On the road again!
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Author:  pacapo [ Tue May 30, 2017 3:55 pm ]
Post subject:  On the road again!

After many years I've decided to make a thread about our first Suzuki car.

It is the vehicle we bought from a family member in 2000, and we have been maintaining it ourselves.
Along the way, lessons have been learned, and a big thanks to Teamswift for the free flowing exchange of ideas which has greatly improved my ability to keep this car in tip top emissions shape.

First, an overall view of the car:


The picture was taken in 2010, and the vehicle is not garage kept.

It is not a turbo.
It is not a rare 'MS' high fuel efficiency vehicle.
It is simply a basic 1987 Chevrolet Sprint 4 door.

One automobile manufacturer advertises its vehicles: "Love what you drive".
In this case, we say "drive what you have".
That's what we do, and we save a whole lot of money in the process.

Author:  suzukitom [ Wed May 31, 2017 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

California weather is so kind to Sprints!

I had a gold metallic 1986 5 door years ago.

Author:  pacapo [ Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Today it fired up after sitting idle in the garage for over a year, waiting for work on the front of the engine.
First, I pulled the fuel line to the carburetor and, using a vacuum pump, brought fuel from the gas tank to the carburetor.
Then, using the fuel that the vacuum pump collected, I added fuel to the carburetor via the fuel inlet.
Once the fuel line was connected, it fired up without a big drain on the electrical system.

In 2015, the overhead looked suspiciously clean:

Hopefully, my next post will show how clean it is inside.
I am now a believer: full synthetic is the only thing I'll be putting in my engines from now on.
This is not an expensive car to buy, nor is it an exotic.
But synthetic certainly does a job keeping the inside of that engine squeaky clean.

This month, it is ready for smog tests.
It has a new air cleaner (over 6,000 miles on the last one), fresh oil and filter (2144 miles on the old oil), new timing belt and tensioner (10,000 miles on the old set) and finally a new front main crankshaft seal and camshaft seal - probably 7 years since that's been done.
I really took my time doing the job, and as usual, not a drop of oil on the ground.
That dirty valve cover got cleaned, but not painted.

The gas tank was almost empty, so it got driven to the gas station and filled, and computations come up with 42 mpg on the last tank.
This old bugger is sure inexpensive to operate, and even with full synthetic is cheap to maintain.
If you consider the long run, I would say that the synthetic oil has dramatically reduced the wear on the engine, and it gets less work done on it as a result.

After driving it out of the garage and hosing it down, the sheer SIZE of it came back to me.
It is pretty darn tiny!!! :oops:
But it sure feels good to have my parts chaser back on the road again.

There's a certain pride one gets from assembling a vehicle properly and having it operate according to specs.
Although this car will pass smog (probably), as I drove it today I made a mental note of some of the things that would help:
-valve adjustment
-new A/C compressor, drier and evaporator
-more modern radio
-new windshield
-fresh paint.
Considering its age, it is amazing the A/C still works.
Otherwise, it is a decent ride which has really helped us dig out of financial problems...kind of like a good luck charm.

Author:  pacapo [ Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Since I was working on the front of the engine (new water pump and timing set) it seemed logical to remove the valve cover.
I've pulled a LOT of valve covers off engines of many different makes and models.
This is what I found:

Again, this is an engine getting Mobil 1 5W-30 EP, but having in excess of 75,000 miles since the last rebuild.
In fact, you can see the accumulation of sediment next to exhaust cylinder #3. My, my my! 8)

So many people buy these cars and boast, "I got the thing for $500, so why spend X amount to fix it right. I want to fix it as cheaply as possible."
What we've done is try to put it back to manufacturer's specs (with a few modifications to be mentioned later) and enjoy the ride.
If we had to spend a few bucks more on the correct parts and fluid, why not?
The car saves us money every time we use it, as you all know.

