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Car Stuff!
Jun 4th, 2015 at 11:40am
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We have a DIY thread for home improvement, but I thought it might be handy to have one for automotive repairs too.  I've been doing a ton of work to the Bobmobile over the past couple years and I figure it might be helpful to start sharing some of those repairs/upgrades.  Although some details will be vehicle-specific, the general concepts should be applicable to most cars.

If you find these posts handy or interesting, let me know and I'll make more!  Here's some work I've got planned for this summer:

Full Brake Job: Pads, rotors, calipers, and brake lines for both axles
Suspension Pt 1: Front wheel hub assemblies, upper and lower control arms, tie rods and bushings/ball joints
Suspension Pt 2: Rear upper and lower control arms, sway bar end links, and bushings/ball joints


-b0b
(...BEEP BEEP I'M A JEEP.)
  

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #1 - Jun 4th, 2015 at 11:43am
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The first DIY project I wanted to post is an upgrade of my Jeep's throttle body.  The throttle body is a mechanical device that limits the amount of intake air that is provided to the engine based on the position of the throttle and various engine ignition parameters.  In short, when you put your foot into the gas pedal, the throttle body opens a plate to allow more air into the engine to match the increased amount of fuel, ultimately resulting in more power.

On my Jeep, the throttle body is somewhat restrictive.  It has lots of sharp corners and chamfers that restrict airflow.  This results in less-than-stellar throttle response (the time between mashing the gas pedal and the engine actually accelerating).  There's a shop in Minnesota ("The Fastman") that takes OEM Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge throttle bodies and bores them out and polishes the sharp corners to allow greater airflow.  They get excellent reviews, so I bought one.  The pictures below illustrate the process of removing various intake components to get to the throttle body, then replacing it.



The first step is to disconnect the positive battery terminal.  This allows the PCM (computer) to drain its capacitors and "forget" the air fuel ratio it's measured recently.  This way, the PCM will be forced to relearn the air fuel ratio when we're done, allowing the engine to immediately make the best use of the new throttle body.  The PCM would gradually relearn the air fuel mixture eventually, but why wait?




I'm too lazy to bust out MSPaint, so here's a picture of some other guy's (much cleaner) Grand Cherokee with all the parts already labeled.  The throttle body is hidden behind the resonator, so we need to remove the resonator first.  To get the resonator out, we also need to remove the air cleaner hose and the upper housing of the air cleaner box. 




Now we're ready to start tearing the intake apart.  The upper housing is held to the lower housing with thumb clips.  The cleaner hose is held on with a hose clamp, so all you need is a slotted screwdriver.




With the upper housing and the air cleaner hose removed, we can now pull out the resonator.  There are two 10mm bolts attaching the air cleaner to the intake manifold.  They are recessed underneath the resonator so I couldn't get good pictures of them.  There is another hose clamp attaching the rear of the resonator to the throttle body that also needs to be removed with a slotted screwdriver.  Finally, a vacuum hose is attached and can simply be pulled off.  The resonator then lifts out of the way.




Once the resonator is removed, the throttle body is now accessible.




Another vacuum hose is attached to the driver's side of the throttle body.  It can be a pain to work free.  Also, carefully remove the wire harness for the idle air controller (IAC) and throttle position sensor (TPS) using a T-20 Torx driver.  The idle air controller is a small electric actuator that controls airflow through the idle air bypass, which is the small "smiley face" opening at the bottom of the throttle body.  As the name suggests, this slot is used to allow minimal air intake into the engine while it idling and the main throttle body opening is fully closed.  It is easiest to leave the IAC and TPS attached to the throttle body for now and remove them once the TB has been removed from the intake manifold.





On the passenger side of the throttle body you'll see two cables.  The accelerator cable (attached to the gas pedal) is looped over a spring-loaded cam.  You can move the cam backward by hand, then pull the cable out of the slot.  The second cable, nearer the center of the TB body, is the speed control cable  The end loops over the top of a metal stud and might require some finesse to remove.  Once all cables and wires are detached, remove the three 8mm bolts holding the throttle body to the intake manifold.





