Replace the Wear Ring – Jet Ski

The wear ring is exactly what it implies. It’s a ring located on the inside of the impeller housing that wears out over time. The more you use your jet ski, the faster the wear ring will wear out.

Before we dive into replacing the wear ring, let’s go over some jet ski safety and remind you how the jet ski works.

Your jet ski is essentially a small boat. Boats don’t have a brake to stop them. In order to stop, you release the throttle finger pull and the jet ski stops accelerating and eventually comes to a stop. Any object, boat, fellow jet skier, dock, what ever, that is within thirty feet is a potential danger if you don’t stop accelerating soon enough.

When approaching an object, direct the jet ski to the side of the object, not directly at it. This way if the jet ski does not come to a stop before the object, it will merely pass by it.

When the accelerator is released, or the jet ski’s power is shut off, the ability to turn the jet ski is reduced to zero. The jet engine must have water propelling through it in order to turn.

The first time you take your jet ski on the water, practice. Practicing to maneuver your jet ski, at a slow speed will be a great asset for when there is a loss of power. Most accidents on jet skis happen within the first HOUR of a novice rider entering the water. The concept of no brakes takes a little bit of getting used to, so practice for your own safety as well as others.

How Jet Propulsion Works

A basic understanding of jet propulsion is necessary if you plan on doing your own work. It’s different from other powered water vessels (except jet boats) in the manner you turn and stop.

As you can see from the photo above; when the jet ski is running, the impeller draws water up from the surrounding water underneath. The water then passes through the impeller and expelled out the back through the venturi. The nozzle on the end, attached to the venturi, directs the water stream. The nozzle is controlled by the rider via a cable attached to the handlebars and the nozzle. This is the flow of propulsion.

The photo below shows an example using a gallon of water. The venturi narrows the water down super fast and forces it through a smaller hole. Think of a gallon of water, and you put a large straw into it, then force the water as fast as possible out of the gallon through the straw. You can imagine the force the water would come out the straw would be much higher than going into the straw. That’s the venturi, the straw, narrowing the water down to increase the force!

When you accelerate the impeller draws water up and through itself, which forces the water out at such a high rate of speed you can turn the handle bars and it will cause the jet ski to move in that direction from the water pushing it. If you decelerate suddenly, or lose power, you loose your ability to steer because you no longer have the forced water to push the jet ski.

Just about anyone with a toolbox can replace a wear ring. A few parts must be removed to access it first. For this hub a 2000 Yamaha XL700Y was the model used. Other jet skis are similar. A manual for your particular model is always helpful. There are some sites that offer the manuals free.

If you’re asking yourself where does the wear ring come into play, the answer is: every step of the propulsion process.

The wear ring is one of the vital components to the propulsion process of a jet ski. Tucked snugly inside the impellor housing it is often overlooked. If you know what you are looking for you can see it readily. If not, you would be hard pressed to believe there is a vital component that needs replacing.

The wear ring is a liner on the inside of the impellor housing. The impellor grazes along it when it spins. The wear ring…

  • Allows the impellor the maximum drawing power to suck up the surrounding water into the jet motor by providing very little dead space.
  • Forces the drawn up water to pass through the impeller providing maximum impeller thrust.
  • Seals the impeller housing, around the impeller, to provide you, the rider, with maximum speed!

As the jet ski is used the wear ring slowly wears down. Sometimes rocks or fishing weights will be drawn up by the impeller causing dings and scratches in the wear ring. Wearing down or dings in a wear ring will cause a gap to appear between the impeller and the surrounding wear ring. This gap should not exceed 0.10″.

When either regular use or foreign objects reduce the capabilites of the wear ring you may notice:

  • Reduced turning abilty. Because the wear ring can’t seal the impeller in the housing, there is random water sprayed out by the jet, as opposed to directed water.
  • Reduced power. The impeller cannot draw the water up and force it through the jet at maximum efficiency causing the jet ski to run slower.

Accessing the Wear Ring

Put the jet ski on a hoist or table made to hold a jet ski, somewhere you can easily access the back-end where the jet is. Remove these items in the order they are listed.

REMOVE…

  1. …if equipped, the reverse gate cable and assembly.
  2. …6 screws retaining metal plate under the jet pump assembly.
  3. …steering cable connection. This is usually sliding sleeve or a nut and screw.
  4. …hoses connected to the venturi.
  5. …four long screws retaining venturi through pump housing, through impeller housing, to jet ski hull.
  6. …venturi. The impeller housing may come out with the venturi and pump housing as one unit. Also, you may need a fiber or rubber hammer to tap on the housing to loosen it for removal. A puller would be even better but not everyone has a jet pump puller, so tap gently.
  7. If the jet pump housing, and impeller housing, didn’t come out in step six, then remove it now.

Now you are ready to get that ring out!

Remove the Wear Ring

Reference the photo’s to remove the wear ring from the impeller housing.

  1. Locate the wear ring inside the impeller housing.
  2. Use a saw, dremel or any cutting device that you can control well. When cutting the wear ring it is critical that you do not penetrate the wall of the impeller housing. That kind of damage could be critical in a housing, so be sure your cutting tool is under your control.
  3. Cut a groove anywhere inside the ring. This is when you will want to pay attention to the depth. The wear ring is about 1/4″ thick or less.
  4. Once you have the groove cut, bend the wear ring down bit by bit all around the edge.
  5. Slide the ring out of the housing and you’re done.

Now let’s put the new one in!

Insert the New Wear Ring

Set the wear ring just inside the lip of the impeller housing. Lay a two-by-four across the top. Press down evenly on the two-by-four to get the ring started into the housing. Then use a hammer to tap on the board. Turn the board a quarter turn and tap again. Turning the board every other tap or so. The wear ring is supposed to be very snug. Once it is seated inside the housing you can put everything back as you took it off paying attention to the torque specifications and grease specifications. The impeller may prove to be difficult to slide back into the housing once the new wear ring is in. If it is really difficult; grease the inside of the wear ring to assist the impeller in sliding in.

