Q: Engine started exhibiting sputter noise. 2003 Suzuki Vitara

asked by on

After a trip of 1700 miles, the engine started a putter sound like an old lawn mower. On the trip, the car did fine the first 850 miles, but then there was no coolant in the reservoir and I filled it up to full (did not overfill it). It drove fine the trip back home. It was two days later when the engine started the putter noise. When this happened, I released the gas pedal and then did not hear anything. I coasted home for 5 blocks, not accelerating. When looking under that hood, I saw coolant sprayed along the backside of the engine by the firewall. The coolant reservoir was completely empty. I did not hear any knocking noises, but I thought the engine might be blown. I have never heard this type of sound come from an engine before. I’m thinking it might be a head gasket. What is your assessment and diagnosis of the problem?

Hello there. This is an uncommon issue on the 2003 Suzuki Vitara. With coolant leaks such as you have had, the biggest concern is overheating of the vehicle. If the problem is detected and resolved before the engine overheats then there are usually no issues. If the engine overheats, then it is possible to damage the cooling system or head gasket. You did not state whether the car has overheated at all or if the temperature gauge is reading high at all.

When the head gasket is damaged or failing it allows the coolant and oil to mix together. The result is the oil becoming chunky and thick and the coolant can turn a brownish color. It is possible that the head gasket is damaged, but I can’t say one way or the other without a visual inspection. There are tests that can be performed by qualified technician in order to diagnose the sputtering noise you’ve observed and let you know how this can be corrected.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Engine started exhibiting sputter noise. 2003 Suzuki Vitara

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Crackling, grinding noise coming from the front.

As you are guessing, yes, the noise could be due to wear or a failure in the transmission or differential. A trained mechanic will sometimes be able to "source" the noise simply on inspection, once he or she hears it....

Q: The car accelerates with delay

Hi there. This can be caused by a number of things. Since the dealership installed a scan tool and didn't see any codes then it must not be a sensor failure. I typically start by checking the back pressure of...

Q: gas mileage difference 383 stroker motor 400 hp or ls3 computeried 400 hp same car

The gas mileage attained in either of these applications will depend heavily on your driving habits as you may already know. Either of these will also depend heavily on the type of intake system you are using to arrive at...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...