Tag Archives: car

The GUTA RV Tire Pressure Monitoring System Is Great For Vehicles That Lack Real Time Monitoring

We had a 2,200 mile trip planned expensive things are with a 2016 Ford Transit 150 that had six year-old tires on it – yeah, they need to be replaced but money is tight with inflation thanks to the politicians. The tread was definitely above the wear bars but the outer layer of rubber was starting to crack. So, I really wanted something to let me know how the tires were doing during the trip.

One thing I really like with my 2021 Ram 2500 is that I can see the tire pressure in real time. Our 2016 Transit has a basic tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) but doesn’t report to you what the pressure is – it has has an indicator light if something goes wrong. I really wanted something real time for the van and had seen aftermarket TPMS units that had a receiver and sensors that went on the tire valve stems in place of the caps before.

I started doing some research and while there were a lot of different cheaper models out there, I went with the M20-4 (meaning 4 sensors included) model from GUTA on Amazon based on reviews. I’m actually writing this 1,100 miles into our trip and am quite happy with the unit so let me tell you more about it.

Out of the Box

Literally, the unit comes ready to go other than needing a quick topping off of the main receiver’s battery using a Micro USB cord. The sensors have their batteries loaded and are already programmed to the unit.

What you see on the box was included along with 4 sensors and 4 spare O-rings. I didn’t use their adhesive pad and just opted for a couple small pieces of velcro.

The unit recharges its batteries via the solar panel or you can plug it in – the provide both a car/truck cigarette lighter to USB adapter as well as a short cord, I planned to just run via solar so I didn’t bother.

I bought the four sensor model and in the box there are four ready to go sensors with their batteries installed already programmed to the receiver. The are labeled LF (Left Front), LR (Left Rear), RF (Right Front) and RR (Right Rear). Left and right are from the driver’s perspective looking forward.

All of the sensors were labelled, had the 2032 battery already installed and were programmed to the M20 receiver.

One of the reasons I bought the GUTA M20-4 was that nobody reported needing any extra antennas to pick up the data from the TPMS sensors. Our Transit is a full size 150 model so the wheelbase is about 148″ so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem.

In terms of the sensors, they just go on the valve stem in place of the valve cap. Be sure to put the right sensor, such as the LF- Left Front – sensor on the right tire of course.

To install them you put the jam nut on first and thread it to the bottom. Then screw on the sensor until it stops – you will hear air leak for a second until the sensor seals as you continue threading it on. You then use their special wrench to snug down the jam nuts to lock the sensor in place. Done.

Here you can see the brass jam nut. By snugging this up against the back of the sensor you are pretty much locking the sensor in place due to the tension it creates. Note the elevated black plastic on the sensor under the jam nut – this is where you use the other end of the wrench to open the sensor to replace the battery when it dies.
This odd looking wrench serves two purposes – the left end us for unscrewing the battery cap on a sensor unit. The right end is offset to make reaching behind the sensor to tighten or loosen the jam nut easier. The offset allows the wrench to clear the sensor body and appropriate engage the jam nut. I put this wrench and the spare O-rings to seal the battery compartment in a clear plastic storage bag and put them in the van for future use.
Rather than use their supplied mounting material, I used some industrial Velcro. You stick it on to a clean surface and let it cure for 24 hours. It does a great job after that. The reason I did this was I wanted to be able to move the unit around some without the Velcro showing.
To give you a sense of scale, you can see the van’t instrument console and my hand – I wear an XL-sized glove. The receiver is small but I find the numbers of the display very easy to read from a normal driving position.
The top back of the unit has the solar cells and I have found they do the job. I let them charge during the day and just let the unit run. I don’t turn it off. By the way, there’s a little sun icon that means it is charging and there is also a battery charge indicator in the display as well.

The Device’s Configuration Screens

Well, the mechanical installation was very easy. The set up screen took a few minutes to figure out but wasn’t too bad. The set up screen lets you select pounds per square inch (PSI) or Bar, whether you want Farenheit or Celsius and then the Low and High pressure literally for each tire. An alarm will sound if either the low or high pressue is exceeded – I’ve experienced that. There’s also a high temperature tire warning that applies to all tires.

