I will admit to avoiding major mechanical work whenever I can. Simply put I don’t like going into engines any deeper than changing spark plugs. Yet even I know that you cannot avoid going into the bowels sometimes.
Having not changed a cambelt in more years than I care to admit, it was time to enter the dark bowels of the Vitara and changed it for peace of mind. Having a friend with not just the tools but more importantly the knowledge as well I decided to do it there. Sadly, my friend was called into work that Saturday morning and I was left to my own devices in an alien workshop. With a deep breath, I started to remove the radiator. Avoiding the face full of antifreeze as the bottom hose was released. Normally I would try from the top but sadly, in this case, it was better from under the Vitara. The cooling van was unbolted to allow the radiator shroud past. With this done, it simply became a question of removing the power steering belt and the water pump/ alternator one. Then off came the cambelt cover with the aid of an air gun. At this point and with a sense of panic I decided to change the rocker box cover.
Of course with that off, I then decided to check the valve clearances and promptly got stuck as the feeler gauge was nowhere to be found. So now I had two jobs halfway finished and my friend was still at work…
After a cup of tea and a quick check on YouTube, I decided to carry on with the cambelt.
Checking the timing marks, the old belt came off and then my friend turned up.
With the immortal words, “that now will be easy” the new belt and tensioner turned out to be a complete sod to put on. Then with the cover on and after struggling to find the right feeler gauges, I checked the valve clearances. There was one too tight and a couple a little loose, but mostly they seemed fine. When doing this I was turning over the using the crank pulley bolt and a socket. The benefit of doing is that I knew that after the cambelt change nothing was going to interfere with each other. The new gasket was put on with a fine smear of normal grease to help seal it. After that, it was a question of reassembly.
My friend with more years of experience than we both care to admit made a rooky mistake by saying that refitting the radiator would be a simple job… 20 minutes later and with my head under the front valance the radiator was finally in place. The joy of old cars is that sometimes a difficult job will be easy and an easy job, well less said about the better.
With everything finally done and with a sense of relief the Tugg started and settled down her high idle.