Author:  pacapo [ Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

There are several posts on this site where members ask what to look for when buying a vehicle.
Here's one to think about.
Above you see a fairly clean overhead.
What about after the combustion chamber?

This picture shows its tailpipe after 3 years:
Not the best picture, but I assure you it is pretty clean.

So if you have NO mechanical experience, and simply look inside the tailpipe and don't see black soot, that's a good indication the vehicle is running a catalytic converter and is burning as clean as a new vehicle. Of course, if that short piece of tailpipe was just installed, that's an exception, but it should only take a week or two of operation to blacken the inside of the tailpipe if it isn't adjusted properly, doesn't have a catalytic converter, is burning oil/needs engine work, or all of the above.

Author:  dale50000 [ Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Good clean engine and tail pipe. :D :D :D

Author:  87paperchuckerTurbo [ Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Mmmmm nice looking head. Tail pipe ain't bad either :wink:

Author:  pacapo [ Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

If you saw the vehicle in person, the tailpipe is much cleaner than in the photo.
It is due for a carburetor rebuild, but it still gets 41+ mpg at 70-75 mph and the A/C going.

Anyone who's ever driven these cars knows that one unavoidable problem is aggressive motorists.
Tonight, for example, we were coming home on the freeway, and some clown first decides to put the high beams in our rear hatch window, despite the fact that he had a wide open fast lane next to me, and I was following a car, so couldn't speed up. Basically, I was minding my own business at about 65 mph.
Next he pulls up next to us in the fast lane and he's a real fat one, but I could probably take him. I put up the index finger and tell him, 'no, no, no!' and he decides to flip me off and pull his car into my lane.
I was thinking about the new handgun the Wife had just bought about 2 hours ago under her seat (and the handcuffs under mine), but instead had her write down his license number.


...a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu...

Maybe someday he will get his.

Aggressive drivers see these cars in the dark and automatically think the operator is some weenie small guy who hasn't eaten in 6 weeks. That can be a fatal mistake.

He sped up and got between me and the car in front of me, and slammed on the brakes.
I avoided him by quickly switching to the fast lane and ran it up to 75 mph.
Probably amazed at how quickly our car reacted, because he was about 10 car lengths behind at that point.
If I didn't have the Wife in the car, it would have been a cinch to run it up to 90 for a few minutes and see how badly he wanted to destroy his POS car trying to keep up.
(This car has the 3.79 gears, so it can run at 75-80 mph all night long and do it very quietly.)
He took a while to catch up, and I got over a few lanes to give him a wide berth, but stupid kept insisting on dancing with us.
I backed down to 70 mph and 3 or 4 cars bracketed him in the fast lane. They had been watching the whole thing.
Then I backed down to 65 a few lanes away.
Fortunately he was distracted by the actions of the other cars, and I have no way of thanking them, but believe me, his road rage could have ended very badly.
Our car was no match for his if we had touched at the speeds we were traveling.

Moving on, if you plan on driving a car like this, prepare to eat some humble pie on the highway.
Expect it in advance and don't panic.
It is, however, VERY aggravating.

Another thing people who have never driven MK1's don't understand is how light they are.
They get up and go quickly, whether they are aspirated or turbocharged.
But at high speeds, it helps to have a passenger on the other side to weigh down the car in turns.

The 3.79 final drive in this car somewhat slows down the acceleration to 60 mph, but does spread out the power band.
Lots of people like the 4.10 gears, including me on some of our other cars.
In this car, the 3.789473684's are a perfect fit for my driving style and our wide open low population geographical region.
The engine doesn't have enough torque to damage the 72 ring and 19 pinion gears unless you do something really stupid.
I have no plans of changing them, and people who have ridden in the car don't even notice what gearset it has.
Of course, if you only drive within city limits or under 90 mph, the stock 4.0 gear set is wonderful.
Even Fainya, who rebuilds the later model transmissions does not think the transmission needs to come out.
It used to get GM synchromesh.
But now, it gets the less expensive Pennzoil Synchromesh.
I know others recommend different lubricants.
This is simply a report of what works in my transmissions.
None of mine have a 5th gear whine.
None need to be rebuilt.

