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Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

 
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:02 AM
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Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Hey there guys. I'm just going to start off and say I'm pretty car illiterate in advance and I'm also in kind of a panic right now. So I apologize in advance if this doesn't make much sense, I'll be glad to answer any further questions.

I use a 97 Prelude SH as a daily driver, has about 186k. Issues previous to this incident include an oil leak, thats about it.

Right off the bat today my ICV was acting strange (fluctuating) and would eventually stop after 10 minutes of driving or so. I figured its not a big deal and I'll just clean it out at some point later in the week.

Later on in the night I realize that my temp is all the way up to H. I get out of the car and check out the engine bay and its completely cold, hardly even warm. So I figured it might just be a thermometer issue. I tried turning on my heat all of the way and for some reason the heat isn't working at all (worked perfect before).

I leave to get back home (about 6 miles) and when I get home I notice it kind of smells like coolant (I know this smell very well, I work at a dealership and have seen several cars overheat like this). I look under the hood and I see smoke come flying up. The engine sounds like it runs a little louder but no knocking.

I turn off the car immediately. I see some kind of weird leaking kind of stuff near the top of the block (not sure what its called? a header?). Anyway, I just have a few questions regarding this issue.

1. Does it sound like its too late for my engine? If you can't tell from my description, what can I do to check if its completely ****ed?
2. What are the next steps I should take in order to diagnose this issue?
3. If I had to replace the engine, how much would it cost for a decent condition used one? How much would it cost with labor?
4. If I could just get a list of things to NOT do that would be great, I don't want to screw anything up further.

I took a photo of my engine bay, tried to get the weird oil looking spots in the photo. I'm not sure if they were there before, but I feel like my car is ****ed.

Thanks in advance guys. I know its a novel, but I'd really appreciate some help. I don't really have the money to get a new car and I'm just kind of going into a panic expecting the worst. I appreciate everyone's patience with my car illiteracy.
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:27 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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Originally Posted by xmakeafistx View Post
2. What are the next steps I should take in order to diagnose this issue?
do compression test. and try to figure out is your head gasket gone

Automotive Tips: Five Signs of a Blown Head Gasket - Yahoo Voices - voices.yahoo.com

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3. If I had to replace the engine, how much would it cost for a decent condition used one? How much would it cost with labor?
engine 800-1600 and labour 1000-2000 + maybe roughly 1000 to rebuild parts. its wise to do some rebuilding to your "new" engine also (seals/gaskets, clutch, timing belt side and so on)

so atleast 3000 - maybe 3500? prices vary from shop to shop and depends where you buy the engine and oem parts

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4. If I could just get a list of things to NOT do that would be great, I don't want to screw anything up further.
dont drive it
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:21 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Check your motor oil and antifreeze. Oil should be brown. Coolant should be yellow or green (maybe red). If either looks like milk you definitely have a blown head gasket.
Can't really say what's what from the picture. Looks like it's wet. If it dries white that's the oil/water mixture.
By what you describe by 'smoke' was probably steam. That would indicate you have either a busted head gasket or simply a hose.
Could be a stuck thermostat.

Is there a puddle under the car? If so what color is it?

Do you know if the cooling fans at the radiator were operating? Bottom line here is if your engine isn't toast it will be if your cooling fans don't operate or your thermostat is sticking closed.

You did right by trying to turn on the heater. But that is apparently another issue.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:06 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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Check your motor oil and antifreeze. Oil should be brown. Coolant should be yellow or green (maybe red). If either looks like milk you definitely have a blown head gasket.
Can't really say what's what from the picture. Looks like it's wet. If it dries white that's the oil/water mixture.
By what you describe by 'smoke' was probably steam. That would indicate you have either a busted head gasket or simply a hose.
Could be a stuck thermostat.

Is there a puddle under the car? If so what color is it?

Do you know if the cooling fans at the radiator were operating? Bottom line here is if your engine isn't toast it will be if your cooling fans don't operate or your thermostat is sticking closed.

You did right by trying to turn on the heater. But that is apparently another issue.
It looks like its still kind of there (the marks on the head) but I checked all of those things and oil looks perfectly fine. Really happy to know that my engine isn't ****ed.

No puddle under the car, just the typical oil leak (or so I thought). I brought it to the other side of my drive and looks like the coolant is leaking after I added some (practically no coolant when I checked, felt like a jackass).

So I took off the cover under all of the hoses, and saw the hose where it was leaking. It looks like there isn't exactly a leak but it looks like the clamp is kind of screwed up and not tight enough.

What I'm going to try to do is cut the hose behind the clamp, and use the freshly cut hose and a new clamp back onto what it was clamped on before (sorry thats a mouthful).

