Fixing Your 2006-2009 Ford Explorer Radiator Problems

Some 2006-2009 Ford Explorers are experiencing failure in their radiators. This article will share some of the things that you can do to prevent this failure from occurring, and get you back on the road if your radiator does fail.

While not a difficult repair, replacing a radiator does have significant cost associated with it. Wholesale cost from Ford on a radiator for a 2006-2009 Explorer runs as high as $470 for the part alone, and labor costs can take replacing the unit much, much higher.

It is thus prudent to take steps to avoid replacing the unit is possible. Regular coolant flushes are your best ally in keeping your Explorer Radiator in tip top shape. I personally do a complete machine flush of my coolant right before each winter. This not only keeps all my cooling lines and the interior of my radiator as clean as possible, but gives me a good time to check my coolant to make sure it can handle a hard freeze. Use a standard anti-freeze tester that you can buy at any local auto parts store to periodically check the coolant to make sure it can handle hard freezes in your area. If you think the temperature will fall to 20 below, make sure you are rated 20 degrees lower than that – handle 40 below! The alternative is a cracked radiator, or possibly even a cracked engine block.

One of the most common problems with 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Ford Explorer radiators is not with the radiators themselves. It is, rather, with the starter. The wiring leading to and from the starter corrodes. When this happens, there is, of course, electricity introduced into the frame of the vehicle. Electrolysis can cause coolant to eat through a radiator faster than you can blink an eye.

Ford has a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) out stating that anytime you replace a radiator on one of these vehicles, you should check for electrolysis in the cooling system. According to Ford, you should not ground the heater core in a 2006-2009 Ford Explorer. Rather, you should check for electrolysis. You check for electrolysis by disconnecting the battery cables, making sure they are not touching each other or the car, putting the negative DC voltmeter probe on the engine ground and the the positive probe in the coolant and checking to see if you get more than.2 Volts in the coolant. Ford says.4 in the TSB, but that is too much for me!

If you are experiencing electrolysis in the early stages, and use a voltmeter to check all grounds. This is long and tedious, but if it isn’t done, you’ll have the same problem again. No companies will honor a warranty on a radiator that has been subjected to electrolysis. Once you have repaired issues causing improper grounding, flush all coolant.

If your radiator is beyond hope (cracked tank, leaky core), you will need to purchase a new one. There is no need to purchase an OEM Ford Explorer Radiator, as aftermarket radiators can be found with better warranties for much less money. Silla is a leading brand and has an excellent radiator available for this application. When you get it in, again, check for electrolysis!

P0171 and P0174 Codes – Don’t Replace an Oxygen Sensor Before Reading This

So your car’s CEL (Check Engine Light) is on and you had the codes scanned at a local parts store. Your car has either a P0171, P0174 lean fault code or both stored in the computer, these codes are based on Oxygen Sensor (O-2) readings. A lean code or codes indicate that there’s too much oxygen in the exhaust. Remember parts stores have employees that have good intentions but they may not have the experience necessary to interpret what the trouble codes really mean. These codes are based on oxygen measurements in the exhaust. A common mistake with lean codes is to replace the oxygen sensors. This could be a very expensive mistake that will not fix the problem. Especially if both codes are present, because the chance of both O-2 sensors failing at the same time is very unlikely.

Most likely the cause is a vacuum leak. A vacuum leak can be caused from a vacuum hose, intake gasket or maybe even a leak in the air intake hose from the MAF (Mass Air Flow Sensor). Listen for a hissing sound that may lead you to the source of the problem. Some technicians will use a propane bottle with a hose attachment to help pinpoint vacuum leaks. With today’s computers it’s not quite as easy to check for vacuum leaks this way because the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) will compensate quickly for the added fuel and a change in idle is harder to notice. Oxygen sensor readings can be monitored with a scan tool while checking for leaks with propane, by looking for increased readings when enriching the mixture. Another way technicians can check for vacuum leaks is with a smoke test. By introducing smoke into a vacuum hose on the engine, the leak will be revealed when the smoke escapes from the problem area.

