24 Feb 2018

Scangauge II OBD Diagnostics

Scangauge II is a small OBD scan tool, error code wiper, custom gauges and trip computer rolled into a small black plastic box. I wanted this and bought this for two main reasons.

First one is the most obvious and mostly used feature, an error code cleaner. While tuning and trying out various things check engine light used to pop up often and with this always connected it was easy to check and clear them and it works far more efficiently than using my mobile phone and WiFi/Bluetooth OBD tool. I could hook up the laptop running windows XP with Toyota diagnostics in it but that was too cumbersome and I am lazy.

Second one is the ability to program two custom Xgauges into it which was very useful in my tuned Crysta and that is for monitoring the automatic transmission temperature. There are two temperature sensors in the transmission. One of them sits in the pan and sends fluid temperature from the pan and the other sits at the torque converter outlet and sends fluid temperature as it exits the torque converter. The latter is always hotter than the former and temperatures shoot up very quickly inside the torque converter. It helps to keep an eye on it and when the temperature shoot up be less aggressive with throttle especially in stop and go situations, which is everywhere inside Kerala state! When the torque converter lock-up clutch is locked during a steady cruise, the temperature drops.

Xgauge codes to show the transmission temperature is as below. Refer Scangauge manual to enter this correctly.
Trans Oil Pan Sensor 07E02182 46105820000 2808 00010001FFD8
Torque Converter Sensor 07E02182 46105820000 3808 00010001FFD8

In the photo below the top row shows transmission fluid temperature at the torque converter outlet (TC), fluid temperature at the pan (TF), intake air temperate after the intercooler (IA) and engine coolant temperature (WT).

Cold engine soon idling

One a hotter day, idling and after a short drive

As you can see above I have the Scangauge mounted under the console and above the storage space using a magnet which originally was part of a mobile phone mount. Its better than the supplied velcro mounting option.
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PS: A larger and separate ATF cooler will be a good idea in my Crysta and thats a topic for another day. It does have an ATF cooler but it is integrated with the radiator.
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Tip: Engine Oil For Crysta

This is simple, no? Use manufacturer recommended engine oil, right? 5W30 or 0W30?

For some maybe but for me I would rather not. Why? Because Toyota cares more about fuel efficiency and C.A.F.E rating just like every manufacturer these days and wants maximum efficiency out of the engine with least possible fuel consumption and carbon foot print. They ask to use xW30 engine oil in their new engines, it is all abut being green now a days.

I don't care about being green at the expense of engine life, the prescribed xW30 engine oil in my opinion is a little too thin to provide best protection in our tropical climatic conditions with ambient temperature near, at or above 30C during most months of the year. The recommended xW30 oil would be OK for cooler climates but not here and not in my Crysta.

My Innova is modified to put a bit more power on the ground with some minor hardware mods to help with that cause. More power means more heat is generated and along with that comes more stress and strain. A thin oil is not going to help here. At high temperatures the thin oil film will break down quickly and allow metal to metal contact, I do not want that. So the sensible option is to use a good quality synthetic or atleast good quality semi-synthetic with 5W40/0W40 grading.

If in doubt check the owner's manual? Yes though they stress the use ox 5W30 or 0W30 oil in the engine they have mentioned this which I am quoting from the owners manual: "An oil with higher viscosity (one with a higher value) may be better suited if the vehicle is operated at high speeds, or under extreme load conditions."

See, so I am not wrong in choosing a higher viscosity oil.

Synthetics are better and hold up well under extreme temperatures but since the Crysta gobbles up 7.5 liters during each change it is not very wallet friendly at close to Rs.1000/- per liter. Unless I can get some for a good discount. If one can afford it I suggest Motul XCess or XMax 5W40/0W40, nothing like it!

So the next best option for me is Mobil Delvac MX or Shell Rimula R4 and I think these are good enough, they are CI4 and Volvo VDS-3 rated which is pretty good.


Since I started using Delvac MX in my Crysta I have noticed two things.
  1. The engine runs a lot smoother and this is noticeable during the drive.
  2. Since i park in an enclosed space every sound used to bang off the walls and get amplified and I was able to hear the turbo during cold starts in the morning. Now with the non-standard non-recommended oil I do not hear the turbo during cold starts in the morning.
Negatives? Probably costing me some fuel efficiency and acceleration, the latter I think is noticeable.
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Update 17/07/2018: Engine was sounding gruff since the last thousand kilometers or so. There was no oil consumption and the level stayed in the halfway mark on the dipstick but it looked dark black. So got the oil drained after 6000Kms and found the fluid charcoal black in colour, I think 5000 to 6000KM is tops for this oil. I used the same oil this time since I already had another 7.5L can remaining with me. After the change the engine is sounding nice and smooth as it usually does on new oil.

