My Engine Is Strange 
This is a story of choices.
USA/Canada Centric!

This page is 100% all about Diagnosis and testing, no guessing !
Do not fail to inspect every inch of the EFI system before doing any testing of said system. (electronic fuel injection and spark)
Missing parts, loose, broken sensor or actuator wires, physical damage, hacking damage, etc. Spark plug wires crossed? 
The parts are here to FIND!.

This short page, is the peamble to my main egnine page,  for my full page here.
For sure ,me, the retired mechanic, does not know you or skills , your tools, your actual engine failure, nor can I do the test s for you.
My pages are ALL about TESTS.  (diagnosis) 
For sure, I can not guess, or wish to, in fact I'm 100% against guessing. (for 100s of real good reasons, your safety being 1st)
The tests I prescribe, are mostly that which is fully covered in the factory FSM,  I try hard to use the correct tools, so you have the best fall back for help.
If you use the wrong tool,  getting help will be, near impossible. Not to mention the bad responses you will get, for a lot of good  reasons.
Don't forget the tools are an investment,  better than the SP500 this year.  They can be sold later. making the tool cost, near zero.
See ASE Jargon here.

My web page is to help people, help them selves. "Prime focus is on starting and running and  correcting drive ability issues"
For most  problems you have 3 choices:
  1. Ask an ASE certified mechanic to diagnose and repair car. ( no need for a car dealer shop, most have no  experience at all, on old cars)
  2. Ask  a mechanic to diagnose and you repair car. ( many people never think of this ! ) Find a local ASE shop. Take your FSM ,with you !!!
  3. You do it all by your self. ( can be scary, but you'd be surprised, by what can be done ) Do the tests in the correct order and buy some cheap tools.
  4. Ask for help on any forum.  (keep in mind, that although many are experts, not one , can see, touch, drive or hear the engine misfire !

TOOLS?  (No tools? No joy ! and the tools ARE FREE,  just 1 hour in any shop, that labor cost, pays for the full tool set!)
When I say tools, I do not mean the metric spanners etc, those are a given!  I'm talking meters and gauges !
See some of my  hand made tools here.
Compression, vacuum, fuel pressure and DMM timing light  ( 5 tools , costing about $100 total) Harbor Fright has all 5.
Buy a scan tool, for $50 and stop wasting time and throwing parts.
The folks doing a piss test, for fuel pressure? , will fail. (it's not a Carb.  car , the car has no FLOAT  BOWL !)
In order to do it all , you must have tools and documents.
Some folks just buy the tools they need, at each step below, and that way, only buy what was actually needed.  Great !

A set of torque wrenches, in both inch/lbs and in foot/lbs.  (never force any 6mm threaded bolt , it will SNAP) (EGR main seems to always SNAP)
A Digital volt ohm meter "DMM" , a strobe timing light , a compression gauge , a vacuum gaug,
A $15 Ignition timing strobe lamp ! do not skip this TOOL !

Scan tools:
You can rent them barrow them or buy one,  3 choices
1996 and newr cars.
A full  OBD2 hand scan tool, if car is 96+ or newer (USA).  ( a $50 tool called a MS509)
The more powerful OBD2 tool is here. 1996 and newer.
A very good full scan tool software product by Palmer. For 96+ only OBD2 cars!  (it's about $100 software )
See me use both tools above , here.
A  full OBD2 scan here on a 96 car. step by step.

1989-1995 OBD1 experimental scan tool , software free, hard ware cable not.
NO ? Tool like this? 1989 to 1995 Pre-1996 OBD1, most non scan tool users, will have only this help. CEL lamp.

The Obsolete (read, hen's teeth) OBD1, used back in the DAY.
The only obsolete tool, seen here, no over the counter sold scan tools, for the early pre 1996 Suzuki's  ,only the above "experiemental tool"

Autozone or like stores, will be clueless to help you. (pre 96) but can help on all cars 1996 and newer, they sure can, at least get the DTC codes.(96+ only)
They (autozone) will not do a full scan (it's just a simple code reader),  not doing a full scan , again will be costly, in the end.

The last chance Garage is here, the silly CEL lamp.  ( the 1996 cars and newer will not flash DTC codes, so don't bother trying)
With most OBD1 cars, you work blind $$$ , that means , using a meter (DMM) to check each and every sensor/actuator 1 by 1.

