I fixed the @#&% oil door!

Discussion in 'Prius v Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by anewhouse, May 6, 2012.

  1. anewhouse

    anewhouse Member

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    There has been much discussion here (esp. in the regular Prius forums) about fixing/improving the access door that covers the oil pan and filter.  Apparently the door on the v and current Prius is better than the ones on the older Prius, but IMO it's still a cheap, temporary solution.  The plastic push-pin fasteners (plastic body rivets? pin-drive anchors?) that hold the door closed are meant to be installed once, not repeatedly removed and installed.  They'll sort of work a few times, but they're just not meant to be reused repeatedly. I don't like them.
    And the hinge is just a strip of bent plastic - again, it'll work for a while, but it's a pain (it tends to spring closed, and it smacked me in the head the first time I opened it).  Since I hope to own my v for a long time, and plan to do all my own oil changes, i decided both the hinges and fasteners need to be improved or replaced.
    I saw a good solution for the hinges in the regular Prius forum.  These are stainless steel hinges with releasable pins, so the door opens easily, stays open, and can be completely removed if you want.  I got my hinges at grainger (item # 4WDV7, $7.43 each), but they are available from various hardware sources online - the mfr model number is HG-OTA100. Sugatsune -Butt Hinges|Stainless Steel Quick Release Hinge
    However, I have not seen a good solution for the fasteners that hold the door closed. I did a bunch of searching, and finally settled on a Stainless Snap Slide Latch from McMaster-Carr: McMaster-Carr
    Check out my video introduction:


    If you're interested, here are a bunch more details, and pictures of my installation procedure.
    I started by completely removing the two front-most plastic panels under the engine compartment. One in the very front, and the one containing the oil door. This involved removing a bunch of screws with 10mm heads, and a bunch of the annoying plastic push-pin fasteners.

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    Oil door panel, removed:

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    Then I dug in on the oil door itself. Started by marking the location of the hinges, and cutting away the plastic hinge where the metal hinge would be located. (Hinge details are noted above).

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    I left the plastic hinge intact BETWEEN the metal hinges, so I could be sure the door was lined up correctly when I put on the new hinges. Then I used the holes in the hinges to mark out locations to drill, and drilled 9/64" holes for 6-32 bolts.

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    Continued installing the hinges, with the remainder of the plastic hinge still intact. I had a mix of brass and stainless 6-32 bolts, so it looks a little mismatched, but how many people will see this? And it will be easy to replace the few pieces of non-stainless hardware as I can obtain it.

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    Once the hinges were completely installed, and the door still opened smoothly (so I knew it was aligned properly and nothing would bind), it was time to cut the existing plastic hinge:

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    Voila! A door that swings open easily!

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    These hinges have knurled knobs which, when pinched together, release the hinge completely. This makes oil change access even easier. I oriented the hinges so the mechanism is INSIDE the plastic panel, to reduce dust/grime buildup. Since the mechanism is inside, it's important to orient the knurled knobs so they are on the door side, so you can easily reach them when the door is open.

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    Whew - already a huge improvement over the stock oil door. But next up was the fasteners to hold the door closed. This is a big step, and I started from scratch, since I hadn't seen any other permanent, durable fixes. Basically, I browsed through all the stainless steel clips, catches, hasps, snaps, etc. that I could find from both Grainger and McMaster-Carr. The fasteners I used are called "Snap Slide Latches", part # 1872A72 from McMaster, $5.83/ea. They have a sliding clip (mounted on the door panel) that attaches to a post (mounted on the car body). See the video linked above for a demonstration. They clip very securely; I'm not worried about them popping out accidentally. Additionally, I installed them such that the sliding direction varies, so driving over a snowbank or something can't release all the clips. If someone were worried about them opening on their own, it would be easy to run a length of wire through an opposing pair of clips that could hold them both closed. Installing these took a while longer than the hinges, but I think it was definitely worth it. I used stainless 8-32 bolts to secure the post to the car body, and stainless 6-32 bolts to secure the clip to the door.

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    Attaching these posts to the car body required some creativity, and if you do this, I suspect yours will come out slightly differently. For example, at one point I didn't have an 8-32 bolt long enough to go all the way through the frame member where I wanted the post. So I made a sort of hidden nut to slide inside the frame: I put an 8-32 threaded insert into a small piece of white oak, then slid that into the frame. This let me securely fasten the post with the bolt I had. Kludge? Definitely - but it worked. :nod: White oak is fairly rot-resistant, but if it does start loosening up over time, I'll be able to feel it when I change the oil, at which point I can either replace that section with a longer bolt, or put in a new DIY "hidden nut".

