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 Post subject: Preliminary GTI buying guide/common problems list
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:06 pm 
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OK - so finally after months of wanting to get this done I started it last week and finished off a preliminary version today. This was after seeing an obvious demand in the forums for such a list. Once it's accuracy is confirmed and it is more complete, perhaps it can go up as a sticky.

Which is where you come in, please make suggestions about anything I have left out, need to expand upon or need to amend. Any other ideas for the list are also welcome.

A word document allows superior and easier text formatting but for the benefits of a forum search and user accessibility I have decided to display it as a post.

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Version 0.1

Introduction

This list has been compiled from my own research and others, along with my personnel experience over the many years of Suzuki ownership. In many ways it acts as a summary of the vast array of information and knowledge located in the forums. It is by no means comprehensive. So if questions remain search the forums for further information or post a question.

This list will assume you understand car basics and what to look for and check when purchasing a vehicle. This list is for those unfamiliar with GTI's and who need to know what in particularly to look out for with these cars. It is also useful as a reference for current or future owners.

Ideally when looking at purchasing a GTI take someone who has knowledge of Suzukis with you, or ask someone from the forum and they may be happy to tag along.

The GTI is generally speaking a reliable vehicle and keep in mind that the below is simply some of the more common or reoccurring complaints. By no means does it suggest you will encounter all or any of these problems.

The information in this guide is constantly being revised and updated.

Engine

Generally speaking a strong little engine without any major weakpoints.

What to check for:

Noisy hydraulic lifters

A loud ticking sound emitting from the top of the cam/rocker cover.

Usually more evident when the engine is cold and first started for the day. After 5 seconds or so as oil reaches the head and lubricates the lifters the ticking noise should largely subside.

A softer and constant ticking noise at idle is normal for most GTI's, particularly as the kilometers rack up.

If the ticking noise seems excessive and doesn't greatly improve as the engine warms up it could be a sign of a problem.

Possible remedies:

Fresh oil change with option of lifter treatment solution

Using a thinner oil may help reduce lifter noise but should only be done if the grade is appropriate for the rest of the engine.

Renewal of hydraulic lifters (expensive)

Leaking Cam and/or Crank Oil Seals

Get under the car and look around the oil filter and oil sump area for oil and signs of leakage. If a leak is evident it may be due to an old Cam and/or Crank seal.

Possible Remedies:

Renew faulty seals/gaskets.

Rev Hunting

Keep an eye on the rev gauge at idle and ensure that the idle speed is steady and not jumping around (hunting).

Normal Idle speed is 900 rpm at operating temperature but when cold and the auto-choke is enabled idle can start as high as 2000 rpm. It is normal for the idle to gradually drop as the car warms up to operating temperature.
It also may naturally idle higher due to modifications such as cams, so check with the owner.

Possible Remedies:

TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) adjustment

Find vacuum leak

Air Flow Meter (AFM) & Oxygen Sensor

A flashing red light below the instrument cluster while driving can indicate many potential problems. It may be a for instance a faulty oxygen sensor or AFM which may require renewal.

Other signs of a faulty oxygen sensor or AFM can be rough running, running rich, loss of power ect.

Starter Motor

If you hear a crunching noise emitted from the engine bay just as the engine fires up it could be one of the bearings in the starter motor going. It may not cause any problems but it also can possibly let go, resulting in an engine you can not start. Fortunately a reconditioned starter motor isn’t expensive.

Water Pump

GTI's over 100,000 km can be prone to a leaky water pump, so ensure that there is no coolant dripping under the passenger side of the car. A replacement water pump isn't expensive but the labor to install one can be.

Drivetrain

Gearbox

A critical weak spot of the GTI is the gearbox.

Ensure that the you can locate all gears and get into them without excessive effort or searching.

Ensure shifts are smooth and not excessively notchy.

Ensure the car does not pop out of gear.

Listen out for any whining noises while in gear.