A factory service manual is really very helpful , but it will NOT train you  to be a mechanic, it will only show the data , and facts unique to your vehicle.
The best book in print and  many smart ASE mechanics , have it..   (find them used too, very cheap. $10)  < the finest book on topic, if ever...

Next, I want to talk about technique, and some basic rules,  (In any ASE school, we call this BASICS
  ( This is not style or opinion , freak'n ego, or arrogance , it is about saving labor costs and not throwing expensive parts at the car .)
The ASE trains all mechanics, this one set of very crucial techniques and order...

Always do the basics first !  If you choose to do it backward, in most cases,  you lose, cash, labor costs, down time, fustration, and endless wasted effort.

The order, is not by accident. (it's a law)
1: Bad motor? 
(Do the 60k mile service now, with  cam inspectionthen a  compression by the book, and vacuum bounce test)
2: Bad spark?
( check all 4 plugs, for full intensity spark, static timing and for full rate of spark advance (off scale)
3: Bad fueling. 
(too much or too little) fuel pressure tests, all 7 and up  to  6 injector tests on 16v  (EFI problems, are last.)

Doing it backwards only makes good comedy for YouTube. (do send some, we love a comedy!)
If you are a glass 1/2 full guy , replace BAD above with GOOD ! I'm not, I assume all parts are bad, and prove myself wrong.
Rule 1:  Assumptions are the mind killer, a killer of logic and progress.
Example of 1:  My motor compression is ok, 100PSI is ok,      (the prim rose path to  H3LL)

The 60k service list, covers a FULL and complete TUNE UP.  I'll assume you did that. Not doing the service, is just dumb.
Dumb is spending $500 or more !  labor to find out the 60k service was skipped.  Dumb.

I will list most the tests.  (by order of importance and easy of test, some tests are very very easy and basic)  (no assumptions,  just a sick motor)
We begin at assuming its a bad motor.  The engine must pump air, if not, all bets are off. (and more advanced testing is a big waste, of time and cash)
To see all tests, go back  one page, (home key above) "No starts, misfire, flooding, starving, spark issues, power loss, bogging , hesitation, etc."
  1. The engine pumps air perfectly (a compression test must be done to see the condition of the engine !)  Your engine IS an air pump !
  2. A melted CAT converter will make the ENGINE useless as and air pump. so a  bad motor includes , a CAT test. (4+ easy ways to test it)
  3. The EGR main stuck full open?, causing idle to be 400  RPM and or constant stalling,  if the valve is closed, this device is not effecting the bad engine issue.
  4. In fact, clean the EGR main, then defeat it with a stuffed in hose Golf Tee.  then drive car,  run good now?  (do not snap the very tiny 6mm bolts)
  5. The CEL lamp (in speedo cluster) glows, key on, then turns off running. If it fails to turn off, that means it has errors stored in DTC memory.
  6. The intake Vacuum while idling, must be smooth and 15-20 inches of Mercury (HG) on the gauge. No bouncing allowed. Mine reads 19" HG, at sea level.
  7. The cam timing Serviced  per the manual. (forgot to do the 60k mile belt change out , again?)
  8. If you suspect that this cam timing belt, (they will fail for sure about 100k miles) then look here, for a fast belt check.
  9. The ignition timing is set to the specification in the manual. I check that advance runs off the (tbelt cover) scale , if not motor is stuck in limphome or 89/90 bad dizzy.
  10. Note that we made it to bad Fueling  #3 pretty fast .  I'm 100% sure the engine is good, and spark is perfect in all ways. (including firing order)
  11. FUELING?:
  12. We always look at spark tips HERE (dry ? no fuel or  black and soaking wet  of fuel caused by flooding , on 16v check all 4 spark tips)
  13. Check if the spark tips are dry? If yes?, I then try this:  (does engine  run on test fuel? for 3 seconds or as long as you keep squirting it?)
  14. If flooding one can kill the fuel pump and do wide open cranking until you burn out all the fuel,  then do a dry motor , test fuel check, if it sounds good, the motor and spark are good, work fooding issues.  Sounds good, means no odd noises, and sounds like a motor starting and running on test fuel.  Normal.
  15. Yes, sounds good continue, No?, then back up, you missed a step above. (motor bad or spark bad)
  16. The induction on the engine is not breached by leaky vacuum hoses/gaskets. The 16v will starve for fuel, for any air leaks from MAF to intake valve (any)
  17. You may at this point have no fueling or excessive injection, aka; Flooding.  both are handled differently .
  18. Never replace the ECU unless you have tested all sensors and actuators and tested the power and ground paths to the ECU.
  19. No starts?
  20. If the sparks are dry, make sure you have fuel pressure,  the ECU can not discover bad fuel pressure, and is critical for the injectors to work right.
  21. You key on and hear the fuel pump run for 3 seconds.  This shows it's getting some elect. power (it don't prove full power) if it is silent? then that, is a fail.
  22. 30 PSI minimum,  not a finger squirt test. (if this seems wrong to you? (using real gauges?), please leave my web site,  I have nothing here to help you. SORRY!
  23. The order now is, pump pressure at spec. each injector is flashing it's own test NOID lamp,  If either fails, follow that path of truth.

