Kerbsidemotors guide to buying a used Mitsubishi L200
Mitsubishi's L200 is the U.K.'s best selling 4x4 pick up truck. As Mitsubishi have recently introduced a new model there has never been a better time to buy one!
They have become popular as company cars as they are classed as commercial vehicles by the tax man.
However, Mitsubishi were slow to react to demand and as a result there are large numbers of imported vehicles.
Anyway, here is my guide to avoiding the pitfalls, what to go for and what to avoid!
Things you should know before you buy.
Ones with genuine Mitsubishi optional extras are more desirable because of the dealer prices. The parts are usually good quality too.
UK 4x4 L200's are all 2500 turbo diesels from 1999 on (With the exception of the super rare 'Trident' V6 petrol model). If your car has a non turbo, a 2.4 4 cylinder or 3.5 V6 petrol engine or is a 2800 turbo diesel (old shogun engine) or it is an automatic it’s an import.
While Mitsubishi recommend servicing every 9000 miles or every year, an oil change should be done every 3000 miles if you want your turbo to last. Consider inline filters or magnetic sump plugs too. Timing belts must be changed every 54000 miles along with the balancer shaft belt. Best to use Genuine or Gates timing belts.
If you have a later model with the 18 inch 'Le mans' wheels you will need to make sure your tyre fitter has the special equipment to balance them as they can go out of balance by driving over a fag packet!
If you need more than 2 seats but don't want 4 doors, the rare 'Club cab' style has 2 doors and 4 seats.
An L200 was 5th overall on the 2001 Paris-Dakar rally!
There are two types of common faults, like every car! There are the ones that you need to worry about and the ones that don't.
You don't need to worry about...
Crunches between 2nd and 3rd gear.
They all do this if you try and drive it like an Astra! While the public might regard the L200 as a big car, Mitsubishi designed it as a commercial workhorse. This means the gears in the gearbox are heavier, thicker with bigger teeth. As a result they like a bit of time when changing gear. If you try to change too fast all the time, you will get a sore head and shoulder!
Squeaks from rear. L200s have leaf springs on the rear. Similar to those used by Romans on their chariots. Due to their design (thick strips of steel clamped against each other). There is no real cost effective cure for this. Mitsubishi introduced small plastic pads but charge the thick side of £50 for a set. Many people simply saturate the springs in thick grease. This dampens the noise but dirt sticks to the grease and makes very effective abrasive. Not a worry if you don't intend driving the car daily but over time this will weaken the springs and cause the leaves to break (An MOT fail). Best just to turn the stereo up!
Clunk from rear on hard cornering. They all do it! It is just the rear of the chassis shifting on the leaf spring bushes. Doesn't do any harm so Mitsubishi never bothered trying to sort it! If it gets worse though it could be something else. If you have a truckman type top or roller shutter etc. Check it is secure.
Rattle from gearbox when idling. Sometimes goes away if you dip the clutch? That'll be the reverse gear idler rattling then. Does no harm (other than rattle). No real remedy either! The idler needs a certain amount of play otherwise it is difficult to engage due to width of gear.
Temperature gauge rising to red in heavy traffic. Just means it needs a drink! The radiators are very slow fillers so pour slowly, leave it a minute or so then top up. Allow a good 15 mins to top up, squeezing hoses as you go (On the truck!). If it does it when on the motorway or at any other time. Then worry!
Uneven tyre wear at the front. If you’re tracking, ride height, camber and castor are all perfect and you drive like the local vicar your tyres will not wear unevenly but due to the suspensions design, the fact that there are millions of roundabouts on this damn island and its fun to drive fast, your tyres will inevitably wear faster on the outer edge.
Squeak from front brakes. L200s weigh 2500kgs and can do 100mph (if no-one is about!), which tends to squeeze the life out of any brake pad. Mitsubishi used to sell decent ones but they were £70 a set, everyone moaned. So they began selling cheap ones at £30 which are much the same as the ones sold by your local motor factor for £20 but they squeal like fat ladies on a rollercoaster!
