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Discussion Starter #1
So everywhere I look these J20A motor suffer spinning bearings and crankshaft damage.

Has anyone come up with a solution yet?
Is it a simple matter of using bearings with the oil slot perhaps?
Do the crankshaft oil holes need enlarging and chamfering - particularly #4 cylinder if not all of them?
Perhaps an uprated oil pump to deliver more flow? Or is the oil pump pressure already too high causing the bearing to float?
Is there some machining to the rod journals and a different set of bearings from another motor that locates the bearings more solidly?

Surely after all these years of rebuilding these motors someone has come up with a solution - it seems to be such a common complaint. The Suzuki used parts and used engine listings are littered with notes of crankshaft requires regrinding/spun bearings.
 

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Where exactly is it you're finding these reports of spun bearings & damaged crankshafts?

The J20A motor has been around for over twenty years (in fact, one of the two I have is over twenty years old and still going strong), and I don't recall hearing any one raise this issue - they do have a bit of a bad reputation where the timing chains are concerned, but I believe that is caused by neglected maintenance, and possibly the use of the wrong oil filter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Where exactly is it you're finding these reports of spun bearings & damaged crankshafts?

The J20A motor has been around for over twenty years (in fact, one of the two I have is over twenty years old and still going strong), and I don't recall hearing any one raise this issue - they do have a bit of a bad reputation where the timing chains are concerned, but I believe that is caused by neglected maintenance, and possibly the use of the wrong oil filter.
Its all through many forums including this one. Look through the performance forums at people doing their own rebuilds and well over half of them are because of spun bearings prompting them to do a rebuild and do some performance mods at the same time. Look at a lot of the newbies contemplating buying a J20A motored suzuki but were worried about the poor reputation for spinning bearings. Look at the cheap motors on ebay or gumtree and they all mention having to have the crankshaft reground because of spun bearings.

Its extremely common on these J20A motors and you've got Suzuki blinkers on if you think otherwise.

The other problem (easier fix) is timing chain and tensioner issues.
Otherwise, great little engines and my daughter loves her 2009 SX4.

But I'm in the position of the original motor spinning its #4 bearing at 120,000klms and now its second motor having the timing chain tensioner fail, rattling away like crazy, and the oil pressure light coming on/off indicating the tensioner has popped out or the valve behind it having failed and the oil just gushing past it. It used oil anyway at nearly 1/2 litre every 2,500 klms so if I'm going to repair this second motor, I'll do a rebuild.
ie: I don't want to throw more good money after bad by reconditioning one or the other motor and have the motor spin a bearing again in 1, 6, 12 or 24 months time. Hence me asking if anyone has come across a fix I can employ with confidence.

PS: First engine serviced exclusively by authorised Suzuki Dealer - every service and the correct shell synthetic oil used. Second motor was flushed, new filters etc and also only run synthetic oil. Its lasted about 1.5 years/15,000klms but the motor had supposedly only done 105,000klms which I now doubt.
 

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I've had a couple spin bearings due to lack of oil pressure causing "pickup" and wear on the rear main when starting which has led to failures. Apart from that, its people trying to do stupid things with them that are causing issues I think. Castrol GTX 5W-30 is what I run, and recommend to the customers I do work for.
Nothing against the other brand, but I have never liked it as an oil in these engines. 10W40 is a common oil people use, and this can cause problems.

If the oil lights flashing, don't run it. If you do, then you're asking for trouble. #4 bearing will be the first to lose oil and you know what happens then.
 

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I did do a google search after I posted, and found maybe two forum threads, one of which was in this forum, and in that one I asked the same question - so I remain unconvinced that there is an issue with repeated failures - feel free to provide links to "all the many forums" you've found it in.

Every dead J20 I've seen personally has been cam chain related and directly traceable to poor maintenance.

@2013GV - I want to suggest that as you're pouring that GTX in, watch what happens as you near the bottom of the container, I've had several where the oil changes from that "liquid gold" to a darker brown - it's either forming a sludge whilst in storage, or the additives are separating out & settling - I quit using it and went with Valvoline instead.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I did do a google search after I posted, and found maybe two forum threads, one of which was in this forum, and in that one I asked the same question - so I remain unconvinced that there is an issue with repeated failures - feel free to provide links to "all the many forums" you've found it in.

Every dead J20 I've seen personally has been cam chain related and directly traceable to poor maintenance.

@2013GV - I want to suggest that as you're pouring that GTX in, watch what happens as you near the bottom of the container, I've had several where the oil changes from that "liquid gold" to a darker brown - it's either forming a sludge whilst in storage, or the additives are separating out & settling - I quit using it and went with Valvoline instead.
Sorry, but I don't think you tried very hard.

The Engine Failure Thread [Archive] - Club SX4 *huge list!