  24. A Dead NOID means , bad ECU or 1 of 2 inputs to the ECU are wrong. (dead wrong) ECU Logic kills injection for the following reasons: no power, no CMP sig , no spark feed back (tachmeter) DTC 41 or 42 or TPS TP pin stuck high.
  25. Keep in mind inectors  can leak or clog, 1 or all of them. Do not skip the 7 pump tests or 6 injector tests.Do not skip the injector leak down test or balance tests.
  26. The engine will fail to run properly with any fueling issues.  (it's really 2 issues, bad ECU inputs or bad ECU actuators (injectors)
  27. Fuel pressure is ECU virtual input #1 , the ECU ASSUMES at all times, this condition is perfect in all ways, under all key on, cranking or running states.
  28. To discover this fail path, takes only simple tests. (a Noid lamp and a fuel pressure gauge)  If fuel pressure is at 30 psi it will start,but, not  if the NOID lamp fails?
  29. Then the ECU can be bad or the inputs are wrong,  there are only  4 inputs that cause dead injector state,  TPS signaling WOT all the time or bad spark read back.
  30. Of  course, if the ECU is good, making the NOID test pass  and the pressure is good 30psi, then the  Injector(s) are/ is bad (open coil, or clogged)
  31. If the Tachometer is dead cranking over the engine,  the ECU may  throw , code 41/42 and the injections are killed.   DO not ignore 41/42 codes. fix that FIRST.

  32. If the TPS TP pin is over 3.5v (WOT state) the ECU sees that, as a request from the car driver, of W.O.T unflood mode. all injections are cut cranking at WOT.
  33. At this point the Injector is bad if all the above is good.  The Injector coil must read about 1 ohm 8valve, and 10 ohms , 16v or the coil is TOAST.
  34. The coil must not read infinity, 1meg ohm or 0 ohms.  on the 16v compare all 4 injector ohmic readings.  They must be all the same.
  35. Never try to trouble-shoot idle issues unless  all other systems are working and the car is tuned up. (no misfiring !)
  36. By now you have the motor at least running.
  37. There are lots of things , a running motors can do bad.  "bog,  hesitate, smoke, make noise. and misfire ?"  use my search box on my engine screen or this page
  38. The order above saves time , labor and money.  (and pulling out hair)
If you decide, to not run a full scan of the ECU , your job expands greatly, in fact, you will have to check each sensor manually.

This list does not cover all failures. (for example I didn't cover broken head valve springs, and weak engine power, from that....nor 1/2 flat cam lobes.............)
Nor the endless task of finding all induction air leaks.
During the 60k mile service, lash is checked and set, at this time, one walks the crank by hand and looks at all cam lobes, for low lift and damage, and that
the cam is not busted in half  (LOL) and that each valve keeper is in place, the springs are not broken and the valves are not stuck open.
We also check head bolt and cam cap torque, the head bolts are not all readily accessible, so just just check a few, for spec. (if one is loose, check them all) dig?
Do not mix up, foot pounds with inch pounds, as many books on this car love to do..
The cam caps are near 100 inch-lbs,  and on 8v engines they were later staked screws. (google" staking screws"  (said like tent stakes), a pre loctite technology)

Good luck and hope you like my free web site.

Common Sidekick (Tracker) failures:

ECU dead or totally NUTS, due to main filter capacitors are dried out or leaking.

TPS bad,  if the ECU says its bad, it is or not calibrated. (the TPS has a life of about 100,000 miles) (varies by how happy your right foot is !)

No crank. (I turn the key and , silent)

Cranks but nostart

Starts on test fuel only.

Bad grounds or a bad main fuse box.

Keep in mind there are 1000s of things that can go wrong.  The above are only the steps to finding it.

revision 7 1-2-13)