Category Archives: Automotive

Videos: How to Diagnose Faulty 2008 Toyota Highlander Hood Latch Switch Causing Intermittent Alarm Problems Plus Replacing the Micro Switch

Okay, while researching what to do with my 2008 Toyota Highlander’s flaky alarm, I ran across some good videos you can watch on how to diagnose the switch and even how to replace the microswitch. As for me, I wrote up how I bypassed the sensor by creating a loopback plug from the old sensor’s wire. My approach still allows the rest of the alarm system to work just fine and can be done in less than an hour with little to no cost. With that said, let’s take a look at these really well done videos that helped me think out my approach – especially the first one on diagnosing the switch.

Diagnosing the Switch

The following is the best video I found on diagnosing the problem and he even disassembles the latch to show you what is going on in detail – it’s very well done. This video helped me figure out my approach and kudos to Ozzstar for making it:

If You Want To Replace the Microswitch

This next video is really well done and is specific to the 2008 Highlander. He ordered the same Panasonic automotive grade micro switch that Toyota used: ABS1413409 from Digikey.

I hope this helps you out.



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Easy & Cheap Solution for 2008 Toyota Highland Hood Latch Sensor Switch Causing Faulty Alarms: Make A Loopback Plug

We recently became the new owners of a 2008 Toyota Highlander. It was in great shape and I thought we got a pretty good deal on it. The previous owner disclosed to us that the hood alarm switch was flaky and the car alarm would go off randomly.

After we bought the Highlander and returned home I did some research that night. There is in integral microswitch in the hood latch assembly that detects if the hood is open or closed. The alarm system will not arm if it detects that the hood is open and it will sound an alarm if someone tries to open the hood. Uhm… ok. My first thought was “you can only open it from the inside lever that is protected by the door alarms so why have this one?”

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the switch is a known problem. It’s also one of the rare times where I will say Toyota did a bad design. Putting a basic microswitch in the front of a car where it will get wet all the time and corrode, not to mention the impacts and grease/oil from the latch itself, is not really that good of an idea — at least not to me.

After reading and watching videos, it seemed like there were three options:

  • Replace the whole hood latch assembly that includes the sensor. Third party, these latch assemblies were about $56 on Amazon and $50-60 on eBay. Original Toyota would be higher, of course. Pro: It is pretty easy to remove the assembly and install this one. Con: It’s a relatively expensive and will fail sooner or later unless someone fixed the switch design and sealed it better.
  • Replace just the microswitch. You can get the unit real cheap from Digikey and other suppliers plus there are Youtube videos that show you what to do. The previous owner did this and it worked for about two years he said. Pro: Real cheap (under $10 including shipping). Cons: Takes time and will not last without figuring out some better way to seal the original design.
  • Simply bypass the switch. As mentioned earlier – you can’t open the hood from the outside so what are the odds that someone will successfully break into the car and then open the hood without setting off the alarm? The risk is real low – low enough for me to go with this option. Pro: Easiest of all and is a permanent solution. Con: The hood alarm sensor will no longer work. This is the one I went with.

I’d like to point out that just unplugging the sensor is not an option. Doing that will make the computer think the hood is open and the car alarm will not arm at all. This means you must pick one of the three options listed above. I opted for the last one – I bypassed the sensor by creating a loopback plug – a fancy term meaning I joined the input and output wires together thus making it look like the switch was always closed so the computer would think the hood was closed regardless of whether it was or not.

If you’d like to learn more about diagnosing the problem, seeing how to remove the latch and/or how to replace the microswitch, click here.

What I want to do next is walk you through what I did. If you are not comfortable with basic wiring, I’d recommend against your trying this just to be up front. Always ask yourself if you can reverse what you are about to do or can you recover if something goes wrong – if the answer is “no”, then don’t do it. For example, don’t cut wires off right next to a fitting – leave yourself some pigtails in case you need to reconnect them.

One last comment – these directions are just based on my 2008 Highlander. Different years and models may not be like this. Research your vehicle before doing anything like this.

Bypassing the Sensor

So, to bypass the sensor we just need to create a circuit that normally exists when the switch is closed. First, I needed to get a better look at the location of the wiring so the cover needed to come off.