Aftermarket air filters that use oil on the element can sometimes damage the MAF. Over oiling the air filter may allow some excess to get on the MAF sensor wire or element. This can alter the reading, fooling the ECU into seeing more or less air flow therefore changing the air/fuel mixture incorrectly. I once worked on a car that would not start that had a problem with a MAF. When looking at the wire in the MAF, there was a burned piece of trash that made it’s way past the air filter. After cleaning the sensor the car ran perfectly. The ash that was on the MAF sensor wire was altering the reading by enriching the mixture so much that the car could not run. After talking with the customer, he said the air filter was just changed. This was obviously when some trash got into the air intake hose that settled on the hot wire of the MAF.

Fuel Pressure could also cause a lean condition. If the fuel filter is clogged or the fuel pump pressure is low, there could be higher level of oxygen in the exhaust also. Most of the time though, the ECU will compensate for the reduced fuel volume. So this is one of the least likely causes of a lean code.    

Beware of Buying a Used Freelander Viscous Coupling Unit (VCU)

Some of the most expensive parts to replace on a Land Rover Freelander are in the drive train – the IRD unit (transfer box), rear differential and gearbox. So why would you risk damaging any, or all of these parts? If your viscous coupling unit (VCU) has past its useable life then instead of paying out for a replacement viscous coupling unit (VCU) you could be spending thousands on ALSO replacing the IRD unit (transfer box), the rear differential and possibly even the gearbox.

The viscous coupling unit of a Land Rover Freelander is a sealed unit positioned in the centre of the prop shaft. Inside the unit is a viscous fluid. Over time this fluid gets thick – much as your engine oil would – and eventually causes the prop shaft to rotate at a slower speed than is required. You can tell when you have reached this point as your Freelander will feel as though it is holding back on you, especially when turning on full lock – but don’t wait this long, by then you may have already done expensive damage!

The problem with the viscous coupling unit (VCU) is that it is a sealed unit, so you cannot check the condition of the viscous fluid inside it. There are a number of tests that people say will test if your fluid has had it, but none of these are really reliable.

The viscous coupling unit (VCU) has a life span of about 70,000 miles – after this time you are dicing with, not death, but very large bills!

So why should you not buy a used viscous coupling unit (VCU)? Well, simply because you have no idea as to the condition of the viscous fluid inside it, because generally you have no idea of the mileage it has done. So how will you know when to change it? How will you protect yourself from those big bills? You can’t!

If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer from a damaged IRD unit (transfer box) or rear differential was your mileage over 70,000 miles? Had your viscous coupling unit (VCU) been replaced previously? If your mileage was over 70,000 miles and you never replaced your viscous coupling unit (VCU) then this will generally have been the cause of your empty wallet! And if you still don’t replace your viscous coupling unit (VCU) and fit a new IRD unit (transfer box) or rear differential, then it is almost certain the same thing will soon happen again!

The key is to always buy a new or reconditioned viscous coupling unit (VCU) which has had the viscous fluid replaced. This way you know you have another 70,000 miles of carefree motoring without having to worry about damaging your expensive drive train.

So, whatever you do, DO NOT buy a used viscous coupling unit (VCU) for your Land Rover Freelander just to save a few pounds – it may turn out to be the most expensive saving you’ve ever made!

The OBD II Scanning Tool: Worth Its Weight in Gold

One of the best tool investments you can make for you do-it-yourself garage is an OBD II Scan tool. The previous statement can not be overstated. This little tool is worth its weight in gold and will save you lots of money over the life of your vehicle. If you have more than one vehicle, it will save you twice as much.

What is an OBD II scan tool?

An OBD II scan tool basically communicates with your vehicle’s onboard computer and tells you what code the computer is throwing and if there is a problem that needs to be resolved. We have all experienced the dreaded check engine light (CEL). This little amber light can make tough women squeal and tougher men cry. Well, I might be exaggerating a bit, but it does make you think about dollar signs and your local mechanic. Two things that should not be in the same sentence. The OBD II scanner can not only read the codes from your vehicle, but it can also reset the check engine light.

Many states won’t even let your vehicle pass the state inspection because of a check engine light. This point alone puts more emphasis on the importance of diagnosing and resolving check engine lights.

Typically, you have to take your vehicle down to your local auto mechanic’s shop and have them read the codes for you. This will require a minimum charge for inspection and diagnosis which can easily exceed $100. Do that twice, and essentially you’ve paid for the cost of an ODB II scanner. An ODB II scanner will not only allow you to find answers to a lot of simple automotive problems, but it can also provide guidance for more complex issues.

