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Suzuki Alto Works – Interior Upgrades

It’s been a big weekend of work on the Alto, but before I detail the main lot of work, today I did some upgrades in the interior.

One upgrade I had been looking forward to was the seatbelt extenders. Since lowering the seats I noticed that the seatbelt, since it cannot be height adjusted, cuts across the base of my neck which can be uncomfortable. I would’ve just lived with it, but when my wife commented on it, I knew I should fix it. Happy wife and all that.

It’s a common thing in Altos, so the hard work had been done already and it’s well known that you can use a Honda part to bring the belt out slightly. P/N 81415-SH3-004

I bought a pair. They are only for one side, since I guess in the Honda they’re from (Old Civics and CRX) they’re only fitted to the passengers side, but I used a heat gun to gently bend the drivers side one back the other way (in hindsight, I may order another one and try it flipped upside down instead).

The belt cuts quite high up

Remove this bolt

The hole in the Honda part is smaller, so use a step drill to open it up so the bolt slides freely through (but not so loose it rattles around)

And refit with the extender between the belt bracket and the B pillar. Slip the belt through, and you’re done.

I repeated on the drivers side too

I bent it to change the angle. I’m not 100% happy with the fit on this side as the belt rubs the arm as it recoils. You can clearly see the change in angle of the belt though.

The difference was immediate. The belt now comes up just by my shoulder and doesn’t cut along my neck anymore. A+ would do again.

Next on my upgrades list was to downgrade my interior trim. The Works comes with this nice glossy black plastic around the heater controls. Probably looks nice when it’s new, but when your car has had a life, it starts to look real shitey.

Mmm fingerprints and scratches

I hate glossy black plastic in interiors anyway, so I was stoked when I found a lower-spec trim on Yahoo Japan, with digital climate control (rare, lower-spec cars often have manual controls). This is an unpainted textured plastic instead of gloss. It actually matches the dash pocket better.

Removing the trim is easy, it’s just clipped in around the perimeter. I stuck a finger in one of the many holes cut out of my dash pocket and just pulled it free.

There is a wire harness plugged in behind the climate control, so disconnect that. There is also a white tube for the climate control This was dangling free on my car, so I don’t know where it’s meant to sit, but I disconnected it from the back of the unit. It’s just a “fresh air” intake so the climate control knows the interior temp, it won’t actually connect to anything on the other end. I also had to remove the EVC unit since the wire went through the opening for the dash pocket.

I’m still finding random pockets of panel beater dust from when it went through compliance. The inside of the dash was covered in it. I gave it a quick wipe out with some APC.

I swapped the dash pocket over to the new trim, and refitted it to the dash. Nice.

Looks much better from the drivers seat. All the climate control options worked out of the box too, so I didn’t even need to swap that unit over. Winning.

Next up was the main job. The clutch switch canceller.

Now, I had originally rejected this idea as the risk of starting the car by accident, whilst its in gear, was too great. I park the car in gear on my drive, so I couldn’t risk it backing its way up the drive and across the road into a fence.

In modern cars, instead of turning a key two times to turn the car to “on”, you press the start button twice. If you have your foot on the clutch (or the switch bypassed), pressing it twice will start the car instead. See the problem?

I still wanted to see what could be done though. I hate the idea of starting the car cold, with no oil pressure, and having my foot planted firmly on the clutch and all that force on my newly replaced crank thrust bearings.

While surfing Yahoo Auctions Japan I came across a kit that added a toggle switch to disable the clutch switch. This was still a big no-go. If the switch was left in the “disable” position, instead of getting the “on” position when pressing the start button twice, it would start the car.

Thinking more on it though, if there is a switch, it could be replaced with a button. So I went shopping.

On the left is a new genuine dash switch blank, so I can mount the button in it, in the middle is the wiring kit and toggle switch from Yahoo, and on the right is my JDMYO momentary push button.

Using a momentary button means it does not lock in place and resets once you release it. This means I can hold the button down and press the start button and the car will start, otherwise it reverts to the normal state of either pressing the clutch down to start, or going to the “on” position with two presses. Perfect.

I broke out all the reinforcing from the back of the switch blank and drilled a hole through it for the button.

The button had just wires out of the back of it, so I cut them shorter and added terminals

The clutch switches (there are two, one for pedal up, one for pedal down) are an absolute arse to get to. I contorted myself up under the dash for ages trying to get to them, but the power steering motor was always in the way and my hands were too big. They live up here, right up the top

Then I had a brain wave. Drop the column. Two bolts at the front

and one at the back supporting the motor

and the column will drop down. You might need to unclip the harness from the dash bar first

And there they are, the two switches. Real easy to get to now!

I used a tiny screwdriver to pop the black and white plugs out, and connected the harness up between the plugs. The wires just go inline with the plugs. I then ran the wiring up over the dash frame to the other side.

Where I pulled it through the hole and connected it to the button

I reinstalled the column, and pressed the button to test. The little green “LETS GOOO” start indicator lit up on the dash

So after checking I wasn’t in gear, I held the button down, and pressed the start button at the same time. The engine fired into life. Great success.

It’s quite easy to press both with one hand too. Because the red button is pronounced and has a large contact area, I could probably just palm the button as I press the start button too. Science to be done.

That angle showed me just how horrible the cluster looked too, so many scratches.

I preempted this and had bought a new cluster lens from Suzuki. I pulled the surround off and carefully removed the plastic lens. This is held on with a series of clips around the perimeter that I just used my finger to push down as I pulled the lens rearwards.

the new lens just clipped into place. And wow what a difference!

It’s crazy how a little change like that makes such a difference. The cluster looks brighter now and like new.

The old one was pretty had it

Finally, as a bonus, I replaced the column shrouds. They didn’t fit together well, and had a couple of extra holes drilled in them for functions no longer present on the car (IC water spray and rear window wiper canceller)


That wraps up the changes to the interior for now. I still need to remove and wrap the steering wheel, but otherwise it’s pretty well where I want it.

A big update is coming soon regarding the suspension repairs, I just want to align the car first and get some decent photos. I can’t wait to drive it again, it’s been a month!

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4 days ago

I found when disassembling my dash, the climate control tube was also disconnected and dangling, no idea if someone had been working in there before, everything was stock. It does connect to the “grill” next to the “outside temp” button, probably makes zero difference having it connected though.