December 21st 2019. This was the day I picked up the worn out CRV from my dad. I had just two days off of work to get down to my dads house (in Torrance, CA) to not only purchase/pickup the replacement B20 swap from HMO, but also load up the CRV to transport back to my house in Las Vegas.
When you try to cram so much into only two days there are bound to be some bumps in the road. The above pictures are of me fueling up and heading out late Saturday evening for the 300 mile journey back to Vegas.
Below you can click the link to read about part one of the CRV, and all about what I had to go through just to get it to my house. I also go over the complete history of the CRV from when my Mom originally purchased it in 1999 till now, what plans I had to completely refresh the car, and the timeline I had set for myself.
Hopefully you read through the link above (this will help you understand my actions later on in the series)
Mind you, the post above came out on December 27th, 2019. At this point in time I had no clue how crazy my life, and the world was about to get… By January 10th, 2020 I had already gotten the old motor pulled out and was heading full steam into this project. My plan was to make the turn around on it as quick as possible because, I really wanted to show my dad that I would be able to get his car done in a short amount of time, while still being able to replace and renew everything that I planned on.
Click the link below to read Part 2 of the CRV series. It’s a very informative article outlining just about everything you need to do step by step to pull the motor from the CRV (or most any other 96-00 civic)
By this point I had tons of momentum towards this project. Everything seemed like it was going to get done in the timeline I had given myself. Part 3 of the series was going to be coming out just 7 days after posting part 2. Part 3 was going to be prepping the JDM b20 (new oil pump, water pump, timing belt, gaskets, etc.) and since the goal of this project was to make sure the car remained smog legal, there were some items I would have to transfer from the USDM motor to the JDM one (intake manifold, and CKF sensor) On part 3, I go into painfully specific detail of the step by step process to do everything mentioned above. (Great if you want to learn how to tear down and refresh a Honda B series engine)
The weekend that part 3 came out I had a Track day that we did at our local track. (Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch) Which meant that on my two days off that week, I wasn’t able to get any work done on the CRV. This also meant that the next blog post to come out was going to be about out track day experience. You can read about that by clicking the link below (or not, it really has nothing to do with the CRV series)
Pretty much from that day on life hasn’t been the same. It started by finding out late January 2020 that there was a new job offer at my work. It was a position that I had been trying to get for many years now (there isn’t much movement in my career.) This meant that I would be having to put any spare time I had, (any time I wasn’t working) into preparing for the interview of a life time. Along with preparing for the interview, I was also really pushing to get my brother K swap all buttoned up. (I have way to many projects going on at once all the time), and lastly continuing to meet my goal of weekly posting on the blog.
Part four of the CRV came out on February 7th and this article was all about putting the new motor in, getting it started and driving, and what issues I came across.
Like I had said earlier, there were a lot of other projects I was trying to juggle all at once. Aside from the CRV project I was trying to get my brothers K swap all back up and running. His car had been taking up a valuable space in my garage for almost 4 year. A week after the publishing part 4 of the CRV project it was Valentines day and I was finally finished with my brothers car and waiting on him to come and pick up the car.
Click the link below to read the whole story of his K swap civic (I spent a lot of time on it and its a very interesting read.)
A week later (February 21st) I posted part 5 of the CRV series. In the time it took me to write up “part 5” I had interviewed for and gotten the position that I had been prepping for, for the last few weeks. Because there was so much that was going on that week, I wasn’t able to really get much done on the CRV, but I wanted to meet my goal of posting a new blog post every week. I found some time to do a few things on the CRV, restore the headlights, do a valve adjustment, show what other new parts I had gotten and planned to install on it, and a small photo shoot of how the car looked now that it was all back together and driving.
February 21st marked the last time I was able to make a weekly post, and it would be a solid fortnight until I would post again. Of course I wasn’t happy about this at all but there wasn’t anything I could have done. You see, I hastily was thrown into my new position, at a new location, on March 1st. Along with a new position my routine days off changed also, which I would come to find out were going to drastically change my routine for posting on the blog “every Friday.” At first I didn’t think much about how this would impact the blog, and everything car related for me, but after the first week it became clear that I would no longer be able to meet my goal of weekly posting on Friday.