Custom Engine Swap *very first line!

https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/capalaba/wrecking/suzuki-vitara-j20a-engine-all-parts-available/1207683145

https://www.suzuki-forums.com/suzuki-aerio-liana-forum/178858-cause-j20a-rod-bearing-failures.html

By macsavers
on 09/24/11 14:10 PM (PDT)
When we neared the 90,000 mark, we started to hear a knock in the engine. We couldn't figure it out for the life of us. We always had the oil changed regularly and had regular maintenance, but the mechanic couldn't make out what was wrong and told us to ignore it. Well, a few thousand miles later, we couldn't ignore it any longer... it threw a rod. We had it towed back to Suzuki and the mechanic said "Huh, so that's was was rattling." He told us the engine would have to be completely rebuilt.

https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/canning-vale/engine-engine-parts-transmission/suzuki-grand-vitara-2008-j20a-2-0lt-engine/1178681475
 

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I did do a google search after I posted, and found maybe two forum threads, one of which was in this forum, and in that one I asked the same question - so I remain unconvinced that there is an issue with repeated failures - feel free to provide links to "all the many forums" you've found it in.

Every dead J20 I've seen personally has been cam chain related and directly traceable to poor maintenance.

@2013GV - I want to suggest that as you're pouring that GTX in, watch what happens as you near the bottom of the container, I've had several where the oil changes from that "liquid gold" to a darker brown - it's either forming a sludge whilst in storage, or the additives are separating out & settling - I quit using it and went with Valvoline instead.
yep, seen that in the 4 and 5 litre packs, i'm using about 200 litres a week out of bulk drums. I always make sure a 4 litre pack is mixed well before using it. Its the additives separating and most oils will do it over time if left in the plastic packs. Less so in metal drums. Valvoline is ridiculously expensive here if trying to get it in bulk, I could stock it, but the dealerships i do service work for specify the GTX, so thats what I stock.
 

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By macsavers
on 09/24/11 14:10 PM (PDT)
When we neared the 90,000 mark, we started to hear a knock in the engine. We couldn't figure it out for the life of us. We always had the oil changed regularly and had regular maintenance, but the mechanic couldn't make out what was wrong and told us to ignore it. Well, a few thousand miles later, we couldn't ignore it any longer... it threw a rod. We had it towed back to Suzuki and the mechanic said "Huh, so that's was was rattling." He told us the engine would have to be completely rebuilt.
reading this I would have thought any decent mechanic would have gotten a stethoscope out and listened, you can't blame failure on lack of diagnosis and an engine that you know is knocking and don't investigate the cause.

you will always get the ones that have failures complaining, very rarely will you hear from the thousands, if not millions by now of J20 owners that haven't had an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
reading this I would have thought any decent mechanic would have gotten a stethoscope out and listened, you can't blame failure on lack of diagnosis and an engine that you know is knocking and don't investigate the cause.

you will always get the ones that have failures complaining, very rarely will you hear from the thousands, if not millions by now of J20 owners that haven't had an issue.
I see. So rather than taking the point that the yet another rod bearing had spun, you've chosen to blame the mechanic for not diagnosing something that was already on the way out whether he was being responsible or not.

As i stated - Suzuki Blinkers.

I had hoped to obtain some useful information to assist me regarding a rebuild or not, but it seems you are in denial rather than face that the internet is scattered with references to Suzuki spun bearings and damaged crankshafts.
Sorry if the truth hurts.
Doesn't seem like this forum is as helpful as I had thought it might be.
 

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Sorry, but I don't think you tried very hard.
So you came up with a grand total of three forum threads and two classifieds where someone is selling used engine parts, one with a "damaged crank" and no further details - seems it's not so many after all.

Let me ask you this question - can you find at least one documented instance of a spun bearing on a J20a in an Escudo/Tracker/Vitara/Grand Vitara?

Does the problem affect all J20a engines or only the transverse mounted ones? Does this relate to the shape and/or capacity of the oil pan, the location of the pump pickup, the lack of a baffle or windage tray - in short are you looking in the right place?
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
So you came up with a grand total of three forum threads and two classifieds where someone is selling used engine parts, one with a "damaged crank" and no further details - seems it's not so many after all.

Let me ask you this question - can you find at least one documented instance of a spun bearing on a J20a in an Escudo/Tracker/Vitara/Grand Vitara?

Does the problem affect all J20a engines or only the transverse mounted ones? Does this relate to the shape and/or capacity of the oil pan, the location of the pump pickup, the lack of a baffle or windage tray - in short are you looking in the right place?
Besides that one of those forum threads had 16 rod end failures, I didn't list every single instance of spun bearings I have come across. That would take many hours.
There is by the way two YouTube video's demonstrating the knocking noise in SX4's as well.

