Categories
Exterior & Lighting Heeltoe Explains

Differences in 2004-08 Acura TSX & Accord CL7-CL9 Headlamps

In an effort to The North American 2004-08 Acura TSX, known everywhere else in the world as a Honda Accord, has a few different headlight options we will clarify for you here.

2004-08 USDM Headlamp

The Acura TSX comes with this lamp, with DOT required amber turn signal reflectors and diffusers facing the front and side.

Note that the HID ballast (standard on all NA TSXs) mounts on the bottom of this lamp. There is a variance between the 2004-05 mount style and the 2006-08 mounting style. That is true for all global 2004-08 TSX/Accord lenses in both the mounting configuration as well as the year change.

2003-05 JDM Honda Accord Headlamp

The JDM Accord comes with the same basic housing and lens as the USDM vehicle with a couple of differences.

  • The side diffusers do not have a reflector in them and are a smoked-shade.
  • The projector lamps and cut-offs are set for a right-hand drive vehicle. Meaning, the light is higher on the left side than the right side.
  • If the lamps are from a EuroR model, the chrome inside the housings will be s smoked-shade.

2003-05 EDM Honda Accord Headlamp

These lamps are the same as the JDM 2003-05 Lamps, except they will be set to the left-hand drive configuration. Additionally, they have leveling motors inside, which is normal equipment on these cars.

2006-08 JDM Honda Accord Headlamp

The 2006 model year brought a facelift to global CL7-CL9 chassis Honda Accords and Acura TSXs. As mentioned above, the ballast mounting changed. We are unsure if any function or specification of the ballast changed, but the mounting location definitely did.

The newer style lamp also had some visual changes. The front-facing blinker lens is now clear instead of amber. Also, the side facing diffuser has a textured/mild pattern over an otherwise clear, blue lens.

Again, EuroR lamps are denoted by a smoked-chrome inner housing.

Retrofitting a JDM right-hand drive Accord Cl7-CL9 lamp to left-hand drive spec.

2006-08 EDM Honda Accord Headlamp

Like the earlier generation lamp, the only differences here are the left-hand drive configuration and the presence of a leveling motor (the JDM lamps may have the leveling motor as well…to be confirmed).

Aftermarket DEPO 2004-08 Options

DEPO is a Taiwanese manufacturer that produces very good quality aftermarket reproductions of factory lamps. Often used in collision repair, they offer lamps that are DOT approved, meaning they have the required diffusers and reflectors.

Recognizing an aftermarket opportunity to replication a clear-corner option, the first release DEPO lamps had clear side diffusers and front-facing blinkers. The side molds were the same as the USDM replacements with the reflectors in place. Also, the lamps in North America are configured to left-hand drive spec.

The housings themselves are modeled after 2004-05 lamps, with that ballast configuration.

Smoked and clear options were made, but the side reflectors did not connect well with aftermarket tastes. People preferred the look of the 2006-08 JDM/EDM side diffusers which were devoid of reflectors and had a blue color.

DEPO responded by changing the diffusers to the blue reflectors seen on the later model 2006-08 JDM cars.

However, DEPO did NOT change the ballast mounting location. Owners with 2006-08 TSXs found that while the DEPO lamps bolt in place well, the 2006-08 ballasts would not mount properly. Custom mounting of the ballast was needed, and detailed in this article.

Another concern with the DEPO lamps was the change in projector lamps. The Factory TSX/Accord lamps use very high quality, die cast projector housings and cut-offs, while the DEPOs are cheaper stamped metal. While the difference could be noticed by the most finicky users, the DEPO lamps have proven to have a still very good projection pattern and lens cut-off.

Categories
Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains You Can Do It! DIYs

No Clutch Alignment Tool? No Problem!

NOTICE: This blog was written as I was installing a clutch and the alignment tool was mysteriously missing from the kit. I’ve gotten agitated calls about this relatively normal issue enough to have a lightbulb moment…this is not a huge deal, folks!

When installing a clutch it is necessary to align the disc with the flywheel before installing the cover (pressure plate). If you don’t, the input shaft from the transmission will not engage the disc properly and you will never get the transmission lined up and installed!

