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Project Swifty, Initial Fixes

Like all cars I buy, especially ones this cheap, there are issues. Not for long though.

The first fix was to get the remote locking working. The previous owner had flattened the remote battery and broken the key blade by just being ham-fisted.

It turns out that just changing the battery (CR2032 button cell) wasn’t enough to get the remote working, so I started to look further into it. I suspected that it had lost its programming due to being left flat for so long, so I did some digging and found the instructions to code the remote to a car.

From this helpful thread

1 Sit in driver’s seat. Close all doors and ensure all doors are unlocked.

2 Insert key into ignition lock cylinder (do not turn at this time).

(the next three steps must be done within 25 seconds).

3.Push the manual lock on the driver’s door to lock, then unlock three timesm then to lock position again. (this is the lock button at the inside door release handlem NOT the power door lock switch). Lock, unlock, lock, unlock, lock, unlock, lock.

4.Pull the key out of the lock cylinder and back in four times. Out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in. (when you do this, be sure to push the key all the way in and pull the key all the way out; be methodical, not speedy. 25 seconds is a lot of time.

5. Immediately after step four, start the engine. Count three seconds, then turn off the ignition-DO NOT REMOVE THE KEY! At this point, if you have been sucessful, you will hear two audible “beeps”, the door locks will cycle and you are now in programming mode.

6. Push and hold either the lock or unlock button on the remote to be programmed. The locks will again cycle indicating the remote was sucessfully programmed. Repeat step 6 for all other remotes. Once all remotes are programmed, open and close the door, then test each remote for function. You may also remove the key at this point

The bonus 7th step is to start the engine briefly, to confirm the programming.

Following these steps, I could get the door locks to cycle and beep, and when I pressed the remote button sometimes it would trigger the locks, but it was very intermittent, and the outside buttons still didn’t work, nor did the keyless start.

I did some more research and found someone that mentioned a similar issue, and he fixed his remote by bending the battery tabs to improve the contact.

When you split the key, there are contacts in the top and bottom housings. All of them were flat against the circuit board.

The ones under the battery also needed to be tweaked up. The blue arrow is pointing to the contacts that bridge the two halves of the remote, I tweaked this up slightly too.

After that, the remote, the keyless start and the keyless entry buttons on the doors all started to work flawlessly. Obviously, the battery contacts weren’t good enough to power the remote fully and just tweaking them to make better contact has revived it.

Feeling pretty chuffed with myself on that fix, I moved on to checking out the clutch issue. The pedal would bite pretty close to the floor, and it wouldn’t disengage fully causing it to drag in gear at idle and make it very hard to shift into first and reverse at a stop. It was fine on the go because you could rev match, but otherwise it wasn’t good. I have my suspicions the seller knew this was an issue, and was the reason the car “hasn’t been used for weeks” and the low asking price.

The first port of call was to check the clutch hydraulics. If these are failing it can cause a lack of hydraulic pressure and the clutch won’t fully operate. This would be consistent with the fact the issue got worse once the car was at operating temp.

The master cylinder looked nice and clean, with no signs of moisture on either side of the firewall. The slave cylinder on the other hand…

Was covered in filth, and there was a large damp spot on the gearbox in the general vicinity of the slave. Interesting.

Pulling the boot back revealed moisture, indicating the slave cylinder had been leaking internally. It’s hard to photograph but the boot was covered in brake fluid on the inside.

Knowing that wasn’t a good sign, I reached out to the local Suzuki dealer and ordered a new slave. It’s such a common issue with these that they had it on the shelf, and it was a reasonable price.

After work, I set to the task of replacing it. It’s not quite as straightforward as a normal car.

Start with the engine

All I needed to do was remove the large SUZUKI cover (just pulls off), remove the air intake hose near the battery (also just pulls off) and relocate the coolant overflow tank (lifts up off its bracket)

The slave then resides down in the empty space

So, the special features of the slave on these cars. The pink arrow indicates the plastic bleed tube/nipple. This has no nut to open or close it, it’s just a tube moulded into the cylinder. The blue arrow is the pipe retaining clip. You push this down to release the pipe. And finally, the orange arrow is the hydraulic pipe.

