DIY Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

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OBD2 Scan Tools and Code Readers

June 17th, 2015 · No Comments

OBDII (On Board Diagnostics – second implementation) is a system installed in all modern vehicles whereby you can connect a code reader to the vehicle and get diagnostic information.  Sometimes it will identify a faulty part exactly, sometimes it will identify a problem and you will need to trace it back to the cause, it can also be used to get information on how well the car is running.

Basic OBDII code readers will read your trouble codes and give you that basic information, many of these will also allow you to clear the codes.  Better OBDII  code scanners can give you more detailed information such as real time data, readiness monitor status, memory and manufacturer specific codes.  The amount of information and the usefullness of your scanner will depend on the type you purchase.

I’ve spent too much time driving up to an auto parts store or a repair shop when I needed to read my OBDII codes, so I decided to get my own OBDII scan tool.  There are several different manufacturers; as with any tool purchase, quality will likely be affected by the brand you choose.  There are two different kinds of scanners you can get, self contained handhelds and computer/tablet/phone software based tools with hardware interfaces.  Below I will briefly describe a few of these that I have seen and what I eventually chose.

Dedicated Hardware OBDII Diagnostic Code Scan Tools

I was considering one of the handheld models, I liked the Actron brand and considered them to be one of the best. I was looking at this one because it had a variety of enhanced features such as memory, update capable that I thought would be useful.

Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus

Actron ODBII CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus

A less expensive Actron device is this one, which is an easy to use basic reader

Actron CP9575 AutoScanner

Actron CP9575 AutoScanner

Software ODBII Scan Tools and OBDII Adapters

A friend of mine had gotten this scanner and I was able to try it out briefly.  Although I didn’t get to spend much time with this particular tool, I was impressed, I think the software layout is one of the best in the tablet market, the interfaces is probably one of the better ones too.  The drawbacks are that the OBDLink software only works with OBDLink adapters, and they are more expensive than the other adapters.

There are three versions of the ScanTool ODBII Diagnostic adapter, a Wi-Fi version that works with iOS, Android and Windows; a Bluetooth version that works with Android only; and another Bluetooth version that works with Android and Windows.


Red ScanTool OBDLink MX Wi-Fi: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for iOS, Android & Windows


ScanTool OBDLink MX Wi-Fi: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for iOS, Android & Windows


Green ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX Bluetooth: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for Android & Windows

Black ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for Android & Windows

Not wanting to spend that much money I found a bluetooth adapter that was less expensive but still had good reviews on amazon.  It will run with many different apps, features and functionality are heavily dependent on the app being used since the device itself is a generic adapter.  I have been pleased with it

BAFX Products – Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool – For check engine light & diagnostics – Android ONLY

BAFX Products – Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool – For check engine light & diagnostics – Android ONLY


My opinion of these tools mentioned here is that they all to be pretty good tools, I personally think Actron is one of the top brands in the dedicated scan tool market and the OBDLink systems seem to be one of the best in the hybrid software/interface.  I choose the BAFX model based on it’s decent reviews and lower cost as a cheap way to test out these devices on my own and stop making so many trips to the auto parts store to use their scan tools.  It has performed well and I have been pleased with it.

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How to Replace a Water Inlet Heater Hose on a 1998 Honda Accord

May 14th, 2015 · No Comments

Replacing a Heater Hose on a 1998 Honda Accord

It seems to be an odd thing, but when I have some car trouble and I think I can fix, I tend to feel a little good about being able to repair my own car – not to much though, I hate having car troubles, but I like being able to fix it, learn something new and possibly help someone else by sharing my experiences.   In this post I describe how I replace a heater hose or specifically a water inlet hose on a 1998 Honda Accord.  The term heater hose is a generic term which refers to any hose which connects to the cars heater, this particular hose is called the water inlet hose.   The water inlet hose provides a route for the hot coolant mixture from the engine to get to the heater in the cabin and provide heat as needed.

Steam Coming From the Engine

Recently I arrived at work and when I got out of my car I noticed a jet of steam coming out from under the side of my hood and wheel well.  After things cooled off a friend and I went to take a look – I discovered a heater hose which ran from the engine block to a connector leading to the fire wall had some damage near the connector on the engine.  I filled the car up with water and carried a few extra jugs for my trip back home later that day.  Normally this would not be something you would want to do because you could risk damaging the car further, however this turned out to be a slow leak and I was monitoring the temperature gauge on the way home.  Sometimes you can clamp off a leaky heater hose and safely drive the vehicle, however because of the location of the break, clamping this one off was not an option.

