How to tune up and service?

Tune Up and Service Information U.S.A. 1989-98+:

Jargon: OEM = Original Equipment Manufacture, or OE.
FSM; Factory Service Manual. (no, not a Haynes, rag, sorry )
All Jargon words are here.

Some drive it until it drops dead, others like long car life and safety and reliability, this page is about doing the SERVICE points see the 60,000 mile list here.
The engine alone can last 300,000 miles or longer, what we do, is replace the parts that don’t ever, last that long, before they DIE! “A ProActive stance”
Tune up” means, bringing the car state of tune, that is tuning it, back to factory specifications. (no more carb, no more points to fiddle)
A tune-up promotes, best combustion of the fuel and best MPG economies.

For all service points (Ignition, and all fluids, filters are here) (Do not skip the 60,000 mile service)

  1. Brake safety: (no leaks allowed, or thin Pads), see all warnings here first do not drive any car with bad brakes.
  2. 1.6 Liter SOHC Tracker and Sidekick Spark Tune up.
  3. 1.8Liter DOHC Suzuki SPORT Spark Tune up
  4. The much newer engines, like the H25, V6 (and J18/20) has C.O.P. coils hidding your spark plugs, get new plugs and boots. See Discounted C.O.P boots (coil pack boots)
  5. Engine oil (motor oils)
  6. Tune up tables and capacities
  7. Axle LUBE GL5 or J2360.
  8.  How to check 5 speed Manual transmission lube (MTL) and Transfer Case Gear Lubes. (GL4 and crossovers)
  9. Automatic transmission Fluids ATF Dexron The quasi full flush is here. Controversy?
  10. Additives are mostly bad, why?
  11. Belts
  12. Hoses
  13. Filters Air, fuel and oil
  14. General Tune up data.
  15. Engine Oil filter
  16. Engine Oil testing? See my crude motor oil test.
  17. Spark plugs
  18. Spark plug wire sets, and pitfalls.
  19. Other tune up items on car not listed above.

Oil brands and types is mostly RELIGION and as such PLEASE DO run the brands the makes you feel happy.
I will not say one brand is better or not. I will tell you why some brands are very good. Most TV and magizines are full of FUD. (fear based selling)
Synthetic motor oil (I run Mobil 1, 10w40 on my extreme engines, (some daily driver cars, I run Chevron 10w-40)

A Side note:
Some parts for this car are very hard to find, Suzuki is an underdog maker. and is now Chapter 11 in the USA:

What is a TUNE UP?(” UP ” is the most complex word in the English language.) In this context, we mean, MAKE BETTER. GO UP!
A better answer? look and read the operators guide. The missing little book that was in the glove box?

Tuning, in the old days, we checking jets in the Carburetter (clean it,totally) and fiddled points, but today, we validate the ECU is doing its job and the engine is running in good TUNE.
At the minimum, it’s just, Spark wires, cap, rotor, and filters and fluids. (on my new car it’s Spark plugs, COP boots and filters)

The modern name for a tuneup are Doing the SERVICE POINTS in the SERVICE SCHEDULE. The Op. guide is clear here.
The grades are picked by climate and weather conditions, see the operators guide for those facts. Key west, is not the same as Alaska.
We change the brake pads (when worn), fluids and old spark plugs (and related) using the 60,000 mile list. 60kmiles or 100kmeters.
Is safety real important to you? See this.
Still others, do the 128 point vehicle inspection for safety. (a whole car check, under car too, and brake checks, pad/ shoe checks)

An Engine tune-up includes, all spark parts at 60,000 miles and all fluids in the car. That is my base line for a tune up, I then make sure the spark advance works correctly, using a timing light.
If you have the very old 1989/90 car the distributor has a vacuum advance and centrifugal advance and both can jam up and you lose more than 1/2 your engines power.
Make sure all DTC codes are clear in the ECU memory. (yes, checking that, is part of any good tuneup)
Watch out some cars, the CEL does not glow, for all errors, that means, best practice is to scan all cars, and see what DTCs are stored. (or pending, or dead monitors)
Oil changes should be based on engine wear. (every 3000 miles; old cars, and up to 7000 new)

A Fast Tune up Data: (general tune up specs) (on USA cars, open the the hood, look up and under, see the VACuum map, and tune up data?) 
USA ( and many Canada “Track-Kicks”, Sammi too.) (not too clear, but best I have for wide year range)

or Full factory service tables by miles

Do not use my USA 16v and 8v photos below, to set your car timing,etc., look at your USA hood sticker, the below are just examples.
The USA FSM states this and that they made mid year production changes. Especially 1995, 3 changes, and then 96.

See the USA white vacuum map hood sticker, that is the spark timing and valve lash right before your eyes. EG: 16v MPI looks like this, but the 8v TBI looks like this.

I find this works best. SEE all basic specs here.


See Accessory BELT Changes here, and Timing Belt Here.

The new Gator belts ™ are now spec.’d to last 300k miles, so yes, use them and abuse them.
The best timing belt is a Gates belt (IMO) and will last over 60k ( they die about 100k, under perfect conditions) and Suzuki changes them at 60,000 miles,(every)
If the fan belt snaps the motor will overheat and the head will most certainly warp. Check it very carefully.

The hoses in the stock car are EPDM hoses and last 10 years. so change them before that.
If you use cheap old style rubber hoses, that is a down grade and they will need faster change outs.
If the hoses fail, the motor will overheat and the head will most certainly warp and the head gasket will blow out. Check it very carefully.
NEVER RUN AN CAR THAT LEAKS A/F (AntiFreeze coolant) or run any water cooled car in freezing temperatures with out the proper ratios of coolant and water. (@50%)
I always buy Suzuki OEM hoses, they are worth every penny you pay. The straight hoses, can be had easy, from any Auto store.
Do not yank on the heater core hoses, or risk damaging said core. cut them OFF. Gently. (you will not like removing the dash)

Air, Fuel and OIL:
I run Pure-ONE oil filters for good reasons, it filters out the small stuff, unlike others. There are other brands, that do as well (archived info).

  • Change out the Air filter every 30K miles or less if it looks dirty. K + 1000 miles US. I use the Purolator filter.
  • Change the fuel filter every 30k minimum. FRAM G7196 /G6678 Wix 33686 ($23.50) rip at NAPA. Deal is Fram at for $9.95
  • A clogged fuel filter will overload and damage, a good fuel pump in short order. (pumping fuel into an infinite head (or shunted), is bad, it over works a good pump)
  • A clogged oil filter/screen, in the automatic transmission, will cause no shifting until the ATF gets hot, or cause SLIP, and burn clutch packs up fast. 50K max on A/T service, 30k is better.
  • Change Oil filters every 3000 to 7500 USA miles., it is full of sand grit and carbon contamination. This fine sand comes in via the air filter. No air filter stops all dirt. NONE DO.!
  • If you ignore the oil filter, it can pack up and burp, this burping (called bypassing) dumps all that sand grit to the oil galleries and main and rod bearings, (etc) and the end there lift very very fast.

Warning: De-pressurize THE FUEL LINES before servicing the fuel filter!

The Fuel filter is located just to the front of the fuel tank.
The engine oil filter is located on the left side of the engine.

OIL filters:
This SAE paper 881825 says, based on extensive testing! see oil test SAE:
“Abrasive engine wear can be substantially reduced with an increase in filter single pass efficiency.
Compared to a 40 micron filter, engine wear was reduced by 50 percent with 30 micron filtration.
Likewise, wear was reduced by 70 percent with 15 micron filtration.”

Hard to argue that fact! no? (real testing, not hype)

Cheap oil filters, do not filter well. (many are 40 Micron loose media, or worse)
Those cheap filters have a purpose, and were designed for people that DON”T change oil. ( a good filter, is certain to clog fast, due to an inattentive driver)
The reason they ( use 40 micron + media filters) {use that logic}, is to avoid bypass mode and dumping the filters filth, in to the oil gallery. A HUGE BLUNDER.
In a way, they protect some users, from yourself. (It is a valid point)

Consider this:
Buy a used filter, cutting device and inspect your filters, each filter change, for odd contamination (metal dust, etc) Overloading, collapse of media. etc.
You will also learn if your delayed oil changes, are all that smart? Just look in the media of said filter and see how it is holding up.