Now, I know I need to bleed the radiator of all the coolant before I begin. Where is the drain plug located? From what I read its right near the distributor, but I saw another screw by the radiator that looks like it could potentially be the drain plug.

Which one should I go for? I know the manual says its by the distributor but maybe I'm reading the wrong tutorial due to my lack of knowing terminology.

Thanks again guys for the help. I've never come across such a helpful forum. I attached a picture of the leak and what I suspect to be the drain plug.

I also thought that the lack of heat may have been related to the issue. Thanks for brushing up on that.

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Old 07-03-2014, 11:14 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Sorry, forgot the attachments on the first post.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:26 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

All Gen. Prelude Service Manuals
^^ a service manual.

The screw is on top of the thermostat housing. It's a 12mm screw that has a cone shaped top and a hole in the center. Right next to the back of the distributor.

Hopefully nothing is busted. Drain your coolant and replace it. If possible park your car on an angle that has your radiator above the thermostat housing. Bleed it from the bleed screw, then let the car run for a while without the radiator cap on.
Feel your hoses for heat. The bottom hose will heat quickly. The top hose will stay cool until your thermostat opens. Say 5-10 minutes.
In the meantime watch your temp gauge. Once it rises to half way your cooling fan should operate. If memory serves it's the passenger side (us model). Ac fan is on the driver side. It could be opposite of that.

Good luck. And keep your eye on the overflow bottle from now on. It's a good way to gauge if you are losing coolant.
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welcome to site Carl
...is a golden car fax kinda like a golden ticket? Sure hope willy wonka didn't put any snozberries in your motor.
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Only seen the first one, 15 years ago in theaters. Plan on keeping it that way. Get off my lawn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindso View Post
I remember my first thread, asking what a noise was when I got going 110mph.
Pretty much got flamed for driving like a jackass and was told to slow down. And I'll be damned, slowing down fixed it.

God's Not Dead
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Old 07-03-2014, 01:03 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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Originally Posted by xmakeafistx View Post
Now, I know I need to bleed the radiator of all the coolant before I begin. Where is the drain plug located? From what I read its right near the distributor, but I saw another screw by the radiator that looks like it could potentially be the drain plug.
You are right about the drain plug..it is the white plastic wing nut designed screw on the bottom of your radiator in your picture. That is where you need to drain the coolant (not where you bleed the system...do what bykfixer said about bleeding it from the screw near the distributor), make sure you have a sufficient sized drain pan when you drain your coolant..even though it sounds like you won't have a lot to drain, it will drain some of the coolant that is still in your block as well..not just the coolant in your radiator. Still a good idea to do a compression test though...sometimes the gasket does not break in between the oil and coolant passages in the gasket (where you would see the milky coolant/oil mixture), and sometimes you can have a head gasket that breaks and allows coolant to escape to the outside of the block..sometimes it will break between the coolant passage and the combustion chamber...if it is allowing enough exhaust gases into your coolant system you will see bubbles constantly coming up to the top of the radiator that would be visible through the hole for the cap. They also have a way that you can take a sample of coolant and add a dye that will turn a certain color if there are exhaust gases in the coolant. Either way...anytime there is a major overheat it's a good idea to check compression. Good luck man.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:19 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

well, good news is, your engine is most likely fine. at most a head gasket replacement which is an easy driveway job on hondas. might seem like an advanced job until you do it.... then youll understand why its so easy.

first steps i would do to diagnose, would be to start your engine, go to the muffler, and smell the exhaust. is that where you smell the coolant? also BEFORE you start your engine remove the radiator cap. make sure the coolant is topped off, and then start the car, smell exhaust and look for bubbles in the radiator neck. those are 2 tell tale signs of a head gasket leak.
If you are still having trouble finding if your head gasket is the cause, then you can run a compression test or a combustion leak tester which hooks up to the radiator, and changes color to let you know if there are combustion gases in the coolant.

Hopefully though, thats not the case. just because you smell coolant doesnt mean that your smelling it through the exhaust, and it also doesnt mean that your engine is destroyed. you could of easily burst a hose, or a joint, etc. happens all the time on old cars. try to find a leak inside the engine bay or on the ground. they sell UV dye at auto stores to add to your coolant if you have trouble locating a leak. but i would first detail your engine bay to help locate leaks. you are dealing with years and years of grime that has built up that makes an engine bay look exactly like a dirty ass room when your looking for a certain pair of shoes, or even your lighter or keys or something.....

find the leak and fix it. Oh and its perfectly normal to loose heat when your having coolant leaks, or coolant problems in general, because the pressure changes which affects the temps in the coolant. Or you just plain dont have the coolant to heat up your cabin which would be worst case scenario if you ran your engine dry of coolant before a long heated drive....

anyway. do the above.

now about the IACV you mentioned. it stands for idle air control valve. it could cause a screwy idle, but there are also more things that could cause idle problems. check out twokes final idle problem thread. also download a service manual and troubleshoot the IACV before you do anything else.

if you decide that you dont want your lude because of the issues, im always up for a donation... i would have that thing back on the road running strong in a few days at max.... just a suggestion
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:53 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Just coming back in tonight for an update guys.