A clutch alignment tool is a specific tool with splines that match your transmission and a snout that fits in your flywheel. It holds the disc perfectly centered on the flywheel. Most clutch kits come with a clutch alignment tool matching your application.

But it happens rather often that you are not supplied the tool on accident, or you are doing a non-standard install, or are installing something used…no tool! Many customers get upset and concerned that they need the tool to complete the install. Getting the tool outside the kit is sometimes difficult and can take time…time you don’t have.

Instead of freaking out, grab a socket or tube of some sort which is a bit smaller size than the flywheel snout, and wrap some tape around it to fit into the flywheel and disc size. You might even have a different toll from a past job that is smaller and can be used. In my example, I am using a socket adapter that was rolling around in the toolbox. The splines are really less important…it is all about getting a snug fit.

Build the tape up a wrap or two at a time and test it a few times. Add tape as needed. You’ll find that you can get the disc pretty firmly in place by adding the right layers of tape.

There you have it! Installing a clutch with a clutch alignment tool is definitely preferred, and in some cases may be required. But for many installs, a little ingenuity is all you need to install your clutch without relying on tools you don’t need.

Categories
Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

Ingalls 38725/38720 Rear Camber Kit Install Tips

NOTICE: As of around 2016 or so, Ingalls Engineering was bought out by Dorman products and the kits discussed in this article are no longer available. We have replaced these Ingalls 38725 kits with SPC 67291 camber arms and 67295 toe arms (one each of these SPC kits equals one 38725 Ingalls kit).

The Ingalls rear arm kits come disassembled. In each kit are two tubes and four bushings. Take note that one arm may be longer than the other, and the bushings are all different. There are wide- and narrow- bushing collars, and silver and black nuts (signifying right- or left-hand threads).

On 38720 kits for 1999-03 TL, 2001-03 CL, and 1998-02 Accord, the arms are the same length but there are different size bushings to pay attention to. Read the included instructions or compare to the stock arms to assemble correctly. On a 38725 kit (for the 2004-08 Acura TSX, 2004-08 TL, and 2003-07 Accord models) I remember this phrase when assembling: “Short and fat; tall and skinny.” This helps me remember that the wider bushings go on the short arm, and the narrow ones go on the long arm.

Screwing the bushings into the tubes is usually easy, but the threads can get hung up a but. A little extra turning force can be had using gloves instead of bare hands, but if that is not enough, you will want to inspect the threads.

We have seen threads come out of the box with pieces of slag that will prevent assembly. These bits are easily removed with a small pick.

If the kits are mishandled in shipping, a thread can become damaged. It will look like it is flattened or folded over a bit. A small file will reshape the thread and allow assembly.

If the threads on the bushings look fine, check inside the tubes for debris. You typically won’t see the damage here, but slag can be a problem. Again, pick out any visible obstructions.

Some people have cited corrosion causes the bushings to seize in the arms over time. We recommend a high-quality anti-seize lubricant to stave of rust.

When assembling the kit, we suggest putting the bar length to exactly the same length as the stock arms with the same amount of threads on each side of the bar. To do this, we suggest these steps:

  1. Install the threaded bushings all the way against the tubes.
  2. Put a bolt through both the stock arm and corresponding Ingalls arm on one side.
  3. Spin the Ingalls tube while holding the opposite bushing steady. This expands both bushings out at the same rate.
  4. Expand the tube until you can put another bolt through the opposing end.

Don’t tighten the jamb nuts before the arms are installed in the car. Also, we recommend doing one arm at a time. Remove and replace one, then another, then move to the other side of the car. If you remove both arms it can allow extra movement that makes it more difficult to install the Ingalls arms.

The short arm with wide bushings goes directly under the shock mounting, and the long arm with narrow bushings is the “Toe” arm that mounts on the hub-carrier’s rearward stud. If you’ve installed the bushings on the arms correctly, you can’t mix them up. Here are torque specs if you need them.

Once installed, make sure all are tight and head off to get an alignment!

Categories
Heeltoe Explains Universal Fit Blogging You Can Do It! DIYs

8 tips to get you going on that FWD Honda Transmission removal/rebuild

Based on the recent and disheartening news that the transaxle in our HTSpecTSX needed to be removed and rebuilt, we decided to put together this post to show some handy tips that might arm you with some knowledge you need to get the transmission out of your FWD Honda with that much smaller of a headache.

