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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Headed home Driving on freeway after a 5 hour trip. Suddenly the sidekick looses acceleration and stepping on gas does nothing. Had to pull over. Seems like a fuel issue or transmission issue? Any ideas?
 

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99 Tracker, 5 door, 2L, 4x4
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Yes, you need to stop guessing and start checking,

  1. Is the fuel pump running ?
  2. Is the fuel pressure and flow in spec ?
  3. When was the last time you changed the filter ?
  4. When was the last time you pulled the plugs ?
  5. What is your compression numbers ?

Do I need to go on ??
 

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Transmission issue - engine will run well in neutral.
Fuel issue - engine will not run well in neutral.

I should point out that I used the term "fuel issue" only because you thought it might be a possible fuel issue, it could actually be a multitude of other things, so really an engine issue rather than a fuel issue - we're not there to see/hear/experience what is happening, you have to provide specific detail, and if that is beyond your capability, then you need local assistance.
 

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1991 Hardtop 3-door Tracker 1.6L 4WD 5-Speed No A/C
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Welcome to the FORUM.

You also need to tell us more about your Sidekick -- specs on engine, tranny, etc. Mileage, maintenance (and who does it), accident record, how/where it is driven, etc.
 

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Some more info needed…..were you able to restart the Sidekick? Is your check engine light on with the key on, and off when cranking? If the engine no longer starts, can you start it with starter fluid sprayed into the intake?
There are many reasons this can happen as listed above. The initial question now is whether or not you can get the engine started again.
If you are unfamiliar with the car, there are a few hints. For example, when you turn the key to the on position, your fuel pump should run for 3 seconds. Someone standing at the back of the car should be able to hear it. Can they?
If the engine now cranks but doesn’t start, it’s possible that the timing belt broke.
Do the lights on your dash work, when you turn the key to the on position? It’s possible that, for example, the ignition coil fuse blew (or other fuses). The fuse box is under the dash, at your left knee. Have you checked fuses?
So, the first thing we’d need to know is if the fuses are ok, and if you can get the engine started again and/or if it will start with starter fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all! You’ve given me many things to look for and check. I replaced the fuel filter last night. No dice. I crank the ignition and it acts as if it wants to start, but doesn’t crank over. You’ve given me a few things to check, like fuel pump engagement when key is in the on position. I’ll check plugs as well.
Also, there is NO check engine light when the vehicle lost acceleration on the freeway per my daughter driving it. I experience normal dash lights and sounds when trying to crank, just never turns over. The battery was replaced about a month ago. Could this be a mass air flow sensor issue?

A bit of history for those that asked. I’ve owned the vehicle for about six months. It has 86k mikes on it. My daughter uses it as her daily driver and up to this point has run decent. It never has had any sort pep off the line from a stop. But again we are talking small engine so it wasn’t concerning. It also has taken a bit to get up to speed as well. This bothered me a bit, but again just accepted it and thought I could tinker later.

I typically do my own repairs on my vehicles, but I’m by no means an expert mechanic. YouTube is my best friend for how to videos.
 

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So now we're getting a different picture - it apparently isn't starting - big difference from the initial post.

By the way - you're going to have to get some details correct - when you turn the key to the start position, and then engine goes rrr-rrr-rrr - that is the sound of the starter cranking the engine or turning it over, if you get a click and no rrr-rrr-rrr, or maybe no sound at all when you turn the key, that would be not cranking or turning over.

We're not there to see/hear/experience what is happening, you have to tell us, and if you're having trouble explaining it, then the feedback you get will be misleading.
 

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1991 Hardtop 3-door Tracker 1.6L 4WD 5-Speed No A/C
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And one more question. Since it's a '92, does your odometer have 5 or 6 digits? If 5, and it shows 85,000, it might be 185,000 instead. But if you have 6 digits, it's only had <3,000 miles per year -- about eight miles per day!!! If it has 5 digits, it's time for pressure check of the cylinders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So now we're getting a different picture - it apparently isn't starting - big difference from the initial post.

By the way - you're going to have to get some details correct - when you turn the key to the start position, and then engine goes rrr-rrr-rrr - that is the sound of the starter cranking the engine or turning it over, if you get a click and no rrr-rrr-rrr, or maybe no sound at all when you turn the key, that would be not cranking or turning over.

