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My 2001 Vitara J20 is 'almost' starting when it gets below -20C... but not quite. A few cylinders fire - followed by it just cranking - followed by a few cylinders firing - etc... but it won't start & run. When I plug in the block heater: no problem, starts immediately. Any suggestions on how to make its cold weather starting more reliable? Thanks!
 

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When last was a "tune-up" done? New plugs, new leads, and yes I know a J20 is "coil-on-plug" and has no leads, the lance that connects the coil to the plug is the equivalent of the plug leads and is replaceable separately.
 

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And give thought to adding an injector cleaning / water remover and check the battery for clean terminals / charge state as well while your at it. ;)

 

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I have a 99 J20 which fires on all 4 on first roll over (even at - temps), has 265K on the engine, ~90k on the iridium plugs and runs on top grade regular fuel... It has the original COPs and lances, suggest you do some diagnostics before throwing parts at it...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
When last was a "tune-up" done? New plugs, new leads, and yes I know a J20 is "coil-on-plug" and has no leads, the lance that connects the coil to the plug is the equivalent of the plug leads and is replaceable separately.
New plugs (gapped at 0.044") when I replaced the timing chains/sprockets/guides (10k ago). I can't help but feel it's a fuel delivery problem, because all 4 cylinders fire... then don't... then do. I've ordered new leads (didn't know they could be separated from the ignition coil modules) to see if that helps. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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Good idea, I hadn't thought of injector cleaner - I'll get a can. I can't help but feel it's a fuel delivery problem unique to very cold weather (below -20C)... otherwise it always starts immediately. Our gas here is 10% ethanol, so I doubt it's water. Battery, terminals & alternator output are fine... brand new starter would probably crank her over until it melted ;-) Thanks!
And give thought to adding an injector cleaning / water remover and check the battery for clean terminals / charge state as well while your at it. ;)

ll
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have a 99 J20 which fires on all 4 on first roll over (even at - temps), has 265K on the engine, ~90k on the iridium plugs and runs on top grade regular fuel... It has the original COPs and lances, suggest you do some diagnostics before throwing parts at it...
OK, will do. Any suggestions on what I should be trying to measure & how? (Are there ignition quality trouble shooting links for J20s on this site?) OBD II shows nothing (except for the usual evaporator canister code, which all 3 of my 2001 Vitaras always developed... but always started below -20C... even at 300K kms) The shop manual addresses presence/absence of ignition, but not ignition quality or ignition issues due to temperature. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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OBD II shows nothing (except for the usual evaporator canister code, which all 3 of my 2001 Vitaras always developed... Thanks for the suggestion!
What is the code? depends what is amiss, could cause a lean condition which would inhibit start...
 

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ewww, 10% ethanol and cold, what a match made in heaven (not). That could be a part of the problem, especially at those temps. Can you toss a tank of "normal" gas thru it and see if its better? I have found starting blended fuels in cold weather can be problematic at times. Its even worse with part tank fulls. Even adding a 1/2 tank of non blended fuel may help.
you may be experiencing a bit of water separating out of the fuel via condensation in the tank leading to hard starts when cold.

Just something else to think about.
.
 

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Doubt he will find non blend in Canada, I have no issues even at -25C on 10%E, starts on first spin...
 

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RJ!
The earliest Vitara's of this generation have a recall in affect that may be worth having your Mechanic consider.... a fuel pressure regulator issue. ;)

Suzuki Grand Vitara Recall
Item Affected: FUEL SYSTEM, GASOLINE
Date Announced: 08/30/2004
Description of Recall:
ON CERTAIN PASSENGER VEHICLES, UNDER AMBIENT TEMPERATURES BELOW -25 DEGREES CELSIUS, MOISTURE CAN FREEZE IN THE FUEL PRESSURE REGULATOR. AS A RESULT, FUEL SYSTEM PRESSURE MAY INCREASE AT THE TIME OF ENGINE START UP, CAUSING FUEL LOSS AT THE FUEL PIPE/FUEL HOSE CONNECTION.
Action Need To Fix It:
DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE FUEL PRESSURE REGULATOR, THE FUEL DELIVER HOSE AND REPLACE THE HOSE CLAMP WITH AN IMPROVED CLAMP. THE RECALL BEGAN ON SEPTEMBER 29, 2004. OWNERS SHOULD CONTACT SUZUKI AT 1-800-934-0934.
 

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It is always possibly condensation causing icing in the lines or clogging the fuel regulator, which certainly would affect it as the recall Max has found suggests.
Once moisture gets into the fuel its difficult to get the system "dry" again. Full fuel tanks and minimal excess air space will help.
Do you guys have denatured alcohol over there? a cup of that in 1/2 a fuel tank rips the moisture out of the fuel and holds it suspended and allows it to flow thru the system and get burnt in the normal combustion process. At least that will rule out water and icing as a possible cause.

its called Methylated spirits here, might be worth a shot, its a simple trial if you can't get unblended fuel.

95492
 

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You could use a block heater. my 200 gv 2.5 did same thing. oil pan magnetic heater fixed me up. and a hair dryer on the intake got me started the first time it happened.
 

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He's already there. ;)

My 2001 Vitara J20 is 'almost' starting when it gets below -20C... but not quite. A few cylinders fire - followed by it just cranking - followed by a few cylinders firing - etc... but it won't start & run. When I plug in the block heater: no problem, starts immediately. Any suggestions on how to make its cold weather starting more reliable? Thanks!
 
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