The old throttle body was gunked up and filthy, but otherwise operational.




Here you can see the old and new throttle bodies side-by-side.  In addition to being much cleaner, the new throttle body has been bored out and machined to a very nice polish.  This is also a perfect time to move the idle air controller and throttle position sensor over to the new throttle body.




Here's the top of the intake manifold where the throttle body is mounted.  I really, really need to clean up my engine bay!  I was half-tempted to pull the intake manifold and clean it properly, but I decided to leave that for another day.




The new throttle body was so clean and shiny that I immediately regretted not scrubbing down the engine bay.  Mount the throttle body in the reverse order, bolting it down to 9 ft/lbs of torque.  Reattach the accelerator and speed control cables, the wiring harnesses for the IAC and TPS, and the vacuum hose.




Put the resonator back in place and reattach the hose clamp in the rear and the vacuum hose.  Curse yourself for forgetting to buy replacement vacuum line to replace the janky patched one you "fixed" two years ago.




Finally, reinstall the air cleaner hose and upper housing.  Curse again for forgetting to swap out spark plugs while you had the resonator off.  Remember to connect the positive battery terminal, fire 'er up, and go for a drive!



The only cost associated with this endeavor was the throttle body itself, which cost me $230 shipped.  The change in throttle response is really impressive, I can't believe how big a change was made with a little bit of boring and polishing.  It was definitely worth the money and I am still kicking myself for not doing this years ago!

I'm doing a complete brake overhaul this weekend (pads, rotors, calipers, brake lines, and wheel hub assemblies) this weekend which should prove to be an interesting experience.  I'll post those pictures sometime next week!


-b0b
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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #2 - Jun 5th, 2015 at 7:59am
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As someone who is a car retard, this is super interesting and helpful.  Would love to see more.  Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #3 - Jul 7th, 2016 at 9:15am
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So, I finally bought a newer Jeep a few weeks ago.  My old WJ was turning into a complete rust bucket, and I'm not talented enough to do body work.  After drooling over the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 for over a decade, I finally bit the bullet and bought one...




It's a wee bit more powerful than my last Grand Cherokee with 420 brake horsepower and 420 ft/lbs of torque, running a ~13.2 second quarter mile and going 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.

Spanky had to show me up and buy an even faster car last week, maybe he'll post some pictures!


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(...had more HP for 5 weeks!)
  

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #4 - Jul 19th, 2016 at 3:41am
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Here's my first pic of my new car.  2016 Ford Fusion.

I'll have more photos to come.

  

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #5 - Jul 19th, 2016 at 11:18am
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Very nice, I can't wait to take a ride in it!
  

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #6 - Jul 20th, 2016 at 10:29am
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It's brake time!  I figured I'd give a quick brake tutorial just in case any of you poor bastards decided to do this yourself.  Hopefully it comes in handy!

Each car will vary somewhat (calipers can vary quite a bit) and this tutorial is specific to disc brakes, but the basics are the same for pretty much everything on the road.


Step one, buy brake stuff.  At the very least, you'll need pads, rotors (assuming you have disc brakes), and brake fluid.  I'm also replacing the two front wheel hub bearing assemblies since one of them got trashed removing a stripped lug nut, but this isn't normally part of a brake job.  You'll also want a bottle of copper anti-seize lubricant to lubricate metal-on-metal surfaces to make future brake jobs easier.




Step two, remove your lug nuts.  It's easiest to break them free on the ground, then jack up the car to finish remove them.  If they were last installed by an idiot with an impact wrench, this may be a complete pain in the ass.  When my impact wrench utterly failed to remove several of the lug nuts, I had to bust out a three foot breaker bar with a six foot "cheater bar", which is just an aluminum pipe that fits over the handle.  This is why I never, ever let a shop touch my wheels if I can avoid it, and I insist they use a torque wrench instead of an impact wrench to put them back on.




