Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

How to properly install exterior car parts with 3M VHB double-sided foam tape

3M double-sided adhesive-backed foam tape–called VHB, or “very high bond” tape– is one of the greatest things to come along for car folks in a long time. It allows you to securely and permanently mount all manner of accessories to the outside of your car without making a permanent commitment.

However, amid reports of spoilers flying off, parts failing to stay put, and items being mounted crookedly, we felt the need to present some tips on how to best install items using this tape, as many items from Fastline Performance and ATLP use it for installation.

In this post, we are installing a Fastline Performance decklid spoiler on a TSX. You will use the same techniques involved with installing the spoiler in this post on any part that has double-sided tape; S2000 bumper caps, ATLP roof spoilers, A-Spec or OEM lip kits…anything that needs to mount in a specific location with double-sided tape.

Update March 22, 2020:

In recent years we have posted a video outlining the below process on YouTube! See it in living color here:

First, get all your materials ready:
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Blue Painter’s Tape
  • A clean rag (mine’s stained but clean)
  • Part with 3M tape pre-applied
Prepare the surface where the item will be mounted.

A clean, dry surface is required in order for parts to stick properly. Alcohol removes contaminants and evaporates quickly without damaging painted surfaces.

Prepare the tapes on the part for test-fit.

Here is where the special method comes in. Instead of pulling away all the backing and trying to stick the spoiler on, pull just an inch or two of backing away and attach it to the outer side of the part with the painter’s tape.

On many of the Fastline or ATLP parts, the strips terminate in the middle of the part as well as at the ends. I like to do a small section at either end of the tape strips.

Mockup the part on the car my lightly installing.

With just a small section of the backing pulled away, you can put the part where you want it to go, without having it stick in place so much that you can’t reposition it.

Thoroughly examine the positioning of your part, making sure it is centered and matches the curvature of the mounting surface.

On this spoiler we have gotten it to a good position. Now we can peel the rest of the backing away to stick it in place exactly where we have it.

Gently pull away the tape backing with the part in place.

Check out the technique here…the backing can be pulled out from under the spoiler from the side.

Here is a side view. Gently pull the backing out, putting light pressure on the part to keep it steady or in place as needed.

You can even do a double move. I am peeling from the middle here. Usually, I like peeling from the middle first, toward the edges.

Press the part in place.

Once all the backing is peeled form under the part, apply some really firm pressure for about 30 seconds in all mounting places. The 3M tape needs to bond with the mounting surface, and it needs pressure to do this. The part will seem like it is stuck on but keep pressing for at least 30 seconds.

Step back and admire.

And there you have it, mounted flat just where you want it! Now for some gratuitous shots of our Fastline Performance Decklid Spoiler for the 04-08 Acura TSX 🙂

This spoiler was modeled after the EDM Ducktail spoiler, which has a nice, low profile look but is fiendishly hard to get and is very expensive.

We are proud of this part. It is definitely a cut above eBay quality, for sure. Also available in carbon fiber.

Thanks for reading!

Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

Installing JDM or DEPO Headlights In Your 2004-08 Acura TSX, with RHD/LHD & HID Conversion

One of the most desired mods on a TSX is switching the headlamps for JDM parts because they remove the amber corner lenses in favor of units that are more subtle colors and come without reflectors. Another notable difference is the slightly smoked chrome of the inner housing which has a more toned-down look than the factory bright chrome housings on the USDM car. The real JDM lamps are not inexpensive and serve as somewhat of a status symbol among the community. Here we outline the installation procedure and the process needed to convert right-hand-drive lamps for use on USA roads.

DEPO is a Taiwanese company that makes DOT approved replacement lamps for OEM applications, and they do make a replica of the popular 06-08 JDM lamp. They are less than half the cost of real lamps however there are some caveats. Most significantly they do not have the same projector and cut-off pieces as stock. They are set up for LHD, and they do function very similarly to stock, but they are not the same. Also, while they are visually a replica of the 06-08 lamps the ballast mounting location is set up for 04-05 fitment, making the ballast mounting custom fit on 06-08 application. Lastly, and this is a minor point, the chrome housing on the DEPOs is not a darker shade.

