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Discussion Starter #1
I am a new user on here but own 2 trackers and have rebuilt the motor one one before. That all being said i am used to obd2 and wax pellet IAC's and the rest of the tracker quirks have me over my head. I have a 1990 chevy badged, 5spd 4x4, AC (Unbelted) with minor mods, but nothing to engine just an inch on suspension and flipped front strut mounts. I have replaced the plugs (Ngk), wires, O2 (Single Wire), Air Filter, Idler and Timing Belt, Rotor and Cap, Adjusted Valve Lash, Replaced Fan Clutch (3rd Times a charm, thanks autozone) and master cylinder, and vacuum lines (one at a time, i have GM service manual and GM Parts catalog for reference and they seem correct with no leaks, Air Temp, Water Temp, Thermostat (180) and water pump. Timing is to spec (with a guilty conscience after reading on here about jumping pins somewhere?!) CEL works, found out about the switch when i rolled over 100k, has 101k and i am second owner, Cali car whole time and all maint. Records from Dealership the old man took it to. All this stuff aside, a figured a couple hundred bucks and some work would be a great peace of mind in terms of reliability, but i cant get it to get more than 16MPG, it has 1 inch spacers and 235/75 r15's, Goodyear Wranglers and thats it. Had terrible shimmy with hardtop on at 45mph and none without so i got it aligned and tired re balanced. So all in all, i haven't delved terribly deep as i don't Fully understand TBI, and am ready to try and figure this out. Any help is appreciated, i have just about any tools for diagnosis. Issues i noticed where the IAT sensor was damaged so i replaced it, ran really cold until the fan clutch was replaced, valve lash wasn't terribly off and was adjusted cold than checked hot, good. Idles at 1500 cold, takes 4-5 minutes to warm up, then idles at 1000-1100 after driving it around. Runs fine, seems to have power, backfires when cold if i try to accelerate quickly. No CEL and EGR seems to work and exh not cracked, Cat works and passed smog with 1100 rpm idle, trying to figure this out. Ask away and ill get back same day, thanks in advance guys.
 

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My first suggestion would be to do a compression test, to confirm your engine timing. Simple to do, and cheap as well.
Also confirm that you have gapped your spark plugs at .028". Presumably as you advise you have searched the forum for info, you know that the engine timing is done to cylinder #4 firing and the ignition timing is done to cylinder #1.
Just for your info, your car should start from cold at about 2000 rpm or so, and within 5-10 seconds, you should hear a very definite drop of rpm, to about 1500 rpm, as the throttle opener at the rear of the throttle body closes. Do you hear this? Then your idle is governed by the wax pellet mechanical air valve, and the idle speed solenoid. As the wax pellet expands, the extra vacuum from this decreases, and this valve closes.
Idle is also dependent on whether or not the ECU thinks that the car is warmed up. Do you have great heat in the cab?? An IR thermometer pointed at the thermostat housing, when the car is warmed up, should confirm warm running temp - normally about 170F at the housing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for responding Bex, ive seen that poor red one around the forums alot. Did compression test before all the parts change out to see if i had to rebuild, all was well and in spec. Plugs are gapped, i ran into the timing and setting TDC when i had the dist. 180 out and it wouldnt crank, im sure its a common story. Plugs are good, timing is good and idles well without jumping all over, idle is up on start then it drops down. It had a 160 thermo in it when i started changing all these parts out, housing is 130 and temp stays a notch above cold. If i lug the motor up a hill (to my freind with a IR thermo) it gets warm, go up the hill backwards or hold higher rpm (3500k) it gets to 1/4 above cold. Thermostat housing was 130f and after holding high rpm and letting off it was 120f but im just above the cold line, upper radiator hose is too hot to touch. Maybe bad sender or symptom?
 

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Bad or floating thermostat, should be stable >170-190 to satisfy the ECU..

Without that temp the brain assumes the engine is in cold start condition (rich)..

