Tag Archives: maintenance

How to inspect flex plate for cracks using a borescope – 2001 Toyota 4Runner

transmissionWe started having a clicking sound coming from beneath our 4Runner, somewhere between the engine and the automatic transmission. After doing a lot of searching online to figure out what it might be, I concluded that it might be a cracked flexplate. Replacing a flex plate is a big job, since it requires removing the transmission. Before paying a lot of money to get it checked before even knowing if that was the problem, I decided it would be best to first inspect the flex plate myself to verify that it was broken/cracked. Continue reading How to inspect flex plate for cracks using a borescope – 2001 Toyota 4Runner

Replacing engine thermostat: 1998 Saturn SL2

Thermostat and gaugeAfter purchasing a used 1998 Saturn SL2, one of the first things I noticed was that once the car had warmed up the dashboard temperature gauge was always pointing slightly less than the 1/4 mark and never went any higher. The coolant temperature sensor was malfunctioning, so I replaced it. However, whenever replacing the temperature sensor it is also a good idea to replace the engine thermostat. It is a cheap part and is very easy to replace. Since you have to drain the coolant for both repairs, you may as well get both parts replaced at the same time to save some time and money. Continue reading Replacing engine thermostat: 1998 Saturn SL2

Replacing engine coolant temperature sensor (ECTS) – 1998 Saturn SL2

ECTS and gaugeI recently purchased a used 1998 Saturn SL2, and one of the first things I noticed was that once the car had warmed up, the dashboard temperature gauge was always pointing slightly less than the 1/4 mark and never went any higher. I thought this was a bit odd, since all my previous vehicles would usually stay just below the 1/2 mark, but then I figured that maybe the SL2 engine just stays cooler. Not so. Doing a quick search online uncovers the fact that one of the most common problems with the SL2 is a cracked coolant temperature sensor and/or a stuck-open engine thermostat. Continue reading Replacing engine coolant temperature sensor (ECTS) – 1998 Saturn SL2

How to change car air conditioning valve core (Schrader valve)

Valve core replacement toolI recently purchased a used car. The only problem it had was that the air conditioning did not work – it would only blow warm air. After recharging the A/C system (see that blog post here: mike-thomson.com/blog/?p=1240), I could see that the Schrader valve core on the air conditioning low side port was leaking very badly. This blog post describes how to replace the Schrader valve core without losing your A/C system charge in the process. My car is a 1998 Saturn SL2, but this repair can be used as a reference for most vehicles. Continue reading How to change car air conditioning valve core (Schrader valve)

How to recharge car air conditioning and find leaks

R-134a rechargeAfter purchasing a used 1998 Saturn SL2, I needed to recharge the air conditioning system with R134a refrigerant because the A/C would only blow warm air. This blog post describes how to recharge your vehicle’s air conditioner, and the instructions here are general enough that they will apply to practically all vehicle makes and models. If you find yourself needing to replace your A/C system’s valve core (Schrader valve), then see my other blog post describing how to do that: mike-thomson.com/blog/?p=1234. Continue reading How to recharge car air conditioning and find leaks

How to clean air intake throttle body – 2001 Toyota 4Runner

Throttle bodyMy 4Runner will occasionally behave weirdly when pressing on its gas pedal. When it happens, it is usually when at a standstill and then pressing the gas pedal to move forward doesn’t do anything, not even rev the engine up. The vehicle just idles forward, which is very dangerous if you are in an intersection and can’t move anywhere! (Note that the 4Runner starts and idles just fine.) This can be due to two possible problems. Either the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system needs to be recalibrated (the fix is described in one of my older posts), or the throttle body is dirty and is sticking shut (the fix – cleaning the throttle body – is described below). Continue reading How to clean air intake throttle body – 2001 Toyota 4Runner

How to bleed brake lines

Normally you don’t need to bleed the brakes after simply replacing the brake pads or shoes. The exception is if while changing the brakes somehow you let air into the brake lines (like if the brake hose detaches from the brake assembly) – in that case you would need to bleed them. Many people also suggest that you should periodically (once every few years) bleed your brakes to help get new, clean fluid into the system. Continue reading How to bleed brake lines

How to change brake shoes / drum brakes

I just finished changing the rear brake shoes on my 2001 Toyota 4Runner (3rd gen). Changing the brake shoes (drum brakes) was challenging at first, at least when compared to how easy it is to change brake pads (disc brakes). Each model of vehicle may have slightly different approaches to how the brakes are changed. I had to change my brake shoes earlier than expected because my axle seals had leaked gear oil into the brake assemblies, causing the rear brakes to lock up occasionally in the winter. This problem can occur when the rear differential breather valve gets clogged and so built-up pressure has to escape through the axle seals. Hopefully this post will help you in changing your brake shoes. Continue reading How to change brake shoes / drum brakes