I am often asked what things can be removed or deleted in order to clean up the engine bay or remove weight. There are literally dozens of things you get get rid of in the engine bay alone, not to mention elsewhere in the car. Removing things that you don’t need or may not even use is a great way to begin making your engine bay look nice. There are many ways to get a show car engine bay that everyone will talk about, but it all begins with this first step. When I first pop the hood on my ride, everyone says “Wow!” or “Dayummm!”. This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t take the time to first remove useless items throughout the engine bay. This tech article will show you exactly what you can remove.
Text by AJ Hunsinger // Photos by AJ Hunsinger & Kurt Barnes
This is a big one and can be broken down into further categories. First, lets start with the vacuum lines. Anyone that wants to remove anything in their DSM starts with the emissions stuff. Basically, there are only three vacuum lines that you need in your engine bay. One that goes from the FPR to the intake manifold. One for your manual boost controller (or boost source to wastegate if you are just running straight wastegate pressure). And one that goes from your BOV to intake manifold. All the other vacuum lines in the entire engine bay can be removed as well as anything attached to the vacuum lines. Once all the vacuum lines are removed, you then put caps on any open ports. ie. on the intake manifold and throttle body.
Charcoal EGR Canister
One of the things that is removed when deleting the emissions system in the charcoal canister. The charcoal canister resides under the battery and mounts to the firewall. There are vacuum lines that attach to it. Simply unbolt the canister, disconnect the vacuum lines, and toss it out.
The EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve) is mounted to the bottom of the intake manifold under the throttle body. It is bolted to the manifold using two 12mm bolts. Vacuum lines attach to it. Once the vacuum lines are removed, caps need to be installed if you plan on leaving the EGR valve connected to the manifold. This valve can be removed but requires an EGR block-off plate which can be quickly made with a piece of sheet metal, or you can purchase one on the many DSM vendors for $5-10. Make sure you seal the block off plate well with either RTV or JB Weld to prevent any leaks.
The FPS (Fuel Pressure Solenoid) can be removed and it is mounted on the driver side of the firewall. There are at least other two solenoids all bolted to the same bracket as the FPS. All three of these can be removed. All the FPS does is allow for a higher fuel pressure for cold start cranking. Some say when you remove this, your car will not start up immediately after turning the key. I have removed this on all 10 of the DSM’s I have owned and never experiences any issues with cold starts. When you remove this, disconnect all the vacuum lines involved. Then, run a single vacuum line from the FPR (fuel pressure regulator, which is mounted on the driver side of the fuel rail) to the intake manifold.
This is obviously purely personal preference. Some people would rather retain their cruise control, but it can be easily deleted to free up yet another eye sore. If you are daily driving your DSM and do a lot of commuting, it may be best to leave the CC system in tact. If you decide you want to delete it, you can do two different things; half delete it or fully delete it.
To half delete it, it literally takes minutes to do and makes a big difference in appearance. Find your cruise control actuator, you are removing this. You will see the throttle cables that attach to it. Remove the cables from the actuator. Then, unbolt the actuator and remove it from the car. Now, the actuator is out along with one of the cables, but you are still left with a really long throttle cable. You can reroute the cable to run under the intake manifold. Now, you are done, but the cruise control is still only half deleted.
To fully remove the cruise control, you need to make or purchase a non-cruise throttle cable. Undo your throttle cable from both the gas pedal from inside the car and at the intake manifold/throttle body. Now, install your non-cruise cable. NOW, the cruise control system is fully deleted.
This is another personal preference. I for one would much rather roll the window down on a hot summer day vs having to look at a bulky and ugly AC system in my engine bay. Removing it takes a bit of time, but is very easy. There is an AC condenser in front of the radiator and involves removing the radiator to gain access to the AC condenser bolts and to have the room to pull it out. Start with all the AC lines and unbolt them from the little mounting brackets along the system. Then pull the condenser out.
The only thing left is the AC pump itself on the back side of the engine. Unbolt the AC compressor from the bracket. Once it is unbolted, the compressor is difficult to remove as there is not a lot of room between the engine and the subframe. So, you will have to turn, twist, and angle it appropriately in order to get the compressor all the way out. I have always been able to remove them from the top of the engine bay. Some find it easier to remove it from under the car.
The AC compressor bracket can also be removed. On AWD DSM’s, this requires unbolting the driver front axle carrier bearing bracket. Then once the AC bracket is removed, you need to add a spacer or a few washers between the engine and the carrier bearing to compensate for the AC bracket that was once between the engine and carrier bearing.
Intake Manifold Bracket
The intake manifold bracket is useless and doesn’t add any support at all. Its just a waste of space and adds another pound or so to the weight of the car. Even though you can’t see it from up top, it will eventually be in the way for future jobs and you will end up pulling it off anyway. There are three 12mm bolts holding it in place (if I remember correctly, it’s been awhile since I have removed one of these bad boys). Simply unbolt the bitch and toss it into the scrap pile.
Some people absolutely have to have power steering. I haven’t driven a DSM with power steering is so long that I don’t even remember what it’s like. Driving without power steering is so normal to me that it feels like power steering. Most people say that the only time you wish you had power steering after you remove it is when you are trying to park or something where there is a lot of turning while you are stopped.
Removing it is pretty straight forward, but there are some alternative options are there. For the 1G’s anyway. Some of the base model 1.8L 1G DSM’s came without power steering from the factory. This means the have a manual steering rack, not a power steering rack. If you delete the power steering on a car that has a power steering rack, it will be harder to turn the wheel after deleting it. If you delete your power steering and swap your power steering rack out with a manual steering rack, you probably won’t know a difference as far as the difficulty of steering. The 2G guys don’t have this option. Not unless you want to fork out a lot of money for a custom manual steering rack. There is a guy that builds them, I don’t remember the name of his company so you will have to do some searching on the Google.