The plastic cover between the grill and the frame needs to come off. It is held in place by Toyota push-type retaining clips and two 10mm screws. The screws are to the front on the left and right sides. Note that two of the clips on the right side are bigger than the others – this will help you with reassembly later.
I use a small flat screw driver to pop the middle part up. You then grab hold of that, lift up and the clip comes right out.
Just remove the clips and then the plastic cover simply lifts off. I found one more that anchors the grille in the middle of the grille vertically and I removed it. That gave me ample room to work and I did not need to remove the grille given what I planned to do.

I did not take as many photos as I should have so let me explain. With the plastic cover off and the middle anchor clip removed, I had plenty of access to the switch and wiring to see what to do. The wire assembly runs from the hood latch – and there is only one wire – do not pick the hood cable used to open the hood. The wire runs from a small switch in the latch assembly and then plugs into a connector shortly below it.

I inserted a small blade screw driver to release the plug from the socket. To be safe, make sure you confirm the wires that you plan to cut lead up to the sensor and are *not* the wires going to the harness / wiring loom.

Why care? Because if you cut the wires on the sensor side and connect them together, you can easily replace the hood latch assembly and go back to having a sensor if you want. However, if you cut the wiring loom, it’s gone. You can manually splice in but it simply is not an elegant approach.

Note I am saying wires and when you look at the plug it looks like just one black wire. What you are seeing is the insulation tube that is black. Inside are two thin green wires that run from the plug to the sensor switch.

I’ll not get awards for artwork but hopefully this will give you an idea. When I faced my the front of my Highlander, the wiring from the sensor was on the right hand side. You need to confirm this just in case. It is the wire to the sensor switch wire that you want to cut and not the wiring from the harness. On my 2008 Highlander, the harness wiring was on the left.

Once I was certain which wire to cut, I reached in with some snips and cut the wire leaving a couple of inches to work with. DO NOT CUT THE WIRES FLUSH TO THE PLUG!! You need a short length of the wires to connect together to make the circuit loop back.

To make work easier, I took the short wire with the plug on it and worked at a bench where everything was handy, I stripped a bit off the end of each wire, twisted the bare wires together, soldered them, bent them over the small wire pigtail and then used heat shrink tubing and electrical tape to secure everything. Total overkill but I never wanted to bother with this again.

Here’s the finished result. The front of the car is to the left. Part of the hood latch spring is to the upper right and we are looking down at the newly made loopback plug. As far as the alarm system is concerned, the hood is closed. The red color is the heat shrink tube I had on hand. I folded the heat shrink tubing over at the end and then applied electrical tape to seal it.

I installed the newly created loopback plug back into the socket. I then tested the system by turning the alarm on with the key fob, putting the key fob out of signal range in the garage and waited for the system arm. Once the alarm indicator light went solid on the dash, I simply reached in through the open window and tried to open the door from the inside and the alarm went off. Yeah, I had to run back to that fob to shut it off 🙂

If the system thought the hood was open, it would never have armed by the way. That’s why you can’t just unplug the switch. I then reinstalled the plastic cover by installing the clips and then pushing the middle piece down to lock it in place. By the way, remember that the right two clips are bigger than the others. The two 10mm screws went back in with a dab of non-seize on each just in case they ever need to come out again.

That was it – the alarm is happily armed and protecting the Highlander as I write this and not one single false alarm since. I hope this helps you out.

9/3/2019 Update: This has worked great for me. Not one single problem since.


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The EZRed MR34 Extendable 3/4″Socket Wrench is a Beast With Two Quick and Easy Tweaks

I have both SAE and Metric 3/4″ socket sets that come out once or twice a year when I am working on big bolts on cars and trucks. As you may know, the longer the wrench, the more torque you can apply. Back when I was younger would would slide a piece of pipe or heavy wall tube over a ratchet or breaker bar to get even more mechanical advantage. We definitely snapped some socket wrenches while doing this as we exceeeded their design specs.

You see, a ratcheting socket wrench has limits as to how much torque the mechanism can handle before something either bends or breaks. Quite often, the rathchet pawl would bend/crumple and no longer be able to engage the teeth of the gear. When that happens, we’d toss the cheap wrench.

This is why breaker bars were made by the way – they have no ratcheting mechanism and, thus, can handle more torque. There’s one problem though, there are times where you can’t get the breaker bar into position because you can’t turn the handle relative to the socket. So, what is a person to do when they need a ton of torque and a ratchet mechanism?