Of course it still seems a small number compared with the number of cars sold. As with any car marque, it only takes a small percentage of reports for it to 'become known' as being a common problem because its only enthusiasts (and mostly DIY) that report it in forums and blogs and such. But if you ask Suzuki Dealers they know of it also being a common problem. There are complaints to Consumer affairs about Suzuki not extending the warranty to cover a repeatedly reported problem.

Its seems to be mostly SX4's with J20A motors having this problem, but that could also be because thats mostly what my searches are for. I've come across plenty of J20A motors in the Vitara's but they don't seem to have the spun bearing problem much at all compared to the SX4 so you might be onto something with the engine orientation.
However, if the pickup is being momentarily uncovered there would be a corresponding flash of the oil pressure light and no one at all anywhere I have looked has mentioned this.
In fact the oil light doesn't come on at all and I would expect that if its only the bearing spinning. I know our certainly didn't.

And this is the sort of thinking I was hoping might come out of such a discussion on a dedicated Suzuki forum. Not denial, because there are a lot of instances of the bearing spin and resulting crankshaft damage.

I was further hoping a Suzuki engine builder or mechanic who has worked for a suzuki mob in the past might have popped his hand up and said 'yes - i know what causes that and how to fix it' instead of this time wasting denying that it happens at all. I gave you enough examples to show it isn't an isolated instance but reported enough times to be a marque problem. Further to that, if you look at the examples they are all in different countries - USA, UK, Australia and you don't get that sort of spread of reports unless it was common to the species.
 

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First - that oil pressure light - based on personal experience, there are many owner/driver/operators who will not notice the oil pressure light briefly wink on and go back out, and of those that do, a surprising number will think nothing of it, because the light does not remain on.


SX4 oil pan - RW420 2007~2009



SX4 oil pan - RW420 2010~



Aerio oil pan - RH420



Grand Vitara oil pan - SQ420 - 1998~2005



Grand Vitara oil pan - JB420 - 2005~

Second - there may be more to the engine orientation and the potential for oil starvation than meets the eye - the images above were taken from the parts catalogues - look at the shape of the pans and the locations of the pickup. A quick search indicates that the transverse engine variants take a little less than five quarts as compared to a full six for the longitudinal mounted ones, and the pickup on the longitudinally mounted engines appears to sit a lot lower in the pan.

Note also that the early SX4 pan lacks any sort of baffling or windage tray, and the location of the baffles in the later SX4 pan - this suggests that the pickup sits towards the front of the pan.

You could well be looking at a scenario where that pickup becomes uncovered under combined conditions of low oil level, along with a vehicle facing up hill and/or hard acceleration.

FWIW, I just got off the phone with the local dealer, yes, they have seen J20s with damaged cranks, no, it's not common, and the cause is letting the oil run low - in other words - neglect.

I should mention at this point that the only vehicles we got here with J20s were the Grand Vitaras, we never got the Aerios, and the SX4s that we get have M16 engines.
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I came across this, makes for interesting reading, and possibly shed some light on the pan design, baffles, and oil starvation issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
First - that oil pressure light - based on personal experience, there are many owner/driver/operators who will not notice the oil pressure light briefly wink on and go back out, and of those that do, a surprising number will think nothing of it, because the light does not remain on.

Second - there may be more to the engine orientation and the potential for oil starvation than meets the eye - the images above were taken from the parts catalogues - look at the shape of the pans and the locations of the pickup. A quick search indicates that the transverse engine variants take a little less than five quarts as compared to a full six for the longitudinal mounted ones, and the pickup on the longitudinally mounted engines appears to sit a lot lower in the pan.

Note also that the early SX4 pan lacks any sort of baffling or windage tray, and the location of the baffles in the later SX4 pan - this suggests that the pickup sits towards the front of the pan.

You could well be looking at a scenario where that pickup becomes uncovered under combined conditions of low oil level, along with a vehicle facing up hill and/or hard acceleration.

FWIW, I just got off the phone with the local dealer, yes, they have seen J20s with damaged cranks, no, it's not common, and the cause is letting the oil run low - in other words - neglect.

I should mention at this point that the only vehicles we got here with J20s were the Grand Vitaras, we never got the Aerios, and the SX4s that we get have M16 engines.
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I came across this, makes for interesting reading, and possibly shed some light on the pan design, baffles, and oil starvation issues.
Thank you.
Terrific and helpful information.
The link was good also although the J20A motor I've pulled the sump off does have a factory windage tray so I expect they all do.
But no baffling in the sump.

I did look at the short little oil pickup tube as a possible design flaw because its a small diameter (less likely to become uncovered with oil sloshing around) but then they also put a domed screen on it which lifts it higher off the sump floor - sort of self defeating in a way.
ie: it would be more usual to find a bigger diameter cone affair with a flat screen so its all able to be deeper into the sump.
(never on the sump floor though of course so as not to pick up crud).

