How to convert a Right Hand Drive RHD vehicle to Left Hand Drive LHD and convert a Left hand Drive vehicle to Right hand Drive
Jim Autos Thailand and Jim Autos Dubai convert Right Hand Drive to Left Hand Drive and Left Hand Drive vehicles to Right Hand Drive. Wherever possible we use original manufacturer parts to do the conversion so there is minimal involvment of mechanics in the process. Minimal welding is done.
We refer to our process as Mirror image, whereby we transfer all the components over to replicate the original engineering and design when the vehicle was first built.
I. Initial Inspection
Mr. Quraishi personally inspects the car before any conversion work can begin. Since the used car has already gone through a strict inspection and road test before its purchase and is guaranteed to have no accident damage, this initial inspection is skipped. Every new car is inspected to make sure that the new car is not a lemon. The steering and chassis geometry are now measured and compared to the factory settings to ensure everything is straight and true before the conversion is started. The car is then road tested to check for any unusual noises or problems.
If the car checks out OK then the conversion process is allowed to commence, usually the hood and fenders are removed from the car, basically the entire front sheet metal is unbolted to allow easier access to everything. The interior items like seats, carpets, seatbelts, sun visors and door trims are also removed to allow for easier access and to prevent them from getting damaged or soiled.
The original steering box, idler arm and centre drag link are removed, the left hand frame rail is modified to allow a left hand drive steering box to be mounted against it. The frame rail has the necessary crush tubes inserted through it, and these and the steering box mounting points are fully welded by a certified welder. The original bolts pass through the crush tubes and secure the steering box. The original pitman arm is bolted to the steering box. The alignment and position of the steering box is determined by careful measurements and cross reference checks to ensure its proper placement. New power steering hoses must also be made and fitted, so that they run from the power steering pump on the left hand side of the engine to the steering box on the right hand frame rail. The original idler arm is mounted on the right hand frame rail and again the proper mounts must be made and welded to the frame rail. The position and alignment of the idler arm is also checked to the same standard as the steering box. The centre drag link requires some modifications before it can be used, first the link is reversed or rotated 180 degrees so that the original pick up points for the idler arm and pitman arm are used. By doing this means that the shape or bend of the centre link is incorrect, this is corrected by cold bending the link in a press so that its shape is correct to suit its left hand drive configuration. Once the centre link has been bent it is then x-rayed for any defects or unseen flaws, sometimes some drag links are found to have factory flaws in the areas that are untouched by the bending process, some of these flaws can be porosity and stress cracks, any defect such as these means that drag link has to be discarded and an other one must be found. The centre drag link can also be modified by cutting and welding, again this has to be done by certified people and must also be x-rayed after completion.
The original steering column support is used and is moved from the right to left hand side of the firewall, its position and location is based on measurements taken from its original right hand drive configuration. Where the column will pass through the firewall is also determined by careful measurements to ensure that it is straight and will line up correctly with the steering box. The intermediate steering shaft is then bolted between the steering box and output shaft of the steering column, the steering shaft can sometimes end up very close to the LH exhaust manifold on certain cars, this is because the engine is usually slightly offset to the left hand side. This is so the steering shaft has enough clearance on the RH exhaust manifold when the car was RHD.
III. Brakes and Pedals
The mounts and brackets for the brake, clutch and accelerator pedals are also transferred across and positioned in the correct location. Manual cars with mechanical linkages instead of cable tend to be more difficult because the clutch is originally actuated from the left hand side of the car but this is not a problem with an automatic transmission vehicle. The footbrake or park-brake is also moved to the left hand side, this also requires relocation of the park brake cable that goes through the floor and the position and operation of the cables underneath the floor must also be slightly changed to suit the tension now being applied from the left hand side. The brake master cylinder is also moved to the left hand side of the firewall and connected to the brake pedal, this also means that new brake lines must be made to connect the master cylinder on the left hand side to where to lines originally connected on the left hand side frame rail. New brake lines are neatly bent with the proper tube bending equipment and follow the contour of the cross-member, they pass underneath the engine and are clipped to the frame using original retaining clips.
IV. Dashboard and Ventilation
Changing the dashboard over to LHD configuration can be one of the hardest tasks involved in a conversion, dependant on the type of vehicle and the shape of its dashboard. Cars with symmetrical dashboard have often a twin pod arrangement shape to its dashboard and are easy to convert. The more complex cars are those with diecast metal dashboards and those with elaborate shapes and curves in their dashboard shapes and are non-symmetrical. Once the dash pieces are in the correct location they are plastic welded from the back and also strengthened with some fibreglass resin. Some of the dashboard contours need to be filled and reshaped to blend the sections back together. The filler we use is a special 2 part foam filler (very expensive) which retains a soft compressible quality like that of the original dashboard foam, this has to be done so that in the event of an accident your head doesn’t hit a dashboard that’s as hard as a rock. Once the dashboard reshaping has been finished its then re-skinned using a forming process where the new skin is drawn over the dashboard under vacuum in a oven, this is the same way original dashboards are done. The dashboard is then trial fitted in the car and the gauges are fitted and checked for alignment, a new dash panel must also be made to suit the RHD dash. Where available, we buy genuine LHD dashboard and dash panel and this makes conversion less of a chore especially for symmetrical dashboards.
While the dashboard is being done the ventilation ducting must also be changed around to suit the new locations of the air outlets. This is done by cutting the plastic ducting and plastic welding the parts together again. The airconditioning/heater box is moved the left hand side of the firewall and part of the ducting must now run to this side of the car. The A/C box is turned over or upside down to place it on the left hand side of the firewall. The flow rates must be also checked to ensure that the ventilation systems performance is not downgraded. The staff at the Conversion Center employs new techniques in air conditioning re-engineering to ensure the airflow remains constant, reliable and equivalent to the original specifications.
The other part of the dashboard change is the wiring for the gauges and other controls, the original loom is retained as much as possible and changes such as extending the wiring are only done where needed, this is particularly important on computer controlled cars where some wires have a certain resistance based on their length or gauge. The wiring loom behind the dashboard is as thick as your wrist in some places, the results of the wrong wires being changed can cause fault codes in the computer.
V. Wiring and Lights
Accurate internal wiring of the vehicle’s computer controls and lighting is key to successful conversions. The wiring on the car needs to be altered and changed quite a bit, especially behind the dash, but there are other areas of the wiring that need to be changed as well, also some of the lights need to be changed to suit the fact that the car is now on the left hand side of the road. First the headlights need to be changed so that they point to left of the road on low beam, this is accomplished by swapping in new units which have the correct lenses and markings to direct the beam to the left. Some of the wiring for the lights such as the rear indicators need to be changed slightly to suit the new arrangement.
VI. Quality Control Inspections
This part of the quality control inspection guarantees that all the the tasks in the previous stages have been completed and the resultant vehicle is comparable to the original LHD vehicle specifications. Sam Quraishi performs this inspection. He ensures that the work has been done neatly and no shortcuts were taken during the process. Once a vehicle passes this stage of the inspection, it continues on to the second stage of the QC inspection process.
During the second stage, the mechanics of the vehicle are again inspected for accuracy before a test drive of the vehicle is conducted on the in-house test track. Vehicles are driven up to 40 kilometers to ensure the completed product meets our stringent safety and quality standards. The car is now ready for final inspection.
Once all the above conversion work has been completed, the car is then minutely inspected by Mr. Quraishi himself who is a qualified automotive technician, this is to ensure that all of the modifications that have been performed on the car are done properly and to the correct standards.