It might be interesting to post the emissions test.
I owe wizewun :worship: my most recent test results, and when I post them, we shall see if he beat me this year.
The emissions test, of course, reflects what is under the hood.
There is nothing extraordinary under the hood of this car.
But I challenge anyone out of State not running a catalytic converter to produce a cleaner burning internal combustion engine Chevrolet Sprint.
If you find a Sprint for sale in California, take a look at the smog test results carefully.
That will tell you exactly the condition of the engine.
A clever individual can read the smog test history on line and learn a great deal about the car without even seeing it.

It feels real good to have the MK1 back on the road.
This car looks like it can barely make it in the slow lane, but really likes to run around 70 mph...or above (if no one's around).

Author:  mkc1962 [ Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Nice clean setup, would expect nothing less from my favorite sprint doctor!!

Author:  neo_mk1 [ Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Great to see ... a good car back on the road ..

Author:  pacapo [ Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Gentlemen, thanks for the kind words.

The new sticker came in the mail, and it is indeed on the road again - legally.
I'm not satisfied with it, but most people who drive these would think it is one of the best NA's out there.
However, the next thing that gets done won't be engine work.
(The new front main seal doesn't seem to be leaking, so that's nice.)

Right now, from L.A. to Texas, we're having a heat wave, so car work can wait until things cool down.

Almost forgot: Happy Father's Day to one and all!

Author:  wizewun [ Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Looking good Phil!

The heat is hitting us up here as well. It was 110 on Sunday!!. I'm tempted to take a sauna just to cool off. :sunny:

Author:  pacapo [ Tue Jun 27, 2017 3:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Temperatures are hot. As in record breaking hot. Palm Springs hit 122F over the weekend which broke the former high of 120F set in 1970.
People who have not experienced this kind of heat often point out humidity figures.
A Father and Son, hiking in this heat last week, were found expired, victims of the heat, so if you visit, try and confine physical exertion to early morning or late evening. Trust me, you don't know any heat like this. It is a killer - people AND cars.

Therefore, it was time to concentrate on the vehicle's cooling system. A tiny leak, left unmonitored, will strand you if you aren't careful.
It had a persnickety leak, visible by a decreasing level in the overflow tank, and some coolant on the top of the radiator last year.
Changing the timing belt, water pump, tensioner, and front main seal...and one of the leaks was fixed. (Water pump had a seep.)
But the radiator, that was a two pronged approach.
I picked up 4 new radiators on line, and installed one. Still, it had a little leak on the top of the filler neck.
So $7 and a new radiator cap later, and all is well.
Overflow tank holds steady as a rock, but here's another thing to watch out for:
The tube which runs down into the overflow tank from the cap can get soft when you have high outside temperatures.
I pulled the overflow cap, and the hose remained in the tank.
That's bad because you can lose your suction.
So make sure that tube is connected firmly to your overflow cap.

The new radiator made a slight but improved difference in the reading of the temperature gauge. You cannot hear the radiator fan going at speed because of the noise of the air past the windows, but it is easy to figure out that the fan kicks in at about 1/2 way up the gauge.
Previously, the gauge would creep up to the half way point on the freeway at 70 mph, the fan would kick in, and then the gauge would drop to about 1/4.
Thus, it was time to roll up the old sleeves and give the radiator fan a break. After all, it is 30 years old!
Here we go:

First, the new radiator -
It is a APDI 8011256 and has a transmission cooler for an automatic transmission if the car is so equipped.
Rather than run it open, I connected the two cooler ends with an old piece of tubing, as you can see above.

Now on to the radiator fan -

1- When you remove the shroud, you will also remove the fan and electric motor. By removing the plastic fan, you get to see this:
the stem of the electric motor, needing a quick toothbrush to remove all the sand.
Doing so will get you to this step

2- Exposing the circular clip
This piece needs to be carefully pried up so you can remove a small plastic washer underneath.
Apply full synthetic grease, replace the washer, circular clip, slide on clip (not shown), fan and fastening nut and you are done with one side.

