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Project Swifty, WOF Repairs

No, the Swift didn’t pass its WOF first try, but I kinda knew what it was about to fail on.

I took the car in for its WOF check, and sure enough, I get the call; “it failed”. Turns out it was two things I kinda had my suspicions about, but didn’t expect it to fail on; low rear brake pads (causing excessive handbrake travel) and a failed RH side engine mount.

The rear pads I thought might be an advisory (as mentioned in the last update), as when I had the wheels off I noticed they looked low, but still had a few mm of material left. I thought about replacing them that day, but decided to leave them for another time. Oops.

The engine mount was a surprise though. I had replaced the other two engine mounts in the quest to get rid of the shunt coming off and on the throttle, and it had helped a lot, but it turns out the drivers side mount was completely shot.

I picked up some rear pads from the local parts store for $40, and ordered an engine mount from a local Suzuki dealer. It was reasonably priced, but would take a couple of days to arrive.

With the new pads in hand, I jacked the rear of the car up and put it onto stands, removed the wheels and had a look at what I was up against.

It all looked very old and untouched. These aren’t Brembo levels of easy to replace the pads in, but still very easy. Remove the two slider bolts (counter holding the hex on the other side of the bracket if needed)

And lever the caliper off. Mine was very stuck on the pads, so took a bit of prying. There was no sign of any lubricant around the pads, they were completely dry and very dirty.

The pads were low, but not dire. Old vs new. I suspect the old ones are the original pads.

Before I could fit the new pads I needed to compress the piston in the caliper. This was well extended to make up for the lack of pad material. The moisture in the photo is brake cleaner.

For front calipers and some rear calipers (ones with handbrakes that don’t act on the piston) you can just push the piston in with a clamp, but calipers, where the handbrake acts on the piston, need to be wound back into the caliper as they are on a treaded rod which rotates as part of the self-adjusting mechanism. They cannot just be pressed back in.

For calipers like this, you either need a tool to turn the piston, or sometimes you can get away with using a pair of pliers (at the risk of slipping and tearing the boot). I bought this little block a while ago and it’s great for winding the pistons back.

Each side has a different set of studs to lock into the piston. In this case it was these two that fit into the cross on the piston.

And you just use a ratchet and short extension to rotate the piston.

You do also need to keep an eye on the brake fluid level in the reservoir as winding the piston back will force fluid into the reservoir and could make it overflow. I had to remove a small amount using a syringe.

I wound the piston in so that it was flush with the housing, taking care not to twist the boot.

One thing to be careful of is that the piston is the correct way around when you stop turning it. The cross needs to be perfectly straight, with one slot completely vertical. The rear pad (the one with the wear indicator tab attached, if fitted) has a small stud that is used to stop the piston from rotating as it self-adjusts. This needs to lock into the slot.

Before fitting the new pads, I gave everything a real good clean and then used some copper grease to lubricate the areas the pads rest on. There is a lot of opinion on copper grease, so I won’t go into it, but it’s what I have used for years. Do your own research before using.

I should also say that all my slide pins were free and still well greased, so I didn’t regrease them. If they were seized or dry, they need a thorough cleaning and grease before assembly.

Now the pads were fitted and the caliper reinstalled.

I torqued the bolts up and moved to the other side. This was exactly the same to work on.

To adjust the handbrake, which still had a bit much travel (needs to be 4-9 clicks, according to the manual), you start the engine and pump the brakes a few times to pump up the piston, and then actuate the hand brake lever a couple of dozen times. This should set all the self-adjustments. If it still has too much travel, the cable needs to be adjusted at the lever.

I removed the center console, which is held in with two clips at the rear (one on either side) and then it is hooked into place on the front edge.

The adjuster is at the back of the lever. Tighten the nut to remove slack from the cable until there is a slight drag on the rear wheels when on a single click, and it fully engages between 4 and 9 clicks.

With new rear pads they will need to bed in before the handbrake is fully operational and the pads get really bitey. After a few good hard stops, the handbrake now holds perfectly on my steep drive.

Before letting the back down again, I had one last toy to fit; A Cusco rear swaybar.

