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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone! Totally new here but just got my parents' old 92 tracker back to running condition after 2 years sitting in the garage.

Goals:
1. larger off road tires that won't rub on stock suspension
2. couple inches of lift (I'm assuming by switching the springs and shocks?)
3. any good light bar recommendations?
4. roof cage recommendations?

Issues:
1. Headlight electrical issue - headlights won't turn on anymore but mechanics in the past have told my us that the headlight assembly has nothing wrong with it and there is still power going to them... any ideas?
2. sudden loss of power! - apparently the tracker "lost power" as my parents told me on a bridge one day, and it happened a few times over the years. Numerous mechanics couldn't definitively solve the problem but the computer was replaced 3x and numerous other fixes were tried. My dad was the last driver who said he had no problem last few months of driving it short distances. No idea what could be causing it, any thoughts?

Thank you so much for the help!
 

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Welcome to the forum. You don’t advise what you did to get the Tracker back into running condition, but I would suggest doing a compression test on the engine, to verify the engine timing, and post your results, cylinder by cylinder. I’d also confirm that the spark plugs are gapped to .028”. Is your check engine light on with the key on, and off once the engine starts? Give some idea as to how the engine runs - cold idle, idle as the engine is warming up, warm idle, etc.
For the headlight issue, you may want to read this, which will give you a start:
The headlights run off of their own fuses, left and right, which is a good place to start, as well as getting the voltage on the wires at the headlight assembly.
Please put your car’s specs into your signature - engine (8 or 16v) tranny, 2wd or 4wd, etc.
 
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You’ve got two threads going on the same issue. Pick one, please.
 
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I've merged the two threads into one, let me know which posts you would like deleted, but be aware that the very first post has to remain.

What are your skills as an auto-electrician like - it's highly probable that the mechanics who told you the headlight assemblies were good and had power going to them couldn't find the fault was because they were mechanics and not electricians - the way this vehicle is wired, there is always power to the lights - having said that - electricity doesn't flow unless there is a complete circuit - the problem could be as simple as the column switch or a single loose/broken wire.

Loss of power - intermittent problems are hard to find - often what happens is you "theorize" as to possible causes and eliminate them one by one until the problem does not resurface - there's very little we can tell you, because you have given us very little to work with. If I remember correctly the ECU is under the dash, a single bad ground making intermittent contact could cause your problem, and a bad ground under the dash could also cause the lights not to work, so maybe start by checking the ground connections under the dash.

Lift - you can get larger tires under there without a lift, and I would suggest on holding off making modifications until you sort out the drivability issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you everyone for the input, I appreciate the support.

Aquanaut and Bex - I will check the compression for each cylinder and report back

Fordem - Thanks for the tip with the grounds. The couple mechanics that I know for sure have looked at the tracker were less than reliable individuals and not 100% trustworthy. Thanks for merging the threads, and yeah, I wanna get her running safely before I invest more into her, for sure.

To get her running, I added coolant (2/3rds full before adding), changed air filter, new gas, inspected spark plugs (all good but showed some wear, gaps looked even but didn't measure, will do so) and added fogging oil to the cylinders to lubricate. Battery was dead, got a new upgraded one. Checked oil, which was also 2/3rds full between the dots on dip stick, but will wait to change it until this weekend when I can also send off an oil analysis. Just got the analysis kit today.

The car wasn't insured so didn't drive it yet, again will do this weekend likely. When it idles, it blew white smoke initially, likely from fogging oil and just sitting, but then stopped after 15 seconds or so and hasn't done so again. Engine seemed slightly strained while idling but hard to tell since I'm not used to the car yet.

I will update the specs in my signature, too.

Thanks again guys!
 

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White smoke is often coolant, rather than oil. Aside from having proper timing and compression, the sensors in your car run off of the ECU, which is behind the left front speaker on the dash. It’s important to verify that the check engine light is on with the key on, and off once the engine starts - this is the computer self check - and if it remains on, it would indicate that it has trouble codes stored.
I run 235/75/15 tires with no lift, although some have said they have have rubbing issues at full extension, I haven’t. But the safest large tire to avoid rubbing issues would be 225/75/15’s. Note that the larger tires do affect acceleration and cornering, as well as your mpg.
By the way, when you advise it ‘lost power‘ - are you talking electrical or engine??
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'll see what I can do this week using the tips above to diagnose and test more.
When idling at home, the check engine light is on while in the run position and turns off when engine turns over and runs.
Thanks for the tire tip! The tires are completely worn out so if I get the car running, she will need new tires anyway, and the purpose for getting the car going is to off road her to access lakes and better campsites, so those bigger offroad tires will be good i hope.
 

