Russ' Do It Yourself Home Workshop

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Archive for the ‘Auto Repair’ Category

Installing PAC AAI-FRD04 Auxiliary Input in a 2006 Ford Focus

Posted by Russell Wright on December 27, 2011

My daughter has a 2006 Ford Focus and has been really wanting a plug-in auxiliary input to connect her phone/iPod.  She’s used several different wireless interfaces but has not been happy with them.  So, here’s what I did.

I purchased a PAC AAI-FRD04 Auxiliary Input for about $67.49 (shipping included) from ELEKTEK on eBay.  It plugs directly into the CANBus port on the back of the Ford factory radio (single disc player, NO 6 disc installed) and provides a set of RCA input jacks that can be adapted to about anything.  In this case, I adapted them to a 3.5mm (1/8”) stereo jack that was installed on the dash.


The part that took the longest was purchasing the 3.5mm chassis stereo jack (obtained at Fry’s) and adapting an RCA stereo cable to the jack.  I had several RCA stereo cables, so I simply cut the connectors off one end and soldered the ground, right and left channels to the chassis mount 3.5mm stereo jack.  Here’s what it looks like when installed.  You can see I meticulously soldered and applied heat shrink tubing to all the connections.  The wiring is pretty simple.  The tip of the 1/8” jack is the right channel, the next ring is the left channel, and the sleeve is the common ground for both channels.  See this article on TRS connectors for more details.



To access the radio, you need to remove the trim from around the radio.  To easily accomplish this, remove the junk holder by pushing down on the top to release the clips.  After removing the junk holder, you can reach up inside the exposed hole and push on the trim bezel from behind to begin removing it.  I would suggest using a plastic prying tool to release the other clips.




You can see the top right clip in this photo.  Pry near the clips, not in the middle of the bezel.


Once you have the bezel removed, you should probably disconnect the connector on the back of the lighter socket, as it’s the shortest of the cables and restricts movement of the bezel.  I turned the ignition on and pressed the brake in order to move the shifter out of the way so there was room to move the bezel.


Lighter socket connector.


The radio is held in with four 8 mm screws.  Easy to remove.  Pulls straight out.  No special tools required.


The connector on the back of the radio is also easy to remove.  I disconnected the connector and antenna from the back of the radio so it would come completely out.  On the back of the radio is the Rear Seat Entertainment (RSE) port, AKA CANBus connector.  The AUX device simply plugs into this connector.  It also has another CANBus connector that I assume will accept a CD player, but I’m not sure how it resolves which device to use when you press the AUX button (perhaps it cycles through them).  Perhaps that’s not supported…I don’t know.  It’s down there and available, if it is ever necessary.


Power is always a fun thing to find and connect.  All you need is a little IG-ON power and a ground.  I got it from the radio connector.  I’ve see others get it from the lighter socket.  The black/green wire is ground and the yellow/green wire is ignition-on power.  I used wire taps that worked perfectly.



Of course, drilling the 1/4” hole in the bezel and mounting the stereo jack may freak some people out, but I was very careful to insure clearance on the back of the mounting location.  I used a brad-point drill bit and drilled through the plastic using a fairly high speed to create a clean hole.  I de-burred the hole on the back and mounted my cable/jack assembly and connected it to the FRD04. 


Putting everything back was a snap…literally!  I just stuffed the FRD04 behind the radio, as it is very lightweight and was snugly held in place by the existing wiring.  It ain’t going nowhere.  The cable routed nicely on the right side of the radio towards the bottom.



The final installation.


All fired up and connected.  Pressing the AUX button selects the device.  Works like a hose, and my daughter is ecstatic!



Ford Focus auxiliary input installation.

Pacific Accessory Corporation AAI-FRD04 installation instructions

Posted in Audio and Video, Auto Repair | 8 Comments »

Replacing the Inverter Assembly on a 2002 1st Gen Prius

Posted by Russell Wright on September 18, 2011

As my wife and I were driving to Lowe’s the other day in my 2002 Prius, it suddenly started to shudder and run very rough.  We weren’t but about a mile or two from home, so we immediately turned around and limped home.  After we made it home, the car wouldn’t even start…it would simply shudder when starting was attempted. 

