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russ_mill Reader
9/30/20 4:22 a.m.

Slowly but surely making 4runner progress. I've applied 2 treatments/conditioners to the leather and it's much more supple. One more to go. 

I also drilled into the frame rails right in front of the rear trailing arm perch,, and have been power washing it out. Lots of small rust and sand was stuck in there, but nothing too scary. 

Ive been testing the cosmoline on an old rotor that sits in the rain, and will assess through the winter. The 4runner won't be done before winter, so it will be garaged. But I'll keep painting and working on it when I can! In the spring I plan to coat the inside of the frame with cosmoline, and hopefully the outside is painted and I'll get that too. 

I'll get the Acura too, since it is doing surprisingly well for a car that was stuck in Ohio since ~2006. 

russ_mill Reader
10/19/20 9:11 p.m.

Some more rust prevention: 


Taking awhile but I'm damn well going to paint the whole frame! Grinding and the subsequent cleaning before paint is the most tedious. 

russ_mill Reader
10/25/20 8:41 a.m.

So I'm prepping the Acura for winter a little, and I've been using it as a test subject for different rust preventatives. 

The areas where I have used rustoleum rust reformer paint, then enamel paint, have been holding up well. The areas where I have used POR-15 have been highly disappointing. 

I tried POR with 2 tactics (bear with me-these tactics were from internet critics lol). The 2 tactics were 1: strictly following the directions, and 2: just wire brushing and painting it on without further prep. 
In areas where I strictly followed directions, I still had rust coming through, but not too much. When I followed the internet advice for little prep, after an Ohio winter, I can wire brush the POR-15 straight off.  Both applications happened on the same weekend, and both went through 1 Ohio winter, but please do not mistake this for anything other than anecdotal evidence. I suggest that if someone chooses POR15, that they strictly follow directions 

So I wire brushed those bad areas off, and we're going to try RP-342 cosmoline on them. 

Here's the before of one of the bad areas which is under driver side, in front of the rear wheel. 

and passenger side, in front of rear wheel: 


Amazingly, those are the rustiest spots on a car that did 16 winters in Ohio. The metal is thick in all of them, and I think this car has quite a lot of life left. 
The most worrisome part is this lip that spans the full underside from driver to passenger sides, where there are layers of sheet metal under the factory undercoating:


I will treat both with some cosmoline and test it over the winter! 

russ_mill Reader
10/31/20 8:06 a.m.

Boring, but did more rust .... spread prevention? Basically grinding off the grimy stuff and flaking paint, then cosmoline. 

Found out that all 4 of my sway bar end links are broken off lol. Ordered those for this weekend. 

And a tool suggestion for those in the rust belt: 

This guy has already helped me get three rusted, stripped bolts off. Obviously if the bolt is too rusted, you'll snap the head off, but that isn't really making the problem worse as you'll need to drill it out anyway. 

russ_mill Reader
11/5/20 11:11 p.m.

I hate the rust belt. On the TL, did all my sway bar end links, and each of the 8 bolts needed either cut off or, if there wasn't enough room, I had to do something creative like so: 

That's a nut crusher/cutter on the ball of the end link (after I pulled it out of the housing) so that I could get ahold of it and turn the nut without the whole thing just spinning. 
The original links had the allen wrench design that never works. Anywho, went Moog all around and pretty happy with it so far. Here's the comparison: 

I also installed an engine torque damper. It replaces the OE one that is just a blown shock after the 195k miles I'm at. 

And got a little stupid with the wheels, but it's kind of a test run to see if I like the color, and the center caps were already looking pretty bad. Went from this: 

To this:

russ_mill Reader
11/8/20 9:48 a.m.

Good news is the Acura feels much better with the sway bar end links and the torque damper. Bad news is when I did the repair, I saw that one of the tie rod ends was loose. So I shall repair that. 
My list for the Acura is: headlights (way too dim, probably original) and tie rod ends. HOPEFULLY, that will be the end of working on it for awhile and I can get back to the Audi and the 4runner. 
I really want to get the Audi all sorted so I can do some winter shenanigans. You know- AWD donuts and all that lol. 

russ_mill Reader
11/29/20 9:51 p.m.

