How to clean your Throttle Body and Mass Air Flow sensor on a Ford Lightning

A gummed up throttle body and mass air flow sensor can cause all sorts of problems including: decreased throttle response and decreased fuel mileage. The carbon/oil/gunk build up is cause by a couple things: dirty air leaking past/through your air filter and oil sucked into the intake via the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) hose. Here is a simple guide detailing how to perform routine cleaning on your Ford Lightning’s intake.

What’s Needed:
- flat head screw driver
- 3/8 drive ratchet
- torque wrench (optional)
- 8mm socket, 3/8 drive
- 10mm socket, 3/8 drive
- T20H security torx bit (torx bit with a small hole in the center)
- 1 can CRC MAF Cleaner
- 1 can CRC Throttle Body Cleaner
- 1-2 hours of your time

1) Start out by removing the wire harness from the mass air flow (MAF) sensor attached to the front side of your air filter box and the wire harness from the intake air temperature sensor on the back side of your air filter box. This can be accomplished by pressing in the small tab at the base of the harness with your finger (or small screw driver) and pulling the harness away from the sensor.

Ford Lightning Intake System

Ford Lightning Intake System

2) Using your flat head screw driver, partially remove the screw from the hose clamp that is securing your intake hose to the throttle body. On the bottom side of the hose, right below the hose clamp, there are three hoses that need to be removed (idle air bypass/control hose, a small vacuum hose, and your PCV hose). Pull these straight down, they may be hard to pull out. Don’t worry, just pull hard. Pull the intake hose out and away from the throttle body. It will be stiff and will allow for little play.

3) Unclip each of the three clips on your air filter box. Using one hand, guide the end of the intake hose (the end next to the throttle body) up and away. Using the other hand, pull the air filter box towards the engine and up and away. It should slide right off.

4) To remove your MAF sensor from the side of the air filter box, you’ll need that T20H security torx bit. Simply remove the two screws and pull the MAF sensor straight out. This sensor is very delicate, be careful not to touch the two sensors that are in it and place it on something clean (paper towel) while not handling it.

5) To clean the sensor, follow the instructions on the back of the CRC MAF sensor cleaner can. Be warned that cleaning your MAF sensor with anything other than a good “MAF sensor cleaner” will most likely harm it. While cleaning your MAF sensor, you’ll never touch it with any solid objects (paint brush, tooth brush, etc). Clean it only using the pressure from the can. Set it aside and let it dry.

Ford Lightning MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor

Ford Lightning MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor

6) To remove your throttle body, you’ll need to remove the the bolts (8mm and 10mm) on the four corners of the throttle body as well as from the base of the bracket that is attached to the bottom two bolts on the throttle body. To remove the cruise and gas pedal cables, wait until the throttle body is off of the plenum. Once this is done, it is simple to see how these cables are removed. Under no circumstances should you try to remove the  throttle position sensor (TPS) from the opposite side of the throttle body. This sensor is tuned and should not need to be cleaned or moved. Also, there should be a black gasket stuck in between the throttle body and the plenum. Do not remove or damage this, you’ll need to reuse it.

Ford Lightning Throttle Body

Ford Lightning Throttle Body

Ford Lightning Upper Plenum

Ford Lightning Upper Plenum

7) To clean the throttle body, simple use your can of throttle body cleaner with the red hose attached and spray every inch of it. The pressure alone should clean it but for stubborn stuck-on carbon, use a toothbrush. Be sure to open and close the butterfly valve with your hand to clean where the it closes against the inside of the two air openings. Depending on the weather, you’ll probably get a lot of condensation build up on the throttle body after you finish cleaning. Make sure you let this dry, or dry it off with a paper towel.

Ford Lightning Throttle Body - Dirty

Ford Lightning Throttle Body - Dirty

Ford Lightning Throttle Body - Clean

Ford Lightning Throttle Body - Clean

8) Once this is done, follow the steps in reverse to reinstall everything. The throttle-body-to-upper-plenum bolts should be torqued to 89 inch-pounds. If you don’t have a torque wrench, tighten them “good and snug.” Make sure you check your air filter while you have this off. Replace it if need be. If you have a K&N, this will be a good time to clean and re-oil it (see next step).

9) For good measure, you may want to disconnect your negative battery cable and let the truck sit like that over night. This will insure that the computer will reset and have to “relearn” your *hopefully* new-and-improved MAF sensor readings and throttle response differences.

