DIY Valve clearance inspection
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Thread: DIY Valve clearance inspection

  1. #1
    Very Active Member Acquitted's Avatar
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    Default DIY Valve clearance inspection

    PSA for anyone thinking about doing their own valve clearance inspection:

    My 2008 is nearing 20K miles, and to be on the safe side, I decided to check the valve clearances. My local dealer quoted $480 to do this, plus the cost of replacing any shims if necessary. I said "HA! I've got some tools and a heated garage and some vacation time coming up and I need to change the plugs anyways, I'll keep my $480 and do it myself". I didn't say that out loud, but I was thinking it.

    So I did it.

    Of course I read all the threads in here first, and have come to the conclusion that most people in this forum who claim to have done it themselves are liars (especially the guy who said "it takes about an hour"). I also used the Suzuki technical manual, and the authors of that thing are liars too.

    So, as a public service, here are my key lessons learned:

    First, the manual neglects to mention the hose clamps holding the air box onto the TB. Find those and loosen them, you'll need a long 3.0mm Allen key. The manual also neglects to mention a coupler housing at the bottom front of the air box. Don't try to disconnect the hoses and wires, you will fail, just use a screwdriver to take the whole assembly off.

    Second, there is not nearly enough clearance to take the valve covers off easily. For the #1 cylinder, wiring harnesses on the frame will block you, and for the #2 cylinder, a huge coolant hose runs between the frame and the valve cover with almost zero clearance. For #1, a lot of strong handed manipulation is required but it's possible to get the cover off. For #2, I found no other option but to drain the coolant and disconnect the offending hose at the top, near the coolant filler cap, and move it out of the way.

    Thirdly, the valve cover gasket seats in the cover, but is also connected to the head with two half-moon shape appendages on the chain side (port side in front, starboard in back) . After you have the cover loose, you need to pull the half moon things off straight up off the head. This takes a firm hand. Be sure to do this before moving the cover too far, or risk breaking the rubber band gasket. Installation is the reverse of removal, but even more complicated because you also need to guide the gasket lobes independently of the cover, while simultaneously keeping the rest of the gasket seated as you go. It might take a few tries.

    Lastly, getting the air box back on the TB is difficult, it's like trying to fit a rubber glove on someone else's hand in the dark, while their fingers are splayed out. I found that getting the front side on first, then trying to manipulate the back side worked best (or at least, was the only way that worked for me at all). Be sure the hose clamps are pointing in the right direction before you start.

    From the time I started to remove the air box to the time I got it reinstalled was about 9 hours, but that includes my normal leisurely pace and several occasions where I'd pause to do something else for a few minutes when I reached a point of frustration. Knowing what I know now, beginning to end, I still see this as a 3-4 hour project.

    Thankfully, all valve clearances were in spec, so I didn't need to swap any shims. I guess the peace of mind is worth the time and scraped knuckles. ?

    Hopefully someone finds this helpful!

    2008 C109RT - ISO grips, K&N Air Filter, NOS exhaust and filter housings, rebuilt driver seat.
    Hammertone powder coat on fenders and tank.
    Plastidip rear frame, sissy bar, side frame covers, and windshield hardware.

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  3. #2
    Very Active Member BIG MIKE 109R's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your recommendations and experience. My M109 is my first bike and I was skeptical about working on it. Like you also, I've researched information on this forum and now do my own repairs. I'm not sure if I'm ready to tackle the valve clearance inspection yet with 51K miles on her. Time will tell....

    JESUS IS LORD! 2008 Candy Max Orange Debeavered, Yana Shiki 2" bones, Grasshopper backrest, V&H Big Shots, Dunlop Elite-3 250 rear, Dunlop D251 150 front, LED brake lights, micro brite rear turn signals, Arlen Ness billet chrome grips, smoothie rear fender, ATRE, Wolo horn, Scorp motor mounts, Gel seat, Chrome M109R derby cover, A&R 6K HID.
    I fly low, those who fly low, fly long! BIG MIKE

  4. #3
    Very Active Member M109Dreamer's Avatar
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    I havent checked mine. But did have the dealer check them at 10k and Im now at 50k miles. I did have to replace my front valve cover gasket because it was leaking a while back. Had simar issues as you did. With the main air box, I left all of the tubin and sensors on it and removed as 1 piece. I didnt reuse my valve cover gasket because it was already leaking. But I think that was due to the dealer not torquing the cover in sequence but cant prove it. Hell, the covers even have numbers on them to tell you the sequence. The half moon portion of the gasket is what blew me. As to why? But then as read more of the manual Im guess its so you can take the cams out without pulling the whole motor, who knows?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk

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  6. #4
    Very Active Member Acquitted's Avatar
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    Damn, I didn't know what those numbers were for, LOL. Thankfully, my tank is still off, I just loosened them and redid them in the right order.

    2008 C109RT - ISO grips, K&N Air Filter, NOS exhaust and filter housings, rebuilt driver seat.
    Hammertone powder coat on fenders and tank.
    Plastidip rear frame, sissy bar, side frame covers, and windshield hardware.

  7. #5
    Very Active Member Acquitted's Avatar
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    As an aside, I was talking with a wrench at the dealer a few days ago, while standing in front of a VStrom. I noticed that it had the same half-moon gasket for the valve covers. I told him of my experience, he said that the factory uses silicone on that part of the gasket due to high risk for leaks (which explains the difficulty in getting it off).