The short answer is to get a wrench with a long handle that is designed to handle a ton of torque. A ton of companies make socket wrenches with longer handles. I have a couple of these but what I find really handy are wrenches with extending/telescoping handles. When you are working in a relatively tight space, you may not have room for the fully extended handle or you have need to work it into position before you can open the handle.

The EZRed MR34 Wrench

So, when I need a ton of torque and mechanical advantage to help me get there (I’m at the age where I need to work smarter because my body doesn’t support harder any longer 🙂 – I break out the wrench I affectionately call “The Beast”. It is a beautifully made and chromed giant 3/4″ ratchet wrench.

The wrench is sold in the US by a firm called “EZRed” with a lifetime warranty and, like many things, is actually made in Taiwan. When you do some digging around, there are a lot of guys using this wrench for heavy equipment, farm equipment, trucks, steam pipes and more. After reading about the real world experiences with the wrench, I ordered one in.

Here is the wrench closed and you can see it is about 24″ overall.
Here is the MR34 fully open and about 40″ long overall.

The first things I noticed was that it’s a big wrench even without the handle extended. Next, it’s a heavy wrench and weighs in at about 8.5 pounds. I have to be honest, I don’t usually pay much attention to looks but the chrome finish is gorgeous.

Pull the collar down and a detent is released that allows the handle to telescope out. The handle then locks into position in the next available hole. The locking feature is definitely nice.

I use this for 3/4″ sockets and also have a SunEx 3/4 to 1/2″ reducer for those times I want to apply a ton of torque to a smaller bolt.

Here’s the wrench with a SunEx 3/4 to 1/2″ adapter.

So far, I am very happy with the wrench. As you can tell, I haven’t used it a ton yet but for the few quick jobs so far, it worked great.

Two Big Tips

A fellow recommended apply Blue Loctite to the head screws and grease the wrench while it was open. He was spot on – the screws were surprisingly lose. Even though they have blue thread locker on them from the factory something seems odd and guys have reported losing the screws. I really think if Ihad not followed the fellow’s advice I would have already lost mine as well – they are that loose.

The screws come out and then the head is very serviceable. You can see the two pawls and their springs plus the selector in the middle. What you don’t see is any lubricant! I must say I am a bit surprised.
You can see the faceplate and the 24 tooth geared head.

So, I used a brush and lightly applied SuperLube grease to everything, reassembled the wrench and put Blue Loctite on the two head screws before tightening them down. The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes start to stop including taking the photos.

If you ever need it, the EZRed sells a rebuild kit – part number RK34.

Summary

I really like the wrench. It’s worked great so far but I really haven’t done anything super stressfulso far – just breaking some very rusty 1/2″ diameter carriagle bolts free off my plow. It’ll definitely get used this upcoming summer a lot more.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Do It Yourself Cold Weather Mechanic Work Gloves That Are Insulated But Still Allow You To Work

Here’s a quick tip for you when you need to turn a wrench outside except it is really cold but you still need to feel what you are doing or can’t wear bulky insulated work gloves.

What you need to do is real simple – put on nitrile gloves first. This layer next to your skin insulates and protects you from both the wind and your hands getting wet. This is a big deal when there is snow. The second layer is your regular thin mechanics gloves. I have several brands of work gloves but Mechanix is probably the brand I use most followed by Ace.

I meant to write about this last year but forgot. Yesterday I had to work on my plow and it was +9F. The above worked great. Of course there is a limit and I don’t want anybody getting frostbite so use your common sense and play it is safe it is super cold.

At 9 degrees Farenheit, holding steel tools and moving metal parts around is a recipe for frostbite. It was this kind of work last year that led me to experimenting with putting Nitrile gloves under my thin Mechanics gloves.

I buy boxes of 5 mil Nitrile gloves whenever they go on sale at Harbor Freight. I think the sale prices tend to be around $5.99 and there are 100 in each box. I use a ton of them with my plastics work but also when working on cars. Any brand ought to work but I think the Harbor Freight gloves are a great deal when on sale.

I settled on 5 mil thick gloves because thinner ones fall apart very easily and thicker ones start to be bulky and mess with your sense of touch. I tried both 7 and 9 mil gloves before going back to 5.