I will be shifting to Motul Synthetic after another 5000Kms and will not be buying or recommending this Delvac MX.
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23 Feb 2018

Grandad's Toyota Qualis

Wow! Toyota!!
Toyota is the holy grail of car ownership for many folks here because of the perceived reliability and durability associated with the name "Toyota". This is further reinforced by the non resident malayalees returning to the country who speak highly of Japanese cars especially Toyota and how they last forever and ever without ever breaking down. Toyota's brand recall is very strong across the globe and almost always the first choice for both good guys and bad guys in conflict zones. This did not come easy to them and earned over several decades of hard work. Their motto here in our market is QDR, which is the abbreviation for Quality Durability and Reliability. The Toyota quality does not stop with the product; it starts from the moment you enter the showroom and the product and then the ownership experience. Toyota is a brand that appeals to the head and it doesn't matter if the cars are boring, uninspiring or insipid. All that matters is the T.


And that is how a Toyota came into our lives when my uncle gifted one to my grand father, my mom's dad. Before the Qualis came the family people mover was a Tata Sumo bought new during the nineties and it was one of the earlier models. I was doing my pre-degree during that period and whenever we visited my native place all of us used to go somewhere in the Sumo. The ride was comfortable and from what I can remember that was the only positive thing associated with the Tata. The major problem being was the uneven wear and tear of the front tyres and would not last beyond 10000 to 15000 thousand kilometers, not kidding. Wheel alignment would not hold and it soon goes out of specs. Apart from that there were other niggling issues which kept the driver happy since he could visit the workshop often. What a headache! But there was no real alternative to a people carrier which would seat 8 to 9 people.

During the early 21st century and in the year of the Y2K boom, Toyota decided to enter the Indian market with a product that was outdated even in the Indonesian market it was originally launched. The product belonged to the eighties. It should have been a flop, no? Or that was what some thought, but the joke was one them and us and Toyota laughed all the way to the bank.

But why was it a joke on us or the people who bought the outdated Qualis? Because it proved what I said in the first paragraph, people just wanted a reliable Toyota and it did not matter that it was a few decades old. Why? Because QDR - Quality Durability Reliability. It took the market by the horns and everybody was waiting for a Qualis. And the Sumo? What Sumo? No one wanted any other vehicle in its segment those who could afford the price went for a Qualis without thinking twice. It ruled the market and the highways for the next 5 to 6 years. King of the segment! And the king lived happily ever after!!

What? No!

Then in 2005 Innova happened and Toyota pulled Qualis's plug.


This is my late grandad's Qualis, in the photo above. In 2018 its 17 years young and still see regular usage including highway trips. The bullbar in the front is original Toyota fitment and had a pair of yellow fog lights on the lower left corners. In 17 years I have never heard of this one breaking down or leaving people stranded. It is now in my aunt's name,still with the original family it was brought into.

KL4J8374 is followed by two more Qualises, bought new by two of my uncles. One is a Diesel in beige shade and the other one is a rarer Petrol model in black. Both are still with their original owners and regularly used, even the Petrol one.

 QDR works! What more to say?
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22 Feb 2018

Brake Rotor Shield Removal & Wheel Upsize

The new Crysta gets larger brakes compared to the old Innova however I am not satisfied with the brakes on the Crysta 2.8 automatic. Toyota decided to use same brakes for the 2.4 manual variant and the 2.8 automatic variant, discs at front and drums at the rear.
  • Even in their standard factory tune the 2.8 automatic is more powerful than 2.4 manual; and being an automatic the engine braking is obviously lower compared to the manual. Brakes are heavily used for slowing down, much more than one would use them in the manual variant.
  • Previous generation Fortuner which has lower output compared to the Crysta suffered from brake fade in the early models launnched in India. Toyota then recalled and replaced the front rotors (which were similar in diameter to Crysta's) with larger diameter rotors and a new upgraded four piston fixed caliper (Crysta has a single piston slider caliper) unit. Crysta for the same seating capacity, similar weight and more power gets an inferior brake setup.
  • Current generation Fortuner comes with the same engine in a slightly higher state of tune and gets a bigger rotor 4 piston setup in the front and a disc at the rear.
Both these vehicles (Crysta & Fortuners old and new) are close in kerb weight, same top speed and same passenger capacity. Crysta automatic should have had better brakes from the showroom, what it has is just enough for the stock output with very little margin when the brakes are new and good. I have had issues with brake fade when braking from higher speeds several times. The number of effective bites between brake applications could be better, this is mediocre.

