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Old 01-10-2013, 11:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The White Gnat (1999 Suzuki Swift 1.3L manual)

Well, with the Jimmy out of commission for the time being, I have the White Gnat (1999 Suzuki Swift) back, but it's not too happy. It needed a new alternator & battery, but after that, wouldn't even idle without dying. So I "SeaFoamed" it today & put 100 miles on a fresh tank of gas (and SeaFoam) to try to clean things out, maybe. By the end of the drive, it would idle in neutral, at least.

In MPG vs. speed tests, with a yet uncalibrated ScanGauge, I had to drop it below 60 mph before it would hit 40 MPG. And I was unable to do an 80 MPH test because it wouldn't go that fast. !!

Anyway, taking it into my mechanic tomorrow for a compression & leakdown test.


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Old 01-11-2013, 11:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Good luck with it. I'll bet it looks good in white paint, at least
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Watching with interest.

I've seen a couple of 4-cyl manual Suzuki clones here in Vancouver in the last week.
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Jimmy - '00 GMC Jimmy SLT
90 day: 21.18 mpg (US)

The White Gnat - '99 Suzuki Swift
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Been reading in the Geo Metro forum that these things tend to "eat exhaust valves like crazy". (not sure if that includes BOTH the 3 cylinder AND 4 cylinder engines?) Mechanic says he doesn't doubt the valves are "it", but wants to compression check ("dry" & then "wet") & make sure. He says it doesn't smoke or have enough miles (136,XXX) to make him think it needs rings, but the dry/wet test will shed light on that.

However, on the Metro forum, I'm seeing the advice of "if you do one, do both" (valves & rings). While I'd love to have that engine "like new", I'm on pretty tight budget, and am thinking it would be a lot more to take the whole engine out for rings (and if you're gonna do that, better do bearings & hone the cylinders, right?).

There also seems to have been some sort of leak over on the front (belt) side. A streak of oil is on the underside of the hood in line with the belts. I don't know, but have a sick feeling it might be like the front main seal or something. The alternator was actually douched-out in oil/grease, and the mechanic says that sped it's demise. So I can't be allowing that to continue with the new alternator.

So what do you think? Try to get by cheap (for now) with just a valve job? What if we find out it's the front main seal? Does that require removing the engine? I think this thing will need more work before I'm done. I heard a nasty clicking - almost like a few rocks rolling around in a coffee can - when under power or acceleration, especially when turning, especially when turning left. Axle end joints? The driver's side rear tire wears really badly on the outside, too. Rear alignment? Is there such a thing?

Advice, please? Thanx

Oh, the oil gets REALLY black & yucky by the time I change it (5000 miles), too. I'm guessing that means something's getting down in there that shouldn't. Rings?

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Old 01-11-2013, 04:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm thinking that the little extra money to replace the rings now might be worth it in the long run because then you're not paying for the labor for a head rebuild and a bottom end rebuild twice.

The engine should be removed for both rebuilds because an in car rebuild means the block isn't being smoothed down which means your head gasket won't last as long.

You should also look into doing the job yourself. it's very easy on the metros and everyone at the geometroforum.com will help you through the process or even come help you depending where you're located at.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Even if I attempt to do it myself (I have a friend who does engines who would probably help), there will be parts and machining required, right? Cost estimates? I don't really have $1000 to dump into it, but then, since I'm down to my last car (this one), I might not have much of a choice, either.

One guy suggested I need to "decide if I want to keep the car" - said it might not be worth the cost of an engine rebuild. !!!! Well, I sure as heck know I can't afford another car right now - especially one that gets as good MPG as this one does/did.

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Old 01-11-2013, 09:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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As far as I know, the valve issue is only on the 3-cyl engines. The rings should still be fine at 136k miles too. The front main seal isn't much more work than a timing belt replacement. Engine removal not necessary, but you might need to lower the front of the engine to get the pulley off. If you really do need an engine, you might want to look for a used one. If it's leaking oil on the belts, maybe the timing belt skipped a tooth or two?

The sound while turning and accelerating is likely the outer CV joint(s). About $60 each side for a rebuilt axle. Rear toe is adjustable on Metros/Swifts. But look for bent control arms first.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Jimmy - '00 GMC Jimmy SLT
90 day: 21.18 mpg (US)

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Just got a call from the mechanic; compression test complete.... 115 psi in the #1 & #2 cylinders, zero in the #3 & #4 cylinders. So I had him go ahead & take the head off to take to the machine shop. When he got it off, he called again; 2 exhaust valves burned so bad they were cracked. One each on the #3 and #4 cylinders. I guess this is a 16 valve engine - 4 valves per cylinder. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

He says the cylinders look fine, though; no scratches or "lip" at the top of piston travel.

Also, both outer CV joints are gone, so he's gonna replace the half shafts while he's at it - and then fix that rear wheel alignment, too. The White Gnat will be almost "like new" (mechnaically) when I get it back. I may have to file for bankruptcy, but that's another story....

One last note here: I filled it up & posted mileage right before taking it into the mechanic - 24.91 MPG on the super-sick engine. Just looked on the list here in % over EPA and am proud to report I'm second to LAST - 440th out of 441!!! HAH!! 28.826% BELOW EPA. Nowhere to go but "up" now, huh? Now, where's that thread I saw on "who's the WORST ecomoders on this site?" I think I have a contender!! LOL!!!

Last edited by wmjinman; 01-24-2013 at 10:35 PM..
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Jimmy - '00 GMC Jimmy SLT
90 day: 21.18 mpg (US)

The White Gnat - '99 Suzuki Swift
Team Suzuki
90 day: 64.34 mpg (US)
Thanks: 177
Thanked 98 Times in 81 Posts
Update on the gnat:

Went to the machine shop today to pay for the valve job. Two badly burnt and cracked exhaust valves seem to be the major contributor to the zero compression in their two cylinders. In addition, they said the valve guides were loose, out of tolerances as well as the seats being all "jammed-up" with carbon, requiring them to be re-cut. He said there was evidence of a lean condition (the burned valves being the symptom, not the cause), and he suspects possible "bad" fuel injectors. - next thing to check, I guess.



The other picture is the gnat's under-hood area with the "headless" engine patiently waiting to be reunited with it's re-furbished head sporting two brand new, shiny exhaust valves. Two new axles are on the way, too.



In a few days, I might just be driving my awesome mileage machine again.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Jimmy - '00 GMC Jimmy SLT
90 day: 21.18 mpg (US)

The White Gnat - '99 Suzuki Swift
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90 day: 64.34 mpg (US)
Thanks: 177
Thanked 98 Times in 81 Posts
Head's done. Back from the machine shop...

Mechanic says he thinks the oil leak that drenched the alternator was from the cam seal. Gonna replace that when installing the rebuilt head.


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