Got a heck of a lot of work done before the first snow tomorrow. 

First, for the Acura I replaced the passenger tie rod.

old vs new here:


Of note: this was actually my first driveway alignment ever, and I'm proud because it tracks beautifully!
I then changed the bushings in the Engine torque damper because it was rattling the dash. New setup is perfect- acceleration feels great, but compliant enough that I don't shake the car to death if I miss a shift a little, or try to roll slowly. 

My next big time suck was undercoating the Acura with Corrosion Free 3000. It sprayed super easy, and didn't drip. It's somewhere between cosmoline and fluid film in viscosity. No pictures of this- it was getting too dark.

I also undercoated the family vacation-mobile (a '99 Chevy conversion van). The van is in great shape as it never sees the snow, but I got under and wire brushed off a crap load of factory paint, or thin undercoating, maybe? I couldn't tell. It seemed thicker than paint, but came off in tiny little balls (like half mm diameter) when I brushed it. When I power washed it, anything with surface rust underneath it was stripped of the paint, so it was then ready for the application. 

I coated the crap out of it. Maybe 2 Coats of corrosion Free, which is what the Canadian army uses, and it supposed to be the bee's knees. 





The van has served us well, and since I plan on taking it on a week long ski trip this winter, I should give it some lovin first. 

russ_mill Reader
12/10/20 7:53 p.m.

So I am certainly not catching any breaks on getting some time to work on the 4Runner or Ruby the Audi!

This week I noticed a really rough idle on the Acura. After some troubleshooting on my part and advice from the hive mind, I changed my spark plugs. This SEEMS to have cured my idle vibration. I will have to wait to really know since I'm overly sensitive to it right now.

The plugs were shot:

But this worries me- on one cylinder, I had a lot of rust on the coil pack and the plug was easy to remove. I guess that just means it wasn't installed correctly before and/or loosened over so many heat cycles?

So I will just keep an eye on the vibration. Either way, no CELs or faults or problems occurred other than the vibration so no biggie other than annoyance (yet).

While I was in there, I also installed new hoods struts, I banded my loose catalytic converter heat shield that occasionally rattled (the one coming off the rear cylinder bank that is hard to reach), and I cut off this unused strut brace bracket. It used to hold on the engine plastics but I tossed all those since they just get in the way.

It bothered me that it had no use. I am weird like that lol.

russ_mill Reader
12/12/20 2:54 p.m.

Actually getting somewhere on the 4Runner! The whole frame from front to back is almost complete - I am near the rear and need to finish up with some coats. Ground all the seams I could get to and it looks pretty good if I do say so myself!

Here's where we started:

Here's where we are:

I think the flash makes it look worse than it was, and it was all truly surface rust, but I want to see how long this will last - or at least make for better resale!

I also did sway bar end links. From these, which I had to cut off:

To this:

On the list is finish up painting, sway bar bushings, inner/outer tie rods, some shifter bushings, and.... drive her! A lot. Will keep her as a 3 season vehicle I think, but I am looking forward to some southern Ohio exploring.

My Acura wheels were looking BEAT:

So I painted them:

They are good from far but far from good now. And I didn't let them dry enough before I had to drive them in the rain... so I may have to redo them shortly lol.

I keep saying I am done fixing the TL since it's really a beater/road trip car... but I really like it, plus I'm a perfectionist. A perfectionist who likes beaters is a weird conundrum. But she needs some control arms bushings now. They are almost completely torn off, and they make a racket.

russ_mill Reader
12/14/20 8:38 a.m.

And since my control arm bushings are completely shot... so are my struts. I don't mean they affect each other, just that they're all original parts on a 200k car. I can tell because the car is becoming a rattle-trap over each slow-speed bump.