Replacing a Water Inlet Heater Hose

Later, after having gotten the new heater hose, I started the repair job of replacing a water inlet hose on my 1998 Honda Accord.  I removed the breather tube to get better access to the hose.  Once the breather tube was off I could get better access to the rear hose clamp and used needle nose pliers to move the clamp off the connector and then loosened that end of the hose.  The front end of the hose was a bit more tricky,  I tried for a good while to get the front hose clamp off and loosen that end of the hose, but it was just too tight.  I had to take off the distributor to be able to get in there to release the heater hose from the engine block

Removing the Distributor

The distributor cap is held in place by three small screws, you can use a phillips screwdriver to get at them, but a small socket with the appropriate extensions works better.  Once I got the cap off and inspected it, I thought it would be a good idea to replace the distributor cap and rotor also.  I still didn’t have room to get to the heater hose clamp, because I needed to remove the whole distibutor housing to get enough room.  Now that the distributor cap was off I took a pencil and marked the position of the rotor.  I marked the position of the rotor on the housing so that when I put the distributor housing back on, it will go on easily and I wouldn’t have to turn the rotor to try to get it to line up.  After this was done I took out the two bolts that hold the distributor housing to the engine, then pulled the distributor off of the engine.  I now had access to the front clamp on the heater hose.

Installing the New Water Inlet Hose

Once I had both ends of the heater hose loose, I began to replace it with the new hose, I didn’t just pull the old hose off and then put the new one on, doing it that way would have splilled a lot of radiator fluid.  I pulled off one end of the hose and held it up to minimize fluid loss and got the clamp off, then loosely reattached the hose to the connector.  Then I put the clamp on the new hose.  I then did the same thing to get the clamp for the other end of the hose.  Once I had both clamps on the new hose, I took one end of the old hose off and connected the new hose in place – holding up the loose ends to minimize coolant loss.  This particular hose runs through a somewhat small area beneath a wiring harness and is held in place near the middle by a snap in clamp.  I needed to release the old hose from this clamp and pull it out from under the harness and pass the new hose back under the harness and make sure it is securly held in place.  Once this was completed I was able to swap out the other end of the hose on the engine.  I then moved the clamps back in place with my pliers, I found that channel locks worked better reattaching the hose clamps than did the needle nose pliers.

After the hose was back in place I began to put my distributor back on taking care to make sure it was lined up correctly with the marks I had made earlier.  I then installed the new cap and rotor  The rotor has a screw on it’s underside – removing this screw will allow you to remove and replace the roter and then put the screw back in.  I was then ready to put the new cap on.  I did not move the spark plug wires at first, but after the new cap was in place, I moved the spark plug wires to the new cap one at a time to make sure each one stayed in it’s correct position.  If your get your spark plug wire positions mixed up, your vehicle may run poorly or not at all.

I also had a little extra trouble with this job, one of the distributor cap screws had broken off inside of the distributor housing.  I was unable to get it out with some screw-extractor tools, the ones I had were not long enough to reach the screw beause the housing blocked the drill chuck.  I ended up having to use a regular drill bit to drill out the screw.  Usually when something like this happens you will need to either tap a larger diameter hole for a new screw or use a bolt with a nut on the other end, I was lucky, my threads were still good enough and I didn’t have to do either.


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Repairing Leaking Polybutylene Pipe with PEX Pipe and Sharkbite PEX Fittings

September 25th, 2013 · No Comments

I came across a mobile home that had a bad leak under a sink from some old polybutylene (PB) plumbing.  The plastic plumbing had deteriorated and it was leaking from its connections  I tried fixing the leaks with rubber washers I had on hand and teflon thread tape, but it wasn’t working as well as I had hoped.  After reasearching the problem, I discovered I had polybutylene tubing plumbing and needed an inexpensive, quick and easy way to repair these plumbing leaks.  That solution ended up being 1/2-Inch PEX Tubing and some SharkBite push-fit fittings

What is Polybutylene Tubing?

PB pipe or Polybutylene tubing was used in mobile homes from the 1970’s through the 1990’s.  As this gray plastic plumbing ages, it often develops leaks and can be quite a problem for owners and residents.  I had the opportunity to fix some of this type of plumbing and this is how I did it.