What’s the deal with OBD II?

All modern vehicles are controlled and managed by computer systems. These computer systems or On Board Diagnostics, monitor your vehicles functions as it operates. They monitor and measure such things as the ignition timing and fuel injection calibrations to reading data from a variety of sensors such as your oxygen and mass airflow sensors. OBD II was introduced in 1996 and was made mandatory for all cars being sold in the United States. OBD II codes are alphanumeric and can be referenced in a vehicle service manual. You just have to read the code and look it up. The code will tell you where the problem is. “If only my car could tell me what was wrong”. Guess what? It can.

Types of ODB II Scanners

There are lots of different types of scanners available. There are simple versions that are manufacturer specific. There are also more complex scanners that not only read OBD II codes, but also earlier versions of OBD. Several are available in multiple languages. Most have LCD screens that allow you to read the codes and view graphics such as charts and graphs. You can also purchase extender cables that are sure to come in handy. Most of the versions with LCD screens allow you to view live engine data, record and playback stored vehicle information, and even the ability print information through a personal computer. Watching your live engine data is really cool! Prices range from $30.00 on the lower end and up to $800 and above on the higher end.

How to use the tool

Using an OBD-II scanning tool is relatively simple. Each type of scanner is going to have specific functionality, menus, and screens. Make sure that you refer to the owner’s manual of your device. In general terms, you need to connect the scanning tool to the OBD II port of your vehicle. The port is also called the Data Link Connector. The port will be more than likely located under the steering wheel and below the dashboard. It should be near where your knees would be while in a driving position. It is supposed to be located within 2 feet of the steering wheel. What you’re looking for is a 16-pin connector that looks similar to an old parallel port printer connector, for those that remember them. The connector will probably have a cover on it that may have a “Diagnostics” label or symbol on it.

Simply plug your scanner into the sport. Most scanners will require the ignition switch to be turned on. The vehicle may or may not need to be running. Please refer to your owner’s manual. Once the device is on, navigate to the diagnostics menus. You should see options for code reading and code erasing. In the code reading section, note any active codes. You should also see a section for pending codes. Pending codes are those that may have come up and the computer is waiting to see if they will reappear. The code will appear as one letter followed some numbers and symbols. Take a look at your service manual to find the meaning of the code or just refer to the internet.

Fix the problem

Now that you have the code(s), you need to correct the problem(s). The code will identify what system is having a problem and what the problem is. It could point to an emissions issue, spark plugs, mass airflow, or even a transmission problem. Once you’ve identified the problem, you need to decide how you’re going to fix it. If it is within your skill level, by all means fix it. If the problems above your skill level, you may need to seek professional help. After you’ve rectified the problem, you can now use your scan tool to reset the check engine light (CEL).

An OBD II scan tool can save you a lot of worry and anguish when it comes to the check engine light(CEL). You can perform much of the diagnostics from behind the driver seat. You no longer have to be a victim of check engine light(CEL) anguish. You also don’t have to be a hostage and at the mercy of your local auto mechanic. Though all check engine lights(CEL) are important and must be investigated, you can decide if the problem is urgent or whether you have a little bit of time before it needs to be addressed.

By using a scan tool, you will save yourself money in diagnostic fees that would normally be paid to your mechanic. You could let your mechanic know what the code is and he/she could go directly to the problem. This will save you labor charges. Purchase an OBD II scan tool as soon as you can and buy the best you can afford. It will take a load of worry off your shoulders and help ensure your peace of mind!

Mobile Oil Change Business in the Bay Area – Does it Make Any Sense?

Due to the economy recovering or at least it appears that it might be, many are now considering it’s time to pull the trigger and start their own company. Many folks have been laid off long enough now that they’ve depleted their savings and resources. So, they’ll need to start a business that doesn’t cost a lot to get into. This is where a mobile service business can come in.

The entrepreneur can get a loan for a vehicle from a car dealership, buy some equipment on a lease, and get busy marketing to get customers. Not long ago, I was discussing this topic with an individual considering on starting a mobile oil change business and he stated;

“I’ve been thinking on and off for years about doing this [a mobile oil change company] and now I feel the need to seriously revisit this opportunity. I live in California, the San Francisco Bay Area and have been searching many companies, systems, and ideas.”