For the van, I set the low pressures all to 65 PSI and I set the max to 100. The tire temperature was set to 158F by default and I left it at that figuring I would see what happens and adjust accordingly – I had no idea what to expect actually. I did do some reading and somewhere between 190-225F is the maximum safe temperature for a tire to reach – it depends on your tire’s temperature rating.

The unit supports two modes – Mode 1 is for normal street driving and Mode 2 is for offroad or something. I had no need to explore this as our van isn’t going to go offroad.

By the way, you can add sensors or reprogram/pair sensors if need be and the instruction manual tell you how. They sell versions of this system with more and more tires supported and different displays let you see the status. Again, I just bought the model for four tires. I could add sensors to support a trailer though even with the model I have.

The Results

Honestly, I am very happy. It’s been intriguing to see how temperature affects tire pressure – that one I expected. In general, as temperature increases, the volume of a gas increases so this means that the pressure would increase in the tire.

What I didn’t really expect was to see that with driving, the back tires were a tad warmer than the front and also had about 2 PSI more pressure than the front. Tire temperatures where about 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside tire temperature when driving. It’s 95F here and when we were parked on asphalt the heat of the day would take the tires up to about 101-104F and then they would cool down as we drove.

The pressure is real time but the temperature cycles from tire to tire every 5 seconds, Note the pressure when the temperature was 61F. So you can’t tell which tire was sending the temperature in the photo but in real like, the little tire part of the graphic would be flashing so you’d know what it’s temperature is.
Here are the pressures at 77F – again, one tire was at 77F and I bet the others would have been very close to that.
This one is close to 91F. Note, all of these photos are with the same tire pressures. I filled the tires, installed the sensors and have just watched the numbers change. We had ten hour days with me driving so it gave me something to do in addition to staring outside, self-mediation and pondering existience 🙂

I think the manual said the 2032 batteries in the sensors would last about 6 months. I guess we’ll just have to see about that. Cold Michigan Winter weather takes its toll on batteries because as the temperature drops so does the chemical reaction in the batteries and thus less voltage is produced. I’m really not worried because I did open a sensor and it is real easy to replace the batteries.

To sum it up – The installation was very easy and I like being able to see the pressures at a glance. Knowing that there would be an alarm if a threshold is passed or the pressure starts dropping rapidly too are all reassuring.

So, I like the system and would buy it again.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to repair a broken brake light lens with a 3M film you can buy at a car store or Amazon?

Okay, it was late the other night and I was tired. I backed up my 2021 Ram 2500 and heard the truck hit something. “Crap” I thought as I remembered my Western plow was disconnected and sitting on the ground in the area where I was backing up. Well, I hoped I had just nudged the plow frame with my rear bumper but when I got out, it turned out that one of the lights on the plow frame had busted out a golf ball sized part of the passenger side red brake light lens – it was a good thing I was going slow at least but what to do?

If you notice the scuff mark on the back edge of the light, that’s what hit the passenger side tail light and busted the lens. I’m definitely glad I wasn’t going fast.

Well, first I have to tell you I felt pretty stupid. I literally forgot the plow was back there but then my next thought was “how do I fix this?” It was about 11:15 at night, 9 degrees out and snowing. If there’s one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that my patience is gone when I am tired and that was the not the time to try and fix something. I didn’t want the light assembly to get a ton of snow in it so I just lightly stuck some duct tape on it and work on it the next day.

Looking For A Quick and Easy Fix

First thing I did was to get online and order a new right side tail light assembly (68361714AD for my Tradesman) and that will take some time to come arrive – I literally ordered it yesterday morning and am waiting as I write this. At any rate, I needed to apply a temporary fix to the busted lens. In college, I’d used a red self-adhesive tape to “patch” a busted brake light. I figured I would do something similar because I wanted the lens closed and also you can get a ticket for having either a white light showing from a brake light or an inoperable light. The other thing was given the weather and supply chain problems these days, I wasn’t sure how long I would be waiting for the replacement light assembly so off to Autozone I went.