Polybutylene plumbing is no longer sold, however there are adapters avaialable to convert it to newer, better plumbing types.  Common repairs are made with PEX, CPVC or copper.  Most of the materials you need can be found at hardware stores or online through amazon or other retailers.

Repairing Polybutylene Plumbing with PEX Tubing and Sharkbite Fittings

Sink repaired with PEX pipe and push-fit fittings

Sink repaired with PEX pipe and push-fit fittings

I choose to use PEX Plumbing, simply because it is the first option I found and I was already familiar with one of the manufacturers – SharkBite.  Their products seem to be well made.  I had a few different options even with using PEX tubing, but the amount of repairs I had to make was pretty small, so to keep the costs down I choose to use SharkBite push-fit fittings and some PEX tubing to complete the job.   The push-fit fittings are a little more expensive than other connection types, but they do not require the rental or purchase of a separate tool which would wipe out any savings on a small job.    Push-fit fittings are extremly easy to use and can be installed in a few seconds with no glues, chemicals or soldering – you just push them on to the end of your pipes and they form a tight leak proof connection.

If you have several connections to repair, you may find if cheaper to use one of the other connection methods such as crimp or clamp and rent or buy the required tools.  With the PEX crimp connection fittings, you would need to buy copper rings to place on the tubing in addition to the fitting and a crimping tool to securly fasten the fitting to the pipe with the copper rings.

Installing Sharkbite Fittings and PEX Tubing

I made the repair on a sink where the PB fittings were leaking below a sink.  I cut the existing polybutylene plumbing lines off a few inches below the existing fittings and then used push-fit PB to PEX fittings to connect a length of PEX tubing to the water lines.  Afterwards I connected female push-fit PEX fittings to the PEX pipe and then installed the new PEX fittings onto the water faucet.

At first I didn’t have one of the fittings on correctly and had to push it on a little more.  After each connection was secure, I turned the water back on and checked the lines again – the leak was repaired.  The hardest thing about this job was getting under a cabinet behind the sink.  These SharkBite push-fit PEX fittings and 1/2-Inch PEX Tubing really did the job and I would recommend them anytime you have to convert or repair old polybutylene pipe plumbing to PEX Plumbing.


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How to fix a Leaking Fuel Injector and Gas Smell inside your Car

September 22nd, 2012 · 2 Comments

I noticed a gas smell in my 1998 Honda Accord not too long after working with the fuel injectors when I was having an oxygen sensor problem with the car.  I thought it might be a leaking fuel injector because I had removed and cleaned the injectors.

Gas Smell Inside The Car

The gasoline smell seemed to be both in the car and on the outside.  The smell was noticable intermittently, rarely appear while moving, but often when stopping.  Using the air conditioning controls I turned the air recirculation off so the AC would use fresh air from outside.  With the recirculation off, the gasoline smell started coming into the car.  I was able to clear the fuel smell out of the car after turning recirculation back on and rolling down the window for a short time.

Realizing that the fuel smell was likely due to a problem with the previous work I did and that the smell was likely coming from the engine compartment, I got a flashlight and began to inspect the fuel injectors and fuel rail.  I noticed dried fuel stains on one of the injectors and nearby on the manifold and fuel rail.  I found the leaky injector.  Starting the car briefly confirmed it, I noticed the gasoline smell again and saw a small amount of fuel near at the injector.  I shut off the car, got my tools and started what I hoped would be an easy job.

Remove the Fuel Injectors

I started by loosening the gas cap to release gas pressure in the fuel tank and lines and making sure I had a rag handy to soak up any gas that would come out as I pulled off the fuel line, fuel pipe and injectors.  I pulled the pcv valve and breather tube out of the top of the valve cover, loosened the air cleaner cover to reduce stress on the air flow tube, disconnected the air assist pipe from its tube and unbolted it from the fuel pipe, disconnected the EGR electrical connector, disconnected the electrical connections to the injectors and the purge control solenoid valve, and unclipped the wiring harness.  The wiring harness is a little tight – I loosened it up a bit by pulling it out of its groove along the top of the upper timing belt cover and disconnecting it from a clip from near the front of the valve cover.  I also followed the Y-split of the harness in the other direction and disconnected the connector down below the fuel line beside the engine block. Moving the harness and other disconnected parts out of the way I started to loosen up the fuel rail and disconnected the fuel line and pressure regulator assembly and then pulled it out.  After removing the fuel rail and injectors I noticed the fuel injector o-ring had a tear in it.