Now that the wear ring is seated inside the impeller housing it’s time to put everything back together. Follow the steps for removal in a reverse order. The impeller will be a snug fit when you insert it into the impeller housing due to the new wear ring. Take your time and it will slide in. Make sure you use lock tight on bolts and torque them as specified in your jet ski manual.

Your new wear ring is ready to go. You’ll be very happy with the speed and improved handling you’ll experience with the new wear ring!

Ski Safe!

Troubleshooting the Yamaha XL 700 Starting System

Your jet ski won’t start. All is not lost! We can fix this. If you have a bit of mechanical know-how and some tools, we’ll have you back on the water in no time!

I have two older jet skis, a 1992 and a 2000. The 2000 has issues more often than the 1992 one does (probably because I ride it harder!) But they’re jet skis; they spend their time directly submerged in water! There are bound to be regular repair issues when your toys spend this much time in the water.

Electrical and mechanical devices do not mix well with water. The results: rust, sediment, corrosion. It’s all part of the world of jet skis.

If you take your time and go through the proper steps you’ll be able to narrow down the problem fairly quickly. The starting system can be daunting, but certain components go bad pretty regularly. Those are the ones I’ll go over, here today, with you.

We’ll go through troubleshooting starting with the most common problems and end with the least common. In this way, hopefully, we’ll have you back on the lake a.s.a.p.!

Start At The Battery

Before we can do anything it is imperative you have a good battery. Last season’s battery will not do. Every year I have to replace the battery on both skis. Sure, last season’s battery may have one, maybe two, starts left in it, but I don’t want to find out how many it has left when I’m out on the lake. Have you ever had your ski use its last start when you were way out in the lake? It is not a good time in the least.

It may be useful to know, if you are caught by surprise this way, that if your jet ski battery is dead, you can jump it with your car battery.

And once you start working on your jet ski, trying to identify the problem, there’s almost nothing worse than going through the whole system, trying to pinpoint the issue, only to find out the battery was old!! Batteries run about $80 as of this writing in 2016. Get a new one this season. Take it home, read the label, add the acid and charge it up. That is where we start.

Try starting the ski with the new battery. Anything? Yes, right on, you’re on your way. No? No problem, let’s look at the wiring.

Next, the Solenoid

After the battery, one of the more common problems with the starting system lies in the starting solenoid.

If you’re hearing a “click, click, click” from under the seat when you push the start button, it is your starting solenoid trying to pass electric current to the starter motor. The clicking sound is coming from inside the solenoid, and it’s a good thing. It means the contacts are making contact when you push the button. If the solenoid is working well enough to send that current, that means the electrical wiring is just fine.

But if there is no click, then there’s a problem. Let’s look through the wiring.

If you have installed the battery, disconnect the cables while we check the wiring system. Removing the negative battery cable will work, but personally, I remove both positive and negative, I don’t want to take a chance of being zapped! The components that we’ll be checking have a high probability of zapping if the battery is not disconnected.

We’ll need a multimeter for checking the wiring. They can be purchased at hardware stores and automotive parts stores for usually less than $20, or your neighbor probably has one if you don’t already.

Continuity is defined as being unbroken and consistent. Due to the plastic sheath encasing the wire, we cannot see where there may be a broken wire inside the casing. When we check for continuity we are setting the multimeter so that it will indicate whether a wire is unbroken and consistent inside the casing.

The major components of the starter system are pictured. This will give you an overview of what we’ll be checking.

If you have no click, then we know the problem is:

  • somewhere between the starting solenoid, which is inside the electric box, and the starter button, or
  • the solenoid itself.

Removing and opening the electric box will take more than a minute with all the screws it has, so let’s do a quick check of the wiring at the handlebar.

As you work keep an eye out for electrical wiring that is exposed, or wire touching metal, any bent, crimped or pinched wire and broken or disconnected wire. Any of these can cause the system to not start.

The Start/Stop Switch

Follow the wires along the handle bars, through the cover, and into the engine compartment. You will need to open the front cover and remove the storage container under the hood to access the couplers. You’ll find two couplers along the line (photo). The white coupler goes to the Start switch and the black coupler belongs to the Stop switch.

Probe the Switch

Let’s start with the white starter coupler. Testing the side that goes up to the switch:

  1. Set the multi-meter to “continuity.”
  2. Place each probe into a slot (one in the red and one in the brown wire slot).
  3. Is there continuity? No? Good. Yes? That’s a problem.
  4. Keep the probes in the same position, insert the lanyard key into the lock plate, and press the start button. Is there continuity? No? That’s a problem. Yes? Good.
Insert the lanyard and probe the other switch.

Repeat the steps for the stop switch coupler (photo, black coupler with white and black wires). The results should be the same. With the lanyard key out there should be no continuity on either one. When the lanyard is in, and the button pushed, it should have continuity. If you have continuity when the buttons are open, or no continuity when pressed (make sure the lanyard key is in!), then there’s a problem with the button or with the wire between the button and the coupler. Replace—or open and clean—the appropriate button.

A good ground is imperative to an electrical system working. I can’t stress this enough. All the connections in the world won’t fix the system if the ground is poor or non-existent. Everything that has a positive connection must also have a negative (ground) to complete the circuit. As you’re checking wires, check the ground as well. If you see the slightest hint of corrosion (it’s a jet ski, it happens), pull the ground off and clean it up, as well as the bolt, any washers, and the mounting surface ,with sandpaper or a wire brush. Make it shine! When you put the ground back together make sure it’s snug! A loose ground bolt is like no ground at all.

If you have gotten to this point, it means the switches and wiring between the handlebar and their coupler are fine.

With the battery still disconnected, reach down to the starter positive terminal (photo 7 above). It’s not easy to see, but it is easy to feel. Is the connection good? How about the ground? The ground on the Yamaha 2000 is on top of the motor, very easy to check. Are the connections secure with no corrosion?

Electrical Box

If that’s all good, it’s time to pull the electric box (photo 8 above). The electrical box is located in the engine compartment, under the front seat, on the back firewall. It is held up by two bolts, one on each side.