Innova Crysta's front brake rotor size. Just about enough for a stock vehicle. They did not give rear discs but they could have atleast have equipped Crysta with a 4 piston fixed caliper setup in the front like previous generation Fortuner.

Something has to be done about this and till I can afford a big brake upgrade kit or someone release an upgraded brake pad in the market I will have to do with this and I have to improve it. Reducing the amount of heat build up is a good first step, and to do that what needs to be done is to allow the rotors to vent better, anything to take some heat away will help. I could do two things to help manage the heat, 1) Bigger wheels with more clearance, 2) Better tyres and 3) Rotor dust shield removal.

Bigger Wheels and Better Tyres
I was planning to do a wheel upgrade since a while for multiple reasons - A) Rotor clearance for big brake upgrade, B) wider rubber for handling and braking especially now with more power and C) Rotor clearance for better air flow around the brakes.

The 16 inch wheels GX trim came with has just the minimum required clearance for the caliper to clear the wheels.

The top trim comes with 17 inch wheels and there is more clearance between the wheel and the caliper. With more clearance around the brakes they will help air move around to help cool the brakes, or so I think. So it was decided to upsize the wheel to 17 inch and this will allow me to put a big brake kit in the future when I have money. Big brake kits have 17 inches as minimum requirement for their basic kits. I bought the wheels secondhand from an owner who upgraded to 18 inch wheels soon after he bought the vehicle and so they were almost brand new.

Stock tyre size of GX trim is 205/65/R16 and the stock tyre size of the 17 inch variant is 215/55/R17. I decided to go for 225/55/R17 not too over the top but the right size to control wheel spins, help with handling and better braking. The tyres are Michelin Primacy 3ST and the size is 225/55/17 with load rating of 101. Michelin make good tyres and so do others but among the choices I had I trust Michelin. Tyres are balanced on a Hunter Roadforce machine and it costs almost the double the money compared to regular balancing, I hope they are worth it.
 


Rotor Dust Shield Removal
These brake dust shields and it covers the rotor completely except where the caliper sits, and these don't have any scoop to help channel air to the rotor like in some other cars. If they had some scoop like some cars do then I would have left them there. But these are simple dust shields and serve no other purpose in the non front wheel driven vehicle such as this one.


So they were removed, the Toyota dealer helped me with the removal, during the assembly the shield goes in before the rotor and wheel hub; the proper order of disassembly means the rotor and the hub has to come off before the shield and in this order. That seems too much work and wasting perfectly good wheel bearings for something that will never be fitted again. So it was decided to cut them off after removing the rotors to access the shield.
 



Braking is now considerably better, better because onset of brake fade is delayed, meaning I get more useful bites out of the brakes while braking from higher speeds before it begins to fade.

A word of caution:
The front wheel drive and four wheel drive vehicles have a front drive axle which passes through the center of the hub and the rotor. The wheel side constant velocity (CV) joint of the axle is in the vicinity of the brake rotor. If the CV boot is cut the grease inside will be flung everywhere including the rotor due to centrifugal force and that will cause poor to no braking. Be warned!
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18 Feb 2018

Glovebox Lock Cylinder Removal

The glovebox by design has a lock system that is inaccessible from behind as the  rear part of the two piece glovebox is joined together by glue/plastic weld. There are no screws to be undone or any clips to be unclipped to get to the lock system. The only option apart from cutting a small hole on top using dremel was to peel off the inner layer of plastic leaving the glove box door and the lock system in place.

Before proceeding unlock the lock. The lock should now be in unlock position, i.e., key slot pointing in 12 - 6 position. Lock position is key slot pointing 9 - 3.

Once the back is peeled off (it will take some strength it looks like plastic weld rather than glue) you can access the lock system from behind as shown in the video. Now the rest is self explanatory as shown in the clip, Push the spring loaded brass coloured clip into the lock cylinder and push the cylinder out. Thats it.

To install the cylinder on a new glovebox just press the brass clip in and push the lock cylinder into the new glovebox from the front, reverse of how it came out. Position of the cylinder while going in should be should be brass clip at 12 O clock position.How to remove the glovebox lock cylinder of Innova Crysta.