Autozone carries two type of repair kits both from 3M – one was a roll of red colored translucent tape ($4.99) and the other was a semi-rigid red translucent film ($8.99). I opted for the latter because I could cover the hole without seams and figured it would blend in a lot better. Now I have not used the 3M tape but the one I used in college 30+ years ago faded in the sun and didn’t stick to red hot so I just wasn’t that gung ho on it but I will tell you that my general experience with 3M is that they turn out top notch stuff so I am sure it would have been better but I went with the film and not the tape.

3M High-Strength Red Lens Repair Film 03441

The package has a 3.75×7.75″ piece of thick red film. It’s stiff but it will bend and 3M says it measures about 6-6.5 mils (1 mil =1,000th of an inch) thick. For example, if a credit card is around .03 inches thick, it measures 30 mils to give you an idea.

This is the front of the package in case you are hunting for it.
I read and followed the instructions.

As you can see in the photos, it was snowing and 16 degrees out when I did the repair. I cleaned the lens real quick with 409 – a general purpose cleaner. I then wiped it dry and brought over the film and a pair of scissors.

The break in the lens had a slight curve so I worked the material around in my hands to get the basic curve I needed and trimmed the material so it could sit flat on the surface. I then removed the rear backing materials and kept pressure on it while working out air bubbles. I figured it might need the heat of my hands to both stay bent and to bond so I did this for 1-2 minutes. For some reason, after I applied the patch was when it dawned on me that I did not take a photo of the hole – why? I have no idea.

Here you can see the hole covered with the film. I have a pretty good seal except for at the bottom where all the cracks are. There’s a raised ridge there that the film cant conform to so I called it good enough and stopped there. I figure this only needs to last maybe 2-4 weeks but wanted it good enough that it can go longer if need be.
It was definitely snowing and cold. This is a piece of film left over after the patching so you can see it.
The lens cracked but did not come apart of the top right side. If you look close you can see a rectangular piece of film I stuck there just to make sure the track doesn’t get worse.
You step back a few feet and you can’t even see the film. I checked the bond the following day and it feels like the film has really bonded to the lens. I’m genuinely impressed.

The Results

I’m surprisingly happy. I didn’t know for sure if it would work but it’s holding up just fine and from a distance you wouldn’t even know it is there.

If things change, I’ll be sure to post an update but so far, so good.

2/19/22: Still holding up just fine. Nothing has changed at all – adhesion and color are just fine. I’m still waiting on the Mopar parts dealer to send me the tail light assembly. Thanks to the film I’m not in a rush and it looks just fine from a few feet away – you wouldn’t even know it is there.

2/19/2022 – still holding up just fine a week later. No sign of the plastic film letting go from the base tail light lens. It’s solid. We’ve had weather ranging from snow and 12 degrees to rain and 15 degrees. It seems to be a solid repair.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Add A Glass Blind Spot Mirror To Your Car Or Truck For Safer Driving

Have you ever noticed that when you look in your side rear view mirrors of your car or truck that there is a “blind spot” that vehicles can disappear into? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a surprised motorist beep their horn because I didn’t see them when changing lanes or turning. There is definitely a way to fix that with what are known as “blind spot mirrors”.

Blind spot mirrors have been around for many years and basically are a 2″ convex (meaning bugled outward) mirror that sticks onto your OEM side view mirror with a piece of double sided tape. They worked but many had a weakness – because they were made from cheap plastic, the mirror finish sound start to fade/oxidize over time and instead of a perfect little mirror, you had black spots obscuring your view and defeating the whole reason you bought the little things.

A few years ago I ran across a vendor on Amazon of glass (not plastic) blind spot mirrors known as “Ampper”. These glass mirrors don’t break down like the plastic ones — at least they haven’t yet on our vehicles. I bought our first set in June of 2019 and have slowly replaced the plastic old plastic blindspot mirrors as they failed. In the case of my new 2021 Dodge Ram 2500, I bought the mirrors and installed them right after I got the truck.

Note, they come with some little plastic swivel mounts that you can optionally use. I find them too light for my liking and instead just clean the vehicle’s mirror and stick the blind spot mirror directly on the OEM mirror.

