Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Low Compression Depression: Time for a Rebuild?
For months, the Teal Terror, aka Project 1995 Suzuki Sidekick, has felt down on power. Despite replacing the busted up catalytic converter a couple weeks ago, checking to see if the muffler is plugged, and about 100 other potential things, the power is still down. It was very evident after last weekend's trip to the Oregon coast for camping: Lots of third-gear sessions and terrible fuel economy while ascending the hills of Highway 26. Something is up.
I ran a dry compression test last night and here are the results in PSI. Keep in mind, the spec should be 195 PSI with 170 being on the low end:
Cyl. 1) 147
Cyl. 2) 153
Cyl. 3) 162
Cyl. 4) 156
A wet test (using oil in the cylinders) yielded slightly higher numbers which indicated that the valves are probably OK, meaning the culprit is likely worn piston rings. Great. I've now got a case of low compression depression.
Now a decision will need to be made. Do I have the engine rebuilt, install a remanufactured engine, do some sort of engine swap, or move on to another vehicle all together? New long block prices look to be around $1,700–$2,500 (plus the return of a core at some point). A rebuild kit would be less, but still pretty pricey after all is said and done. Yes, a VW diesel swap would be cool, but probably pricey. And I suppose I could buy another lower mileage Sidekick/Tracker and transfer the parts over to a lower-mileage vehicle. Then again, we could always sell the Teal Terror (GASP!) and get something else. Someone hand me a can opener—I've got a can of worms to open.
At this point, I'm leaning toward buying a long block and having a friend help me install it. Afterall, a lot of the truck is pretty much new or refurbished already. From the rebuilt transmission to the rebalanced driveshaft; newer suspension to re-powdercoated bumper. I know this truck inside and out and still enjoy it, so it's probably worth simply having the engine rebuilt or putting something else in. More power would be nice, too. Just sayin' ...
The compression test yielded some clarity as to what's up with the engine. Now we'll need to make some decisions on the truck's future.