Saturday, December 19, 2009

Motoriginal's notable cars of 2009

2009 marked a good year for cool cars even though the economic downturn has halted sales and forced certain brands to go out of business. This could be the reason there were so many great cars this year. The decline in consumer spending has forced companies to try very hard to get our business.
Here are some great car picks from 2009 brought to you by Motoriginal in no particular order. This list is not based on sales or price but rather the coolness factor, design, and game changing aspects of the car.

 Cadillac CTS Sport: one of the coolest wagons ever, GM would do better marketing this car to men

Nissan Cube: where Honda failed with the Element, Nissan succeeded, trendy yet versatile

Porsche Cayman: beautiful curves and amazing performance, a car in its own class

Maserati GranTurismo: one of my favorite designs, Italian sports and luxury you can't beat

Alfa Romeo 8c Spider: pure beauty, I think it's the most beautiful car ever

Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe: futuristic design mixed with class

Volkswagen Eos: hardtop convertible, great mixture of simplicity and complexity

Volkswagen GTI: beautifully redesigned for 2009, very tight and sleek

Lexus IS 250: well executed hardtop convertible, a car nobody knew they wanted until it hit the market

Saturn Sky: redline edition shown above, a great little roadster for saturn prices

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: successfully married rally with street racing

Subaru WRX/ STi: great front facia, perfect amount of beefiness and practicality

BMW Z4: hardtop convertible redesigned by the ladies design team

Honda FCX: hydrogen fuel cell available in the U.S. only in California

Mercedes-Benz SL: sporty yet elegant, continues the classic SL line

BMW 7-Series: very well executed design by Adrian van Hoyden, served as BMW design flagship

Cadillac CTS-V: very aggressive design, sharp edges and a power-train that competes with the M3

Lincoln MKS: undoubtedly a Lincoln with apparent European looks, Ford needs to market this car better

Hyundai Genesis: this car changed the whole brand and surprised the global car community

Hyundai Genesis Coupe: the most sporty Hyundai ever, rear-wheel drive sports car

Audi S5/A5: amazing looks, the sound of the exhaust, perfection

Audi R8: Lamborghini v10 engine, the second most beautiful car ever in my book

Chevrolet Camaro SS: have to give GM credit for going ahead with it, I would like to see a redesign for 2011

Volkswagen CC: my favorite sedan, very sporty with distinctive aesthetics

Ford Mustang: 2010 version shown above, Ford tightened up the body, love it

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: competes with Lamborghinis on the track, pure American muscle super car

Nissan GT-R: Godzilla! Japanese Porsche killer, simply amazing


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rear Turn Signal Troubleshooting

Although all bulbs were working properly when I first bought the car, soon after I had driven it home, both a rear side marker and rear turn signal went out. The rear side marker was a quick fix with a new bulb from Advance Auto but the rear turn signal was a different story.

I replaced the bulb in the rear turn signal and it still didn't work which probably meant one of two things, either the electrical system had a short to the turn signal or there could be a faulty wire or connection. I cleaned all connectors and connections with a wire brush and some fine grit sand paper and got no results.

So finally, I took out my Multimeter and tested each connection that went to the turn signal. You're checking for resistance when looking for a short which means a reading of more than 0.9 constitutes a short.

Turns out there was a short in the wire to the turn signal all the way up to the main connector. The problem is that nobody sells just the connectors with wires anymore so I was going to have to find a second hand one somewhere. I searched all over the place and finally got a response from Ian at If you need parts, have any problems or questions with your 944 you can ask them, they know everything over there.

He said he had a working bulb assembly that he would send to me for free and no shipping charge! It's a very rare thing that someone gives you anything for free these days so thanks a lot Ian. Even better, when I got the part in the mail he included all working bulbs and the case assembly for the tail light.

It was a quick installation and now it will pass inspection. Out with the old and in with the new(er).


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Idle Control Valve Cleaning / Vacuum hose replacement

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The previous owner gave me a list of the things he thought needed to be done to bring the car up to par and one of those things was cleaning the idle control valve which is pretty common in 944s and it's not such an easy job. The control valve stabilizes the idling of the car and it did idle a bit rough.

Some say you can get to the ICV (idle control valve) without removing the fuel rail and intake manifold which is true. You can remove the ICV but I'd say it's pretty unlikely that you'll get it back in. This is what I did...

