Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Jiggling Squeakies

The Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO is a very neat little car that's a whole lot of fun packed into a very small form factor.  One interesting statistic about this car is that it weighs only 1 metric ton, which is pretty light for a 4-wheeled conveyance.

One of the ways that Daihatsu saved on weight with the YRV was to use a drop-in styrofoam tray in the rear of the car to arrange "stuff" (like the tool kit) and also to provide a useful deck above the spare tire for cargo behind the rear seats.  Using styrofoam was a great idea - but this material has a terrible tendency to "squeak" when it comes into contact with other material types, like glass and painted metals.  Here's a demonstration:

So if you have a Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO, you might want to think about putting a soft buffering material between the drop-in styrofoam tray and the frame of the car itself, otherwise you may experience the kind of squeaking that could drive someone just crazy.

Black on Black (Cigarette Lighter Charger FUN)

Hong Kong is such a fun town when it comes to accessorizing vehicles.  It seems like anything and everything can be accessorized with inexpensive goods produced in China. Take the humble Cigarette Lighter charger for example.  The LRP came with a unit that was white, a bit large and featuring a very bright integrated LED lighting system.  Here's what the USB charger looked like when we first got the car:

Here's a detail shot of the charger.  There's nothing functionally wrong with it, it's just not in keeping with the overall look & feel of the Daihatsu YRV 2001 TURBO console and cockpit.

Not liking the look of this USB Charger very much, I took a little trip to my favourite destination for computer accessories (Golden Computer Center in Sham Shui Po) and picked up a different USB charging unit that was more in keeping with the overall design language of the cockpit of the Daihatsu YRV 2001 TURBO:

The only thing left to do is to change the color of the retaining ring around the cigarette lighter.  I'm not loving the neon green ring, so I plan to change it something a little less garish, either black or silver.

It's an Ill Wind that Blows Hot in Hong Kong

When we got our Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3 the air conditioning system was not blowing cold, which is a problem in a place where its humid almost all of the time and hot most of the time.

Even though air conditioning is a pretty complicated thing in theory (electronics, compressors, pressure, gases, etc), troubleshooting air conditioning systems can be a pretty straightforward process.  Here's a nice video on how the air conditioning system works in a typical car, from Eric the Car Guy, whose style I like very much:

When troubleshooting an air conditioning system, here's what needs to be considered, what I would call a decision path:

1) If the system doesn't blow air, check the electrical subsystem (switches & fuse)
2) If the system blows air, but the air is warm, check the cooling system.
3) If the cooling system has low gas pressure, fill it and check for a small leak.
4) If the cooling system has no gas pressure in it at all, check for a big leak.

You can usually check #1 and #2 right in the cabin of the car, using the climate control knobs and poking around under the dash for the fuse block, which is normally somewhere near the driver seat. If you can't get things working with #1 and #2 then you have to move on to #3 and #4, which involve leaving the cabin of the car and going to where the air conditioning system is located.  This usually involves lifting the hood and figuring out where the air conditioning system is located in the engine compartment.  


Testing the air conditioning system of the Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3 involves locating two PORTS, the High Pressure Port and the Low Pressure Port, then connecting some specialized equipment to those ports to test and maintain the system.

So, if #1 and #2 don't work for you, then you will need to get into testing the actual mechanical part of the air conditioning system, which involves hooking up a special set of gauges to the air conditioning systeem (the HPP and the LPP) to see how much residual pressure there is in the system.  Once again, Eric the Car Guy to the rescue in terms of providing a great video that explains what needs to happen, providing valuable context to those who are new to this situation:

Important Tip:  Having some pressure is a lot better than having no pressure.

Purging the Air Conditioning System of Moisture

Probably the worst situation for an air conditioning system is to have no pressure at all.  

This means that ALL of your coolant has escaped into the atmosphere, which is not only bad for the planet on a kind of abstract, meta level - it also means that the air of the planet, full of "nasty stuff" like moisture, dust, bacteria, mold and so on has taken residence inside your air conditioning system, which was never engineered to come into contact with air.

Also, if your air conditioning system has no pressure whatsoever, you probably have a BIG leak, which can be a pain and expensive to fix.  If the leak is in the piping (usually where a bend occurs because the pipe wall is especially thin at bend points) then an expensive repair is probably in your future because a mechanic is going to need to take the bad, snaking pipe out and put a good, snaking pipe in.

Here's a video about a BIG, BAD leak:

The other place that the system can lose all of its pressure is in the compressor, which has moving parts, plenty of heat, rubber seals and other things that are the enemy of maintaining pressure within a system.  Replacing an air conditioning compressor is just as tough (and expensive) as replacing the air conditioning pipes.  Either way, it's a half day in the garage, plus parts.  