I run Purolator Pure-One filters, because they filter out more sand and tiny grit. Down to 15 micron size! (average human hair diameter is 90µm) Baby peach fuzz, is about 15.

I use the Purolator PureONE air filters and gas filters, they are some of the best filters made. (of the top contenders) R&N hype notwithstanding…

Never run oil over 7,500 USA miles. It’s dirty.
The older the motor, the more engine ring, blowby, the more blowby the faster the oil will hit, end of life. Oil breaks down in the presents of combustion gasses.
If the oil can not handle your blowby, it turns to sludge. Do not let it do that. Do not let the engine thermostat ever run below 180F temperatues, or it will cause engine oil sludging.
We replace the oil because it is dirty. Pretend you taking out the trash and you get the idea, and for sure on old motors.

The Oil don’t wear out myth:
Sure the base part of oil does not wear out, but all else goes go bad. (and gets filthy)
(that is the reason oil is recycled and re-refined and re-manufactured on a huge scale, in fact is cheaper to do, than working from base crude oil!)
It gets dirty, combustion FILTH contamination and sand and grit and carbon. That is correct, there is no PEFECT air filter made.
The VI reduces with age, Viscosity index improver’s ( the 10-40w ) the 40w part,reduces with heat and rotation (shear) of the engine. (some oils are worse than others)
The oil additive package is GONE or saturated or damaged, (break down)
Engine heat, causes all, oil to break down.

The SPARK 1.6 liter related tune up. Got bad spark that tuneup didn’t fix?
TUNE UP means, returning the cars engine, to the new car factory state of tune, that is, burning all fuel injected that you can, not wasting it.
It also means checking the spark timing, this too, can be wrong and will cause wasted fuel, if set wrong. ( usually it, don’t drift off, unmolested, timing belt slips cause all this..)
This process, is part of doing all the operators guide stated, SERVICE Points, based on driven mileage. (the 60,000 mile tune up is very important)

First off, on USA cars, open the hood and look up, see that EPA sticker, with spark timing and spark plug gap and vacuum map? BINGO!

These spark parts can not be tested, the insulation breaks down and perfect looking parts, are in fact bad and a horrible waste of time and fuel to run these old parts.
Sure, one guy sprayed water on the HV wires and the engine stall.

All parts are subject to carbon tracking. (seen or unseen)! HighVoltage effects, does that, in all things related.
The spark tips,the metal evaporates (plasma effects) and the insulators will get poisoned “deep impregnated carbon contamination”.
Sure nothing is better for this enigne, than hot, strong blue-White Spark at all spark plugs and fresh engine oil.

spark plugSPARK PLUG FACTS and pitfalls: Lets coin a phrase LEI, low energy ignition. (it’s not HEI, that is for sure)

 Consider these facts? carefully.

  • This is not high energy ignition, HEI, (older than 1999 is HEI) older cars, will not work correctly, with parts designed for those much newer HOTTER systems.
  • (starting in 1999 Suzuk uses.044″ gap, for this new ultra hot ignition system, never before this year)
  • Do not use gapless plugs. with LEI.
  • Do not expect normal OEM 1J spark plugs, to be gapped right,out of the box. THEY ARE NOT.
  • Do not use surface fire plugs.with LEI.
  • Do not use 2J or 3J or 4J plugs.with LEI.
  • Do use the hood EPA sticker spark gap (the old FSM shows sparkplug partnumbers, that are no longer made, well, they just changed the partnumber)
  • No spark system or sub parts, for this car will last the life of the engine, (near 300k miles) The reason for a TUNEUP.
  • Do not exceed the spark plug torque spec.
  • Do not put the rotor on, indexed wrong, of the 3 ways, (some junk rotors do that, never do the Bosch or Suzuki factory rotors, do that)
  • Never use the ratchet socket to start any spark plug, use only fingers or you will cross thread those very soft aluminum threads,
  • On the 16v, I use a socket to get the plugs loose then any 1/4″ ID hose, to finish extraction and start them with changed plugs.
  • Avoid counterfeited parts.
  • I use a tiny touch of anti seize compound on the spark threads.
  • Old spark plugs love to misfire under heavy engine loads. (some shops have a tool to test that, and see it happen)

The PLUGS: (sparks)
Spark plugs die from contamination and normal wear. Good brand plugs can run over 50k. miles.

Replace the factory spec. “J” spark plugs (1J)
Open Hood, in the USA, look up, see that EPA sticker there? that shows the SPARK spec and timing.
The actual spec. for gap in the real Suzuki FSM. is a range, 0.028 to 0.032″ inches, best practice is to set it low. (let it wear to wider)
The socket, that fits mine (16v) is 5/8″ (16mm) NGK spec. the torque is 21 foot/pounds.
The early 8 valve G16 engine uses a (13/16″) socket. (later 8v engines 1992+) are now at 5/8″)

WHAT IS “J” factor?, well and old fashioned spark plug has one “J” for the ground lug element, it looks just like, “J” letter. dig?
You only need the 1J for any plug to work like new.

Top brand nanes to trust.
NGK, Bosch, GM, SUZUKI, Mitsubishi, Denso. Beck, Delphi, Delco. These are the top makers. I don’t use “Duraxxxx” brand anything.

Here is the official factory tune up page, with gap data!

When buying spark plugs, do not confuse 8v TBI sparks with 16V MPI spark plugs, and Suzuki used same VIN on both engines (not GM).
Watch out for the old Suzuki and Geo (GM) books that have wrong p/n for spark plugs, this is because the spark makers changed part numbers.
Using the below link to find the correct spark plug works best today. (many autostores fail to use the correct current catalog data,or worse scramble 1989 with 99 years.)

The NGK online E-catalog covers this and can be seen 24/7.

ONE J plug (1J) or Spark plug CLASSIC OEM style. Always works, but can’t run 50k miles like their 1J Platinums.
A “J” plug, (there are many choices here at NGK) USE THIS! 

Spark plug for Ultra High energy ignition systems, 1999+ engines below:
 A “4J” plug, Not Gap-able, so I don’t like it. Use at own risk! Do not use it, in my opinion.
To look up your car P/N use this index at NGK

NGK number codings, are here: 

Bosch number codes are here.

Keep in mind the cheaper spark plugs, may work best,(economy) because the center ceramic insulator will foul just as fast, as the most expensive spark plugs used on high mileage engines such as this.

Don’t forget to check your Ignition timing, and if found to be way off, your timing belt has slipped.

Do read the cars hood EPA sticker for your timing spec, and sparkplug gap. (open hood, look up now)

Next to change out, are the wire sets, CAP, ROTOR. 
NEW HV WIRES, ( the wire insulation breaks down from the inside and outside at the same time.) They do NOT LAST 300k miles.
Do not forget when ordering wires, that the Suzuki VIN is the same for G16A or B. ( You will get the wrong parts if not ordering carefully) { It’s a TRAP}
That means when buy on you will see both sets of wires on one page (huge).

Use BOSCH mag wires. (they are EPDM+Silicon insulated and are MAG wires)
Note how Bosch/ DENSO and SMP are clueless on G16A or B engines, nor TBI./MPI(MFI) nor 8v/16valves
Do not buy new wires without any photo’s of them, or holding them in your hands. The 16v engines have longer thicker boots.
BOSCH 8valve = # 09240 BOSCH 16valve = # 09360 Life time warranty. (who’s, not sure?)

Avoid all spark wires, that use that short lived, weak carbon string inside. (they are JUNK)
No lie, the MAG wires are the way to go. (longest lasting hot spark) If flush with cash?, the NGK blue wires ROCK!