I continued striving to meet this goal I had set for myself, but it quickly became apparent that it was not possible. Most of my friends are off on Saturday and Sunday and I was usually off Friday and Saturday. This meant that we could always link up to do car projects, photo shoots, or track days and with my days off moving to Wednesday and Thursday I would no longer be able to link up with many of them.
After missing my first Friday post in over a year, I did manage to reel it together enough to post one the next Friday (two weeks) and I was still holding on to the goal of trying to post weekly. I just figured one bump in the road threw me off and I would just jump right back on track. I’ll admit, I was very drained and was struggling to find time to make everything come together. Of course work would come first, because if it wasn’t for my job I wouldn’t be able to afford all my hobbies.
COVID-19: Just as I was trying to figure out a way to make my weekly blog post work, I was hit with another fatal blow. COVID would and still is continuing to make my life in my new position a wild one. I’ll spare you the details, but just know that it has been on hell of an obstacle to overcome.
From the middle of February till last week, I drove the CRV around as my daily. There was still plenty of things I needed to do on it, but I would still struggle to find the time of day. COVID would also make things getting delivered more difficult, so often times I was waiting for parts to roll in for it. As I struggled to finish the CRV completely I turned to another project to help generate some content for the blog. With my newly acquired space in the garage I was able to finally pull my four door in and begin the process of swapping the B16 into it.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking… Why in the hell am I starting another project when I should be using any extra time I had to finish up the CRV? Well, that’s actually a really good question and it’s one I don’t really have a good answer to, but I’m willing to try and give you some sort of excuse. All the while I was driving the CRV around I was telling myself I was “stress testing” it. For real’s though, I did end up coming across some issues that had I given the CRV back to my dad right away he would have had to deal with.
The first issue I came across was small leak in one of the coolant hoses that runs from the thermostat to the IACV. After deciding to replace just about every other hose on the car, you may be wondering why I didn’t replace those. Well quite honestly I felt them when I was swapping over the USDM intake manifold on to the JDM motor and believed that those would be fine. Well… They weren’t, a small pine hole developed as I was driving home one day from work and I only noticed it when I parked in my driveway and saw coolant pooling under the car. Now this isn’t that hard or a fix, but I would have felt pretty bad having given the car back to my dad only for it to develop a coolant leak. With that solved I continued to drive the car around for a few weeks without any issues only to later come out to a car with a dead battery. WTF how would the battery die? As it turns out, the small rubber stopper pad that presses against the brake light switch had disintegrated and no longer would allow the brake light switch to turn off. This is a very common thing among aging Honda’s, but I’ll have to admit that it wasn’t the first thing I thought of. Only after jumping the car and pulling it into my garage did I notice that the brake lights were on all the time. Next, I would begin to notice a strong electrical fire smell coming from the car. This would continue to leave me scratching my head for two days until I would realize it was actually a bad alternator. When I did the swap I used the alternator off his blown motor because it “appeared” to be in good working condition. This, much like the small coolant hose that I chose to reuse, probably should have just been replaced with all new OEM ones, like I had done for many of the other parts on this build. At what point do you stop buying new parts for a 21 year old car and say enough is enough. I feel like I have put almost 5k into this car that isn’t really even worth half of that.
COVID had found yet another way to slow the process of this project. I rely heavily on my friend who works at a dealership to mount tire’s for me, recharge A/C, and align car’s. Because of COVID the dealerships were forced to close, therefore putting my friend out of work for nearly a month. So even though I had all the new parts I couldn’t even get them installed and the A/C recharged.
As the end of May drew closer, my dad began to make snarky comments like “Hey should we just get the CRV registered in NV?” Of course he was making a joke, but I knew he was only mentioning it because it was taking so long to finish his car.