Analyse gearbox use both when the transmission is cold and warmed up.

Possible remedies:

Gearbox oil change ensuring an appropriate oil is used.

Renewal/recondition of gearbox components such as Synchros, bearings, gears ect. (Expensive)

Clutch Cable

More prone to snapping on high horse power GTI's, if the clutch feels excessively soft or hard and the clutch is not aftermarket (which could explain the later), the clutch cable may be on the way out. Fortunately they are fairly cheap, quick and easy to replace.

Windows

Electric windows are a nice luxury. Until they become problematic that is, which thanks to the engineers at Suzuki, they almost certainly will.

Squealing Windows

A common source of complaint in all swifts is a poor sealing drivers side window although all windows that are used regularly are susceptible.

The major symptom is a loud squealing noise emitted from the top of the window as air passes through. Usually evident at highway speeds of 80km/h or above.

Fine adjustments to the window as you are driving can temporarily minimize the problem but often this simply changes the type and/or pitch of the noise.

Suggested Remedies:

Replacement of the rubber window seals.

Misalignment

Upon the electric window being put up it can at times pop out leaving a gap between window and the rubber door trim. This is not good when it rains! Often this is caused due a to an old and bent window guide which no longer guides the window correctly.

Possible Remedies:

Replacement of the window guiding rails.

Slow movement

The window can take what seems like an eternity to go up. Not good when your in a rush!

Possible Remedies:

Graphite Powder in the window rails

Repair/Renewal of Electric Window Regulator


Interior

If you want a whisper quite car then a GTI may not be for you. Almost everything and anything can rattle in them, especially on a lowered GTI which will usually have a harsher ride.

I have found a lot of the noise comes from a weak rear parcel shelf that particularly when loaded with 6x9 speakers like most GTI stereo setups, will shake, jump, sag and generally create a racket when going over bumps or rough roads. A speaker loaded parcel shelf can eventually break the supports that holds them up and collapse.

Some owners have gone to the extent of lining plastic interior trims with rubber to reduce rattling with good effect. This can be done with rear parcel shelf similarly. There are also fasteners which attach to the boot which can assist in keeping the parcel shelf in place.


Summary Check List

Engine
Noisy hydrolic lifters
Leaking cam/crank seals
Rev Hunting
Faulty AFM &/or oxygen sensor
Worn starter motor
Leaking water pump

Drivetrain
Worn gearbox
Worn clutch cable

Windows
Squeals
Poor alignment
Slow movement

Interior
Rattles


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:45 pm 
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Might be an idea to check for ECU Errors when you are looking at buying a GTi to see if it throws out any codes.

For reference...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:53 pm 
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Nice diagram, alot of error codes arn't exactly common problems though, however might still be good practice to check. Might put it in as a link.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:14 pm 
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Gards wrote:
Nice diagram, alot of error codes arn't exactly common problems though, however might still be good practice to check. Might put it in as a link.


Even tho some of those codes arn't common.. they can show a potentional buyer a hard to spot problem that cant be found using the naked eye.. i think you should put it in

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:33 pm 
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Gards , That was help full . I have noticed 2 of those things in my GTI ...and now i know what the problem is/ was ...Thnaks Alot.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:38 am 
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GTi-Curt wrote:
Gards , That was help full . I have noticed 2 of those things in my GTI ...and now i know what the problem is/ was ...Thnaks Alot.


Great no worries, glad it's already proved helpful! :P Im curious, what 2 problems did you discover...?

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 Post subject: car
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:43 am 
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what about the timing belt ?????

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 Post subject: Re: car
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:08 pm 
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snapper wrote:
what about the timing belt ?????


Prone to snapping or slipping teeth? News to me...

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 Post subject: Re: car
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:10 pm 
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Gards wrote:
snapper wrote:
what about the timing belt ?????


Prone to snapping or slipping teeth? News to me...


Probally a good thing to ask the seller when it was last done...