These Swifts run a twist beam rear axle setup, where the rear beam acts as a kind of torsion bar, and can twist to allow the wheels to semi-independently move over bumps. From factory there is no rear swaybar, instead relying on the beam to do that job.

A rear swaybar is a very common addition to Swifts to stiffen up the rear suspension and resist that twisting motion of the beam, which like in a multilink setup, helps reduce roll and moves the handling balance slightly more towards neutral than understeer when cornering.

This was a very easy install, consisting of two plates that bolt to the spring perch on the beam, and the bar bolts between those.

It is used, so it’s not super pretty, but looks good under there along with the stainless MonsterSport muffler

With all that back together, the rear wheels could be refitted, along with the 20th nut which arrived promptly from the supplier

Speaking of wheels, notice the nice new Yokohamas that the workshop fitted whilst it was there. Much better than the old perished rubbish. Look forward to cornering hard without worrying they will let go.

I finished the day by giving the interior a quick wet vac, the seats, mats and carpet in particular. I bought the car from a teenager and the amount of what I can only presume was Coke (the drink, not the powder) through the car was nasty. I removed so much brown water from the car, especially the carpets.

I really should have done this months ago when I got the car, but I just never got around to it. My hand was forced now though as I noticed the various spills had started to grow mould from the car being parked up and baking in the sun.

It’s done now though, and after leaving the car in the sun with the windows down for the afternoon, everything has dried nicely. The seats still have stains, but I’m not sure anything short of a waterblaster will fix that.

Now, the engine mount. I ordered this on Wednesday, checked it hadn’t arrived yet on Friday morning, which it hadn’t, and then called on Monday to see if it was there yet as I was running out of time to have the car ready for its recheck that Wednesday.

In an interesting and frustrating turn of events, the mount had arrived that Friday around midday, but no one could locate the paperwork to allocate it to me, so it was sent back on a courier to the main distribution center about 200km away that same afternoon.

I bailed on that dealer as they couldn’t guarantee they could get the mount back again overnight. Thankfully another dealer, Mexted Motors, came to the rescue and had one in my hands the next morning. Probably the same one the other dealer sent back…

So with the recheck booked for the next day, I had to get the mount installed after work. This turned out to be really easy to do, with all the work being done up top.

First I needed to use the jack under the sump to carefully take the weight of the engine. I used a block of wood on the jack to spread the weight.

The mount in question is located here

With the jack taking the weight, I removed the three bolts holding the top mount bracket to the engine, and the one nut from the top of the mount

And removed the bracket. Some people get away with leaving the bracket in place, but I didn’t see the point in that when there is so much more space with it removed

The mount is secured to the car with three bolts

Remove those and the mount just wiggles its way out

I wondered how they knew the mount was stuffed, as I had a quick look at it a while back and didn’t see the telltale mess under it like the R53 Mini had when that mount failed.

What I missed was that these mounts have weep holes, and sure enough it was weeping

What’s it weeping? Well, due to noise, vibration and harshness requirements these RH mounts are fluid-filled, generally with some sort of silicone oil. When they fail, the fluid all ends up in places it shouldn’t, but in this case, it hadn’t made a mess on the body.

I suspect it also shouldn’t do this, as the new one didn’t (the new one was solid as a rock)

The old one has sagged a considerable amount when compared with the new one. The rubber is right at the top of the new one, and there is a large gap on the old one

The new one just bolts in, and after a stern torquing to, its job done.

Today was recheck day and sure enough, I got a fancy new sticker on my windscreen giving me 12 months of road-legal motoring.

So how does it feel to drive? The mount has made the biggest difference. Even with the other two replaced, the instant change in the car, once the RH one was replaced, is quite remarkable. The car feels more solid and doesn’t shunt when coming off and on the throttle now. It also no longer bangs and thumps when you do a particularly hard shift. Well worth doing.

I haven’t really had a chance to test the swaybar in anger, but the car does feel quite sharp on the road. I’m taking it to work tomorrow, which gives me some time on a few fast twisty roads, so hopefully I get a clean run and should be able to see how it goes then. The Swift was already really good, so it will be interesting to see if I can tell the difference.

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