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Suzuki Alto Works – Servicing and Fixes

With no real service history, I wanted to give the car a good going over before driving it too much more.

The plan this weekend was to change the engine oil and filter, gearbox oil, install a headunit, and swap out the illegal fog lamp bulbs.

I started with the fog lamp bulbs, since it was raining outside and it was easier to do this before the car got wet warming it up for the oil change.

As part of the compliance inspection, the front fog lamps were disconnected. I had a quick look and noted they were LEDs, which isn’t allowed (scatters the beam in a reflector lamp and is blinding to others), so I presumed that’s all it was. I was wrong.

I plugged the LEDs in and switched them on.

Woah! They cast a very “green apple” shade of green. Definitely not legal.

I grabbed a pair of “white” H16 halogen bulbs to replace them. Since the front of my guard liners are currently missing their clips, it’s quite easy to peel the liner back to access the back of the fog lamp, even with the wheel on.

Much better, now I can actually use the fog lamps if I want

After a quick drive around the block a couple of times to warm the engine up, I lifted the car on Quickjacks and got to work

The underside is remarkably clean, although thankfully it was grimy so hasn’t been recently cleaned to hide anything. Not a drop or misting of liquid where it shouldn’t be.

I should say, having been under the car now, the undersealing work the panebeater did was very good. They undersealed and then painted it all body colour, it’s a very tidy job.

The engine oil is very easy to change. The sump plug and filter are just right there

I drained the old oil out and removed the filter. According to the sticker on the door, the old oil was about 1000km old, so wasn’t bad but was a little dark. I don’t know when 1000km ago was in time though, maybe 2021, but IIRC they do dates differently in Japan. I imagine it’s had a lot of cold starts moving it around during import and compliance.

I refilled with 2.6L of Castrol 5W40 full synthetic and moved on to the gearbox oil.

Draining was easy, the plug is right on the bottom of the box

The fill plug though was a real pain. It was very tight, and I had limited space. It’s above the axle, hidden above this rib on the gearbox casing.

Always loosen/remove the fill plug before draining the box, just in case you can’t get it open.

I managed to get just enough leverage on it using my floppy head ratchet and a 3/8th square adaptor (to move the ratchet away from the gearbox). I tried the normal ratchet and an extension and couldn’t get it.

With the filler opened, I drained the old fluid out. The level was bang on, so that was good, but the fluid was looking quite dark

The new fluid had a more clear-yellow/green look to it

Also good was no chunks came out and the magnet had minimal sludge on it.

Because the gearbox has a Cusco plate LSD in it, I had to use special oil with LSD additives, so the LSD wouldn’t excessively wear, or cause drivability issues when cold.

In this case, I thought it best to just spend the money and get the proper Cusco oil. The gearbox uses 2.3L.

I had noticed the LSD was a right grump when it was cold. Chattering, clunking and binding when turning. I’m hoping new fluid will lessen these issues. I know they’re pretty normal for a plate type LSD, so might have to just get used to racecar life.

Refilling was done, like all my gearbox oil changes, with the pump bottle of goodness. So easy to use, and with the dual-action pump, quick.

I filled the box until it started to run out, waited for it to stop and then plugged it back up again. Both plugs had some thread sealer applied.

There were a couple of items I wanted to check under the bonnet while I was there. Firstly, I removed a coil pack and spark plug to check it. It’s an HKS M40XL high performance plug. The condition of the tip didn’t look bad, but the corona stain on the ceramic was very dark indicating it was probably either quite old or had a hard life (maybe both)

I also checked the air filter, which had been replaced with an HKS panel filter

It wasn’t too dirty, but I’m not a fan of HKS filters. This side, the dirty side, is a fabric sheet. The other side, on the turbo inlet, is foam. As they get older the foam can break down and get sucked into the turbo/engine which can cause failure. This filter seemed ok, but the foam was starting to age. I have another Blitz panel filter on order to replace it.

With those checks done, I removed the intercooler water sprayer setup as it wasn’t connected and wouldn’t be needed when I fit the larger intercooler. I removed the hose all the way to the boot, which is where the bottle used to be fitted.

I also found both battery terminals barely finger-tight, so sorted that.

The last thing to do while the car was in the air, was to finish removing the door decals on the RH side. This was painstakingly done with a heatgun and gently picking the letters off one by one with my thumbnails. I had to be careful not to dig into and damage the underlying Works decal these were stuck on top of.

The Works decals are quite interesting, the black section is patterned and textured. You can also see the letters had faded into it, but it’s barely noticeable in person.

With that done, and the car lowered to the ground, it was time to warm the oil up and circulate the gearbox oil.

Unfortunately this is where it all went a bit wrong. Immediately out of the drive the car was misfiring. Back into the garage, I removed the coil I had checked, refitted it and tried again. This time the car was running great; I warmed it up and it was boosting a solid 14PSI happily. And then it started to misfire under load, now you can hear it breaking up just by revving it to about 4000rpm.