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 Post subject: Re: car
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:58 pm 
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gtaye wrote:
Gards wrote:
snapper wrote:
what about the timing belt ?????


Prone to snapping or slipping teeth? News to me...


Probally a good thing to ask the seller when it was last done...


Yes and thus fitting under a general car inspection question I would say.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:55 pm 
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Gards wrote:
GTi-Curt wrote:
Gards , That was help full . I have noticed 2 of those things in my GTI ...and now i know what the problem is/ was ...Thnaks Alot.


Great no worries, glad it's already proved helpful! :P Im curious, what 2 problems did you discover...?


Ummm, I Found The Noisy Hydraulic Lifters Problem ...only happens if i dont drive the GTI for a couple of days or so (Cause im on my L's) , and i also found the misalignment of the windows ...but it also possibly could be the fact that someone apparatly "tried" to break into the car via the door . slitghtly bending the frame (well to what the previosu owner told me), whcih is going to be fixed this weekend .

So yeh ..thanks ..all teh other thigns were sweet in my car ...no problems there .


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:51 am 
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Excellent post, now that we have a start.. I will get together a few other things I have written down (and there are a few threads around with common problems) and we can put together an article. :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:23 am 
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What about potential body problems ? For example I have seen a few Mk1's with rust spots around the windscreen and this could be overlooked by a novice buyer if it has been "repaired" with bog.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:04 pm 
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shoudl this be a sticky?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:28 pm 
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embrace wrote:
shoudl this be a sticky?


That was my plan, I still have to add some things and I think Sam (bzchi) wishes to do the same... He also mentioned putting it up as an article but I'll see what he wants...

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:20 pm 
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I just want to add a little bit to that as well...

Common in the engine bay - Check along the fire wall - A lot of the MK1's and early MK2's seem to have holes in the fire wall

Also, with MK1's - out of the 5 I have owned, these are the common problems I've found after I've handed the money over:

1. Check the gearbox mounts
2. The floor - mainly the passangers side. My MK1 & Mk2 both had issues with the floor, one required having the whole floor pan replaced, MK1 someone had attempted to fix it had did more damage than actual repair.

A lot of these are common knowledge but can be forgotten in the hype so a basic run through:

1. Tyres - How much rubber is left and what size are the rims- rims (A MK2/MK3 are stock 14" and in most states its only legal to go 2" oversize so if they are 17" they might cause you issues with roadworthy, MK1's are stock 13") With below 50% you can use as a possible price reducer ;)

2. MAKE SURE YOU TEST DRIVE. Check brakes, clutch has been covered in gards notes, as has gearbox. Just keep in mind 2nd Gear is the worst for a GTi, 99% of the time its the first to go...

3. Tint - is the tint of legal colour (not to dark), mirror tints & shadow tints are illegal in some states

4. Check that all the lights work in the car - tail lights, headlights, fog lights, brake lights, reverse lights & indicators. As much as it "might" just be a fuse or bulb, it could be something more costly as well....

5. Modifications: If it has had mods, has it been engineered? If it hasn't, have it checked by someone to make sure the modifcation will actually pass. Even a pod filter requires engineering in most states, so exercise caution

6. Ring REVS and have the car checked to make sure its clear of finance or you'll be left out of pocket with no car if the collecters come knocking.

7. Engine bay - Check for signs of oil - where its leaking from and how much. Leakage usually isn't a good sign.

8. KM's... A lot of people get totally *&%$%# with this. As your driving or even whilst the car is stationary, check to make sure the numbers line up on the odometor. If its sitting off, this usually means its been tampered with. Whilst you might think your buying a swift with 100,000km's on it, its really done 400,000....

9. Rust. Do a quick visual scan around the car for signs of rust - around the windscreen front/rear, and places the paint has bubbled. If it has a sunroof, check around the seals. MK1's - check around the boot hinges and around the tail lights as its a common bad spot for them. Don't forget to check the floor!

