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Diagnosing And Customizing Your Car From Your Phone for $50

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I am an automotive gadget addict and love to try out new tools if funds permit.  I have a traditional corded OBD II code reader but when I found a $30 ELM327 WIFI dongle that could connect to my iPhone I figured I would give it a try.  There are a plethora of apps that work with the dongle but one that stood out from the pack was Carista.  It not only allows you to read codes but also allows you to change features and settings on supported vehicles.

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Two-Wheel Tuesday: Building a Suzuki cafe racer with Spede and Urkki

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In case you do not know who Spede and Urkki are, you are probably not a Finn. The former was a comedy jack-of-all-trades, movie director and businessman, who made a large impact in the Finnish entertainment business from the early 1960s onwards. The latter was also known as UKK, and we’re talking about a man who held the Finnish presidency for decades mainly because no-one else had the stage presence to properly challenge him.

And the two elder, since-deceased statesmen are now building a low-budget cafe racer out of a 1986 Suzuki Savage somewhere near Helsinki. Or that’s what it looks like.

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How to replace batteries in an AMB Tranx 260 racing transponder

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Transponders are expensive. To me, inexplicably so, which is part of why I’ve never owned one. I pay the $50 rental fee whenever I run a LeMons race and grumble to myself about why a plastic box with some simple electronics and nothing-special NiCd rechargeable batteries would cost more than a GoPro.

A transponder with a dead battery fell into my possession. It sat in my garage for a few years before I finally took the time to crack it open. Hit the jump to find out how you can try and revive a dying TranX battery.

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Harley license light proves THIS is why we keep boxes full of random spare parts.

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When my wife and I rearranged our home office last weekend, it neatened up our workstations nicely and will hopefully position our huge, somewhat ailing peace lily where it can better thrive. But it also left one side of my desk shrouded in shadow. What to do, what to do… Wait, I have a box of random, unused motorcycle lights in the garage. A quick trip to the motorcycle parts shelves located this Harley-Davidson LED license light. Perfect! The addition of a 12V wall wart from an old cordless phone, a scavenged toggle switch, and some double-sided foam tape, and I had the perfect hidden accent light for zero cost and ten minutes of effort.

What is the coolest, most hacktastic way you’ve ever re-purposed a vehicle part?

Junkyard Generator-to-Alternator Swap for my Falcon
With Bonus Small World Coincidence

Tim Odell November 13, 2014 Wrenching Tips

1970 Ford Fairlane Wagon

Mid-60s compacts from the Big Three are the best and easiest project cars around. Case in point: upgrading my defunct generator to an alternator cost me less than $100 for a combination of junkyard parts, new brackets and a belt. In our typical style, this isn’t a “how to” so much as a walk through the kind of straightforward work that it takes to own an aging car in regular service.

The basic process for my cheap and simple swap: buy brackets from Falconparts.com, remove old stuff, drill out and tap one hole in head to larger size, buy junkyard alternator and regulator, install new parts, splice some wires, drive away. Of course, having to buy a tap and die set, nearly stripping a hole in the timing cover and cracking the corner off the head casting complicated things a bit…

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Martini-Liveried Volvo V50 T5

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I just added five horsepower to the wagon. As you may recall, I wanted to liven up the appliance white wagon. The good people at Stolzfahren sent me a 20″ long Martini stripe. Make the jump to see the install process.

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Hooniverse Bookshelf: Memoirs Of A Hack Mechanic

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I just finished reading this book, and I can tell you, dear reader, that this book belongs on your bookshelf. Don’t dawdle, get a copy today, this afternoon, right now! When I read, I don’t often pick up a memoir, as I tend to find the stories of other people’s lives somewhat unexciting. This time, though, the book came highly recommended from a friend who’s opinion I trust greatly. I was in Ohio to attend this friend’s wedding as a member of the wedding party, and as thanks for showing up, the book was thrust into my hands. I’d finished my previous book on the plane ride from west to east anyhow, and needed something to read on the way back to Nevada. Why not give it a shot? This friend of mine is a BMW fanatic of the first degree, and while I have great respect for the brand, I’ve never owned one, and don’t really aspire to (exempting a few models; E30 M3, E28 M5, E9 3.0 CSL, 2002 Turbo, M1, and surprisingly the new i8). As such, I was expecting a book that panders to Bimmerphiles and I might not relate to as closely. Boy was I ever wrong.

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Free Shop Supply Samples For The Win!

Tanshanomi April 21, 2014 Wrenching Tips

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As every crack dealer and supermarket aisle chef knows, giving away free samples is a great way to introduce your product to customers who wouldn’t otherwise know of or try your product. The tactic works, however, only if your product is really good (or tragically addictive, but that’s another discussion). Two additions to my garage that I discovered through the-first-hit-is-free tactics that I am now überloyal to are Fluid Film and Worx hand cleaner.

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Adventures in Field Expediency with a ’95 Peugeot 306

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It was twenty past eight in the evening that I got the call. I was in the living room, my laptop sitting on top of my lap, frantically concluding this Carchive post to hit a schedule deadline approaching in ten minutes time. So deeply involved was I in typing and rescaling images (somehow making them blurry in the process) that I didn’t notice the phone ringing for several seconds. With a start, I launched the laptop across the sofa and lifted the receiver.

My other, better, infinitely prettier half had fallen prey to mechanical malady in her beloved Peugeot. She was about half an hour away from home and her dashboard had exploded with that big red Peugeot warning light that simply announces “STOP”. There had been much eruption of steam from up front, too, so she had obeyed the Panic Light without dispute. And that was that.

Being the “car person” elect in our household, it was up to me to be heroic. This is how it went down.

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A Half-Dozen Great, Cheap Vehicles for The Noobie Wrench

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A couple of days ago, Jeff received an E-mail from Hooniverse reader “John”, who says he “never had a mechanic-savvy family member to teach me as a teenager, so now I find myself learning the ropes all by my lonesome.” He wrote seeking recommendations for a cheap and easy project car to fiddle around with and learn the basics on. John is in college and doesn’t have a bucket of extra cash to spend, but he doesn’t want to attempt to wrench on his daily driver and wind up without reliable transport. He’s currently considering “an old Datsun Z, an old VW bug, or an ’80s-to-early-’90s Japanese four-banger….”

When Jeff asked for input from the Hooniverse staff, I replied that I’d read an article on this very subject in either Auto Restorer or Cars & Parts about 10 years ago. The author of that article said that everybody thinks that old Beetles make good beginner restoration candidates, but in reality they are a horrid choice. They inevitably have extensive corrosion, flimsy sheetmetal, a lot of weak components that can break easily during dis-assembly or are difficult to re-assemble, and Beetles rarely run properly once you get them back together unless you know which things need to be adjusted and tweaked just-so.

Jeff’s reply back to me was succinct: “So write the article.” That is how, despite being perhaps the least qualified of the Hooniverse staff to erudiate on auto restoration or modification, I find myself suggesting six vehicles that I think are suitable project cars for the neophyte hobbyist. I’m thinking of truly starving-college-student budgetary restrictions: in a quick survey of La Liste de Craig, I was able to find multiple ads offering of each these vehicles—complete and in (claimed) running condition—for $1000-1200. … Continue Reading

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