Unfortunately, I felt like there was so much pressure to finish the car ASAP that I decided to not even document the process along the way. A part of me felt sad because I didnt document the last few things I did to the car, but the other half of me was so sick of having the car and not holding up my end of the deal that I just wanted to blow through the work and get it back to him. Documenting everything is very time consuming, especially when I’m the only one doing everything. For example, something that maybe take me a few hours to do, might take me 8-10 hours if I document it with excruciating detail (like I usually do)
Probably one of the most noticeable things I did was replacing the front sway bar end links. Crv’s are notorious for these things making a clunking noise as you go over bumps, uneven surfaces, or any other “rough” part of the road. Just by installing new OEM end links the car instantly stopped making the clunking noise, and it tightened up the steering wheel feel. I highly recommend anyone that has a CRV to replace them ASAP (if you haven’t already)
The final thing that I really had to do to the car was the brake system. I had already bought new OEM pad, shoes, and fluid, all I was missing was rotors, and drums. I had originally thought of just buying new OEM rotor and drums but after seeing what those would cost I opted to just get some from advanced auto. This decision to try and save some money would go on to almost drive me insane.
The day I went to do the complete brake overhaul, everything was going smoothly. I managed to install the new front rotors, pads, rear drums, shoes, and completely flush all old brake fluid and replace with all new OEM Honda fluid. It all went well, the brakes were bled and pedal feel was great. However, after a day of driving it the left rear developed a slight “click” as you would slow down you could here it click, click, click, click, etc as the car would slow down. The clicking would be quick tempo but as the car would slow so would the tempo of the click. I knew it was the rear because I could isolate it by pulling up the ebrake rather than pressing the brake pedal. Being completely new to drum brakes (any time my drums have worn out on any of my other car I have just converted to discs) I didn’t know what could be the cause for this. Like most things you try to get help on from the internet, there is never a definitive answer and I was left grasping at straws. I had read that sometimes when you buy new drums they aren’t always true, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea and I refused to acknowledge that as a possibility. My next logical move was to buy a complete brake spring kit, and new brake drum cylinders since i only replaced the shoes and drums. This would make it so EVERY single part of the rear brakes was brand new. After installing it all and re bleeding the brakes I was feeling very optimistic. I figured that after replacing everything, my problem should be solved… and it was, for a day until the noise came back louder than before. I couldn’t figure it out! The brakes still worked perfectly and there was no vibration in the pedal when pressure was applied, yet the click was still there. At this point I started really grasping and thought maybe it was the rear trailing arm bushings that were so blown out that it might be causing the whole rear trailing arm to move slightly back and forth as the brakes we pressed.
When originally doing the brakes the first time, I noticed a good amount of play in the inner tie rods, and the the upper arm ball joints were pretty bad to. So fuck it, I’m so over this click I can’t figure out and just decided to throw more money at the car. New inner and outer tie rods, new front upper arms, new rear trailing arm bushings, and new rear upper arms. This was my final attempt at trying to solve the click, and since installing the new front sway bar end links the alignment was off anyway and needed to be redone, so I figured I might as well replace almost everything on the suspension.
All the new parts had arrived and I installed them, took the car to get the alignment… THE BRAKES STILL CLICKED!!!!!!!!!! I was over it, I was just going to tell me dad… “Hey, sorry, I’m not a very good mechanic. I don’t know why the brakes make that noise, but they still work fine and you’ll have no issues with them other than the click” That was literally my plan, it was either that or just buy him a new CRV.
I drove the car down to him clicking brakes and all. He was so excited to see how much better the car looked and he wanted to take it for a test drive. As we hopped in the car for him to take it for a spin, I explained to him the brake issue and just like I thought, he didn’t even care. The noise honestly is so faint that with the radio on loud you can’t even barley hear it. I knew it was there though and I knew that’s not how Honda sold the car back in 99′. I stayed the night at his house that night and didn’t plan on heading back to Las Vegas till the next evening because I wanted to hang with my fam for a little and also do the photo shoot of the CRV at a very iconic location. The next day we woke up around 8 and had to run a few errands before we headed down to the port to do the shoot. The whole time we drove around that morning the click was still there, still mocking me. After we had returned home from doing the photo shoot, I decided to give fixing the click one final try. So at 3 in the afternoon in a tight alley in Torrance I began to give my final attempt to solving the click issue. I jacked up the rear of the car, pulled the wheels off, and removed the drums. I ran them over to the Napa on Carson and to see if they could turn them real quick. They could, they did, and it solved the problem! Only hours before I was going to head back to Vegas was I able to overcome and fix the issue. In hindsight though, this was probably the first thing I’d done when I first encountered the noise but I just refused to believe that a brand new part could not function properly.