.. Philip
 
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It had a 160 thermo in it when i started changing all these parts out, housing is 130 and temp stays a notch above cold.
x2 on Aqua's post. The factory spec thermostat is 180* and many of us have put in the 195*. Your 160* is below spec. Your ECU thinks that your car is not warmed up, and is continuing to run the car rich to try to get it to warm. Your reading at the thermostat housing must be about 170*, and not cold like 130*.
Get a proper thermostat, make sure that your bleed hole is pointed toward the radiator, and that you also get the proper gasket - your 1990 should have the 1mm thermostat housing (later changed to 4mm), and you need the paper gasket for your thermostat. As Aqua says, you need to make sure that the thermostat is seated correctly and not floating around.

Edit: And just for your info, I wouldn't rely too much on the temp gauge to indicate exactly what your engine temp is. I have the 195* thermostat, my car warms up properly (I imagine your heat is not the greatest with the 160* thermostat??), yet my gauge has sat at less than 1/4 for 19 years. It's just a linear gauge based on voltage, and is only really important when the needle is suddenly sitting somewhere that it's never been before....;)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you guys for the replies, Does the stock have a rubber gasket around the lip or outer edge of thermostat? autozone has 2 diff. models and one has the other doesnt. Any particular brand for the thermo? I running all gates belts as a pref. but doent change thermo's enough to know the good from the bad. I'm in san diego, it gets warm but not terribly warm, ill pick up a 195 today, thanks for the info on the gasket, its the little things like that. As soon as i saw 130 i knew something was wrong. I figured with 235/75 r15 generic LT goodyear tires, 1 inch up to clear and stop rubbing i was hoping for 22-26 in the mileage. I'm not planning to do anything crazy with her as its became my daily and took the place of my miata. After i get this one running right ill be one here again trying to get your guy's info on how to straighten strut towers that are collapsed inward (bought it that way). I will report back tomorrow, ill change it out in the morning and drive it to the beach and back, 60 miles should give me an indication to her doing better and hopefully leave me with more than a little over half a tank. Thanks again guys, i bought 2 of these for ease of use and its a hell of a plus to find the community's not half bad.
 

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First, some real weirdness....you are one of an unusual number of Trackick posters who either have, or just previously had, a Miata (myself included). Totally strange.
In any event, you should put your car's specs into your signature. I'm assuming from reading your first post, that you are driving the 1990. You will notice, if you open up the thermostat housing, that the thermostat sits in a little well - if your housing is original to your car, your well will be very shallow (1mm - so paper gasket and no o-ring/rubber gasket) - in 1991, this was changed to a 4mm well (which needs the o-ring). The point is that the thermostat must fit snugly in that housing, and not float around.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I still own a miata Bex, a 1996, i searched and finally got last year NA (pop ups) style with obdII, and have done a bit of work to it, she's my baby but where i live (San Diego, CA) the roads can be fun but the state has been negligent in maintenance and it leads me to driving the tracker much more, as i can also 4x4 at a whim or carry most things i'd bring home in the back. Having owned a miata Bex, it should give you an idea of where most of my Exp. comes from, and why Wax pellet IAC's and the such are alien. Good news on the red 1990 in my pic, i changed the thermo and its running alot better, and seems to be getting better gas mileage, i will report more as i drive it more. However my gauge is very very jumpy, so i assume my sender is going to hell. More news, i have a Blue(Ish) 1993, i changed the timing belt, 02 sensor, Coolant and temp sender and Air Temp, plugs (Wrong gap at .44 and i don't know if it's an indication of the wrong plug but 15mm drive vs ngk's much bigger one, and thread depth was off aswell) and re-timed it, but run into the same Over cooling issues. I am going to start with the thermo, i checked the fan clutch and it starts to lock up with as hot as i can get it with a harbor freight heat gun, i haven't gotten to adjusting the valves yet, will do this week. I have some vaccum lines on the 1993 that are unplugged, one from the dashpot looking thing above the egr and 2 from the vacum modules on the front pass. side of the engine, and i dont really see where they are missing from. I looking on my 1990 only to find them different.
Whats this about Jumping Connectors For Proper Timing? Is this OBDI also? Thanks for the help so far guys.