I first want to start off by saying THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the well thought replies. I've taken most of the steps that you guys have given me.

I tried cutting the hose in order to rid of the leak and I realized it had one of those stupid clamps where you need to squeeze it to get it off (I prefer the ones with the screws). I gave up on trying to get it off from under the car and decided it'd be easier to take out the radiator and give it a go.

When I tried to remove the hose from the middle/top of the radiator, the plastic part of the radiator that connects to the hose completely broke off (rotted out on the inside).

So I went to CarQuest to get a new radiator. I figured that makes a lot of this job easier, wrong.

I removed the radiator and saw that one of the pieces I needed was completely rusted out, and to top it off that part doesn't come with the new radiator. I went to every single parts store and nobody has it in stock. I don't want to make my own line, because I'd hate to run into the same issue again. I'd like to eliminate variables, not add to them.

So now I have to wait until Tuesday for this part to come in. I have attached photos of the part since I'm not exactly sure what its called. On the diagram it was part number 15 when viewing the cooling system as a whole via helms. This whole situation seriously has me wondering why I even bother with midwest cars.

I did not smell coolant from the exhaust, by the way. So thats a very good sign I take it. My dad lost his compression tester apparently, so now I can't really check for it at the moment. (pretty broke after buying these parts, can't afford the tester). I also checked the oil, no milky colored substance, although my oil was a little low from what I'd prefer.

Anyway, in conclusion, I am left with these questions.

1. I only managed to drain the radiator today. I did not bother with the other drain plug located near the distributor (got busy with other errands). Is it okay that I only bled one and not the other for now? I plan to bleed the other one out on Saturday, I'm just wondering if this will have any ill effects.

2. After I replace my radiator, hoses, etc. What should I do if this overheating problem persists? What would be the next thing to check? (my fans are working great btw).

3. What are some small projects I can do while the car is out of commission? I already plan on cleaning the idle air control valve, replacing my lugs, and trying to locate my oil leak. What are some other small inexpensive/free things I can do to maintain the well being of my car?

Once again, thank you guys for all of the great responses. I'm shocked to see I'm not getting eaten alive for asking such newbie questions. This is a learning experience for me, and its been good/bad. It feels good to get more familiar with my car.
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Old 07-04-2014, 01:26 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Now that's some rust lol. The lines you are referring to are your automatic transmission cooler lines and even though you can't see it because of the rust they have a flared end on the end of the line that goes into the bottom of the radiator and a nut that tightens over the flare and mates it up tightly inside the radiator (although it is a separate from your engine cooling system). But from the looks of them it's a good idea to replace them. Back to the radiator drain plug question you had...you only bleed your system from the bolt located near the distributor, the white plastic plug in the bottom of your radiator is just for draining coolant. If overheating persists..provided that you have the proper amount of coolant and the system has been bled properly...the quickest thing you can is check the operation of is your water pump and thermostat. Have the car running without the radiator cap on (I believe someone mentioned that earlier) and wait for the engine to begin warming up...when it does the thermostat (provided it is functioning properly) will open and allow coolant to flow. You should be able to see the flow of coolant through the hole where the cap would be. If you do not see it flowing it could be a completely closed thermostat or your water pump could be toast or it could still be low on coolant...but honestly, considering you said that your engine was pretty dry of coolant that's probably the issue. But replacing a thermostat is routine maintenance and a stuck closed thermostat adds stress to your whole system including hoses..this is on any car and your prelude is no different and while you are experimenting with your cooling system it wouldn't be a bad idea to replace it. Best of luck to you man

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Old 07-04-2014, 02:28 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

you should get better radiator there
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Old 07-04-2014, 07:42 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Looks like you have stuff under control. Good job make-a-fist.

First off, this is preludezone.com. Not those other sites. Rare is the time when a novice gets yelled at. Ignored perhaps. Just kidding.

Little projects to do while your car is down... hmm, that's a toughy.
Is your trunk getting wet? You could permatex around the tail light gaskets. If you have $20 floating around you could get a 3m headlight restore kit and do that.
Or you could wash the car, give it a rub down with compound and a wax if you have that stuff laying around. My favorite past time while the car is down is junkyard shopping. Great way to pass a few hours scouring accords and civics for good parts that fit our cars.
Free? Vaccuum your car, wipe down everything plastic inside the car with furniture polish, clean your wheels and tires..stuff like that. Engine bay could probably use a little spring cleaning as well.