3- Oiling the rear of the fan
There is a circular cap on the back of the radiator fan motor. You carefully pry it off and this is what you see:
You can see the cap - it is placed to the left in the picture, and has no evidence of 'mechanics removal torture'...ha!
I used a 3/4" Craftsman end wrench, turned sideways to pry it off, a little at a time, working my way around the diameter and it came off no problem.
You put a few drops of high grade oil - I used some Mobil 1 full synthetic left inside an old quart jug - and then you can button it up.
The felt absorbs the oil, and will lubricate the shaft for quite some time. Indeed, the shaft was fairly well oiled when I removed the cap.

That's how you lube an MK1 radiator fan...or at least how I do it. Somewhere there's a more detailed version by Phil N Ed, but this shortened version probably gets you a few more miles on an already old fan.

Bottom line?
Vehicle doesn't overheat even at high speeds during the heat of the day (it didn't before), and fan comes on much less than previously, saving wear and tear all the way around. I found that slowing down to 65 mph will allow the radiator to do its job without the fan coming on at all during hot afternoon commutes.

Heat is the main enemy of any engine. You've got to keep them within factory specs if you want your car to run a long time.
Our Suzuki products don't really have a problem functioning in the heat, but you have to make sure everything is right: hose connections, radiator, thermostat, water pump, O-rings, coolant. Once you've got it right, then you can pretty much forget it for a few months, only looking at the overflow, and watching the temperature gauge now and then. But once the car is running right, you certainly want to make sure it cools properly for reliability reasons.

Now that it stays pretty cool inside the engine, it is time work on the interior (sounds & A/C), because it is nice to travel listening to something besides the wind in your ear, and arrive at your destination as cool as a cucumber. =)

Author:  pacapo [ Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

What's up with Photobucket?
It looks like they want a $400 annual fee for you to see my pictures.
Has anyone else had this problem -

Author:  jaguar,vettes&sprints [ Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!


Author:  pacapo [ Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Here's your weather update:

$400 a year is out of my range, so you might not get any more photobucket links in this thread.
You Tube is probably an option, because some of the things I post are made credible with a video.
(Too bad you can no longer see how clean the synthetic has left the engine after many years...)

It was a quiet Sunday, and time to check the fluid level in the transmission.
For the uninitiated, the MK1 has a built in dipstick, so checking the level is a 5 minute job.
The level is okay, but the fluid looks a bit dark.

While checking out the fluid levels, I also got a good look under the engine.
No seeping around the oil drain plug, and the same around the area under the front main crankshaft seal.
Using the special tool to install the front main seal didn't hurt.

The coolant overflow tank level is pegged to the correct mark.
This indicates that, after 2 months, any leaks in the cooling system are non-existent.
That's good news as well.

Scheduled maintenance will be:
-changing the transmission fluid
-rebuilding another carburetor for it.

Gas mileage has been in the mid 40's, even with A/C use.

That's your positive update in Mid-Summer; time to go for a drive or a cool dip in the pool!



Author:  pacapo [ Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

The images in the post above were important to the 'instructable'.
Let me try again.

On the radiator fan motor, after removing the fan you see this:


But it isn't clear. So you clean it up with a plain toothbrush and see this:


If you are still with me, here's a close up:


You CAREFULLY pry those 5 fingers off the shaft and that allows you access to the front of the fan for lubrication.
I used plain old Mobil 1 motor oil. A few drops should last a few years.......

Next you need access to the back of the electric motor.
Again, CAREFULLY pry off the back cover:


...and this allows you to put a few drops of oil on the rear.

Installation is the reverse of disassembly. If those front fingers got bent, you can straighten them before you push that clip on the shaft.

