Launched in 1999 to replace the leaf sprung Samurai SJ410 and SJ413 models the Jimny is only available with the 1300 16v (M13a)
engine similar to the one found in later Swift and Ignis models. They are available in Manual 5 speed or uneconomical automatics. Diesels are available as imports with a 1500 engine but I’ve yet to see one!
The JLX is the luxury one with electric mirrors and windows, roof bars and comfy seats.
Suzukis Jimny is a popular choice for those who want a 4x4 without the running costs. They are small, easy to drive and reliable which makes them popular with female drivers.
At the other end of the spectrum because of its short wheelbase, high ground clearance and proven mechanics many off roaders and Greenlaners respect the Jimny. Jimny's have vacuum-locking hubs that allow the vehicle to be shifted from 2WD to 4WD while travelling at up to 62mph.
As with most Suzukis there are few things that go wrong with them compared to other marques so please do not assume everything I mention will go wrong with yours!
Kingpins! Front kingpins wear quite rapidly if you do a lot of town driving or have big alloy wheels fitted. If they are worn the car will feel unstable above 40mph. You may feel/hear a clunk from the front under braking or turning too. They are easily replaced by any competent home mechanic but non-Suzuki repair kits are rare so the dealer might be the only source that can be expensive. Should you need to replace them you will need 2 kingpins, 2 bearings, 1 large seal and 1 large seal steel ring per side. You do not need to strip the hub as the driveshaft assembly slides out of the axle casing when you remove the old kingpins.
Alloy wheel woes. If your Jimny is fitted with the large 3 spoke Suzuki alloy wheels (the ones that have an almost triangular section in the middle) you will probably have wheel balance problems at 40mph+. It is a design fault as the wheels buckle when tightened. Not as scary as it sounds but it means if you balance the wheels when you tighten them they distort rendering them unbalanced. You could approach your dealer and complain but 9 times out of 10 if they fit new wheels they will be the same. The wheel bolt pattern is the same as the Vitara and countless other small Japanese 4x4s so fitting a different set will not be a problem. Just be careful the wheels do not rub the brake or suspension stuff when the car is on the ground. (Saw that happen before!)
Soft tops. If you have a Jimny with the soft-top do not remove it thinking it will simply fall back on. Refitting the soft top is a tricky and irritating task. When I worked in a Suzuki dealership, in summer we would easily get 2 a week in that the owner had booked in because they could not refit the top! The solution? 1. Fit a removable hard top, expensive. Or 2. Using the press studs start at the rear, pop them all in so you are left with the top 2 on the driver’s side. Wrap a piece of single core cable round the outer face of the stud and pull while a friend pushes the top. It genuinely works!
Servicing. If you do your own servicing or use a non-dealer make sure they change the oil in the front and rear axles every 9000 miles. The axles like regular fresh oil changes with 75w80 gear oil. Otherwise they wear and gear changes/moving off becomes noisy. Every 36,000 miles when the gearbox and transfer box oil needs changed remember that they are separate and each of them requires an oil change.
Poor gear change. The Jimny has a 4x4 gearbox as you would expect. The gears are wider and the teeth coarser than you would find in a car so if you drive it like an Astra the gears will crunch and clunk occasionally but if it becomes unacceptable try changing the gearbox oil and adding some power steering additive (from most accessory shops)
Jamming in 4x4 low gear. This solution was told to me by a Suzuki GB employee. It is very rough but amazingly effective. It has worked every time for me but it still frightens me! Move the selector to 2wd, drive forward in first gear about 100 yards quite fast then select reverse while still rolling forwards. Reverse quite fast, select reverse while rolling backwards and nail the throttle. There! Try 2wd, 4x4 hi and 4x4 lo and it should work perfectly.
Trailing arm bushes. I have seen cars fail their MOT because these bushes have perished or split but it might be in your interests to point out to the tester that they can only fail the MOT if there is excess play caused by this. A split or perished bush with no excess play is not a reason for rejection. On the other hand I have saw cars fail on excess play even though the bushes have looked fine. You check them by shoving a big lever in above them and levering against them Shock absorber rubbers suffer the same treatment.
Front brakes. There is no point in pretending, the Jimny has rubbish front brakes! Despite their size they are still pretty heavy and the front callipers are a bit puny. If you are hard on the brakes the discs warp in no time. Not really any solution here. At the other end of the scale, if you use your Jimny as a toy and only drive it occasionally the discs rust and pit faster than most cars (dunno why) Either drive it round the block every now and then or be light on the brakes until the pads have cleared the rust off otherwise they will warp. Because of the brake and suspension set up these cars show up as having a brake imbalance on the Mot brake tester more often than other cars so before Mot time strip the front brakes, clean, grease and rebuild them.
Off road problems. There are a few problems that only really come to light if you use your Jimny off road.
Sticking/rough clutch cable. Usually caused by dirt getting into the outer cable and causing the inner cable to fray/wear faster than it should.
Load sensing valve. At the back the load sensing valve spring becomes jammed up with mud or the valve seizes due to being packed in mud. It might preserve stone age man but it does not work the same with load sensing valves.
Modifications. If you have fitted big tyres make sure they do not rub on your suspension. If you jack the suspension up make sure the brake pipes are not under strain at full lift.
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Suzuki Jimny buyers guide by micrabits
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30 March 2010
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