B20 Stuff (the saga of my family’s 99 Honda CRV) Part 2

B20 Stuff (the saga of my family’s 99 Honda CRV) Part 2

Thanks for coming back for part 2! I know this might not sound like, or even be the most exciting thing to read about, but for me its more than just replacing a motor in a 20 year old car. It’s a way to relive my youth, and stumble across memories that I haven’t thought of in 20 years. There nothing performance about this, there’s nothing fast, nothing even really functional. It’s just raw, working on a basic daily driver for a 70 year old man. For me working on cars is more than just a hobby, it’s actually a passion that I couldn’t live without. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or what I’m working on, as long as I get the gratification of successfully fixing, improving, or just even maintaining something, for me that is a feeling that I can’t do without. Yes, the emotional roller coaster of working on a car can have its incredibly low low’s when something doesn’t work, but its when you find the strength to push through the failure and see it through to success is where you can see me have the biggest smiles. Just looking back at how bad things were when you stripped out a bolt, or broke something, but had the strength to over come and preserve is such a great feeling.

This project is also special for me because as I mentioned in Part 1, I’m sick of my dad putting trust into hack mechanics and then getting screwed over at the end. It’s going to be a way for me to give back to my dad for everything he has done for me, and give him a car that will do everything he needs probably until he dies. From his weekly trips to the VA, using it daily for work adventures, daily trips to his girlfriends house, or even a nice weekend get a way. He will now have the peace of mind that he can do all this and never once have to worry about the reliability of the car.

If you missed part one, you can click the link below to read it.



In Part 2 we will be removing the B20 from the CRV, and talking a little about what the plans are for it. This may be a CRV, but removing the motor from it is pretty much like any other civic/integra from this era. By reading this you’ll be able to have a good understanding of what it takes to remove a motor from a “golden era” Honda. Hopefully you’ll learn some of my tricks I have to help me make things a little easier.

Before I start, I want to go over why I’m doing it on a driveway on an angle. You see, Ever and I have two car garages and they are both currently full of other projects, and my house features an HOA. This makes things a bit difficult when it comes to working on cars at my house, since I really can only work on them in the garage. Luckily for me, Ever doesn’t have an HOA and we can cram as many cars as we want on his driveway.

So starting off, you want to get the car jacked up so you can begin removing things underneath.


Remove the front wheels, and place them under the car. This way they are out of the way and you wont be tripping on them, plus it will provide a little extra safety if for some reason the jack stands fail.

Next I’ll be removing the front bumper cover. This isn’t really necessary, but I like to do it because it gives you more room and the cherry picker can’t accidentally hit your bumper and scuff it when you’re pulling the motor. Ever has this awesome tool (plastic fastener removal tool) and it makes removing those pesky bumper clips a breeze.  For the CRV ( and most 90’s Hondas there are some clips/screws holding the top of the bumper, 10mm bolts holding each corner of the bumper to the fender, and X2 10mm bolts underneath holding the bumper to the core support.


Once those are all removed the bumper cover will slide off.


Next is CRV specific. There is a “bash bar” that isn’t structural at all (that’s usually bent on every CRV) Honda calls this the “lower pipe guard”. As you can see mine has been bent BADLY because some hack mechanic failed to notice the jack point coming off the core support and has chosen to jack up the car (or at least try to) with the bar. I’m also removing the lower splash shield to allow easy access of the drain petcock on the lower part of the radiator.


Now locate the petcock on the very bottom of the radiator (it will look sort of like a wing nut) and you should be able to unscrew it with your fingers. If you can’t, you can use pliers but be very careful to not crack the plastic. Make sure you use a bucket to catch all the coolant. You can also remove the radiator cap, this will increase the rate at which it drains out.  (before I removed the radiator cap)


(after I removed it)


Next remove the fluid from the trans. If you try to remove the axles before you do this, it will leak oil everywhere. Automatic (like the CRV is) or manual, the drain bolt will be in the same general area and it will just take the square part of the socket wrench.


Now that I have drained the coolant completely, it’s time to remove the radiator. removing the radiator will give you much more room and will prevent you from damaging the radiator while trying to pull the motor.

Unbolt the radiator brackets that mount to the top of the core support.


Remove the upper and lower radiator hoses, disconnect the radiator fan plug, the ac condenser fan plug (there is one plug on each side of the radiator), and lastly if the car is automatic there will be two lines going from the trans to the radiator (trans cooler), disconnect them from the radiator. Now you’re radiator should be ready for removal.


The A/C condenser (radiator looking thing) can stay in.


Next it’s time to remove the axles.

While the car is in the air, crawl under and unbolt the header where it connects to the catalytic converter. You will also need to disconnect the shift linkage, or in my case the shifter cable.