The Ampper mirrors come in two packs – two mirrors and two swivels mounts – enough to do one vehicle. Note, I don’t use the swivels. Click here for the Amazon listing.

Even though my new 2500 has giant mirrors, I felt like I was more likely to catch a vehicle by the side of my truck by adding the blind spot mirror.

You can see the blind spot mirror provides a different perspective of what is going on next to the truck. I have them on both the driver and passenger.

Summary

I’d honestly recommend these for any car or truck to help reduce or eliminate the blind spot but ultimately you need to figure out how best to make sure there aren’t obstacles/vehicles in your way. You can get them off Amazon [click here] and they are cheap insurance.

I hope you find this helpful.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Looking For A High Quality 5-Gallon Gas Can? Check Out Wavian

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. A couple of my many-year old plastic gas cans are getting brittle and I needed to replace them. Some years back I bought some steel Chinese ones off Amazon that are doing relatively okay other than starting to rust a bit inside – I looked it up and I bought them in 2014 for $54.50 each so that’s not too bad. I wondered what some higher quality options might be so I did some digging and came across Wavian.

Honestly, when I saw their name I assumed it was some cheap import but then started reading more. Wavian cans are made in Latvia and they are a NATO supplier. After getting mine, I can tell you they are the highest quality cans I have seen since my dad’s old surplus cans from WWII or Korea.

A Bit of History

The “Jerry Can” design dates back to 1937 created the Vinzenz Grügenvogel, the chief engineer of Müeller engineering in Schwelm, Germany. An interesting design requirement of the Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister was that a German soldier needed to be able to carry two full cans or four empty ones hence the size and triple top handle design.

There’s a far more complete historical narrative on Wikipedia including what America did if you are interested – click here.

Fast Forward To Today

Folks, these are really nice cans. At any rate, they have some cool features and I just want to highlight the ones I noticed and want to share:

  • They are rated for 20 liters which is actually 5.28 gallons of gas
  • The color you choose, I picked red, is powder coated on and a nice deep color and is gas resistant
  • The welding and assembly is excellent – cheap cans use tack welds that do let go.
  • The steel body is 0.9mm (which is 0.0354″ and puts it a tad thicker than 21 gauge (.034375″ 0.873mm)). Cheaper cans use thinner metal.
  • There is an internal coating to protect the steel – I doubt you will see this in a cheap can – it’s not present in my Chinese cans.
Leave it to the EPA to screw up easy to use gas can spouts. At least Wavian tried to do what they could with the mandate.
The cap closes very securely and the cadmium colored pin you see locks it in place. The pin itself is flared on the far end on purpose so it can’t be accidentally removed all the way and lose – that’s a nice design detail I think.
Brand new Wavian on the left – cheap 8 year old Chinese can is on the right. In all fairness, it’s held up for holding gas but I don’t really transport gas in it. The Wavian is built like a tank.
Here’s a close up of the Chinese can’s filler tube, It’s discolored with age but it works. The con is the it does flip-flop around when you are trying to start pouring. Again, it’s held up being outside all year long so I can’t knock it too hard.

The negative is that they come with a God-awful EPA compliant nozzle. I absolutely hate any nozzle where I have to pull something back and hold it back while trying to hold a can with up to 33.8-37.7 pounds of gasoline in it. Folks, I am 54 and it’s not that easy any longer. At least Wavian tried to do what they could with the mandate. In many cases, if you can push the spout into a filler port on a vehicle, the pressure would keep the spout open but not all gas tank filler ports are shaped that way – for example it will not work on my lawn tractor or generator that both have horizontal gas tank filler ports.

So, I did spend the extra money for a more traditional steel goose neck nozzle that does not have all that EPA stuff on it so I can manage holding and positioning the can with both hands and let the nozzle do it’s thing. By the way, it’s not like Wavian really has a choice – they are mandated to supply a self-closing nozzle but at least they can still sell the aftermarket nozzle.

The EPA-compliant spout is on top. The optional spout that you can buy separately is on the bottom and far easier to use. I will install the longer spout when and where I need it vs. leaving it on the can.

Note, growing up my dad had the old style Jerry cans and kept his nozzles separate from the tanks. I’m going to do the same thing. I’ll grab the nozzle and the gas can I need when it’s time to pour gas.