Factoid: A transaxle is a combination of the differential and the transmission in one unit. Front-wheel-drive cars generally all have transaxles, not technically transmissions!

1. Safety is cool

First and foremost, please please please, wear safety glasses. They might be uncomfortable to wear at first but once you get into your job with tools in hand, you’ll forget they are even on your face. If you don’t put them on I promise you will regret it the very moment you are on your back in a compromised position working on a very difficult bold, and a piece of crud will fall in your eye. It sucks. This is the best-case scenario. Worst case you’ll be like an old coworker of mine who was hammering on a ball joint and a piece of shrapnel shot into his eye and blinded him on that side.

Safety is cool. In addition to the glasses, gloves are a great idea as well. Other important things to have are proper jack stands, and most of all, brains. This job involves some very simple but very real forces of physics. Look at the load system in front of you, and decide where your forces and counter forces are going to be. If this last comment flies over your head, consider leaving the job to a professional.

Now that we have the basics mentioned, let’s talk about some more specific topics.

2. Get the right manual

If you have a Honda or Acura, that means buying a real Helm service manual and read it a week or two in advance of doing the job at hand.  Honda sends a team of people to their production plants with these manuals and literally disassemble an entire car to make sure it reads and works correctly before selling the cars and publishing the books. It will tell you everything you need to know, and nearly every step to take, in order to properly perform any job on the car. If special tools are needed, they will tell you. Need to replace a bolt, or use a specific grease, or need torque specs? Buy the book. Get your very own copy at www.helminc.com or on eBay.

A Genuine Helm Manual is full of detail.

3. Tools are your key to success

The manual will tell you what special tools are needed and which are proprietary Honda ones. Now, before you go out and buy all these expensive and hard-to-get tools know that there are good aftermarket substitutions out there. Sears, Harbor Freight, Amazon…you can get good tools to work on the car other than the factory. And also know that you don’t need ALL the tools they are suggesting. Overall these manuals are written for dealers and dealers have a huge cache of tools that they get from the manufacturers. You won’t have access to these tools. And they are pricey! So look for good alternatives. The trick is knowing which ones REALLY need to be OEM ones…that might just be something you figure out in the trenches. For example, expensive seal and bearing drivers can often be substituted for pipes of various sizes or sockets. Be resourceful and get tools, but if you don’t need to buy them that is all the better.

Use a large socket as a bearing or seal driver.

Here you can see my solution for removing this sealing bolt for which I did not have a 14mm hex driver. Of course, I bought one on Amazon and it arrived, along with a new bolt from Acura, in time for me to reassemble properly. This technique has long been a favorite of mine for removing stripped brake rotor screws.

A hammer and chisel made quick work of this sealing bolt that I did not have a 12mm hex driver for.

4. Manage your time and be realistic

Now is an opportune time to mention time management. The prime thing to keep in mind is to be realistic. A professional can take a trans out and put it back in in a day. Maybe call it two days if there is a rebuild in there. You need to expect that this job may take you twice as long, or longer. The reason is not because of anything besides experience and the quality and variety of tools. Professional technicians (even the mediocre ones) spend more money on their personal tool collection than you’d believe (I’ve known guys to amass a tool collection of $100,000 or more). To techs, tools are time and time is money. The better the tools and experience using them, the shorter the time to do jobs. They have lots of shop equipment at their disposal (vehicle lifts, to say the least). You’ll save a lot of money doing jobs yourself, but look at your tool collection and understand that you CAN do the job, but it is going to take a lot of time if that collection is not extensive.

You could be hanging around for a while...mostly waiting for parts. Use time wisely.

5. Save the beer for the fat lady

So, you are following instructions in the service manual, using some handy tools, taking your time, listening to music. Things are going well! Don’t crack a beer!

Even if your intentions are not to get drunk, a casual beer makes for casual work which is both inefficient and unsafe. Save the beer for when you are done working for the day. Because once you start the beer, it is the start of the end. Trust me; beer is a great tool, for celebrating. Not for working.

