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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! I have a USA 1995 Suzuki Sidekick 4 door, 4 speed automatic with a 16 valve engine with 98K miles (second engine for the car with 175K total on the car) and I have the following symptoms that I can't quite pinpoint and was hoping I could get some help.
  • Hard to start and it takes a couple tries to get it started but will turn over.
  • When it turns over starts with a rough idle and then starts revving after a couple of seconds from about 800 to over 3500 rpm and doesnt stop. When I try to shift it to drive the idle would just drop and it stalls unless I keep it at about 800.
  • Noticed some oil leaking from around the exhaust manifold. Cleaned it but nothing has come back after changing gasket.
  • Initially smoke was coming from the exhaust manifold and I ended up removing the exhaust and replaced the gasket and retorqued everything. That stopped the smoking.
  • Checked for a vacuum leak but I wasn't able to find one with starter fluid or smoke.
  • I checked and cleaned the IAC and put on a fresh gasket.
  • I did a quick tune up and changed some things like oil, oil filter, air filter, and swapped in new spark plugs to see if that helped but alas.
I wanted advice on what to try next or if someone has had similar issues in the past and what worked for them? My next thought is to test the IAC valve sensor to see if that's faulty. I've read they can go out on these models pretty readily but the symptoms I've read about don't really line up to what I'm seeing. Just not sure the best way to do that. I've read about using a multimeter to do it but was wondering what would happen if I tried unplugging it when the engine started and see if that might change something of the sensor is working.

I am also wondering if it could be timing? Could that be something that could give this crazy rev at idle? Or could there be a vacuum leak I'm missing? Not sure where to check. I retorqued everything around the engine and intake but it all seemed good. I'm pretty new to this engine so not really sure if I'm following the vacuum lines correctly.

Any other suggestions?

Much appreciated! - Joey
 

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Welcome to the forum. I’d first ask if this car is new to you, or if you’ve been having these symptoms for a while. Has this engine ever run properly since you’ve had it? And if so, was there any repair or modification done to the car just before these symptoms arose? I’d also ask you to confirm that your check engine light is on with the key in the on position, and off once the engine starts.
While you are advising that there are difficulties starting the car - is this with cold start only? If the engine has been warmed up, do you still have the same difficulties starting the engine?
For the hard starting, try this - floor the gas pedal when cranking the engine...does it start more easily? Flooring the gas pedal stops fuel delivery, and if this helps, it might indicate that your engine is flooding. Pulling your spark plugs and checking the spark plug tips could confirm this (and note that your spark plugs should be gapped to .7mm and not just used out of the box).
If flooring the gas pedal doesn’t help, then try depressing the gas pedal about 1/3 of the way. This adds extra air to initial start up, and will confirm if the engine is starved for air when trying to start.
You talk about timing, and I wonder if the engine had a timing belt replacement recently?
Normally, when you start to diagnose, you should confirm valve timing by doing a compression test - simple to do on your car, just remove all spark plugs, remove the FI fuse to stop fuel/spark, and floor the gas pedal while cranking about 5-6 times for best compression. If you do one, post your results, as this is a good place to start to get some direction as to where to go next.
By the way, in checking for vacuum leaks, if you pinch each of the vacuum hoses that you see, when the engine is warm and idling, you should not get any change in idle, other than with the idle speed solenoid, where the idle should reduce.
Maybe also give some info as to whether you have good acceleration/power with the engine, at both low and high rpms, what kind of gas mileage you’re getting, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've had the car for about 6 months and it had been doing fine. My roommate had been driving it. There were some issues with some rough shifting when driving but got much better after I changed the transmission fluid. As for repairs and modifications, I hadn't done anything other than replacing the headlight bulbs and put in a radio.

The check engine light does not come on when I start the car or when it is idling. For the starting, the initial start seems to be fine honestly; it's just each subsequent start that is hard to start. It kinda acted like a dying battery and alternator but both checked out fine when I got them tested. I have been a little scared to leave the car going since it has been revving so high and it doesn't go down. The spark plugs were gapped correctly with my feeler gauges.

When I talked to the previous owner about maintenance he said that he had the timing belt changed about 30K miles ago. So it's been a while from what I gather as the car sat for a bit, hence changing all the fluids and the tune-up.

I can try a compression test to see what the results say regarding that. I might be able to do it tonight or this weekend.