So, do I like the Wavian can? Absolutely – I just bought a second. If you are looking for just about the best can out there. Get a Wavian. I’ve not seen a modern can even remotely close to this level of quality. I bought both of mine and the fill spout from Amazon:


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Why The Mophorn Pneumatic Lift Is a Huge Help When Working On Cars and Trucks But Has One Small Issue You Need To Address

Nothing like getting old and realizing that most of your joints hate you. I bring this up because I have two manual pump floor jacks that I have used countless times over the years and the oldest is probably 25 years old – literally. Well, let me put it this way – I had no problem pumping the handle to lift cars and trucks 25 years ago but starting about two years ago, the action really started to cause elbow and shoulder injuries I had to flare up. It got so bad that I had to make a choice either to stop working on vehicles or to find a different approach.

I work on cars and trucks in our driveway so a permanently installed lift was not an option. It had to be something portable. My first thought was to get a low profile air-over-hydraulic jack that is mounted in its own wheeled carrier. They have an incredible lifting capacity (around 22 tons) but they are heavy (around 80 pounds), slow (air over hydraulic is many things but fast is not one of them) and expensive (they start around $200 and just go up from there). What really stopped me was the weight and the cost. I can’t lift or drag as much weight as I used to and the entry-level units were a tad more than I wanted to spend.

So, I kept digging and ran across pneumatic/air jacks. Think of the air suspensions you see under a big rig. Basically one or more air bladders fill with air and lift the top of the jack. They max out in terms of lift height around 18 inches and 3 tons of lift but it depends on the model. Definitely spend some time researching before you buy. I found that I needed to think about:

  • How low I needed the unit to collapse down to fit under our cars to get in position prior to lifting
  • How much weight did I need to lift
  • How high I needed the unit to lift
  • How much did it weigh?
  • What was it going to cost?

I then started reading listings on Amazon plus paying careful attention to review scores. I also talked to a mechanic friend of mine about the safety of the unit and what his thoughts were. He told me to consider two things: 1) always immediately put jack stands in place and 2) don’t lave the unit out in the sun and weather thus harming the rubber. Those suggestions made a lot of sense to me.

On January 8, 2019, I wound up buying a Mophorn Pneumatic Jack, 3 Ton, Triple Air Bag, with a 16″ lift height for about $150 with free shipping. The unit arrived with just little bit of assembly needed. I recall I had to install the handle and the pressure line but that was it.

I get about 15″ of lift at 90 PSI.
Left lever is the exhaust and due to the lever design, you can adjust how slow you want to drain air out. Even if you hit it and have an “oh shit” moment, you typically have a few seconds before the vehicle starts to go down. The middle unit with the pull ring is the safety blow off valve. The far right lever is the air inlet and there is a Milton M-series male plug under the Milton quick connect female fitting. If you want a reliable air system, use Milton fittings – they last.

As you can guess from the sticker above, the lift is made in China and the instruction sheet is pretty terse but it’s really not that hard to figure out. I do want to cover a few specifications with you and convert them from metric to US customary measures – these are from the owner’s manual included in the kit unless otherwise noted:

DescriptionMetricUS
Capacity3,000 kg6,613 lbs
Air Pressure5-10 Kg/cm^271 to 142 PSI
Air pressure from label on handle – presumably the recommended pressure8 kg/cm^2113 PSI
Minimum Height145mm5.71 in
Maximum Height400mm15.75 in
Lifting Time5 seconds5 seconds
Working Temperature-69C to +50C-92F to 122F

What have I lifted with it?

When I say “lift”, I am talking about the front end or the back end – not the whole vehicle.