After removing it from the firewall, pull it up and out without breaking the wires coming out of it. They are still attached to their components. Just lift the box up high enough to set it on the seat ledge.

There are 14 screws around the perimeter of the electrical box. It’s important that this box remains water tight, so be careful with the screws you remove. Put them somewhere safe.

Check all the wires inside the box. Make sure the wires did not get pinched when the electric box was closed by the last person, and make sure the ground wires are firmly attached. Make sure the couplers are secure, everyone of them, in the electric box. I’ve had all three of these issues at one time or another! Once the ground was crushed in the lip of the box, and another time the ground screw had eroded and needed to be re-tapped. The last one was a random no-start situation that turned out to be a connection that had become loose.

The Solenoid & The Starter

The starter solenoid is pictured above; that’s what you’re looking for. The two large screws are for the large (red) positive battery lead and the large (red) positive lead going to the starter. The small wires are ground (black) and the other one runs to the start switch. The large positive lead has a fuse that comes off of it. This runs up to the rectifier/regulator. These components can go bad, but not often.

If you think it’s the solenoid, at this point let’s test it:

  1. Hook up the battery cables.
  2. Using an insulated screw driver, cross the two red wires (one coming from the battery and the other going out to the starter).

If the starter turns over and tries to start, then the solenoid needs to be replaced. If it clicks then it’s the starter that is bad.

Here’s another way to check the solenoid:

  1. Un-hook the battery!
  2. Remove the four wires attached to the start solenoid.
  3. Attach a wire to each one of the large screws on top of the solenoid.
  4. Take the other ends and place one on the positive battery terminal and the other on the negative terminal.
  5. Did the solenoid click? If it clicks, it’s fine. If it doesn’t click then it’s no good.

If the solenoid is clicking, and your battery is strong, then the problem lies with the starter most likely. The starter is not difficult to replace, but accessing the starter can be a pain. Just remove the exhaust to replace the starter. It can be replaced without removing the exhaust but it really isn’t worth the headache.

Further Testing

If by this point, the ski still won’t start, I’d be surprised. But if it still won’t start, then you’ll need to test the CDI unit, rectifier/regulator, and coil.

The coil is responsible for the spark. Remove the spark plugs. Put one into its boot. Set it near the engine. Push the start button and you should see a small, blue, spark jump from the spark plug to the engine. Do the same for the other spark plug(s). No spark? Make sure the wires to the coil are good, and if they are replace the coil.

Here’s a good in-depth article on the ignition components, like the cdi and coil, and how to test them.

Like I said, jet skis are water toys. If you ride yours like I ride mine, everything in it is going to get wet! When I’m jetting, I head for every boat wake, ripple and curl. My ski takes a beating and it gets soaked doing it. Besides getting wet, components and screws come loose, and there’s going to be corrosion. Be meticulous about checking the wires and connections; many times the problem is something simple.

The Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor looks similar to a spark plug. It is screwed into the exhaust manifold on most cars and trucks, or occasionally, the exhaust pipe. It monitors the oxygen content in the exhaust and signals the Electronic Control Module to adjust the carburetor for a lean or rich mixture.

In previous hubs it’s been helpful to liken engine parts to the human anatomy for understanding the essential job of a component. In the article Change Your Spark Plugs the spark plug is compared to the beat of your heart and the bounce of a ball. If the spark plug is like the beat is to the heart then the oxygen sensor is comparable to your lungs nervous system. It senses the oxygen content and sends a signal to the brain (ECM); breath faster I need oxygen (the mixture is too lean), or breath slower, I’m gonna pass out (the mixture is too rich). Then the ECM acts on the information received, either enriching or leaning out the mixture in the carburetor. This is the only thing the oxygen sensor does. It is a simple either, or, job. So simple that rarely does an oxygen sensor go bad. All oxygen sensor eventually wear out over a period of years, but they are replaced unnecessarily.

As I mentioned above, the oxygen sensor is screwed into the exhaust manifold or the exhaust pipe. This is the part that takes the exhaust from the engine out the back of your vehicle, via a long pipe. At the beginning of that long pipe, right where it exits the engine you will see the oxygen sensor with a wire coming out of it and going into the ECM. It’s pretty easy to spot. On some vehicles, like the 1989 Chevrolet 3500 in the photo’s, you can look through the wheel well and see the exhaust manifold with the oxygen sensor screwed into it (refer to the photo’s).

The following list is a good indicator that your cars oxygen sensor has failed:

  • Sudden poor fuel economy.
  • Poor performance. IE: stalling, rough idle, poor acceleration. These symptoms are indicators of several different issues in a vehicle, so any one of these is not an absolute diagnosis of an oxygen sensor failing.
  • Your vehicle does not pass smog. The smog report will indicate a high or low CO emission which is the oxygen sensors job to monitor. If it’s not monitoring the exhaust, then the CO will be out of the acceptable range.
  • The check engine, or idiot light, on the console will be lit. The console light will illuminate for several different engine problems and the oxygen sensor is one of them. Use an OBDII code reader to determine which specific part the console light is illuminating for.

If your car is exhibiting the symptoms above there is a simple test you can perform at home.

The exhaust in your vehicle is extremely hot, it’s the result of an explosion that occurred just seconds prior to the exhaust entering the manifold, so it’s hot! As a matter of fact, the ECM doesn’t acknowledge information sent from the oxygen sensor until the temperature is at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit!

To test the oxygen sensor you will need:

  1. The suspected failing oxygen sensor.
  2. Flashlight for inspecting the wires.
  3. A torch or source of high heat.
  4. A multimeter.
  5. Pliers or similar tool to hold the oxygen sensor while it is heated.
  6. Maybe a hammer.
  7. Your particular vehicle manual.
TESTPROCEDURENORMAL READING
Inspect the wires coming out of the probe to the connector. We’re looking for broken, damaged or otherwise compromised wire connections.If all wires look good move on to next step.
BackprobeWarm up engine. Then, run at 1200 rpm 2 minutes. Backprobe between between oxygen sensor and battery ground (DC voltage).Check manual for your vehicle normal reading. Fast fluctuation between provided number is normal.
Bench TestRemove probe from vehicle. Set meter to DC and set one test line on probe and the other on ground of probe. Use a torch or other heat source and heat the probe above 600 degrees F.Your meter should varied between numbers quickly. Indicating the sensor is working.

