Category Archives: Fixing Stuff

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.


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.



Waging War On Mosquitoes – Got a My4Sons Sprayer To Apply Talstar Pro Insecticide!!

We’ve had a crazy amount of rain this year in Southwest Michigan. It seems we can’t go more than a day or two without rain. The photo at the top of our yard shows how everything is a lush green plus it shows the standing water that won’t go down because everything is so water logged due to all of the rain. We have friends and family complaining about the huge amount mosquitoes that are attacking them as a result – we don’t have that problem. I declared war on mosquitoes last year and upped my attack plan even further this year.

The ground is so wet and soft that my tractor got stuck and I had to pull it out. It’s sldo so wet that the mosquito population has just exploded and folks are saying that ticks are booming as well.

Last year, we started using Talstar Pro insecticide sprayed from an 18 volt two gallon Ryobi sprayer and I wrote a blog post about it because I was so happy with the results. It took me four batches (8 gallons in other words) of spray with 1 oz of Talstar per gallon to get control. It also took over an hour to apply. It definitely did the job but it took a long time and my arm ached from holding all the Ryobi sprayer unit as I walked around.

To be honest, the Ryobi far exceeded my expectations it was just too small, didn’t spray as far as I would like and holding it was killing my elbow, shoulder and back. I decided in April to buy a better sprayer and started researching on the Internet and reading reviews on Amazon. I happened across a vendor on Amazon called “My 4 Sons”, their features looked great and they got very good reviews so I decided to order one.

My 4 Sons Sprayers

First off, they really are a family owned business started by Lance and Lisa Ensign in 1998. Yes, they do have four sons. At any rate, they started with carpet cleaning and eventually branched into battery powered sprayers. I’m no expert but I think they fill a middle niche between little light use sprayers and the big dedicated units that you pull by a tractor or ATV.

In terms of features, what attracted me were:

  • a 4.5 + a bit gallon tank (the listing says 4 but it is at least 4.5)
  • 0-60 PSI with a claim of spraying up to 30 feet with the right nozzle
  • 15 foot extended hose
  • Wand and pistol – I thought I would use the pistol too but find myself sticking with the wand
  • Heavy caddy to pull it around in or backpack straps (I knew I would never use the backpack feature)
  • A ton of accessories
  • The battery can be easily accessed and replaced – it just slides into a compartment with a door
  • They say the battery will last up to 8 hours. I’ve run it for 2-3 hours and never had a problem

The following is an Amazon link for the exact model I bought:

Here’s another model they have without the caddy and extended hose:

It Arrived

In typical Amazon fashion, the unit showed up a few days later in a big box. What surprised me were parts everywhere and very limited instructions. The guide said to call Lance and listed his number. I left a message and he called me back a short while later and I got everything squared away. He and I then exchanged a few text messages also and they replaced a couple of accessory parts no hassle at all.

Here’s the tank, charger and caddy fresh out of the box. Some of the parts were in the tank to save space.
It just slides in and is retained by a velcro strap then there is a door that snaps in place to seal it.
Here’s the battery.
the battery has terminals on the top and simply slides into the compartment and makes contact at the end. A velcro strap allows you to snugly keep the battery in place.
Here’s the assembled unit with everything attached – the backpack straps and the extended hose. I removed the backpack straps shortly after.
Here’s how it looks now with just the tank assembly, extended hose, wand and caddy. Note how I had to tie the top bungee strap. I need to go over uneven ground and the tank can tumble off the caddy if the bungee can stretch too much. I’ll probably replace the bungee straps with just plain straps at some point. What you see above works for now – I just am not a huge fan of the looks.

Mosquito Control Results

When the mosquitoes first started this Spring, it was brutal. We were getting crazy amounts of rain and even at 1.5oz of Talstar per gallon of water and weekly applications, we couldn’t stay on top of them. I’m pretty sure the Talstar was getting washed off. Normally, Talstar is really good about leaving a residue that kills the mosquitoes but not when it is getting poured on almost every day. I tried to time my re-applications with at least one following dry day and the more the better. I like to apply at dusk when the mosquitoes are active by the way.

