New Coolant Reservoir, LED Lighting, and Rust

Now that I’ve had the car back a couple weeks, I’ve started to get the energy to finally attempt some of the mods I wanted to do to this car.


The first order of business was replacing the old cracking coolant reservoir bottle. 

Here is what it looked like before I replaced it (notice the kludges):

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Here’s the finished product:

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Initially I tried to find an OEM replacement, but the only ones available looked about as bad as mine (since they had been discontinued for over a decade). I then tried to find a stylish aftermarket one, but they were all lacking the necessary connections or too expensive to justify. Eventually I started looking at fabricating my own, and looked around online for some inspiration.

My goal was to get something that looked better than the stock plastic, cleaned up the engine bay, was cheap to build/replace, and was within my means to do. This replacement fit the bill on all accounts.

On a side note, when I drained out the old coolant reservoir bottle I had clumps of old brownish gunk come plopping out like spoiled milk out of a carton… It was nasty and made me wonder if Sunland Auto actually “flushed” my coolant lines like I asked, instead of just draining and refilling. I’ll check with them next time I’m there.

(Sometime this week I’ll create a section on here for how I did my mods).


The other thing I decided to do was to put in some LEDs.

I updated the dome light with two 4.4cm x 3.2cm 5050 24-SMDs. I soldered them together and glued both of them into the dome light cover. Here’s what it looks like:

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It’s not perfect, but I like it. There’s a lot of light it casts:

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For some more style and functionality, I decided to put in a strip of LEDs under the side skirts, engine bay, trunk, frunk, and dash board.

I was initially thinking of using some RGB LEDs under the side skirts for style, but found that Arizona’s laws forbid anything that isn’t white or amber for undercarriage lights. So I bought a five meter (16.4 foot) water-resistant strip of cool white LEDs for $8 on Amazon.

To link up the strips, switch, and battery together I used some lamp cord I got from Lowe’s for about $0.44 a foot and a toggle switch I got on Amazon for $8. Soldering the tiny contacts on the LED strip was a pain in the butt, but eventually I worked out a method for it.

So far I have the side skirts and engine bay done, and here is what they look like:

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Unfortunately this brings me to the next “mod”…  While I was going to start on the LED strips in the trunk and frunk, I discovered that they were essentially rusting away underneath their coverings.

Here is what greeted me in the trunk after I tore out the carpeting:

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…not a pretty sight.

I was going to sand it down to bare metal and prime it, but I realized this wouldn’t work while I was cleaning it in preparation. Looking into rust repair options, I found out that there are things called “rust converters”. Instead of removing the rust, they bond with the oxidized ferrite and turn it into a stable substance that acts as a primer you can paint over.

I figured until I get some more money, a rust converter will have to do for now. So I went to Lowe’s and bought a two rattle cans of Rust-Oleum rust converter, and one can of Rust-Oleum paint and primer all-in-one. Total cost was about $18 with tax.

While I was in the trunk I decided to put in the cheap eBay LEDs that I accidentally ordered into the license plate light sockets:

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The previous owner didn’t even have any bulbs in for the reverse lights, so I put the spare two LED bulbs into them.

Apparently the car didn’t like the lack of resistance the LEDs have versus the incandescent bulbs that were around in the 80s. So now my turn signing blinks twice as fast (the car thinks that a bulb has burnt out).

To remedy that I will be putting in a new LED flasher to replace the existing flasher relay.

So this week I plan on getting this rust situation under control, finishing up the LED strips, and fixing the turn signal blinking quickly.


I almost forgot to mention, I got the “new” IACV this last Wednesday.

It was a bit dirty when I got it:

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But I bought some carb cleaner for a few bucks at Wal-Mart and cleaned it up pretty well:

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Even thought I’m sure I could put it in myself, I’m going to bring it to Sunland Auto on Monday to get it put in. They’ve done a lot of work for me so far, and they’ll fair better at bleeding the coolant and adjusting the timing than I will at this point.

I hope this fixes the issue with the idle creeping up after reaching normal operating temperature.

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