Why do I have idle problems after battery change?

If you just replaced/disconnected your battery and your idle is crap, don't panic. Probably means you have a very dirty Throttle Body or Mass Air Flow Sensor,  both. The ECU learns to deal with the dirty Throttle Body or Mass Air Flow Sensor over time adjusting fuel/air/idle. Disconnecting the battery resets the ECU, causing a learn all over again (approx 60 miles/one day worth of stops and starts). Try cleaning your TB and MAF sensor, then try disconnecting battery. Should be good from the first minute this time, because the ECU wont have to learn to compensate for a dirty Throttle Body or Mass Air Flow Sensor.
Posted on 6:12 AM / 0 comments / Read More

What does a throttle body spacer do?

A throttle body spacer is a piece of metal that is bolted between the throttle body and the intake manifold. The theory behind a throttle body spacer is to swirl or directs air flow to maximize air volume at the intake manifold which optimizes fuel air mixture and combustion. Depending on engine/manifold design one could see an increase in horse power, torque or fuel economy.
Posted on 4:08 PM / 0 comments / Read More

Toyota 2AZ-FE Stripped Block Threads (AKA Stripped Headbolts)

3 block threads known to fail
The 02-04 Toyota 2AZ-FE I4 short blocks have a vulnerability in the design where under the right conditions three block threads can suddenly strip causing catastrophic loss of coolant, overheat and breakdown. Caught early, the failure is recoverable and repair is relatively inexpensive. Ignored or driven in this condition the engine will likely need replacement.

Wrongly described and diagnosed all over the internet... The steel head bolts don't strip, the threads in the aluminum short block the steel head bolts screw into strip (see red box in picture). The three threads that fail are located at the thinnest part of the block, thin to accommodate the curvature of plastic intake and a layer of insulating foam. The foam insulates the plastic intake from the heat of the block, but it also traps heat, creating a hotspot. Unlike the other threads there really isn't much aluminum to insulate/dissipate heat because of the coolant channels. So in these years maintaining the coolant is critical.

Dual Layer
HG failure

The Head Gasket on the 2AZ-FE is dual layer steel, thicker at the edges to "give" a little during expansion and contraction.  Toyota changed the HG design in 07, adding more metal to the HG (in the area the finger above is pointing to). Exactly where the HG failed in that pic. More metal means less chance of a failed HG, less pressure on the threads during expansion and contraction.

There is no definitive trigger, but based on above one can assume that the trigger is low/poorly maintained coolant or a blown HG which leads to an overheat. depending on how bad the engine was allowed to overheat, the aluminum gets very hot, expands, the block threads cant hold and strip

If you've caught it early, haven't overheated, its possible that you've only suffered a bad HG and the threads themselves are fine. A gurgling sound from the dashboard, gradual loss of coolant, running hot, and fouled oil are signs of a failed HG. The symptoms of stripped block threads are more dramatic. A rapid, sudden coolant loss and overheat, strong smell of coolant, wet intake manifold insulating foam. The key is inspecting the foam. There are several sites where you can add your VIN to verify short block part number Your looking for PN 410-09050 which is the problem block. Used on some models until 06.

Toyota states TSB EG015-07 for updated short block. Thats extremely costly, basically replacing and rebuilding the engine for thousands of dollars. What needs to be done is drill and tap the holes and install a threaded steel sleeve for the head bolts to screw in to. Just like new, even stronger! Its a forever fix. There are different types, I would stay away from the helicoils only go with a known as a timesert or even better, the Huhn kit specifically designed for the 2AZ-FE. This kit can be purchased on eBay. NS300L 2AZ-FE HEAD BOLT THREAD REPAIR KIT Also recommend purchasing the modified HG for 07+ if you can get it.

Drain and filling the coolant every 40k. 4qt drain gets 90% of capacity (6.5qts). Don't mix. Use the factory Toyota Long Life Coolant (Red). Its concentrated, so once its diluted 50/50 with distilled water, its relatively inexpensive. DO NOT head down to Walmart for some cheap-ass coolant, its a big mistake! Zerex Asian Formula is another option. Replacing the thermostat and pressure cap every at 80k is a good idea. maintain the same temp thermostat, lowering thermostat temperature is undesirable in a modern Toyota engine. Many engine operating characteristics including VVT-i are set via engine temps. And if it starts to overheat don't keep driving. Don't ignore it, or it can cost you big. You can't blame Toyota for that.
Posted on 2:59 PM / 0 comments / Read More

300,000 Trouble Free Miles With 3 Additives

I am a believer in changing the "big three" (oil, transmission fluid, coolant) early and often to achieve maximum life of a vehicle. Experimenting with nearly every additive on the market over the years, there are very few I continue to use. After reaching 300,000 miles without any mechanical failures this summer I decided to document the additives I used and how often.