98 Honda Accord Fuel Pipe

98Honda Accord Fuel Pipe and surrounding components


98 Honda Accord Fuel Injectors

98 Honda Accord Fuel Injectors


Fixing a Leaky O-Ring on a Fuel Injector

I thought this would be an easy fix, I just needed to get a new o-ring of the proper size.  I ended up making six stops before I found the right o-ring, some stores would take 2 to 5 days to order the proper fuel injector o-ring kit, some stores only had generic o-ring variety packs, which either obviously did not have the correct size or were expensive enough that I didn’t want to take the chance.  The Honda parts shop at the local Honda dealer was closed.  I eventually found a 98 Honda Accord fuel injector 0-ring kit by BWD, it cost me about ten dollars.  There are five rubber rings on these injectors, oddly the BWD kit wasn’t correct since it only contained four rubber o-rings, the guy helping me brought out another kit to confirm this.  The kit did have the o-ring I needed, so I bought it.  It ended up being more expensive than one of the variety pack that was questionable, but I preferred get the one that I felt I could trust to fix the problem than use the try and see method.


Fuel Injector and Damaged O-Ring

Fuel injector with a new o-ring and damaged o-ring


I swapped out the damaged o-ring and started re-assembling the fuel system.  I found that unbolting the purge control solenoid valve from the manifold allowed me to get the fuel pipe in much easier.  I got everything back together, started the car to test it, found no more leaks.  I confirmed the car was fixed when driving the car the next day, there was no gas smell was gone and the leaky fuel injector o-ring was fixed.  You can buy new and remanufactured fuel injectors and fuel injector o-rings online.

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Failing Oxygen Sensor Causing 98 Honda Accord to Stumble

July 24th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Oxygen Sensor Causing Hesitation on Acceleration

I started experiencing some odd behavior with my 98 Honda Accord some time ago which was related to a failing oxygen sensor.  The engine stumbled and bogged down as if it wasn’t getting any fuel when under load approximately one to two minutes after starting the car from a cold start.  Acceleration was difficult and some times I felt it may stall.  The temperature gauge rose to its normal operating temperature athe problem was occuring.

After running poorly for about thirty seconds, normal operation resumed and normal operating temperature was maintained.  If the car was shut off and restarted immediately, the problem did not return.  If it was allowed to cool somewhat, the problem returned.   I also rarely noticed the problem if I allowed the car to warm up while idling.

The CEL and OBD II Diagnostic Codes appear

The Check Engine Light did not come on at first, but after the engine stumbled on several occasions the CEL eventually come on.  After  long periods of driving the Check Engine Light also turned off – So I couldn’t rely on the stumbling to always turn on the CEL or to keep it on permanently.  On one occasion I was going to take the car up to an auto parts store to read the OBDII codes with a diagnostic code scanner, but when the CEL went off, I abandoned my plans until the diagnostic error code returned.

Eventually I was able to get access to a OBDII scanner while the CEL was illuminated. These codes were found:

System too lean (bank 1)
Catalyst System Efficiency Below threshold (bank 1)
Fuel Trim (bank 1)

I began to check a variety of things since these codes seemed to be somewhat generic and I didn’t feel it was the catalytic converter causing the problem.  Although an oxygen sensor could cause driving problems, none of the codes specifically indicated a faulty O2 sensor.  I also made some seemingly incorrect assumptions that a bad Oxygen Sensor would always be detected and that perhaps the effects would be constant or that the ECU would learn and compensate.  I did some research online (I don’t have a repair guide for the 98 Accord, but should get one), basic maintenance and a little engine clean up: checked fluid levels, air filter, PCV valve, cleaned the intake, EGR and fuel injectors – none of which appeared very dirty.  I found a small crack in what I assume was one of vapor lines from for the fuel vapor containment system, I covered this with some latex caulk and did not see the PO420 code return the next time I took the car in to scan the OBDII Codes.

Different OBDII Scan Tool Models Show Results Differently

I used two different models of diagnostic scan tools from two different auto parts stores, the descriptions of the codes were slightly different and in theory I guess could also explain why the P0420 code did not come up the second time.  I also noticed that the some scanners appeared to have some manufacturer specific codes installed while others did not.  These codes may come up as basically unknown in the scanners that did not contain the manufacturers specific data.