Step three, remove the wheel.  I forgot to take a picture of the hydraulic jack and jack stands.  Your car has safe jacking points that might be on the frame, axle tube, or differential.  Check your owner's manual to figure out where the jacking points are.  You don't want to use the wrong point and screw up your car!  Also, do NOT trust the hydraulic jack to hold your car in place, use jack stands and make sure they're securely locked in place!


Step 4, remove the brake pads.  Here's the old rotor (disc), which is held in place by the caliper (the red thing that squeezes the pads against the rotor).  We need to remove the pads from the caliper to continue the disassembly, as they wedge between the caliper and the rotor.




Sorry for the potato-quality picture, lighting is not amazing in the wheel well.  This is the part that tends to vary from car to car.  My new Jeep has Brembo brakes, which uses pins to hold the pads in place.  My old Jeep had a two-piece caliper design, in which the caliper must be disassembled to remove the pads.  You can use a drift punch (or in my case, a broken drill bit) with a hammer to knock the pins out.  The anti-rattle clip in the middle will pop out with the second pin.




Here's my fancy pin-removal tool.  You won't need these with a traditional two-piece caliper design.




With the pins removed, the brake pads will just slide right out - theoretically.  These pads had 45,000 miles and 6 years in the rust belt to seize into place.  That will never happen again, but either way, they were a bear to remove.  You can grab either ear (where the pins were seated) with a pair of pliers and wobble them until they start to give.  Again, this isn't a problem with two-piece calipers.  Thanks Brembo.




Success!  The pads, pins, and anti-rattle clip are removed.  Now we're ready to pull the caliper itself.




Get a box, milk crate, or similar surface ready to hold the caliper.  If you aren't replacing the calipers you won't want to remove the hydraulic brake line, so you'll need somewhere to set the caliper while you're working on the rotors.




It was virtually impossible to get a picture of the back of the caliper bracket while it was attached to the car, but you'll need to remove a couple bolts that attach the caliper to the axle assembly.  Once these are out, the entire caliper will slide right off.




Once the caliper is removed, you're on the last disassembly step.  The rotor will theoretically pop right off the hub.  In practice, you'll need to beat the crap out of it with a 4lb sledge, and maybe even hit the studs with propane/MAP torch.




Something like this!


-b0b
(...to be continued!)
  

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #7 - Jul 20th, 2016 at 10:59am
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Now that everything is disassembled, you can start putting your car back together!  Use your fancy copper anti-seize lubricant on all surfaces that make metal-to-metal contact, but make sure you don't get any on the surface of the rotor ring (the silver part of the disc) or the contact surface of the brake pads, since anti-seize and friction brakes have diametrically-opposed functions!  You can thread a lug nut onto one of the studs to keep the rotor in place temporarily while you're working on the caliper.




Next, bolt the caliper back into place.  Every single bolt, nut, and screw in your car has a torque specification, and they're important.  If you don't have a factory TSM or third-party manual, just Google it!  Proper torque application will ensure things come off when they're supposed to and won't come off when they're not supposed to (e.g. those lug nuts I mentioned at the beginning of this).  If the previous owner (or, more likely, the people at their shop of choice) would have used the proper amount of torque on the lug nuts, I would have saved $250 on wheel hub assemblies and a few hours of my time replacing them!




Before completing the installation, this is a good time to bleed your brakes.  If you open the hydraulic system (e.g. replace a caliper) for any reason, you MUST bleed your brakes to remove air, but it's not a bad idea to bleed them anyway to replace the old brake fluid with shiny new stuff.  I'm a fan of ATE Type 200 fluid (formerly blue), but any DOT-certified fluid is fine.  Make sure the fluid meets or exceeds the requirements for your car (e.g. if your car needs DOT 4, don't use DOT 3), which will be printed on the brake fluid reservoir cap.  I used a gravity feeder to keep the reservoir topped off as I bled each caliper, but this isn't necessary.




