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General Technical Chat This section is for technical discussions relating to general maintenance, electrical issues, engine trouble, and recalls.

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Old 02-26-2016, 08:00 AM   #1
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Getting to know this little car

Spent some quality time with the daughter's "new" 2004 ZX5 yesterday. Picked it up a couple of weeks ago for $1,500, and am starting to tackle a few of the things it needs. (Remarkably, not tons of stuff.)

It's been "fun" getting to know the quirks of the engineering on this car.

1. Changed out the headlight assemblies because the old ones were yellow and full of moisture. Who would've thought you had to pull wheels and fender liners just to replace a headlamp? (Well, you guys would, I guess.) That's not a big deal, but I counted at least 4 different type of fasteners needed to get through the one on the driver's side. (10mm, 8mm, torx, and phillips.) Thought I has going to have to remove the air filter housing, but I managed to squeeze my hand up and turn the bolt. Thank God for Gearwrenches! Headlights are now brighter, though the pattern of the cheap ($38/ea.) replacements isn't great. May try to rehab the old ones instead of throwing them away.
- on the plus side, removing the fender liner allowed me to clear away quite a bit of damp leaves and other junk that had collected back there.

2. Parking brake wasn't working and brakes felt weak. Fair amount of lining left on the rear shoes, but the adjusters were all the way out, and one cylinder was leaking. Replaced both cylinders, put on new shoes, and things are much better. I followed the shop manual instructions and removed the four spindle bolts, rather than deal with the wheel bearing. In retrospect...think I'll deal with the bearing next time. Luckily I have plenty of extensions, u-joints, plus air tools, so the four bolts came out pretty easily. But getting them lined up to reassemble! Wow.

3. The shocks and struts are going to be replaced, but that's for another day. Just gonna put Sensen replacements on there. Don't need performance for this car, and the Sensens are showing themselves to be a decent OEM replacement in the Miata world in a "value" strut/shock.
- The bump stops (at the top of the shock) in the rears look to be in quite bad shape. Replacements seem kind of pricey - in the $20-$30 per side range. Has anyone figured out acceptable substitutes that work, from another car, maybe? Again, going by my experience in the Miata world, we've found that bump stops from, say, Honda Civics work great for a fraction of the cost. They don't have to be same shape - length and diameter are more important, and too long can be cut to fit. I just can't tell what other cars have similar length and diameter bump stops, since nobody lists dimensions.
- for example, looks like a late-2000's Mazda 3 uses a similar design, but is the diameter the right size to fit into the mount?

4. What is the accepted fix for the rear hatch latch post losing its plastic sleeve? (I think that's what happened.) The hatch is loose when fully closed. Wrapping the post with tape fixed it temporarily - though it now needs a sharp tug to open once it's unlatched. Can a suitable piece of hard tubing be cut to fit over the post and actually stay put? Or is a new post needed from Ford? Would really like to find a solution that doesn't cost $30...

5. The electrics on this car are...interesting. I've already seen that I have a ghost check engine light that flickers, sometimes even when the car is off. When changing the headlights, I find that you can't turn on the lights without turning the key. Is that normal? Also, with the front grill's turn signals disconnected, turning the key causes some weird lights in the instrument cluster, including a half-lit left turn signal constantly on. Hope to goodness I never have to try to troubleshoot the wiring in this car for real.

6. The engine doesn't appear to need much. Some oil seeping from the valve cover, so a new gasket is in the near future. Also look to have a little oil around the weep hole where the transmission mates, but haven't determined yet if that's from above, or if I really have a rear seal problem. How hard is that one? I'm used to working on rear wheel drive cars, so all of the stuff stuffed in and around a fwd engine bay kind of intimidates me.


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Old 02-26-2016, 08:04 AM   #2
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It occurs to me I'm still getting to know this forum, too.

Mods, should this be in the Mk1 section? Sorry if it's in the wrong place.
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Old 02-26-2016, 09:08 AM   #3
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Getting to know the engineering of a focus or any other vehicle is great to make the maintenance easier.
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Old 02-26-2016, 04:00 PM   #4
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Good location for most fix it questions, deep into brakes/suspension has it's own section.

Headlights DO go off with the key, only the running lights will stay on. Helps avoid dead batteries, like some other automatic shut downs included.

Hatch bump stops can be adjusted, that can take care of a rattling hatch.

Ghost inst. lights can be from corrosion/crud on the PC board of the instrument cluster, fiddly job to remove the cluster & clean it up.
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