The glovebox by design has a lock system that is inaccessible from behind as the  rear part of the two piece glovebox is joined together by glue/plastic weld. So only choice to access the lock system is to peel off the inner layer of plastic leaving the door and the lock system in place.

The lock should now be in unlock position, i.e., key slot pointing in 12 - 6 position. Lock position is key slot pointing 9 - 3. Bring it to unlock position before proceeding.

Once you can access the lock system from behind like in the video just push the brass coloured clip into the cylinder and push the cylinder out. Thats it.

To install the cylinder on a new glovebox just press the brass clip in and push the lock cylinder into the new glovebox from the front, reverse of how it came out. Position of the cylinder while goin in should be should be brass clip at 12 O clock position, key slot pointing 12-6.

Kindly excuse the presence of glove box contents, I couldn't get it off before the video as its stuck using good double side tape.

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14 Feb 2018

Philips LED H11 Fog and H11 Low Beam Upgrade

This has been posted as a separate entry in my blog because this is an important one. It did not deserve to be clubbed into the previous LED retrofit article since this is about retrofit in two of major luminaries of the vehicle. For this I had to wait for some time because neither Philips nor Osram Sylvania had a proper H11 replacement LED. Philips came out with one that mimicked halogen filament placement and Osram came out with a fancy one with no halogen filament placement precision.

Now before proceeding further I suggest sitting through this video below. Guns and lights! What a winning combination and I love them both.


Now you may understand why I mentioned mimicking halogen filament placement. For best beam pattern when you use it in a reflector headlight bowl it has to closely match the filament placement. It is important. The $200 lights are a bit of a stretch for me, they are super awesome, so I decided to settle with Philips.

I have a confession to make. Putting LEDs in reflector bowls is not the best way to upgrade the lights to LEDs it is a compromise. The best-est way is to scavenge an LED projector setup from a higher trim (Crysta has them in top trims) or retrosqueeze an even larger LED light assembly from an altogether different model, this is hardworks but it will payoff if done right. So why did I chose this route? Just because I wanted to keep it simple. In case of any problems with the LEDs on a highway I can go back to halogens and continue my drive.

Philips came out with a newer version of their H11 replacement LED lights and that is what I got. These are not the ones in the video above but still maintain the all important correct positioning of LED emitter. The driver is now inbuilt into the base of the bulb and still employs passive cooling. Common sense says it would have been better off having the driver separate allowing for a larger heatsink like the previous model, but who am I to suggest and I can only hope the engineers who designed and built this have done proper research on it.



Installation in the headlight housing is straight forward, take the bulb out put the Philips in and connect the pigtail lead to vehicle headlight socket. Installation in the fog light beam housing is also straight forward plug and play, but you will need to partially remove the fender liner from wheel well to get to the lights. Its a bit messy but still not worth taking it to a garage. Please note that OE fog light bulbs of the Crysta are H16 and these can be replaced with H11 with no modification and thats why the H11 Philips LEDs fit there.

All installed and hooked up I couldn't wait to turn it on and when I did it surprised me. Honestly I was expecting the worst, instead I am presented with a strong beam with neat cut off. The brightness is pretty good compared to the Xtreme Vision H11 I was using and the beam cut off is almost neat with little to no glare above the cut off line. It has been almost a week now and I find no difficulty using these lights during my night dives and I have not yet been flashed at either.

Low Beam H11 LED


Low Beam H11 Halogen


On road video clip. H11 low beam LEDs only and fogs are off. The Corolla in the front has factory LED projector lamps.

In fog lamp reflector bowls, on the left is H16 halogen bulb and on the right is H11 LED. Look at the cut off line, its perfect.



The four 10W Philips H11 LEDs replaced two 55W halogen low beams and two 35W fog lights, which in total saves 140 watts when low beams and fogs are ON. This is a substantial amount of watts saved and is not including the savings from signal light LEDs mentioned in the previous post.
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13 Feb 2018

Philips/Osram LED Signal and Interior Bulbs Upgrade

When I was a kid I remember my father changing the headlight bulb of his Bajaj Chetak scooter and I helping him with holding the tools. I remember the bulb being a round globe, similar to what we had in our home. Then when he bought a newer scooter several years after that model it had a cylindrical halogen bulb and it shined a lot brighter too. Halogens where the next best and latest thing in automotive lighting when I was a kid!