So I ordered the best "mid-level" strut assemblies and control arms I could find with good reviews. $560 all in - OEM parts ordered from Acura was going to be well over $1k. Quick struts are a gamble, but I figure I will keep the old ones. From my internet sleuthing, it looks like the main pitfall of quick struts is that the spring/rates are all wrong. I can switch those over if I need.

russ_mill Reader
12/16/20 9:15 p.m.

Pulled into work today with a flat. Felt it getting squirrelly on the highway, and didn't want to stop on the side of the road in the snow with bad drivers in the snow, so I slowed down and rode the few miles in to work. Guys at the factory found out and kindly made me pull her in and patched me up- I had a 1/2" piece of aluminum in the tire. Patch held so far so I think it's good! 
After work, and many hours of snow, I felt how rough the idle is getting. From all my symptoms/non-symptoms, I think my timing belt hydraulic tensioner is freezing up in the cold weather and allowing belt slap (but it hasn't jumped yet)! The spark plugs that I thought fixed it were changed when the weather was nicer (warmer), so that may have been why I thought it was fixed. 
Regardless, I basically have three cars that I can't drive (Acura needs timing belt, 4runner is almost good but I won't drive it in an Ohio winter, Audi isn't fixed yet (almost!)), so I feel like a Jeff Foxworthy joke lol. 
Since I have no time on my hands, I'm going to have a trusted shop near me do the timing belt. I will do the bushings and struts once they are done, and we'll see where we are. I'll also ask them for a rough idle diagnosis, if the timing belt isn't causing it. 
I have no CELs, car runs great except at idle, and when the actual engine bay temp is up (as opposed to just oil/coolant temps), the sound gets better. It's not engine mounts as far as I can tell, and basically I have ruled a lot out. Either way the timing belt is due so might as well get it done. 

Also.. I'm contemplating returning my cheap complete struts (Monroe's), and just getting coilovers. Since the car will be in the shop this weekend, I at least have a little time to think it over. It'll be a winter beater/ridiculous riced out car for a 32 year old soon lol. 

russ_mill Reader
12/18/20 5:10 p.m.

I may work slow, but at least it's also mediocre lol. 
Got the Acura in for a timing belt change- that should make me good for a few years. I have Megan racing coilovers in the mail, I have front and rear control arms and bushings, and I would love some nice weather, but I'll deal with the smallest space heater on earth instead lol. 

4runner: more paint- so close to done I can feel it! 
I got a few new vacuum hoses in the front, and a way to remember what I did. 

I am close to finishing all my sway bar bushings and end links too! Finally drilled out the stuck bolt in the rear. All the rear bolts are out and retapped. Going to pick up some new hardware tomorrow and that part will be done. 

The front bushing bolts are sitting in PB Blaster overnight. Whoever changed these last really phoned it in with their hardware choices lol. 

Front passenger:

Front driver:

russ_mill Reader
12/19/20 3:50 p.m.

Done painting!!! 


I had the timing belt replaced on the Acura, and I have a growing collection of parts for it. 
First up: front control arms. They're 200k old... 

And they look their age.  Funny, I think they just recently broke as the car rode great when I bought it at 163k. 
I hit all the bolts with an extreme amount of pb blaster, so hopefully I can get it all done in one day. Very excited for those and my coilovers! 

russ_mill Reader
12/20/20 11:31 p.m.

Learned a few lessons today- it was not a good car repair day lol. First new rule for me is 1 project at a time. Second is "don't block the garage door with your project, no matter how easy the repair should be". 
I pulled in the Acura to do the front control arms. At this point, the Acura and 4runner were on jack stands. I broke the ball joint on the Acura when separating it from the control arm. Lost my temper a little, and just had too many things going on at once. 
So best to clear out an easy project- get the sway bar bushing on the 4runner, and get it back on 4 wheels. 
Well since I broke a bolt off in the weldnut a few weeks/months ago, I had this little area to fix first: 

I already drilled it out, but ruined the threads by doing so. My first thought was to double nut it, but there's not enough room. So I could grind some of the weldnut... maybe. No power tools fit there... but a machinist's file does. Enough to get you a 1.5" stroke. 
I am a very stubborn man. 
2 hours of filing later, and we have this: 

So I put on a nut and threaded the sway bar on. Even that part was an extreme pain- the sway bar and bushings fought me the whole way, but it is done. 
4runner went back on the ground, and I'm formulating my Acura plan. 

russ_mill Reader
12/21/20 9:56 p.m.

