Tag Archives: DIY

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 create 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 ūüôā

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.


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.


Simple Life Hack – How to Combine Candles And/Or Add a Candle Wick

My dad raised honey bees when I was growing up so we had a lot of wax. ¬†One year, my mom and dad bought some molds and we cast candles. ¬†For wicks, we used heavy cotton string. ¬†When you put string in hot liquid wax, capillary action occurs and the wax is “wicked” into the string. ¬†The candle then cools and away you go. ¬†Now I had pretty much forgotten about this for about 20 years until I saw our growing collection of almost empty candles or candles in glass bottles that had burned the way around wick but left a ton of wax on the jar walls. ¬†It was one of those “Gee, I bet I can fix that” moments.

Here are some supplies and tools to gather up: #36 cotton twine (it has to be cotton and not a synthetic), a washer to serve as weight, gloves to handle the hot containers, needlenose piers, a screw driver, cutters and a piece of cardboard to protect the table in case I spilled wax.

Also, your work area should be near the microwave.  The counter I used was about eight feet away.  Make sure there are no trip/fall hazards between the microwave and work area and that you have a drop cloth, piece of card board, newspaper or something to deal with spatters and spills.  You do not need to be in a rush Рindeed, take your time!!  It takes wax a while to cool off.  I just want the work center close by to reduce the chances of dropping the hot wax.

So, step by step if you just want to melt the wax down into the bottom and add a new wick:

  1. Use a cloth to firmly rub the glass rim and remove any waxy soot (the black junk on the glass).  It will come off.
  2. If the current metal weight/anchor is exposed, remove it with your needlenose pliers. ¬†If you don’t, you’ll see arching in your microwave and potentially hurt the microwave. ¬†Seriously, this is not a joke – you can ruin your microwave my putting exposed metal in it.
  3. Microwave the candle in the glass jar until it all melts. ¬†The time to melt will depend on the formulation of the wax, how strong your microwave is and how much wax there is. ¬†On one candle it took about 5-6 minutes and on another it was much longer. ¬†Go for a minute, check, go for a minute, check, over and over – don’t try and do it all at once. ¬†You don’t want molten wax bubbling all over inside your microwave as it will be a HUGE mess to clean. ¬†Have you ever heated water too much in a microwave and had it bubble over everywhere? ¬†This is the same thing but when the wax cools it is a bear to get off. ¬†So, be careful and go slow. ¬†Don’t heat it any more than you need to.
  4. Tie a weight to the end of the string so it will sink to the bottom – I used an old washer I had laying on my bench
  5. Take the candle out wearing gloves. ¬†The glass can be very hot so you don’t want to get burned or drop the molten wax as it will be a bear to clean up. ¬†Just be careful and have a good grip. ¬†I wear lined work gloves. ¬†You only need to hold the container long enough to get it from the microwave to your work area that should be close by.
  6. If you haven’t done so already, use your pliers and remove the old wick.
  7. lower the weighted end of the string into the center of the candle.  When the string bends, it has reached the bottom so lift up slightly until the string is straight
  8. Lay your screw driver or something else across the mouth of the jar and make sure the string is still centered.  Put something on the ball of string / extra string so it stays in position.  I found I could move the ball around and the weight of the ball was usually enough.  Another time I put a pair of pliers across the string so the weight of the pliers would hold the string in place.

Now if you want to consolidate candles, do the above to the first candle, let it cool (if you want), and then heat the next candle and poor it into the first one. ¬†Don’t forget to remove the old wick and weight. ¬†Take your time, be safe, the wax will not cool fast. ¬†So here is the second candle. ¬†The wick weight is buried under the wax so I will remove it once the wax is molten. ¬†If it were exposed or close to the surface, I would dig it out.

Here is is after I melted it, removed the anchor and poured it into the first candle.

After a little over an hour, the candle has cooled enough that I could cut the wick. ¬†The wick will burn down to whatever height the wax can reach and burn so don’t worry about it being too long. ¬†You do need to be patient and let it cool or you will make a big mess while trying to cut it (I made that mistake with another candle where it looked solid but was still way too soft and I made a mess). ¬†You just need to be patient and let it cool all the way is the bottom line.

That’s it. ¬†I like this kind of stuff. ¬†It’s a great distraction from the normal work. ¬†You can combine waxes, try different thicknesses of cotton string, etc. ¬†Have fun!


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Note, go to Ace or your local hardware store for the cotton string. ¬†It should be $4-6 for a ball that will last you a long time considering you are using maybe 6″ at a time.

