A project car is a vehicle being modified or restored. Sounds simple.
This means the car is often not driveable. The engine may or may not run. A lot of work is required to complete the car.
Adding to the challenge is a project purchased unfinished and or multiply people have been involved on the various aspects of the build.
To explain this, we will go over the story of Chloe and Steve’s V8 converted Toyota Surf a vehicle purchased as an unfinished project. Many hands have touched the car. Challenge Accepted. I do love a challenge. Chloe and Steve replaced all the suspension themselves and a credit to them for doing a decent job. I had a brief conversion with Steve about installing a Haltech Elite 2500, WB2, Coil on plug conversion and Haltech P/N box for the A340E. The Elite 2500 can run a few 4 speed automatics all be it with additional demands for outputs.
During that conversion Steve reported the car to be running and driving. Ecu install on a running / driving car, normally a straightforward process.
The car arrived on a trailer which was unexpected for a driving car. The first red flag. Story goes that a HT lead was broken and due to that the engine was only running on 4 cylinders.
So, Steve why are we installing a Haltech into the car? OH, Chloe says the car has never run right. Really, you told me it was running and driving. We think it is a faulty MAF, so we wanted it fixed by installing the Haltech. Using the Haltech the MAF can be deleted, and a MAP sensor used, so there is some method to the madness of replacing the ECU as a catch all. If other sensors are faulty, they can also be replaced with the install. Just check codes and live data prior to the install beginning.
Steve wanted to install a snorkel to the passenger side guard. Perfect time to do, since the delete of the MAF sensor would require a change the inlet pipe.
A damaged lead would not impact on the build as Coil on pug was planned. Having a look over the car planning the work, red flags started waving everywhere.
AN6 (10mm) push loc hose was used for fuel hose connecting to 8mm and 7mm fuel line. To add to this no barbs were on the fuel lines. The same fuel hose was looped around in the engine bay and not secured. A dual core wire was run from the left side of the engine bay to the driver’s side and back towards to fuel tank. The heater core had been bypassed and hoses just sitting against the rear of the manifold. Several fittings were blanked with hose and bolts. Ignition coils sitting loosely. Power steering hoses rubbing on the chassis.
Rough could be a word used to describe what had been done.
Given a factory ECU was installed the wide band install should be a bolt in. But no. Narrow band sensors were installed BUT they were positioned vertically down. For anyone not aware wide band sensors or any Oxygen sensors, are to be installed vertical up as much as possible not going beyond the horizontal. The reason is condensation in the exhaust damaging the sensors. Sensor bungs were added to the list.
During all this the spark plugs were checked. All were incorrectly tensioned being very loose. One of them had the boot of the HT leads stuck to it. This was fished out to find that spark plug was different to all the others being a copper and incredibly old.
This is one of my pet hates. Not necessary.
These are all the warning signs of the RULE OF π. The RULE OF π is amazingly simple. Whatever you think it will cost and how long you think it will take multiply that by 3.14 and you will be close.
Chole was informed of the concerns of the condition and modifications already performed and the possibility of what else maybe found as the work progresses. From this conversion Chloe did state she had had the fuel lines replaced already when the fuel pump was replaced. The car, originally a diesel required a fuel pump installed in the tank for the petrol V8. Close inspection at the fuel tank did show the rubber fuel lines at the tank had been renewed, not the fuel lines in the engine bay. Discussion moved to the best way to plumb snorkel to the manifold and dealing with the knock Sensors as they are known to fail, so during the modification to the inlet manifold it was recommended to replace the knock sensors with new Bosch doughnut style sensors.
Costs involved to continue with the project were updated. The snorkel was dropped and knock sensors not to be investigated at this time. Before someone in the crowd YELLS OUT why did you just not scan the car for codes as you mentioned earlier. Whoever did the engine swap did not wire in the OBD (Diagnosis) plug, so code scan was not possible. Haltech do not use and ODB plug for codes so there was no valve to install it now.
A line pressure sensor for the transmission was spoken of; however, this was paused until more was known about the condition of the car.
Strip out of parts began at the same time as building a MAP for the Engine and Trans. The plan was to use as many of the factory parts as possible.
Map DPO’s (digital pulse outputs) were required for the Check engine lamp, Tacho, Lock up clutch, Line pressure, Accumulator and fuel pump control. Fans were already wired in to be controlled by a thermo switch. 7 DPOs were needed but only 6 in the Haltech. A discussion was had with Steve and Chloe about using an IO box to give the required number of DPOs. Steve questioned the need for the IO and requested the Check engine lamp to not be wired in dropping the need for the IO box.
The original ignition system was removed including ignitors. A traction control throttle body fitted. The Traction control would not be used and to reduce wiring this was removed. TRC removal on this engine is a common modification due to reducing wiring and allowing for placement of the ATS and a port for the idle stepper motor. During the mod the old unnecessary coolant feeds to the IAC stepper and the throttle body are deleted. This coolant hoses were perished so perfect time to delete them.
