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DarkMonohue SuperDork
5/3/24 10:31 a.m.

In reply to maschinenbau :

In Toyotaland, that is a classic symptom of solenoid contact wear on the Denso starters they used for decades.  I was hoping that your Suzuki used the same type of starter but it appears not to be the case.  No such luck.  You can get solenoids separately from starters but the solenoid costs nearly as much money as the whole starter assembly.

I have such a low opinion of aftermarket starters (and alternators, and most other parts) that it borders on hate speech.  Is there a locally-owned starter and  alternator shop you can take your unit to and have it repaired on site?  That's obviously not as commonplace as it used to be, but the odds always seem better if they guy doing the work has his name on the sign and has been there for decades.

Stating the obvious here, but it's worth checking the cables and connections down at the started end just in case someone has been in there making a mess of things.

maschinenbau PowerDork
5/3/24 11:28 a.m.

Some digging shows there is a common "clicky starter" fix with these Suzukis because the solenoid is fed indirectly by the ECU or something like that, and it becomes a high resistance path over time. Plus it's just a spade connector on the solenoid. The fix is wiring a relay to power the solenoid more directly and they even sell kits. I may try "hot wiring" the solenoid to see if that's the issue, in addition to the normal troubleshooting like low battery and jump starting.


maschinenbau PowerDork
5/3/24 7:41 p.m.

Got home. Checked battery voltage: 10.7v. Try to start, just a click and no turn over. Jumped it with my El Camino it started up okay. Alternator reads mid to high 12's at warm idle, goes over 13 with revs. I think it's charging fine.

Turned it off after a minute or two, up to 11.7V. So we're charging. But why was it low and why is it also random?

Some other important details: there is a battery kill switch under the dash that was added at some point in time. There is also a poorly wired radio and possibly an alarm that makes weird beeps. So it might have a slow battery drain, and perhaps someone got frustrated trying to chase it. I have not been using the kill switch.

Drove it around to get pizza, and it needed a couple tries of the starter again. The issue just seems randomly intermittent. So I tried to jump the solenoid by crimping a spade to a piece of wire. Seems to work! It feels like it cranks better this way, but hard to tell, because once I tried the normal way again it also started fine, though with a hesitation. So there may be something to the Suzuki "clicky starter issue". A-B-A testing is impossible with this issue, but now I have another tool in the glovebox to try in case its dead again. Because even if the battery is low, it should at least try to turn over.

maschinenbau PowerDork
5/6/24 8:30 a.m.

I think it's a bad battery. I put it on the charger for like a day it won't budge above 11.9 V. Normal voltage when running. I still drove it in today despite it taking 4 hits with the key. 

maschinenbau PowerDork
5/9/24 2:46 p.m.

I threw a new $70 walmart battery at it a few days ago and it's been starting better than ever. I'm calling it fixed.

I kept the old one and have been trying to rejuvenate it with my other better trickle charger, and it seems to be holding steady now, but we'll see. Always good to have a backup battery for project car shenanigans. 

maschinenbau PowerDork
5/11/24 12:29 p.m.

Almost couldn't find a parking spot last night. Almost.

maschinenbau PowerDork
5/24/24 10:38 a.m.

Battery drain is still a thing with the new battery. I've made a habit of measuring voltage right before and after driving. It's happy at 12.7V after driving. If it drains below 12V it has a hard time starting but still hasn't left me stranded yet. Turning the killswitch off definitely helps it keep voltage when parked. 

As part of Gambler prep, I installed a USB charger in place of the broken cig lighter. I also bought new knobs for the HVAC sliders. 

I also found this while digging around. It was wired to another non-OEM module, which was powered by a add-a-fuse. Guessing it's a security system. I unplugged the extra circuit to the module. and removed this backup battery. Battery still drained down to 12.0V overnight from 12.6V. Next step is borrowing a friend's current meter and pulling fuses until we find it. 

Gambler is next weekend and I'm running out of time to build a bumper. Still have some other maintenance to do. At the very least I need to focus on a skid plate. Or just send it. 

Sonic UberDork
5/24/24 12:29 p.m.

This thing is worth every penny when chasing a parasitic draw



maschinenbau PowerDork
6/2/24 2:11 p.m.

Gambler 500 was a success! The X-90 was unstoppable and never missed a beat. Full update to follow but here's a teaser.

maschinenbau PowerDork
6/5/24 7:03 p.m.

Once I heard about the return of the Georgia Gambler 500, I knew I had to go. And after my Miata wreck put me in need of a new car, I took it as an opportunity to try a new adventure.

Friday started out with battery issue, yet again. I definitely still have a draw, and it seems intermittent. Luckily I had charged the old new battery back up to good health, so I swapped it out and used the kill switch the rest of the weekend. I also wired the starter solenoid directly to a separate relay, so it will try it's hardest even with a low battery.

Then I picked up my buddy, loaded the hitch rack, and drove north.

The campsite was the field of a local dirt track, the Sugar Creek Raceway. They were gracious enough to host us and the dumpster, and even gave us discounted pit passes! We were looking forward to the races Saturday night.

After meeting up with more friends and setting up camp, we set off for a trail known for its water content.

Video of some creek crossings: https://youtu.be/7z6mQGP8Mcs

Saturday we were awaken at 7am by a muffler-deleted Subaru Forester starting up and immediately pinning the rev-limiter, over, and over... After a breakfast and driver's meeting, we set off for some checkpoints to clean up some trash.

And trash we found.

Not only did we fill a roll-off dumpster, but we also filled a trailer full of used tires. The little Suzuki's trunk was pretty stinky!

I had a pretty good trail fix. A dirt biker's axle nut fell off, but luckily I had vise grips in the trunk.

The little Suzuki was UNSTOPPABLE all weekend long. The trails were very rough and rocky, but I had no clearance or scraping problems. The low-range was perfect for powering through mud holes and up rocky banks. And the ride was pretty smooth. My confidence in this car is unbridled. I would take it anywhere.

Saturday night dirt track racing was a blast to watch. Might have to give that try sometime...

If you're thinking about doing a Gambler 500, I highly recommend it. Good people, good times. If you're thinking about a Suzuki X-90, you should get one, because it may be the best worst vehicle ever made.

Stealthtercel SuperDork
6/5/24 11:00 p.m.

Photo no. 8 in your set above seems to be a Toyota Paseo – or at least the top half of it does. Any idea what the story is on that?

maschinenbau PowerDork
6/6/24 8:35 a.m.

In reply to Stealthtercel :

It was a Paseo sitting on a Toyota truck or 4runner chassis I think.

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