The sprayer and adjustable tipped wand worked wonders. With the My 4 Sons system I could really reach out with the spray -maybe 20-30 feet depending on how I adjusted the jet. Plus I could open up the spray and broadly apply it to the underbrush, leaves, grass by the house, bushes, eaves and so forth.

Instead of just 8 gallons, I’m applying about 12 and it takes me about 30-45 minutes to do so. This is because of the bigger tank and that I can spray a higher volume with the new system.

I’d say it took about three weeks to get on top of things and now I am spraying the normal 1 oz per gallon of water about every 4 weeks. We’ve just made it through one of these normal cycles and will spray again near the end of June – so we have another week to go as of my writing this and the mosquitoes are under control.

The Bottom Line

We can go outside safely now but we do hear of folks fighting tons of mosquitoes. I recommend Talstar Pro to anyone who will listen. If you have small urban property, you can start with a pump sprayer and move up from there.

Note, we have dogs and treat them for fleas and ticks. I hate ticks but they don’t bother me much unless I am in the woods. Talstar Pro is great if you need to get rid of ticks and a variety of other insects as well – read the label below.

I’d guess I’ve applied about four batches with the My 4 Sons unit now and am very happy with it. If you need a bigger sprayer for whatever it is that you are doing, I definitely recommend them.

Here are some links on Talstar P Pro if you want to learn more:

PS – The 18 volt Ryobi Sprayer is still going strong even after a ton of use last year and is now being used to hose down plants with fungicide. Since stuff isn’t drying out, we are seeing a lot of fungus development on our roses and vegetables. I’m experimenting between Immunox (which is not impressing me) and Daconil for fungus control. Point being for people with smaller areas, the little Ryobi is still a solid choice.


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.


Furnace Filter Change Log

As I get older, I remember less and less just to be candid. An old rule of thumb I was told once was to change your furnace filters when the time changes – the whole fall back, spring forward thing. The problem is two fold – #1, I eventually change them around that date and #2, the more modern filters with finer and finer filtration capabilities need to be changed more frequently – maybe every 60 days with a 1″ filter.

So, I created a small “change log” sheet that I taped on the side of the furnace to help me remember when I last changed them. It’s a simple thing – I just made a four column table where I could record the date I changed the filter. Done.

Here’s the PDF that you can print if you are interested.

Click on the above to open or right click to save in your browser.

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.


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.


The Rise of Useless Reviews on Amazon – Read Before You Buy

Amazon is really cool. I can get good deals on stuff and have it delivered to where I live. The problem is that I used to historically look at the number of reviews and the average score to determine if something was worthwhile or not. A pure math approach of looking at the numbers is not working any more and let me tell you why.

I’m noticing a lot of reviews where people give 4 to 5 stars without really using the product. I don’t know if they feel they need to report right away or just what but you will read stuff like “it looks good” or “it feels good” and nothing about the actual use. I suppose it’s better than nothing but not by much.

Also, some merchants reach out and correct problems then ask the buyer to revise the score. You know, I’m cool with that. A friend of mine recounted the story of being hounded – email after email – from the seller to change the score. So, you need to be aware of this too – I’m not a huge fan of wasting time troubleshooting stuff – I want it to hit the ground working.

Recommendations

Again, the basics are true. Products with no reviews are very risky and less than 30 are still risky but you are starting to get a safety margin. However, you must dive deeper to learn what folks are saying.

What I am finding is that you need to read the reviews and:

  • Look for people who actually used the product and are reporting back.
  • Look for trends – was the product great and having more and more problems or vise versa?
  • Look out for tons of edits where people post that they have revised the score after the vendor sent a replacement. Why was this necessary? I could understand a few but not a lot and definitely not a trend.
  • Be sure to click on the number of reviews right under the product name so you can see the breakdown of scores and even click on the number of stars to read the reviews. So, if you click on “1 star” you can read those reviews.

Fortunately with Amazon, they give great customer service and I can’t guess how many times they have made things right over the years. I think a lot of folks have a level of comfort with Amazon now and I also think you need to use the tools they gave us to make a better purchase decision.


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.


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.


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Genuine Toyota Landcruiser 80 93-97 Exhaust Manifold Heat Shield Set FZJ80 LX450

$160.00
End Date: Friday Nov-15-2019 7:53:26 PST
Buy It Now for only: $160.00
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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
Buy It Now for only: $149.00
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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
Buy It Now for only: $45.00
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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
Buy It Now for only: $199.00
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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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Hoover Carpet Shampooers are Totally Worth It!!

