Monday, August 10, 2015

Upgrades, Repairs, and Rebuilds for the Suzuki Sidekick

Installing new shock absorbers on the Suzuki Sidekick


There's been a lot going on with the Teal Terror (aka project Suzuki Sidekick) lately, which is part of the reason I haven't been posting as much I as have previously. There have been some upgrades, some repairs, and even some rebuilds. Why? In preparation for an epic adventure. More on that in the weeks to come.

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First things first, I added a set of AVS Ventvisors to the Sidekick. Honestly, I never thought about getting a set. However, since my primary source of income comes from a company that makes them, I thought I'd give them a shot. Honestly, I'm surprised at how much I like them! You can have the window cracked and let air in, they keep rain out with the window down, and you can even leave the windows down a bit when parked and you can't really see they're open. They were super easy to install, too. A nice little upgrade. 

The next upgrade I made was a set of new Old Man Emu Nitrocharger rear shock absorbers (e.g. the pic of me installing them above). Old Man Emu is known for offering up both durability and ride quality, and so far, I'm very impressed with the ride, which is improved. The down side is that they are not as long as the rear shocks that came with my BDS lift kit, so I may lose a bit of articulation off the pavement. However, the ride is so good, I don't think I'll worry too much about it.

Additionally, we purchased an ARB 50 qt. fridge for the back. These fridges allow us not to have to bring a cooler with ice. These fridges can actually make ice! This will be fantastic for camping and travel. I will be wiring up the fridge as soon as I get the Sidekick back from the shop, but more on that in a few paragraphs. 

Next up have been some repairs. I've been dealing with a nagging check-engine light for the last few weeks. It's a dreaded code 51, which means there's something going on with my EGR system. The EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system on the Trackers and Sidekicks are infamously bad. They clog with carbon over time, and the only way to unclog the tiny passages snaking through the intake and exhaust manifolds (as well as the head) is by taking it apart—something I haven't done. Well, not completely apart, that is. The valve itself is clean, but some of the passages haven't been. I've used pipe cleaners and coat hangers to clean out some of the passages. The good news is, after the first cleaning, the Sidekick passed it's smog check. However, shortly thereafter, the check-engine light came back on. I just got done doing another cleaning, so we'll see if that helps.

In addition, I've also had to tweak the TPS (throttle position sensor) to get it back into spec. The good news is it no longer throws a check-engine light. The bad news is that it's not fine-tuned, so throttle is herky-jerky. That will get fixed soon.

Finally, I bit the bullet and am having the five-speed manual transmission rebuilt. A reputable transmission shop here in Portland is redoing the bearings, adding new synchros, putting in new seals, and throwing in a new clutch. The trans had been grinding going into second and third gears for quite some time, and it's always had a bit of a whine at idle, in addition to some new racket it's been making. It's not going to be cheap, but it should be worth it and will provide a piece of mind knowing that it won't (shouldn't fail). 

All of these modifications and rebuilds and money and such are all in preparation for an epic trip we'll be taking soon. We plan to drive the Sidekick and our Dinoot trailer out to Colorado and Utah for some on- and off-roading adventure. More on that once it happens. Until then, stay tuned!

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