To finish the spark tunup we now replace the CAP and ROTOR. ( or any time carbon tracking is seen, or suspected )

Never assume your distributor rotor was factory timed at 11PM (8v) or 1PM (16v) always replace the new wire leads 1 by 1, NEVER pull them all off at once.(unless all 8 ends are tagged by you, or at TDC #1 firing and #1 wire maked)
New Cap?, mark #1 wire on both caps, (tape and marked) then move the wires 1 by 1 to the new cap.

New Rotor? Just swap it out, not moving the engine (cranked) and put it back exactly pointing in the same direction, the stock rotor only fits one way, unlike crap clone rotors.

Never assume the Haynes/Chiltons rags (my opinion) have the rotor direction shown correctly, they don’t, and the same error is in some GM Tracker FSM!!! SEE My correct one, for both engines 8/16v!
GM started this ERROR and everyone copies it in lock Sad to see. (GM mixed the 2 engines up even when they have 2 VIN’S)
No lie. the best books are from SUZUKI! (actual)

Turning the crank shaft by hand to TDC #1 firing and zero degree mark, to begin all igntion work, will be a time saver. Mark the CAPS true #1 location.
The TDC mark (pulley hash mark) is for #1 and #4 firing, You need to know how to discover this if lost, but since the engine runs, the TDC mark, that points the rotor to #1 wire, is true TDC #1 firing. (easy huh?)
If TDC is lost,see this.

1996 to 1998 Suzuki Sport (WIDE FRAME) with the 1.8 Liter engine, DOHC. Got bad spark that tuneup didn’t fix?
Or all motors this size or bigger than that, in USA have COPS. COIL Over Plugs. 1999 to NOW.
COP motors: (no, not Police engines, LOL) It has 4 Tesla Induction spark coils.

USA spec, cars:
(other countries run wasted spark coil packs (rails) a pack with 4 or 6 high voltage wires exiting the pack. (I will not cover those)
First off, on USA cars, open the hood and look up, see that EPA sticker with spark timing and spark plug gap and vacuum map? BINGO!

Newer DOHC engines 1998+ ( in 1998 the DOHC motors stopped using an external COP Igniter module on firewall.)

The below are examples of my 2004 2.5L V8 COP’S and spark plug swapping. All COP’S service the same. all years.
I run new spark plugs (stock) and new boots, the boots are dirt cheap (compared to the whole COP enchilada.
Do not run Gapless spark plugs before 1999.
Use the EPA hood sticker GAP and then pick out some nice plugs at NGK online E-catalog covers this and can be seen 24/7.
pre 1999 runs LEI narrow gaps, and 1999 up runs HEI, high energy ignition with wider gaps.

To change a plug you must remove the COP’S.

  1. Open hood, remove the plastic cover with 2 screws on valve cover(s). (not found on all engines this cover)
  2. See COP’s each has 1 screw, remove one row of COP screws, you can the do 1 COP out at a time.
  3. Push down on the connector outer lock lever, unlock the lock and push back on the connector, pop it’s free.
  4. The COP just don’t fall out, you must twist them, hard, to break them loose, on many engines (not mine). I spray Silicon spray down the sides to free it up.
  5. I used shop AIR and shot of air into the tiny hole on the upper lip of the BOOT. (needle air tip tool) This helped greatly. There is a special tool that helps.
  6. The outside boot rim top of boot can stick, as can the boot to plug end,lower) IF the lower end sticks only, try lots of silicone spray down there, and let it soak for 1hour. then twist.
  7. POP the COP is out. now look in well hole for oil or water in ide. correct that now,then blow out well of all sand and grit, with shop air.
  8. Spray penetrating oil in well, unscrew the spark plug with a 5/8’s deep wall socket and do so slowly so the pen. oil can help the unscrewing.
  9. Once free, extract the plug with the tool shown below or a simple small rubber hose. (some better spark plug wrenches fit, some don’t and some fall apart inside)
  10. The Spark plug is out. I gap my new 4002 Bosch J Platinums at 0.040 inches (not on a 1996) and then anti-seize them lightly then put them in with only enough force to compress the gasket under it.
  11. DO NOT over torque spark plugs. 15- 25 ft/lbs are common numbers, I look in the FSM for this engine, first.
  12. I use Dielectric Silicon grease my COPS boot tips, mine have 75K on them and look as the day they were new, soft and supple, no cracking or burns. I clean and dry them too.
  13. The grease goes on only on the boot top ring outside and the inside boot hole, the spark plug goes into see photo below and red arrows.
  14. If you see COP boot damage anywhere, order some new ones, soon. Once you grease them, they last forever (pray) and come out next time effortlessly and no risk of damage!
  15. Some shops love to get rich selling you 6 new COPS every 50k miles, but it is not necessary. $804 plus Labor =$1000, what a JOKE! A RIP! A Stealership practice.

The secret to COP extraction is first, do lots of gentle Rotations, pull up gently rotate CW and CCW, and 2nd, Silicon spray. and use shop air to blow in and pop it up.
The shop air tool kit has a needle tip, that allows, air injection down the side of the boot, to force out said boot, with a POP.
The top of the cop may pop loose from the bottom boot, this is ok, just don’t lose the parts, and spring. later we can put it back. or buy new boots.

Once serviced right, the next time is much easier.
Never pressure wash any engine like this, or get water down those spark wells, and might cause the COP to short and burn up. Getting that water out is surely no fun.

The special tool that Might? work is here.

The 1st COP out in my 2.5L V6 H25 motor. DOHC. 2004 here.
1.8L Sport is same COPS. J18 and J20, engine. (USA)
In other countries, there are coil rails (packs) with wasted spark coils inside, 3 coils inside one pack for 6 cylinders, or 2 coils inside one pack J20.
I have 6 COPS on mine. H25

COP Whole: Mitsubishi, 33410-77E21 same on 99-05 Vitara. and 1998 Suz. Sport 1.8L and 420 motors
This COP has Integral igniter transistor in side. New COP’s at SW Suzuki is $134+ each. see cheaper sources below:
This grease does not conduct electricity. (sold at all autostore checkout stands, for a buck in a catchup packet)

COP to boot separated like below: No panic it’s ok. Just push it back on.
No contacts pin sockets both ends use springs alone. ( so you can get them out, EASIER!)

PLUGS FREE?: Using my fancy extractor. (at Harbor Fright (pun) dirt cheap tool or.
( any 1/4″ I.D hose works here too for extraction, and starting the threads harm free)
Same extration works with magnetic flex wand, sold in same store. 

Other COP sources; YMMV:  Your mileage my vary.

Do not mix generational COPS.
OEM: 33410-77E21 ( fits my 2.5L and many other motors, in USA)
AC Delco: E525A

BWD Automotive: E727
Carquest: UF-237 / 52-1585 / UF-237
Kem Parts: 351P
WELLS: C1159
Discounted here ($30) (not tried by me, but are very cheap)

Other cheap sources, may not be up to the quality standards of Mitsubishi (OEM) But Real BWD and Delco, should be ok. IMO

Variances in COP’s:
The Suzuki 96-98 SPORT 1.8L 33410-77E11 (96-97 with external ignitior) and 33410-77E21 in 98′ with internal ignitor. (apples and oranges different)
The 99 Vitara’s, most use 33410-77E21 in USA. ( and the Vitara runs.039″ gap and not.028″ gap, as the SPORT uses, but the coils are a differant class)

In other countries, there are 33410-77E10E20. (early ignitor on fire wall types) before E21’s
Some cars and years, use wasted spark Cop coils (only 2 coils on a 4 cylinder engine or 3 coils on 6 cyl)

COP BOOTS! (the best deal since sliced bread!) 

There are companies e selling BOOTS for the COP’S, for far less money than a new COP. There are more being sold each year, (choices)
Talking $10 bucks not $100+

AC Delco boot: 16048 and 4 boot kit is: 88862674
Omnispark CP040
BWD SPB154 both a Oriellys and with life time warranty. why replace a $100 COP with a bad $13 Boot.? (if Coil is not bad)
end spark. 1.8L +
there are more, now 2014, google for them.
end spark section.

