Ready to Go!

August 15, 2013—We’re planning on leaving for Pebble Beach tomorrow morning before sunrise. This, of course, means that the Dodge Viper GTS we’re driving up had to break today. I went to get a haircut and decided to drive the Viper just to ensure that it was running properly. After a mile or so, I noticed that it was idling a bit too fast, maybe 1000 rpm (usual is about 500).

After another mile it began to idle at about 1500 rpm and when the clutch was engaged it would suddenly drop to normal idle levels. Then the dreaded ‘service engine soon’ light decided to illuminate. After the haircut, I borrowed an OBD-II scanner from a friend and ran the codes, it turned out that the throttle position sensor had failed. I ran to the local auto parts place, bought a new one and sprinted back home. No big deal, just swap it out, right?

Sure... I popped the hood, got my tools, put the torx bit on my screwdriver and sheared the bit in half. Off to Sears—I only use Craftsman tools. One giant argument later and I was back at home with a free bit. They’re supposed to be guaranteed for life, but their saleslady didn’t seem to agree or perhaps she had missed that memo. Either way, this is one reason people hate Sears.

Dodge Vipers throttle body

White doohickey is plugged into the broken black thingamajig

I sprayed some lube in the space between the head of the bolt and the surface of the sensor and waited a few minutes for it to penetrate. After my patience had exhausted, I slapped the new bit on my driver and tapped it on to the bolt lovingly, yet firmly. I first tightened it slightly to see if I could get some movement and the bolt budged.

Dodge Vipers throttle body

The Viper waits, next to a racing Viper

Then I cranked hard to loosen it and... sheared bit number two. This is when I gave up and drove across Los Angeles to Specialty Performance Team to visit Mr. Dan Cragin, Viper expert. Oh, did I mention that I had to be in Pasadena in a couple of hours for the Art Center College of Design grad show? Yeah.

Dodge Vipers at SPT

And now the throttle body is gone

Anyhow, Butch, one of Dan's mechanics, tried to find his appropriate torx bit but couldn’t, speculating that he had probably broken his as well. Off the throttle body came and Butch proceeded to drill out the super thread-locked bolts. After that it was simply a question of pulling the bolts out of the throttle body with vice-grips. The new throttle position sensor was installed, throttle body refitted and after a brief shakedown the Viper was ready to go! Hopefully, this will be the extent of the drama for the near future, at least. [kiWO]