If the oxygen sensor is indeed failing it is very easy to replace. Keep in mind that when metal is heated it expands and when it cools it constricts. The exhaust manifold heats up to very high temperatures and then becomes cold as the outside weather. This can cause the oxygen sensor to be potentially difficult to remove. Sometimes if you take a hammer and give the exhaust manifold a couple of taps (strong taps) it will allow the oxygen sensor to break free.

The steps to removing the oxygen sensor:

  1. Disconnect battery negative cable, just in case.
  2. Unplug the wires going out of the oxygen sensor. There will be a connector along the wire that you can un-clip. Just follow the wires out of the oxygen sensor at the manifold until you come to the clip.
  3. Using a wrench (and maybe that hammer) unscrew the oxygen sensor from the exhaust manifold.
  4. When you have it out you can put the other one in the spot the old one came out of. Check the threads for anti-seize. The manufacturer puts anti-seize on the threads now a days for you. If they didn’t be sure to put some on before threading it into the exhaust manifold.
  5. Re-attach the wire to the clip you unsnapped it from and you’re DONE!

Headlight Replacement & Preliminary Settings

The headlamps on a vehicle are one of the most important features. Without them we simply couldn’t drive after the sun goes down.

To start with there are some headlamps that must be replaced entirely, and some that the bulb inside can be replaced. When you look at the back of the headlamp case, where the bulb is inserted, you can tell if that piece can be removed, thus only needing a new bulb, by looking closely at where it is inserted. Does it have a twist and push/pull set-up or is it fixed? You can always refer to your shop manual that will indicate whether it is a removable bulb or not.

Over time the lamp cannot illuminate the roadway as it should and this is due to a broken bulb, broken lamp glass or road grime build-up on the lamp lens. With the vehicles I drive I have replaced the lamp bulbs twice. Once, when I felt the road wasn’t being illuminated as well as it could be and once when the old bulb style burned out. Generally speaking a halogen headlight rarely burns out. When I replaced the bulbs I also cleaned the lens’s. The lens had a good deal of road grime built up on them. Just cleaning the lens made a huge difference, but after ten years I figured the bulbs should be replaced too.

Replacing the bulb or the entire headlamp is an easy process. There are many different bulbs available; yellow, bright yellow or white, although there are basically two options for headlamp repair or replacement and those are: lamp bulb or complete lamp.

The owners manual is going to be your best bet for finding the information on the headlamps for your specific vehicle. If you don’t have a manual the type of bulb your particular vehicle requires can be determined by the auto parts salesperson. The large retail stores often will have books hanging in the aisle or mini computers to look up the type of bulb.

Installing the bulb is an easy process. If you can change your windshield wiper blades then you can pull off changing the headlamp bulbs.

When replacing one bulb it’s a good idea to replace both of them. The halogen bulbs are sold in packs of two anyway. So play it safe and replace both.

Your vehicle is not the exact same model as the one pictured, but the process is generally the same. If anything the retainer may be clips instead of screws and the bulb may be screwed in instead of held by a plastic ring.

Before you start be sure to pick up the new bulbs first. You don’t want to have to drive down to the hardware store with your headlamp dangling from the fender.

Steps to Replacing the Bulb

If you can easily access the back side of the headlamp then skip to step #3.

  1. Locate and remove the headlamp mounting screws. Normally there will be two, three or four. The mounting screw can be on top of the lamp (1996 Chrysler’s) or on the frame of the around the lens (1989 Chevy’s).
  2. Slide the headlamp assembly forward until the back side of the headlamp can be accessed.
  3. Locate and remove the retainer holding the bulb in. This can be a plastic ring, a clip or a “C” clip (older headlamps).
  4. After the retainer is removed the light bulb can be pulled out the back of the headlamp assembly.
  5. Remove the bulb from the wiring harness by releasing the locking pin and pulling gently on the base of the bulb. If it won’t come out, check that you have released the locking pin. The locking pin is a nub sticking out of the side of the base of the bulb which is secured by a loop on the connector.
  6. IMPORTANT: Use a tissue to hold the new bulb. Grease from your fingers WILL reduce the life of the bulb. There is no need to clean the new bulb, it’s ready to be installed. Now get out the new bulb and plug it into the wiring harness.
  7. Place the bulb back into the back of the headlamp fixture and secure with it’s retainer if it had one.
  8. Slide the headlamp back into position and replace the retainer screws and you’re done with the replacement, but that’s not all.
  9. As a preliminary setting; with the vehicle facing a plain wall, turn the headlamps on. If the lights are reflecting very high or off to the side, adjust the screws located near the headlamp mounting bolts. One adjustment is up and down and one is side to side.
  10. Take the vehicle to a shop and have the mechanic check that the headlights are properly adjusted.

Below you will find a table for making a preliminary headlight adjustment.

Determine how your headlight is attached first.
You can remove the old headlamp bulb with your bare hand but use a glove or a tissue to touch the new one. Grease on your fingers will cut the bulbs life.

  1. Locate and remove the headlamp mounting screws. Normally there will be two, three or four. The mounting screw can be on top of the lamp (1996 Chrysler’s) or on the frame of the around the lens (1989 Chevy’s).
  2. Slide the headlamp assembly forward until the back side of the headlamp can be accessed.
  3. Locate and remove the retainer holding the bulb in. This can be a plastic ring, a clip or a “C” clip (older headlamps).
  4. After the retainer is removed the light bulb can be pulled out the back of the headlamp assembly.
  5. Remove the bulb from the wiring harness by releasing the locking pin and pulling gently on the base of the bulb. If it won’t come out, check that you have released the locking pin. The locking pin is a nub sticking out of the side of the base of the bulb which is secured by a loop on the connector.
  6. IMPORTANT: Use a tissue to hold the new bulb. Grease from your fingers WILL reduce the life of the bulb. There is no need to clean the new bulb, it’s ready to be installed. Now get out the new bulb and plug it into the wiring harness.
  7. Place the bulb back into the back of the headlamp fixture and secure with it’s retainer if it had one.
  8. Slide the headlamp back into position and replace the retainer screws and you’re done with the replacement, but that’s not all.
  9. As a preliminary setting; with the vehicle facing a plain wall, turn the headlamps on. If the lights are reflecting very high or off to the side, adjust the screws located near the headlamp mounting bolts. One adjustment is up and down and one is side to side.
  10. Take the vehicle to a shop and have the mechanic check that the headlights are properly adjusted.