I wanted to rotate this pic, but my photo editor was drunk.

6. Get an impact wrench

One of the tools that will come in handy is an impact wrench. Commonly, impact wrenches are powered by air thus requiring an air compressor. I’ll tell you that since getting my electric one, my life has changed. I use the air compressor mostly for filling tires these days. While things like an air hammer and air rachets can be handy, nothing beats the convenience of an electric impact wrench. I have a Bosch one and I highly recommend it. It is compact, lightweight, and powerful. There are cheaper ones but they are more bulky and heavy. But, it won’t make you superman: Some fasteners need to be removed by hand so have a breaker bar also.

Say hello to my little friend.

7. Special fasteners can throw you a curveball or ruin your day

Watch out for left-hand threads. Righty-tighty-lefty-loosey applies almost universally, but there may be left-hand threads inside the transmission. Actually, the TSX trans is held together by them! Special black-coated bolts designed to prevent galvanic corrosion against the Magnesium case cannot be substituted and are distinctively left-handed. Usually, these special fasteners have arrows on them telling you to turn the opposite way you are used to. Also, some fasteners require special sockets to remove. The flywheel and clutch are held on with 12-point fasteners. The important message here is that if you need to cut one off, or break it by doing the wrong procedure for removal, you won’t end up with a new one by doing an 11th-hour run to the hardware store. Most likely your dealer won’t stock these parts, either. Again, read the book!

Arrows mark the direction to tighten.

8. The aftermarket provides more unknowns

Are you installing aftermarket parts in your transmission? If so, realize that no matter how good they are they probably are not going to fit exactly the same as OEM parts. I found out the hard way that the differential in my TSX transmission needed a different shim than the OEM one did, and had to order new shims at the last minute. Even though I’d given myself plenty of time, this little curveball could have really ruined things for my deadline. Tools can be improvised but actual components inside the trans have to come from specific manufacturers and substitutions won’t do. All the research in the world can’t protect you against Murphy’s Law. You don’t want to get details like this wrong because it could mean taking that transmission back out again sooner than later.

That is a good list to get you going. Be prepared by getting a manual and doing as much shopping as you can ahead of time. Expect to have something like a transmission rebuild to take a full week; this is in addition to the time to remove and install the trans from the car. Don’t be afraid to call Heeltoe if you have any questions or need advice!

Categories
Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

How to tune your adjustable coilover damper kit for the street.

There are a lot of folks out there, bless their souls, who have bought into the craze of coilover suspensions without having full knowledge of what they are getting into.

This article is a shot-gun approach at dialing in your favorite coilover kit for the street. Aimed at our core market, front- & all-wheel drive Honda and Acura cars, primarily driven on the street. This is a really general methodology, but it works. People often get mixed up because the changes they make in the front or rear impact the other end of the car, and you keep chasing your tail. With this approach you get the front all dialed in on what is important there, and you can tackle how the rear reacts afterward.

Front

The first thing you would do is set the preload back to zero and then move the damper adjustment knob in the front at least midway in its range, if not more stiff or almost full stiff. This will give the input control and sharpness of steering and handling you probably want. Less “bounce” per-say or “float” in the front end is desired. Those feelings give a certain distrust in the handling of the car and your ability to control it. Moving this stiffer should not adversely affect the ride at all although there will be more harshness through the steering wheel, firewall, and floorboard. It may seem that the car is transmitting more from the road, and this is a good thing. Dial it back to give more NVH isolation if needed, but keep it firm. You should not need any more preload here, but if the front end seems to feel like it bottoms out at all you can add preload about 1/4″ at a time until it feels a little better.

Rear

The ride quality and ultimate balance of the car is largely dictated by the rear setup. Here I recommend people make the damping as stiff as they can without feeling too much discomfort. Start in the middle and move softer if you need more comfort over bumps (you won’t be able to make it perfect over all bumps, you are going to have to find a compromise) or firmer if the ride is not uncomfortable. The firmer you make it the better the car is going to feel in a corner but will ride worse and worse. Ultimately you want to find where you are unable to accept the ride and dial it back a bit. In general, you want as much stroke in the back as you can get because this will allow a good ride and add grip, but want body movement controlled enough that it doesn’t feel like it is wallowing about. Preloading too much here, or putting stiff springs, is great for swinging the tail around an auto-x course, but makes the ride like garbage. Don’t preload the rear if you can help it, but again if the suspension seems to cycle too much even on firmer settings, add preload incrementally.