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    (Takeaway lesson for future installers - be sure you have a good selection of both 6-32 and 8-32 stainless bolts, with nuts and washers. I had a pretty good selection on hand; good enough to get it together, and I'll replace some of the hardware with stainless equivalents or appropriate length bolts in the near future.)

    At this point, everything was together, [email protected]$$ fixes and all. Just a final test fit...

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    ...and I have a FUNCTIONAL oil door with durable, releasable hinges, and fasteners that are intended to be used more than once!

    Good riddance!
    [​IMG]

    I was also working on installing some LED DRLs when I did this project, so it was handy to have the plastic underbody panels off for a while. Once I was done with both projects, I put all the panels back in place (with assistance from helper-dog Leo).

    [​IMG]

    Let me know if you have any questions about the installation. I really hope this can at least provide inspiration for oil door fixes by other Prius owners!
    Andy
     
    Yakoma, h-dogg, Mike500 and 5 others like this.
  2. spiderman

    spiderman wretched

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    Always appreciate the extra help eh?

    You realize you will reduce your fuel economy by 0.036 mpg will all that extra weight, right?

    :)

    Good job.
     
  3. anewhouse

    anewhouse Member

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    Oh, I'll probably lose a full 0.04 mpg - the protrusion of the clips undoubtedly interferes with the aerodynamics under the car. But that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make... ;)
     
  4. phoenixgreg

    phoenixgreg Senior member

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    Nice job and your pics really show the door and its orientation in great detail. Awwh...the dog is the best part though :)
     
  5. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Nice work....and excellent writeup...
     
  6. xliderider

    xliderider Senior Member

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  7. nsfbr

    nsfbr Member

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    Awesome. Simply awesome. I've been mucking around with bike stuff in my shed (block and tackle to lift 4 bikes out of the way when we are not riding them) and getting ready to mount a Ecohitch Stealth on the Prius. I will probably have everything ready for making this mod in time for the next oil change. I love the hinges, I will definitely check them out. I'm not sold on the latches. I'm thinking maybe quarter turn fasters would work, but I do think the advantage of what you did is that there is nothing hanging out in space on the non-moving part of the cover. Definitely the right approach. Really nice write up. Thanks.
     
  8. anewhouse

    anewhouse Member

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    Thanks very much!
    I completely agree re. the hinges & latches. The hinges are ideal, and I haven't had any problems with them since installing. Highly recommended.

    The clips are adequate, but not quite perfect. They occasionally get sort of stuck in place after sitting for 10,000 miles, and sometimes a hammer or pliers are helpful to loosen them. They're also just a little bit thinner or lighter-duty than I'd prefer, as they can twist just a little while being fastened. OTOH, they haven't accidentally released yet, so they still get a passing grade. ;)
    I like the idea of a 1/4 turn fastener of some sort, as long as it's all stainless, and as long as it doesn't stick down too far below the plastic. I don't really like the idea of a magnet, if that's the only thing holding the door closed... I just feel like any magnet of a size that would be easy to release by hand could also be accidentally released by bumps/vibration/road debris. This wouldn't be a disaster if you had decent hinges installed; worst-case your oil door would drag for a while. But I'd rather avoid that if possible.
    Post back if you come up with any good alternative solutions!
     
  9. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    What took longer -- the job or the write-up ? Both are really spiffy!

    I agree that door_as_a_flap leaves a lot to be desired, particularly since I tend to only raise my car off the ground enough to barely clear the flap when I fold it back, and that requires flap calisthenics.

    That said, I'm too lazy to take your route. For now I am just going to find a way to stick the flap in the full folded back position while I work. As for those annoying rivets, I find that a single good tight rivet in the biggest hole is "good enough" for the flap and good enough for me. I bought replacements at Lowes at 50 cents a piece and plan to just put in a new one with each 10k mile oil change.

    Question: how do you raise the car as high as you do ? I've thought about ramps but since I usually rotate the tires when I change oil it is not a solution for me. I currently have to raise the car in two stages if I want more than the above mentioned minimal clearance.
     