You’re all done. Happy maintenance day!

Pictures are online!

I’ve finally integrated my primitive picture gallery with the website. You can access it by clicking the “Pictures” tab at the top, clicking the “Pictures” link on the right, or clicking here.

Why so primitive?
– Easy to use
– A database error will not crash my gallery
– Easy to restore
– Fast
– Chronological by design
– Easy to search (Ctrl + F)

Go check it out!

Space Shuttle Endeavor – STS 127

After five scrubs and four trips out to Kennedy Space Center, I finally got to see STS 127 go up!

The first attempt bright and early on June 13th got scrubbed because of a “gaseous hydrogen leak”. Thankfully it was scrubbed before I left for the Cape. On the second attempt, I was not so lucky. After arriving early at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex and watching a IMAX film on the ISS, I learned that launch was officially scrubbed yet again at 1:55am on June 17th due to the same leak. The news was pretty depressing. It was very interesting how people at the Visitor’s Complex reacted. No one complained, everyone calmly packed up and slowly exited. I’m not sure if everyone was just tired or if events like this and the cost involved attract people of a higher maturity level, but it sure was nice.

STS 127 Lightning Strike

STS 127 Lightning Strike

With launch now set for July 11th at 7:39pm, it was scrubbed early because lightning struck the launch pad. NASA reported that the lightning didn’t damage anything but some of their sensors had picked up some amount of current that put it over some set threshold. They did the smart thing and scrubbed so they could do a diagnostics of their systems.

Storm cloud that canceled the launch of STS 127.

Storm cloud that canceled the launch of STS 127.

Sunday, July 12th, and Monday, July 13th, would prove to be the biggest test of everyone’s patience, including mine. The launch was scrubbed both times just before it was scheduled to go off. Both times a storm cloud popped out of nowhere and moved within the 20 mile “no weather allowed” zone around the launch pad and the Cape Canaveral landing strip. Both times I was shuttled out to NASA Parkway to the “regular” public viewing area which is about 6.9 miles from Launch Pad 39A where Endeavor was sitting. Both times everyone was shuttled back, disappointed that they had wasted yet another $21.20 and hours of their time.

Now determined to see this launch, I was most definitely going to the new time on Wednesday, July 15th at 6:03pm. Leaving work early yet again, I finally put in to practice the knowledge I gained during my last viewing attempts. The Visitor’s Complex gives everyone a card that says something along the lines of “STS XXX” and a time that you are supposed to arrive. This is what gets you in to the Cape on launch day. Depending on your assigned time, they can have you arriving up to 6-7 hours before the actual launch! I know this is to help with traffic, but waiting around that long is almost insane. If you have a bus pass, like I did, the last bus leaves out usually 1-1.5 hours before the launch, which means you could possibly be doing a whole lot of waiting. What I learned is that you can show up to the Visitor’s Complex 2 hours before the launch and be just fine; I did this twice. A little tip for anyone planning to go! Don’t blame me if this backfires, maybe I just got lucky.

Crowd at Banana River VIP Site

Crowd at Banana River VIP Site

Unknowing to me, it seemed that on the 6th launch attempt, the Visitor Complex felt sorry for everyone who kept spending all that money and wasting all that time just to watch the launch get scrubbed. I figured this out as soon as our bus made the WRONG TURN and started heading closer to the launch pad! To my surprise, they took all of us who waited it out this long to the closest public viewing site, the site where the people who work for NASA take their families, the Banana River viewing site off of Kennedy Parkway which is only 3.9 miles away! Everyone, including myself and the people who were with me, was ecstatic! The launch went off without a hitch with perfect weather. Everyone cheered, everyone left happy. It was a much needed upgrade.

Me at STS 127 Post-Launch

Me at STS 127 Post-Launch

Even though all of this may seem like a big waste of money and time, it was definitely worth the hassle. With the Space Shuttle program nearing an end, time is running out for people to see an up close and personal manned shuttle launch. This almost record breaking launch attempt was definitely worth the end result and the view that came with it. The blinding fire coming from the rocket boosters and the roar that you get to hear from being so close is next to none.

Check out the video I took of STS 127 launching from the Banana River VIP site on YouTube:
Space Shuttle Endeavor Launch – STS 127 – July 15th, 2009

Space Shuttle Endeavor Launch – STS 127 – Viewing from the Banana River VIP site – July 15th, 2009

Valentine One Radar Detector

Just picked up a Valentine One radar detector. It is replacing a broken 3 year old Cobra radar detector that was given to me for free. After using the V1 around town for a month and recently going on a 1200 mile road trip with it, I’d have to say that its performance is impressive and totally exceeds my expectations.