Wanna see how bad the driver side bushing was worn?


It was COMPLETELY separated from the arm, and grinding into the subframe. I think that explains part of the harsh ride!


So obviously, this isn't good lol. Current situation is broken ball joint on the passenger side, f*d up subframe on the driver side. 

Plan (I'm working 10s, then gym, then off to the garage for ~2hrs, then sleep and repeat):

-remove knuckle and press out ball joint on passenger side and reassemble by Wednesday.

-Assemble driver side by wednesday, and take note of all tools used. Pack up all tools.   

- Christmas and Christmas Eve I'll be with the girlfriend's family out of town. 

-On Saturday, drive car into work (I'm a manufacturing engineer, and work in a factory) and have one of our welders patch this area up. Bring new ball joint, and press kit in case I f-up the driver side. Reassemble after welding, very much hoping to not get my car stuck in the factory by messing something up.

After all this, I will install my coilovers. In the spring, when I am dailying the 4runner, I am going to come back and finish all ball joints or bushings I didn't get to in this mad rush of fixing the car.  

russ_mill Reader
12/22/20 9:44 p.m.

One step forward, two back! 
Ball joints in both sides are broke now, and in the mail, along with a load of other parts. So in anticipation, everything is soaking in PB Blaster. 

New plan for the subframe though- since the bushing sits like this: 


I don't need to fill in the upper side of the bottom flange with weld. Instead I can fill the bottom with a strengthening plate. So, I did some CAD work

I'll design this in Solidworks, have it waterjet out, and sneak in for a welder to just weld it to the bottom of my subframe- no disassembly required. 

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
12/23/20 5:54 a.m.

I am beyond impressed that you filed out that nut!  That's some serious dedication and patience.  And a few podcasts!



russ_mill Reader
12/23/20 8:17 a.m.

In reply to jfryjfry (FS) :

Haha well I did say I was stubborn! And it was radio and beer that kept me sane lol.

russ_mill Reader
12/27/20 8:41 p.m.

Ohio rust can suck it! 
I started this whole thing with the plan of new compliance bushings/lower control arms, and new coilovers. 
So much rust and seized bolts/ball joints/etc etc means now I have ALL new bushings and upper and lower ball joints, and upper and lower control arms on both sides. So... about $1200 in but I see the light lol. 
my hopefully last bolt broke- the shock mounting fork bolts would not budge, and they both broke off. So screw it I just ordered some used ones. 
One last order of parts should get me there. Then alignment and let me make it through the winter, PLEASE. 

at least the parts look good: 

Looks like even threaded out as far as possible- I'll still get an inch and a half inch drop! 

russ_mill Reader
1/9/21 12:52 p.m.

All new front suspension: upper and lower ball joints, all bushings, and Megan Racing coilovers installed! Actually the only stock part is the steering knuckle now. 

I coated the hell out of everything with anti-seize, loosely assembled, pushed up on the lower A-arm until the car lifted off the jack stands, then torqued to spec on everything. 

I did forget to lower my torque amount by 25% for the anti-seize, but I'm not too worried. I might back off in the shock fork-to shock nut though, now that I think of it. 

I also replaced the (possibly) bad coil and very used PCV valve. 


this is my to-do list lol 

Still overwhelming. I'll knock off some more small stuff this weekend to fake real progress lol. 

russ_mill Reader
1/9/21 8:31 p.m.

You might be wondering what took so long - well, mostly it's because the garage is far from home, and secondly- shipping took forever! 

I haven't done the rear coilovers yet because I was waiting for a rear control arm that I know is seized. Ordered it 3 weeks ago, and got here tonight! Sheesh! So off to do that tomorrow. 