Diagnosis and Repair of the Faulty O2 Oxygen Sensor

After doing all of this work, I briefly thought I had seen some improvement; however, I soon realized I was wrong when the problem came back and eventually appeared to get worse.  Discussions with others often brought up other potential causes such as:

  1. MAF sensors – I knew this wasn’t the case, because this car doesn’t have a MAF sensor.
  2. Fuel filter or fuel pump – I highly doubted this was the issue, a problem with these would likely have appeared more constant than the consistently limited manifestation I was seeing.

I figured it had to be some type of sensor or electronic malfunction, but didn’t want to start swapping out parts on a “try it and see” basis.

So, at this time I was debating on whether go scan the codes again or just take the car to a mechanic, I had other things to tend to, my state inspection was due and was getting tired of working on this problem when I didn’t have a clear sense of direction and my previous efforts did not appear to have a definite effect on the problem.

I took it to the auto repair shop that I use when I need the additional expertise or a quick fix.  I explained the symptoms that the car is stumbling or stuttering when under load after driving for a couple of minutes and that it ran normally after about thirty seconds of experiencing the problem.  They hooked it up to their scanner and it directed them to an Oxygen Sensor that needed replacement. At this point I really wished I had taken it to a parts store just to scan it one more time to see if that code would show up for me now and it had just taken a while for the failing sensor to be detected properly.   I asked the mechanic about it, he said their scanners cost thousands of dollars and do a much better job than the consumer models.  I let them replace it and the job was done.  It would have been nice to find and fix the failing O2 Sensor my self, the O2 sensor doesn’t appear to be very difficult to replace and Amazon even has a replacement Oxygen Sensor.  A specialized Oxygen Sensor Socket exists for cases where a wrench cannot be used to remove and install an oxygen sensor, since these sensors have a connection wire on the top.  I’m glad my car trouble is solved now, with a little help from others.

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Using my Craftsman Bolt-Out Damaged Bolt and Nut Removers

March 10th, 2012 · No Comments

Another Rounded Off Nut

I recently got the chance to use one of my Craftsman Bolt-Out damaged bolt and nut removers.  I bought them when they went on sale a while back after seeing a mechanic use a similar set to remove a bolt for me after I had spent an entire evening cutting another nut off.  Read about that in my post How To Get Off a Rounded Nut.  This particular nut was a flange nut on the EGR valve on my 98 Honda Accord.  Due to the over sized top of the EGR valve, I couldn’t get a good grip on the nut with the socket because it was slightly angled.  I tried removing the nut, but it wouldn’t budge.  I applied some liquid wrench, but was impatient and didn’t wait for it to soak in like I should.  I tried some more and the socket was slipping off, it wasn’t long before I realized the nut was getting rounded.

Using the Damaged Bolt and Nut Removers

Frustrated, and recalling the experience I had with that last rounded nut, I realized that I would get to use my nut extractors.  Besides the Craftsman extractors I have, other options include this similar Bolt-Grip Bolt Extractor Set and Expansion Set by Irwin Industrial Tools and an option I have not yet tried, a set of Nut Splitters by TEKTON.  I found the appropriate size and put it on the end of the socket and placed it on the rounded nut.  On the first half hearted attempt, I put it on and twisted a bit, felt it grab a bit and slipped off.  Trying again, I gave it a couple of twists I could feel it starting to grab the nut and with a little more pressure it locked on good and tight.  I imagined the channels in the socked digging into the metal of the nut.  I was able to crank down on it real hard, and off came the nut.  I’m sure glad I got those damaged nut removers spending a few minutes getting off a rounded nut is much better than half a night.




Damaged bolt and nut removers

Craftsman Bolt-Out Damaged Bolt and Nut Removers



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93 Honda Accord Leaking Coolant Behind the Engine Block

March 9th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Honda Accord Leaking Coolant

While driving home from work one day I stopped to get some gas.  While pumping the gas, I noticed a pool of what appeared to be Radiator fluid under my car.  I wondered if my car was leaking coolant;  I bent down to look and did not see any antifreeze leaking from my car.  I determined the coolant must have come from some other car since I didn’t see any coolant leaks.  After finishing filling up my tank I continued home.  Eventually I noticed the temperature gauge behaving erratically so I pulled over and shut the car off.  I got out to inspect the car.  I found the mysterious pool of antifreeze, but again no obvious leak and the radiator and hoses seemed intact.  I knew I had a problem with leaking coolant, I just wasn’t sure what or where it was.