Refr. data; Lubrication Specs: 

1999 was the year of major changes.

1995 Suzuki FULL tune up tables, schedule A and B:

1995 fluid capacities:

Gear Oil lube spec. GL or GEAR LUBE.

USE only API GL-4 rated lube in this 5speed tranny and transfer cases, and GL-5 in both Axles.

See more GL-4 oil issues.

I look at the 1997 Suzuki motor oil page for 1.8L DOHC, note the 2 limits on that page, I heed that for all my cars.

Motor Oils:  RUMORS?

I like to consider fluid changes separately. ( below 3k – 3000 USA Miles, the k = 1000)
Change Engine Oil at 3k to 7.6k miles max, Radiator fluid every 2 years, and gear/axle lube every 50k. (Auto Transmission too at 50k).
If car is in severe service go to 25-30k intervals, is better, (axle and tranny). (real fast and hot or dusty driving or slow hard city driving is severe)
Please change motor oil based on usage and how old a motor you have, older motors have more blow-by and need more frequent changes. (don’t believe EPA hype)
I’d say, 8k max for a broken in, new car and 3K for old clunker with 150Kmiles on odometer. Testing the oil is silly, just change it out.

Always replace the filter ( or clean screen) on all A/T oil changes. I like PureOne Filters (by the company that invented spin-on filters.
Here is a good page on oil life. The EPA lies to you (through the vehicle manufactures lips) saying oil goes 10k and 15k mile. This is bunk.
Oil does not wear out, the additives do AND it gets dirty and full of sand. No Air filter can stop the finest sand, and this gets into the oil (Fact!)
Newer oils can not help or hide the sand, and can not hold vast quantities of crankcase blow-by contaminates.

I run 10w30 or 40 all season. but you? If below -20C better look.
Motor Oil spec 1.6L SOHC. ( look here for correct viscosty oil to use for YOUR CLIMATE and SEASONS)

Do not run any DOHC motor with thin motor oil above 86F per chart, see this 1997 Suzuki Supplement table warnings. 1.8L or 2.0L

Here is a 1995 JDM motor oil (Mr. Ezzie Thanks! )
The upper chart is for the V6 petrol (H20A), the lower chart for the diesel (RF Turbo).

How often to change Engine oil 3K to 7.5K miles,is the consensus. (sure) But look at the age of motor and the quality of oil on the dipstick.
Old cars do not have the EPA narrow clearances for the NEW OIL’s, and worse older motors are looser. Do no run EPA Oils in these old motors.
If you have over 100k motor use old car engine oils and change more often, and look at how fast the oil gets dirty! <<a top plan here, no?
My wifes, 99 Mazda Miata oil with 75k on clock goes in yellow oil and comes out the same {nearly}, at 4500 miles range.
If the oil on the dip stick looks nasty, it is. Learn your motor and follow ITS Lead!

Oil TESTS: (you can send it out and pay more for the test than to just change the oil. ) [but if flush with cash, do so, after changing oil (old sample)]
Blotter test — This test developed primarily to determine the presence of sludge in crankcase oils. One or two drops of the sample oil are placed on a piece of blotter paper supported by a flat surface. The oil drops will spread out on the surface and eventually dry. If there is a sharply defined ring around the oil soaked area, then there is sludge present.
If no sludge is present, the oil will fade gradually near its edges. Look for odd colors or the smell of gasoline.
To Paraphrase Mr. 
James C. Fitch (not bad ideas, for a free test)
The density or darkness of center spot indicates soot load, and distance of radial travel points to the quality of dispersancy.
Any blotter without a dark center spot, rings, halos, sticky center, orange/yellow stain, or other noticeable structure is usually serviceable.
Key factors:
A colorless spot or slight yellow outer ring – “good” oil.
A dense, dark deposit zone – dispersancy failure
A black, pasty zone – Glycol (Antifreeze) in your oil
A dark center with distinct outer ring – Severely oxidized oil
A dark center with surrounding rings – Fuel in oil

Test 2: Drip 1 drop of oil off end of dip stick on to the exhaust manifold. It should burn and smell like burning oil. Not sputter and pop, or it has water in it.
Test 3: Drip one drop of oil onto a pool of water, it must make a bead on the surface if it spreads out (disperses) bad oil or?. Change it.
Test 4: Dip stick shows milk chocolate on end, or green slim,or milky in any way. (coolant failure )
Test 5: If it smells bad, it is.
If the oil looks like tar, then it is bad.
Dark oil is oil doing its job. If the oil additives GIVE up, the oil will do a rapid transformation to Crap. ( from a lubricant to something NOT)
You job, is to stop the oil from changing to crap, while said motor is running. (long oil change periods,invite this nasty surprise )
This page is pretty good covering the tests.

Do not RUN thin EPA oils in you motor in the summer. Nor on very old engines. It was never designed to do so! Ask any honest machine shop, why they are so rich?
The older the motor, the more blow-by, the more blow-by the faster the oil gets overloaded with these byproducts of combustion.
Multi-viscosty oils, break down by a process called shear. I have no test to discover this loss of protection on a hot motor. ( long oil runners add this risk)
You, your oil, your motor or the EPA will never change that fact.
The reason we change the oil, is to not have to do the above and to get the sand and grit out of the oil that the air filter lets into the motor.


GEAR LUBE CHOICES, (the shock? of the operators guide and SUZUKI FSM asking for GL4 and none on the stores shelf?) JUMP fast to ON THE SELF LUBE LIST.
Jump to ATF Dexron now.
The 2 axles and 5 speed transmission and transfer cases all have level check filler plug holes. Here is a 97′ 5speed with a stripped out 10mm square hole socket, and welded to fix it.
The plug threads are pipe threads, tapered., do not over-tighten them.
The rear bolt behind the 5sp, level plug must never be tounced. (or damage to the reverse idler will happen)
The operators guide states: (same deal with axles GL5) The transfer case and 5speed both use GL4 lube. GL5 is hypoid gear oil, not transmission oil. None off these parts use ATF at all.
plug 1 is on right side center (5sp) drain is on bottom. never drain first, take off hole 1 plug first.
Top off with GL4 lube. (best, is to match what was there before match lube GL4 brands)

Choose a viscosity that fits your Climate.!
The Manual Gear boxes:
This is stated in both the FSM and operators guide. ( this is covered clearly, in the operators guide is in the books page)


GL4 Horrors?
You went to the store, and looked on the shelf, and not one bottle of GEAR LUBE mentions GL4, and worse, the back side label, now states not for syncrhomesh usage?
The reason it’s usually missing is this fact, in the API spec. page 10. “T
est equipment for performance verification is not currently available” So the lube makers leave it off the label. (dang) (the cars live on, but the tools died.)

The Short answer, if you see GL4 buy it.

The Medium answer: Pick for from this list, (is revised constantly, so search) GROUP “B” he states.

The only clues, on the shelf, are Gear lube X?, that does not forbid the usage for synchromesh, on the rear label. (for sure API, is way behind the 8 ball here?)

Long answers:
API Categories GL-1, GL-2, GL-3 and GL-6 were declared inactive by SAE Technical Committee 3 in 1995

This page is for folks that can’t find GL4, or want to use something other than spec. GL4 lube. (I don’t ever mention purple oils or 
Boutique oils.)
I will show what’s on the shelf in town, no shipping Boutique lubes, from far away and with out HAZMAT charges.