Here are the ones I use with a brief explanation...

  • Kreen from Kano Labs - Use in the oil while driving. Dissolves hardened sludge and varnish leaving it in suspension to be filtered, then drained at oil change.
  • Techron Concentrate Plus or Red Line SI-1 - Contains the modern additive Polyether Amine (PEA) proven by modern testing to be the most effective gas additive for fuel injector, combustion chamber, valve and complete fuel system cleaning.
  • Lubegard Automatic Transmission Fluid Protectant -Blessed by transmission rebuilders and auto manufacturers. Extends the ATF life, lowers heat, seal conditioners.
  • RMI-25 - A lubricant, cleaner and corrosion inhibitor for use while driving. Silicate, Nitrate, Borate and Molybdenate free for use with modern OAT coolants.
Dosage (What I recommend after years of experimentation)
  • Techron concentrate Plus or Red Line SI-1 - 2 10 oz bottles in one full tank once a year a week before you change your oil.
  • Kreen - 1/2 qt for last 1,000- 2,000 miles of an oil change interval every 30k.
  • Lubegard - 1 10 oz bottle every other drain and fill interval or 30k. Check the LUBEGARD ATF Conversion and Refill Chart for the correct lubegard version for your transmission.
  • RMI-25 - 1 8oz bottle half way through a coolant drain and fill interval or 15-20k.
Posted on 10:47 AM / 0 comments / Read More

Car Care Maintenance Schedule

The following is a maintenance schedule that has given me 314,000 miles without major repair to the engine, transmission, cooling, steering and braking systems. While its always a good idea to follow your owners manual, some of us don't buy into "lifetime" fluids. This does not include mechanical wear items like tires, brakes, struts, etc.

Look for deals at Autozone, AAP, Walmart, rockauto.com eBay and Amazon. For oil and filter nobody beats Walmart pricing.

If you are not in a position to change the fluids yourself, find a local shop that will change the fluids using your supplies charging a small fee. Many will do that for you.

Car Care Maintenance Schedule
  • Synthetic oil changes 7k (Mobil 1, Mobil 1 High Mileage, Pennzoil Platinum, Pennzoil Ultra. Purolator Classic, Purolator PureOne, Fram Ultra)
  • TB/MAF/PCV Valve cleaning once a year just before changing oil (throttle body cleaner, MAF cleaner)
  • 2 bottles fuel system cleaner in 1 tankful of gas once a year just before changing oil (Techron concentrate plus or Redline SI-1).
  • PS drain and fill reservoir every other oil change (see your manual).
  • Coolant drain and fills 3yrs/40k (see your manual)
  • ATF drain and fills 2yrs/30k (see your manual)
  • Brake bleed 2yrs/30k (with new pads NEVER push fluid back in)
  • Air filter 2yrs/30k (Fram)
  • Plugs 70k (Iridium, see your manual)
Posted on 1:30 PM / 0 comments / Read More

What is in Seafoam Products?

Excerpt from the Seafoam website: Sea Foam was actually developed for the outboard motor and marine market back in the 1930’s. The inventor, Fred Fandrei, owned an outboard motor and it seemed as though every time he went fishing he would have engine trouble. The problems always stemmed from the gas and oil mixture, which became gummy and formed varnish between uses.

The thought of spending more time fishing than working on the motor prompted Fred, who was a District Manager for the Sinclair Refining Company at that time and had a good knowledge of fuel, to invent a product that would stop the gas/oil mixture from becoming stale. He worked with quite a few formulas before he finally found one that gave him the right results. His first test market was at Lake Freeman, in Indiana, near where he lived. When he went fishing, he would take along his formula in beer bottles and quart jars to sell to other fishermen.

Inspired by the products popularity, Fred decided to give it a name and put it on the market. His search for a name ended when a fellow fisherman who had moved to Florida called him and asked him to send some of that “Sea Foam” stuff. Fred liked the sound of it, so he christened his formula Sea Foam.

