Suzuki Samurai/Sidekick/Tracker 1986-1998 Repair Guide

Cooling System

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See Figure 1


CAUTION
Never remove the radiator cap under any conditions while the engine is running! Failure to follow these instructions could result in damage to the cooling system and/or personal injury. To avoid having scalding hot coolant or steam blow out of the radiator, use extreme care when removing the radiator cap from a hot radiator. Wait until the engine has cooled, then wrap a thick cloth around the radiator cap and turn it slowly to the first stop. Step back while the pressure is released from the cooling system. When you are sure the pressure has been released, press down on the radiator cap (with the cloth still in position), turn and remove the cap.



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Fig. Fig. 1: Cutaway view of a typical cooling system flow

FLUID RECOMMENDATIONS



The recommended coolant for all vehicles covered by this guide is a 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol antifreeze and distilled water for year-round use. If a 50/50 concentration does not provide adequate protection against freezing (extremely cold climates), follow the instructions on the antifreeze container to obtain the desired freezing point. An antifreeze/coolant testing hydrometer can be used to determine the freezing point of your coolant mixture.

LEVEL CHECK



See Figures 2 through 5

Once a week, open your hood and glance at the coolant reserve tank to ensure it is properly filled. When the engine is cold, the coolant level should be at the FULL mark on the reserve tank. If your engine is hot, allow it to cool before checking the coolant level, adding coolant, or any other cooling system service.



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Fig. Fig. 2: The coolant level can be checked by inspecting the level through the translucent reserve tank ...



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Fig. Fig. 3: ... and add clean coolant to the reserve tank, if necessary

If the level is not as specified, top off the cooling system using the recovery tank and its markings as a guideline. Remove the reserve tank cap and pour in new, clean antifreeze/water mixture until the level is at the FULL mark, then install the reserve tank cap so that the arrow mark on the tank and the arrow mark on the cap are aligned.



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Fig. Fig. 4: With the engine cold, inspect the coolant level in the reserve tank and, if necessary, add coolant to bring the level to the FULL mark-Samurai model shown



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Fig. Fig. 5: Install the reserve tank fill cap so that the arrow marks on the tank and cap are aligned-Sidekick, Sidekick Sport, Tracker and X-90 models shown

If you add coolant to the reserve tank, make a note to check it again soon. A coolant level that consistently drops is usually a sign of a small, hard to detect leak, though in the worst scenario it could be a sign of an internal engine leak (blown head gasket/cracked block- ... check the engine oil for coolant contamination). In most cases, you will be able to trace the leak to a loose fitting or damaged hose (and you might solve a problem before it leaves you stranded). Evaporating ethylene glycol antifreeze will leave small, white (salt-like) deposits, which can be helpful in tracing a leak.

SYSTEM INSPECTION



At least every 30,000 miles (48,000 km) or every 30 months (whichever occurs first), all hoses, fittings and cooling system connections should be inspected for damage, wear or leaks. Hose clamps should be checked for tightness, and soft or cracked hoses should be replaced. Damp spots, or accumulations of rust, dye or white deposits near hoses or fittings indicate possible leakage. These must be corrected before filling the system with fresh coolant. The pressure cap should be examined for signs of deterioration and aging. The fan belt and/or other drive belt(s) should be inspected and adjusted to the proper tension. Refer to the information on drive belts found earlier in this section. Finally, if everything looks good, obtain an antifreeze/coolant testing hydrometer in order to check the freeze and boil-over protection capabilities of the coolant currently in your engine. Old or improperly mixed coolant should be replaced.


CAUTION
When draining coolant, keep in mind that cats and dogs are attracted to ethylene glycol antifreeze, and are likely to drink any that is left in an uncovered container or in puddles on the ground. This will prove fatal in sufficient quantity. Always drain coolant into a sealable container. Coolant may be reused unless it is contaminated or several years old.