Lets be clear, on the 5 speed and transfer cases, there are many wrong lubes/oils to not use.
Wrong LIST: ( of all possible or probable?, or off the shelf?) Wrong except the GM MTL and its clones. (MTL means, nothing more than Manual Transmission Fluid)

  • Non GM MTL (every car maker sells one, to their spec. but not Suzuki’s ). The correct MTL is but one, is from GM #12346190 (GEO manuals state that) Suzuki states GL4.
  • GL1, GL2, GL3, or old bottles of GL5, GL6? (all but GL5 are now obsolete) GL5 is soon to follow says API. GL-4 is an API spec, oil but there are no test systems today to approve this oil.
  • MT-1 this API test if only for Crash boxes, and is not applicable to this car. (ignore this API test)
  • ATF (it’s for automatic transmissions, not these Suzuki gear boxes) One guy did this to get better MPG and burned it up.
  • Most new J2360 lube is non-synchro rated. But is a top quality Axle oil.
  • Others, like CVS are wrong.

API Category MT-1 designates lubricants intended for non-synchronized manual transmissions used in crash box buses and heavy-duty trucks not seen since 1950s. (read page 10 about not mixing with engine oil)
Old 1950’s school busses, and dumb trucks and many larger trucks ran Crashboxes. (and older ) It has no synchro’ rings, thus then name CRASH.
If your lube shows ok for synchromesh and lists MT-1, that is not a problem. (the problem is using axle oil lube in a synchro box)

GL5 Axle lube, is for the HYPOID AXLES, most GL5 is the wrong lube, there are exceptions but since most makers, can no longer find GL4 test equipment, they can not do the tests, nor stated ok for GL4 apps.
The exception:
Here is my bottle of NAPA GL-3/4/5 lube. It runs great and so does shifting quality.

Running the correct fluids are key to success, not brands, not TV hype, lies and FUD mongers (fear sellers )

Some quick facts:
GL-4 is now over 50 years old and is almost and obsolete spec. that almost no lube maker today can test) (the tests are clear, but tooling is not sold to do the GL4 tests.)
API Gear lube 3 GL3 (and MT-1) are for very old crashboxes, non hypoid axle gears, and only for boxes without brass (yellow-metal) syncro rings. It may state for MT-1 applications, “Crash box it is
The Suzuki book calls this out clear as day GL4, for both 5 speed box and transefer case. But in reality GL4 is a dead product spec.. (with rare exceptions)
There are still today, sellers of lube that have GF4 on the front label, even in 2014.

One super good white paper on topic (10 pages) on this GL4 confusion, is here.

API Gear lube 5 or GL5 was only for Axles, that is the very high stressed Hypoid gears in that axle and used to have, additives that were sulpha based and would eat up the yellow metal syncrho rings.
Today we have rare lubes that are NAPA GL/3/4/5,all in one. They are ok to use and are very inexpensive. eg: $7 a quart.
Do not mix lubes, the additive packages in the 2 lubes may CRASH, (turn to toxic soup or worse) Do not mix chemistries, The API spec. even states that clearly.

One sad thing is that Mobil 1 syn gear lube, factory quotes below. (not compatible with syncrho’s, MOBIL states on their FAQ page)
In many cases, after 20 or more years, the syncro’s. are in fact worn out (inner cones, now near slick “worn”) and will not like 3 out of 5 brands of GL4. STUFF HAPPENS!
In fact, many so called, synthetics, and very expensive GL4 lube, will now make the synchros too slippery and may not synchronize properly at all, so using, $25 a quart lube, is not going to help you.

There are many MTLs, most MTLs sold by other car makers, are the wrong lube. There lube is for THERE transmissions, not the SUZUKI box.
Misc. Facts:

  • The Suzuki A/T does not use Gear oil (GL), it uses ATF. Auto transmission fluid, on the same level, the M/T does not use ATF fluids. of any kind.
  • GL in the API name means, Gear Lube. API is the American Petroleum Institute.
  • Gear lube (API ratings) are not backward compatible, like A/T Dexron is.
  • The Main axles are “HYPOID GEARS”, and must have GL5 or J2360 and with EP (Extreme Pressure EP, marked on the bottle)
  • The 5 speed and Transfer case, run GL4 (safe for yellow metals) finding GL4 is not easy today. But there are good choices.
  • A new trend, 2014, the gear lube bottles, (many) state, “not for use this in manual transmssions” (yes, do read the back of bottle) and many say is ok for MT-1 boxes (crash boxes)
  •  “Pennzoil Synchromesh” (will this work?) I think it’s mostly OK for GL4 usage. I see the Cst is on thin side, at 9.08 100C, 
  • Do not run LSD axle gear lube, (limited slip Diff oils with special additives.) In the 5sp gear box.
  • The best lube is one, that states for syncrhomesh.

News flash, things are better in 2014, I was in Pep Boys and read the back side of each GL bottle, and guess what?, almost every one stated, it was GL5 and that it was suitable for only manual transmisions with out synchromesh gears. (and axles) better in that, it clearly now states, this is the wrong lube for your 5speed or transfer case.

Mobil 1 Gear lube is not any good for M/T or transfer case. (says so, on their pages) So is Axle lube only. The product is grear but the name is clearly wrong. (sure runs great in a 1950 school bus M/T)

The cheap fast lube shops are confused too.
“Many a lube shop, just throws in GL5 and wishes you never return…” ching-ching…

Most stores in our town (auto) do not even stock GL4 manual transmissions lube of any kind, and the kid behind the counter, never seen one or drove one, and is CLUELESS. (hands you ATF and goes, a STICK? what?)
He will in most cases, not knowing that there are GL3, GL4, MTL and ATF manual transmission boxes. SO WHY ASK HIM/HER?
Some transmissions use engine, oil, like a 1987 Honda Civic (FSM) used ENIGINE OIL.
That makes 5-`8 classes of all gear boxes. Yes, confusing. and more if you count the 3 kinds of syncros used, (brass alloy, cellulose, graphite) and now today CVT
Due that level of complextity (choices) it’s so easy to get the wrong lube. NOT TO MENTION GREEN LUBE.
Do not let autostores, burn up your transmission with their silly guessing. Please.

OFF THE SHELF!: By no means a full list. Just easy to find.

PS: I hope I saved you, time, grief or burned up stick shift box, or changing it out 3 times to get the synchro’s happy, and is the next topic)

SHOW AND TELL TIME: Mr. Synchro! (some cars have carbon fiber rings, others use cellulose (paper) or Graphite and all take special MTL!!
IF you wish to read the long full story here is one.
Now mine:
Here is OUR Synchro ring (brass alloy, or yellow metal part as is so popular to say now…) “Synchronizer rings”
The purpose of this device is to match gear speeds (actually dogs) on the fly, ending the age old practice of “DOUBLE CLUTCHING” to shift.
The outer edges are locking dogs. (teeth)
The inner ring forms a cone and as thee gear box gets very old (25 years is possible, now) the brass inner cones ridges, wear down, and if the ridges, go to zero, the synchro is GONE. they can split too.
The Suzuki FSM book for transmission rebuiding shows this gap here, to check for this wear, a 5 min check with feeler gauge… (box open)
As the cone wears, the different brands of lube, may cause odd or bad or different Synchro performance (be slow to shift, grind, or balking, or make odd noises, as you shift or flat out GRINDS)
This Wiki page summarizes these facts, clearly.

