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Old 05-21-2014, 10:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Please help an Army wife upgrade Samurai :)

Hi all, I am a newbie on the site and a newbie samurai owner. PLease keep in mind when reading that I am self help Army wife with little mechanical knowledge (I read how to fix anything I can, ex: alternator, starter, oil change, etc). I hate taking my vehicles to repair shops out of fear of being a woman and screwed with repairs that are not necessary. This happened 9 years ago, shortly after my husband joined the Army and we simply wanted a transmission service. I was told I needed a new tranny right away. After returning home in tears, my husband took it into a mom and pap place where we were informed there was absolutely NOTHING wrong and it appeared that they had not even looked at the fluid. So I am now scarred and have since done as many of my repairs as possible. Sorry so long, but please keep going Heres my sammy story:

A month ago a purchased a 1986 Suzuki Samurai JX, 4 cylinder 1.3 for $300. It did not have a battery, needed new tire, rear drums, new ignition (guy couldn't find his keys), and a LOT of cleaning up. I will be honest, I had never heard of the Samurai and was just looking for a cheap Jeep or Tracker to cruise in. After I got it running (same night I bought it) I started getting offers to buy it for WAY more than I paid, even with the surface rust. So then I started investigating what I had, and was pleasantly surprised at how amazing these are. Long story short; I have stripped and painted it, sprayed the inside with bed liner, covered the seats, new plugs and wires, cleaned the EGR, new air filter, changed and/or added all new fluids, patched the exhaust leaks (just for now until I replace), new little ignition with a tiny key, new distributor o -rings, new valve cover after several attempts to stop oil leak with cork gasket (went to u pull it and found geo metro with rubber gasket for $12 and works PERFECT), and a few other little things.

Now to where I need help and/or advice. I am using the Sammy as my daily driver (especially since my tranny is out on my trailblazer). I am wanting to do any super super cheap upgrades that will improve gas mileage (currently between 24-25 mpg), run most efficient, reliable, and keep the engine lasting. I do not plan on doing any off road driving in the near future, so any upgrades do not need to be for off road driving (I know, sinful, but please do not criticize me, off road comes later) . I have the stock 15" rims with P205/60 tires. It also has an after market K and M type air filter (spectre brand). I have one of the valve breather ports connected to the PCV and the other with a breather filter (spectre brand). The geo metro valve cover had two holes versus the factory cover one with one port. I also put new shocks on it.

I have read that Thorley headers are great, but too expensive for now, so any other cheaper, yet better ones? Would a new cat, muffler, and 2" pipes help even if I do not get new headers? Sorry I am learning as I go and have used the internet and Haynes repair manual for everything, so I do not know a lot of part names or how things work.

Thanks for any help and advice!! I LOVE my Sammy and plan on having it for a very long time, even with some high dollar offers!!

Ginger
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Old 05-22-2014, 02:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ginger,
First of all, thank you to you and your husband for your service to our country. You sound like a helluva woman.
Cheap fuel saving upgrades I can think of are:
Use synthetic oil.
Keep the air pressure in your tires at the upper limit.
Make sure you've done a thorough tune up (plugs, cap, rotor, air filter).

Everything else (exhaust, headers, EFI, electronic ignition, gearing changes) are going to cost lots more money for little gain.

Good luck.
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Old 05-22-2014, 04:12 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motor2of7 View Post
Ginger,
First of all, thank you to you and your husband for your service to our country. You sound like a helluva woman.
Cheap fuel saving upgrades I can think of are:
Use synthetic oil.
Keep the air pressure in your tires at the upper limit.
Make sure you've done a thorough tune up (plugs, cap, rotor, air filter).

Everything else (exhaust, headers, EFI, electronic ignition, gearing changes) are going to cost lots more money for little gain.

Good luck.
Motor2of7, thank you so much for your response and your appreciation to our service members. You answered exactly what I needed to know. I had read such big deals about new headers, bigger pipes, etc and it making such a great difference, but if the change is minimal, then the money spent for it can wait. I have a few more hundred dollars of mad money and I want to spend it wisely and where it will count. I want great gas mileage and some power to drive on the highway if I need to. I can already get her up to 65 no problems.
Thanks again!!! I really appreciate the help!!
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Old 05-22-2014, 09:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Some more hints. You might have already done them, but were not listed above.

1. Replace the PCV, plug wires, fuel filter. Also the ignition coil if it looks to be the original as these degrade over time.

2. Adjust the valves.
valve adjustment - Suzuki Forums: Suzuki Forum Site

3. Use non-ethanol gas when possible. Will improve your mileage & power a little bit but maybe not enough to justify the extra cost and not being readily available.

4. Do a Seafoam treatment.
Sea Foam? Good, Bad, Useless, or is the Jury still out? - Suzuki Forums: Suzuki Forum Site

5. When replacing your tires, check the weight of the tires. Lighter tires means lower un-sprung weight and easier to spin. Same for the wheels.

I buy a lot of parts from RockAuto Parts Catalog and use it as a reference for what is a reasonable price to pay if buying locally.

Another good reference for all things Samurai is Ack's FAQ Suzuki Sidekick and Geo Tracker 4X4 offroading information
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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+1 on Haptown's advice.

There is no bolt-on upgrade that will improve fuel economy and your economy is well within normal ranges. Keep in mind that Suzuki went to a lot of effort to get the best fuel efficiency possible from the Samurai. The best you can do is keep it properly maintained and tuned.

Synthetic oil is not going to make enough difference to justify the extra cost and will likely cause oil leaks. Do get the oil changed regularly and run 15W40 or 20W50. These engines are run hard and regular oil changes are a key to making them last a long time.

Increasing the size of the exhaust will likely reduce fuel economy.

The fact is that the Samurai is a brick when it comes to aerodynamics. 24-25 may sound poor for the size, but the same era Jeep would be getting 16mpg.

I would not suggest running the tire pressure at the upper limit as it will make the Samurai ride VERY rough and cause the center of the tires to wear sooner. Run the tire pressure that is indicated on the tire placard. Suzuki came up with those pressures for a reason.
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