Spring rates and preload.

The only real reason to change rates is if you are exceeding the cornering load limits the kit was designed around. Springs are spec’d to hold the car up and to resist forces in cornering. A car with lighter weight will need lighter springs, and heavier cars need heavier springs. Also, a car cornering at .8g will not need a firm a spring as a car cornering 1g. I think a lot of people think that works in reverse…take an .8g car and add heavier springs to make it corner like a 1g car. Maybe this is true to a certain extent, but more important are the tires, tire pressure, road surface, and other grip related factors. Those all add grip. Firmer springs without more grip will cause the car to slide easier.

Wider tires mean more grip meaning harder cornering loads requiring firmer springs. Increasing the rates will allow the car to cope with harder cornering loads, but will dramatically impact the ride. This is especially true if the dampers are not tuned to accommodate these changes. Many adjustable suspension kits are designed around a single spring rate and allow some latitude up and down in spring rates but don’t mistake this as truly stiffening or softening the suspension.

Then there is preload, which is largely misunderstood. Changing the spring preload does not change the spring rate, but can lead to the effect of a firmer feeling suspension. Really what it does is it increases the load needed to compress the spring initially. Once the spring starts compressing it will feel normal but a larger input is needed to do that. This is particularly helpful bu increasing the amount of force needed to bottom out the suspension.

We hope that gives you enough information to get started on dialing in your suspension! By all means reach on out to us if you need more specific advice!

Categories
Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

Our HTSpecTSX gets new Fastline Performance Compliance Bearings by PCI

In addition to the 4-piece bearing kit, we have added a 2-piece kit. Read more here: Fastline Compliance Bushing Update: New 2-piece kit supersedes 4-piece kit

The compliance bushings in later model Acura and Honda vehicles were part of an innovative design to handle suspension movement. Despite being unconventional, the system worked well at softening road inputs while effectively keeping the control arm attached to the car. unfortunately, the compliance bushings wear prematurely and crack, causing sloppy handling and excess vibration. The issue plagues TSX and TL divers alike, with many TL drivers reporting failures within 60,000 miles.

Pro Car Innovations has an awesome solution for replacing these bushings with a more durable spherical bearing. The bearing is a rigid mounting point rather than a flexy rubber one, which has the promise not only of longer life but also of greatly enhanced road feel. Fastline Performance was quick to adopt this part as one of their own, recognizing the great benefit for performance and longevity that is so direly needed, especially on the 04-08 TL chassis.

We took the opportunity to install a set of these bearings in our very own HTSpec TSX last weekend. Getting the arm out of the car is not as difficult as one might think. There is a 14mm nut holding the sway bar link on, then a ball joint where the steering upright attaches, and three other attachment points with conventional bolts. While it can be tricky to get the right tool to fit the locations and do the removal, nothing really special is required to remove the arm.

The bushings in our TSX were not in especially bad condition, but they are well worn after 120,000 miles and a couple of track days and spirited road trips.

The first step in changing the bushings is removing the arm from the car. This is actually a pretty simple task. With only 3-4 main fasteners to have to deal with, which are all straightforward except the ball joint. Rather than put it in words, check out this very fast and simple method for removing the ball joint painlessly!

Once the arm is out, the bushing/bearing swap needs to happen. For what has the initial impression of being a bit of a pain to do (the bushings must be pressed out and the bearings pressed in) it turned out to be quite a simple job. Part of the reason for this was using a special tool for pressing the parts in and out by hand. Coupled with a trusty electric impact gun, the job was a breeze.

The kit comes with two compliance bearings with mounting spacers, as well as two other bearings that fit in the rearward subframe mounting locations. We elected to only install the compliance bearings at this time for two reasons: 1) The stock bushings at the rearward lower control arm mounting location were still in good condition, and 2) while we had a great tool for the larger bushing we had no such arrangement for the other bushing. So, we will do this one later understanding that the compliance bearing was the most major part of the job here.