Finding the Coolant Leak

I cranked the engine and got out to inspect the car while it was running.  Looking under the car from behind the passenger front wheel I noticed water gushing out from behind the engine block spilling over the transmission.  I didn’t have any antifreeze with me and only had a little water.  A kind person stopped by to see if they could help, they were able to get some more water for me.  After a brief cool down period and filling up the radiator, I slowly made my way home.  I now knew the general area of the leak, but not exactly what was leaking.  To find the leak I had to use a few tricks such as sliding some cardboard under the car to identify the general area and tracing the leak back towards the source.  Eventually by finding wet spots and using a camera I identified a hose that had deteriorated in the back of the engine and was leaking from the bottom onto the transmission and then flowing out over the exhaust.  The hose is called a bypass inlet hose, it is a U-shaped hose and because of the tight turn in it, regular straight heater hose would not work so well, since it would tend to kink. Luckily this hose was fairly inexpensive at the Honda dealership, they did not have it in stock, but were able to order it and I had it in a few days.

Replacing the Bypass Inlet Hose

This hose is kind of difficult to get to, first I removed the Air Intake system and decided I would need to remove the EGR valve as well and disconnect some additional hoses.  The hose is connected to its two ports by spring clamps.  I was eventually able to get it free using some small clamps and vise grips to work the clamps down the hose so they were no longer putting pressure hose at the ports.  With lots of wiggling and pulling I was eventually able to get the hose free.


Bypass Inlet Hose

Bypass Inlet Hose


The new hose didn’t want to go on of course, I tried lubricating the interior of the hose somewhat and was able to get it a little more than half way with lots of struggling.  It would have been easier if I had taken more of the car apart, such as the fuel rail or the intake manifold, but I didn’t want to do that.  I decided to give up for a bit, the hose was mostly on and didn’t leak.

I eventually was able to get the new hose on another way,   I started the car and let it run for a while, the heated antifreeze from the engine ran through the hose and warmed it.  With the hose now heated, it was much easier to work with.  Since the engine was pretty hot I had to be very cautious and avoid hot surfaces and coolant as much as I could.  I removed the hose one bib at a time to let some hot antifreeze get in the tips of the hose to help lubricate it and then proceeded to put it back on, I spilled some antifreeze on my hands, but thankfully it wasn’t as hot as the rest of the engine block.   I was able to get the hose ends completely onto the ports this way, it worked much more easily than my previous attempt with a cold hose.  I did the other end the same way and put the spring clamps back in place.

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Simple Automotive Tune Up Work You Can Do Yourself

July 25th, 2011 · No Comments

When attempting to improve a cars performance and to avoid problems occurring over time, regular vehicle maintenance should be performed.  This article provides information on how to perform many of these basic maintenance tasks which can be performed by most owners with only a few hand tools and their owners manual as a guide.

If you do not have an owners manual you may be able to find owners manuals and repair guides on

For manufacturer recommendations on fluids, maintenance intervals and other recommendations you will need to get the specifications for your vehicle using your specific car’s owners manual, repair guide or the information found on your vehicle’s stickers found on the side of the door or under the hood.

Spark Plug Replacement

Spark plugs deteriorate and get corroded over time.  Various engine problems can be identified by the wear the spark plug shows. To replace spark plugs you generally only need a socket wrench and a spark plug socket that will fit your particular spark plug.  A spark plug gap gauge tool is a optional tool that will allow you to properly set your spark plug gap.

Spark plugs will usually come gapped correctly, but you can use the gap tool to check them before installing to confirm the gap is correct.  Spark plugs wires may also be changed and is fairly easy to do at the same time.   Care should be taken when replacing the spark plug wires that the proper wire positions are maintained.

Air Filter Replacement

The air filter should be changed per manufacturers recommendations found in your owners manual.  Generally these are fairly easy to replace, and can be done by removing the cover held in place by a few clips or screws and swapping out the old filter inside with a new one.

