PaleCivic repairs & upgrades

Discussion in 'My Ride' started by PaleMelanesian, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Over the break I replaced my old cracked exhaust manifold. Thanks to Honda's one-piece design, that meant replacing the catalytic converter as well. The casting was a flawed design and this is a common failure point. Junkyard cars usually have the cracked manifold as well. I went with the $167 Dorman aftermarket replacement instead of OEM for lower price and (hopefully) a better design.

    The old cracked manifold. O2 sensor already removed. Heat shield missing when I bought the car. Overnight I soaked everything in Liquid Wrench.

    Trouble! This nut at the bottom end of the catalytic converter wouldn't come loose. :( Unsurprising, really, after 16 years.

    So I unhooked the next joint about 2 feet downstream. This came loose much easier as I replaced the following pipe only 5 years ago. It was a hassle to remove the L-shaped mani-cat-pipe combo - I loosened the front engine splash shield to drop it out the bottom. Once out on the ground, I hammered a socket onto the stuck nut and was able to remove it. Getting good leverage was much easier that way. :rolleyes:

    The new manifold. Everything fit pretty well except for one bracket. A couple spacer washers and that was fine. Both O2 sensors salvaged and reused. Notice that this is a 2-piece design with a bolted joint just below the manifold.

    All finished, this time WITH a heat shield. Now it's again a CleanMPG machine, instead of just MPG. Performance is no different that I can tell, just a tiny bit less engine noise that only I (the daily driver) would notice.
  2. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    In the engine bay shot above, notice the tiny battery in the top left corner. It's barely big enough for "normal" driving, and wholly inadequate for my FAS-heavy routine. I have a trickle charger installed in the space under the air intake. The power cord comes out behind the license plate so I can easily plug and unplug it every day.
  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Also, you can see my upper and lower grille blocks in the last two images. Plexiglass for the upper and foam exercise mat for the lower. The foam is cut to size and press-fit into place. It's looking a little rough, but that's after 2+ years of life on the road.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  4. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    How did you discover that it was cracked ? Did the crack affect performance ?
    I'm curious because we have two of these cars in the family (97 Civic DX , 97 Civic LX).
  5. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    The crack is clearly visible when you pop the hood. It started small a couple years ago, but it's been growing. In the last couple months saw some black deposits around the back side, facing the engine block. (you can see some of this in the top photo) Also, this winter it started sounding a little bit more diesel-like on cold starts. It was minor, only something I would notice as the daily driver.

    It's worth your while to pull the heat shield and check - it's only two bolts.

    It did not affect performance at all. I was hoping the new unit with heat shield would make for faster warmup, but it didn't. I pulled in to work this morning after 13 miles with 177F - not quite full temp. I think a new thermostat is in order.
  6. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Thanks. I will check the cars next time I see my daughters.
  7. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I'm wondering if that heat shield is part of the reason they crack? H
  8. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    General opinion at Honda-Tech is that it's a poor casting, too thin at that high stress point. Drilling a hole for the O2 sensor makes it even weaker. There are numerous threads over there about this same problem.
  9. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Nice work, Andrew! I'm glad you've got that repair out of the way so you can rest just a tiny bit easier knowing at least that component isn't going to fail spectacularly. :)
  10. Mr. Pancake

    Mr. Pancake Well-Known Member

    More than likely they are cracked. The manifold on my wife's 98 EX was cracked as well.
  11. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I replaced the thermostat. The housing is held by two bolts (one indicated by yellow arrow), not difficult except for limited access on the lower bolt. It's a single-ratchet-click space.

    Old thermostat was a stock 180* unit, but I suspect it was out of spec. Radiator and hoses were warm at only 160* water temp. It took forever to warm up - often only 170 at the end of my 13 mile morning commute. The new unit is a 195*.

    Result? More complete warmup, somewhat faster but not amazing. Ambient was low 40's. I hit 180* at the 7 mile mark and 204* at 12 miles. I FAS so much it still loses a lot of heat before the next pulse.
  12. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I polished the headlights. A $10 kit from Amazon, by Turtle wax. The job is basically hand-sanding to remove the oxidized outer layer, then finer and finer sanding to remove the scratches. Then polish with some compound, the treat with a UV protectant.

    The kit had enough compound to do five cars, so I did the Ody as well. At 7 years they were starting to yellow as well.

    I haven't done any night driving to compare the light output, but it must be better.

  13. Gord

    Gord Super Moderator Staff Member

    Wow - you can really see the difference Andrew - great job!
  14. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Nicely done! I suppose you had to do a forced coolant flush for that thermostat?
  15. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Actually, I didn't! :eek: :D I lost maybe a pint of coolant when I opened it up. I drove it for a bit and the bubbles worked themselves up to the top of the radiator and then out to the overflow reservoir. All I have to do is top up the reservoir to make up the difference. I was amazed by that design feature last year when I swapped in the previous thermostat.

    Original thermostat: failed, stuck open
    replacement: opens at lower-than-spec temperature
    2nd replacement: higher spec temp, works as described
  16. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    The headlight job took about an hour. I wasn't rushing and was trying to do the best job I could. A "good enough" job would have been more like 1/2 hour.
  17. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Not bad at all!!
  18. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Very nice!.. I thought those kits did not work.
  19. Die2self

    Die2self Saving more by using less!

    did you put a fresh coat of sealant on the lights otherwise they will start to oxide quicker now with no sealant. Not sure if a Clear coat enable would work but it would have to be UV stable.

    I just bought and installed some Ligtharmor for my FIT and put them on last week. it took about 1 hour to get them to lay properly and get most of the air bubbles out. They said it was best to put them on above 70, and I was putting them on in about 60. So I had to heat them up a little to make them plyable. They were still very stiff when trying to smoth them out. I have a few spots that they said should dry up and become clear. I wanted to get them on there to protect the lights as they are new and didn't have any (or very noticable) scratchs in them yet. I will have to do what you did for the wife's Accord before I put any on them as the are all scratched up.
  20. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I chose this particular kit because it comes with some UV sealer as the last step. I have no idea how effective the stuff is, but it's got to be better than nothing.

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