I like 5 mil. It’s neither too thin nor too thick in my opinion. Note, they are meant to be disposable so you may or may not get more than one use from them.

The outer gloves are just basic Mechanix brand gloves.

I literally snapped this photo on my way out to work on the plow in 9 degree snowy weather.

I hope this little trick helps you out! I set up some Amazon product links for you below this post in case you would like to buy gloves.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Be Careful With the DBPower 1200A Portable Jump Starter For Your Car or Truck – They WIll Not Hold a Charge Long

In August 2016 I bought a DBPower 400A DJS10 Peak jump starter amd found it handy. At the end of August 2018, I bought two of the bigger 1200A portable jump starters. I was busy and the units sat until some time in November when I tried to charge them. One was dead on arrival and would not charge no matter what method I tried (USB or their supplied charger). I contacted the seller and they were cool about immediately shipping a replacement. I charged it no problem and put both in our cars as a “just in case” measure.4

So, fast forward to February 1, 2019. Michigan was in the grips of an arctic freeze with ambient temperatures ranging from -8 to -12F and windchills under -20F. It was this way for two days. On the first, I went to start my wife’s Camry for the first time in several weeks and the starter could barely turn a few times before the solenoid clicked. The battery read 11.17 volts.

I thought myself lucky that I had the foresight to buy the batteries as I would not have to move my truck around to jump start it or run an extension cord out to use one of my Noco Genius chargers. The DBPower unit had been in the card and it was about +9F at the time. The whole point of these things is to store them in the car, right? It was fully charged when I put it in there.

Guess what? The DBPower read “Lo” voltage on the LED display when I turned it on and tried to charge the battery. It didn’t help the cart start at all. I was pissed. These things were $72.99/each. I felt like I had wasted a ton of money on junk. That is not a good feeling.

So, I decided to run an extension cord from my shop and hooked up my big Noco Genius G2600 charger to the battery and set it to the 30 amp quick charge setting that runs for five minutes.

This time around, the story ends a lot better – the car started right up. My wife used her car to run errands and I let it charge all last night with the normal charging cycle on the Noco.

4/16/19 Now, DBPower did make things right and replace both units and told me I have to change the units every two months to have reliable power. If you open a unit up, you will find out they have Lithium Polymer (LiPo) power cells. These can hold a big charge and discharge quickly but they lose the charge as they sit – typically in about two months.

Bottom line, if you get DBPower jump starters for your car, plan on charging them every two months. Don’t make my mistake of charging them once and thinking they would be good to go all Winter. Now that I’ve had the DBPower and the Noco jump start unit, I’d recommend the Noco.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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What to do if your 1996 Landcruiser’s Shifter Will Not Come Out of Park – How to Release the Shift Lock Button

Have you ever noticed that things go bad at the worst time? In my case it was during heavy snow. I was plowing wet snow out of the way and had a few hours to beat when the temperatures would drop and turn the melting snow into a block of ice.

My plow truck is a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser that has a rear mounted plow made by a long gone firm named “Super Plow”. It works pretty good when snow stays under 18″ so I plow a few times during a storm to keep it knocked down.

I was plowing, put the truck in park and got out to see what I needed to touch up. I got back in and it would not shift out of Park. I could tell that the shift lock button was not going in as far as it should. First, I tried turning the steering wheel left and right – no luck. The lock would not release. I then put the truck’s transfer case in Neutral and rocked it some – nothing. I dropped the blade to make sure there weren’t any stresses – nothing. Well, that meant the selector solenoid wasn’t moving out of the way. Argh!! Of course I was stuck right in the middle of the driveway.

I called my buddy John Freehling up who is a real mechanic and will forget more about cars than I will ever learn. He told me that there ought to be an emergency release somewhere near the lever and to do a quick search on the Internet to find out just where, which I did.

You get access to the emergency release by using a blade screw driver, knife or something, to pry the little rectangular lid that is located to the upper left of the shift console. You then can insert a screw driver to gently push down and release the shift lever.
Bingo! Problem solved. I then got the truck back to my garage and went in and read on the computer instead of my little phone screen.

The access plate is at the upper edge of the console. You can see the small plate sitting in the boot of the transfer case lever. You need to reach in and press the release each time you want to take the lever out of park.

