The Sidekick-Tracker-Vitara, cab heater issues ?   

WHY IS Cab heat DEAD? or?    See Cross links to related topic. A/C page shows schematics for heat too.         Overheated, and some dude removed the Thermostat?           See my Frigid  engine  page,  all ways to get too cold.
  • The engine is not reaching and holding 180F or more coolant temperature or is slow (thermostat bad?)
  • The heater core is dead, it's clogged up.  (never doing coolant back flushings (service causes ALL This)
  • The Fan is dead totally or just some speeds. See dead fan below.
  • The heat only comes out some  vents.  (bad damper) this car uses only cheap and 100% reliable cable controls on dampers.  No freak'n,  $150 damper motors or very hard to diagnose VACUUM SERVO'S.
It only takes 2 things to get cab  heat , hot water (coolant) and air flow, to get hot air. (air flow by blower and air flow by car moving fast, both work)

I  have no cab heat, or is very poor. 
See NO BLOW here.

This page can apply to all cars, with a bad cab heater, or frigid engine.  ( Don't  fiddle heater parts, until the air bags are defeated, of fitted to car.  (can kill or mame any mechanic or DIY )

Here are the rules, of thermodynamics for this liquid to Air heat exchanger system (classical) ( must have Hot coolant flow and air flow) just 2 rules below:
If the thermostat is bad, wrong temperature rating , backwards (upside down), or the system is full of air, there will be no hot water.  No hot water?, means NO JOY !    The thermostat must be stamped, 189/192/195/200F  Nothing lower ever.
On this page I will attempt to cover all Sidekicks and Trackers, 89 to 2004, and even new Grand Vitara's that use motor dampers.....

Given the blower works perfectly (if dead, check its fuse  in the cab fuse panel, get full blower fan flow. (if not, see dead fuse, or  bad switch or resistor block below)
  1. The Engine coolant must attain (reach or exceed) and hold at 180F (see stamp on lip of thermostat actual)  (hold not fluctuate)  Newer cars are near 200F.
  2. This hot coolant (50% Antifreeze) must pass through the heater core in the dash.  Both hoses get hot to touch 180F? is ouch level hot to most folks,  so, put hand on the hose, are both hot? (or the gun test) No?, bad news, ever back flush it last service (2 year checks?)
  3. Some cars (not this car) have a water valve on same hoses, just before the firewall, does moving the blue-red (cold/hot) lever in the dash, open and close this valve?, if not, the cable is broken, (or the nasty old  vacuum servo's dead on other brand cars.).
  4. Now that hot coolant passes though the cab core and hose, we have a chance at cab heat.  The Core dampers must be in the heating position,   with out the fresh air selected ,use recirculate mode. (fresh air has no lower limits, so.... dont use fresh for testing heater)
  5. On newer cars, they have 1 to 4 damper motors, that is, true electric motors ,they can fail, and you will need a schematic or FSM to trouble shoot them (or  The FSM tests are unique to each car , make, and year.
  6. On this car, there is no hot water valve. The core runs hot all the time, and only the blocking doord, called a damper , allows heat flow,  this device is just a lever on the side of the heater core box. make sure when you move the heater blue-red (hot/cold) lever, that this cable moves this damper.
  7. In fact, make sure all cables there, move there end piece cams , and moves fully from end to end.  (play with the controls, and watch the cables end to end, to the all work and do their jobs.? So simple this is, compared to motor drive dampers.
  8.  If the cable sheaths, are not clamped down, the cables are rendered useless,  clamp them now. They must now be adjusted, if this was bad. (broken clamps) Adjust for full controls end to end.  Just like a bicycle brake lever. Use tie wraps to make your own clamps?
  9. Now, air might flow  through the core, some cars (many)(  leaves fall inside (pin needles?) down the cowl vent intake and pack the heater core full of this trash,  you will have to clean it. THE CORE PULL, SLIDE SHOW.
  10. Keep in mind on the old cars, you can at anytime move the dampers by hand, disconnected. proving the door is  opened, by HAND.  This be first, before pulling any heater casing, for sure.
  11. Bingo, you have heat.  (maybe, not to where  you want it?,  but you have heat how) if not going to the right place? then the mode cable is broken.  (on newer cars, the cable is now a silly motor seen below and complex tests)

See my heater box slide show (Sidekick) (new)

The Damper evolution :  (this history, shows how inportant the FSM is on cars with mode motors, they all work different)
1989 to 1998 are 100 % cable systems (all modes and heat)  
HVAC systems can have 1 motor or 3.  Some are a mix of damper motors and cables and vacuum servo's ,  some car makers call  these,  Electric damper Acutators.  A fancy name for a motor and cheap plastc gears inside.
The bad news is each brand of motor works differently and eash have a very UNIQUE  TEST, detailed in the FSM.
Damper motors:
The first year, GV, 1999 to 2002 Grand Vitara,  uses  one  single motor , same as the Vitara.  See resistance test here. monster 4 mode control motor,   
Starting in 2003 the Grand Vitara, has the new 3 mode actuator motors and an electronic controller to make it all work.