Summary: Seafoam is upper cylinder lube, some solvent, and fuel stabilizer created by a fisherman in 1930 to solve gas and oil problems he was having with his outboard motor boat. The rest of the story goes on to how Fred, then his son, and then an auto parts salesman marketed Seafoam as an engine treatment for for your car.

  • Pale Oil 40.00 - 60.00 %
  • Naphtha  25.00 - 35.00 %
  • IPA      10.00 - 20.00 %
Summary: Seafoam is mostly a lubricant known as Pale Oil which is used for upper cylinder lubrication. The white smoke from "seafoaming" through a brake booster is huge quantities of pale oil wrongly referred to as "carbon" on YouTube. The solvent is Naphtha which is an an old school solvent, marginally effective for carbon deposits. IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) was used as a fuel stabilizer and water absorber years ago. IPA boosts your octane levels, giving you more power and a better running engine while in use. Gone with the next tankful.

Seafoam Deep Creep
  • Pale Oil 40 - 70 %
  • Low Odor Base Solvent 30 - 60 % CAS# 64742-96-7 and 64742-47-8 
  • IPA 10 - 30 %
  • Carbon dioxide 3 - 7 %
Summary: Deep Creep is not Seafoam in a can, its Seafoam's equivalent of WD40 and PB Blaster. The Low Odor Base Solvent 30 - 60 % CAS# 64742-96-7 and 64742-47-8 = Kerosene.

Seafoam Spray
  • Pale Oil 40.00 - 60.00 %
  • Naphtha  25.00 - 35.00 %
  • IPA      10.00 - 20.00 %
  • Carbon dioxide 3.00 - 5.00 %
Summary: Seafoam in a spray can.
Posted on 3:17 PM / 0 comments / Read More

Throttle Body Cleaning

Keeping your throttle body clean is an essential part of care care maintenance. Why does my throttle body get dirty? Over time the throttle body gets dirty from oil and combustion gas vapors that come from modern PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) systems. Modern PCV systems recirculate back to the intake where gasses are re-combusted. Recirculation is via a hose which is connected somewhere close to the throttle body. During startup, operation and shutdown air intake pressure changes which can push PCV oil and combustion gas vapors back to the throttle body, coating it with deposits. This is normal and no indication of problems. Symptoms of a dirty throttle body include:
  • Poor gas Mileage. Your car's ECU (computer) will attempt to adjust the air fuel mixture to compensate for throttle plates that can't close fully. 
  • Rough idle. Same reasons as above.
  • CEL codes. Your car's ECU may think you have a vacuum leak, faulty sensor, etc resulting in various CEL fault codes
How do I clean my throttle body?
Most modern cars use an electronic throttle body with an electronic motor controlled by the ECU (also known as "drive-by-wire"). NEVER use a screwdriver or pliers to force the plates open with the key on! This can bend or damage the plates, strip the gears in the motor. With the key off and power removed the plates can be manually opened but there is still the issue of preventing the throttle plates snapping shut. Use of sharp or abrasive objects to wedge the plates open can result in damage to the seal of the plates. So for electronic throttle bodies the best way to clean them is with an assistant opening the throttle with the key turned to acc. (power, engine not running). You can also use something to depress the accelerator pedal like bricks, metal bar, etc. Most throttle bodies are easily removed with 4 screws. Because its an electronic connection, its just a connector, no accelerator cable to worry about.

Each car is different, but all require the removal of the air intake to get proper access for cleaning. There will be a few connectors and vacuum lines to remove from the air intake, take note of them. May as well clean the Mass Air flow Sensor and inspect the air filter while the air intake is off. The Mass air flow sensor requires a special electrical cleaner which goes by the name "Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner".

Before you close things up its a good idea to lubricate the throttle plate shaft right where it connects to the walls of the throttle body. Use a cotton ear swab to apply some motor oil or white lithium grease from a squeeze tube. 

What do I use to clean my throttle body?
A dry, no oil throttle body cleaner is best because it won't attract oil and gas vapors as fast. Some throttle bodies (like Ford) have a coating that helps seal throttle plates and prevent deposit buildup. Not knowing whether your throttle body contains one of these coatings its best to use a throttle body cleaner rather than the more potent carb and choke cleaners from decades ago. That being said, use of toothbrushes and anything abrasive should be used with caution. Usually a soft rag will do the job.
Posted on 12:16 PM / 0 comments / Read More

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