Start by pulling all the old fluid out of the reservoir and refilling it with new fluid.  Do NOT let the bottom of the reservoir go completely dry, as you don't want air getting into the brake master cylinder.  I am using a fancy pneumatic vacuum doohickey connected to an air compressor, but a turkey baster will work just as well.




Each brake caliper will have a bleeder valve, unless you have Brembos, in which case you'll have two bleed valves just for the hell of it.  Bleed your rear brakes first to pull fresh fluid into the longest brake lines, then move to the front brakes.  As soon as you open the bleeder valve, brake fluid will begin pouring out, so make sure you've got suction on the valve before opening it to prevent air from entering the caliper.




Again, I used the fancy pneumatic vacuum gadget, but you can accomplish this with a 20oz pop bottle and some clear hose.  Turn the car on and pump the brakes a few times to speed up the process.



Here's a decent shot of the brake fluid vacuum connect to the air compressor.  It's a bit pricey, but it's a life saver if you're doing the job without assistance (and way cheaper than paying a shop to do it).




Once the brakes are bled, it's time to finish reassembly.  Here's a comparison of a new rear pad versus a front pad.  The new pads have about 12mm of friction surface, whereas the old pads were down to roughly 1mm.




I used new brake pins and anti-rattle clips because they're cheap and much easier to work with.  Here's an old rusty pin compared to the new stuff.




Insert the new pins and anti-rattle clip the same way you removed the old ones.  Don't forget to use a bit of anti-seize lubricant on the pins to make sure they'll come back out when you need them to.




Finally, put your wheel back on.  Install your lug nuts in a "star" pattern, and remember your torque specs!  You'll probably need to remove the car from the jack stands and get the wheel back on the ground to get the nuts tightened to spec.

That's it!  It took me about 8 hours to do all four wheels, and easily half of that time was spent on the unrelated wheel hub bearing assemblies, so figure roughly 1 hour per wheel if you take your time.  Don't forget to pump your brakes before you take your car for a ride, and double-check your brake fluid after a short drive to ensure you haven't under-tightened a bleeder valve or kinked a brake hose.


-b0b
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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #8 - Jul 21st, 2016 at 6:44am
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Thanks for the walkthrough and photos.  I'm sloooowwwwly getting more into self-car stuff with the new car so this is helpful and interesting.

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #9 - Jul 21st, 2016 at 6:59am
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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #10 - Jul 21st, 2016 at 7:39am
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Here's some photos of the new car:


Color is Shadow Black





Interior:


Had to find one that was big enough for my tallness and big enough for Ava's carseat


MyFord Sync is pretty neat.  Pairs well with phone and voice commands.  It can sometimes get hung up on music I have stored on my phone vs. podcast/Audible that I have as well.  Not too often though.  I hear there's an update coming down the road that will parallel your phone to the screen.


First thing I do was put some Tire Shine on these.  I really want to paint the rims black too.


Clean for now.  Will try and maintain it.  Already had to wipe it down some.


Starting my microfiber towel collection - washers and dryers


Wash and wax soap.  Glass cleaner.  The can is a wax.  I used it to do my windshield.  Lasts longer than RainX but does the same thing.  There's a fabric protector in the back there that I hit pretty much everything - including the trunk.  Also some clay bars that I just learned were a thing.


Tire shine and interior cleaner.

I've been subscribing to a few good Youtube channels.  Any suggestions from you guys?

I enjoy ChrisFix.  Here's the video I used to super clean the windshield and wax it - https://youtu.be/vJkfrY2owb0

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Re: Car Stuff!
Reply #11 - Jul 21st, 2016 at 9:34am
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ChrisFix is fantastic, his videos are both helpful and entertaining!  You can also check out EricTheCarGuy.  His videos are really detailed and can definitely help when you need to perform a specific repair.

I've stuck with soap-and-water washes so far, but I definitely need to do the whole clay/polish thing soon!


-b0b
(...loves that black paint, even if it is a pain to clean!)
  

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