Remember these addresses:
Car-part.com for used parts.
Hondapartsnow.com for parts crossmatch where you type part # in the search bar to get a list of other cars they fit
Roadkillcustoms.com for registered junkyards in your area. Local ones with web sites usually have a wishlist feature. You tell them the cars you want parts from and they email you when one arrives.
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welcome to site Carl
...is a golden car fax kinda like a golden ticket? Sure hope willy wonka didn't put any snozberries in your motor.
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Only seen the first one, 15 years ago in theaters. Plan on keeping it that way. Get off my lawn.
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I remember my first thread, asking what a noise was when I got going 110mph.
Pretty much got flamed for driving like a jackass and was told to slow down. And I'll be damned, slowing down fixed it.

God's Not Dead

Last edited by bykfixer; 07-04-2014 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 07-04-2014, 09:21 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

How about the ignition switch???
When they go bad, all sorts of stuff happens to the electrics, usually with no underlying mechanical damage.
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:10 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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How about the ignition switch???
When they go bad, all sorts of stuff happens to the electrics, usually with no underlying mechanical damage.
An ignition switch is pretty much a completely irrelevant suspect in regards to the issues that he is having with his cooling system...let's not give him things to worry about that are unrelated to his current situation.
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:14 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Also, auto tranny = Not an SH. Just for your info.
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:59 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

SH has cooling lines for the ATTS.

And the iacv issue may have been related to the lack of coolant.
It senses cool and raises the idle. It senses warm and reduces the idle.
So if coolant goes by, then no coolant, then coolant again it would act weird. Air heats way faster than water. So hot air, cool coolant, hot air etc etc would cause the sensor to go
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Originally Posted by ogsmakdade View Post
welcome to site Carl
...is a golden car fax kinda like a golden ticket? Sure hope willy wonka didn't put any snozberries in your motor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by elspectro29 View Post
Only seen the first one, 15 years ago in theaters. Plan on keeping it that way. Get off my lawn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindso View Post
I remember my first thread, asking what a noise was when I got going 110mph.
Pretty much got flamed for driving like a jackass and was told to slow down. And I'll be damned, slowing down fixed it.

God's Not Dead

Last edited by bykfixer; 07-04-2014 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:57 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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SH has cooling lines for the ATTS.
Ah, dammit. Forgot about the atts cooler lines. Been a while since I've been under my SH's hood. Need to find me another descent example.
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Old 07-05-2014, 06:51 AM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

I thought somebody had swapped in an auto radiator in my car and didn't bother to remove the hoses. Then one day my son informed the atts was gone. Doh!
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Old 07-05-2014, 01:15 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Thanks again for all of the suggestions guys! Yeah I'm afraid after I replace the radiator the problem will persist. But like you guys already said, i'm pretty sure it was just from the lack of coolant. I bought a thermostat first thing Thursday morning (the day after the issue) and I plan to replace it whenever I'm done with the radiator thing. I was kind of wondering beforehand how I'd check that every other part of the cooling system is working properly, but you guys answered that for me already! Those seem like pretty easy diagnostic steps too. It feels so strange not having a car, I feel like i've lost my legs! The cool part about it though is that I've been able to drive my dads 2003 STi around.

I'll update you guys on Tuesday when I get the ATTS/trans cooling line for my car! In the meantime I'll probably fix up my headlamps given that the crud isn't on the inside of the housings. I find no point in polishing my car since its so damn sun damaged, it wouldn't look good either way!

I had plans to paint my car (already have the clear/primer) but this is going to set me back. I plan to go with a Carbon Steel Grey Metallic (VW color). I'm not too upset though, having a running car is definitely priority.

Thanks again guys! I still have to find a way to test compression.
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Old 07-05-2014, 01:32 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

Ah keemoh-sobee.. TR3 get-um paint looking good again.

$10 @ pep boys.

A 91 I used to own.


^^ before TR3


^^ during


^^ After



A year later it was still beading water.

Now the car was far from new looking post TR3, but you can see it made a helluva diff for $10 and an afternoons work. I used about half the can.
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:12 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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Originally Posted by xmakeafistx View Post

Thanks again guys! I still have to find a way to test compression.
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:48 PM
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Re: Really hoping my 97 SH isn't toast, questions about it

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Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
Ah keemoh-sobee.. TR3 get-um paint looking good again.

$10 @ pep boys.

A 91 I used to own.


^^ before TR3


^^ during


^^ After



A year later it was still beading water.

Now the car was far from new looking post TR3, but you can see it made a helluva diff for $10 and an afternoons work. I used about half the can.
Hoooly ****! I didn't think it could help that much! I must say my hood is probably a lot worse off than yours (peeling clear) but I'll still give it a shot tomorrow! Would I be able to find this T3 stuff at Autozone or whatever?

Thats one hell of a product!
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