The Work Around

Now, it is literally subzero weather right now and I’ll work on permanently solving the weather this weekend when it warms up. Until then, I found a great solution on the web – cut a carpenter’s pencil off so it sticks up slightly – just the body – you don’t need it to be pointed. I put my pencil in and gave myself about an inch protruding and cut it off in my bandsaw.

Getting out of park takes two hands – I push down on the stubby pencil with my left hand, push in the lock button like normal and pull the lever down with my right. Again, you just need it to move the shift lever out of park – not all the time. It works just fine. I was able to finish plowing my hose and my mother-in-law’s no problem.

What might the problem be?

Troubleshooting and fixing this one ought to be pretty straight forward when it is warmer. Here’s what I am going to try in order:

  1. Push down on the brake pedal. If the lights turn on, then the brake pedal switch is good. If they don’t then the problem is most likely the brake pedal switch. I read an interesting post where the guy said unscrewing and removing the brake pedal assembly makes it very straight forward.
  2. If the brake lights come on, make sure they all come on. If not, one blown bulb could potentially cause the problem.
  3. Related to #2 – Check brake light fuse and replace if blown.
  4. If the light all come on, check for power at the solenoid because odds are the solenoid failed.

So, we’ll see what the final fix is but I hope this helps anyone stuck and unable to get the shift lever lock switch to depress and let them shift out of park.

2/3/19 Update: It blew the fuse — As you see, the truck’s plow is on the rear. I smashed the trailer light hookup assembly pretty good and it must have shorted somewhere. This summer I’ll use a hole saw and cut the rear bumper to install a trailer electrical assembly that is better protected vs. under the bumper. So, the truck’s brake lights and shifter are working again.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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These are the Correct Weatherstripping Clips for 1996 Toyota Landcruisers (80-series)

I did some bodywork on my 1996 Landcruiser (an 80-series Landcruiser) this past summer and had to replace the weatherstripping clips on the bottom of the driver side door. I did some digging and found that these clips are the correct size (5mm with a 15mm head) and they worked great for me. The one guy complains that these are green so he only scored it three stars. My originals were a pinkish color so green didn’t matter to me at all plus once installed, you can’t see them.

The following product link is exactly what I ordered:

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I popped the remaining originals out with a removal tool. If you don’t have one, they make a world of difference in the removal of clips. In a truck this old, I try to replace old plastic clips when I can as often find them to be brittle and either break during removal or re-insertion.

Here is a clip removal tool. The green clips under it are the brand new replacement units.

The tool you see in the above photo came with the following replacement Toyota Trim Clips package that has helped me out a number of times such as securing drooping engine bay plastic shields on a 2002 Toyota Camry.

Here were the remaining original clips. Note the lovely pink-ish color thus I really didn’t mind what colors the originals were as long as they worked.

Here is the end result – I worked the clips into each hole in the weather stripping and then simply pushed them into the body holes. I think I installed a total of five to six clips. The drooping problem was solved.

The heads securely fit in the holes in the weather stripping and into the body.
No more drooping weatherstripping!

In Summary

These clips worked great. I just did this post to try and save anyone trying to find clips specifically for an 80 series Landcruiser.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


91-97 Genuine OEM Toyota 80 Series Landcruiser Gray Sun Visor Set Left

$149.00
End Date: Saturday Nov-2-2019 5:21:17 PDT
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91-97 Toyota 80 Series Landcruiser Gray Cloth Sun Visor Set Left

$199.00
End Date: Saturday Nov-2-2019 5:20:07 PDT
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80 Series LandCruiser 3rd Row Cup Holders (1993-1997)

$45.00
End Date: Saturday Nov-9-2019 12:26:00 PST
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FOR LANDCRUISER 80 SERIES FJ80R FZJ80R 4.2 4.5L 6Cyl 1993-97 Aluminum radiator

$178.00
End Date: Sunday Nov-17-2019 19:13:46 PST
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METRA 70-1761 Wiring Harness for 1987-Up Toyota/Lexus/Scion/Subaru

$4.99
End Date: Monday Nov-18-2019 11:34:59 PST
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The Ingersoll Rand 125 Needle Scaler is a HUGE Time Saver + An Into to Needlers

One of the things you learn in Michigan when you have to work on cars is how to deal with rust. Most cars after 10 years in Michigan look like they were dipped in the ocean and then allowed to rust like crazy. It’s pretty much inevitable. The older the car the worst shape they will be in. This year while working on my 1996 Landcruiser I decided to invest in a needle scaler to go faster and save my hands.