 

How to do Home Manganese Parkerizing

The Following is a Basic Do-it-yourself Manganese Parkerizing Formula

A couple of friends online, Elkaholic and Ding, got me interested in parkerizing years ago and gave me a home brew formula and process steps they use.¬† I have been tuning that formula for a few years and thought I would share it as I use it both for blades and firearms.¬† It works great as either the base for a top finish, such as Molyresin or as a finish all by itself.¬† You may be wondering “why not just buy a premade formula such as the great parkerizing solution from Brownell’s” – the short answer is because tinkering can be fun and more rewarding.¬† I like to experiment and try different things.¬†¬† So, with that said, here is the recipe:

Ingredients

Р2 gallons of distilled water  (it gives more consistent results because impurities have been removed)
– 2 ‚Äúbiscuits‚ÄĚ of clean 0000 steel wool (thinner steel wool dissolves faster hence the use of 0000 grade)
– 1 cup of Klean Strip brand Phosphoric Prep & Etch (or other phosphoric acid etching solution around 35-45% concentrate per the Prep & Etch MSDS sheet)
– 6 rounded tablespoons of manganese dioxide (available at pottery supply stores or Amazon)

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Do this outside Рnever in your house or shop (unless you have a great vent hood).  If you do it indoors, you will likely make stuff rust fast!

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As you can see, I use a camp stove.¬† For the first couple of years I just used a Coleman stove but that was always a balancing act with my 48″ long stainless pakerizing tank that I used for barreled actions.¬† I found the above great Camp Chef stove at Amazon and it is fantastic.

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Also, be sure to use stainless steel for your tanks.  I watch for sales or buy stuff off eBay.  The big cooker above is from Walmart and the rectangular pan shown below is from Amazon and is normally the water pan for buffet lines.

For tongs to move stuff around, use solid stainless.  I tried the plastic ones and they can leave a plastic residue on blasted surfaces and mess up your finish.

Just like baking, if you want more of the solution, take the recipe and multiply it by two, four or however many multiples you want. Just be sure you have a place to store it when done.  I use 5 gallon jugs and label them.

Steps to Follow

  1. Add acid to water in a stainless pan/pot and heat to 190F – don’t boil and waste it.¬† I use a baking thermometer clipped to the side of the pan.
  2. Spray each wool biscuit with brake cleaner to remove oils and allow each time to dry
  3. As the solution warms shred the steel wool into the liquid and add the manganese dioxide
  4. Let the mix simmer and dissolve the steel wool before adding parts
  5. I always blast my parts before I parkerize them – I’ve heard guys tell about using a wire brush on a buffer or drill press as well but I’ve not tried that.¬† Blasting removes the oxides and exposes the bare steel.
  6. Make sure your parts are very, very clean and degreased — only handle with rubber gloves after they are cleaned or oils from your skin can mess things up
  7. You can suspend your parts in the liquid with stainless wire.  Leave them until the fizzing stops or about 30-40 minutes.  The time varies.DSC_0027
  8. Rinse the parts with boiling water thoroughly to remove the acid.
  9. Spray parts with WD40 to get the water away from the steel
  10. Wipe down with oil or apply whatever secondary finish you want – don’t do both ūüôā¬† If you are going to apply a finish on top of the parkerized surface, use acetone or brake cleaner to remove any oils and then follow their instructions.

At the bottom of the post are links to Amazon products including long parkerizing tanks.

Cleaning Up

When you are done, let your mixture cool and strain the liquid through a coffee filter into a plastic can for future use. I use a blue kerosene 5 gallon container because it is a different color from all my other 5 gallon containers plus I label it.  Point being, you do not want to get confused and pour this stuff in when you meant to use a fuel, etc.

The precipitate, the stuff on the bottom, should be scooped onto a shallow pan, allowed to dry and be disposed of as a hazardous waste.  For example, where ever your community collects old paints, batteries, etc.

Equipment and Supplies

Amazon just makes it so easy to buy from them.¬† I pay for Amazon Prime because I live in a rural area and it is way easier to have stuff delivered than to go hunting for items.¬† Yes, it costs $99/year but I save that in shipping in just a couple of months because of all the supplies I buy through them plus the free shipping is two days.¬† I’d say their two day delivery service makes it in two business days to overwhelming majority of the time plus they are very good about handling returns and providing great customer service.

Links to many of the products will be below this post including manganese dioxide, grill I use for heat, parkerizing tanks and more so please scroll down.


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 Рeven unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries Рwe get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Amazon product links are at the bottom of the post.