It has been a bit quiet on the Swift front, but with the annual WOF check looming, it was time to get it into the garage and get it ready.
The quietness has been both in terms of working on the car and also driving it. I put quite a few KM on it when I first got it, but recently it’s been parked for weeks at a time without being touched.
One of the main reasons for this was that the rear tyres are bad. I ignored them long enough and then decided I needed to replace them before I drove the car again as I can’t trust them.
They aren’t even that old, date stamped 2015, and they’re Falkens not some cheap ditchfinders, but the sidewalls are perished and cracking, there is cracking in the tread, and somehow there is a big crack/gash round the whole circumference of the tyre. This is all present on both sides. The tread is just above the wear markers too, so it’s time for them to go regardless.
I had originally planned to get some different wheels, going so far as to buy a set of Nissan Skyline R32 GTST alloys, which look ace on these cars, but once Lucas came along I had to reign in the spending (they needed to be refurbished, repainted and four new wider than stock tyres) so they were quickly onsold and a pair of Yokohama ES32 in the stock size were purchased.
There is a bit of a shake in the car at around 80kph, so the plan is to have the rear tyres replaced, and all four wheels balanced.
That plan fell to bits when I replaced the clutch, as, during my use of a sledgehammer to free the axle from its home in the hub, I clipped a stud and made a slight mess of the threads. To keep the car on the road, after that work I just went full send on the rattlegun to get the nut back on.
I know, I know, that’s a horrible thing to do. It was only temporary; a new stud was purchased, but with Lucas taking up all the garage space recently it’s been hard to find the time to replace it. I couldn’t in good conscience take the car to have the tyres done knowing one of the studs/nuts was buggered.
So, Lucas was outside again after all his work, so there was free space in the garage this weekend. It was Swift time. It helps to have a deadline; the WOF is booked for Wednesday.
I wanted to start with the job I knew was the most important to do, but would probably be the most annoying to do (little did it know…); the stud.
The nut came off fine, but there is an awful lot of metal in the thread of the stud
I removed the caliper and then tried to remove the disc, only to find it was rusted to the hub. Thankfully like Toyota, Suzuki has threaded holes in their rotors too. A pair of M8 bolts were sourced and threaded in
A couple of uggas and a single dugga with the rattle gun had the bolts press the disc off nicely
With the disc off, it was time to remove the damaged stud. Having done this before, using the balljoint press, I set about doing that method again.
Then its all turned to custard. Most cars have enough space, or maybe a small cutout, behind the hub in one spot to allow you to remove the studs on the car. This isn’t the case on the Swift. The stud quickly ran into a solid lip once I had it moving.
You can see my solution to that in the above photo, I used the cutoff wheel to chop off the head of the stud off and it hammered out fine. The next problem was getting the replacement in; obviously I cant just cut the head off that and hammer it in.
The first modification applies to the stud itself. Using the bench grinder I flattened off one side of the head to allow it to pass that lip. Some studs come like this factory, to allow this work to be carried out on the car; not Suzuki though.
The second modification was the rotor backing shield and hub. I cut a section of the backing shield away, and using a flap disc took a small amount off the side of the hub to allow the stud to slip passed it.
It didn’t need much, but it was just enough to slip the stud into place and use the balljoint press again to wind it home.
That took so much longer than it should have, and I’m glad only one stud was damaged as It was a pain in the arse. In hindsight, when using a BFH on the axle, pop some wheel nuts on the studs to protect them.
With that shitty job done I moved on to the next task; removing the front struts and replacing the top mounts.
I had quite a bad clunk from the front end when going over bumps, and the most common reason for that seems to be these top rubber mounts. They wear out and allow the strut to move up and down slightly.
I purchased a pair of replacement mounts and bearings and set about replacing them. First, you need to remove the wipers and plastic cowl trim.
I found quite a lot of built-up junk on one side of the scuttle panel. It was completely blocking the drain on one side, so that’s not ideal.
A quick vacuum opened that up again. The otherside was clear, but it’s a rubbish design.
I removed the two lower bolts to the knuckle, the brake hose, ABS sensor, and swaybar link. That left only the top nut holding the strut in. Once that was removed, the strut wiggles out of place.
The top mount is the big doughnut of rubber on the left of the strut.
Annoyingly, to remove this you need to compress the spring (well, youtube will show you don’t have to, but I value not taking a mount to the face). Thankfully there isn’t much tension on the spring, so one spring compressor did the job fine.
Then the top nut can be removed. You will need to use a hex key to stop the shaft from spinning.
It’s just a matter of removing the old mount, removing the bearing, and fitting the replacements. I found this job was made a lot easier by using offset spanners. I only bought these recently after years of never using one, and they’re becoming a regular part of my tool kit now.
The passengers side wasn’t a happy strut. Everything looked original, but when spinning the top mount to see how the bearing was, I noticed this wasn’t spinning the shaft as it should and was actually undoing the main nut! I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the source of the clunk, as the strut definitely wasn’t tight.
The bearing on that side was also cracked, probably from moving around when going over bumps. Just as well it was being replaced.
