replacing cowl drain hose on passenger side
I'd put this off as long as possible; but complaints by passengers (read "wife") of wet feet finally made me change the cracked cowl drain hose on the passenger side of my 91 S4. All the posts discussing the job describe it as horrific and listed necessary tools that I dont have: a free day, child-sized hands, unwavering patience, boundless creativity. And, oh, did I mention that a third hand with a full 360 degree wrist pivot is recommended, too. The particular thing that makes the passenger side hose harder to change than the one on the driver's side is (in the case of an S4, at least) the air conditioner unit which entirely blocks access to the hose from below.
Well, I did it yesterday without any of the aforementioned tools. I skipped two meals and sweated a bucketfull while doing it; but I did it. Here is how: First, of course, pull off the carpeted panel to the side of the center console. Then, remove the knee bolster -- in an S4 it's attached by three bolts. Then, remove the glove box. It is attached by a row of five screws along the lower front edge of the box -- the same screws also hold the glove box door (at this point, the screws begin to add up, so zip lock bags and a magic marker are very useful). Two more screws hold the glove box in -- one each on the upper front corners of the box; these screws also hold bumpers for the door. You may also have to remove the corded map light if your car has one. It is merely screwed into the top of the glove box (note the tiny in-line fuse for this light, which is nowhere mentioned in the shop manual). Now pull, wiggle, jimmy, coax and tug the glove box out of the hole in the dash -- don't be afraid to cuss and give one very large tug to finally remove it -- it's plastic and can take it. Once the glove box is removed you are eye to eye with the bottom of the cowl drain and the crumbling hose (photo below). Get a screwdriver and loosen the hose clamp and pull the hose off the fitting on the bottom of the cowl sump. Now, just grab the old hose and pull it free from the car. Mount it on the wall of your garage.
Here is where the agony begins. Take the new form fitted hose which you already bought (best practice seems to be to use one from Centerline or IAP, for example -- that's what I used). One end of it will attach to the cowl fitting and the other end will protrude through the firewall into the right wheel well where a steel tab will hold it like a bear hug. You can see the hole in the firewall in the photo below. The difficulty here is getting the hose through that hole when you can barely get your ham-sized hand into the available space between the dash, the a/c, and everything else down there. So, after staring at the problem, here is what I did. Take a dowel rod or some other straight thing and slide it down into the new hose in order to straighten it out and give it some rigidity. Now here is the kicker: use some dishwashing soap (see photo) to coat the far end of the new hose to make it slippery. Then take the rodded, slippery hose and thread the far end through the firewall hole. Since you probably can't reach down to the firewall hole, you will have to work at it until the hose penetrates the hole. Once it is through a few inches, retract the dowel and commence shoving the hose until it goes farther into the hole -- granted, it is too much like pushing a rope.
Now, go over to the driver's seat and turn the steering wheel all the way to the right or left so that you move the tire out of the way in order to see up into the wheel well. Go back to the right front wheel well and shine a light up there and try to see and grab the end of the protruding hose. (Note: before starting, it is helpful to have looked up there to see where the original hose came out so that you will know what to look for here). If the new hose hasn't emerged, go back and shove it more from the inside. Repeat as necessary until the hose fully emerges; pulling the hose end with pliers may be useful -- it won't hurt the hose. You will be developing bruises on your hand(s) now from cramming them into the inadequate space while shoving the hose. Feed the hose through the metal bear-hug tab in the wheel well. If necessary, you can bend the tab open and then closed without damage.
Did I say that the last step was bad. If so, the following step is worse. Here is where you have to get the end of the hose over the fitting on the underside of the cowl. Unless I got a defectively small dia. hose, it will be maddeningly difficult to get the end of your hose over the cowl fitting -- it is just a bit too small to do easily. So, here is what I did. First I removed the hose clamp altogether; for now, it will just get in the way. To get the hose over the fitting, you will just have to push, pull, twist, cram, swear, wiggle, contort and swear more. Use some soap to make the fitting slippery if you need. Eventually, after you have missed dinner and are about to give up, it will suddenly go over the fitting. Now, before the hose spontaneously pops off the fitting, take a hose clamp and unscrew it entirely so that you can open it completely; then bend it back around the hose at the cowl fitting and thread the free end back through the cog and tighten. You have now done it. Put everything back together, take a shower and go look for some leftovers in the fridge since you are very hungry.
Photo index: First pix shows the glove box removed, with a screwdriver pointing to the cowl fitting for the drain hose.
Second pix shows same close up with the old hose.
Third pix shows close up of the operating field -- the hole in the firewall for the hose to penetrate appears as an oval roughly in the center of the shot; you can also see the cowl sump fitting to which the hose will ultimately attach.
Fourth pix shows the new hose with a dowel holding it straight.
Fifth pix shows new hose in place ready to be attached to cowl. Note that the hose clamp is there, but soon to be removed because it got in the way of the difficult task of fitting the hose over the cowl fitting.
Sixth pix (in next post) shows the hose finally over the fitting with a new hose clamp.
Final pix (also in next post) shows the very handy kitchen soap for making things slippery.
Good luck, and holler with any questions or suggestions why I could have done this much easier.
'91 Red Spider
Last edited by DavidH; 10-09-2008 at 01:44 PM.