Boneheaded Play of the Day - I dropped something into my air intake hose

So… I have a 1990 Honda Accord. I was just routinely adding a bit of fluid, and placed the cap to the bottle I was using over by the battery, on the frame of the car. Next thing I knew, it fell down in between the battery and the headlight (not much space there!), and was resting there on the shelf the battery sits on. After carefully trying to retrieve it, it actually fell back into one of the two air intake hoses. Dumb. I know. I’ve already kicked myself several times.

Problem is, I just do not have the tools to get it out. It was just at the opening of the hose, now it’s further back, by maybe a couple inches. And it’s kind of a large cap too (about the same diameter as the hose, I’m guessing).

So my question is this… there are two air intake hoses (that I could see). This cap may be partially blocking or totally blocking one of them. Obviously, I need to get this out, but a) how much is gonna cost me at a mechanic; and b) will having it in there for just a little while do permanent damage to the car?

I see no chance of permanent damage. The air filter will keep it from getting into the engine. You’ll probably want to drive it and see if there’s any difference; only at hard acceleration would any difference be likely.

Is it a plastic cap? If so it’s probably less dense then water. If you can disconnect that air hose higher up and pour in water, the cap may float out or be flushed out.

If you’ve already run the car I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s made it’s way to the inlet side of the air filter element. Take a look. It won’t be able to make it’s way past this point. Any damage is very unlikely.

Thanks! Very reassuring and appreciate the good tips. Yes, plastic cap. It’s not that long of a path from the intake to the filter, so it could be there - definitely worth a look!

You can buy one of those claw things (about 3 feet long with a claw at one end, button to operate it on the other end) in a Dollar Store for a few bucks. I use mine whenever I do stuff like you describe. They are bendable too, pretty handy devices. I can’t imagine that you couldn’t get the cap out with that. Rocketman

I would just wait until it makes it’s way to the air box. Then take out the air filter and the plastic cap should be right there for the grabbing. Probably will only take a ride or 2 around the block. Don’t sweat it.

It’s probably fairly easy to simply remove the battery and the filter from air cleaner box, which should allow access to the plastic cap from that side. That’s probably what I’d do in this situation. If the tech still can’t reach it from either side, they can blow it back towards the air intake opening (near the front grill) with an air gun from the air cleaner box side.

Air gun. Now we’re talking. And while they’re at it, they can also look for one of the 4 screws that holds the air filter cover in place. Yup. I know. I must sound like a total incompetent. Not my weekend for car stuff, obviously. I heard the screw (wherever it is now) make a definite “clunk” when it hit some metal below. I did a very thorough and painstaking search. Sigh. Not to be found. Yup. Not in the engine OR on the ground. Feeling like a complete idiot. Oh well, I guess we’ve all done our share of dumb things. Fortunately, mine are usually limited… (LOL).

We’ve all done it. Lost a socket in a fender while removing a hinge. It’s still there. I tried everything, but I gave up and bought a new socket.

I was working on my diesel once and couldn’t for the life of me find my phillips screwdriver I had been using. Some years later I found it on the garage floor with a big gash melted into the handle. Actually it is now a great screwdriver. Because of the melted handle I can get a great non slip grip on the handle. I’m still looking for that large cresent wrench I used on the trailer hitch ball though. Must have laid it on the bumper and went to get gas. Checked the road all the way and back but no wrench. Someone has it I’ll bet.

Maybe we get a little off topic when things are slow, but this reminded me of my lost edger. Wife wanted me to get a lawn edger for Fathers Day. Just go get it. So I needed some plywood and took the trailer to Menards to get the plywood and edger. Threw it all in the trailer, strapped it down, and drove home. Got home and had the plywood but the edger was gone. What could I do? I drove back to Menards checking the road and ditches all the way but no edger still in the unopened box. Bought another one for $80 out of my own money. Not sure if I ever told her or not. Someone has it I’ll bet and probably even validated the warranty on it except they won’t have the sales slip. What would I do? I sure as heck wouldn’t pick up a brand new in the box edger and not try and stick around a few minutes (like 15) for the owner or make some attempt to locate the owner. Just sayin’. Don’t cut yourself with it.

I finally couldn’t stand the suspense… went to my mechanic, they took a look at it. The cap ain’t in there… it fell out. Amazing how that works. And oh, no charge for taking a look, either. Coulda been a lot worse…

I agree. Ifffff it happens again ! Take the air filter out and get at it for the other direction with an air nose or reverse side of a vacume cleaner. A wire coat hanger you can snale in there perhaps. But DON’t drop anything Into the intake manifold. Yer on yer own ! “Maybe” it just vibrated out and onto the road below ?

So this car does not have a MAF right? If it did, I’d be a bit more careful about fishing around blindly in proximity of that sensor or expecting a cap to make it past on the way to the A/C.

Large ty-wraps (the HVAC type) work well for snaking around stuff. I take a length of duct tape and wrap a couple times tightly around the end of the ty-wrap to keep it from coming off and then just wad the rest up into a ball with the sticky side out. Then go fishing…

I think I told this story before, but my dad would always change the points and condenser in his truck as a DIY job, and my job as a wee tyke was to hold the flashlight. Pretty much every single time he’d drop the little screw into the insides of the distributor. I learned some new and interesting language usage during those experiences!