  • 1994 Toyota Corolla DX
  • 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser
  • 2000 Toyota Camry
  • 2006 Toyota Solara
  • 2008 Toyota Highlander
  • 2016 Ford F150 Transit
  • Others more or less along the lines of a Camry or Highlander

There are a few things I have noticed

First, let me point out that I like this unit and would recommend it but there are a few things I want to point out:

  • The highest my lift will go is 15″ and that may be a function of my only running 90 PSI to the jack
  • I don’t think it actually can lift 3 tons. It bogs down on the front of our old 96 Landcruiser and also our full size F150 Transit. Again, I think it’s my lower air pressure. This summer I might plumb a dedicated 120 PSI line and see what that does. It will depend on time and money.
  • There are stabilizing cones made from steel inside the jack. Maybe 1 in 20 lifts they need a whack to start coming down. I may polish and lube these if I get a chance.
  • The rubber is pretty thick on the bladders. With that said, I do store it indoors away from the sun and the weather. I’m writing this a year later and the bladders show zero signs of wear.

The One Little Thing You Must Do: Blue Loctite Your Screws!!

I have used my jack many times since I bought it. Starting around September I was hearing faint air leak and thought the jack had bent. When I had time I found out that the bottom screws had loosened up and air was simply escaping from between the gasket and the bottom plate. I was surprised and disappointed to note that none of the screws had any thread locker applied to any of them. Many were in varying states of coming lose.

The unit is well made. The air bladders secure to that steel plate you see on them and then that assembly bolt to the dolly.
It’s the screws that attach the bladder to the while disc-shaped plate in the previous photo that came loose. Here are the metal stabilizing cones. I wish I had polished and lubed them when I had it apart and will go back and do that at some point. I did apply air tool oil to the cones after cleaning them of a gritty dust that probably dated back to when they were manufactured.
Before re-assembly I put a thin bead of Permatex Blue RTV gasket seal on the rubber gasket and then applied Blue medium-strength Loctite to each srew and brought them down lightly. I then went criss-cross lightly bringing down each screw to firm and then applied a final torque of 11 NM (about 8 ft-lbs or 97 in-lbs.

I then did the same thing to the top plate as well just to play it safe. No more leaks.

The reassembled bladder assembly then screws back down to the baseplate of the dolly. Note, this photo is actually from when I was taking it apart. The screws were so scuffed up that I just replaced them. Did I mention I use this a lot?

The following is the exact jack on Amazon that I bought and this review is about:

Bottom Line

I would buy this again and recommend it as well – just due the Loctite thing I mentioned. Note there are other Chinese suppliers on Amazon also but they do not get as good of reviews as the Mophorn units so my recommendation is only for that brand.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


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.



If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Easy & Cheap Solution for 2008 Toyota Highlander 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 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.

5/23/2020 Update: This has worked great for me. Not one single problem since.


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Have an older car or truck with slow power windows? This simple fix will speed them up

My truck is a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser that is showing its age and I’m always finding ways to keep it going.  One problem I had was that the power windows were very slow to go up and down because the rubber around the glass was oxidizing and not as soft.  This was especially a problem in the winter when plowing as I would sometimes have to use my hand to help the window go back up.  I had been using silicone spray but it’s benefits were pretty short lived.  A friend told me to use silicone grease and WOW what a difference.

  

Now, one tip, get a flux brush or some disposable brush with relative small stiff bristles so you can wipe down all the rubber window channels where the glass slides.  Your brush is going to get old rubber and other debris on it.  If you put it back in your silcone grease container, you will have a mess – guess how I know this? 🙂  Instead, put some grease on a paper plate or something as an intermediary to dip your brush in.  This will not take much – maybe a tablespoon or two at most.  I can do all four power windows on my truck with probably right around a tablespoon or just over.  You aren’t looking to leave gobs and gobs of the stuff – just a good coating.

So, a warm day helps.  Put all the windows down and apply it.  Then run each window up and down a few times to get a good coating on everything.  You will see a remarkable improvement with the 2nd or 3rd cycling of the windows as everything gets coated.  Then just wipe off any residue on the window frames (I leave it on the glass edge myself).

That’s it.

Please note to use silicone grease and not petroleum grease. The petroleum grease can cause the rubber to break down or at least make quite a mess.  Silicone grease was designed intentionally to lubricate and protect rubber parts such as seals.

By the way, this might be a great example of being able to save quite a bit by purchasing the silicone grease online.  You can check the price of the Mission paste I’ve been using below and others on Amazon compared to what you will pay for silicone grease at your local auto parts store.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.