Historically, I would use chisels, screw drivers and wire brushes to remove loose rust from part still on the car. This was time consuming, my carpal tunnel would flare up and my hands would ache.

A friend helping restore an old submarine told me about how he bought a needle scaler to help remove rust faster, I had never seen one at the time and filed it away for future reference. One day in Harbor Freight I finally saw one but I really wasn’t keen on buying one of their tools. I’ve had one too many HF tools die at the wrong time and have slowly moved away from them for most tools.

At any rate, I like Ingersoll Rand air tools and read up on their model 125 needle scaler. It has 4.5 stars out of 5 stars on Amazon with 73 reviews. So I read up more about it.

It generates 4,600 blows per minute using 15 CFM at 90 PSI. It has a rubber seal on its throttle to reduce leaking and you can disassemble the unit to clean or replace needles without tools. To stress that next to the last point – you can buy replacement needle packs for the unit.

So, I took the leap and ordered one from Amazon.com and it showed up in two days courtesty of Amazon Prime. My wife now grills me when Amazon boxes show up 🙂

Out of the Box

It arrived fully assembled both longer (about 12″ without the quick coupler fitting) and also heavier than I expected at about 6.8 pounds, also without the coupler.

The first thing I did was install a quality Milton quick connect male plug. These are case hardened steel and not soft brass like you find at Harbor Freight and the big box discount retailers like Home Depot and Lowes. I swear by Milton now because I haven’t had one fail yet (I’m sure they will eventually) but I have replaced countless Harbor Freight, Home Depot and Lowes air fittings over the years.

I also use quality PTFE/Teflon tape. I’ve also given up on the cheap tape. Ace brand tape is pretty good and lately I’ve been using this AntiSieze Technologies brand heavy duty tape and really prefer it.

Taking it Apart

There apparently is a secret society of air needlers who protect the world from very much information being given about these tools. I kid you not, 90% of the manual is legal disclaimers, safety notices and useless boiler plate. I am seeing this trend over and over with the tool companies.

Since I can’t point you to a page, let me try and explain. At the end of the day, an air needler is an impact tool. Inside the body is a 1″ piston that is driving an “anvil” up against the base of the needles 4,600 times per minute. It’s pretty much what you would expect to see if you pulled apart an air hammer except the body is a straight line vs. a pistol-like configuration.

Why is it long? My guess is that it helps the unit get into tight spaces by reaching further.

Now, the needles are really 1/8″ diameter hardened steel rods. These “needles” are really good at getting under rust flakes and popping them up and off the steel surface. It’s a loud tool but it does its job amazingly well.

So you rotate the black color and it will pull straight off the machine and you can see the three groups. The main tool is on the right, the color is on the top left and the needle assembly with two needles removed for you to see are in the lower right of the next photo:

The needles are held in position by a disc with holes to position each needle and a heavy spring shoves the needles back against the anvil to enable the hammering effect.

Here’s a better photo of the disc with some of the needles pushed out for you to see:

This photo shows how the needles and disc would line up with the piston if head when the collar is in place:

All in all, it is a pretty straight forward tool. You will want to take it apart to clean periodically – at least I do. I take and hose the needles and collar down with brake cleaner and then apply a light oil to the needles.

Also, be sure to keep the air tool lubricated. I do not run inline oilers due to my plastic work and need for clean dry air. Instead, I add 4-6 drops of air tool oil (not regular engine oil) in through the quick connect coupler.

I did think it was interesting that IR listed the exact ML of oil to pour in before running the tool. I just counted off 20 drops of air tool oil before I ran it for the first time and called it even — it’s ran just fine by the way.

The Results

I am really pleased. I used the model 125 a ton on my old Land Cruiser this summer that had flaking rust all over the place including the running boards that were in tough shape. One was salvageable and the other I had to make a replacement. Other parts of the truck were just covered in rust. This needle scaler allowed me to do the work much faster and more thoroughly than ever before.