Even my 2004 Chevy Tracker uses a full cable system and no water valve. No damper motors here. GM uses different parts, oddly than any Vitara.  (so make sure you are looking at the correct FSM)
The 04 Vitara uses 2 cables and this motor (see test here).   

Get your FSM , buy it and read the HVAC sections for your car.                         FSM = Factory Service Manual, as sold at your dealer or used at fleabay.  (or  Suzuki's are here, at pitstop.

< click me to zoom.

Be happy, your old Suzuki don't have these expensive and complex motors above.  Note , the easy to break plastic parts, inside?...... (have a deep pocket, ready)  Over $100 a POP !  

End history and review:

Bad Heater controls,  fan switch (1 or  more speeds dead )

Hard failures. (fuses good)
  • Coolant in cab heater is not flowing.  Back flush it.  ( feel the hoses to it, both must be as hot as radiator) Heater valve on other cars, stuck , bad or clogged.
  • Heater flap , stuck closed, cable fell off , operating lever. Cable clamps missing or loose.
  • Fan dead. all speeds or 1 or 2 ? (see above 2 links)  If high speed works the fan is ok, only the switch and resistor block is bad. (mine was both bad)
  • If heat only works in circulation mode, then the fresh air vent is blocked at ANY POINT.  Leaves in cowl tank air plenum, rodent nests, etc. or its flap is busted.

Lots of IF's:

If the fan runs at full speed and the cab heat is poor  check for weak heat ,at the 2 cab heater hoses between the Firewall and the engine.  (I  use an IR gun ,and see 170F or more, my  new 195F thermostat , even more....)

If the heater hose, is too cool, then the core in the heater is packed up, or the fittings/plumbing, feeding said tubes, are packed up.  (assumes engine coolant at thermostat housing is 180F or more.)

If  engine  dont' reach proper temperatures then  you have and engine over cooling failure.

If the engine is fully  hot, and those heater core 2 hoses are  hot ( 180F+)  AND the fan is running at full speed on high, cap is still frigid?, then the heater flaps are jammed closed.   See all damper flaps here.
The old Suzuki has no water valve (heat lever) it has a flap that blocks or allows air to pass through the core , so the water flows through the core 24/7 (always )  Flaps, doors, dampers all are same meaning.
Make sure the cables to the flaps (Suzuki calls them dampers) are working, and the outer sheath is not flexing (moving). (only the inner wire must move and the end ,of wire must move the damper arms)
If the fan is dead ( or one speed is dead)  (heater fan in cab)  then check the heater resistor block.   Seen here.
Resistor Block?: Remove glove box door  ,2 screws, see that resistor ( it's air cooled) and a bad resistor ( they are a naked type) will be blown to bits. (gone).

Now we are at the last point,  The core is hot, the engine is hot the flaps are open the  fan failing, (whole or in part ,fan fail).

Water flow: (a fully hot engine  180F+ degree's)
If you put your hand (for 1 second max) on to both heater core hoses, passing through the fire wall, and one is very cool, that is  a sign that you have a clogged core (or source feeds, your are touching now, are clogged) (now is the time for a full cooling back flush now , huh?)

THE FAN SWITCH and speed limiting  resistor block.   
Step one, is to make sure that Fuse 12 is  good. (12vdc on both sides key on)
We now have a bad fan switch.

The FSM  page 14 shows the access points. RTM ! (off site)

My 97 Heater switch was warped bad. by the heat of the Sun. 
Cooked it to DEATH and almost all Sidekicks this year , are failed or about to.
The side clips warped (pop) and can no longer retrain the switch guts. 
I fixed mine this way,  because none  of the tiny parts ,were missing inside.  (1 ball and spring)
Tie warps solved this issues perfectly! FINDING a good switch , is near impossible (as I write)