Attend to this every few years and the electric motor probably won't eat up any brushes, and should spin freely.
This is an important task for us in the Southwestern U.S.A.

Author:  Woodie [ Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Oh, it's going to eat up brushes, there's no way around that.

Author:  pacapo [ Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Woodie wrote:
Oh, it's going to eat up brushes, there's no way around that.

Actually, lubricating those armatures once in a while will indeed be a way around brush replacement.
To be specific, I have used this maintenance procedure on this fan/motor/shroud assembly and have yet to need brushes.
We're talking 15 years or more, so yes -at least in the case of an MK1 - the electric radiator fan motors are quite robust if properly maintained.

You can see a huge difference after a few drops of oil.

In the Summer (again on the MK1) if the temperature gauge is running at a level higher than usual, fan motor lubrication is one thing to consider.

Difficulty level?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most difficult, I'd give it a 3.

-remove the negative terminal of the battery
-unplug the radiator fan/shroud from the wiring harness
-remove the 3 mounting bolts using a 10 mm wrench, and the assembly can be removed for lubrication.

So simple a caveman can do it might apply...Suzuki makes is SO easy.

Another reason for this thread update was to repair broken photo links.
There is a simple work around for the damaging Photobucket fiasco which has affected many DIY threads.

Author:  Woodie [ Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Grease your wheel bearings regularly so that you never have to replace the brake pads? I'm just not grasping the connection here, they're unrelated. Brushes are simply a wear item, their lifetime is DIRECTLY proportional to how many revolutions the motor has turned.

Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent idea to lube the bearings and clean out the fan every few years.

Author:  pacapo [ Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Here's an excellent article which covers the basics of brush wear: ... /?show=all
Most of us have noticed that brushes wear faster in an electric motor with bad or dry bearings. Maybe it has something to do with load, just like a brake pad will wear faster if it is constantly dragging against the rotor, even if only a slight load.
Back to your original statement: "There's no way around brush wear" - you are correct.
In keeping with your other statement (Don't get me wrong, it's a good idea to clean and lube bearing surfaces), lubing the bearings will prolong the life of the electric motor, including the brushes. It is something rarely mentioned on our site, and something you can do on an MK1.
Because of the heat in the Southwestern Desert, I do replace the radiators every 3 or 4 years; that may help reduce electric fan run time, suggesting that brush life is proportional to run time.

Thank you for your interest in this thread.

Another thing worth mentioning is the final drive ratio that I've installed in the vehicle. It has taller gears than original. I believe them to be 3.79's vs the original 4.10's.
This engine seems to be coping well with the set up, and blows almost as clean as when new.
I compare two MK1's - my NA and wizewun's Turbo here:
Although his Turbo blew cleaner than mine each time, mine is still quite respectable, and I challenge anyone out of California to post their results for the common good.

You can see NINE years into a temporary engine in my MK1, the gearing hasn't destroyed anything. At least, looking at the inside of the engine (visible above) and the smog test results, there appears to be a very decent engine in the car.
Some people seem to bash the taller gears. I do not know why, but then I do not live in their area. This vehicle has been coast to coast - L.A. to Washington D.C. - and seems to get decent gas mileage. Also, it goes along at 75-80 mph no problem. At speed on a long trip the engine spins more slowly and it is more comfortable to me than unnecessary high speed whining.
Temporary engine: I spent $1200 on very nice parts, and put together a wonderful engine for this car. In the meantime, I did a shade job (rings, bearings, valve job) on an old engine so I could continue driving the car. That was in 2006. The engine is still in the car, and the GOOD engine is still waiting to step up to the plate.
So I do NOT think there is scientific evidence that a set of 3.79's ruins the engine.

My driving experience: I have driven some pretty good sized vehicles with some pretty tall gears. Most of the time, I'm fairly easy on a clutch. The clutch in this car is (again) the same one I installed back in 2006. So don't think a 3.79 will wear out a clutch in record time. It's all in how you drive it. What kind of clutch did I install? I believe it is an Exedy. I've put so many clutches in hundreds of cars over the years that I will have to look at my Excel spread sheet to be sure.