I went to the local Auto Zone and “borrowed” one of their code readers and found P3125 – Bad Inverter.  A quick search on the internet and I found the price for a dealer replacement was about $4500.  Ouch!

After further reading I also found that it may not be as simple as replacing the inverter, as P3125 can also mean other things.  So I decided I’d take it up to the Toyota dealer and let them diagnose the problem to see if our diagnoses agreed.  I got my brother-in-law to hook me up behind his Toyota Tundra with my tow strap and haul me the 8 miles to the dealership in Richardson.  $54 later, the dealership confirmed my diagnoses and quoted me about $4400 to replace it.  I asked if they would consider using my salvage part I purchased for $350 and they said, “No, too much liability.”  OK, I thought, I guess I’m on my own…

So we hauled it back and I finally got a round-tuit yesterday.  Since I couldn’t find a good procedure that anyone had documented online, I decided I’d document it and take a few pics along the way.  Here’s my result.

Disclaimer:  I R an electrical engineer, so I am comfortable working around electricity.  If you aren’t, perhaps you should befriend someone who is.  Engineers need friends, too!  Also, anywhere there were big orange HV cables I always checked the voltage between all connections with my meter before touching anything with a wrench.






Before you start working on this car where you’ll be dealing with the high voltage (HV), you need to disable all the power and let it sit a few minutes to insure all the HV capacitors have had time to bleed down.  I’ve heard many time tables on this, such as “let it sit an hour,” but the Toyota dismantling manual states five minutes, so I figured by the time I got to working on that part plenty of time would have passed. 

First, disconnect the 12v “auxiliary” battery (located in the trunk) and pull the safety plug on the high voltage.  I disconnected the ground (-) battery cable.  Here are a few pics in the trunk showing the location of each.











Pull the lever down to unlock the safety plug.


Me pulling out the HV safety plug.  Hmmm, perhaps I should’ve worn insulating gloves (and a bunny suit).










Now drain the inverter coolant.  It’s kinda’ scary because you might think you are going to drain the transmission fluid.  Oh, wait!  You will if you remove the wrong plug!  Don’t do that!  There are others that have much better photos of this.  Check out YouTube.


Now you can remove the hoses to the inverter cooling system.


As I started this process, I did things in the wrong order (of course) and found there were a couple of bolts I couldn’t get to.  I sent a text to the nice folks at Luscious Garage asking how I get to the bolts and they texted back (amazingly!) to remove the windshield wiper cowl.  Duh!  Should’ve done that at the very beginning.  My loss is your gain!

Remove the seal.


The windshield wipers are held on with nuts that should be pretty easy to remove.  After the nuts are off, remove tension on the windshield wipers by pulling them away from the glass and see if you can’t easily remove them from the shafts. 




The cover is essentially held on with two phillips screws (one on either side) and the fasteners that snap in the rubber seal.




You do have to remove both sides of the cowl cover. 


Once you get all this windshield wiper stuff out of the way, you can remove the cowl pan it sits in.  I didn’t get a picture of this for some unknown reason, but it’s pretty easy.  It just takes 5 or 6 bolts and you lift it out.  Be careful not to cut yourself (I did) on the sharp edges.










Once you get the connectors out of the way you can get to the two gray connectors on the back and have easier access to the HV cable connectors (which can be somewhat difficult to wiggle loose, but be patient).






















Posted in Auto Repair, Instructions | 44 Comments »

P0124 and P1494 Trouble Codes on Chrysler Sebring Jxi Convertible 2.5 V6

Posted by Russell Wright on December 19, 2010

I had recently finished up replacing the distributor (for the 3rd time) in my Sebring convertible and was doing some city driving when I noticed the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp aka Service Engine Soon) was on.  I pulled into an Autozone and had the Autozoner hook up a DRB scan tool and pull the codes.  There were two:  P0124 and P1494.  The description of these codes, as taken directly from the 1997 Sebring Convertible Service Manual are:

P0124:  Well, this one was not in the service manual, but the Autozone printout says “TPS/APP intermittent.  Probable cause: 1. Open or short circuit condition.  2. Poor electrical connection.  3. Faulty APP (Accelerator Pedal Position) sensor. 