Specifically, he wants to know if this business will work good in the San Francisco area, and if he should go for it, what type of business equipment he will need, and any other important considerations. We discussed various potential vendors and business opportunities out there such as:

Lube N’ Go

Oil Butler

On Site oil and Lube

Sage Oil Vak.

Pit Stop Mobile Oil Change

Yes, those are all decent options, and should be studied with proper due diligence, and there is another option of course. What other option you ask? Well, I suppose you could build your own and do it that way. It’s important to carefully study all the options, which will get your mind thinking and make the questions you ask more targeted and thus, lower your learning curve quite a bit.

Now then, if you are really going to start a mobile oil change business then you should probably read some of my online articles on the topic. You can email me if you are interested and I will point you to the links. I have written 75 articles on the topic. Indeed, I think once you read them and create your business plan, then you can formulate what you need to start your business.

Okay so, when it comes to operating such a business in San Francisco, you should be servicing oil changes for fleets in South San Francisco too, or mostly cars in the city for the high-end market. Because the fleet side of the business is the best, of course you will have Chinese run companies on the fleet side and it can get rather competitive. But around SFO is also a ton of business too, and in Oakland etc. 50 mile radius is preferable for fleets.

Indeed, I sure hope this information assists you in building up your company and starting your own business. Please consider all this.

Pace-Edwards Full Metal JackRabbit – An Instant Tonneau Cover Classic

First and foremost, allow me to commence by describing the essence of the Full Metal Jackrabbit tonneau cover. It’s still a fairly new model with which not all truck owners are familiar. This particular accessory is best known as a retractable tonneau cover or roll top truck bed cover. This particular lid or topper features tracks or guide rails mounted to the inside lip of your bed rails in which the installed cover can roll, or, more accurately, slide. It features a bed-width canister or container positioned and mounted at the cab-end of your pickup bed right below below the cabs rear windshield. The canister is the portion of the cover system into which the tonneau blanket or cover itself retracts in order to open the bed. Constructed of a durable ABS plastic compound, the housing is lightweight, rustproof, and, virtually, dent proof. This is the standard design for most truck bed covers within the retractable market. Of course, different covers feature different options. For the sake of this article, we will focus almost exclusively upon the Full Metal Jackrabbit and a few of its most attractive and beneficial features.

Pace Edwards media guide states that the Full Metal Jackrabbit cover has been engineered and fabricated to produce an exacting fit for each different make, model and year pick-up for which they produce the cover. Pace-Edwards has also stated that the Full Metal JackRabbit design sports better lines and a smoother appearance than conventional roll-up tonneau covers. Naturally, as is the case regarding any number of tonneau cover products, gas mileage improves due to wind resistance normally created by an open truck bed with a closed tailgate. Each Full Metal Jackrabbit is an all-metal, black powder coat construction. Additionally, the metal (aluminum) panels, or slats, are inter-connected using patented silicone hinge seals that disallow the collection of debri. The paneled top or blanket rides flush with the top of your truck bed’s side rails, providing the much-sought-after clean, low-profile appearance. Pace-Edwards’ continuous tension spring permits smooth cover operation with less pulling force required by the operator to close the top. The cover’s proprietary “Latch n Lok” system enables one to lock the cover at the tailgate or latch it into place in 12 inch increments along the aforementioned guide rail.

On the convenience side of the application, this tonneau’s installation calls for zero drilling. Boasting an easy, DIY clamp-on only installation, the Full Metal JackRabbit is United States made and backed up by a three year warranty.

One Full Metal JackRabbit advantage is the fuel savings caused by decreased drag reduction, a phenomenon typically caused by an open truck bed and a closed tailgate. Passing air goes over the cab of a moving pickup and slams into the closed tailgate causing “drag” and, subsequently, increased gas consumption. A covered bed also protects your cargo from inclement weather and the effects of “shifting”. A bed covering of the Full Metal JackRabbit’s caliber keeps your cargo out of sight thus minimizing the possibility of theft. And, let’s face it: a nice looking tonneau cover only enhances the appearance of your vehicle. And, while most other manufacturers provide a standard one year warranty, Pace-Edwards confidence in their product is evident by their issuance of a three year warranty.

Additionally, the Full Metal JackRabbit and other similar retractable tops allow easy access to all four corners of the truck’s bed without having to physically climb into the bed. Try doing that with a heavy fiberglass lid.