Mr. Synchro ring below, It is a simple device, the ridges grab the gear cone, the gears match speed and the DOGS lock. (silently and not grinding)
This is a constant mesh box, 1,2,3,4,5. so the rings below only sync up, dogs, not gear teeth.
This ring can be vastly different in other makers M/T boxes, ( carbon fiber, cellulose (paper) or Graphite rings ) That be 4 different technologies possible, on all cars.
Maybe now you can understand, why there are so many MTL lubes Sold, and why many just won’t shift right. No matter what, you need to make this guy below HAPPY.
If you use very expenive SYNtheic lube oils in there, that makes those ridges below, slip too much, the shifting will SUCK. This part below was for DINO OIL. (tuned and by design)

SEE here, where one Mr. Synchro fits.
In the olden days,we removed these rings, from race cars, to make the box stronger. (today computers shift 10x faster than humans so, this practice and box ended for racing)
Huge truck makers, back then, did the same thing, ran crash boxes and for the same exact reasons. (life span) They are in fact easy to break, I’ve done it many a time. (young and wild)

The CONE mentioned, can be seen here on the left. (1 of 4)

Best of Best:? If you can afford it.
My Tracker FSM calls out GM 12346190 or Chrysler 4637579 lube. Which is “Castrol Syntorq LT SAE 75W-85, API GL -4” (under warps, but nobody sells it discounted)

This above crosses over to Valvoline MTL Part# 811095 (sold in every auto store in town for about $10)

Keep in mind, if the EPA changes rules again, most this page section becomes, useless. (jokers they are)
Here are the 3 GM bottles.
At one time Suzuki/GM showed GL5 “1997” as a MTL lube, but then recended that wild idea (corrosion) later.
The right bottle is the newest GM recommendation. (Suzuki is dead here (chapter 11) so, can’t ask) The problem is the $27 cost per bottle,
GM wants your next unborn male child for this lube. ( stealerships, are what they are)
It’s just 
“Castrol Syntorq LT SAE 75W-85, API GL-4” at 2 times the price. (a $14 label, is what you get) In my opinion!

end gear boxes.

Axle LUBE, run the best GL5 you can find, if LSD opted, use the correct additive kit IF called out, for your cars axles in the FSM book.
Your axle runs Hypoid gear sets (so called offset) and must not ever be run with non GL5 or J2360 Lube.

Run a GL5 lube with SAE J2360 on the label or data sheet. The Miltary here in USA, uses this in their manual boxes and axles.
For over 20 years, GL5 or the new J2360 (world wide stanadard) and no problems. (but shifting issues are probably just ignored, so many drivers of one truck, we did!)

New SAE J2360 lube 

Shows non-synchro only.

No matter what, this is the best Axle lube.

Some are saying to run the new J2360 lube (SAE rated) I think they have a point there..

Here is the USA MIL spec. listing for qualified J2360 lubes.

Use any you like. orclick QPL listing here, must have Microsoft Exel. program to view it. (or Open Office?)

J2360 on the cheap?
If in a pinch try? We now wonder if this is good lube? At walmart. hummmm $5 cheap

Castrol makes it, for under $10 /qt, see data sheet, Castrol Axle AP 85W-140

Sold at NAPA Auto. cheap. under $7, “CAS 613” is napa’s part number.


Hints, Axles and gear boxes filling: 
Tricks for Kicks?
best time, is after a hot drive

  • A pot full of hot tap water. (and the bottles of gear lube inside it.) 120F water. Warm up that lube and not pull hair out.
  • I jack up the rear bumper, not axle, (at frame member)
  • Remove the top axle fill cover plug (CCW) 1st never 2nd.
  • I then remove the drain plug 2nd and drain out the old lube, Plug it back up.
  • I then squirt in, the hot lube, using comes with cap nipple, the easy way. (no hand pump) into the rear axle fill hole, until it starts dripping from the lower fill hole lip.
  • Put the plug back.
  • Front axle filling is far more easy. (no jacking needed)

The filler plugs will need heat to loosen the factory caulking sealer, and the filler plug needs to come of first, never the drain first. I use a propane torch and heat it.
The Transfer case has 2 plugs and is easy to lay hands on, keep car level, pull the filler plug first, in all cases, in case you can’t pull it and now its drained and are stranded.

You must not attempt to fill the 5sp, via the shifter extension housing end (in place). “FSM even warns you in later years 99+” < this way, never will work.

I cheat and fill my 5sp this way. (heat it first in pan of hot water first,) $3.50 /qt and change often.

Synthetic Motor OIL & the hype:
Synthetic means…
“noting or pertaining to compounds formed through a chemical process by human agency, as opposed to those of natural origin:” like “Plastic”
This oil, none of it is natural on the shelf, as it was, bubbling crude…, leaking from mother earth, but not now, not in the slightest, none of this is natural, at any step along the way.
It is all, the end result, of chemical synthesis.

Now. all that remains, is the long and profound arguments, as to who’s synthesis is best? <<< endless arguments, end.
Synthesis:Chemistry. “the forming or building of a more complex substance or compound from elements or simpler compounds. ”
Be that Dino oil or Magic oil in a can, with an API sticker on it.
It is all Synthetic, ever drop, at $2 each or $19 a quart.
All that remains, is value, quality, consistancy and a mountain of American Marketing hype, FUD and
Fear, uncertainty, and disinformation
FUD! Fear, because they can not sell quality, they have no independant poof, so offer just FUD.
Oil is a religion, to many people.
I’ll not attempt to state which brand is best. Not me ever.

The truth is here. Bob the Oil Guy, SOLVED.

Read this paragraph, in the Wiki
“Group III based lubricants are not allowed to be marketed as “synthetic” in any market outside of the USA. ”
“Within the US, there are no official specifications, or standards as to which oils can be marketed as “Synthetic”.
The Short chain precursors:
Where does the PAO and esters, come from? ( Do your research!, Answer:The Dino Crude Oil Companies, Chevron, Shell, Exxon, BP, etc)
Where does Mobil 1 get their base stock? (it is now, a secret ). it’s a blend, they added one more FAQ and did state that.

Wiki is always good information, IMO.
(Consumers reports) “Found no noticeable advantage of synthetic oil over regular mineral oil” (using proper scientific tests, unlike before...)


There are no laws, in the USA, defining the terms of synthetic oil. (odd,why rewrite the dictionary for 1 word?)
Only market trends, seen here and API classifications. (not laws)
Trends in BS:
Group III+ is USA synthetic by marketing trend (and hype to no end) and Group IV + in Europe by law.
Group III comes from crude oil, that is highly synthesized, via complex hyrdocracking systems, no lie, a fantastic product.
Group IV is PAO & esters. ( a very tiny market share )
Best statement of them all,:just try to track sources of PAO;s ”
“obviously all the carbon atoms in PAOs and esters originally come from “mineral” sources: petroleum, gas and coal.” See DOODFOOD here.
I see the sources and processes are a trade secret. Finding source pages takes hard work, here is but ONE.
Here is one example of a base stock seller of PAO.
“mPAO is created using our proprietary metallocene catalyst technology.”
This Exxon page, what does it state! And where do you think those PAOs started out as?, not pig fat, no cow fat, or soy beans, no sorry, it’s from Crude oil or NG.
Check out SpectraSyn™ 8″I see that it can be dino crude, (or from Group III) processed to group IV or made from scratch, atom by atom from pure natural gas. (cracked)
They can add hyrdogen or remove it.(in the refinery)
The blending of base product and additves are all 100% top secret. by “formulators” and by the BASE oil sellers too!So, in the end, you just trust a name. YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT IS IN THAT BOTTLE, EVER. A FACT. (and changes as the wind blows.)
Reducing all the FUD, and hype, to just one fact, the nasty religion of brand names.
Don’t forget, the hype masters all get rich selling you $20 a quart (liter) for oil.I run top group III oils in my road cars. (on sale, top brands, no religion)
I run Mobil 1, oil in my extreme machines. (off road) (I’d never mail order some oil, why do that? or back order it,at say NAPA)
I run Mobil 1 grease’s in all. there lots of other good choices.
Dexron VI in A/T tranny.

Citations on OIL hype:
Best post (old) ever (1 pages summary, here and very good ) on this is Scotts, who reads everything, He did, it seems.

Yes, a group 3 oil can out perform a group 4, read about it here, this page.