P1494:  Leak detection pump switch does not respond to input. 

For P1494, there are several paragraphs of explanation in the service manual that describe the leak detection system. 

“The leak detection assembly incorporates two primary functions:  it must detect a leak in the evaporative system and seal the evaporative system so the leak detection test can be run.

The primary components within the assembly are:  A three port solenoid that activates both of the functions listed above; a pump which contains a switch, two check valves and a spring/diaphragm, a canister vent valve (CVV) seal which contains a spring loaded vent seal valve.”

I started checking all the lines in the EVAP system, as I had to repair one of the vacuum lines that had become brittle and broke as I was rooting around with my big hands.


What I had temporarily forgotten was that the purge hose vacuum line that is attached to the throttle body had split a little and I had reattached it and placed a tie-wrap on it until I could get a new hose.  It didn’t occur to me that the hose had split enough where it had a significant leak that could be causing my problem.  I failed to take a picture of the line attached with a tie-wrap, but here’s what it looks like after replacing the factory formed vacuum line with an aftermarket right angle vacuum line.


The part I used for this is in the HELP! section of Autozone.  Part number 47092, vacuum elbow, 1/4 inch.  If you notice it’s a little longer than the original elbow, so I took a sharp knife and trimmed both ends a little to get a factory-looking fit.


UPDATE 2011-01-08

Well, I finally got around to looking and this and found my problem.  Seems like every time I go to fix something on this car, I end up breaking something else. In this case it was the EVAP vacuum line that runs from the evaporative canister (located behind the passenger side headlight) to the vacuum inlet on the rear of the intake plenum.  Somehow I managed to NOT hook it back up and crush it between the intake plenum and the valve cover.  Great…just great.  All the hard plastic vacuum lines are extremely brittle after 13 years.  It broke the hard plastic vacuum hose and I replaced it with some off-the-shelf (3/16”) vacuum/fuel line.  Turns out the correct size for the vacuum line is really something more like 7/32”.  1/4” is a wee bit too big and 3/16” is a wee bit too small.

After fixing that, I still heard some hissing around the vacuum line that connects to the throttle body valve and found yet another plastic line broken!  So, I used another piece of hose to patch that one up.  I drove the car to Autozone and used their scan tool to reset the light.  So far, so good.

If I want to replace all the EVAP vacuum lines, Chrysler ( sells the complete "harness" for about $60 plus shipping. So far I’ve purchased 4.29 worth of vacuum hose…with lots left over. I wonder…if I try and replace the entire vacuum harness how many other things will I break?  Probably makes more sense just to replace the pieces I need with aftermarket hose.

Posted in Auto Repair | Leave a Comment »

Replace the Heater Hoses on a 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Posted by Russell Wright on December 8, 2010

While I was replacing my distributor, I found that I had at least one heater hose that was leaking.  Since I had the car apart, I made the decision to replace both of them.  I ordered them through for what I thought was a reasonable price.  It was actually cheaper than buying hoses from Autozone or NAPA and rigging them to make them work as the hoses they sell don’t have the clip-on ends (they sell the clip-on ends separately, which are about $8-$10 each).


In order to get to the hoses where they attach at the firewall to the heater core, you need to remove the intake plenum.  Seems like you have to remove the intake plenum to get to just about everything on this car.  Luckily, it’s not quite as bad as it seems.  But it does take some time.  One of the trickiest steps is removing the two bolts on the left and right back sides that bolt the plenum to the brackets.  You can see in some of these photos the wrench arrangement I used to accomplish this.  Thank goodness for swivel sockets and long extensions!









Getting the hoses off was…how do you say…not easy.  The first one wasn’t too bad, but it still took a lot of squeezing of the retainer clip and twisting with pliers to get the not-so-quick disconnect to release.  I found that it was just as easy to put a pan underneath the car and catch the coolant as trying to drain coolant from the drain (which only seems to work if it is warm and under pressure).  The back hose was way more difficult.  I had to finally resort to cutting the hose and pretty much destroying the quick connect to get it off.