<place video of compressor replacement here>

Finding the leak is made much easier these days with marking dye (featured above) and with electronic coolant sniffers.  Both technologies help to locate leaks pretty quickly.  I think the sniffer technology is especially valuable because it alerts you to whether your coolant is blowing into the cabin, which cannot be healthy.

<place video of coolant sniffer here>

Once the offending part has been replaced, the integrity of the system needs to be pressure checked, which (strangely) usually involves vacuum, not pressure.  This is because a vacuum check will put the system under the same kinds of stresses that a pressure check will, along with the added benefit of removing all of the "nasty stuff" that may have taken residence in the system while it had no pressure.  A vacuum check involves about 30 to 60 minutes of a specialized pump being attached to the air conditioning system and left to run.  If things go well, the "nasty stuff" will get pumped out (you can see this as steam emerging from the outlet valve of the vacuum pump) and the system will hold vacuum.  You can see this happening in one of the above Eric the Car Guy videos (How to Find and Repair AC Leaks) at around 9:15.

If the system holds vacuum for an appropriate amount of time, then coolant can be introduced into your air conditioning system (along with any needed additives).  If it does not, like with the above video at around 10:00 where he concludes his repair didn't work, additional troubleshooting will need to be performed.

Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips

To test your air conditioning status, you need to find the Low Pressure Port and the High Pressure Port.  Here's where I found the Low Pressure Port :

1) Here's the engine compartment of our Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3, seen face on:

Here's a look at the left side of the engine compartment:

Here's the port location, highlighted in RED:

Zooming in a little bit, here's exactly what the air conditioning Low Pressure Port looks like on the Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3:

Here's a video of how I found the air conditioning Low Pressure Port on the Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3:

Here's where I found the air conditioning High Pressure Port on the Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3:

Recharging the Air Conditioning System

Once the integrity of the air conditioning system has been deemed whole, then it should be filled with coolant, fired up and run to see if it blows cold and maintains pressure over a reasonable period of time, like 15 or 30 minutes.  The mechanic will add X ounces of refrigerant to the system to get pressure above the amount necessary for the compressor to trip in.  In my case, the total amount needed should range between 20 and 60 ounces of 134A refrigerant.  After that, the system should blow cold, which will be nice considering that in Hong Kong the temperature these days is hitting 100 degrees.

Here's the car in the garage, hooked up to the pressure gauges, along with all of the kit required to make an air conditioning service happen:

- Vacuum pump (small black box-like thing on the left)
- Air Conditioner Refrigerant (tank in the middle)
- Venting Container, if needed (antifreeze bottle to the right)

Thankfully, we found out that the system was holding some pressure, but probably not enough pressure for the compressor to kick in.  The air conditioning compressor in most systems will not kick in if there's not enough gas to compress because it would never turn off.  This is called a "threshold pressure".

So, to test the compressor, we needed to add gas to the system.  Here's the gas we used, which is what is in most modern air conditioning systems these days (134A):

Here's the technician adding gas to the system:

Here's the pressure once the gas had been added to the system:

Here's the technician testing the system after the refrigerant had been added, running the engine, checking for cold air flow and watching the gauges as the compressor kicked in and out.

The air conditioning system pressure wasn't dropping when the compressor was kicking in...and it should have been, so here the technician is putting an additive into the system, just to be safe in case he had added too much coolant or the compressor wasn't working right.

Here's the additive that we put into the air conditioning system.  The hope is that by adding this to the system we can help it to live longer and work less hard by lubricating the moving parts and also moisturizing the seals so gas doesn't escape.  

The additive also helps in the case where too much gas has been added to the system, the system is old, the system is weak, etc...

So, how does the boss like her "cool" Daihatsu 2001 YRV TURBO 1.3l?

Looks like our work is done!  

We'll check back with the garage in around 6 weeks to see how well the system holds pressure and if we need to put more gas or additive in to keep the system alive.

A Missing Knob is Like a Missing Tooth

Beside myself with excitement, I went out this morning to have a quick look at the console of the TLRP, where one of the knobs is missing.  My guess is that someone back in the mists of time turned this knob too hard one time too many, or the system that controls how the air is routed within the car just got more and more stiff over time.  

In any case, the torque of the turning action stressed out the (cheap / underspec ) plastic that lives within the knob body, causing it to crack.  The knob no longer stays on the switch stem. 

For those who are curious, the knob is composed of three pieces:
  1. A cosmetic bit that faces into the cockpit of the car
  2. A non-cosmetic bit that faces into the dashboard
  3. A little metal sleeve that prevents the non-cosmetic bit from rounding off
The cosmetic bit looks like ABS, which is a durable plastic that lasts forever - but is expensive

The non-cosmetic bit looks like PE or PP, which  is cheaper and (should be) softer than ABS

The metal bit is spring steel, and it is "keyed" to enable the knob to only be put on in the righ orientation, which is a good idea, but I think the flexing of the steel has probably played some part in weakening the stem over time.