Headlights are assemblies that do a lot more than simply shoot light out the front. The TSX comes factory equipped with an HID lighting system that produces a very clean light. But anyone who has turned on a light bulb knows the light eliminates out in all directions. In a headlamp, it is most beneficial to aim the light forward in a way that shows the driver the road ahead. In order to prevent blinding oncoming traffic, the beam is directed away from the center of the road. Naturally, the “center of the road” is on the right in a right-hand-drive car, and toward the left in a left-hand-drive car. Thus installing a right-hand lamp in a left-hand car can have the exact opposite effect as intended on oncoming drivers. I personally don’t feel the difference is too drastic to warrant much concern, but if you are installing authentic JDM headlights in your TSX it is easy enough to swap the projector lenses over from your original USDM lamps, so why not do it?

Going further on headlight design, there is also a cut-off feature built in to keep the light from shining too high like a high-beam. The cut-off in the TSX is so sharp and clear, and the projectors are so well focused, they are largely considered the best projector lenses on the market. Enthusiasts of all sorts of car makes prefer the TSX projectors when converting their non-projector cars. I was first introduced to the idea in the E36 section on M3 forums. As a TSX fan, it was pretty flattering to learn this fact!

04-05 vs 06-08

2004-05 JDM lamps are different than 06-08. It is possible to bolt 06-08 lamps into an 04-05 (and vice versa), but a retrofit is needed to the ballast, which is covered later.
The 04-05 have a smoked corner lens and an amber turn signal:

04-05 JDM Accord (TSX) Headlamp
2004-05 JDM Accord (TSX) Headlamp

The 06-08 Units have a blue-crystal looking corner lens and a clear turn signal:

06-08 Accord EuroR Headlamps
2006-08 Accord EuroR Headlamps

Remove & Install

Step 1: Remove radiator plate and bumper

Remove your OEM Radiator Plate and front bumper (there are screws and clips in the leading edge of the front fenders and along the under-side of the front bumper). To remove the clips without breaking them, you might want to pick up a clip-popping tool on

Step 2: Remove headlamp assembly

Remove the headlamp assembly by unbolting it from the core support, then unclip the harnesses leading to the bulbs and ballast.

Headlight mounting bolt locations.
Headlight mounting bolt locations. The fender garnish needs to be shifted aside to access the top-outer screw.
Step 3: Transfer parts to new lamp

Transfer bumper cover bracket, sockets, and bulbs over from the stock headlamp to the JDM one. All these parts transfer over perfectly if you stay in the right year set.

Step 4: RHD/LHD Projector Reflector conversion

When you get to the HID lamp, if you have JDM RHD lamps, the following steps are to convert the RHD lamp to LHD for use by swapping the USDM reflectors and cut-offs into the JDM lamp housings. Reflector swapping is easy once you have the method down. It’s just a tight fit and you need to do it just the right way, or you’ll get really frustrated!

Again, if you have DEPO lamps you can skip the reflector swap. I don’t believe the OEM projectors will fit in the aftermarket lamps.

Remove HID Lamp Cap
Reflector swap step 1: Remove HID Lamp Cap by cutting the lock-tab and turning it clockwise. If you have a proper tool for removing this screw use it.
Remove Screws Holding Projector In Place
Reflector swap step 2: Remove the screws that are holding projector in place with a long screwdriver, indicated with circles. Be careful not to drop them!

***For the next step I switched lamps and rotated the lamp assembly 180 degrees. Note the orientation of the lamp housing and reflector mounting holes. Try not to get tripped up, the process is correct but may be mirrored depending on the side you are working on.