___________________________
1990 Red 8v, 1.6l 5spd 4x4, 2Dr, Conv. W/Hard Top, 102k second owner, running better
1993 Blue 8v, 1.6l 5spd 4x4, 2Dr, Conv. No Top, 86k 4th owner, Fixing and tuning up, Comically broken and welded up front axle, bent inward front strut towers, Probably broken drive-train mounts.
1996 Primer Black 1.8 OBDII Miata, .20 Over, RB intake, Sway-bars, 1.5 Drop on RB springs, KYB AGX Shocks and Stuts, Hard dog Rollbar, Port & Polish, Exhaust Cam to Intake Swap, 10 to 1, Forged Pistons,Rods and Crank, Act Flywheel and Exedy Stage 1 Clutch, Full Stainless Exhaust.
 

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I bought my Miata new in 1990, when they first came out. And loved it.
Sadly, it was stolen from in front of my house in NY on the 4th of July 1995. I bought the Tracker with my insurance money, and later moved to Ireland. The Miata would have been totally inappropriate here, so I guess things worked out.
Anyway, back to your situation.....the temp gauge works off of a single wire connected to a spade connector at the front of the thermostat housing, so you may want to check that connection/wire, regarding your temp needle moving around. Glad that the hotter thermostat seems to be helping your issue, and would be interested to know your new mpg when you have that info.
By the way, many plugs come from the store standard gapped at .44" or so, which is too wide for our cars. We always have to regap them.
Regarding your 1993 - if the 'dashpot' looking thing is just behind your EGR valve, sitting horizontally, then that is the EGR modulator. It's probably best for your to take a photo of your engine, pointing to the things that you are querying about, however. The two vacuum modules (blue and brown right next to each other??) where you having dangling hoses are definitely the EGR vacuum solenoid valve (blue) and possibly the throttle opener VSV (brown - if you have the 8v).
Spec out your 1993, and give some more info, for better help.....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, it gets bad, then seemingly worse. Sorry i havnt been fast on the reply, my problems seem rather minor now. It was running great, while accelerating moderately (around 3k and moving up) i had a strange noise and it sounded like the exhaust gasket was leaking horribly and i had a massive loss of power. I managed to get it home (around 12 miles) and it ate almost a 1/4 tank, i had to hold high RPM to get it to start off from a dead start and it would hold high idle, then low (300-700) and try and die. I got it home, and here comes the long list of things i have checked. It holds idle at around 2k, warms up on the gauge, sounds god awfull and like something is terribly wrong and loud coming out of the intake manifold, like its at WOT but bad, and much louder than ever before. Plugs were nasty so i changed them, ran it again to no fix but noticed Cyl 2-3 are dirty, 1-4 are clean and have white ash like they are lean. Checked the timing belt to see if it slipped, timing marks were correct, so i turned it 180, 360 and at frustrated random a few times, still good on marks. While running unplugged 02 sensor, made no difference at higher rpm or at new idle (2k), havn't checked the MAP sensor as it is recently replaced and the old one i removed was partially broken off and it didnt do this. Took timing gun to it, is about a thumb to the left of TDC, and well past the timing marks, but is at 2k-2.5k rpm. Wires where checked, unhooked vacuum line to dist. to no effect. Checked oil, still has it (3/4 up the stick) with no contamination, AKA No Frothy Mocha, checked the coolant and it doesn't have any oil or exhaust smell. Ran it with the radiator cap off to see about exhaust bubbles, none and didnt run any different with the cap off and the cooling system not under pressure. I also pulled the valve cover to see if any of those rockers came horribly out of adjustment and after taking my feeler gauges to them not are out of spec and nothing looks like it was bent, worn, broken or otherwise damaged. Im scratching my head at this point and am going to run a compression test on all cylinders, log them and see if i might have bleed down between 2 and 3 by seeing if there is a difference with the other cylinders spark plug removed as far as bleed down of pressure. Unless there is tracker voodoo going a muck here, i am about to pull the head and see if anything is broken or if i blew the head gasket. Let me know what you guys think, Thanks ahead of time guys.

1990 Red 8v, 1.6l 5spd 4x4, 2Dr, Conv. W/Hard Top, 102k second owner, BROKEN.
1993 Blue 8v, 1.6l 5spd 4x4, 2Dr, Conv. No Top, 86k 4th owner, Fixing and tuning up, Comically broken and welded up front axle, bent inward front strut towers, Probably broken drive-train mounts, looking better by the day.
 