To remove the cylinder you need to disconnect the pipe from the cylinder. This is done by pressing down on the clips (blue arrow) and firmly pulling the pipe out (toward the front of the car). It will come out in two stages. The first click is where you would pull it to if you wanted to bleed the system, as this opens up the bleed tube. Pull it again and the pipe will come completely out. I was concerned removing this pipe might drain the system, but barely any fluid gravity drained when this was removed.

Then there are two 12mm bolts to remove. I found swinging this counterweight to the right gave me more space to get at the bolts. Just be aware that moving this counterweight actually changes gear (it’s on the end of the shifter linkages), so always check the car is in neutral before starting.

The pushrod in the cylinder is spring-loaded and will try to push the cylinder away from the clutch lever as you undo the bolts, so just take care.

Once removed I drained the fluid that was in the cylinder and it was black. Obviously hasn’t been changed in years, and probably part of the reason the cylinder failed. I have a feeling a lot of workshops probably don’t know how to bleed these systems, so just ignore them during servicing.

Before fitting the new cylinder I thoroughly cleaned the clutch lever (inside the cup), and then applied silicone grease to it (as per the manual).

The new cylinder went in as expected. You need to compress the pushrod whilst installing the bolts, which can be a real fiddle. Once bolted in its a case of just pushing the pipe back into the new cylinder, you don’t even need to compress the clip.

To bleed the cylinder all you do is press down on the clip, and gently pull the pipe out of the cylinder until it stops. This is the bleed point; the bleed tube will now be open and air/fluid should start to come out of the cylinder.

At this point, I followed the instructions in the manual. Press the pipe in to close the bleed tube, pump the pedal a few times, pull the pipe out to its stop and let air/fluid bleed. Rinse and repeat a few times. Once air stops coming through, have an assistant slowly push the clutch pedal down with the bleed tube open and then press the pipe in to block off the system. As long as all the air is out, that’s the job done. Always keep an eye on the master cylinder fluid level (as the clutch shares fluid with the brakes) and keep it topped up.

A quick test drive after replacing the cylinder showed that although the bite point was now about mid pedal, and much nicer to use, the dragging and difficulty shifting gears was still there. Damn.

One last thing I found online, was someone mentioning that they found a bolt on their floor mat one day, which coincided with them having difficulty shifting. That bolt had come out of the top of the clutch pedal bracket assembly, where it mounts under the dash

This all sounds familiar…. it’s exactly the same issue I had with the M328i way back when.

Once home from the test drive, I stuck my head up under the dash, and sure enough, I spotted this

Way up here somewhere

Yes, that is indeed the hole for a bolt that should be securing the bracket to the firewall. The effect of not having the bolt was obvious just by pressing the clutch pedal by hand and watching the bracket move and flex.

I guess at some point the owner found a random bolt on the floor, wondered where it came from, and threw it out the window.

A suitable M8 bolt, washer and lock/spring washer were sourced

And after some fiddling under the dash, it was installed and tightened with a long extension on a rachet. It ain’t going anywhere.

The bracket doesn’t move a mm now when the pedal is pressed. It’s solid as a rock.

Immediately, just putting the car into reverse to back out of the garage, the difference could be felt. The pedal was firmer and more predictable, and the shifter just popped into reverse without any force or grinding. Once in reverse, the rough idle shunting from the dragging clutch wasn’t present.

A quick drive around the block revealed the extent of this fix. The gearbox shifts perfectly, with the shifter popping nicely into gear, there is no more dragging at idle, and I can shift into first when stationary without having to force the shifter into gear.

A couple of slip tests (drive along in 4th or 5th, press the clutch in, rev the engine up and drop the clutch; a good clutch should immediately drop back down to the correct rpm with a lurch, and a slipping clutch will slip and slur the revs as they drop) show the clutch isn’t slipping at all and has a good bite.

Overall I’m very happy since it shows I don’t need to replace the clutch (at least not yet), and the car is back to being drivable, without risking damage to the gearbox.

Now I’m looking forward to getting out and driving it more.

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Charles John
Charles John
1 year ago

Aaaah the classic key reprogramming dance always left me amazed it actually works. Excellent read