Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF
Gas mileage From:

I had a luggage rack installed. Gas mileage won't break 20mpg hwy. I assume it is the rack holding me back. Is this true? Does anyone know where I can find a good cover for it when not in use?

--Joe Wagner

Yes, it will decrease your mileage because your vehicle is less aerodynamic. However, there are other factors which effect fuel economy such as your driving habits and speed. (i.e. you'll get lower mpg if you travel at 80mph than at 70mph) As far as getting a cover, I'd inquire at the place you obtained the rack.

--Jonathan Hall

Performance From:

I have a '95 Sidekick and want (probably like everyone else) more power. I've put a K&N filter and Autotech Q-Chip (performance chip) on my other car and that's given me much more noticeable power. Is there something like this available for Sidekicks?

--Adam Peirce

If you want more power at a low cost, I'd look at a header. The Doug Thorley Header is smog legal and you'll notice a 5-10% increase in power just from its addition. I don't know if a Samurai header will work but you can call Petroworks Off-Road Products or Victory Engineering and I'm sure they would know.

--Jonathan Hall

Calmini Products Manufacturing also sells a header, performace exhaust, supercharger and Mikuni carb for the Sidekick.

--Scott Gomez
Petroglyph Computing
Suzuki Editor,

1.6 liter burning oil From:

I own a 1988 Samurai with a 1.6 liter Sidekick motor. The engine has 180 lb. compression on all 4 cylinders. I purchased the motor from a Samurai/Sidekick salvage yard and they said it came out of a '91 vehicle with 33k on the odometer. I notice when it is cold it blows blue smoke but that this resolves to no smoke when the engine warms up. It seems to use a quart of oil every 3 tanks of gas and I get 22 mpg, so about every 700 miles. It does not blow smoke on the highway or when I deccelerate. In all other ways it seens to run well, plenty of horsepower, etc. When I spoke with Mario at Victory Engineering he said it sounds like I have a stuck oil ring on one of the cylinders.

My question is then: Can I just pull the pistons and replace the oil rings without doing a major overhaul at his time? This would only put my vehicle down for a long day or two. I have owned several Suzuki products and oil rings seem to be the weak link in the engine in all of them. I heard the same for Geo Metros. I will need to smog next year and it will not pass if burning oil.

Also when I did the engine change I noticed that the engine seemed to tilt more to the rear. Could this be causing me to overfill my oil by one quart and having the overfill slipping by the rings? When it is down a quart it seems to burn less oil at start-up.

The gas mileage seems low; I hear about 33mpg Zukes, but the only time mine approached 28-30 mpg was when it was bone stock with stock tires, and it would not break 65 mph. I run tires two sizes over stock with a Rocklobster and Lockrite in the rear. I have a Weber Carb and Jacobs Ignition. It's a lot more fun now! I think the speedo is off about 10%. Do you think aggressive tires really eat more fuel?


There's an engine rebuild kit for the Sidekick and Geo Tracker 1.6 liter available from Calmini Products Manufacturing. It's available in standard bore as well as .020 and .040 over. Kits are $649.95.

--Scott Gomez
Petroglyph Computing
Suzuki Editor,

Engine swap From:

I have an '89 Sidekick JX that I have driven 174,000 miles on so far. I've replaced the head and pipes, and kept up on the maintenance, but she's starting to show her age engine-wise. She uses about a quart of oil every 600 miles, and when it's cold, blows blue smoke like a bug sprayer.

My question, can anyone tell me of other engines that fit this vehicle? She's still in good shape body-wise, and I would like to keep her, but a new block costs an arm and three legs, so I was wondering if there were any swaps that anyone knew of for this truck?


I don't have info on other engines to fit, but I can tell you there's an engine rebuild kit for the Sidekick and Geo Tracker 1.6 liter available from Calmini Products Manufacturing. It's available in standard bore as well as .020 and .040 over. Kits are $649.95.

--Scott Gomez
Petroglyph Computing
Suzuki Editor,

V-6 engine From:

Hi, I presently own a Suzuki Sidekick JLX with the 1600cc 16-valve engine. I have owned the vehicle for two years and am very pleased with it. My third Suzuki product in ten years. Whilst holidaying in Australia, I noticed that the Vitara was available with a V-6 engine. Could you tell me whether this option will be available in North America in the not too distant future?

The 2.0 liter V6 currently does not meet US emissions. If you look at the Suzuki Australian clubs' web pages you'll see that Geoff Mason has posted something on the new Suzuki engines. There is a new 2.5 liter (possibly based on the 2.0 but revised to meet US emissions) and a 2.0 liter four (possibly based on the 1.8 twin cam already in the US). The four looks very promising as it has about 130 horses and torque to match; they are putting them in two-door sidekicks in Australia so maybe they'll do it in North America. No word yet on when they'll be here.

--Jonathan Hall Newsletter
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