I successfully removed the ICV without taking anything else apart which was a hassle due to small nooks and crannies I had to maneuver my hands around. You're lucky if you can even fit your hands between the intake manifold. If you have big hands forget about it. My girlfriend had to help with a few things because I couldn't get my hands in.

After removing the ICV, I cleaned inside and outside a few times with carb cleaner and lint free rags. Be sure to make sure the ICV is completely dry before reinstalling otherwise you could cause some expensive damage. When I looked into the little hole the ICV came out of with a flashlight I noticed a small vacuum hose that had completely dry-rotted. Aha! That was causing the rough idle!

Here's the quick list of the procedure:

1. Removed fuel pump fuse, and all hoses and cables connected to the fuel rail
2. Removed fuel rail, fuel dampener, and fuel pressure regulator
3. Removed a dozen nuts, bolts, and hose clamps to loosen intake manifold
4. Removed intake manifold
5. Removed fuel injectors, new caps, new o-rings, and cleaned
6. Removed dry-rotted vacuum hose
7. Installed new vacuum hose and cleaned ICV
8. Carefully scraped off old intake manifold gaskets
9. Installed intake manifold and new gaskets
10. Installed everything else I removed
11. Started the car and idled beautifully

If you do attempt this procedure on a 944, do have plenty of rags under the fuel rail when removing. Although the fuel pump has been disabled, there can still be plenty of fuel in the lines.

All in all, it wasn't that difficult of a job although it did take longer than expected. One thing to remember is, don't take anyone's word for things. Make sure for yourself. And as I've said before, keep in mind that there will always be additional parts you need to replace when taking them apart.

Progress pictures below...

Close-up of the engine with intake manifold in top of photo and fuel rail with fuel damper and fuel pressure regulator located between intake manifold and engine block. If you look closely you can see the idle control valve in between the two
center pipes of the intake manifold.

Removing vacuum hoses from fuel pressure damper and fuel pressure regulator. You can just see the bottom of the idle control valve indicated by the yellow arrow. There is just enough room to get a hand between the intake manifold.

Before removing the fuel rail you have to disconnect the electrical plugs from the fuel injectors along with all bolts holding the fuel rail to the engine block and the fuel lines to the fuel rail. Keep rags below fuel rail to catch any fuel left in the lines.

This is what the fuel rail looks like off the car.

In some cases, the fuel injectors come out with the fuel rail, but in this case only one injector came out. Just remove injectors one-by-one if this happens. Be careful when removing injectors, pull straight out or you could damage the caps or o-rings (red arrow pointing to injector that came out with fuel rail).

Remove all intake manifold bolts with care, they are very easy to strip since they are old, steel, allen-head bolts threaded into an aluminum intake manifold. Tap each bolt with a hammer and punch to "wake them up." Then remove all vacuum hoses attached to manifold and air box hose connector. Then you can remove the intake manifold from the engine (sounds easier than it actually is).

Right after you remove the intake manifold, shove some lint-free rags into the cylinders to stop any debris from falling into them. Then you'll need to carefully scrape off the old intake manifold gaskets with a putty knife or something similar. Be careful not to scrape the aluminum when doing this!

This is the famous idle control valve that the previous owner told me needed to be cleaned. It probably didn't hurt to do it but this was not causing the rough idling that I was experiencing. It was a small vacuum hose attached to the ICV that was cracked and needed to be replaced. To remove the ICV you'll need to unplug the electrical connector then remove the two vacuum hoses and nuts holding the ICV in place. To clean ICV, simply spray carburetor cleaner into both openings and drain several times. You'll notice the liquid coming out of the other end will become cleaner and cleaner.

Since I was removing the fuel injectors and cleaning them as well, I decided to get new caps and o-rings for them. The only kits for these (other than Porsche dealerships) are available from for under $30.

The picture to the left shows 2 injectors side-by-side. The one on the right has been stripped of its cap and o-rings and the one on the left has been refitted with new caps and rings.
You can send your injectors away to get cleaned professionally if you feel they are not performing well enough.

Here is the fuel rail with the newly capped injectors attached. Be sure to insert injectors into injector holes at the correct angle so you don't bend anything out of shape. Reassembly is opposite of assembly so it's very straight forward. Just lightly grease new intake manifold gaskets, attach to engine block, and tighten intake manifold.