PCV Valve

The PCV or positive crankcase ventilation valve ventilates the crankcase by pulling harmful vapors and combustion by-products out of the crankcase into the intake where they are burned.  The valve can easily be removed.  remove the connecting hose from the valve and then pull the valve out of the valve cover with a twisting motion.   If you shake the valve, you should hear the bead rattle inside.  If it does not rattle, the valve has become clogged up and should be replaced.   Another test is to blow air into the valve, don’t use your mouth to this.  Air should flow in one direction only; when blowing the other direction the bead should prevent the air from going through the valve.

Other Fluids

You other automotive fluids should be filled to their recommended levels.  Some of these are listed below, again you should always check manufacturers recommendations for your specific vehicle.   Some of the more common fluids include the radiator coolant and overflow, brake fluid in one or more reservoirs, power steering fluid, transmission fluid for automatics, washer fluid, and battery water level for unsealed batteries.


You can check your tires for many problems yourself. you should at least check for uneven wear, minimum tread depth and proper tire pressure.  To perform these checks, you really only need a tire pressure gauge.   A tread depth indicator can be used to check tread depth, but it isn’t necessary since you can use anything that fits into the treads that has a known dimension to check the depth.  The tire pressure gauge is really an indespensible tool, you can keep one of the small pencil style tire pressure gauges in the glove box of each of your vehicles – It will come in handy anytime you suspect your tires are low on air and when filling them.

Uneven wear can be identified by measuring the tread depth of the tire at various points on the inner, center and outer treads.  if you do not have a depth gauge you can use a penny or a quarter to measure the depth of your treads.  To measure the depth with the coins you should place the coin upside down into the tread.  The top of Lincoln’s head on a penny is approximately 2/32 inch; the top of Washington’s head on a quarter is approximately 4/32 inch.  These measurements are the minimum depths your tires should have per various recommendations.

2/32 inches of remaining tread depth will have significantly less grip in poor conditions than 4/32 inch.  Frequent poor weather may dictate that you should have a minimum of 4/32 or greater tread depth.  Wear bars are bumps placed inside the grooves in the tire tread by the manufacturer that can assist you in determining if it is time to replace your tires.  When these wear bars appear flush with the tread, the tire has been worn to its useful life and should be replaced.

Oil Change

Every few thousand miles the oil should be changed. Check your manufacturer’s manual to find the specific mileage recommendation.  When changing the oil you should also change the oil filter. The recommended oil weight and amount will also be listed in your owners manual.

Changing the oil is a little more involved than the other maintenance previously described in this article since it will generally require you to go under the car.  A good quality jack, wheels blocks and stands or ramps are needed in addition to an oil filter wrench, something to drain the used oil into and sockets.  Most auto parts stores will recycle your used oil for free.  For these reasons some people prefer not to change their own oil, many repair shops will offer discounts and coupons that often compete well with the cost of doing it yourself.

Cap and Rotor

The distributor cap and rotor are are inside the engine compartment and mounted on the distributor.  The spark plug wires connect to the cap.  The contacts inside the cap and on the rotor deteriorate over time and your engine will produce less spark.  You can remove the cap by taking off the wires – mark each wires location on the cap before removing them, you don’t want to mix them up – and then removing the screw holding the cap on.  Inspect the contacts in the cap and on the rotor for wear.  The rotor is underneath the distributor cap and may have a set screw holding it in place.  It can generally be pried off after loosing the set screw.

Many of these items are things that are normally performed in a tune up at a shop, learning to do these things yourself can save you money and help keep your car running well.  Most of the maintenance items discussed in this article can be performed easily with minimal tools and experience and the owners manual or repair guide.

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Replacing the Door Handle on a 93 Honda Accord

June 18th, 2011 · No Comments

Things break and wear out on old cars – My drivers side door handle had been broken for some time on my 93 Honda Accord, I just recently replaced it. I knew a few people that had some same generation Hondas they had decided to get rid of. Although it would have been nice to have a couple extra ones for parts, or to fix up and resell, I don’t really have the resources for that – So I asked for a few parts instead. This door handle was one of the parts that I got. I could also have gotten a 93 Honda Accord door handle on amazon, at a junk yard or an auto parts store. [Read more →]

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Diagnosing and Fixing a Failed Ignitor on a 93 Honda Accord

December 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment

While driving home from work one evening the engine on my 93 honda accord suddenly quit – it seemed as if it had run out of gas, but I knew that wasn’t the case.  Luckily I was close to work and not on a busy street at the time,  I coasted into the parking lot of a nearby business. [Read more →]
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