During all this the ecu coolant temp sensor was found with physical damage. Another little thing to add to the list. Determining the pin out for the factory Ecu an interesting anomaly was found in that the Ecu was for a VVT engine, but the engine installed was Non VVT. Potentially the ECU and or the Coolant temp sensor were having an influence on the poor performance of the vehicle. But more on that later.
No oil pressure sender was installed on the engine. With the limited space at the oil filter a 90-degree fitting needs to be used to plumb in the oil pressure sensor. Instead of doing that it was blanked previously.
Considering the state of the wiring replacing most with the Haltech loom was best moving forward.
The 1UZ (if you had not already guessed) uses group fire injectors. During the work these would be wired to be sequential.
The auto transmission wiring was all inspected along with the transfer case wiring. The transfer case wiring had 7 core trailer wiring spliced to it and ran into the engine bay unterminated. The Auto wiring had multiply joins along its length before being connected to the ECU. Coil on plug conversion was installed without drama apart from the fact that no dielectric grease was supplied with the kit. Injectors all wired in. Steve was missing in action, Chloe was informed about the all the above, choosing to have an oil pressure and temp sensor installed and engine protection turned on in the Haltech. This would not run the oil pressure gauge on the dash but better than nothing.
As the wiring progressed, work started on the under-bonnet fuel system mess.
High pressure fuel systems use from 30-80psi of pressure. 10mm hose onto 8mm barbs will not hold. 8mm hose uses an 8mm barb. Cut metal lines need to use weld on barbs or compression fittings with barbs. Making a high-pressure fuel system this way is the only safe option. The return section or low pressure can be connected using lower pressure fittings.
The fuel line repairs progressed finding every O ring on the fittings damaged. The traction control delete completed and a new thread cut for a GM style coolant temp sensor to be installed. Ecu wiring was completed.
All the fuel hoses and wiring were sorted. Time to load the map, set base timing, and fuel pressure. Base timing set, TPS calibrated, coolant, air and oil temps as expected. Go for engine start. Engine starts, runs and sound healthy. 3 minutes or so later coolant is leaking around the thermostat housing.
Steve was still missing in action; informed Chloe of the coolant leak and that the engine was running. Two days later Chloe gives the go ahead to inspect the cause of the coolant leak.
O ring for the thermostat replaced and the plastic thermostat housing was linished flat. No more coolant leaking, all ok to install the pressure gauge and set line pressure. With no line pressure sensor, the line pressure was set as open loop and base setting entered in the ECU.
During this testing the engine was brought up to temp. 95 degrees and no cooling fan operation. Testing of the cooling fans revealed a faulty thermo switch. For the interim the Cooling fans were wired to be always on. Interesting this vehicle had 3 thermo fans all wired together. Normally two quality fans are sufficient for this type of conversion. I say quality as not all fans are created equally.
Along with the cooling fans, no tacho function and the factory knock sensor were going nuts. Chloe was informed of the fans, tacho and knock sensors and decided to swap the tacho DPO to control the cooling fans. As a side note the tacho would need a tacho box to work. If you have not heard of a tacho box, it is a small electronic box that converts the Ecu tach signal to a signal that can run a tacho traditional run from an ignition coil circuit. For the short term the knock sensors were turned off.
Know we could load the car on the Dyno and turn the wheels. No speedo operation in the cluster and no vehicle speed in the ECU. ECU vehicle speed was a simple fix, the dash speedo was a broken wire at the speedo transducer in the transfer case. Considering the wiring from the transfer case was not connected that would be only part of the fault. Knock sensors assessed again on the dyno and confirmed as faulty. I did mention earlier of the coolant temp and VVT ECU being part of the running issues. When a 1UZ has faulty knock sensors the car will do some remarkably interesting things. Bog down under power, power suddenly dropping out, hunting at idle only to name a few.
Continued with low load and speed tuning until temperatures were getting too high to continue. Perfect time to wire in the cooling fans to the ECU when allowing the car to cool. In many ways it was lucky it did start to get hot. Wiring in the cooling fans a strong smell of fuel was present. A look around found a puddle of fuel on the passenger side of the inlet manifold and what looks like injectors orings leaking.
Informed Chloe of this latest development and confirm with her the knock sensors are faulty.
Chloe now stated they do not have the money to repair the car and will collect, Incomplete. We refitted any interior trims that were removed. Car was ready to collect incomplete.
So where did Chloe and Steve go so wrong. Chloe and Steve seemed blissfully unaware of the condition of the car. An engine that runs on 4 cylinders and can be driven in a carpark in no way can be deemed a running and driving vehicle. From the very beginning Steve was warned about the additional faults that could be found with this vehicle. Chloe was made fully aware every step of the way as additional items were discovered.
So, what now for the vehicle, I do not know. Steve had booked the vehicle in for panel and paint. I still do not under stand why you would be booking a vehicle in for paint when it is not mechanically complete.
Project car REMEMBER the RULE of π.
The rule of π is realistic, it does not apply to all cars but be cautious of the red flags, Car does not run and drive, multiple owners, work performed looks questionable all Red Flags
Chloe and Steve are not their real names, the other details are correct.