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This appears to be classic 'fail safe' - the car runs terribly rich and very poorly, but will continue to run to get you home. So now my first question is, is the check engine light on with the key on and off once you get the car started?? Can you get a code 12 from the ECU? Instructions here:
Check Engine Light
If you have the 4 pin connector (which will be a small white box with a black locking top, dangling on 4 wires by the battery), you will be jumping the top right with bottom left pin (blue/yellow to black wire), and the CEL should flash out - flash, pause, flash flash, longer pause and repeat is code 12). Be careful about the locking tab on the connector - you need to press this in to get the top off.
Fail safe mode explained here:
Fail Safe and Limp Modes
 

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And I think you should identify again which of the Trackicks you are having this problem with. The 90 or 93? Fail safe basically occurs when a failure occurs in one of the sensors, so that the ECU sees that the signal that it is getting from the sensor is not within the proper range. The ECU continues to control the injector, the idle speed solenoid, etc., through values stored in the ECU memory (which allows you to still drive the car). Some of the sensors that can fail, which will put you into fail safe mode are the throttle position sensor, the coolant temp sensor, the intake air sensor or the manifold pressure sensor.
Normally, the ECU (and the check engine light) will pick up this failure, so you need to advise what codes you are getting.
At some point, we have all had to change 3 capacitors in the ECU, as well (1995 and earlier). However, normally, when the caps go, the car won't start....
Anyway, don't panic!! Lots of people and info here to help you. It's doable!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I Figured It Out

Well, I Got It, and i know this post has gone off track a bit but i think it was underlying issues that came to a head (No Pun) and have led to what it is. A blown head gasket between cylinder 2-3. I compression checked the cylinders and 1 had 125, 2 had 0, 3 had 0, 4 had 110 ish. I pulled the head in about 1 1/2 hours. Found a troubling sight, a massively blown head gasket. I will be replacing it, after i take the head to be cleaned up and magna fluxed. Thank you guys all for your help. I will have her up and running in about a week, and post again, mostly for seeing if the overcooling issue is solved after head repairs. And just to ask, is it possible that this could have had an effect on cooling/power?
 

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Certainly the lack of compression in the cylinders due to the blown headgasket will lead to a serious lack of power. However, I would wonder whether the headgasket blowing was caused by your coolant/overheating problem or vice versa. Chicken and egg. Anyway, post back when you get it back together, and advise how its running. I hope this will solve your problem. I am not terribly familiar with blown headgaskets (fortunately) but you may need to check to see if you have warping, etc.....Hopefully not.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well it gets better

I cleaned up the head and block surface with gasoline and 3m scotchbrite. Worked well, valves checked okay, everything looked fine just a little carbon. Put it all back together, set the timing roughly with the dist. adj in the middle, guess i missed the part where you have to put it into diagnostic mode and set the thing to 8 degrees BTDC without that. Finally idled at 850, was a dog going up hill but i set off to get icecream for my buddy who's timing gun i melted part of. Going about 7 miles and up a hill i tried to shift and it wouldnt shift out of gear like the clutch wasnt engaging. The exhaust manifold was so hot it was deep glowing red, i assume it was retarded much too far. It melted my clutch cable and that was about it. So now its parked. Engine runs great and im ordering a new cable and timing it correctly. Also, the temp gauge after the head gasket fix now runs about half way up to the red and stays there pretty well. Im going to do a compression test and see if i burnt the valves, at the end of this and when i can get it all running well i'll do a write up. As it stands thou for anyone who comes across this i think poor combustion between cylinders due to a blown headgasket was making it run cooler. Sounds weird but if 2 cylinders dont have proper combustion and leak into another cylinder on the exhaust stroke it would just vent out. For the time it was running well she had more power, ran better and when i get it too i'll see how it gets on gas and if i can get it to overheat. Thanks for the help so far guys.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes

Yes, i did prime it, i poured about 1/4 of a quart over the cam so when the lobes dipped they dipped in oil and turned it by hand to verify the timing marks and for setting in the distributor. I Am running into a new problem, i have the cooling issue solved but cannot get it to idle down to 800 rpm unless i retard timing, and that makes my exhaust manifold glow red after driving around the block. Almost everything has been changed, it starts and holds at 1500k then drops to 1100k. I thought it was the alternator bearing but after having a helper turn the headlight switch on and off we noticed the chittering was actually coming from the intake manifold. Its a chittering and Tanataonly happens under electrical load, not driving load. Thats the first part, next being that when i was checking if a vacuum leak was making it idle high i ran into this. My 1990 (canadian Manufacture, not knocking them just saying) has a vacuum advance, my 1993 does not. I didnt think much of it until i tried locating the idle adjust screw, only to find it had a plug. Not like a brass one or one that was mickey moused, like a matches the throttle body in patina plug. So there went that, all in all i have a intake manifold chittering under electrical load (ECU going bad or gone?) and when i pull the vacuum line to the distributor it had no effect or vacuum on the engine at all. Its a line coming out of the throttle body and to a T, one side goes to the Dist, other to the charcoal canister. The only Thing i can think of with the chittering is the coil or maybe Dist (im overdue for a coil so ill change that tomorrow) as it doesn't fire as well under extended electrical load? And for the lack of vacuum to the Dist, something clogged or something about that IAC that i keep hearing about? Let me know what you guys think.
 

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Your 1990 is an entirely different car than the 1993 - the 1990 has a stand alone distributor which governs spark. The ECU governs spark in the 1993. As you have had the engine apart, I would start from the beginning and do your compression test, aiming for at least 150 on a stone cold engine or 170 if its slightly warm. The test is easy to do on the 1993 - just pull the F1 fuse, remove all plugs and floor the throttle when you are cranking for best results. Then I would re-do your ignition timing as well. Ignition timing is done to cylinder #1 firing - engine timing to #4 firing. You need the foundation of proper timing before you start hunting elsewhere.
By the way, you have two lines coming out of the EVAP canister - one to the EVAP VSV and one to the fuel tank. At least on the stock 1993. It is the 93 we are talking about here, no??
 

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Discussion Starter #19
1990

I was talking about my 1990 thats having the idle problems. I have a 1993 on hand for comparrison, but its not helping as they are different. I have done a compression test on it after i changed the head gasket but before i added coolant (bad experience once) all was well. I learned the 1 TDC on 4 firing the hard way threw my chiltons manual, And i've gotten pretty good at changing the T-belts, but pulled the cover and double checked that as well. So T-belt and marks are good, Plugs are NGK copper gapped at .28 as per under hood sticker and manual, New plugs wires and coil. Distributor is right now at my old mark beofre head gasket blew and it was running, well you know, okay but overcooling, now temp reads almost half on gauge and stays there, i noticed at startup my idle surges to 2k, drops to 1500 until it warms up then drops to 1100, and at 1100 i cant idle it down for correct timing. I have run diag. pin on it its 1 flash then 2 and thats all it ever does, i ate lunch watching it. Nothing else. I keep reading up on a timing mode jumper but i dont know if thats a 1990 thing, as i only can find a diag. port by the passenger side next to battery, and i have unhooked all the wires going to passenger headlight, it just has lights on the harness. I am wondering am i not putting it in this timing mode ( i only have 3 wires going to my diagnostic port, ground and 2 others, for 4 total in the plug and im afraid of frying the ECU if i just the other) or is something causing my idle to be high and throwing me off. Temp is not an issue as i checked the hose and thermo housing with a IR temp gun. Shes warm, but now its trying to find the high idle and if its connected with me not getting any vacuum to the mechanical distributor. Shes drivable but still a pig on gas mileage.
 

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In order to fine tune the timing, you need a timing light and to freeze the ECU input. You do this at the diagnostic connector - the same connector where you would be jumping for codes. Normally, on your 4 pin connector, for codes you are jumping the top right to bottom left. To freeze the timing, you jump the bottom right to bottom left (blue/red to black wire). See if that helps.
By the way, your 90 (and 93) have a throttle opener at the rear of the throttle body, which is open on cold start, and closes within about 10 seconds or so as the ECU comes online and provides vacuum to it. So it is normal for your car to start up at about 2000 or so rpm, and in about 10 seconds, hear a noticeable drop of rpm to about 1500 or so, which then slowly reduces as the car warms up.
 
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