Start by losing the axle nut. For most Hondas this will be a 32mm, but in the case of the CRV its a 36mm.


If you don’t have an impact then you can put a screwdriver in the cooling veins of the rotor, and let the screwdriver wedge against the brake caliper. This will stop it from spinning while you try to loosen it. Use a very large breaker bar, it will increase the leverage.


Next you will remove the shock fork to allow the axles to slide out completely.


Its a 17mm on the lower nut/bolt


and a 14mm on the upper bolt.


Now remove it and set it off to the side.


Next you will have to pop out the lower bar joint. Its usually a 17mm and then hit the lower control arm with a very big hammer. This will shock the ball joint and allow the spindle to be pulled from he lower arm. The spindle must be able to be pulled outward, so the axle can be removed.  Usually I will pry the axle where it goes into the trans so that it will easily slide out when I pull the spindle outwards.


Now re install the shock fork, this will now allow you to put the wheels back on the car, and allow the car to sit on the ground and roll. I do it this way because it makes the car lower so that I don’t need to lift the cherry picker up so high, and its safer too because now the car can’t fall off jack stands.


While I’m down here I’m going to remove the trans torque mount. It’s two 14mm bolts the go upwards into the frame rails.


And then there is X2 17mm bolts the hold it to the trans.


At this point you can put the wheels back on, and lower the car back down. This also comes in handy if you can’t permanently leave the car where you’re working on.

Now go either clockwise or counter clockwise around the engine bay and remove everything that connects the engine to the chassis.

I’ll start with the throttle cable. Take a 12mm wrench and loosen the nuts, this will allow you to move the throttle cable out of the way. There might also be a few brackets that you may need to unbolt from the valve cover or chassis.


You can see how I have tucked it under the windshield wiper to keep it out of the way.


Next remove the fuel line that comes from the filter to the fuel rail (17mm). Some fuel will leak so be ready. (you can also open the fuel cap to remove pressure in the tank to help slow the leaking)


Now I tuck the fuel line under the spark plug wire.


Remove the power wire to the starter.


On OBD2 Hondas the wiring harness connects directly to the ECU, so you will need to remove the battery, and the battery tray to access the wiring harness where it bolts to the firewall. It is not like this on OBD1 Hondas.


Disconnect the power wire, this is a part of the engine wiring harness.


Remove the battery tray.


Now you can see the where the wiring harness goes through the firewall, and the X2 10mm nuts the secure it. Remove those.


You now have to go inside the passenger side of the car, and there is a plastic kick panel that you can pry off to gain access to the ECU. The ecu will need to be unbolted there are X2 10mm bolts securing it. Now disconnect the wiring harness plugs form the ECU, and pull the wiring harness through the firewall.


And set it just on top of the valve cover so it doesn’t get in the way of anything.


Next disconnect the hose that goes to the charcoal canister.


Disconnect the hose that goes to the heater core.



And run it into the water neck on the head. This will help keep it out of the way.


Remove the other heater core hose now. I tuck it behind the charcoal canister to help keep it out of the way.


Now remove the X2 10mm bolts holding the high pressure power steering line on. This leaks too, so have some towels handy. You technically don’t have to do this, and you can actually just remove the power steering pump from the head and move it all off to the side as one piece. But since I want to clean everything up I’m going to remove it.


Once I removed the line I put underneath a windshield wiper to help keep it tucked out of the way.


You don’t have to take the power steering belt off if you’re leaving the pump connected to the motor.

Below you can see I’m pointing to the AC belt tensioner. You’re going to loosen the jam nut on it, then twist the stud to loosen the tension on the AC belt. You can now remove the AC belt and unbolt the four bolts that hold the AC compressor to the AC bracket. At this point you have two choices.

  1. Leave the AC lines all connected and just move the compressor out of the way (using zip ties, or something similar)
  2. Or discharge the AC system, and remove the lines that go to the compressor. (technically you shouldn’t let the freon go into the atmosphere, and you should use a system to suck out the freon) or you can just let the freon out into the atmosphere. Once the system is fully discharged you can remove the lines coming form the compressor. Then remove the compressor completely from the car.

I chose method number 2, this again is so I can fully clean and degrease the compressor, and AC bracket. If you choose to do it this way, you will have to get the AC recharged before it will work again. Once the AC compressor is removed, you will now be able to access the X4 17mm bolts that hold the AC bracket to the motor. And you will also need to remove the X2 14mm bolts that hold the mount to the chassis. (just like you did for the trans torque mount)


Now unbolt the cruise control and move it out of the way to gain access to the driver side motor mount.