For all intents and purposes, Pace-Edwards Full Metal Jackrabbit is one fine-looking, easy-to-operate, heavy-duty retractable truck bed cover. This particular top is certain to provide all the protection, security, and peace of mind any pickup truck owner could ever hope for.

One-Man Brake Fluid Bleeding on an Early Evo-DSM

A bit of a how-to for you folks out there with an early Evo (and also 1G/2G DSM). There aren’t too many guides on how to bleed/change brake fluid on these cars alone and, although the procedures are fairly similar between cars, a specific guide is also helpful. I will write up a 2-man version in the near future, but the one-man procedure is very simple to follow. Don’t want to be condescending in this guide but I’m going to try and explain everything as simply as I can. I want this guide to be as user-friendly as possible.

Your brake system is an enclosed system but it can get air bubbles in it sometimes, and through hard braking the brake fluid can boil, causing it to become much less effective. I would recommend bleeding or indeed flushing the whole system every 6 to 12 months. I will give instructions on how to bleed the system, and then give some additional info about flushing the system at the end. Brake fluid is also hydroscopic, which means it absolutely loves water and absorbs it, making it much less effective. For this reason, when you put new brake fluid into the system it is much better to use fluid straight out of an unopened container. Additionally, it’s best not to do this procedure when it’s raining or damp.

Right, onto business. First thing are the things you need for this, and fortunately you don’t need any specialist tools. But you will need the following:

Wheel brace (my wheel nuts are 21mm but yours may be different. Most likely you have this already)


10mm wrench

60cm of rubber tubing, 5mm inside diameter and preferably see-through

Small container (a old jar or something will do)

Brake fluid, DOT 4 or DOT 5.1 if you are a big-spender

With all those things ready, let’s get to it.

  1. Go to the passenger side rear wheel and loosen the wheel nuts a little. Do not remove the wheel nuts at this stage though.
  2. Jack up the car and take the wheel off.
  3. Just behind the brake caliper you should see a small metal nipple sticking out. That’s your brake bleeder nipple. It might have a plastic cap on it (my front two nipples did). If that is the case then pull it off and put one end of the hosing onto it.
  4. Fill your small container about 1/4 full of brake fluid and insert the other end of the rubber hose into it.
  5. Take your wrench and unscrew the 10mm nut around the bleeder nipple. One full turn anti-clockwise should do it.
  6. Now go to your engine bay and open the cap to the brake fluid reservoir. Make sure the reservoir is filled with brake fluid.
  7. Go inside the car and pump the brake pedal slowly and firmly. About 5-8 pumps should do.
  8. Head back out to passenger side rear wheel and have a look at the hosing. You’re looking for air bubbles, or hopefully a lack of them. If you see no air bubbles, congratulations! You can tighten the bleeder nut again, pull off the rubber hosing and move on. If there are bubbles, check there is still brake fluid in the reservoir and pump the brakes again a few times. Keep doing this until there are no more air bubbles. Make sure the brake fluid reservoir does not empty; if it does then air will start entering the system.
  9. Put wheel back on, hand-tighten the wheel nuts and bring the car back down. Tighten the wheel nuts with the brace and move on. If your jar of brake fluid starts to get full when you’ve finished a wheel, empty it down to 1/4 full according to your country’s rules for disposing of brake fluid.

And that’s all there is to it! The next wheel you should jack up is the driver’s side front, followed by the driver’s side rear, and finally the passenger side front. When you’ve done all four, make sure the brake fluid reservoir is filled up to the max level on the side and the top is screwed on securely.

So that’s the procedure for bleeding the brakes. In order to flush the system, it’s an almost identical procedure. Just bleed an entire reservoir of fluid through the system for each brake. Once again, make sure the reservoir is never completely empty. For this you’ll probably need 1-1.5l of brake fluid.

I think that covers everything. If this has helped you or you have any questions, do let me know. Will try to write more of these guides if people tell me what they want to read.