Why a Radar Detector?

I’d like go ahead and throw out there that I have always been interested in radar detectors. No, I don’t have one just so I can speed. I generally try not to go more than 5 mph over around town. I just think it is neat that I too can use a gadget to get the jump on people, whom in this case, are also trying to get the jump on me!

Why the V1?

I researched radar detectors off and on for a few years. I have watched as new ones out and I have watched manufacturers make promises and break promises. I have read dozens of reviews and field tests. What have I learned? That many high-end radar detectors have similar performance!

What Sets the V1 apart, Well Lets See:

- Incredible detection range. It picked up Ka band from a LEO at over 3 miles on a long stretch of I95.
- Detects scatter equally as well. If a LEO is pointing radar perpendicular to the road, the V1 will most likely detect the scatter before you get in line of sight. It always detects a LEO who predictably sits in the same spot on the road by my house at least a half mile before I get in line of sight.
- Rear detection.
- Directional arrows. This is one of my most favorite features. I’ve already had a few LEOs sneak up behind me with their radar on and the V1 correctly identified the source with the rear facing arrow! Any other detector would have just beeped as usual leaving you clueless to which direction the threat was coming from!
- Hard magnesium case.
- Adjustable mute.
- Easy to read display, especially at night.
- Superior windshield mount.

- False alerts, aka non-LEO radar. I knew going in to this that the V1 is very sensitive and would alert to the slightest bit of noise. I’m ok with that. You should have heard my old Cobra, it would never shut up! The V1 is the same way. I keep mine in “Advanced Logic” mode which is supposed to reduce the amount of X-band false alerts; but, I notice little difference. Most of the X-band “false alerts” I receive are legitimate X-band sources, just not from a LEO. I find it easy to reach up and press the mute button every now and then. If you don’t mind a chatty radar detector, you’ll do fine with the V1. If you think this may bother you, you may want to look elsewhere. My opinion is, I’d rather have a radar detector that picks up everything over one that decides not to report certain radar to you because it deems it unimportant…
- The V1 gets hot. According to the manufacturer’s website, the V1 has an operating temperature of 158°F. Since I live in central Florida, before I bought it, I did some temperature probing with a kitchen thermometer. On a particularly hot day (upper 90′s) with my truck parked out in the sun, the temperature inside my truck easily hits 150°F. I kinda went out on a limb with this one and got the V1 anyway. I was only able to find one article on the internet claiming that the V1 can get hot enough to stop functioning correctly. My V1 has reached these kinds of temperatures and has appeared to still function correctly. I know this because there is a K-band source close to work and the V1 has never not picked it up, no matter how hot it was. I guess time will tell.

A Radar Detector is Only as Smart as its User

I highly recommend the V1 for anyone looking for a good radar detector. Yes, the price is a little steep, but I’m fairly confident in the saying “You get what you paid for.” Especially with these radar detectors. Cobra? Forget about it. Whistler? Don’t waste your money.  GPS on-board? Please, LEOs already know that people turn their X-band detection off to make their detector less chatty and because most LEOs don’t use X-band anymore. LEOs are already dusting off these old radar guns and blasting unsuspecting people with X-band. Don’t you think it’s a matter of time before LEOs start parking in a Walgreens parking lot and blasting people who set their detector to ignore the area around that Walgreens? I’ve never had a problem spotting LEOs that are sitting out in the open with their radar guns set to continuous on, it’s the sneaky LEOs I’m worried about. GPS-enabled radar detectors have their pros and cons but are still ridiculous and unnecessary. Until they get GPS and cell phone capability and can send LEOs locations to other detectors, I’m not buying the hype. People must think most LEOs are dumb… Don’t get me wrong though, I’m positive that a high-end Bel or Escort will more than please you too.

Tips for Mounting your Radar Detector

Tip #1: mount your radar detector as high as possible. Yes this means that your detector is further away from your headlights/front license plate which means that it’ll reduce the changes of it detecting laser; but, if your detector alerts you to laser, the LEO already has your speed and you can’t do anything about it. The V1 has a record of beating other radar detectors in the laser department as much as 100%. Mounting your radar detector high on the windshield gives it clear line of sight of the road, puts it higher on the horizon so it has a higher probability of coming into view of a radar source quicker, moves it away from the hood which can reflect interference from the sun directly into the detector, and reduces the chance of a thief spotting it on your windshield. Every time I see someone with their radar detector mounted on their dash or at the bottom of the windshield, I can’t help but laugh because they obviously do not know the meaning of the previous four statements and the physics behind them.