Work reflector out of the lamp housing.
Reflector swap step 3: The projector assembly consists of a reflector, beam cut-off, and a lens. Work reflector out of the lamp housing at this corner first.
Pry the next corner out gently.
Reflector swap step 4: Pry the next corner out gently using a screwdriver. Moderate force is needed to bend the plastic enough to work the reflector out.
Getting the third corner out.
Reflector swap step 5: Getting the third corner out is easy and you are home free!
Under the reflector sits the beam cutoff.
Reflector swap step 6: Under the reflector sits the beam cutoff. You’ll be swapping the left JDM lamp’s reflector and cutoff with the left USDM ones, and the same for the rights. Try not to get them mixed up 
Step 5: HID Ballast Swap

Transfer the ballast from the old lamp housing.

These combinations are 100% plug-n-play with the existing ballast on your car.

  • 2004-05 lamps on a 2004-05 TSX
  • 2006-08 lamps on a 2006-08 TSX
  • DEPO lamps on a 2004-05 TSX

These combinations the HID is not plug-n-play:

  • 2004-05 lamps in a 2006-08 TSX
  • 2006-08 lamps in a 2004-05 TSX
  • DEPO lamps in a 2006-08 TSX

If you want to swap the years then you are going to have an issue mounting the ballasts correctly to the under-side of the lamp housing. This happens if you have a 2004-05 and want the updated 2006-08 lamp look, or have an 06-08 and want to install DEPO headlights which are all 2004-05 housing style.

Easy solution, costs money, works awesome:

Get a set of ballasts that match the housing style you are in stalling. Get a 2004-05 ballast if you are installing 2004-05 TSX or DEPO lamps, or get a 2006-08 ballast if you are installing 2006-08 lamps.

Tricky solution, costs nothing, works pretty good:

You’ll need to get a little creative with zip ties and such, but this is a doable swap. I drilled some holes in the tabs adjacent to the screw holes.

Seating the ballast on the housing may require that you open up the mounting location hole a but, and it will not be perfectly flat. However, the foam-rubber seals should seat well enough to keep water out.

Step 6: Reinstall Everything

The installation of the JDM lamps is the exact reverse of the removal. Once the lamps are in and the bumper is back on, you might need to adjust the beam using the markings on your radiator cover. In general, you should aim them so that the cut-off is about 24 inches off the ground at a distance of about 6 feet in front of the car.

JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed
JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed
JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed
JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed

Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains

Honda/Acura Axle Vibration Issue found and fixed, with video

You are reading one of the most popular articles published on to date.

Your support over the years has been much appreciated! Note the following section headings with dates of updates in descending date order.

Update: March 22, 2020:

This article continues to be a runaway success, but nothing stays the same over time. This block update is to supplement the information below with the latest we know today.

How to install a new inner joint kit:
The right-side debacle

The right side inner joints are an issue. As far as we are learning, most all aftermarket right-side axles and axle joints have some attribute that causes them to have a vibration. It is not the same vibration that comes from the wear-pattern outlined in this video.

What happens regularly, we have seen, is the following series of events:

  • Hondacar driver notices vibration on acceleration, somewhere between 40-60 mph, give or take.
  • Finds our article and buys an aftermarket axle for both sides of their car, because they are a lot cheaper than Genuine OEM axles, and in many cases are even cheaper than our Genuine OEM joint kits.
  • Installs aftermarket axle–regardless of or brand, cost, or supplier–and experiences a shaking at 20-30 mph.
  • Customer needs to circle back and buy a new Genuine OEM inner joint from Heeltoe to properly repair their old original axle, or if they tossed the original axle, they buy a complete new Genuine OEM axle.

We would LOVE to sell you an aftermarket axle or inner joint at a lower cost than the Genuine part, but as of this writing, we don’t have one to provide that we can promise will be perfectly vibration-free. This has been true for DSS, Insane Shafts, Raxles, AutoZone, so many other brands we can’t name them all. Even though we posted an update in 2015 (below) that we have one, it just doesn’t work on the right side.