I ran it at 90 PSI through about a hundred foot of 3/8 inch air line with 1/4″ quick connect fittings. I had no trouble whatsoever blasting through anything that could be removed.

It will definitely dent the hell out of thin sheet metal but I was not worried about that. I just wanted to get rid of the rust scale. I also found that I could use it to hammer on places that I was worried about and if it punched through I knew I had an area I needed to work on. For example some of the fenders while they still had paint had rusted really badly from the inside and we’re paper thin.

What I found interesting was that after a ton of work, none of the needles showed wear when I was done with the truck.

I definitely recommend this Ingersoll Rand model 125 needle scaler. I think it did a superb job and will definitely be using it on future projects.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Ingersoll Rand Model 125 Air Needle Scaler IR125

$87.01
End Date: Friday Nov-15-2019 9:59:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $87.01
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Ingersoll Rand Air Needle Scaler-8 CFM 4600 BPM #125

$126.99
End Date: Friday Nov-15-2019 1:52:32 PST
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Ingersoll-Rand 125 Air Needle Scaler IR125

$139.95
End Date: Friday Nov-1-2019 5:30:01 PDT
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Pneumatic Needle Scaler Kit Ingersoll Rand IR-182 K1 NEW

$329.99
End Date: Sunday Nov-10-2019 6:55:49 PST
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INGERSOLL RAND Straight Handle Needle Scaler IR125

$140.56
End Date: Tuesday Oct-29-2019 19:06:08 PDT
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Ingersoll Rand 170PG Pistol Grip Pneumatic Needle Scaler 3,000 BPM 1/4 NPT 90psi

$225.99
End Date: Thursday Oct-31-2019 13:06:47 PDT
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INGERSOLL RAND Needle Scaler ReplacePack of Needles IRPF2219-22-19

$24.07
End Date: Saturday Oct-19-2019 10:35:16 PDT
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Ingersoll Rand 170PG Pistol Grip Pneumatic Needle Scaler 3,000 BPM

$180.00
End Date: Saturday Nov-16-2019 8:55:53 PST
Buy It Now for only: $180.00
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Pneumatic Needle Scaler Kit Ingersoll Rand 172K1

$329.99
End Date: Thursday Nov-14-2019 5:39:56 PST
Buy It Now for only: $329.99
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INGERSOLL RAND 182 PNEUMATIC CHISEL / NEEDLE SCALER

$49.99
End Date: Wednesday Oct-23-2019 11:26:59 PDT
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Houston We Have a Problem: The Onyx 1828 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench Breaks Its Retaining Clip – Resolved

Well, after only moderate use my Onyx 1828 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench has a problem.  On the nose is a small retaining ring, that holds sockets in place.  It came out of its groove and bent.  At first I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to put sockets on or take them off the wrench.  The last one I had to hammer off and then saw what the problem was:

The retaining ring that holds the sockets on the nose had bent!  It was so bad that I didn’t even try to see if I could get a socket on as you can see in the above photos.

First, I checked Amazon to see if I could return it but could not – no worries – I bought it back on January 25, 2018 — about eight and a half months ago.  So, I Googled Astra Pneumatics, found their warranty page and they said to call  (800-221-9705) with the model number of the unit (The 3/8″ Onyx I have is model # 1828)  and the part that I needed from their breakdown sheet located on the main product page – so I got that too:

I circled it in red above for reference – it’s part number 1822-04 and called the 800 number.  The phone was promptly answered and the lady I spoke to was very professional.  They knew there was a problem with a previous generation of the wrench sold earlier by Amazon that they had since fixed.  She said she’d be very happy to send me a new ring for free.  “Cool – I don’t have to send it in” so I gave her my info.

Here we are two weeks later and still no ring.  I called again and this time wrote down the name of the customer service agent and she gave me a reference number, which the last agent did not.  I told her I was bummed because I needed the wrench and the sockets just fell off when I was trying to do odd position work – which was true.   The sockets were just falling off on work with any downward angle.

So, I talked to her on September 11th and we’ll see how things go.  I’m hoping the ring comes this time or I will call back and escalate matters.  I really like the wrench – it’s light, powerful and can get in tight spaces but that all doesn’t matter if it can’t retain its sockets.