Tip #2: mount your radar detector level, i.e. not pointing up at a 45 degree angle and not pointing down at a 45 degree angle, LEVEL. I see people all the time with their detector mounted pointing at their hood or straight up in the sky. They might as well put electrical tape over the front of it, it would work equally as well! It baffles the mind!

Tip #3: directly wire your radar detector into your car’s electrical system. In my opinion, having a coiled up wire flopping around my dash is very annoying and looks bad. Also, it attracts thieves and if you think for one second that a thief won’t smash your window to snatch a V1, you are sadly mistaken.

Now go have fun!

Installation Pics:

Valentine 1 Installation Pic

Valentine 1 Installation Pic - Outside

Valentine 1 Installation Pic

Valentine 1 Installation Pic - Inside

Getting spikapino out there!

I spent a few hours last night working on the site. Here’s what I accomplished:
 - Google Analytics is now tracking spikapino.
 - spikapino is now integrated with Feedburner.
 - I installed a sitemap XML generator which helps out certain web crawlers like Google, Yahoo, MSN (Bing), and
 - I installed a Search Engine Optimization Kit which helps out with META tags, URL canonicalization, and prevents duplicate data penalties.
 - I also tied the site in with Google’s Webmasters Tools.

Website Update

I’m still working on the website. Currently, the pictures in the banner up top are not mine, I plan to replace them with some of my pictures very soon.

EDIT: Just got some new header images loaded. They are little snippets of pictures I have taken in Florida, Washington D.C., Tennessee, Arizona, and Washington. I’ll gradually add more as I go.

Also, I installed TweetSync on my Facebook page. I can use Twitter as an interface between my website and pretty much anything else. When I post on my website, I can selectively make a Tweet. TweetSync will then copy that to Facebook. It’s very convenient.

Find me on Facebook.

NRA vs. Chicago

The conflict in Chicago right now is huge. Chicago is imposing a handgun ban. The same type of ban that the U.S. supreme court deemed unconstitutional in D.C. What they are basically saying is that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to them and they have the right to twist, bend, and change its meaning. While most people think this is a victory for anti-gun backers, it is a defeat for our U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the American people. Once local governments are allowed start picking and choosing which articles of the Bill of Rights they wish to obey, when will it end? Will freedom of speech be the next to go? Get involved people.

I’m glad 2/3 of the attorney generals in the U.S. see what is happening and are willing to take the steps to make it right.

A quote from the NRA:

Two-thirds of the nation’s attorneys general have filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of NRA v. Chicago and hold that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This bi-partisan group of 33 attorneys general, along with the Attorney General of California in a separate filing, agrees with the NRA’s position that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms, disagreeing with the decision recently issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

My letter to Florida’s Attorney General, Bill McCollum:

Thank you for signing, along with 32 other attorney generals, an amicus brief supporting second amendment incorporation in the case of NRA vs. Chicago.


His reply:

Thank you for contacting me on this vitally important matter of Second
Amendment rights and the case of NRA v. Chicago.  I am happy to have joined
some of my Attorney General colleagues around the country in a brief in
support of this matter and hope our side prevails when the court rules.


Bill McCollum
Attorney General

Thank you for contacting me on this vitally important matter of Second
Amendment rights and the case of NRA v. Chicago.  I am happy to have joined
some of my Attorney General colleagues around the country in a brief in
support of this matter and hope our side prevails when the court rules.


Bill McCollum
Attorney General

Deep Blue Sea…

So I finally signed for for a PADI scuba diving course today. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve always been very interested in going scuba diving, just never had the time or the money to do it. I have to read a book, watch a DVD, attend 6 classes in August and then do two open-water dives sometime in September. I could be done faster but the group I’m doing it with all have schedule conflicts so this was the one that worked out the best.

I may start spear fishing, too.

spikapino 2.0

Well, I decided to put WordPress back on here in place of the old site. It was too much of a hassle updating it because everything had to be done manually with either Dreamweaver or notepad.

I’ll be working on the new site off and on. Hopefully I’ll figure out some Twitter and Facebook integration.