Halogens came and they have stayed for a long long time and are almost gone but new cars still come with halogen lighting. Then came the High Intensity Discharge lighting first seen on luxury cars and the dazzled with their blue tinged night light and looked cool was a lot brighter too. Now they are also on the way out! The latest and greatest entrant in the automotive lighting scene are the LEDs, you think? No sorry LEDs have lost that mantle to Laser lights but Laser lights are only to be found on high tech high end cars and way way out of the league of common car folk just like how LEDs and HIDs where a few years ago. They will trickle down but it will take time. So till then let me give the crown of  latest and greatest in lighting to LEDs because they have trickled down and is fairly accessible to the common car folk.

LED short for Light Emitting Diodes they came several years ago and now have matured into something that can be used in automotive, industrial and residential lighting systems. Who would have guessed that those weak red and green LED lights we see in a Philips radio would evolve into something that can put out several thousands of lumens from one emitter? Amazing isn't it? Apart from high light output another critical advantage of LED lighting systems are their low current consumption. And that is good when the world is now on a energy conservation eco drive.

I have been fascinated with LEDs since I was a kid and the fascination still continues. As a kid I used to buy tiny Red, Green, Amber and harder to get Blue LEDs from the electronic street in my city to use in my small kiddish projects. As I grew up the fascination continued not losing an opportunity to convert an incandescent of fluorescent lighting fitting in my home to LED. It didn't take much time for the LED addiction to spill over to my vehicles I own and as soon as name brand quality LEDs started becoming available as replacement for various bulb styles I started buying them.

194/T10 LED RED and 6000K
These are for rear hatch park light and front park lights. I used Red for rear and 6000K in the front. Registration board plates also take T10 bulbs but I have chosen to use no illumination for registration plate.


194/T10 LED Amber
This I have used as front parks for some time but later reverted back to 6000K LED.



7443 LED Red
This is for rear stop/tail light and replaces the dual filament incandescent stop/tail bulb. The tail light on the hatch (to the left in the photo) the T10 red. The slight colour difference is due to one being Philips and the other Osram, in real it is not as evident.


7440 LED Amber
This is for the indicators, since these are LEDs it will hyperflash unless a resistor is used (which defeats LED low draw advantage) or a LED compatible flasher is used. Its on the list.



921/T20 LED 6000K
This goes in the reverse light receptacles and are decently bright. I wish front park light holes were a bit larger in diameter so that I could have used these there. Would have been nice.

Old LED Collection
These are the LED replacement lights I had with me, all of them are either Philips or Osram and are high quality items. I have used the festoons and T10s from this to spruce up the interior which I don't have a photo of now. The rest of the signaling lights were given away for free to some guys and I regret that decision now.


LED retrofit bulbs for the interiors are:-
  • Front: 2x Osram T10 6000k
  • Center: 1x Osram Festoon 30mm 6000k
  • Boot: 1x Osram T10 6000K

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Small Wonder! Baja Designs S2 Pro LED Aux Lights

The Rigid E2 Hyperspot Combo 20 inch light cannon is too much light for the road. Its like using a butcher's cleaver for paring the meat off the bone, too much light all over the place. We can probably use it as a search light if needed! So I needed something smaller and discrete but with decent light output for the highways. My search and re-search led me to Baja Designs another top US aux light manufacturer. They call themselves the "Scientists of Lighting", wow I think I am at the right place! Quality wise I rank them a notch above Rigid lights, in build and illumination. Baja use 5000K emitters where as Rigid use 6000K emitters when driving at night I find Baja's light to be more easier on the eyes and them seems to colour things up naturally.

From their catalogue I chose a pair S2 Pro spot and driving combo set and they are so small that it looks almost like a bicycle light. But it packs a punch! Outputting 2450 lumens per light these are brighter than a halogen highbeam, so I forgive them for being too small. With both turned on the light output is 4900 lumens and it seems just right to compliment the stock headlights.



Initially I mounted them on top of the hood at the same location I had the rigid lightbar on. This high up location is perfect to increase the reach and coverage.




With all the lights on this is how it looks in the night. Still too much light for road usage. With great lumens come great responsibility, keeping that in mind I hardly ever use this light! In the photo below headlight low beam, high beam and Baja lights are on. Headlight bulbs are H11 and HB3 for low beam and high beam respectively.



Eventually I got fed up with the lights sticking on top of the hood and I wanted it moved somewhere else more discrete and away from unwanted attention. I then moved it behind the front grill and now it is inconspicuous and shines through the gap in the slats.With the partial obstruction in front the lights the effective output is affected but it is still bright enough to shine through and make itself useful.