Knock from bottom of windscreen on start up. Bonnet hinges have 2 adjustments. Too tight and too slack. If it really annoys you, open the bonnet, grasp the sides and try to move it. If the bonnet moves at the hinges, it needs new ones. If it doesn't bend the stops on the hinges out a bit and slap some grease on. All better. If you just leave it, nothing bad will happen.
Engine management light showing only on hard acceleration Assuming you have checked the boost sensor pipe hasn't fallen off.(The small sensor bolted to the back of the intercooler bracket. Has 1 plug and 1 grey vacuum pipe)The turbo is adjustable. If it is maladjusted when you boot it the boost sensor will grass the turbo into the ECU which restricts the diesel pump and slows you down. To fix, slacken the lock nut and adjust the screw on the side of the turbo. (There are 2,4mm allen bolts locked with 10mm nuts. You want to adjust the top one). Adjust it so it has 9-10 threads fully exposed on the end poking through the bracket.
VDO DAB stereos losing your station. Mitsubishi had the great idea of fitting digital radios to many L200s in about 2004. The idea fell flat on its face when they realised they could not find an aerial that worked! All these stereos do it unless you sit absolutely still every time you listen to the radio! Just remember a handful of CDs when you go out!
Alloy wheels corroding. The 16 inch diamond cut alloys are the worst. They will begin flaking and discolouring even if you shout 'RAIN!' at them. Mitsubishi will 'recondition' them if you meet certain criteria but 'recondition' means send them to be blasted and given a thick coat of almost grey silver paint. Could do better with a tin of hammerite. If you get them refinished yourself, the guy will probably warn you they won't last that long.
Rear end sliding about in the wet. It is because you are driving too fast in a powerful vehicle with very little weight over the back wheels. Try driving slower round roundabouts or make the most of it and get your mate with a camcorder...doesn't matter!
Things to worry about.
No airbag or engine management light when ignition on. Means someone has removed the bulb (or worse, the module!) to disguise expensive faults.
Blue smoke on acceleration. Means either your valve stem oil seals are dead (parts cheap but involves removing cylinder head) or knackered turbo (get one from a reputable reconditioner. Mitsubishi one costs £1,000,000ish. One from scrap yard will probably as bad as your own)
Heavy knock from top of engine.
If you are very lucky one of the small spacers between the rocker and camshaft will have fallen out. But if you are just an average Joe, this will be the pistons smacking the cylinder head due to wear on the big end bearings. New short motor and cylinder head needed to fix.
Crankshaft pulley slack.
The crankshaft bolt MUST be tightened to 175nM. If it isn't it shakes out partially then snaps flush. Not good. When this happens the pulley moves about and wears the woodruff key into the pulley and crankshaft. Changing the crankshaft isn't a 5 minute job. If you have one of these engines in bits you can get a modified washer and lock tab to stop this happeing.
Having to buy anything from Mitsubishi. Never buy anything you can get on eBay or from your local motor factor from Mitsubishi. Parts prices from the dealer are amazingly expensive. I checked before writing this and they will gladly take £500 off you for a rear leaf spring (Recon from partco £200) Rear differential £2000 (exchange!) Rear lamp cluster £85. Oil filter £15.
4x4 light flashing for more than 30 seconds when you are driving. While the cause may be nothing more dramatic than a vacuum hose adrift, diagnosis is a time consuming specialist job as there are so many individual things it could be.
Ones with a new tailgate. What happened to the old one? Not particularly susceptible to corrosion so why has it been changed? Probably a much abused example. Be suspicious of new load liners in old trucks too!
If you are buying one from eBay, view it first. The L200 seems to be one of those vehicles that attracts scammers. If the seller doesn't answer your questions or can't let you see it don't buy it!
The L200 has a very active owners club. (They regularly email and point out my typos in this guide!) I cannot place a link for them here but their website is easily findable with Google or Yahoo. (Only a tenner to join at the moment too!)
We hope this has opened your eyes on what to look out for when buying the best value for money 4x4 workhorse.
If you didn't like it or think there is something wrong, please email me!