    Suzuki issued guidance to dealers to do the same when re-installing valve covers, which is not mentioned in the big book.

    I didn't do this, so will be keeping an eye out for leaks this summer. Ugh.

    2008 C109RT - ISO grips, K&N Air Filter, NOS exhaust and filter housings, rebuilt driver seat.
    Hammertone powder coat on fenders and tank.
    Plastidip rear frame, sissy bar, side frame covers, and windshield hardware.

  8. #6
    Very Active Member M109Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acquitted View Post
    As an aside, I was talking with a wrench at the dealer a few days ago, while standing in front of a VStrom. I noticed that it had the same half-moon gasket for the valve covers. I told him of my experience, he said that the factory uses silicone on that part of the gasket due to high risk for leaks (which explains the difficulty in getting it off).

    Suzuki issued guidance to dealers to do the same when re-installing valve covers, which is not mentioned in the big book.

    I didn't do this, so will be keeping an eye out for leaks this summer. Ugh.
    Tje manual does mention about putting sealant around the half moon pieces in the manual. Its in a pic, Ill see if I can find it.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk

  9. #7
    Very Active Member M109Dreamer's Avatar
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    Found it.


    I didnt use Suzuki stuff. I believe I used the permatex Ultra Black if I rememeber. Its been a few years

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk

  10. #8
    Very Active Member Acquitted's Avatar
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    Wow, that is totally different from the VLR1800 manual I'm working from (you have a VZR book). I checked every where that head covers were mentioned, nothing about adding sealant. You must have a newer version.
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    2008 C109RT - ISO grips, K&N Air Filter, NOS exhaust and filter housings, rebuilt driver seat.
    Hammertone powder coat on fenders and tank.
    Plastidip rear frame, sissy bar, side frame covers, and windshield hardware.

  11. #9
    Very Active Member M109Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acquitted View Post
    Wow, that is totally different from the VLR1800 manual I'm working from (you have a VZR book). I checked every where that head covers were mentioned, nothing about adding sealant. You must have a newer version.
    My version is an old version I believe (2008 or 09)? Funny I have never looked at a C manual. Im suprised that a lot of the info that might be diff.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk

  12. #10

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    Doin my 3rd m109 valve adjustment, 1.on my 2nd M109, it's still a lot of work.

    Another recommendation,

    take of the exhaust (6bolts, 4plugs), in order to access the rear can chain tensioner,

    The manual defines left and right by looking at the bike from the front, in my place we define left and right by driving direction, so just vice versa =>, cost me 1h detour with the valve covers,...

  13. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Acquitted View Post
    PSA for anyone thinking about doing their own valve clearance inspection:

    My 2008 is nearing 20K miles, and to be on the safe side, I decided to check the valve clearances. My local dealer quoted $480 to do this, plus the cost of replacing any shims if necessary. I said "HA! I've got some tools and a heated garage and some vacation time coming up and I need to change the plugs anyways, I'll keep my $480 and do it myself". I didn't say that out loud, but I was thinking it.

    So I did it.

    Of course I read all the threads in here first, and have come to the conclusion that most people in this forum who claim to have done it themselves are liars (especially the guy who said "it takes about an hour"). I also used the Suzuki technical manual, and the authors of that thing are liars too.

    So, as a public service, here are my key lessons learned:

    First, the manual neglects to mention the hose clamps holding the air box onto the TB. Find those and loosen them, you'll need a long 3.0mm Allen key. The manual also neglects to mention a coupler housing at the bottom front of the air box. Don't try to disconnect the hoses and wires, you will fail, just use a screwdriver to take the whole assembly off.

    Second, there is not nearly enough clearance to take the valve covers off easily. For the #1 cylinder, wiring harnesses on the frame will block you, and for the #2 cylinder, a huge coolant hose runs between the frame and the valve cover with almost zero clearance. For #1, a lot of strong handed manipulation is required but it's possible to get the cover off. For #2, I found no other option but to drain the coolant and disconnect the offending hose at the top, near the coolant filler cap, and move it out of the way.

    Thirdly, the valve cover gasket seats in the cover, but is also connected to the head with two half-moon shape appendages on the chain side (port side in front, starboard in back) . After you have the cover loose, you need to pull the half moon things off straight up off the head. This takes a firm hand. Be sure to do this before moving the cover too far, or risk breaking the rubber band gasket. Installation is the reverse of removal, but even more complicated because you also need to guide the gasket lobes independently of the cover, while simultaneously keeping the rest of the gasket seated as you go. It might take a few tries.

    Lastly, getting the air box back on the TB is difficult, it's like trying to fit a rubber glove on someone else's hand in the dark, while their fingers are splayed out. I found that getting the front side on first, then trying to manipulate the back side worked best (or at least, was the only way that worked for me at all). Be sure the hose clamps are pointing in the right direction before you start.

    From the time I started to remove the air box to the time I got it reinstalled was about 9 hours, but that includes my normal leisurely pace and several occasions where I'd pause to do something else for a few minutes when I reached a point of frustration. Knowing what I know now, beginning to end, I still see this as a 3-4 hour project.

    Thankfully, all valve clearances were in spec, so I didn't need to swap any shims. I guess the peace of mind is worth the time and scraped knuckles. ?

    Hopefully someone finds this helpful!
    So the powder coat you put on is a unique color then? Is that brown? Pretty color! I’ve only seen the black and burgundy solid 2008 colors

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