Proof that Mobil 1, does not use Group-IV base oils. (they cop the ” 5th”, odd that is, huh?) (trade secrets…)


A/T Automatic tranny? ATF Issues:  Automatic Transmission Fluid = ATF. See my tranny page for problems.
Drain and fill service. (bobtheoilguy dot com) shows that the oil tested by a lab shows. 50k is max. (the lab said needed it 10k less)
Sadly there are 2 confusions here, the FSM capacities, and the flush controversies.
This is a USA page so is stated in quarts, not liters or in the inane imperial quarts that some Suzuki books show.
I clear up Capacity now…
Rule 1: The transmission is like sponge. (yes, it does hold, 7.3 quarts total, and if the following items are drained 100% (I bet that is not you) you will get that out. (this is a service page, not overhaul)
The ATF sponge list: (This is no transfer case, nor any manual stick transmission or axles, at all)

  • The main clutch holds huge amounts of ATF, the Main torque converter clutch “TC”? (by the way, the drain plug on this device is MISSING! as seen in the days of OLD )
  • The valve body is full of ATF,as are the accumulators, all servo cambers, all solenoids, check valves, lines, passages, and such.
  • and the list of 50 other endless places for ATF to hide. as seen here.
  • The amount drained can vary by temperature of the case, the age of fluid, and the time you allowed it to drain, some take a week to stop dripping…so forget all this…
  • Why not measure what came out?, (mine was 2qt) and put that back in, to get to step D below. (assumes levels were right before the drain)

So, unless doing an overhaul, forget you ever saw, 7.3 quarts!
Now the confusion on the next 2 spec. numbers, 2.65 and 1.6 quarts. 
(spec. means factory specifications, official)
The number on the spec. pages showing 2.65qt. is a best case theory on how much might drain out of the box. (it’s just a number, not a law, or rule, but is pure theory!!) so, forget that too.
Next and last comes the real number, the 1.6 (quarts ({1.5L}) this is real, this it correct number of quarts to add after a drain, then raise the level using the 
per this 2 page guide (operators guide real)
End confusing pages of FSM…

Read the manual?:
If overfilled the ATF may foam up, and cause bearing starvation (air foamation or aeriation, makes a very poor lube) and fast bearing failure.
Do not read the overhaul pages, if not doing an overhaul, do read the service pages, on drain and fill only.

The Operators guides are here… free… “how to top off levels is there”
The FSM covers service intervals and the methods to service this box. Chapter 7A page 23+ (3sp) and 7A-24+ (4sp)  all you need to know and read is here, just one link. (the real book on your car)
Dexron VI, mark-III is not made now, or it is wise to use it. (it’s downward compatible to mark-II and superior product)

The 2 pages in the Oper. guide for A/T, ATF level checks (it’s not like checking engine oil or any stick shift box., at all, please read it)
Considerations or rules:

  1. Don’t over fill it. RTM per this 2 page guide (read the manual)
  2. The levels are only done on a running engine with the A/T pump running!
  3. All ATF expands hot (physics) and rises on the dip stick to “H” if real hot. 10 quarts rises to 10.5 quarts, from 30C to 100C (room to boiling temp of water)
  4. Over filling the box, invites, ATF aeration, and or foaming of the fluid, which starves bearing and there quick destruction. (and or massive leaking of ATF to the roadway)

The 2 pages that confuse many are seen here, with annotations by me…

Drain & filter & fill. (I see no reason to repeat the words in the FSM manual, they are clear. on page 23+ ) Chapter 7A! Please do read the manual.

I will just add commentary to the factory words (and pit falls)
Hint: Please measure, what came out first, then put back in fresh Dexron, with the same volume (level was correct before! hot)
Here is the offical method:
Read chapter 7A, pages 23+ here. (page 25 in PDF box)(covers both transmission, in one chapter)

Do not forget to clean the sludge out of the pan, and the 4speed magnet end of drain plug. (if the plug is missing (3sp horror) then consider adding one )
Do consider replacing the 3sp, modulator vacuum valve on the end of case. {most are bad or about to fail, at the diaphragm inside, this old}
Do replace the filter. (or if only a screen on old 3sp, clean it fully)
Do check that the kick down detent valve on side of box is not sticking, or jammed up. ( “targets of opportunity”)
Do not let EPA lies, convince you that the A/T box runs forever on one factory load of ATF, ( really!) { nor factory marketing”lackeys” repeating the EPA lies, endlessly)
Consider a full flush using this machine.

Consider the controversy issues?
Consider the DIY quasi full flush seen next below.

Costs? of doing it right?:
(Most shops here want $150 and up to do it right, “right means with a new filter, gasket and the full flush Machine ” JiPhPhyboobs, are clueless, as to right ways. Ask any real ASE rated shop. (not the boobs)

What to expect at the dip stick end?:
Fluid color’s, for sure no metal flakes at the drop of AFT at the end of the dip stick.!
Red or pink color is, ok.
Brown or black is bad. (this is a message to you, I need changing)
Smells sweet is good.
Smells like burnt yuk. bad. (a sure siign of overheated fluids)
Looks like milk chocolate that is bad, caused by, Radiator coolant contamination (replace Radiator first, if true)
Milky looking ATF, is water in the ATF.
Watch out for the boobs in the $25 cheap shops, that put wrong fliuds in the dip stick filler, (A/T)? put in engine oil. brake fluid, water, antifreeze, or not using Dexron fluid.

DIY, way 1: ( a quasi full flush) SHADE TREE WAYS AND MEANS. (a $150 full flush, not in the cards?) 
One reason to do this is to get almost all new fresh Dexron VI in the box. (not a mix of Mark III and IV) (old and new)
See the video, pretend he said, change the filter first, and use DEXRON VI, DEX III is out of production.

Dexron is downward compatible, and gets better each revision. (use what’s on the shelf, max. number, mark #?)

  • See best practices steps above.
  • A New filter, etc, then…
  • I drained it 3 times. in 100 miles. or less, to get the full flush quality. I did this in under 25 miles.
  • After getting fluid looking good. I’m done. (laws of diminishing returns, applies here) It takes this much, because the CLUTCH is not directly drain-able.
  • Drain just the ATF pan. if the drain plug is missing? (3speeds), well? put one in, it’s not that hard to do.
  • Do it, until the fluid turns PINK (or red) again. 
  • Cheap and easy with a drain plug. 3 quarts times 3 drains, is 9 quarts, or about $40-50 bucks total (add filter cost) You can beat the shop costs to do this.
  • Find a sale on the ATF. (Dexron III or higher mark VI is NOW)
  • All 4 speed A/T, have this drain plug from day 1. (with magnet)
  • Once here, you can monitor fluid colors, and the repeat just a drain, and fill. To get the color back. (off color implies fluid breaking down)

If you have a car and it calls for Dexton II or III, you can use Dexron VI, as Dexron is upward compatible (cept Dexron 1 on antique cars., not ours.)

The brand new Suzuki and GM FSM manuals 99+ for Tracker say” never do a full power flush” on this tranny.
(they recommend my 3 drain cycle. in the FSM! suprised me… it did.)
Their fear, is that the power flush, might break loose some junk (gunk) inside the tranny and then clog something critical.

The A/T filter. ACCESS:
The FSM clearly states, for 4wheel drive, page 25 page 26, to remove the front propeller (drive) shaft to get the pan off.
They are not kidding. (it crosses over the pan) and some have exhaust pipe issues, (interference)
The front U-Joint coupling has 4 bolts and 4 nuts, remove them. (at the front axle pig)
Warning, the transfer case end, has a yoke slip spline, if you fail to tie it up hard and to the rear of car with bias, it may fall out and you will eat 2 quarts of gear lube, GL3, nasty stinking and messy.
Use 2 bungee cords to do that, one for UP, and one for rear bias. AND WIN!
The front transfer case yoke will fall out, at the “drop of a hat” easy, if you are not careful. Don’t let it.
The 3 speed has no drain plug, so use a HUGE catch pan. Bigger than your 3sp pan. (top compliant, on 3speeds is this) Add your own DRAIN PLUG.{kits are sold in all autostores in USA}
The drain chapter does not have you put in 2.64 quarts, this is just and estimate, the below is the end of transmission repair chapter, for capacities. (do not confuse that, with the drain and fill service chapter 7A-23-26.
Put in 1.6L or quarts. (1.5L is the conversion and don’t really matter that) The book under fills the pan on PURPOSE so you never have to drain out excess. ( a royal PITA that) and the top off, per operators guide, and says don’t drive until its topped off to spec. dip levels,hot, running and in park. Read the fill page here.