With the struts out it was easier to do another job too. When I removed the hubs from the lower ball joints to remove the axles when replacing the clutch, at some point both of the balljoint boots got pinched and split. I tried to seal them up with sealant, but I knew it wasn’t going to work, so new boots were ordered. The ball joints were still in good condition.
This one was still leaking grease
Once the retainer clip is removed the boot can be pulled off
I put a small amount of grease inside the boot and carefully fitted. The retainer clip is a real pain to install, but I got there eventually.
The strut could then be refitted, followed by the brakes. I noticed with the calipers that there was no grease on the pads at all. The sliders were free, but everything was dry and dirty. I cleaned the brackets and lubricated the pads before refitting.
After a whip around with the torque wrench, Job jobbed.
The next job, since the car was in the air, was to replace the gearbox mount. I replaced the rear mount when I had the gearbox out, and probably should have done all the mounts at the same time. Since having the car back on the road there was a noticeable shunting when coming off and on the throttle.
This mount is quite easy to do anyway. Just support the gearbox with a jack, and remove the mount with the bracket on the gearbox.
The through bolt for the mount was easiest to access from the top, with the intake duct removed and the coolant overflow bottle relocated
The old mount wasn’t good. Cracked/torn in a couple of places, and sagging.
You can see how much the old one was sagging compared to the new genuine mount
With the mount replaced the last job before refitting the wheels was to bleed the brakes. I had bled the fronts when I did the clutch, but the rears hadn’t been touched. I flushed through all the old fluid, but it really wasn’t too bad considering. The rears will need new pads very soon, but hopefully, it scrapes through the WOF and I’ll order some for next time it’s in the garage.
As a treat, I fit the wheels with the new wheel nuts I ordered to fit with the Skyline wheels. I think they look good; subtle but different.
Unfortunately one out of the 20 was a different tread pitch (M12x1.5 instead of 1.25), so I’m seeing if the seller will send out another one, in the mean time I have had to refit a standard nut.
Finally, with the wheels on, I could move on to the interior work.
First was to replace the cabin filter. This was honestly one of the worst I have ever seen. It was completely clogged.
I yeeted that quickly into the bin before I caught something from it, and fit a nice new white Wix filter
It’s such an overlooked maintenance item. Quick and easy to change, but so often no one bothers. It’s not like it’s what filters the air being blown at your face and circulated around the car or anything…
Something I had been keeping an eye out for was next; a throttle controller. One of the guys on the local FB group was selling off some parts, one of which included this JDM AF Siecle TREC Premium throttle controller. Naturally, I snapped it up.
Pretty easy to wire in. Plugs into the throttle pedal and intercepts the signal, and just needs a switched 12v feed. I mounted its control box on the top of the knee trim, and mounted the controller above my left knee, where it’s out of sight but easy to change the settings.
On the quick test drive after all the work, I found that although I know the car isn’t faster, it feels faster, because of this. What it’s doing is ramping up the E-Throttle, by making it open the throttle body more for the percentage you press the pedal. For a simplified example, if previously 1/4 throttle was 15% TB open (I believe it’s not linear like a cable throttle), depending on the setting, now 1/4 throttle could be 25% open. I have only had the dial up as high as half, and already it’s pretty aggressive. Makes rev-matching on downshift a lot easier. Looking forward to more seat time with this to test the settings.
The final job for the (long) day was to replace the steering wheel. When I got the car the wheel was manky as and had never been cleaned. I cleaned it, and in the process revealed that all the perforated leather on the RH side of the wheel was almost gone, and it had developed a hole in the leather. Even after a thorough cleaning, the wheel was sticky too.
This is how it was after a cleaning
So, off with the wheel. I had located a better condition used one from a wrecker. It wasn’t perfect, it still had damaged leather, but at least it was intact.
The airbag needs to come out, so make sure the battery had been disconnected for a bit, pump the brake pedal and then use a T27 torx bit to loosen the two screws that retain the airbag. I find the easiest way to disengage these captive screws is to loosen both, pull on the airbag and then keep unscrewing one of the screws until the airbag comes out.
Disconnect the black horn wire spade terminal, and then using a small pick, lift the yellow locking tab on the airbag connector.
Pull the connector out and remove the airbag.
The steering wheel is held on with the single nut. Straighten the wheel, undo the nut, but don’t remove it, and then pull on both sides of the wheel sharply on alternating sides until the wheel pops free from the splines. Hopefully the nut has stopped the wheel from clobbering you in the face.
My side trims were in better shape than the replacements, so I removed the two screws holding on the back plastic and unclipped it
The side trims are then held in with one screw each
I swapped them over, reassembled the wheel and refitted it. A quick clean followed by some leather conditioner has the wheel looking better.
The gloss should wear off as the conditioner soaks into the leather a bit.
So that should be the car WOF ready. It’s already booked in, and they will swap over the tyres and balance the lot at the same time.
I’m looking forward to having it back on the road again and driving it more. I have one more mod on the way which is meant to be quite a good upgrade; a rear swaybar. I’m also constantly looking for a tidy Recaro seat to fit to the drivers’ side, but it seems everyone only wants stupid money for them now.