Below you will find a table for making a preliminary headlight adjustment.

1stCheck that the vehicle has a 1/2 tank of gas and no excess or unnecessary weight in it.
2ndPull up close to a blank wall. With tape, mark the exact center of the headlamp on the wall. See picture above.
3rdAfter the wall has been marked, back up 25 ft from the wall..
4thLocate the adjusting screws. Usually on the top of the headlamp or the side.
5thStarting with the low beam; position the beam so it is two inches below the horizontal line and tow inches to the right of the headlamp vertical line.
6thPut the high beams on. The intensity zone should be vertically centered with the exact center just below the horizontal line.

When you replace one headlamp, you should replace the other lamp as well. If you have access to the owners manual read what it has to say for your specific vehicle.

Replacing the entire lamp is a bit more expensive than replacing just a bulb, but it is still very reasonable. Personally, I think it’s easier to replace the headlamp rather than the bulb, but that’s my opinion.

Head Lamp Replacement

Sometimes the headlamp assembly needs replacement. If the lens is chipped or damaged this would warrant a replacement. Some vehicles the bulb cannot be replaced alone, the assembly must be replaced.

If you’re replacing the entire lamp follow the Headlamp Bulb Replacement instructions above except instead of pulling off the retaining clip and pulling the bulb out:

  • Unplug the bulb from the wiring harness and the turn signal if so attached to the lamp assembly and install the new one in its place.

Then push the light back into position and install the retaining screws. Be sure to do the preliminary check with the new headlamps against a wall. It’s important to take the vehicle in to a service center to have the beam adjusted when the headlamp assembly is replaced. There is a far better chance they will be ill adjusted and a service center can adjust them correctly.

How the Ignition System Works

This is a short course about the ignition system in most vehicles. This article provides information with accompanying photo’s.

The ignition system is the heart of a vehicle. It’s the source for the power that propels it. When an ignition system is failing or failed it can leave you with a vehicle that won’t start or stalls, runs rough, idles rough or eats up gas like a semi.

The ignition system is fascinating yet so simple. By the end of this hub you’ll have an excellent grasp of the four types of ignition systems:

  1. Breaker points systems.
  2. Electronic Ignition Systems.
  3. Waste-spark DIS (distributor-less ignition system) Systems.
  4. COP (coil on plug) DIS System

The ignition system has been around since vehicles first started rolling off the production line. There have been four types of ignitions systems, but only two types that are used today by automotive manufacturers.

To understand the ignition system we need to understand what each component is and does before we can put it all together. The major components for the breaker points system and the electronic system are:

  • The coil.
  • Distributor.(with rotor)
  • Spark plug wires.
  • Spark plugs.

The major components for the waste-spark and coil on point system are:

  • The coil
  • Engine Control
  • Magnetic Trigger
  • Ignition Control
  • Spark Plug

As you can see the systems are very much alike.

The coil increases the 12 volt current from the battery to a 20,000 volt for the distributor and a 50,000 volt on the three later models.

The distributor is used on the breaker points system and the electronic ignition system. When the current is sent to the distributor, from the coil, it goes to the points that are opening and closing as the camshaft spins. If they are closed the current runs through the contact points up to the rotor that is spinning with the camshaft it is attached to. As the rotor spins it grazes by the metal tabs in the distributor cap, one for each spark plug. As it grazes by the current flashes over to the tab which has a spark plug wire attached to the top of it and it shoots down the spark plug wire to the spark plug and denotes the fuel in the combustion chamber. Spark plug wires are completely eliminated in the COP circuit.

Do you need Ignition Parts? The link below will take you to Ignition Replacement Parts Page on Amazon.

Ignition Replacement Parts

On the DIS circuits the points have been replaced with an ignition control module and a magnetic trigger. The engine control module monitors the ignition system adjusting the various components to keep the engine running smoothly.

The ignition system can be broken down into two sections: The primary system and the secondary system. Which one is which is determined by the coil. The coil is made up of an iron core with two sections of wire wrapped around it. The first section of wire is the low voltage wire which is called the primary winding. The secondary winding carries the high voltage. The secondary system has far more windings than the primary. The ratio would be about 80:1 windings compared with the primary winding. The number of windings is what has the potential to increase the current.

The primary circuit is the low voltage circuit, just like the primary winding in the coil are the low voltage winding’s. This primary circuit includes:

  • Battery.
  • Ignition switch.
  • Coil primary winding.

The secondary circuit is the high voltage circuit. It includes:

  • Secondary winding.
  • Distributor (points and EIS circuits only).
  • Points. (points and EIS circuits only)
  • Spark wires and plugs.(points, EIS, Waste Spark systems)
  • Ignition Control Module. (DIS systems only)
  • Engine Control Module. (DIS systems only)
  • Magnetic Trigger. (DIS systems only)

In a contact points circuit the ignition system is responsible for conducting the 12 volt current, actuated by the ignition key, produced by the battery, sent to the coil, amplified by the coil, and then sent to the distributor, that distributes it to the spark plugs, that ignites the fuel in the combustion chamber. It sounds like a lot but it’s not. Let’s take it step by step.

The key is put in the ignition and turns to activate the engine.

