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Suzuki Alto Works – Lights, Mats and Fixes

The final lot of parts from Yahoo Japan arrived the other day, so it was time to do some more work.

But first, it was time to clean the little nugget up and take it for its first outing to Cars and Coffee up the coast.

I stopped on the way to catch up with a friend who was also going to C&C, and my wife suggested we grab a couple of photos while we waited.

It’s such a cool wee car

I didn’t take many photos at C&C, but the Alto drew quite a bit of attention. Had a chat with a fellow Kei (AZ1) owner, and even a GR Yaris owner who was interested in importing a Works himself as a daily.

Back home again, it was time to do a couple of quick upgrades

The first was to finally fit a set of carpet mats to protect the expensive new carpet I had previously fitted. These aren’t genuine mats, but the seller makes a strong point that they are “made in Japan” and of very high quality. I tend to agree, they are made very well and are a good fit, and at about half the price of genuine ones, it’s a win in my books.

They came with fitting hooks for both front mats to stop them from sliding. I don’t know if it’s just because my carpet is new, or if an Alto had never had mats fitted if the mounting holes for the hooks will be punched out or not, but in my case they weren’t.

I initially thought the mats would mount using the clips the carpet also uses to secure it on the drivers side under the seat, but it uses two other holes in the cross-member which are hidden under the carpet.

In order to access the holes the factory has perforated a couple of little squares in the carpet where the holes are

I carefully used a sharp knife to cut the bottom tab so I could lift the squares up and access the holes

I’m really happy with the mats. They’re very plush, and fit well. We’re well on our way to luxury car now

The drivers one fits nicely under the Monster Sport footrest

The rear mats don’t hook in place, but all the mats have a non-slip backing on them, and they’re shaped well to stay in place

Looks a lot nicer than the brown paper I had been using, and a lot more secure for track use next week

The next upgrade I did was to replace the bulb in the high stop lamp in the tailgate with an LED board. I wanted to do this because I wanted a brighter light to catch attention better. The brake lights on the Alto are way down the bottom of the bumper and these days well below the level of visibility of cars on the road. If the high stop light is brighter, hopefully I’ll have more chance of someone seeing it instead of rear-ending me.

I bought this off Yahoo Japan, and looking at it, I believe it must be handmade. It’s very nicely assembled and looks good. Through-hole components are also unseen these days, it’s nice to see.

To fit, first, you remove the cover over the lamp. This just sides away from the glass. This is how you would normally change the bulb. The bulb just untwists from the housing.

Next, you remove the lamp housing from the tailgate, by removing the two bolts. Once removed, I used a thin flat blade screwdriver to carefully pry out the two tabs holding the lens into place. It was easiest to carefully pry between the black housing and the lens

The board just slips into place

It’s a tight fit against the reflector and I believe it should be retained in place by the lens clips. If not, I’ll need to remove the light and secure the board with some glue.

You can just make out the grid of LEDs through the lens

The wiring is in two parts. The first is the base of a bulb with two wires sticking out of it. This plugs into where the bulb would normally be.

This then needs to plug into the two wires that are coming out of the back of the board. Because LEDs are polarised and can only flow electricity one way, it’s best to plug it in and test it before fully assembling it, as like me, you might need to swap the two wires over for it to work

Once I knew it worked, I carefully tucked the wiring in the housing and reinstalled the bulb holder

I then reinstalled the lamp onto the tailgate

It seems quite effective. It was very sunny outside, but hopefully it’s more visible now.

The last thing that arrived in this shipment was something I had been trying to buy for ages, but was loath to spend the price for a new one; a Genuine Suzuki workshop manual for the Alto.

I had a saved search on Yahoo Auctions, so as soon as a NOS older version of the manual came up, and confirmed it still supported the turbo models (Works and RS) and was about half the price of a new one, I jumped on it.

One of the main reasons I wanted this was to troubleshoot an issue I was having with my keyless entry buttons, which didn’t work (Keyless start works, remote locking worked, but the buttons on the doors were all dead). I knew the basics, but need to know the system layout, trouble codes and wiring diagrams.