If you experience problems with your cooling system, such as overheating or boiling-over, check the simple before expecting the complicated. Make sure the system can fully pressurize (are all the connections tight/is the radiator cap on properly, is the cap seal intact-). Ideally, a pressure tester should be connected to the radiator opening and the system should be pressurized and inspected for leaks. If no obvious problems are found, use a hydrometer antifreeze/coolant tester (available at most automotive supply stores) to check the condition and concentration of the antifreeze in your cooling system. Excessively old coolant or the wrong proportions of water and coolant will hurt the coolant's boiling and freezing points.

Check the Radiator Cap

See Figure 6

While you are checking the coolant level, check the radiator cap for a worn or cracked gasket. If the top doesn't seal properly, fluid will be lost and the engine will overheat. Worn caps should be replaced with new ones.



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Fig. Fig. 6: Be sure the rubber gasket on the radiator cap has a tight seal

Clean Radiator of Debris

See Figure 7

Periodically, clean any debris-leaves, paper, insects, etc.-from the radiator fins. Pick the large pieces off by hand. The smaller pieces can be washed away with water pressure from a hose.



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Fig. Fig. 7: Periodically remove all debris from the radiator fins

Carefully straighten any bent radiator fins with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Be careful; the fins are very soft. Don't wiggle the fins back and forth too much. Straighten them once and try not to move them again.

DRAIN & REFILL



See Figures 8 through 13

To properly drain and refill the cooling system, you will need clean shop rags, a large catch pan or similar container, access to clean water (such as a garden hose) and bottles of clean, new ethylene glycol antifreeze.

At least once every 30 months or 30,000 miles (48,000 km), the engine cooling system should be inspected, flushed and refilled with fresh coolant. If the coolant is left in the system too long, it loses its ability to prevent rust and corrosion. If the coolant has too much water, it won't protect against freezing.


CAUTION
When draining coolant, keep in mind that cats and dogs are attracted to ethylene glycol antifreeze, and are likely to drink any that is left in an uncovered container or in puddles on the ground. This will prove fatal in sufficient quantity. Always drain coolant into a sealable container. Coolant may be reused unless it is contaminated or several years old.

  1. If necessary, allow the engine to cool.
  2.  
  3. Remove the radiator cap by rotating it slowly counterclockwise until a stop is felt. Do not push down on the cap while turning it. Allow any radiator pressure to vent, then depress the cap and continue loosening it.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 8: Loosen the radiator drain plug to allow the coolant to empty into the catch pan-the drain plug is located along the bottom edge of the radiator


CAUTION
Never remove the radiator cap under any conditions while the engine is running! Failure to follow these instructions could result in damage to the cooling system and/or personal injury. To avoid having scalding hot coolant or steam blow out of the radiator, use extreme care when removing the radiator cap from a hot radiator. Wait until the engine has cooled, then wrap a thick cloth around the radiator cap and turn it slowly to the first stop. Step back while the pressure is released from the cooling system. When you are sure the pressure has been released, press down on the radiator cap (with the cloth still in position), turn and remove the cap.



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Fig. Fig. 9: To drain the engine coolant, first remove the caps from the radiator fill neck ...



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Fig. Fig. 10: ... and the reserve tank, then lift the reserve tank up and out of the engine compartment to empty it



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Fig. Fig. 11: Loosen the radiator drain valve (arrow) and allow all of the coolant to empty into a large catch pan



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Fig. Fig. 12: Install the reserve tank and fill it to the FULL mark ...



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Fig. Fig. 13: ... then tighten the drain valve and fill the radiator with clean coolant

  1. Remove the reservoir tank by removing the reserve tank cap, then by lifting the tank straight up. Drain the reservoir into the large catch pan.
  2.  
  3. Position the catch pan under the radiator, beneath the drain plug, then loosen the plug and allow the radiator coolant to empty completely.
  4.  
  5. Install the reserve tank and fill it to the FULL mark with the proper coolant.
  6.  

The vehicle must be parked on level ground when filling the cooling system.

  1. Install the radiator drain plug, then fill the radiator with the proper coolant and install the radiator cap. When installing the radiator cap, ensure that it is fully tightened.
  2.  
  3. Start the engine and allow it to idle for 2-3 minutes to purge air from the cooling system, then turn the engine OFF .
  4.  
  5. Remove the radiator cap and, if necessary, add coolant to the radiator until the coolant level is at the base of the fill neck.
  6.  
  7. Inspect the coolant level in the reserve tank and, if necessary, add coolant to bring the level in the tank to the FULL mark.
  8.  