  1. The battery sends a 12 volt current to the coils primary winding.
  2. The points in the distributor close creating a magnetic field.
  3. The spinning camshaft, that the points set upon, rotates to open and close the points.
  4. The points open and that magnetic field suddenly collapses and the current is sent to the secondary winding.
  5. The secondary winding increases the 12 volts to 20,000 volts (only in the points system and some electronic systems).
  6. The current is then sent off to the distributor to be distributed to the correct spark plug.
  7. The current is then sent off to the distributor to be distributed to the correct spark plug.

The points system was vulnerable to wearing down. The mechanical parts needed regular tending. The electronic ignition system replaced the points with an armature that would spin like the camshaft but the armature never makes contact with the magnetic pick coil. This eliminated wearing out.

Coil On Plug or COP System

The DIS systems consist of the COP and waste-spark systems. The COP system places a coil on each spark plug. This way there is no loss of energy. As soon as the ignition control module sends the signal to fire, it is immediately sent to the spark plug by the coil. This is a much more efficient system than the points or EIS systems.



The waste-spark system employs a coil for every two spark plugs. The two spark plugs one coil activates are paired opposites. When one is on the compression stroke the other is on the exhaust stroke.


Both systems use a magnetic trigger to signal when the piston is in the optimum position for detonation. The response time is much faster making this system much more efficient.

In the DIS systems when the key is turned to activate the engine:

  1. The 12 volt current, from the battery, goes to the coils primary winding.
  2. The magnetic pick up sensor determines when the piston is at the optimum position for the spark plug to detonate the fuel
  3. It sends a signal to the ignition control module to fire.
  4. The ignition control module sends an open signal.
  5. The current in the primary coil winding collapses.
  6. As soon as the magnetic field collapses the current goes to the secondary windings and then out to the spark plug.

All of this happens in milliseconds.

Did you notice that on the DIS system the current never goes to a distributor? The distributor has been eliminated in these systems.

The old breaker points system was mechanically, everything moved, this made it vulnerable to wear and tear. The DIS systems are all electronic now, so you can rest assured it won’t need service for a long, long time.

And there you have it!

How to Replace a Thermostat Housing – 2007 Ford Mustang

Friday night is fast approaching, but your sweet Mustang is out there leaking radiator fluid everywhere!

Your night out is not necessarily doomed; Ford Mustangs are notorious for their thermostat housing leaking. This would be the first place I would recommend you check if you are seeing radiator fluid leaking from your engine. It’s a fairly simple fix for anyone with a 5/16 socket wrench (or 8 mm), and the know-how I’m going to provide for you in the following paragraphs! So, let’s get to it!

Consider this for a minute: When you’re going to cook something that requires boiling water, do you use a metal pot, or do you grab a pot made of plastic to boil the water in? You choose a metal pot to boil the water in, right! Well, the Ford designers decided to choose a plastic pot to contain water that reaches boiling temperatures in their engines.

The thermostat housing, AKA: inlet housing, located at the top, front, on the Ford Mustang is made of plastic. For the reason pointed out above, this plastic housing is notorious for developing cracks and leaks which allow coolant to escape the system. If your engine is leaking coolant this would be the very first thing I would recommend you check.

Crack inside the bowl of thermostat housing.

Have a flashlight handy when you go to check the thermostat housing. It can be dark under the air intake and a flashlight will help illuminate the area. Leave the engine OFF and the key OUT of the ignition so there is no accidental start.

Refer to the photo for the location of the thermostat housing. Guide your flashlight beam around the top of the housing and below the housing. You’re looking for fluid pooled on top of it, or below it. You may even see drips off of it on the underside. If you see any of these telltale signs, then it is time to replace the thermostat housing.

Replacing the thermostat housing is one of the easy repairs a home mechanic to do.

First, you’re going to want to head over to your local auto parts store. Have the make, model and year of your Mustang with you, and the engine size IE: V6, Shelby, etc. available so the counter person can get you the correct replacement housing.

The replacement thermostat housing is going to be, again, plastic. That is the standard replacement, but you can find an aluminum replacement if you so choose. I found this little sweetheart on Amazon!

You are looking at paying twice as much for the aluminum, but it will far outlive the plastic replacement, but it’s up to you. The plastic will suffice as it has already.

Remove the Old Thermostat

  • A 8mm, or 5/16″ (8mm = 5/16″), socket wrench with an extension.
  • The new thermostat housing.
  • A dab of Vaseline, or some spit for the “O” rings.
  • Pliers for the hose clamps.
  • A little bit of patience for your own piece of mind.
  1. Remove the negative battery connection at the terminal post on the battery to avoid any accidents.
  2. Place a catch basin under the radiator and open the petcock to drain the radiator fluid (remember to keep this fluid away from your pets!). If your radiator is leaking, you may be able to skip this step due to the fluid already leaking out!
  3. Using your 5/16″, or 8mm, socket loosen the hose clamp on the air intake and pull the hose off. Bend it back and out of the way, or remove the air filter lid (which this hose is connected to) (un-clip wire connector) and remove it out of the way.

Now you have the metal piece the air hose was connected to. The thermostat housing is right underneath it. Using your 5/16″, or 8 mm, unscrew the four bolts holding the metal intake on. Set the metal piece up to the side without disconnecting it.

Remove the wire connector next to the air inlet.

Remove the retaining bolts.

  1. Unscrew the three bolts holding the thermostat retainer on. Move this piece out of the way by tucking it behind something. Remove the thermostat and put somewhere safe for re-installation. This might be a good time to test the thermostat.
  2. Using your pliers to squeeze the hose clamp, of the smaller hose, on top of the thermostat housing and pull the hose off.
  3. Disconnect the wire connection attached to the temperature probe installed on top of the thermostat housing.
  4. Take your 5/16″, 8mm, and remove the screws on top of the thermostat housing. Set them somewhere safe so you won’t lose them.
  5. Squeeze the hose clamp on the large hose located at the front of the housing, then grab the housing and maneuver it up and out.

Pay attention to the position these two sensors are connected to on the housing top.

