Saturday, September 26, 2015

Check Engine Light: My Suzuki's Blasted EGR System

Check Engine Light Socks
Yes, these are real, yes they're mine. Hopefully they appease the check engine light gods. 
First off, yes, these are check engine light socks. I own them and bought them in Monterey, CA hoping they'd prevent future check engine lights. However, so far, they're not doing much other than looking fabulous.

Since May, I've been struggling to fix my Suzuki Sidekick's EGR system. I keep getting a code 51 check engine light, which signifies that something with the EGR system isn't right. It's a well-known fact that OBDI (On Board Diagnostics, version 1) is cryptic and, well, kind of dumb compared to modern OBDII. When something goes wrong with the car, OBDI essentially taps you on the shoulder like a couch surfing stoner and says, "Hey, uh, something's the matter with your engine. Like, I know it's something to do with the EGR system, but that's about it. Hope you can fix it. Hey, mind if I crash here a few more nights?" To read the OBDI, you insert a jumper, aka a paperclip, into the "data port" located under the hood. The check engine light blinks at you a number of times in a sequence: five blinks, then one slow blink. Code 51.

I hate you, code 51.

I've taken it apart several times and attempted to clean out the labyrinth that is the EGR routing. On my year Sidekick (1995), the pathways are cast into the intake manifold and the head making cleaning difficult to say the least. However, the pathways seem clean on both the intake and exhaust side (I've routed them out with a coat hanger and can feel exhaust gas coming through), the thermoprobe reads correctly (I cleaned it and then tested it with my handy voltmeter), and the valve is clean and seems to hold vacuum when off the car (trust me, I checked). The only thing I can think might be wrong is the valve isn't getting vacuum—something I need to check tomorrow. I've been spending some time on, a site with a perverse amount of information for Sidekicks, Trackers, and Vitaras. Although its not exactly the prettiest or easiest site to navigate, it is extremely thorough.

At this point, I'd like this EGR issue to simply go away. This EGR issue—a common issue with Sidekicks, Trackers, and Vitaras, has been a pain in the ass.

So please, EGR system, be fixed.


(Complete with check engine light socks)

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