If you purchase aftermarket replacement hoses from NAPA or Autozone, they don’t come with the quick connects.  I guess they assume you can simply use a standard hose clamp for the replacement hoses.  Probably not a bad idea, since getting these puppies off was way too time consuming!


After I finally got the hoses off, I cleaned up the ends of the tubes by using 500 grit wet/dry sandpaper and some steel wool.  I also used a small razor knife to scrape some of the crap off the end of the tube.  The rubber from the hose seals was embedded pretty good.  I think I got it looking pretty good!


Here where the hoses connect to the heater core at the firewall.  These use standard spring loaded clamps, but it’s still kinda’ tight back there for pliers and such.  There’s a neat tool that you can get that might be helpful for some spring hose clamps.



Posted in Auto Repair | 10 Comments »

Remove Distributor 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Posted by Russell Wright on November 1, 2010

There’s a distributor in there, somewhere!  Start by removing your aftermarket brace, if you have one.


Remove all that air filter cover and intake stuff.  One 12mm bolt and loosening a hose clamp should do the job.  Oh yeah, unclip the air filter cover!


Let’s get the EGR tube out of the way.  There are a couple of 8mm bolts down here.


Removing the two bolts.  See my 1/4” swivel socket on my long extension?



If you remove the throttle cables, you can get to the EGR bolts more easily.  There is a small tab at the bottom of the outboard cable that, if you use a small screwdriver to push the tab, it slides easily out of the bracket.  Then, the 2nd one will also come out.


Now you can get to the two 8mm bolts holding upper part of the EGR tube.

Remove the throttle cable bracket by removing the two 10mm bolts.


Now you should be able to reach in and disconnect the six spark plug wires from the distributor.  You may want to mark the spark plug wires to insure you put them back in the right hole in the distributor cap.

Uh oh.  If you look down there you can see green stuff.  I’ve been wondering where my coolant has been going.  Guess I’ll be replacing some hoses, too.


Next, remove the distributor cap.  One phillips screw on top you can easily see, another one on bottom you’ll have to remove by feel.


The distributor cap has been removed.  Notice the position of the rotor.  Mark it, take a picture of it, memorize it…don’t forget it.  You want to get it in correctly and the rotor fits on a triangular post, so you can screw up 2/3 of the time if you’re not careful.


There’s a picture of the coil socket and dangling spark plug wires.


Here’s a picture showing the top of the distributor with the rotor removed (rusty thing in the middle).


Disconnect the two connectors on the distributor.  There is a 2-pin connector and a 6-pin connector.  This is where you need to be very aware and make sure that the locking mechanisms on both connectors are intact.  My 6-pin connector’s locking mechanism was broken and I believe that is the cause of all my woes.  They are released by gently squeezing to release the lock.  The lock on the 6-pin connector is on the side away from you.  The 2-pin connector is released by squeezing the sides.


Some more connector shots.


There’s the 6-pin with the orange seal stuck in the wrong side of the connector.  The 2-pin is below.


Now the part you can’t see!  There are two 12mm nuts and washers that hold the distributor in.  The one in front is pretty easy to get to and loosen.  The one in back is a bitch!  I had to use a stubby 12mm combo wrench and it was all I could do to get enough leverage to loosen it.  That one took me as long to loosen as everything else to this point.  Perhaps I’m just getting old…or maybe I just have big hands.  Pulling the distributor out is kind of tricky.  Just be patient and you’ll be able to work it out of the tight space.


In order to get some clearance, I removed the hose in back.  You can see the exposed pipe nipple that had the hose with its spring clamp.  Of course at this point in time I busted the rigid vacuum hose connected on the bottom (brittle from being 13 years old) so I salvaged the ends and got some replacement hose from NAPA and fashioned a new one.  That took a little heat from my heat gun in order to put a 90 degree bend on the front of the hose.  When I bent it, I had a piece of wire shoved inside it to make sure it didn’t collapse when it got hot.


Here’s a close-up of the vacuum hose and clamp in the back.  I took this after I repaired the 6-pin connector on the distributor.  If you look under my finger you can see the electrical tape and friction tape the repair is wrapped with.