Unfortunately as this disk is old, its support in modern systems is very limited. In the end, I had to build a virtual machine running Windows XP, so I could run OG Internet Explorer (doesn’t run in Edge, Chrome, Firefox etc).

I did get it running though

Yes, it’s all in Japanese, so Google Translate gets a real workout, but the information is all there.

For my particular issue, I navigated to the correct location in the manual and ran through the troubleshooting guide. Most steps refer to Diagnostic Trouble Codes from the Body Control Manual, something I didn’t have. I knew it would have a DTC though as the security light in the cluster was flashing on startup.

I tried my OBD scanner, but that wouldn’t talk to the BCM. I started looking into all manner of diagnostic tools to run the Suzuki diagnostic software, but in the end, I remembered that for my Swift I had previously had success with a piece of free software called SZ Viewer, which I even still had installed on my tablet.

I fired it up, plugged my ELM327 v1.5 cable in and hit connect

It connected to all modules and even alerted me to two DTCs in the BCM. Success!

I’ll look into B150A later, I think that is related to the AC system and isn’t causing an issue currently (and isn’t lighting a malfunction indicator lamp). B1106 was what I needed to see; there was an issue with the Passengers side antenna circuit. Before now, I didn’t even know there was an antenna on the passengers side!

Reading the workshop manual, suggested to locate and inspect the antenna. The system overview shows it on the B pillar behind the upper trim (22)

Digging deeper, it gave specific details

If what I found there didn’t fix it, there were a few more steps to follow

I pulled back the B pillar trim and found the wires running up the B pillar

I gave them a wiggle and heard the distinctive sound of the plastic head of a plug rattling freely in the pillar

That’ll do it then, it’s not even plugged in!

A quick peek behind the upper trim shows the antenna in place, but the connector wasn’t looking to flash

Some jiggery pokery with a set of needlenose pliers allowed me to remove the antenna from the two clips holding it in place. This confirmed the part of the connector that should latch to the plug was completely missing. There is some “damage/modification” to the B pillar trim in the area, so suspect it got damaged during cage install and never fixed.

That ain’t nothing a ziptie can’t fix though

Once clipped back into place, I shut all the doors and pressed the button on the drivers door. “beep” *clunk* – All the doors locked and the mirrors folded in.

I tested all the buttons and all worked perfectly. Very happy with that fix. I might have stumbled on that wire by accident at some point, but the manual and SZ Viewer were the real heroes here.

Now that all the nice clean hands stuff was done, there were two jobs left for the day.

I jacked the car up and put it on four stands.

The first job under the car was to drain a small amount of gearbox oil, and add some Redline friction modifier to hopefully help the Cusco LSD be a bit more civilized when it’s cold. At the moment it clunks, bangs, binds and sounds like the axles are in bits. I know this is normal to a degree, but it’d be nice if it was slightly lessened.

I drained off some fluid, and using a syringe added a minimum recommended amount of additive, 30mls (or 1oz). I don’t want to over dose the oil and risk the LSD slipping too much and not working.

A quick drive (including some tight circles in a carpark) shows it might be a little better already, but I need to get the additive cycled around the box a bit, so tomorrow’s drive to work will be interesting.

Finally, I wanted to give all the brakes a quick flush. I know for compliance the pads were replaced with RDA Phantom Ceramic pads (the same I’m running in the Jazz), and the fluid looks clean, but I wasn’t sure if they had also bled the rear brakes. A quick vac with the bleeder, and now I can have a bit more confidence knowing it’s done. The old fluid wasn’t worrying, so maybe it had been done.

So for now, until a couple of other specific parts arrive from Japan through the local dealer, that’s all I have for it.

Next Monday will be the little nuggets first outing on the track, so I’m both excited and nervous about that. Hopefully, it all goes well, and I can beat some of the times I put down in the Jazz last year. We’ll see.

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