Install the New Housing

  1. Remove the temperature sensor from the old housing (the one you just took off the engine) and put it into the new housing.
  2. There should be three new o rings in the box. The small o ring goes on the temperature sensor with a bit of Vaseline, or spit. The second, larger, flat, o ring goes underneath the housing. There is a machine groove it sets into. Again, use a bit of Vaseline, or spit, to ensure they seat properly. The third goes on top of the thermostat itself.
  3. Put the screws back in the top of the thermostat housing and torque to specification.
  4. Attach the temperature probe wire connection.
  5. Re-connect the water hoses and line up the hose clamps in their previous position.
  6. Place the thermostat into the new thermostat housing. Place the new large o ring on top of it, then secure the top with the screws. Torque to specification.
  7. Re-attach wire connections, air inlet with four screws and torque.
  8. Push air hose back on and tighten hose clamp. Re-attach lid of air filter if necessary.
  9. Check radiator petcock, is it closed snug?
  10. Fill system with coolant. Watch for leaking where you just installed the thermostat housing.
  11. Re-connect negative battery cable.

Start the car watching for leaks. Check radiator fluid level to make sure its filled to the minimum line.

YOU’RE DONE! Wasn’t that a piece of cake?! Good job! Now go enjoy your weekend!

Ladies, What’s Under Your Hood?

Ladies, Let’s Talk (And Guys Too!)

If you want to start on your path of automotive self reliance then you’ll need to have at least a general idea of what is under the hood of your car. Taking into account that not every engine is the same, I will present two of the more common types and identify the parts that would be of interest to a car owner such as oil dipstick location, transmission dipstick location, radiator and so on. Don’t expect to remember everything presented the first time you read them. It will come to you over time as you work on your car. One day when your trying to remove the fan shroud but “that stupid thingy is in the way”, this is when you’ll remember that “thingy” in the way is the alternator!

It’s a good idea to have a shop manual for your particular car. There’s specifications and instructions that can prove to be invaluable. Clymer and Haynes are a couple of the top selling manuals.

To my lady readers, and guys with long locks, you don’t need to remove your finger nails to explore the engine with me today. You may want to pull your hair back, especially if you’re going to try checking your transmission fluid. The vehicle must be running to get an accurate reading of the transmission fluid and I guarantee that you don’t want the engine to get a hold of your hair! The engine WILL win that tug-of-war! So just pull it back into a ponytail for now.

Let’s start-off identifying the early model V8. V8 indicates that the engine has 8 cylinders with 2 rows of 4 pistons (the things that go up & down from the spark plug explosion) that move adjacent to each other on the same crankshaft (the pistons explode causing the crankshaft to turn) set in a “V” pattern, hence V8. The size of the engine is a 454. This is a huge engine. They’re used for racing or hauling heavy items.

Referring to the picture, in the capsule below, you will see numbers on the engine, and below that, you’ll see a capsule with the corresponding explanation of the items number. You can practice your identification skills by scrolling to the picture but not down to the answers and try to identify each part, then check your answers by scrolling down further. 🙂

1) Radiator reservoir (extra radiator fluid jug)5) Air Filter (this is set right on top of the carburetor to supply the carb with clean air)9) Dipstick to check engine oil13) Hood latch
2) Power steering check & fill (same hole for check & fill)6) One of two Fuse boxes (these are the heavy duty fuses. another box is inside the car)10) Air Conditioning componants (don’t mess with these. compressor has lots of freon in it, under pressure)14) Serpentine belt (wraps around all the pulleys in the engine)
3) Brake fluid reservoir (check level & top off here)7) Radiator Cap (NEVER open this when its hot! Squeeze the hose to feel for pressure before opening)11) Battery15) Alternator (produces energy to keep engine running & recharge battery)
4) Transmission dipstick (long measuring stick attached & fill here too. engine must be running to check properly)8) Engine oil fill cap (the engine oil measuring stick is #9)12) Information labels (these labels provide information about your specific vehicle)

Sideways Engines & Battery Locations

Let’s look at a 1996 high performance engine. Again, the 2.5L (this is the size of the engine), V6 (six cylinders in a row as you can see), 24 valve (24 means there are two intake and exhaust valves in each of the 6 cylinders, IE: (2+2) x 6 = 24). This engine is said to be “sideways”. Instead of facing front to back the engine is facing right to left. The accessory belts are located on the left side facing the passenger side wheel.

You should also be aware of a couple of makes of car that the battery is in an odd place (not under the hood):

  • On the Chrysler, the battery is located in one of the oddest places I’ve ever seen. It’s in front of the driver side wheel. To access the battery on this particular make of vehicle you must turn the steering wheel to the left, then you’ll see, inside the wheel well (the wall inside where the wheel spins), on the front side, a removable panel. Once removed you will see the battery. If you are in need of a jump start there IS a remote positive (+) terminal under the hood located behind number 6, the fuse box. It has a red, plastic cover on it that you pull off and attach your positive jumper cable to.
  • The other vehicle is the Corvette. The battery, on some models, mostly older models, is located behind the drivers seat in a box under the carpet.

Now let’s take a look at the “sideways” engine…

2.5 L, V6, 24 Valve

1) Radiator coolant reservoir (extra anti-freeze jug)5) Air filter9) Dipstick for engine oil (has a long measure stick. Engine should be OFF to check the oil)13) Hood latch
2) Power steering fluid (measure & fill here)6) Fuse box (these are the heavy duty fuses)10) Air conditioning (don’t mess with these items or hoses. Pressurized with freon gas. Licensed technician’s only)14) Access to shock absorbers
3) Brake fluid reservoir7) Radiator cap (NEVER open when hot! Squeeze big hose to feel for pressure before opening)11) Windshield washing fluid 
4) Transmission fluid dipstick (check & fill here. Engine must be running for correct reading)8) Engine oil cap (this is where you put the engine oil in)12) Technical labels for SMOG, a/c, spark plugs, etc (the information here is for your specific vehicle)

How did it go? Do you feel over-whelmed? Try not to, like everything we want to learn, it takes repetition to let it sink in. You can’t “hurt” your car just by looking around under the hood, or checking the fluids. You CAN make your car last a whole lot longer though! With regular maintenance, its been proven over and over again, your car will last longer.