The left side does not seem to have this issue. The right side is just a really particular area of the car for this concern. You won’t save time, money, or stress by getting an aftermarket axle.

Wait, right or left?

More on right versus left in our blog article, Car 101: Right Side Left Side, Driver Side Passenger Side

Update: August 31, 2015:

Since this writing on January 6th, 2012, we have had drivers of Accords, Civics, TLs, and TSXs of all generations contact us for our solutions for inner joint replacement. As of today, we have released our new, stronger solution to Honda/Acura vibration on acceleration. Read more about how we’ve solved the problem below, here: New Fastline Performance Inner Axle Joint Kits

Original Post: January 6th, 2012

There have been numerous instances of vibration in the Acura TSX front end when accelerating. Usually, at lower or more moderate speeds, the shimmy in the steering wheel can also be felt throughout the front end of the car. We’ve recently heard this issue is prevalent on S2000s as well.

The issue was attributed to an axle shaft problem very early on, but even replacements of axles have not proven to be a reliable solution to the problem. In fact, Heeltoe had sold for at least a year a new replacement aftermarket axle we believed to solve the problem. However, when the issue arose in our own HTSpecTSX, said axle failed to resolve the issue. In fact, the inexpensive aftermarket axle we (an most all others) were using proved to exhibit worse vibrations that the factory units!

On a hunch, we purchased some new inner joints to install on our TSX’s original axles. When we removed the old joint cup, we were impressed to see the problem so blatantly in front of us!

See the wear are there? We’ll zoom in for you…

The joint bearings ride on this surface and put a torsional load there to transmit power to the shaft then to the outer joint. When there is a load on the axle it forces the joints bearings against this pulverized area of the joint causing a really nasty vibration! There is wear on the other two loaded surfaces as well but we are showing the worst one here to save space.

So there you have it. Replace the inner joint and you will be set!

Right or Left Side?

We have not determined a great method for knowing what side, left or right, is the culprit side but it seems like more people have an issue with the right side (USDM passenger side) so we suggest starting there. The joint and boot kits are available through Heeltoe.

About lowering…

While we were in the joint we noticed something else that you might want to be aware of. You know how mechanics tell you the lowering your car is bad for the axles? They usually tell you this when you have an outer joint noise or problem. However, lowering the car has little or no effect on the outer joints. Rather, the inner joints can experience some abnormal wear.

The axle has a tripod on the inner end that mounts three bearings that ride in the cup of the inner joint. This is so the axle can vary in length as the suspension articulates. When you lower the car, you are actually making the axle compress all the way when you hit large bumps, and this can cause the bearings to bottom out in the base of the axle cup. See the image below. We’ve highlighted some witness marks on the inside of my inner joint cup.

We have not yet seen this result in an actual failure of the axles, but it is something to be aware of.

Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

Using Acura Type-S/Type-R Upper Shock Mount Bushings with Koni Yellow Sport Shocks

Acura TL Type-S bushings will enhance the road feel of your Acura because they are much firmer than base-type rubber bushings. They actually have a metal insert molded into the part making them act much like a rigid mount, while the rubber sections act as vibration and impact dampers. It is really a neat bushing design. Honda uses these bushings on all their higher-level performance applications, from the S2000 to the NSX and the Integra Type-R!

However, there is a mod needed to use these bushings with the venerable Koni Sport shocks. Since the Koni shocks have a larger 12mm shaft diameter than most stock Honda/Acura shocks do (10mm), and that means the hole in the metal insert that fits over the shaft needs to be drilled out in order to fit.

Match the size of the shock shaft and open the stock hole from 10mm to 12mm (a little smaller than 1/2″).

It can be tough to hold the bushing while drilling, so be careful! You can chuck the bushing in a bench vice to hold it while drilling to hold it by the edges. It takes some time and patience, and a sharp bit helps a lot as well.

We can say the mod is worth the effort since the combination of high-end Koni shocks and enhanced road feel of the bushings is a great combo!