There's no way to know but it would be interesting to see how many of the rod end failures are in hilly road areas, or possibly flat fast roads/highways with long curves that sends the oil down one end of the sump. This scenario would make right turning curves deadly for the engine as the oil would be sent to the gearbox end of the motor.
In our case, its Sydney and full of hills and windy roads. The daily commute of 15klms up and down steep windy hills possibly did it in if the oil pickup is to blame.

Then again, you would think Suzuki would be clever enough to realise all this with their long time 4WD drive experience and other east/west designs despite the SX4 not being a serious off roader but more an urban AWD.
 

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I've had a couple spin bearings due to lack of oil pressure causing "pickup" and wear on the rear main when starting which has led to failures. Apart from that, its people trying to do stupid things with them that are causing issues I think. Castrol GTX 5W-30 is what I run, and recommend to the customers I do work for.
Nothing against the other brand, but I have never liked it as an oil in these engines. 10W40 is a common oil people use, and this can cause problems.

If the oil lights flashing, don't run it. If you do, then you're asking for trouble. #4 bearing will be the first to lose oil and you know what happens then.
GTX?? Is 5w-30 available in GTX? In NZ I've always thought of GTX as 20w-50 for older engines.

Castrol's selector gives Edge or Magnatec as options for Suzukis.

There was some talk of early SX4 doing big ends but that seems to have been dismissed as too much over revving on manuals. Whether this was in straight lines or tight corners is unknown.

Edit: If the windage tray isn't shown for some SX4 it may be on another diagram maybe with the iron main bearing girdle.
 

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GTX?? Is 5w-30 available in GTX? In NZ I've always thought of GTX as 20w-50 for older engines.

Castrol's selector gives Edge or Magnatec as options for Suzukis.

There was some talk of early SX4 doing big ends but that seems to have been dismissed as too much over revving on manuals. Whether this was in straight lines or tight corners is unknown.

Edit: If the windage tray isn't shown for some SX4 it may be on another diagram maybe with the iron main bearing girdle.
the drum i have here is marked "castrol magnatec GTX 5W-30"

and yep its available in 0w20, 5w20, 5w30, and 10w30

https://www.castrol.com/en_us/united-states/home/motor-oil-and-fluids/engine-oils/motor-engine-oil-brands/castrol-gtx-magnatec.html#tab_5w-30
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just purely for interest:
I decided to rebuild this engine.
I contacted a reputable machinist and arranged for the dismantled engine to be picked up.

When he asked me what engine it was and I told him Suzuki J20A, without any prompting he asked if it had spun a bearing.
I replied yes - how did you know.
He replied that it seemed to be quite common on these engines. Turns out he does all the engine machining and rebuilds for Titan Ford and Crawford Motors (BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Suzuki) in our area.
He told me they are virtually the only engine that does it and he's had lots of them over the years.

Unfortunately he didn't particularly know why when I asked him and if it was something he knew how to prevent.

So I'm having a rebuild rather than a recondition. Apparently by law this only means using the same pistons. ie; if they were new pistons along with all the other machining it would be a 'recondition' but because he'll use the OEM pistons with new rings, it can only be called a rebuild.
Of course, the crank will be ground and all new bearings installed, head machined if required and all the usual stuff.
Fingers crossed.

I might be tempted to experiment with the spare sump. It would be interesting to know what the factory or private rally guys do, although I suspect they would go dry sump I suppose.
 

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the drum i have here is marked "castrol magnatec GTX 5W-30"

and yep its available in 0w20, 5w20, 5w30, and 10w30

https://www.castrol.com/en_us/united-states/home/motor-oil-and-fluids/engine-oils/motor-engine-oil-brands/castrol-gtx-magnatec.html#tab_5w-30
The retail pack Magnatec that I buy doesn't come with GTX branding. The Castrol NZ web site seems to divide retail oil into mineral GTX, semi synthetic some Magnatec viscosities and full synthetic being Edge or Magnatec. There appear to be some different 5w-30 Magnatec formulations with 5w-30 C3 having Dexos 2 approval for GM servicing.
 

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The retail pack Magnatec that I buy doesn't come with GTX branding. The Castrol NZ web site seems to divide retail oil into mineral GTX, semi synthetic some Magnatec viscosities and full synthetic being Edge or Magnatec. There appear to be some different 5w-30 Magnatec formulations with 5w-30 C3 having Dexos 2 approval for GM servicing.
true, retail plastic packs are edge or magnatec, bulk drums carry a slew of other markings you won't see on the "public" rack packs. I don't usually buy retail packs unless a customer specifically requests a certain brand, even then i suggest they buy it and i'll put it in. I have seen some funny oils bought in to be put into cars, and some are nothing like what is recommended. I do wonder about the sales staff at some of the places, and whether they can actually read a spec when given a model to look up.
 
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