Excel: Those of you with computer acumen will appreciate Excel. If you can set up your spreadsheet properly, you can make a page for each of your cars and monitor things like
-cost of part
-date installed
-vendor supplying the part
-part number
-running total of all $$$ spent on car.
A special thanks to my Wife who set it up. Be it a tractor, crane, antique automobile or truck, and of course our beloved Suzuki products, I can easily come up with a 'bottom line' price spent on each and every vehicle. This can come in handy should you wish to sell some of your herd.

Transmission noise: One of our Teamswift members took a ride in the car two years ago and couldn't hear a 5th gear whine. I will say it is time to replace the seals in the transmission, but otherwise it is solid.

Economy: In expensive California, this vehicle operates at about 8 cents a mile in fuel consumption. This car saves us a BUTTLOAD of money.

The bad: The NA MK1 uses a Hitachi carburetor. If you are willing to learn how to rebuild them, or have someone who can do it for you, then you are golden. Every few years, the carburetor can give you a fit, but if you stay on it, the powerplant burns clean and won't let you down. If the Hitachi is dialed in, you've got a sweet running ride.

Now that I can post pictures again, there will be more regular updates to this thread.

Author:  pacapo [ Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

3 days ago the car suddenly sounded loud.
Hole in the exhaust?
This one was a little hard to track down.
Here's a close up:


And if you peel off the heat shield, here's an OEM resonator with about 30 years on it:


...with the offending hole at the bottom of the picture. With the car jacked up, you wouldn't be able to see it because the heat shield covered it up.
No complaints here because it has roughly 20,000 on the odometer. At 30 years and averaging 20,000 miles per year, that would be 600,000 miles max on the OEM resonator.
However, 520,000 miles might be a bit too many.
Maybe 420,000 miles is closer, or even 320,000 miles. (these cars only had 5 digits in their odometers)
The car's odometer has turned over at least twice in the 17 years we've owned it.
In any case, it lasted many many years.

A new resonator and she is as quiet as before.

I should have taken a picture of the catalytic converter. It is less than an inch away from the shift mechanism. There is very little room under these subcompacts so you really have to know what you're doing if you want to keep the exhaust system intact and clear of the body, engine, and transaxle. As you can tell, California requires us to keep these cars in factory trim and this one is in pretty darn good shape. On the 100 mile trip home, she went along the freeway at 60-75 mph no problem. I'd have to guess it was the oldest car on the road, and the traffic was heavy but moving quickly.

Author:  pacapo [ Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

Picked up some windshield wiper refills locally.
Man, those prices have increased.
(A pair was over $10. :shock: )
We rarely need them down here in the Southwest.
Note to self: best to buy them online.

Other than that, the car is running fine, getting over 40 mpg, and still costing about 8 cents a mile in fuel.
Some maintenance is due, but all in all, the car is still a viable form of transportation.


Compared to 12 years ago, the paint is a little more faded, and the windshield is a bit more pitted.
Doors still shut the same and she rolls right along.
Under the hood, it is cleaner, probably because of the recent front main seal change.

It takes a 12 mm and about 5 minutes to pull the passenger seat. (4 bolts)
This gives room for 8 foot sections of pipe, 2 by 4's, ladders, etc. and you still go down the road with the rear hatch closed.
I don't think our 2 door models have quite that much interior room.
For trips to the hardware store, this car can carry most purchases.

The new fuels aren't kind to these carburetors unless you drive them regularly.
With balanced tires, Sprints are certainly 'pocket rockets', especially on a long stretch of open road.
...and don't get me started on Sprint Turbos .... yet.... ha ha ha

Happy motoring!

Author:  swifterthanu [ Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the road again!

dale50000 wrote:
Good clean engine and tail pipe. :D :D :D

He likes your tailpipe! :D :D

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