I did, however, drive the Acura and the front is magnificent. Superb. Amazing. A million times better. 

And since I took my dads second car for the last month, I changed its oil, added some coolant, and gave it a new tensioner and pulley since it's squeaking. Turns out the belt is bad too so I'll fix that tomorrow also. 

russ_mill Reader
1/10/21 7:53 p.m.

Fixed the belt on the van- quiet bliss now. Was annoying the heck out of me. 

Todayy I focused on the 4runner. I took it for a nice drive, gave it a good wash, and did some little things. 
Debadged it (if you look back on this thread you'll see I apparently hate badges lol). 

I noticed awhile ago that there is no rear driver bump stop. So I took my time to get the bolts out without breaking anything this time, and here we have old and new:

However, Energy Suspension was wrong on bolt size so gotta wait to get the correct hardware to install.

And finally did the diff breather mod. The diff needs to be able to vent and suck in air because the fluid expands and contracts. But it also needs a filter or cover, which it did not have:

That silver plug in the center is a thru hole straight to the diff, so hopefully not too much gunk in there (although I recently did a fluid change and haven't driven much since then, so probably good). 

What I did was (this is the common fix) add a nipple extension and axle vent, plus a little hose, to end up with this picture below. Hose routes from diff to crossbrace, follows left and then rearwards on the frame and back to the middle of the next crossbrace. Some people route it higher but that takes more planning and I was in a rush.

Quick and dirty but it's about a foot higher and vented properly now.

russ_mill Reader
2/5/21 9:20 p.m.

So the Acura is FINALLY done with suspension. I get an alignment tomorrow. 
Sadly, I found one rust spot that went deep and into the cabin. Not a structural area, so I will have to grind in all out to expose the full damage and I guess learn to weld and patch it up in the spring! 
still not driving the 4runner since I won't subject it to the junk that rusted the Acura (sh*tty salted Midwest roads). 
But I did get the hitch and all the skid plates off so I could clean under them and paint/ rustproof everything. The skids had a lot of caked on sand in them: 

They had about a quarter inch of sand/oil slush in them. So I took them to power wash them and cleaned them up. I think the front skid will be painted bright red. Saw someone that did that and it looked good. And I think the wheels are going to be painted bronze. Hopefully it doesn't clash too much but I think it might pop just right. 

russ_mill Reader
2/8/21 5:07 p.m.

Realized I hadn't shown the lowered TL with painted wheels! 
I can go much lower, but won't in the winter- both front and rears coilovers are maxed (up) and obviously the rears are taller. So really it's like an inch lower lol. 
I love the ride- it renewed my love for the car, so this summer the bumpers and rockers are all coming off and I'm attacking any rust there and on the undercarriage. 

russ_mill Reader
2/19/21 3:45 p.m.

So that was an interesting day. I went to my dads garage where I store the Audi and 4runner so I could do some work. I had a few plans, one of which was touch up the undercoating on the van since next week I'm taking it to the UP to camp and ski (Mount Bohemia for any of you skiers-great place). Due to Covid, their hostel isn't open, so van camp it is. Hopefully the roads are good enough! 
Anyways, my dad lives about an eighth of a mile up a drive into the woods. He wasn't here for a week, so no one had plowed the driveway. Which means the TL got stuck. And then one of his friends who was coming to pick up some firewood (in an AWD car) got stuck. And then the mailman at the end of the drive. Even the John Deere gator almost got stuck! So I dug and pushed cars out for an hour. Then realized I didn't have the motivation to work that long in the cold. 
so here's what I did: 

Painted a little (I'm sure this will fall off because of the cold weather I painted at, but no biggie). 

Added some stickers- if I hate them, they can come off. None are on the paint. 

And put these guys on my mirrors. They're very useful on the van so hopefully I like them on this! 

I would have loved to have the 4runner ready- it would have never gotten stuck and I could have towed everyone out! Although I will need some new tires for next years ski trip where I will be using the 4runner.

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