drilled into the end caps, aren’t drilled in a position where they’ll be blocked once you insert the pipe.

I also picked up some liquid Teflon (for a thread sealer) and QuikSteel from AutoZone. I figured out which side port I’d be using to connect the can to the atmosphere, used some coarse sandpaper to roughen up the area around that hole (on the inside of the end cap), then used the QuikSteel to adhere a little piece of window screen to it – just as sort of a coarse secondary filter.

Once this was done, I grabbed the PVC weld and attached the end caps. Double check everything before you do this – PVC weld is permanent, and the PVC pipe itself isn’t real cheap. After letting the weld sit for a little bit, I spray painted it flat black and let it sit for a day so everything could dry and set up. Then I started on the brass fittings – put a little bit of the liquid Teflon on the second thread in, for about a 3/4 turn, and then get it in the PVC. This is a bit of a pain in the ass, because PVC isn’t really meant to be drilled and threaded – close to the outside it’ll fall apart, then it’ll go in crooked, and not get in all the way. Get it in there as straight and far as you can – it won’t be perfect.

Attach the clear hose to the two brass fittings that are facing each other – this is going to be your gauge to see when you need to empty it. This tank is pretty big, so you won’t need to do it real frequently. The clear hose might not want to stay on its own, if it doesn’t, grab some silicone sealant and get it in there with that.

At this point I was broke and sort of let the project fall by the wayside for a few months – I finally picked it back up last week. I grabbed a little breather filter from Pep Boys, and got six feet of 1/4″ vacuum hose from a friend. Attached the breather filter to the top, hooked up one of the brass fittings (the lower-elevation one) to the PCV valve using the vacuum hose, and hooked the other one up to the PCV port on the intake manifold, like this (sorry it’s hard to read, click to enlarge):
Oil catch can - wrong setup diagram

Wrong setup - overview

Wrong setup - overview

The mounting location from the wrong setupThe PCV connections from the wrong setup

The mounting location and PCV connections from the wrong setup

I kept the tank next to the battery – actually it wasn’t being held in by anything, I just used the tension of the positive battery cable to keep it in place. I don’t recommend this, as it’s a great way to destroy your positive battery cable pretty quickly, but I was only planning on doing it for a day or so to test and make sure everything worked, before mounting it properly.

As it turns out, it didn’t work – the problem is that it caused a massive vacuum leak. I knew that this would be the case when I gave the intake manifold a direct, unthrottled connection to the atmosphere – but I was under the impression that, as long as I let the car idle for ten minutes or so (for the ECU to “get used” to it), it wouldn’t be a problem. That wasn’t the case. It kept throwing a check engine light, code P0505 (“idle system malfunction”) – which makes sense, as the idle controller no longer had any real control over the idle. A fully closed throttle would still leave a source of air.

Logically this would probably have improved my gas mileage due to the reduction of pumping losses from the throttle plate, especially with my foot off the gas, but I wasn’t happy with the way the car ran when it had the code up – it would go between running fine to running like ass. So I reconnected the PCV system as normal and went back to the drawing board to change my setup a little bit, like so (again, sorry it’s hard to read, just click to enlarge it):
Oil catch can - correct setup diagram

The PCV system, post-modificationsOil catch can - intake manifold and hose

The PCV system, post-modifications

There was a problem with this though. First of all, I didn’t know what to plug the intake manifold and pipe with. After a little assistance from the guys at CRSX, I discovered vacuum caps ;) so I hit up Advance Auto Parts to get an assortment of them. Another problem though – the largest one they had wasn’t big enough for the valve cover breather. The guys at AutoZone, however, made a suggestion – get a piece of hose to go over the breather port, and plug the hose with a bolt or something.

So I did exactly that – got a foot of 3/4″ gauge heater hose and the only 3/4″ bolt I could find at Ace Hardware, put the bolt in the hose, tightened a hose clamp around it, and zip tied it up near the battery so it doesn’t flop around. I also needed to change the port arrangement on the tank around a bit – I had the filter on the top port; the valve cover needed to be connected to that now, and the filter to one of the small ports. So I took the casing from a pen (1/4″ or 3/8″, I forget which), clamped that into the end of one of the lengths of 1/4″ PCV-compatible vacuum hose, and clamped the filter onto the other end of the pen casing. Problem solved.

A close-up of the tank's mounting location

A close-up of the tank's mounting location

I hooked everything all up, positioning the tank on top of the transmission – the bottom’s ziptied to one of the stock airbox mounts, and the top’s ziptied to the brake booster. It’s not going anywhere. I put the filter right where the back part of the hood meets the body – basically right in front of the driver side mirror – and made sure the hood closed; it did. However, there was one other problem with this – I went to wash the car and realized that all kinds of water would get into that spot when it rained or when I washed it. So I moved the filter so that it just hangs down in front of the battery now.

Old location of the breather filter outlined in blue

Old location of the breather filter outlined in blue

Again, it’s not going anywhere.

A couple close-ups of the breather filter's final locationOil catch can - filter location (2)

A couple close-ups of the breather filter's final location

I expected it to have a negative impact on my gas mileage, since the blowby that this thing’s catching consists mostly of unburned fuel and oxygen. However, it hasn’t – I’m guessing that without the intake manifold sucking on the crankcase, blowby has simply been considerably reduced. I haven’t noticed a power difference, but I don’t expect to – I’ve heard of people getting 5hp out of these things but that seems like a fish story to me. If I got 2-3whp I’d be ecstatic. I’m going to get it dyno’d with this and a handful of other small mods that I’m doing just to keep the intake charge a bit cooler, so we’ll see what happens.