This is a picture of the 2-pin and 6-pin connectors that attach to the distributor.  This is a set that have been removed from a donor car.  Unfortunately, this first 6-pin connector’s locking mechanism was also broken.  They get that way when they are 13 years old.  I’ve released the pins on the 6-pin and pulled them out so you can see the moisture-proof seals on each connector pin.  Chrysler does not provide a repair kit for this connector.  Bummer!


I had to find another connector in a salvage yard and cut off the connector and splice in the new one.  If you find yourself doing this, I would recommend that you cut off the original connector fairly close to the connector so you leave yourself plenty of wire to work with.  It’s a tight space to work with a soldering iron.


The shop manual provides a splicing method, which is pretty much what I used for the repair.



Posted in Auto Repair | 7 Comments »

Make Your Own 6539 Fuel Pressure Test Adapter

Posted by Russell Wright on October 23, 2010

I was working on my ‘97 Chrysler Sebring convertible and needed to check the fuel pressure to see if my fuel pump was operational.  I went to my local Autozone and borrowed their fuel pressure test kit, but unfortunately, there is not at adapter suitable for use on the Mitsubishi 2.5 liter engine.  It has one of those “clip on” fuel fittings.  My shop manual stated I needed a 6539 fuel pressure test adapter.  Looking online, you can find them for about $50.  But I was in a hurry so I fabricated one.  Here it is.


I purchased an FF677 (G6340) fuel filter for about $10 which had the correct fitting for the clip-on part.  I used the “universal” tee fitting that came with the tester and connected everything together as shown.  Then, I connected it to the fuel line and rail.


Now I had a good schrader fitting that I could attach the fuel test gauge to.


Even though the car won’t start, it registers about 50 psi while cranking.  But unfortunately, no “bang.” 

Posted in Auto Repair | 2 Comments »

Just Where is the Starter Relay on a 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Jxi?

Posted by Russell Wright on September 27, 2010

I think I just had another starter quit in my Sebring Convertible.  At least I got it into the garage before it gave up the ghost!

I’m troubleshooting…and it’s been a long time since I’ve had to troubleshoot a starter in this car…so I thought I’d start with the starter relay.  It’s located in the Power Distribution Center (PDC), but my preliminary investigation didn’t find it.  I originally looked in under the cover that has POSITIVE written on it.  What the shop manual doesn’t tell you is that there is another piece to the PDC.  The relay is actually in the “auxiliary” PDC, which is located under the intake hose.  Remove one bolt holding the plastic piece on the intake plenum, loosen the screw on the intake hose clamp, and disconnect the air cleaner cover to access it.  Here are the pics.




Posted in Auto Repair | 7 Comments »

Replacing the Multifunction Headlight/Wiper/Turn Signal Switch on My 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Posted by Russell Wright on June 19, 2010

If you find that your fog lights don’t work on your Chrysler/Dodge car, you might find it is due to the failure of the multifunction switch assembly.  This is the piece that has your turn signals, headlights and wiper switches on it.  It’s a massive switch!  It looks like you’re replacing way more than you need to (which is probably true).

Before your replace this switch, make sure and check that your fog lights aren’t burned out and you don’t have a fuse problem.  If those things check out, you probably have a worn out fog light switch.  If you’re like me and turn your fog lights on almost all the time, then after 13 years it could just be plain worn out!

I purchased my replacement switch on eBay from ReplacementAutoParts for $77.72 + $3.99 shipping.  I was concerned that the quality might not be very good, but it is impossible to tell any difference from the original I removed.  And, since the dealer wanted about $225 for the same switch, I figure I can buy three of these and have a lifetime supply for the same cost.  The quality feels like the original too, after it’s installed.

Multifunction switch

The removal/installation process is really easy.  It will take you about 15 minutes. 

First, lower your steering wheel.  Then, remove the two screws that hold the shroud on the  steering column.  The two phillips screws are located on the bottom side of the shroud.  After the shroud is removed, there are two phillips screws that attach the switch assembly.  Remove these and then move the switch up so you can detach the two connectors on the back side of the assembly.  The connectors have squeeze locks that you need to release as you wiggle them loose.  You can see where they connect in the following pictures.



As they say in the manual, reverse the process for installation.

Posted in Auto Repair | 1 Comment »