I suspect it’s sparkplugs and/or coils (since it’s the only thing I touched that could cause a misfire), so have a new set of HKS spark plug on the way and some new uprated ZC33S coil packs to replace the stock ones, but they have to be shipped from Japan.

So in the meantime, I worked on a couple of other things. First, I checked the rear washer jet.

Turning the wiper stalk to activate the washer resulted in the pump making the right noises, but nothing on the glass. Interesting.

I checked everywhere to make sure the hose wasn’t disconnected somewhere and pouring into the car, since I believe the previous owner had been using the wiper stalk to trigger the intercooler pump. No leaks were found, so I just kept the stalk turned. Sure enough, after about 20 seconds of whirring, I hear the PSHHP PSHHP of air coming out of the rear washer jet, followed by a steady stream of fluid. I guess it’s been a very long time since it was last used and it had to prime the hoses.

With no wiper, all it did was make a mess down the back of the car, but at least now I know it works, so when the wiper arrives it will be one less thing to fix. Tinted glass = zero visibility when the glass is dirty, so having a wiper is a no-brainer.

Next on the list was to fill the big gap in the dash with a headunit. I love how this car sounds, but man you hear a lot of other noises when you don’t have music playing in the background.

I had imported a replacement surround, radio brackets and an adaptor harness from Japan.

The first step is to yank the old surround out. It’s just clipped in around its perimeter, and without a radio installed, I could just grab it and pull. The factory plugs were still present, which was excellent.

I was also replacing the surround as the owner in Japan had cut this one to mount the Defi dash in it, and it had two screw holes from the visor.

The chosen headunit was a cheap $80 (on sale) Android unit from Aliexpress. The main reason for this was so I could run TorquePro on it natively, when on the track, and keep my phone free for Racechrono. When I had the Jazz on the track I wanted to keep an eye on coolant temps, but with no temp gauge I had to rely on TorquePro, but couldn’t display that alongside Racechrono, so this should sort that issue.

Mounting it was easy, until I realised that the unit was so short it only had one set of mounting holes. I discover what this means later.

Having previously soldered the adaptor harness to the headunit harness, I plugged it in and installed the headunit.

And pressed the start button to give it power

It booted right up, and since I had previously bench-tested the unit and updated it, the wireless Android Auto kicked into life

Not bad for $80!

I then went to fit the surround and noticed the headunit was sunken way into the dash. It seems because it only has one set of mounting holes I couldn’t move it forward far enough on the brackets. To fix this I used washers on the mounting screws to space the whole thing forward, which helped a lot.

The unit also includes its own GPS antenna, which I routed across the dash and up near the windscreen

The main interface is nice and clear. Just usual Android things. If I cared, the FM radio does actually work too. Seems I need to work out the time and date though…

Torque connects well to a BT OBD2 device connected to the car

Plenty of customisation to be had. Hard to miss a nice big easy-to-read number though.

That should do the trick nicely.

The final thing to look at was the horn. I wanted to test it and see what it sounds like since the Japanese owner fitted some Bosch “Rally Evolution” horns and they appear to still be fitted.

I pressed the horn pad on the steering wheel. Nothing. Key on maybe? nothing. Hmmm….

The steering column shrouds had to be removed again for a look. Everything on the column was connected, nothing looked out of place. I knew from my searching that the horn wire was the pink wire on this plug

I grounded it with a test light, and sure enough, just about shite myself at how loud the horn was! Well, that works then. The issue must be in the horn pad. The only way to access it is to remove the airbag.

Using a 10mm spanner I removed the negative terminal from the battery and set about removing the airbag. There are three small holes behind the spokes (one on either side and one at the bottom), which I pushed a long hex key into, which pressed on a release clip and popped the airbag forward

That’ll be the issue then, the horn pad isn’t connected to the clock spring. There should be a plug with a single wire on it in the plug next to the yellow wire. That single wire should go to a terminal on the horn pad.

Using my multimeter on continuity, and staying well away from any yellow airbag wiring, I checked the continuity between the pink wire on the column, and the pins in the plug in the steering wheel. The first pin was the horn pin, it had continuity to the pink wire.

I made a little jumper harness using a pair of insulated spade terminals

I plugged both ends in, plugged the airbag in and pushed the horn pad home with a click. I reconnected the battery, and suddenly we had a horn on demand. Excellent.

The previous owner swapped steering wheels before I got the car, so I suspect he must have forgotten to refit that plug when he did it.

And that’s about as far as I can go since the car isn’t drivable. I have put it on Quickjacks again since I need to have the tires replaced on Tuesday, and will just send the wheels in instead of the car.

I’m hoping the spark plugs show up quickly, so I can swap those and see if it fixes it. I really hope it does.

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