As for power/acceleration, the car has felt a little sluggish when accelerating but I am not sure if that is due to it being a smaller engine with lower horsepower than I'm used to (daily driver is around 180 hp) and the comparison feels off, but the mileage seems to be around 15-16 mpg when it I first got it.

Thanks for the help! I'll get on that compression test ASAP.
 

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If the check engine light does not come on when the ignition is switched on, before the engine is started, it might be a good idea to find out why - start by a taking a look at the bulb, it may be blown or have been removed. If when you insert a bulb it does not go out after the engine is started, there may be a code set, or the SES (Service Engine Soon) feature may have been tripped.

Let us know & Bex will tell you how to reset it.
 

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With the key in the on position the CEL indicates that the computer is doing its ‘self check’. It’s imperative that you check to see if the bulb is in place, burned out, etc., and replace it. The CEL MUST go on with the key in the on position, and off once the engine has started. And while your engine is OBD1, the computer will turn that light on, while running, if it sees gross faults.
And just in case, when you get the light working, you find that the light does not go out when the engine is running, it’s either the service engine soon function, or codes. To flip the switch to turn off the service engine soon:

Note that at cold start, your engine should rev to about 1500 rpm or so, and slowly reduce rpm as the engine warms up.
And it might be a good idea to check the 17mm bolt in the crank pulley, to confirm that it is torqued to 94ft/lbs.
So, CEL bulb, compression test, checking 17mm bolt......
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Checked the light last night. I was confused when I read it initially. The bulb and light comes on when the key is in the on position but when it turns over it goes off. I couldn't do the compression test and didn't have my torque wrench with me. Thanks for the help! I'll get to the compression test Saturday.
 

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Good! When the CEL goes off with the engine running, it means that the computer has no fault codes. In order to get codes, in your car, you will find a tiny white box with a black locking top on it - it should be dangling off of 4 or 6 wires, up by the right side (passenger side) headlight. In earlier cars, it was just by the battery tray. Four of the wires going to it will be blue/yellow, blue/red, purple, and black. You depress the tabs on the black top, remove it, and you’ll see 4-6 little connectors inside. You jump the blue/yellow pinned connector to the black connector with a wire, metal paper clip, or similar. Then turn your key to the on position. That CEL should start flashing. Flash, pause, flash flash, longer pause and repeat will mean code 12, which means that the ECU does not see any major faults. Pay attention to where the longer pause is, as there is also a code 21!
Note that if you wanted to use a timing light to check your ignition timing, you would need to jump the blue/red pin to the black pin, in that little box, in order to remove the ECU input to your ignition timing.
There, that’s the lesson for today....lol
 

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I did the compression test as requested though I had to do it on a cold engine. When I tried to crank it, it immediately revved up and I was scared to keep it doing that so I let it warm up as much as I felt comfortable doing. The results were:
1 - 105 psi
2 - 120 psi
3 - 125 psi
4 - 105 psi

As I was taking it apart to do the test, I also cleaned the throttle body again just to be sure. I noticed that it wasn't closing all the way so I adjusted the throttle cable and that helped with the revving a bit but did not totally address the issue.

I also tested the engine codes. Got 12.
I haven't got to the cam yet to check the torque. I figured if I did, I'd just go ahead an retime, change the tensioner, belt and water pump, and see if that helps.
 

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Did you do the test correctly? You are meant to remove ALL the spark plugs and remove the FI fuse, as well as having the gas pedal floored while you are cranking. Confirm that you did this properly.
If done correctly, your numbers indicate that your engine is not timed properly. The valve timing should be done to cylinder #4 firing, meaning that when you have the crank key at 12:00, the cam key at 6:00 and the cam mark (using either the E or 60 mark) at 12:00, cylinder #4 should be in the firing position. Note that if your engine is time properly, your results on the 16v engine (and please put these specs in your signature so everyone knows what you’re driving) should be about 170psi on a cold engine and 190psi on a warm one.
While you are checking this, confirm that the 17mm bolt on the crank pulley is torqued to 94ft/lbs. If you find it looser than that, you’ll need to remove the pulley and check the crank keyway for shearing.....
 

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I did the test twice and got the same results each time. Pretty sure I did it correctly.

I ordered a new belt and hoping to change it asap to see if that helps. Fingers crossed...
 

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When you change the belt, you will need to check to make sure that the timing has been done correctly, rather than just putting the belt on as it is set up now. And you MUST check that 17mm bolt - frankly, I would check it now, as driving around with that bolt not torqued to 94ft/lbs is asking for some serious trouble.
 
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