10. Exhaust - Whilst a totally fat sounding swift is awsome :twisted: most of the time its illegal. 90dB is the legal across most states, so if it sounds loud, it probably over legal.

11. As Snapper said about the timing belt - In theory this is supposed to be replaced every 100,000 km's with the pully done every 200,000km's. Usually a sticker will be in the engine bay on the cover to say when it was done, if in doubt just ask the owner.

12. Steering Wheel - If there is an aftermarket steering wheel, make sure that it is a full circle (even if it does have flat bottoms, it can't have no top and or bottom) and that its over 300mm or above in width.

13. Take magnets with you when you go to inspect the car. If it looks like it has been repaired in places, or you in general just want to sus it out, a lot of people are so lazy they just bog things up. Put the magnet on the car, if it doesn't stick, its been bogged in that place. That said, A lot of people now use metal shavings in bog so this is a bit of a hit & miss thing, but usually proper body repairers use metal shaved bog in prep...

14. Doors on MK2/MK3's are quite flimsy. Check where the frame of the window meets the door to for cracking (pull the rubber seal back as well) and also that the top of the door aligns with the roof.

15. Height - 100mm is legal height most states, so if it looks low...

16. Body Kits - I love swifts kitted up, they look tottaly fat :twisted: but ask yourself is it practical for where your going to be driving. I live where there a holes so big in the road they would swallow my swift whole, so living in suburbia might be fine to have a huge kit, living out in sticks means you'll find a fantastic friend in Tokyo race tape or you'll just destroy a front bar a week.

Thats my little add on :D And Happy Swifting :twisted:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:46 pm 
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Good post DFEKT I will add in some points from that. Although there is much we could say about buying cars in general I will be doing my best to keep it focused in regards to particular GTI/swift issues.

This is for pratical reasons. One is that if it were general car issues, we could come up with enough information to fill the entire page of a thread.

A summarised GTI problems list also benefits the potential buyer who already has some car knowledge and needs a relatively quick run down/introduction to GTI purchase without shovelling through a stack of info they already know.

Ofcourse just because something applies to many car types AND the GTI doesn't mean it will be excluded from the list. Problems and their inclusion in the list will be considered case to case.

Maybe in the future and if this info is put in the form of an article or maybe even a webpage we could get some informative images and photos amongst the information. 8)

However this list isn't just for me so let me know what you think.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:33 pm 
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Looking good, great work keeping it on topic for Swift specific. Might be an idea to break it into MK1 and MK2/3.

The waterpump is actually on drivers side, and a good spot to check for coolant is the top of the pump, as it pools here.

Other key things that seem to be missing (unless I missed them), are:

*The boot struts. They are generally always failing by the 75k+ mark.

*The black strips under the rear windows are the greatest indicator of if the car has been parked outside. What seems to happen is, under extreme heat, the rubber underneath expands and cracks the coating on the rubber strip. My first GTi had 120~ on the clock, always garaged and had no cracks in this rubber. I have looked at other GTi's and the rubber is cracking and at time looks 'bubbled' in the strips below the window (and the thing strip that is part of the top of the window. It may not sound major, but the cost to replace is $70~ a side ;)

Don't want to put people off.. the cars aren't lemons by any stretch... but it is interesting when you find out the common problems as the cars age.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:51 pm 
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[quote="shooter"]Might be an idea to check for ECU Errors when you are looking at buying a GTi to see if it throws out any codes.

Please excuse my ignorance as I currently don't have a Suzuki GTi, but I am looking at buying one and I am wondering how you exactly check for these ECU Errors?

As in do you have to connect up a special meter or something to somewhere in the car to be able to read these values? Or does something in the cars dash tell you these values and if so where?

Thanks.

BTW thanks so much for this thread, in helping us new buyers in regards to what to look for when buying a GTi :).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:11 pm 
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This should explain it all :wink:

http://www.redlinegti.com/forum/vth.20756.check+error+codes.htm

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