Below I will post before and after pictures so you can see the comeback this thing made.
I remember when I first popped the hood on this thing, I couldn’t believe how neglected it was. * look closely and compare the before and after to see if you can find everything that I did.
Despite the few issues I ran across, I’m extremely pleased with how the car came out. I’m actually glad I did all that last minute suspension stuff because it really makes the car feel tight like a new car. Sometimes… well, maybe a lot of the times working on cars can be very frustrating, but I feel like I enjoy the frustration only because it makes the victory so sweet. You end up feeling very accomplished, and have a great sense of pride because you know that YOU figured it all out. I will admit the brakes really got me worked up and I was ready to write the car off but I always keep in mind that, car’s aren’t made by aliens, they are made by regular old humans that have the same brain capacity and motor skills I do. Therefore, that means I’m always capable of anything I set off to do (it may just take me more money to get there)
The goal for the CRV was for my dad to have a nice respectable car that wont skip a beat and would remain reliable. Well if you read the other parts of the series you’ll know that there was no expense spared on checking off the reliability box. I would often wonder what the people at Honda were thinking when I was ordering parts for a CRV week after week. The day my dad jumped in to drive it for the first time, he was blown away at how well the car drove. He even said that it drove better than the 2007 civic he was driving around while I had his CRV, and that thing only had 100k miles. As we pulled up to a stop sign, he hit the brakes and we lunged forward. “god dang son, these brakes are awesome” again this was another great part about using OEM pads, shoes, and fluid… It was going to be just as the car drove off the lot. This was always my goal in the back of head… I wanted him to be blown away by how good it drives. I truly wanted the whole car to feel as if it just drove off the lot.
One thing I learned from this whole experience is, I can see how mechanics could get a bad rep. As you read above I replaced just about every part on the car and yet, still had some hiccups that needed to be worked out. If I had just given the car to my dad as soon as I had finished it there would have been issues with it and I would have looked like I didn’t know what I was doing. Now, fortunately for me, I had the ability to drive the car for 4k miles to iron everything out. This is a luxury that most mechanics don’t get. Sure, maybe a road test around the block, but not a full on “use it daily” test. To sum all that up… There are two different types of mechanics: One that is good, and one that is cheap. The good one is never cheap, and the cheap one is never good. As you can see from reading the series, the parts that I went cheaper on or didn’t replace ended up being the weak links. Had I spent a lot of money of OEM drums, I feel like I would not have encountered the click noise because the drums would have been perfectly true from Honda.
That leads me to another topic. I always hear about people buying parts from amazon, autozone, etc. Then they wonder why the parts don’t fit right or why they wear out fast. Well the problem with all NON OEM parts is that they manufactured in China, Taiwan, Mexico, and other countries with cheap labor. This means that the tolerances of what the parts are manufactured to have a much larger margin of error, and the materials are cut rate. Buying OEM parts should always be the answer, never settle for cheaper inferior parts. If you plan on keeping the car for a long time, then just do it right from the get go. It will all be worth it in the end when you have the peace of mind that the parts on your car are built to last, and hold up under any extreme conditions.
In the end, I had wished that I could have replaced EVERYTHING on the car. I wished I could have done new shocks, all four new wheels (not just the 2), and replaced more bushings in the front and rear suspension arms. I had to tell myself not to, because when it was all said and done I would have spent sooo much money on restoring a 21 year old CRV and I could have bought him a much newer used car for the price of rebuilding it.
I know, I can ramble on and on. End of the day though, my dad is happy, I’m happy with the quality of my work, and the CRV will live on another 10 plus years without issue. I hope you took the time to read everything I did, a lot of work goes into typing these posts (as I’m sure you can see how in depth they are) and I’m glad I can share with you the story about my Family’s 99 CRV. As always if you have any questions, or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out. Email me at Billy@functiontheory.com, DM me on Instagram @Functiontheory, or just simply comment below. I would love to hear feed back on this CRV series.