I bet you did not expect to see me do a post about carpet shampooers or as some call them “carpet cleaners” or “carpet cleaning machines”.  We’ve owned dogs and had kids for years plus we have light colored carpets.  Keeping them clean is no easy matter and maybe 4-6 times per year we shampoo them – plus occasional touch ups if something gets spilled, etc.  It makes a HUGE difference.

We used to rent Rug Doctor carpet cleaners and while they do the job you have the expense and hassle of having to rent one.  Back in the early 2000s we bought our first Hoover.  We went with one from Sam’s Club if I recall right.   One of the big selling points over the competition at the time was that the clean water reservoir was built right into the unit whereas some models make you run a hose way back to a bathroom, utility or kitchen sink.  That just would not work the way our house was laid out.

We wore out our first unit in probably 5-6 years — it last quite a while and did a ton of cleaning with it.  We then bought a newer model that we are still using and just got a brand new model to do my mother-in-law’s home after it flooded.  It is a FH50258 “Hoover Professional Series Power Scrub Elite Pet Plus Upright Carpet Cleaner”.  That is a mile long model name but it really did a fantastic job.

Why Did We Get It?

Thus summer we had a crazy storm that just parked over our town and dumped a ton of rain for two days,  Pretty much everybody had problems with water coming into their basements including my mother-in-law.  We were super busy and other than helping move stuff out of the way and putting a dehumidifier down there, we had to wait a bit to do the cleaning and restoration.

One of the reasons we bought a cleaner for her house was to leave it there in case of future problems plus we can use it for shampooing.  Something we found out many years ago is that a shampooer can suck up water from a carpet like there’s no tomorrow.  If you have water come in and get  carpet wet, a heavy shampooer will suck a ton of water our compared to a light Ship-Vac wand and hose.

This new unit is lighter than our old one plus the tank appears much more ruggedly made.  We busted the tank on both previous units – the “ears” that would clamp the lid to the tank would bust off way too easily – they fixed that design flaw with this model.  They also say the unit is blowing heated air to help with cleaning and drying – I can’t speak to that.  We use hot water from the tap to begin with.

Here are some photos of the new unit:

In the next photo, you can see the reservoirs pretty clearly.  The main reservoir on the top is for the clean water – again, we always use hot water to help clean and dry faster.  The smaller top right reservoir holds the soap.  The big tank under the black bar with “ELITE” on it holds the waste water.  It is easily detached and you can pour the filthy waste water down the toilet.

Our Approach

At any rate, mama had lived there for about 10 years and it had never shampooed her basement so it was worn to begin with.  Add in the water and she had stains all over the place.  My wife used hot water and plenty of carpet shampoo to clean the carpet.

In the above photos, you can see where she already cleaned and what was still dirty pretty clearly.  We tend to use either Rug Doctor or Bissell shampoo.  For the above we were using Rug Doctor shampoo.  My wife has worked out a method that works well – she shampoos the carpet twice and then does a third pass just rinsing.  We’ve found that carpets seem to attract dirt less if we rinse them and make sure no sticky/gummy residue remains.

Look at the example area below.  We had shampooed the lighter areas already but you can see the dirty carpet pretty clearly:

This is during shampooing:

And this is the end result

After we shampooed the carpets, we ran fans a dehumidifier to dry things out.  The shampooer did a great job and I figured it would be worth it to pass along the word.  We bought the exact model above at Home Depot for $149.  We did mama’s house and were so impressed that we bought a unit for ourselves.  I’d say we get at least five years from our older models so you can do the math as whether you want to continue to rent or buy a shampooer.

For us, the shampooers have been very worthwhile.  We have always liked the quality of the results and we don’t have to rush and rent a unit if family is coming over, we need to clean up an accident or even clean in general – we can just do it whenever we want.

As mentioned, this is the third Hoover we have owned/used and were very impressed.  If you are interested, check the various Hoover models and see what is getting good review on Amazon, Home Depot, etc. and also falls in your budget.

I hope this helps you out.


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.


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.