Safety Precautions

I have some safety precautions I want you to be aware of, and heed. As I mentioned before when your checking the transmission fluid the engine should be running and warm to get a proper reading. Be very careful of moving parts and wires, ESPECIALLY with your hair or dangling/loose clothing! An engine is so strong, if your hair, or maybe scarf, dangled near the serpentine belt, the breeze caused by the fan would blow it up and it would swing back down and the belt would catch it, and you won’t win. So please be careful!

If you find your car overheating DON’T remove the cap!! There is high pressure that has built up under that cap. Open the hood, so cool air can blow over the engine, and wait until the temperature gauge has gone down to zero or very near zero degrees. If the hose going to the radiator cap is not hot to the touch; you can squeeze it to get an idea of what kind of pressure is still there. NEVER spray or “hose down” a hot engine. When your car overheats, and you turn it off, if you spray cold water on it, you have a very good chance of cracking the engine! The severe degree change is too much for the metal. You CAN run water on the radiator WHILE THE ENGINE IS STILL RUNNING ONLY. I’ve had my share of overheating and it’s a bummer,sitting on the side of the road, waiting for the engine to cool down, but the alternatives will damage the engine or you.

Number six, the heavy duty fuse box and number ten, the air conditioning components, both require a licensed technician. There’s nothing you can do for these components anyway, so leave those to the techi’s.

DO check your power steering fluid, engine oil, radiator fluid and transmission fluid regularly. Fill or top off as needed and check my related hubs when they need to be serviced.

Approximately every two to three years you’ll need a new battery. To avoid creating a spark that can frazzle your nerves, remove the negative terminal first, then the positive. Automotive batteries can be VERY heavy, I’m talking twenty pounds plus, so be careful when your lifting it out and putting the new one in. Be sure to have the terminals on the correct side, positive to positive and negative to negative, then attach the terminals by connecting the positive first then the negative.

With all that said and done how about a little quiz to see what you remembered? Come on, give it a shot, you might surprise yourself!

Thank you for reading!

Determine If The Thermostat is Stuck

If a car’s engine is running too hot, it can actually warp and become damaged. But when it’s cold, it doesn’t run efficiently. So it is important to keep the engine at the right temperature, which is where the thermostat comes in. An engine’s thermostat regulates the temperature of the engine by controlling coolant flow.

The coolant does exactly what you imagine—it cools the engine down. The engine thermostat can open and close. When it’s open, the coolant flows through, lowering the temperature of the engine; when it’s closed, the coolant is blocked until the engine warms up. Engine manufacturers will install a thermostat that opens at the car’s operating temperature (usually either 180 or 212°F, or 82 or 100°C). While the thermostat controls coolant flow, the radiator’s job is to cool the fluid. The flow of coolant does not cycle through the radiator unless it is hot and needs to be cooled.

  • When an engine is cold, the radiator fluid is cold, so the thermostat is in the closed position. In this position, coolant will only flow in the engine. It will not be able to leave the engine to cycle through the radiator to be cooled.
  • When the engine starts up, and the coolant warms. When the coolant reaches a specific temperature, the thermostat opens. Each thermostat is gauged to open at a specific temperature. Once it opens, the coolant can circulate through to the radiator to be cooled.

There’s another radiator-type component under the dashboard called the heater core. When the car is warmed up and the heater is turned on, a fan blows air over the heater core. The heat produced by the hot radiator fluid runs through the heater core and is dispersed into the cabin of the car, heating the car’s interior.

How to Tell If Your Thermostat Stopped Working

When the thermostat gets stuck and stops working completely, there are several indicators you can check to determine the culprit. See the table below.

Cold engine test: Open hood and remove radiator cap. Start engine. Observe coolant action. It should not be moving.When an engine is cold, the thermostat should be closed, thus bypassing the radiator.
Warm (not hot!) engine test: Open hood and remove radiator cap. Start engine. Observe coolant action. It should be swirling vigorously.When an engine is warm, the thermostat is in the open position. This allows the coolant to flow through the radiator causing vigorous movement.
Cold engine test: Start the engine. Time how long it takes the engine to warm up enough to produce heat when the heater is turned on.If it takes more than five minutes for the heater to produce heat, it is a sign that the thermostat is stuck open, allowing all the coolant to flow all the time. This causes it to take a good deal longer for the engine to warm up.

You can find your car’s thermostat by starting at the upper radiator hose and following it to where it enters the top of the engine. The thermostat housing is right where the radiator hose meets the engine housing. It looks like half of a metal baseball.

When the thermostat becomes stuck, it is reasonable to simply replace it. Also, when the thermostat housing is removed, the housing gasket should be replaced even if you’re just checking it. A housing gasket needs to be able to seal fully, and it won’t if it’s been used.

The thermostat and housing together cost less than $20. Keep reading, however, to find out how to be sure that your thermostat is the problem.

If you are still unsure whether the thermostat is stuck, perform the following procedure to get an accurate diagnosis.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2. Drain some of the coolant (a gallon should be enough) so the fluid won’t pour out when you perform the next step.
  3. Remove the upper radiator hose.
  4. Remove the thermostat housing.
  5. Remove the thermostat.
  6. Locate and write down the temperature stamped on the lip of the thermostat.
  7. Fill a pot with cold water and a thermometer and place on a stove burner.
  8. Place the thermostat into the cold water.
  9. Turn the burner on.
  10. Watch the thermometer. When the temperature rises to the number you recorded in step #6, the thermostat will start to open. If it does not, or if it doesn’t open until reaching a different temperature (hotter usually), then the thermostat is bad and should be replaced. If it opens at the designated temperature, then the thermostat is just fine.

The thermostat is such a vital component to the well-being of your vehicle, yet it is so cheap. Replacing it is far less costly than repairing a warped engine. A warped engine must be removed and either resurfaced, if the damage isn’t terribly bad, or completely replaced.

Sometimes car owners remove but do not replace their car thermostat. This is not a good idea, because a cold engine does not function efficiently and a constant, slow warm-up will take years off of the engine’s life.

Be safe and replace!

Thanks for stopping in!