Outside Cold Air Blowing in Behind Glove Box – Ford Explorer Or Jeep Grand Cherokee

Change of seasons sometimes reveals problems with a vehicle that would otherwise go unnoticed. If you have a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Ford Explorer that has an outside air leak behind the glove box, then you may have a broken fresh air door (AKA Recirculate Door or Max Door). The fresh air door is used to either recirculate air in the passenger compartment or allow fresh air to enter the HVAC (Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning) system. Surprisingly the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee share a common flaw in the heating and AC system. The fresh air doors are weak plastic that many times under the stress of the control actuator can break. When it’s cold outside this problem makes itself very apparent. In hotter climates in the summertime, a broken fresh air door drastically reduces the air conditioning’s efficiency.

Checking it is easy by operating the fresh air door and listening for increased airflow. When the climate control setting is moved to max, the sound of the air blowing through the vents should be louder because the fresh air door is sealing off the outside air, forcing the inside air to recirculate. If the sound is not louder, you can open the glove box door and look behind it for the operation of the door when switching the setting from normal to max. If the door is not visibly moving, it is likely that it has broken. The door sometimes can even fall to the bottom of the case, positioned right above the blower. It may not be in sight, sometimes you can stick your fingers through the plastic grate and feel the door laying loose on the bottom.

Replacement of the door is not a do it yourself job. The dash needs to be swung out and the HVAC case removed on Grand Cherokees. On Ford Explorers the job can be done without the removal of the case, but the assembly must be replaced. Obviously if the case needs to be removed, the refrigerant must be recovered, which requires an ac machine. So if you are mechanically inclined the one that may be done at home might be the Explorer, of course this depends on your mechanical ability. Even if you are not going to do this job yourself, this information can be used to help explain to the repair shop what the problem is. By providing more information to lead the technician to the problem area, diagnosis time can be reduced.

Flowmaster Super 40 Series Muffler Review

There are many that are considering buying an aftermarket muffler for their vehicle. There is a lot to choose from out there, all with their unique benefits and sound. I purchased the Flowmaster Super 40 Series Muffler. Flowmaster claims it to be one of their loudest, high flow mufflers. According to “The Super 40 has that “deep powerful” sound of the original 40 series but with all the benefits of performance and low interior resonance from the “Delta Flow technology.” I have to say that I agree with the fact that it has a deep powerful sound, however, the interior resonance is significant. I have not heard the interior resonance of a delta flow, but the Super 40 Series still has quite a bit of interior resonance.

I put this muffler on a 2001 Toyota Tundra 4.7 Liter V8. I ordered the muffler online, and when it came I took it and the truck to a local muffler shop and had it installed. The shop simply cut out the stock muffler and installed the new one. The resonator was left alone. I also added a stainless steel tip. From day 1, I have been very impressed with the sound of it.

Between.5 & 2 RPM’s the sound is very throaty and deep, especially when I an really on it, however as my RPM’s increase above 2.5, the sound from the cab get a little quieter and the rev of the engine takes over the sound from the tail pipe. It still sounds really great in my opinion, it’s just not quite what I expected.

As far as performance is concerned, I feel that I have lost a little low end power. With high flow mufflers like this one, this can be common. The horsepower gains that are claimed are true, however, the increased horsepower is found at the higher RPMs. The loss in low end power is enough for me to notice, but not enough to make much of a difference. (I’m picky)

I have not noticed an increase in MPGs. I was hoping that I would, but it remained unchanged. (even with a K&N drop in air filter). I continue to get between 16 and 18 MPG.


* Deep throaty sound in the cab and out.

* Great price.

* Increased power (high RPMs).


* Not a stainless steel construction, instead it is painted. After several months of use, the lovely black paint has almost all burnt off.

* Around 65 – 70 mph, there is interior resonance that I just don’t like. It goes away at about 72 mph, so not a big deal. I liked it at first, but gets annoying after a while.

Overall, the Flowmaster Super 40 is a great product. I really like the sound of this muffler. It is deep, and smooth. It’s not raspy and “rackety”. It produces a powerful sound and really lets you hear the beast that the 4.7 Liter i-force is. It’s one of the best Toyota aftermarket parts I’ve purchased.