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"White" smoke on initial start after sitting a while can also be condensation burning off, or a combination of moisture and oil from a cylinder thats sat overnight with the inlet valve open. if its closer to clear than white and it disappears almost immediately I wouldn't panic. If its billowy white, then theres an issue. A lot of people mistake the normal condensation steam on start up for coolant smoke on a cold engine.
 

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Is it only me or did anyone else notice that he says he added "fogging" oil to the cylinders to lubricate them, presumably because it had been sitting for a while, and that is what he thinks the white smoke on start up was, and that the white smoke stopped after 15 seconds and there has been no recurrence?
 
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yep, just saw that...sheesh
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Haha I hope the fogging oil was the right choice? ChrisFix told me to do it!
 

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Alright, so update time!

1. Check engine light on when turning over and turns off right after - no codes stored and no other lights on dash.

2. Flushed the brakes and mechanic changed the head gasket for me which was leaking and causing some oil to burn and smoke.

3. Lab results from old oil came back with "slight fuel dilution" but nothing else wrong and saying that the engine wear is really good for its age (253k km)

4. I have yet to change the spark plugs and will do so soon - Bex said earlier to ensure the gap is .028" but some are sold at .032" or even .04", which is best and which type of spark plug do you guys recommend for off-roading?

5. HEADLIGHTS! Grr... so apparently the horn, internal dash lights, and daytime running lights all stopped working at the end of the car's previous life. I was super cleaning the engine bay chrisfix style and saw an electrical plug in the engine bay near when the steering wheel and dash would attach that looked a bit loose, pushed it in, and now everything works (horn, DTR lights, highbeams) EXCEPT the headlights on low beams. Low beams don't turn on at all. The mechanic I spoke with who fixed the head gasket thinks it might be the headlight switch itself which is on the turn signal stock - the turn signal stock is also broken and won't turn on the signal lights on to the right unless you hold it up before it clicks to lock in the "turning right" position. (left works fine) - so he thought if I replace that signal/headlight switch assembly stock, the problem might go away with the headlights, too.


Thoughts are welcome ! Excited to hear the responses
 

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Gap plugs to 0.028 and use heat range stated in owners handbook. On or off road doesnt alter heat range.

I prefer NGK plugs myself.

Low beam issue could be the DRL module, Bex will know more on how these things are wired.
 

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You have to physically gap the plugs yourself, using a feeler gauge. Most store bought plugs will have too wide a gap for this little car, particularly as plug gaps wear wide.
Regarding the low beams, before you tear into the the stalk at the steering wheel, test the red/white wire that runs between both headlights and to the stalk on the steering column - that’s what runs the low beams, and maybe it’s only a wiring problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So Bex, the headlights are really giving me concern now. So they weren't working at all before. Then I clean the engine bay and push some plugs in and everything works except the low beam headlights.
Just yesterday I was driving it and the headlights were working fine! as soon as the parking break is pushed down, whether the headlights are turned on or not, the low beams come on as DRLs, but I can rotate through the light options and they all work now...

I have no clue...

(thanks for the plug info, I'll do that, and I'll check the wires)
 

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The headlight should extinguish when the park is applied, so you are working OK..
 
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The headlights and the DRL systems interact with one another so if your vehicle is fitted with DRLs you need to pay close attention to what happens when to determine...

- a) if a problem exists.
- b) where the problem lies.

Engine off, light switch off - all lights should be off.
Engine on, light switch off, handbrake up - all lights should be off.
Engine on, light switch off, handbrake down - DRLs (low beam headlights at partial brightness) should be on, all other lights (park/side/tail/dash) should be off.
Engine on, light switch on, park/side position - park/side/tail/dash lights should be on.
Engine on, light switch on, headlight position - park/side/tail/dash lights should be on, headlights should be on, low/high beam as determined by dip switch.
 
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The headlights and the DRL systems interact with one another so if your vehicle is fitted with DRLs you need to pay close attention to what happens when to determine...

  • a) if a problem exists.
  • b) where the problem lies.

Engine off, light switch off - all lights should be off.
Engine on, light switch off, handbrake up - all lights should be off.
Engine on, light switch off, handbrake down - DRLs (low beam headlights at partial brightness) should be on, all other lights (park/side/tail/dash) should be off.
Engine on, light switch on, park/side position - park/side/tail/dash lights should be on.
Engine on, light switch on, headlight position - park/side/tail/dash lights should be on, headlights should be on, low/high beam as determined by dip switch.
Thanks for the detailed breakdown. As of right now, that is exactly what is happening. Previously, though, before I got my hands on this, my parents were saying that the headlights wouldn't turn on at all, nor would the dash lights, or any other lights besides high beams. After I shoved a plug in deeper in the engine by behind the steering wheel and cleaned the engine bay, it's all been working. Even the horn "wasn't working" and now works perfectly. I'm hoping it was just a loose connection ?
 
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