Take the power steering low pressure line and run it into the reservoir (like I did below)


Next you are going to disconnect the wiring harness on the other side of the motor (drivers side) The engine wire harness will usually always be connected to the chassis on two sides. This one will just be one large plug.


Remove the fuel return line. It will come off the bottom of the fuel pressure regulator.


Lastly remove the plug that connects to the power steering line behind the motor. Now the motor is completely disconnected from everything except the three main motor mounts.


Below you can see how I have tucked everything away from the motor that goes to the chassis. While still leaving the wiring harness connected to the motor.


Get the cherry picker, and connect to the engine. Usually one bolt into the head somewhere on the drivers side, and there is a bracket on the trans that has a sort of hook on it. There are a few different ways to connect a chain to the motor, just think about what will be strong enough to hold a 600-800 lb load. In our case we have an engine load leveler which makes life much easier. It was also necessary to use it because we had to have the engine at a slight angle to get it out of the bay. If it stayed level then the Auto trans would hook on the frame rail, and we would be screwed. Its best to have the correct tools at this point, otherwise you risk damaging the engine, accessories, engine bay, or scratching paint.

Once you’ve got the engine hoist properly attached to the engine, put a slight bit of tension on it and then begin by unbolting the 17mm rear motor mount bolt. Keep in mind that there is a nut that is welded to the T bracket DO NOT LOOSEN THIS. You will want to loosen the bolt side (drivers side) if you do happen to loosen the nut that’s welded to the T bracket, it’s not the end of the world because you can just use a wrench to hold the nut while you loosen the bolt. I’t just makes things much harder. Now slide the bolt out of the rear mount, and now the engine is only held in by the two side mounts. Keep tension on the engine hoist, and then remove both side mounts. The motor is now ready to come out.  Have some one spot or guide you as you lift the engine out to help you catch anything you forgot to disconnect. They can also help guide the motor with their hands to it so it doesn’t hit or get caught on anything. Be careful to not smash any plugs or connectors, the weight of the engine will damage them badly.


Now that I had the engine high enough to clear the core support, I just rolled the car down the driveway.  I Then backed the truck up into the driveway and loaded the engine in.


Now you can see everything that stays in the bay.


I’ve now got the engine loaded in the truck and am going to haul it back to my house because there is a few things I need to use from this motor on the new JDM motor. I need to use the USDM harness, and the USDM intake manifold. I will be swapping all this at my house, since that’s where the new motor is.


Below is another great reason why you should never take your car to a mechanic. My dad had an intermittent CEL and it looks like I found the cause of it. Notice the twisted together wires. I can only assume this is from one of the times he had the trans replaced, and they just forgot to disconnect the plug and it ripped the wires. This is that typical mechanics “that’ll do” mentality. Since this is on the USDM engine harness that I need to transfer to the JDM motor, I will have to solder these wires back together.



Brand new OEM:

  • All 5 motor mounts
  • Timing belt
  • Oil pump
  • Water pump
  • Oil pan gasket
  • Valve cover gasket kit
  • Oil dip stick
  • Trans dip stick
  • Fuel filter
  • Distributor Cap/Rotor
  • Spark plugs
  • Thermostat
  • Cam seals
  • Distributor “O” ring
  • Main seal
  • Intake manifold gasket
  • hood release cable
  • Misc OEM hardware, and clips.


Below you can see the old motor, and the new motor in the background.


You may be wondering why I’m putting so many new parts on the motor I just got. Well,  the reason for this is because to keep the JDM motor smog legal, and not have a CEL on, I will need to switch to a USDM oil pump because the USDM motors have a crankshaft position sensor on them and the JDM ones don’t. Also ANYTIME you get a used motor its best to replace the timing belt and water pump. Even though the engine is “low miles” doesn’t mean that the timing belt has not dried out and got fatigued from sitting around for many years. A new OEM timing belt is only 75 bucks, and a brand new OEM water pump is only 120 bucks. It so easy to do these while  the motor is out of the car, and it will ensure that you new “used” motor will run strong for many years to come.

Coming up on part 3: I will be going over the install process of all these new parts, setting the timing, swapping all the parts over form the old motor to the new one, and all other prep to get the new swap ready to go in.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and as always I hope that I have inspired you to get out in the garage and work on your own car, or finally start a project that you have been nervous about starting. Remember all of this is like legos, it all just bolts on, and there really isn’t anything difficult about it. As long as you have seen how it’s done, it will likely go just the same for you. Please, if you have any questions or comments about anything car related… Reach out to me, I want to help! Email me at Billy@functiontheory.com, DM me on Instagram @functiontheory, or just comment on the post below. I will reply. Even if you just want to comment that you like what I’m doing, I would love to hear it.


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