FLUSHING & CLEANING THE SYSTEM



To properly flush and clean the cooling system, you will need clean shop rags, a large catch pan or similar container, access to clean water (such as a garden hose) and bottles of clean, new ethylene glycol antifreeze.

At least once every 30 months or 30,000 miles (48,000 km), the engine cooling system should be inspected, flushed and refilled with fresh coolant. If the coolant is left in the system too long, it loses its ability to prevent rust and corrosion. If the coolant has too much water, it won't protect against freezing.


CAUTION
When draining coolant, keep in mind that cats and dogs are attracted to ethylene glycol antifreeze, and are likely to drink any that is left in an uncovered container or in puddles on the ground. This will prove fatal in sufficient quantity. Always drain coolant into a sealable container. Coolant may be reused unless it is contaminated or several years old.

  1. If necessary, allow the engine to cool.
  2.  
  3. Remove the radiator cap by rotating it slowly counterclockwise until a stop is felt. Do not push down on the cap while turning it. Allow any radiator pressure to vent, then depress the cap and continue loosening it.
  4.  


CAUTION
Never remove the radiator cap under any conditions while the engine is running! Failure to follow these instructions could result in damage to the cooling system and/or personal injury. To avoid having scalding hot coolant or steam blow out of the radiator, use extreme care when removing the radiator cap from a hot radiator. Wait until the engine has cooled, then wrap a thick cloth around the radiator cap and turn it slowly to the first stop. Step back while the pressure is released from the cooling system. When you are sure the pressure has been released, press down on the radiator cap (with the cloth still in position), turn and remove the cap.

  1. Remove the reservoir tank by removing the reserve tank cap, then by lifting the tank straight up. Drain the reservoir into the large catch pan.
  2.  
  3. Position the catch pan under the radiator, beneath the drain plug, then loosen the plug and allow the radiator coolant to empty completely.
  4.  
  5. Install the reserve tank and fill it to the FULL mark with clean water.
  6.  

The vehicle must be parked on level ground when filling the cooling system.

  1. Install the radiator drain plug, then fill the radiator with clean water and install the radiator cap. When installing the radiator cap, ensure that it is fully tightened.
  2.  
  3. Start the engine and allow it to idle for 2-3 minutes, to purge air from the cooling system, then turn the engine OFF .
  4.  
  5. Remove the radiator cap and, if necessary, add water to the radiator until the level is at the base of the fill neck.
  6.  
  7. Start the engine and allow it to idle until normal operating temperature is reached (the upper radiator hose will get hot), then turn the engine OFF .
  8.  
  9. Allow the engine to cool.
  10.  
  11. Remove the radiator cap by rotating it slowly counterclockwise until a stop is felt. Do not push down on the cap while turning it. Allow any radiator pressure to vent, then depress the cap and continue loosening it.
  12.  
  13. Remove the reservoir tank by removing the reserve tank cap, then by lifting the tank straight up. Drain the reservoir into the large catch pan.
  14.  
  15. Position the catch pan under the radiator, beneath the drain plug, then loosen the plug and allow the water in the radiator to empty completely.
  16.  
  17. Repeat Steps 5 through 13 as many times as necessary until the water drained from the radiator is clean and clear.
  18.  
  19. Install the reserve tank and fill it to the FULL mark with the proper coolant.
  20.  

The vehicle must be parked on level ground when filling the cooling system.

  1. Install the radiator drain plug, then fill the radiator with the proper coolant and install the radiator cap. When installing the radiator cap, ensure that it is fully tightened.
  2.  
  3. Start the engine and allow it to idle for 2-3 minutes to purge air from the cooling system, then turn the engine OFF .
  4.  
  5. Remove the radiator cap and, if necessary, add coolant to the radiator until the coolant level is at the base of the fill neck.
  6.  
  7. Inspect the coolant level in the reserve tank and, if necessary, add coolant to bring the level in the tank to the FULL mark.
  8.  

 
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