Some install notes that were brought up by some early responders to online discussions. With regard to binding, there is no such concern. We found that the arms reach a limit of travel from the chassis mounting well before the bearings find a travel limit. Bearings can be noisy, however, we have found these bearings to be of very high quality and are play- and noise-free, at least in their new state.

The largest concern seems to be about corrosion. These are in an area susceptible to corrosive elements, however, we do need to cite that 95% or more of the component is not ferrous and therefore will not rust. The one item where rust can happen is the bearing race itself which if ever needs to be replaced is fairly simple and inexpensive to accomplish. While acknowledging there could be a concern down the road, corrosion is bad for cars PERIOD and we anticipate there being a greater issue removing the rest of the suspension bolts to do such a job than the need for the job really coming up in the first place. Of course, the best defense is offense, so we recommend liberally lubing the bearing from time to time to create a protective layer against the elements.

With the bearing in the arms and the arms in the car, I set off on a test drive. I was unable to feel much of a difference at low speeds in the neighborhood. Partly because our roads are fairly smooth here but mostly for the reason that the Innovate Mounts holding the engine in place transmit much vibration of their own. Initially, the system feels pretty standard.

Down the road a bit, some bumps were encountered with did send a noticeable shock through the front end. Botts dots and possibly small animals will be felt more than before. I imagine if you live in an area with rougher roads, you will need to be understanding that there is a tradeoff of more road input. It depends largely on the quality of roads, your quality of experience. Then again if you make a sport of avoiding such road imperfections, your skills will be greatly enhanced with the bearings in place.

Off to higher speed turns! Traveling at speeds in excess of 50-60 mph can make turning a little nervous feeling. With the standard car, there is a certain amount of smoothness needed to confidently turn the car, since there is a little delay between when you turn the wheel and when the car turns. This is due to the compliance bushings flexing under load. With the FLP/PCI bearings installed there is no such flex. Nor is there a disconcerting wiggle the nose does when hitting a bump mid-corner. The control is greatly enhanced as you can almost feel the tread-blocks taking up the stress of hanging on for dear life.

I must say, this upgrade, if it is one you might be putting off for fear that it will be one that makes you unhappy for any reason, I think you are possibly cheating yourself out of a great experience. I shudder to think of those who will appreciate the benefits of the Fastline Performance Compliance Bearings yet will never realize them due to risk aversion. These parts are innovative, durable, functional, and fully backed by Heeltoe Automotive. What more could you ask for?

Update 11/12/12: After spending some more time driving with these bearings in, my love for them has only grown. There is a very direct feel from my fingers to the road. When you are on the verge of breaking traction you can almost feel the tires gripping the road, and you can modulate the power very finely. This, of course, is enhanced with the polyurethane Innovative Mounts. however, I am finding the negative feedback from bumps was really overstated in the original writing above. While there are bumps that come up and jolt the front end, I am starting to think this has more to do with my suspension than the bearings. I am considering changing my suspension out soon to experiment with this.

Categories
Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

2004-05 TSX Wiper Blade Upgrade to Low Profile 2006-08 Wipers

You know, on the 2004-05 TSX, the wiper arms sure do get annoying to look at after a while. They are not horrible, but once you see them you can’t un-see them. I first really noticed them at the track where you are taking in so much information any bit of clutter or static really digs in and bugs you.

I decided to swap over to lower profile 2006-08 units.

Of course, the standard 2004-05 parts look perfectly normal, as just about every car has the same general design and layout.

Look how tall they are though…they come way up off the glass. Some people like to install some lower profile aftermarket blades that resemble 06-08 ones, but it is not a real solution because it keeps the standard arms in place.

Here you see a 2004-05 arm and blade against a 2006-08 assembly. The whole thing is so much lower profile.

Swapping them over is as simple as removing the cap at the end of the arm and getting a 17mm socket to remove the nut.

Behold the amazing disappearing wiper arms!!! I am sure it will wear off soon but the field of vision being uninterrupted really has me stoked to get behind the wheel. DEFINITELY a nice little mod to do.

These parts are available on Heeltoeauto.com for purchase!

Categories
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!

Categories
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 Heeltoeauto.com.

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