We're not there to see/hear/experience what is happening, you have to tell us, and if you're having trouble explaining it, then the feedback you get will be misleading.
Thank you and I’m trying the best I can. I understand that explanation without being onsite is challenging for me and you as the recipient. Loosing acceleration on the freeway, pulling over and vehicle stopping completely and then unsuccessfully trying to restart are all related. As of now the vehicle will not start, but does crank making the rrr-rrr-rrr sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
And one more question. Since it's a '92, does your odometer have 5 or 6 digits? If 5, and it shows 85,000, it might be 185,000 instead. But if you have 6 digits, it's only had <3,000 miles per year -- about eight miles per day!!! If it has 5 digits, it's time for pressure check of the cylinders.
The odometer is 5 digits. When I bought the vehicle from the grandson of the original owner he assured me that it had not rolled over since 185000 would be more plausible. So…who knows??
How do I check pressure of the cylinders?
 

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How do I check pressure of the cylinders?
This one takes us to the flip side of the forum assistance conundrum - how can you tell whether the person guiding you knows what they are talking about?

He most likely means a "compression test" - compression tests are done in an attempt to "gauge" the general condition of an engine by measuring the pressure that it will develop in the cylinders when being cranked. You remove all the spark plugs, screw a compression test gauge into the spark plug hole, wedge the throttle wide open and crank the engine over three or four times, record the pressure indicated on the gauge, repeat for each cylinder and then compare the readings to the specification shown in the service manual.

Worn engines develop less pressure than those in "good health", variations in pressure between cylinders can indicate problems with a particular cylinder, possible burned valves, defective head gaskets, etc., etc.. Just one of many diagnostic tools available.
 
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Step one should be to identify what we're working with - a 92 Sidekick - is it an 8v engine or a 16v engine - 16 valve engines say so on the timing cover.

Step two would be the basic tests - an engine needs three things to run, air, fuel, fire - what are you missing? The easiest to check are fuel & fire - remove a spark plug, hold it against the cylinder head and have someone else crank the engine, are you getting a spark? If there's no spark, you're going to focus on the ignition system - connect the spark plug to the coil and repeat the test.

If there is a spark, refit the spark plug and spray starting fluid into the intake whilst cranking the engine - does it fire up & run on the starting fluid? If it does, then you're not getting fuel and you know where to focus.
 
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2,800 miles per year or 6,100 miles per year? It's hard enough to believe the latter, but that's possible. The former?

Others might have a way to check it out, you want to -- like looking at the wear on the camshaft -- but perhaps an engine compression test would be just as good.

Did the original owner keep records of maintenance?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Step one should be to identify what we're working with - a 92 Sidekick - is it an 8v engine or a 16v engine - 16 valve engines say so on the timing cover.

Step two would be the basic tests - an engine needs three things to run, air, fuel, fire - what are you missing? The easiest to check are fuel & fire - remove a spark plug, hold it against the cylinder head and have someone else crank the engine, are you getting a spark? If there's no spark, you're going to focus on the ignition system - connect the spark plug to the coil and repeat the test.

If there is a spark, refit the spark plug and spray starting fluid into the intake whilst cranking the engine - does it fire up & run on the starting fluid? If it does, then you're not getting fuel and you know where to focus.
It’s a 16 valve

I’ll give those things a try. Thanks! 🙏🏻
 

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Check your fuses. Do you have a service manual? These are listed at the main page of this sub-Forum. That will show you where they all are.
 

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Does this look right for testing? In cranking with this setup, no spark.
You say you have "normal dash lights" when trying to crank - do you have charge, oil pressure & check engine lights when you turn the key to on? If you do, pop the distributor cap off and see if the rotor turns when you crank the engine.

What we're doing here is checking to see if the cam belt broke - primarily because it failed suddenly - there are other possible causes for no spark, but lets get that one out of the way.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You say you have "normal dash lights" when trying to crank - do you have charge, oil pressure & check engine lights when you turn the key to on? If you do, pop the distributor cap off and see if the rotor turns when you crank the engine.

What we're doing here is checking to see if the cam belt broke - primarily because it failed suddenly - there are other possible causes for no spark, but lets get that one out of the way.
replaced rotor and cap. Rotor turns when cranking the engine. Still does not start.
 

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I'm going to assume that the charge, oil pressure, and check engine lights are lit when you turn the key to on - if that is not correct you need to say so.


Go to the link above, find the diagnostic connector, jumper it and switch the ignition on - what code do you get? If it's a 12, crank the engine over and then without switching the ignition off, check the code again.
 
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