The below are 2 pages from the FSM, the first page is only for the transmission overhaul guy! The drain, data, should have said, Estimate! “the double translations at GM are not a great help (Japanese to English then to GM’lish)
You will never achieve bone dry. (unless fully 100% dismantled)

The next snap shot is the page 23+ words in the FSM Step “C” reads the same for 3sp and 4sp I think this is clear enough. 1.6 quarts. (watch out for some pages in the FSM shows PINTS! (USA and in Imperial measure (ouch)
This is just the end steps. at #7, just to show “that 1.6qt is there” the book is free to read per above, all steps.
The VI below means use Dexron VI, today, in 2015 + Mark VI (mark 6)


ATF flush Controversy, abounds, for just 2 reasons:”

  1. Drivers drive until the A/T fails. (EPA asked you to, so you did? ouch!)
  2. Or for what ever reason, you waited until 200,000 miles to drain ATF? ($100 can save you $3000 new trans… in fact, and if repeated sure… at 50k)
  3. THEN?:

The mech, sees the fluid is RAT NASTY (dip tube dripping on shop white towel) ( find a real mech to look at it, not some 19 YO kid and Jiphphyboobs) { < not a real name, but all are infamous, read the BBB on yours?) 
He drops the pan and says, I don’t recommend a full flush, the system is packed in SLUDGE. (he may walk you to the car and show you… a learning moment )
He says, don’t do the full flush, do the filter, and with new DEXRON VI, and pray the new DEX lube with fresh additvies now, in that great DEX product, does not cause all that CRAP in the the transmission to break up. (and kill it)
This means, doing NOTHING, might be better! (or LESS) (lacking all service history)
Best is:
Do it at 50k miles, just we always did for over 60 years. (read the manuals see them, see the words… ) ATF does not last forever.

But if too late?, what to do, is like using a Ouija board.
YMMV, your mileage may and can vary.

Not all machines to flush are equal. (the best machines, do not force the fluid, they let the transmission do all the work (A/T pump in trans).

Get or use a B&G big dawg or MOC full flush.

If ignored for 100k or 200k MILES or more, doing nothing might win.

I hope I saved you $2000 on a blown tranny, or some nasty mess.
end A/T box issues.

Other key tuneup items, besides filter, oil and ignition parts: (just a list, my dirty little list)

  • Keep Air in the tires,at the drivers door jamb list stated values. 28-PSI on USA cars. (other countries are different! )
  • Inspect brake linings annually and for damage to the system.
  • Fresh lube for axles, transmission, transfer case 30k-50k (depending duty, and antifreeze every 2years). NO ANTIFREEZE, DAMAGE.
  • No, I do not believe in life time antifreeze, show me?
  • Purge all brake fluid from the system annually ( your brakes will last longer (not pads, the other part$)).
  • Check fan belts for cracks, allow none.
  • Check hoses, and replace every 5-10years (depending on duty) In hot climates, more often. (most last 10 years today)
  • If Manual transmission, adjust the clutch free play each year (check it first) and replace the cable ever 100k.
  • Flush A/T every 50k., with new filter or clean bottom screen every 50k. 30k for extreme service. (city driving)
  • Run Techron fuel injector through tank (1/2 bottle) every year or 2. (few other brands do I like, this one is powerful)
  • Inspect underbody for loose suspension parts and mounting bolts, and for dangerous exhaust leaks. (if snow country keep exhaust perfect)
  • Change engine oil as often as you can, 3k to 5k is best range. ( older the motor; the sooner to change).
  • When ever you get time, do a battery load test and check the battery terminals for corrosion every 6 to 12 months.
  • Every 100k a new Oxygen sensor (pays for its self with less gas usage).

Listen to your starter motor, it talks, here him slow down?, this fall? (compared to normal?), well, clean the terminals, if that is not helping it, then the battery may be nearing the end of its life span. Check State of charge, first.

This is not a safety check list, that would be a huge list.
This list is to get the most out of your $ Dollar and to prevent being stuck somewhere.

Additives: Read the owner manual, it says never use additives. ( They,the OEM don’t want to buy you a free new engine, under warranty! )
Never put it into the motor oil, why mix chemistries, there? Why make a witches brew in the crank case?
Why risk a good motor with good compression, with that tactic?
I will not mention any names of the bad guys, and lawyers. but you know who they are, read the engineers comments at the end.
Here are is one study of the names used in the MSDS.

I never use additives unless, I panic and use it to solve a suspected injector gum up. (I do have a portable injector cleaner for on car use, with special cleaner)
Running quality fuel, (not antique, over 1 year old) keeps the injectors clean, so additives are really never needed.
Run Chevron fuel, it is one of the best.
Except cars that sit and don’t get run. (bad fuel can not be turned in to good fuel with an additive, I’m sorry)
Avoidance of bad fuel:
If you park a car over 30 days, fill the gas tank to the top. Buy a can of STABIL? Many say it works great. I don’t know. but what choices do you have.?

Never use 2 additive brands, in 1 fuel tank of fuel, that is way over the top Crazy?, chemistry wise. DON’T PLEASE.
Read the MSDS on the, for your Magic bottle of snake oil. and see that it contains only (nothing else) but PALE oil. “Google it, this is not hard”
Why do you think putting in Pale oil in your gas is a good idea.? Think hard on that idea. That junk Kills 02 sensors!

In a pinch, I do use this (panic) TECHRON 

Read the MSDS on Techron ™ note it has 2 benezene’s and other dangerous solvents only these can clean an injector and NEVER PALE OIL.

Solvent naphtha (petroleum), light aromatic
44 %wt/wt
14 %wt/wt
Trade secret
6 %wt/wt
1 %wt/wt
0.3 %wt/wt

I bet your T.V. hyped up, pale oil additive, don’t have these powerful solvents? The Naphtha is pure white gasoline. (not oil)
In this case, the Naphtha is the base vehicle to deploy the additive easy. (note that Chevron didn’t use OIL for this)
Citations from Chevron.

If your favorite Snake oil (additives) MSDS sheet declares (many do) a list of secret ingredients. called “X”
Ask your self this question?”
What Ingredients can be not disclosed in the MSDS? and be safe for human contact and still clean gum out of any injector? (my guess is, safe detergents)
Last, consider that the injector coils are fuel cooled, that is right, and you need to be careful what SOLVENT’s you place in contact with said coils!
Many older Additives, killed many an injector.
Thank carefully? what Secret “X” might be? ( the answer is sometimes, NOTHING, but safe coloring, water. dyes. etc) (EPA rules)

One great friend said, gee it can’t hurt, after all look at the dilution factor? (I say, why mess up perfect gas?. I say, way take a chance?)
Better?, Why not use a treatment that works, Techron, and is already in Chevron fuel!! and is known to work and be safe.
Why use, or burn Pale oil in your fuel.?
But, I can’t buck religion or snake oil or pure LOVE of Additives in a can. wow.
Ask Warren Buffet why he bought..Lubrizol (LZ)?

Data; A Common snake oil mix, gee, make your own? save 8 pints x $8 $64 a gallon,
Pale oil: is a light yellow pale oil, called also, sewing machine oil, or Machine oil Sp.Gravity.85 and Flash point of 345F Why do you need oil in your fuel?
Naphtha is simular to Coleman cooking gas, or white gasoline. Zippo Lighter fluid. (used as a vehicle to hold the” magic stuff” or nasty solevents) Naphtha is a safe fluid to use as BASE vehicle.
Other Snake oil makers, put in Alcohol, huh?
isopropyl alcohol: tell me Why you need more alochol in that fuel, it has 2 – 10% now! in the USA.



Best place for asking questions is FixKick forum.

16 thoughts on “How to tune up and service?”

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