How to Put a V8 Motor in a Corvair

Sometimes a challenge is just that and no more. Not practical maybe but fun nonetheless. I owned at the time, a small shop repair shop where I would tinker with cars and motorcycles and make a few dollars as well. One afternoon during a bull session with some buddies, one of them said it would be neat if we could put a V8 motor in one of my Corvair cars. I had several of them and loved to tinker with the Monza model which was Chevy’s souped up version of this rear engined car. The Corvair had no independent frame and was one of the first uni-body cars on the market. Extremely lightweight, the six cylinder motor with the factory blower made the car zip right along. It really was a silly looking car in the first years of production, kinda boxy and square. Later models became more streamlined but suffered the same engineering problems of the early years and quickly the car faded into obscurity. I had one car with no motor and the body was not in the best of shape. I remember saying I could put the V8 in that car and the guys quickly put me to the challenge.

My shop had a pretty good assortment of tools, torches, welders, jacks and power hand tools that allowed me to make just about anything in metal. A big drill press, a good vise and tons of nuts and bolt

assortments put most of what I needed at hand. After the guys left the thought of doing this V8 conversion nagged at me and I found myself checking out the car to see if it was really possible. Putting the motor in the car could always be done but I thought how about doing it so you could not tell from the outside that the car was altered? At least until you started it up. There was no way I was going to be able to make that V8 motor sound like the wimpy six cylinder factory motor.

The first item on the agenda was to remove all the factory drive train components. Since the motor was already gone, the rear end, including the wheels were a snap to remove. I had a Chevy V8 short block that I could use for test fitting the engine into the trunk. The trunk of a Corvair was in the front of the car. A major amount of sheet metal had to be removed to squeeze the engine down into the truck compartment. I had to mock up the motor with some heads and intake manifold to assure the trunk lid (hood) would close after the engine was in place. Once I managed to get the engine into the trunk and was satisfied with it’s location, motor mounts became the next item to complete. Since there was no frame under the car I had to fabricate a partial sub-frame that was able to accept bolt-on motor mounts. I had several transmissions to choose from including a used manual three speed Chevy unit. This was a direct bolt-on to the V8 so in it went. Making a tail mount for the trans was nothing more than some three inch channel iron that spanned from one side of the car to the other. So far with the doors and hood closed the car looked stock. I purchased a used small pickup truck rear end and began altering it to fit under the Corvair body. No easy task I can say. Concealing fourteen inch wheels where thirteens were before required even more modification to the cars sheet metal including new wheel wells and interior wheel covers.

With the three major components of the drive train now mounted in the car, I was able to start on all the smaller items that a car needs to run. The drive shaft had to be custom made as it was less than three

feet long and needed a mid-point universal to offset the different heights of the transmission and the rear end. The radiator was made from an old V8 Chevy unit but had to be altered to be able to lay on its side. A friend of my Dads owned the local radiator repair shop and was more than wiling to do the alterations at almost no cost as he too thought the car was pretty neat. Wiring the car in those days was a simple task as there were none of the bells and whistles in cars today. No computers, no special sensors for this and that. Just whatever a car needed to run and work the lights and so on. I retained all the Chevy factory lights, turn signals and so on and really just needed to wire the engine components and battery. I placed the battery in the rear of the car as even then I realized the car was going to be light in the rear. What an understatement that was.

The conversion took about four months to do as I remember. There were a few bugs to work out of course as I had no engineering staff to advise me what I was doing wrong but all in all the bugs were pretty minor. The first time I started the car the thrill of hearing the motor growl under that hood cannot be described. The first time I put the car in gear and drove it around the property was a real kick. I purchased license plates for the car and drove it for a couple of weeks to work out the kinks and have time to complete some type of interior. I added only one other bucket seat as the car was not a touring car but would certainly be fun at the local drag strip. I clearly remember the first time I actually drove the car to my buddies house to show him the V8 motor in the car and take him for a ride. On a back road, holding one foot on the brake pedal and punching the gas with the other, I was able to smoke the tires with no effort at all. From a slow roll or moving at 40 MPH, punching the gas pedal would squeal the tires and create tire smoke instantly. The car was a real gas.

I drove the car that summer and had a ball taking it to Stewart’s drive-in in Paramus, New Jersey on Friday and Saturday nights. It was fun to have other guys laugh at the car and ask to race for papers. After a few races the laughter stopped. I didn’t take their papers but my little Corvair was a hit that summer with all the custom car guys. I sold the car that winter to a young fella who wanted to complete the interior and exterior paint. He drove the car for quite a while and then I lost track of it’s where abouts. I had already moved on to another project but I had proven that you could squeeze a V8 motor into a stock Corvair body.

Pete Ackerson