Because the sleeve was still on the stem, another knob couldn't be put on it easily.  So I used  pair of pliers to gently slide the metal sleeve

Front view of the console knobs:

Here's a good shot of the missing knob:

Here's the console that the knob fits into:'s a shot of the "good" knob, see the crack?

Here's a top view of the knob:

Here's a comparison view of the cracked knob and the good knob.  Notice how they've cracked in the exact same place?  Is it because the broken knob was used more than the other one...but the cracked one is on the way to being broken as well?

Top view of the two cracked knobs:

Closeup view of the two cracked knobs:

Focusing on the cracked knob, here's a view of the broken one:

Closeup of cracked knob:

Once everything was repaired, here's the fixed knobs BACK IN SERVICE:

The Case of the Growling Left Front Corner

In its time (2001) the average Daihatsu YRV TURBO buyer Was a young man looking for an affordable street racing platform.  

As soon as they got their hands on the cars, they started customizing it to help push its 1000kg package as fast as possible.  

Part of the quest for speed was the necessity to alter the balance of the car, mostly by changing its center of gravity, which means changing the suspension of the car.  Typically this change took two forms:

1) Stabilize the platform by putting racing tires on it.

2) Lower the center of gravity of the platform by lowering the suspension.  This implies changing the stock suspension to one capable of being tuned.

This was the exact fate suffered by the LRP at some time in the indeterminate past.  Some enterprising young speed freak put:

A)  "high performance, high-end" Japanese shocks all around, and then used them to crank the front end of the car as low as possible in an effort to lower its center of gravity.

B) "Racing Tires" on the Daihatsu YRV 2001 TURBO

The Tires

As it turned out, the car probably has the wrong tires on it.  

Here's a quick shot of the tire itself.  It's a Falken ZIEX ze-912.  

So, the tires that our young racer put on the car are NOT stock...

The tire is a 195/55R15 35V.  

Let's decode this a little, with many thanks to Discount Tire for the following information...

Tire Class - "P"
The first character(s) in a tire size designate the tire's class. In this example, "P" indicates that the tire is a passenger car tire. An "LT" before the tire size designates a light truck tire, and no letter before the size indicates that it is a European metric tire.
Section Width - "205"
A metric tire's section width is measured in millimeters. This measurement is taken from sidewall to sidewall. In this example, the section width of the tire is 205mm.
Aspect Ratio - "65"
This number refers to the height of the sidewall. It is a percentage of the section width. In this example, 65 percent of the section width of 205mm equals 133.25.
Tire Construction - "R"
The "R" in this example indicates radial tire construction.
Wheel Diameter - "16"
This indicates the wheel diameter in inches.
Load Index - "92"
The load index indicates the maximum amount of weight a tire can safely carry. Load index ranges from 0 to 279 and corresponds with the load-carrying capacity of a tire. Passenger car tire load indices typically range from 75 to 105. It is very important to maintain the proper load index for your vehicle when replacing your tires.

So using the information from above OK, lets decode this tire a little bit...

No Letter Prefix - This is a metric sized tire


This is a 195mm wide tire


The car sidewall is 55% of the width


This is a radial tire


This the wheel diameter in inches


This is the load bearing capacity of the tire in pounds


This is the speed rating in miles per hour

  • V - Up to 149 mph

So the tire is wide, low profile, reasonably load bearing (but not exceptionally so) and capable of handling pretty high speeds - much higher than the top speed of the car, as a matter of fact.

But the clearance of the tire from the fender just doesn't seem to be that great:

As you can clearly see in this photo, there are tire particles adhering to the fender, especially around the fender mounting screw, which is likely what is coming in contact with the tire.

Here's the other side of the car.  NO tire particles at all...

Here's some information on the tire from the manufacturer:

created for optimized block rigidity for superior all-season handling.

effectively evacuate water and significantly enhance hydroplaning resistance for enhanced wet handling.

breaks up tire pattern noise and leads to a quiet ride inside your vehicle.

assist in identifying uneven wear and proper rotation timing.

65,000 mi / 104,000 km


40,000 mi / 64,000 km

Here's some shots of the tire tread from the manufacturer:

Here's some details of the construction of the tire:

Here's what the sidewall of the right front tire looks like, nice and clean.

Here's a side view of the car.  

Note the amount of tire clearance the rear tires have vs. the clearance on the front...

Where we got our shocks adjusted...

The sign of our "tire guy"...

In Vego goes, to talk to the "tire guy"

Another shot of Vego engaging with the "tire guy", Mr. Hong.

The "tire guy" has a rig inside his store for "truing" aluminum rims.  There's a LOT of aluminum dust in his store - I wonder if he's heard about the link between aluminum and Parkinsons...

With the rims removed, here's what we saw, a typical McPherson strut...

The entire adjustment took under 10 minutes to raise both sides up by 1 inch.