    #9 SageBrush, Jun 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
  10. anewhouse

    anewhouse Member

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    Ha! Thanks. One of my thoughts in re-reading this a few years later is, "Wow, I had a lot of time before I had kids! ;) " I suspect that if I were starting over now, I'd find a solution more like what you propose - some way to just hold the flap all the way back. MUCH less work for ALMOST the same benefit. Maybe a length of rope or wire that could be looped over the flap to hold it flat once it's folded all the way back? That said, every time I work on the car I appreciate the work I did to put in the good hinges. No regrets, but I understand the time-savings equation!

    Yeah, the v is somewhat of a pain to raise, since it doesn't work with my regular ramps (bumper hits the ramps before the wheels do). I just use a high-lift floor jack (+ stands) each time I need to raise it. This works fine, with minimal hassle as long as the jack is easily accessible.
    The only real pain I've found due to a lack of ramps came when I changed the AT fluid. It was a BIG pain to jack up all four wheels such that the whole thing was level (and still firmly supported).
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Lapsed Cargo Cultist

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    I try to take the path of least resistance when encountering an obstacle, and also consider how often I'm going to encounter said obstacle.

    About 4 pictures into your (admirable) tutorial there's the cover in it's entirety, on the ground. That's basically what I do, once every 6 months (Canadian oil change interval). In the US, it's even better: once yearly, if you follow the US schedule. Advantages to removing the whole cover:

    1. You get a much better view of the entire engine bay, can spot leaks, CV boot problems.

    2. You never bend that (pathetic) hinge.

    3. It leaves the car stock, fwiw.

    The plastic fasteners? They are a pain, they have a half-life, but if you're careful with them they'll last the life of the car. Almost. And if you've got a few spares on hand, you're set. One way to improve their longevity is to rinse them with soapy water, every time they're off. They're much less prone to seize and break when being removed if they're not gritty.
     
  12. jzchen

    jzchen Active Member

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    Toyota instructions for the oil change imply there is a place to pin the flap all the way back with one of those plastic fasteners. I believe it. Hopefully someone can confirm as I'm about 10 months from my next oil change...
     
  13. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Lapsed Cargo Cultist

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    ^ In the Repair Manual for a regular Prius, step two is "REMOVE ENGINE UNDERCOVER". My 2 cents: pinning that flap back at 180 degrees is just going to hasten it's failure. Unless they've changed the plastic formulation.
     
  14. Eric "v"

    Eric "v" Member

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    Just came across this thread. Very well illustrated. Thanks for the part numbers too. I printed the entire thing and it goes into my "v folder".

    I like the hinges and am looking at airplane parts and racing parts catalogs for a better latch, though yours is good. Since I take my v to the dealer for oil changes I can see doing the latches first since the push pins suck for even the oil change guys. If the door hinge begins to fail I'll use the same hinges you did.
     
  15. SonomaJoe

    SonomaJoe Junior Member

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    I implemented most of this fix. I have some helpful hints and questions, mostly about the clips.

    There are three clips. The one with the most discussion, and the wood piece, is the leftmost one. I found that a suitable sized piece of wood worked well. I drilled it and ran a sheet metal screw through it before installing it, in place of the captive nut. I found I could hold the wood piece in place with my pinky poked through one of the frame holes when getting the sheet metal screw started. When the metal cylinder is in place, the wood is held firmly against the frame by the screw. There is no need to glue it, which I had not appreciated before starting the work. I found I had to space the cylinder out by two washer thicknesses for it to line up adequately with the clip.

    Another clip replaces the plastic tang that joins the door to that part of the plastic cover that doesn't hinge. For this clip, there is only one screw holding the sliding assembly to the hinged door. And the metal cylinder is attached to the plastic in this case, not the frame.

    The third clip is the rearmost one. I have not figured out how anewhouse mounted the cylinder for this one, nor did I have any ideas of my own. Can anyone explain? Anewhouse explained about the first clip that he needed the wood because he did not have a long enough screw, but even a long screw does not provide a mounting opportunity for the rearmost clip. Is the cylinder affixed to the frame by drilling a hole for a sheet metal screw? The frame is probably a difficult-to-drill steel, and the natural place to put the cylinder is where there is a large hole in the frame.

    On my 2013 v, there is sound absorbing material that you must work around when installing the hinges.
     
  16. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sounds like a pita, i have never looked under my cars, now i'm ascared to.:eek:
     
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