When you delete your power steering, unbolt all the lines from their mounting brackets along the engine bay. Drain and unbolt the power steering fluid reservoir, then remove it. Now, start removing the power steering pump. Once the pump is unbolted, your can remove it along with the belt associated. Remove the two lines/hoses on the steering rack. Once everything is removed completely, you need to fill up the power steering rack with fluid by simply adding the fluid through the ports on the rack itself. Once it is full (seeping out the ports), you then need to take a rubber hose and loop the two ports on the steering rack. Not doing this can result in a failed steering rack or a very squeaky rack in due time.
Front Section of the Driver Side Engine Mount (1G only)
Once deleting your power steering system on your 1G, you can remove the front half of the motor mount that attaches to the front of your block. Doing this will also allow you to remove the old power steering bracket, also bolted to the front of the engine block. To do this, you need to cut off the front part of the engine mount. Explaining it is kind of difficult, but these pictures should allow you to see where you need to make your cut. Cutting this off has been proven to be safe and will hold the engine securely in place just as it was before. Aftermarket mounts, like the Avid Racing motor mounts, do not have this front part at all.
The ABS system can be deleted. It requires a non-abs proportioning valve from a DSM that didn’t have ABS from the factory. It also requires modification to the front brake lines or new brake lines completely. Every time I have deleted ABS, I used SS braided front brake lines. Doing so which make it much easier to route the front brake lines. Deleting your ABS is pretty easy though once the new parts are acquired. Start by removing the ABS module itself, disconnecting any lines associated with it along the way.
Deleting your wipers will allow you to ditch the large windshield wiper motor that mounts on the passenger side of the firewall. Removing it is pretty self explanatory. Unbolt it and then detach the wiper arms. The rear wiper and motor can be removed as well.
Windshield Wiper Fluid Reservoir
This is mounted in the back of the car under the spare tire. Removing the tank allows you to also remove the lines associated that run to the windshield wipers and clip to the underside of the hood.
The FIAV (Fast Idle Air Valve) is bolted to the bottom of the throttle body. The FIAV is designed to help with cold starts. Coolant runs through the FIAV. Inside the FIAV is a thermostat. When the coolant is cold, extra air is sent into the throttle body to help with cold starts. Once the coolant warms up, the thermostat inside the FIAV blocks off the extra air way. The problem with a functional FIAV is hot coolant runs through it which also heats up the throttle body. Which in turn heats up the air going through the throttle body and into the engine. We all know cold air produces more power.
There are two ways to modify this. You can remove the FIAV and install a bypass plate which still allows you to bolt the FIAV back onto the throttle body, but allow you to remove the coolant lines. Or you can remove the FIAV and use a block off plate, completely eliminating the FIAV. I always go the block off plate route.
Deleting the ISC (Idle Speed Control) goes along with deleting the FIAV. The ISC is attached to the FIAV. So, when deleting the FIAV completely using a block off plate, you lose the ISC. This is why some people prefer to use an FIAV bypass plate over the block off plate. Both on mine are deleted and my idle is great. On cold starts, I usually have to let it warm up a bit before driving. Which you should be doing regardless as you should allow the oil to warm up before driving.
Weight on Shift Linkage
There is a counter-weight on the shift linkage on the transmission that can be cut off. Doing so will also give you a smoother shifter feel. This weight often hits the lower radiator hose which can cause hard shifting into some of the gears as the weight moves forward. Cut the weight off and grind it smooth to get rid of any sharp spots.
Padding on Firewall
The black padding on the firewall is there to reduce noise into the cabin of the car. Removing the padding really makes a difference in appearance of the engine bay. Most of it is easy to remove but the part that goes behind the brake booster is sometimes difficult to remove.
Timing Belt Covers
There are three parts to the timing belt covers. A top, middle, and lower cover. All of which can be removed. Myself and several of my close friends do not run ANY of the timing belt covers. A lot of people give me shit about it because it could be potentially dangerous as debris may get up in there and take out the timing belt. Well, I have been running all of my DSM’s with no timing belt covers for nearly 10 years and not only have I not had a single timing belt failure due to not having a cover, but doing so has saved me engine multiple times.
On more than one occasion, I have randomly spotted or felt something wrong in the timing belt system that I would not have been able to spot if the covers were on the engine. Whether it be loose timing belt tension, dryrotted or cracked timing belt, etc. I have also had oil leaks, minor and major, that I would not have been able to see with the timing covers in place. Removing these makes routine repairs or maintenance a breeze. Timing belt replacements only take me about 30 minutes because I have a lot less shit to remove.
For years, I have taken my DSM’s snow drifting, drove through high water/puddles, went rally crossing in fields or dirt roads, drove through mud, etc and nothing has gotten anywhere near my timing belt system. If I were to start my car, pull it out of the garage, then drove in heavy rain at high speeds, I would be able to return to the garage and inspect the timing area and it would be dry, not wet. It rain/water can’t get in there, nothing else will.
Clutch Fluid Accumulator
This is bolted to the transmission from the factory. Removing this allows for more clutch fluid pressure and is eliminated when installing a master to slave cylinder clutch line.
2G Crank and Cam Angle Sensors
The early second generation DSM’s used an individual cam and crank sensor. The cam sensor is mounted between the cam gear sprockets and head. The crank sensor is mounted down near the crank/harmonic balancer. You can remove these sensors and run a 1G CAS (Cam Angle Sensor) which bolts to the passenger side of the intake cam. This is adjustable (advances/retards timing, similar to a distributor) and combines both cam and crank signals into one unit. Running a 1G CAS is easy and just involves wiring. A detailed write up can be seen HERE.