In a nut shell: The switch ACCESS methods.  1996/97  (some 98s are more complex with buttons, so get help from the 98 FSM)  
  • Pull the battery minus lug.
  • Remove ash tray
  • Pull front bezel off HVAC center console surround , it just pulls out.  By the way, HVAC, is Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
  • Remove up to 4 slider knobs. (pull them)
  • Remove lamp pod , from bezel.
  • Remove the slider surround plate ,  4 screws .
  • The slider mechanism and the switch are in clear view.  
  • I can pull the control pod just enough back to un mount the switch and its elect. plug.  
  • In 96 , they dont have 2 switch screws, it snaps in.  ( there are 2 systems !JAPAN  made and CAMI MADE heaters, they are different in there design)   
  • Buying  the Suzuki switch ? are you? good luck there,    I'm told that the last year for buying just the switch is 1991.  ( sadly)  ( poor service? at Suzuki?, any wonder they chapter 11?) IMO !  now shutting down in Canada.
  • I can clean my switch and file the contacts.  Do not lose the tiny steel ball and spring, or all hope is lost.  Find a room with no rugs or floor drains and take it apart. << hint.
CAMI is Canada plant (shut down), Japan is the Iwata JAPAN plant made.  You VIN code tells you which MFG plant the car was made.
My 97 the switch had plastic snaps (Cami) no screws the plastic warped from sun and sprung,  so (after contact clean and lube) I  used tie wraps to secure it for 100 more years.  LOL
Do not remove switch internals in the car, go to a place you can find the parts that fly out. 1 spring , contact and a tiny ball bearing inside. Don't lose them.

The side of the switch , has the P/N and Suzuki says , can not be had.   (last digit 0 ,was missing on my connector P/N)  By the way P/N = part number......

Photo 1:  Whole Switch out,   internals, in place and a spare to the right.
 Below is 96/97 in 1998 pushbutton option was added., below has snap out switch.  In 1996 the switch is part of total assembly and not sold seperately. (not up to now). So will be expensive.  $120 or so.   But ACdelco  has one for $50 and so does, SMP SM404.

Mixing switches between CAMI and JAPAN versions or years, is a problem... as is Generation changes..... (you won't know what you have in the car until you look, carefully)
The switches vary by if A/C is present or not, year, and what factory PLANT made it.
The Suzuki switch is Discontinued.  As is the total assembly seen below.
The GM is still sold. (GEO)  30007405 and 7399.  My GEO parts book does not show all versions. of switches.
Photo 2: 1992 to 1995, Sidekick.  SHOWS the switch as seperate, and very hard to find.   below is Japan, version  64ABO is CAMI plant version (VIN prefix tells plant) 
The drawing clearly shows, JAPAN switch is missing. (did suzuki use wrong drawing here?)  My guess is drawing is wrong.

The blower fan switch for 89-91 is 37870-60A01,  ID 29 below and is missing on the 92-95 same pages, in the Suzuki parts book.    part 29 below mates to right side of part 37 above.  If found, its more like $38 part, unlike above.
The switch is still sold at Suzuki but not the whole assembly 37 above.

Rumor has it that the full 96/97 assembly will fit earlier years. 
Amazon sells it, the one SMP switch assembly. for   92-97GEO Tracker , ACDelco 15-73369, and at $50 a great price.

That motor resistor block is next topic:
The resistor block is bad if fan ONLY fails  below HIGH,  There are no RELAYS and the fan always runs on high , if the above switch is good.
Remove glove box door to reach the resistor block. The block is sold in almost all autostores, see my buy parts page here.

Typical early wiring:
Most wiring looks like this. Typical of all 92 to 1995.  see the other generations, here.

The blower must blow on high.  If not , remove glove box door and hot wire the fan, using a 12vdc battery with 15 amp inline fused jumper wires. 16gauge wire.(per FSM hot wire rules)  if it blows, good, the blower is good, (easy , huh?)

If it don't blow   hot wired, the blower  blower is bad
If the blower is working on high but not other speeds the resistor  block is bad (99% of time) if not then the wires or switch is bad,  any voltmeter on earth can find this failure ,even a $10 walfart meter.
A volt meter finds this failure easy,  12vdc to a dead blower pink wire. is a dead motor. 
If 12vdc does not reach, the blower motor, then check at switch high pink pin? if this is dead (0v) then move meter to lt-grn wire pin, of switch, if dead ? (0v), then the  fuse is blown or that wire is cut , check for 12vdc on both sides of the fuse 12.  if one side is dead, that be a blown fuse.
Fuses that look blown are.
Fuses that look good, can in FACT be bad.

Here are the official Suzuki part numbers: for the above RARE switch  all prefixed with 74400-
1989  Iwata -60A10  (early year in japan made) not in stock .
1989.5 to 1991 CAMI -60A11   (Suzuki stocks these)
92-95   CAMI  64AB0
92-95   Iwata    64A11  (says with motor, ouch)  (SMP clone HS404)  Amazon ?
96/97   Iwata   64A12
1998    Iwata    78E10  (stocked)
Buy them (stocked) at   the 4 links shown here, called Dealers list.

GM may sell  them  (Geo  Tackers)  see 1995 LSI example here.

CAMI  is the Canadian Assembly plant (GM/Suzuki owned) (now 100% GM , Suzuki , no longer makes cars in CAMI plant !
And in  2012, Suzuki USA is shuting down,here and in Canada, the new car sales, and way less over the counter dealer part windows both physical on web sales..  see actual court doc's here for  "chapter 11"
and here.

rev 4   ++++ 11-1-2011 (&12-2013)