So, I wanted to pass this along in case you are having a similar issue and you want to know who to contact and what to request.  I’ll update this post once I have the ring and the unit back in operation … or, worst case, I have to call a third time and escalate but I think things will get resolved this time as the customer service agent made sure (literally) that I wrote down both her name and the reference number.

We’ll see.

This started on 9/11/2018.

Update 9/20:  They sent the wrong size retaining ring!!!  The replacement unit must be for the 1/2″ model.  It’s 8:07pm and they closed at 3:30 Pacific so I left a general voicemail as Marcy’s voicemail box in customer service is not accepting messages.  I’m now getting irked. 

9/21 – Called and talked to Marcy who confirmed they sent the wrong size ring.  I told her this was causing problems for and I’d really appreciate it if they would send the ring some way other than first class mail.  She mumbled something to the effect that she couldn’t do anything about it or it was out of her control.

9/26 – Still dead in the water and am ticked off.

As an update, some time in October 2018 this got resolved.  I called  and asked to talk to a supervisor.  It turns out the rings were back ordered but she had a stash to help out people who had waited a long time.  She sent me two and I was back in business.  If you are going to buy one, first find out if they have changed the socket retaining ring/clip design.  I think someone at that firm told me they had but confirm this.  If it weren’t for this problem, I’d be very happy.  The wrench itself works fine otherwise.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon to buy something.   With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The EWK Vacuum Fluid Extractor is Darned Handy to Drain Engine Oil and ATF Through the Dipstick Tube!!

Folks who know me also know that I am always tinkering with something – cars, trucks, tractors, firearms, you name it.  A few years ago a guy showed me how he could change fluids in his car using a vacuum siphon and I was intrigued but let it slide.

I recently went through all our old Toyotas and changed the transmission fluid to Valvoline Max Life and it dawned on me that it would be real nice to have a way to more precisely get the fluid right where I wanted it in the transmissions because I had slightly overfilled one car.  Then I remembered the vacuum siphon and hopped on Amazon.

The EWK 6.5 liter (1.71 gallon) pneumatic or manual fluid extractor looked like just the tool for the job.  I always pay close attention to reviews and this unit really had good ones – 277 reviews and a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars.  That’s pretty good statistically – I like to get well past 30 reviews and the more the better.

At any rate, thanks to Amazon prime, I ordered it and the unit arrived two days later.  I must say that I was impressed.  The plastics are all well done and it worked like a charm.

In this next photo you can see the little adapter and hose extension that comes with the unit.  They say three in the ad and the first hose is attached to the cap with a strain relief.  The hose is about  .39/.31 (OD/ID) and 39.3″ long.  The other two hoses are basically extensions via a soft rubber connector.  I am using the medium extension that is .26/.21 OD/ID) and also 39.3″ long.  That diameter has worked fine for Toyota T-IV ATF, Valvoline Max Life ATF  and also 10W30 engine oil.  When I say it can suck, that is a compliment in this case 🙂

The next photo shows the pump handle and also the venturi vacuum generator.  I have that air line on my dryer system and is running 90PSI off a 60 gallon IR two stage compressor.  It really didn’t use too much air.  No vacuum generator will win awards for air use but you don’t need to run it for very long – just while you are pumping the fluid out and that will probably be about 2-3 minutes for most engines and transmissions.

The first time I used it, I did so with an air line (it can use compressed air to create a venturi vacuum) .  It actually pumped way faster than I realized and I had over a quart out of the car before I realized it.  You can definitely reduce the air flow to reduce the vacuum – it was just faster than I thought it would be, which is good news.

I was so impressed that I used the extractor to remove all the ATF from a 94 Corolla in very short order.  I let it pump until nothing else came out — no problem.

I recently needed to change the oil in my tractor – again, used the siphon and it drained it very quickly.  This is noteworthy as I used the hand pump to create the vacuum and it really was effortless.  This was also when it dawned on me I better take some photos 🙂  You can see it pulling out the 10W30 no problem at all.

In this next photo, you can see the unit with the hose cap off – it just twists off – and this is the pour spout to empty the unit also.

I’m still on my first set of hoses but they do have a variety of replacement hoses on Amazon in case you want just one hose or a set.

In summary, it’s a great unit.  I’ve not had any problems at all and recommend it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Amazon product listings are at the bottom of the post.