1991 Daihatsu Rocky 1.6 fuel injected petrol


Good and light on the wallet


Leaf spring bushings needed replacing.

Auto 4wd hubs seized up - replaced - $80.

Rear diff was making an annoying but harmless clunking noise - purchased a salvaged one for only $250 and changed it myself.

Makes a high pitch whistling noise above 3 thousand revs - could be the exhaust or a vacuum hose.

General Comments:

An extremely reliable vehicle. These little Rockys often outperform other small trucks such as Suzuki Vitaras because of their strong engine and heavily built chassis. They also have a larger fuel tank which can be useful for a achieving a greater range.

I have not had a single problem with the engine yet apart from a rough idle which was cured by cleaning out the throttle body.

I have been on a few long trips with the Rocky including a few roads that climb high into the Urewera ranges. The car didn't have a single complaint and was great on fuel. I have also towed a moderately sized boat quite a distance on the road; the MPG decreases significantly, but it still trucks along (slowly on the hills).

It's definitely not the most comfortable vehicle on the road, especially at highway speeds, I usually drive at 90kmh as it keeps the revs down, increasing fuel economy. Off-road the performance is quite good, although having mud tyres would improve it a lot.

These trucks are known to make it past the 300,000km mark, so they will look after you for quite a while.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th July, 2016

1991 Daihatsu Rocky SX HD EG 1.6 EFI 4 cylinder


Versatile, well built, reliable small SUV


Fuel breather valve above filler cap in cabin cracked and needed gluing to stop a fuel smell in the car. Common fault on these.

Radiator top tank cracked, needed fixing.

Whistling noise in exhaust, a bit annoying, but doesn't affect reliability etc.

Otherwise, nothing.

General Comments:

Very well built, heavy construction, chassis underneath. Well made for going off road. Not the fastest thing on the open road, but is very capable off road.

High and Low ratio gearing, and the sunroof tilts or comes off, and the entire rear of the roof can be taken off. Very versatile car.

Tows well, even though it's just 1600cc.

Would love another one, but they seem to have gone up in value lately!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th June, 2010

1984 Daihatsu Rocky DX 2.8 diesel


Noisy, slow, harsh-riding but incredibly faithful, reliable and surprisingly economical


51k (12 years) : Coolant leaking from RHS of cylinder head gasket – turned out to be corrosion around water passages in head and block caused by infrequent replacement of coolant. Treated with Bars Leaks over a prolonged period.

78k. Broken exhaust bracket re-welded.

92,000 km. (2002) Steering damper leaking oil - I just removed it and have not replaced it.

102k. Replaced water pump - bearings worn out.

112k (20y). Starter motor overhauled.

142k. Oil seepage from transmission and transfer case - re-tightened all flange bolts and all seems to be OK.

144 k (23y). Rear brake shoes worn out & replaced. Front pads and disks still original!

155k (23y). Replaced head light reflectors due to corrosion inside- made a big improvement.

General Comments:

I don’t need a 4WD but I inherited this from my late father in 1993. He towed his caravan with it and really liked it. From the side it is good looking vehicle-classic 4WD lines enhanced by the raised white resin top. It looks very tall and narrow from the front or rear however- I presume this reflects the Japanese attitude to wide cars of that era.

My first impressions were that the diesel engine noise and harsh ride were unacceptable. I observed that later model Rockys had more sound deadening, so I removed the entire dashboard and stuck sound-deadening foam on the firewall- not a trivial job. I also put sound deadening foam under the bonnet. It made a noticeable improvement, although it is still a noisy vehicle.

I assumed that the harsh ride was because of the short-travel leaf springs, but removing the standard KYB shock absorbers revealed that they were responsible for much of the harshness. They may have protected the vehicle but they didn’t do much for the occupants. Fitting Konis made a big improvement, but of course it is still a primitive suspension. The manufacturers recommend low tyre pressures of 20-23 psi presumably to soften the ride. I run them at 25-28 psi, as without power-assistance for the steering, the effort is too heavy at lower tyre pressures.

Despite having a ladder frame chassis, there is quite a lot of body flexing, and the spare tyre mounted in the middle of the back door didn’t help. Later models have shifted the spare wheel closer to the hinges (they also had support struts fitted inside for the side pillar), so I had some modified brackets constructed to do this, and to lower it at the same time to improve rear vision. This worked fine although it meant moving the number plate to the opposite side. While I was at it I had a roll bar fitted (again like later models have) so that proper lap-sash seat belts could be fitted to the side positions in the back. I also had the rear squab raised and head rests fitted to offer at least some protection to the back passengers.

I note the complaints reported about the front seat frames on Rockys, but I guess mine has only had light use, so there have been no structural failures. The wire support frame underneath the front cushions did cut into them badly however, which was remedied by fitting carpet under them. Lumbar support was poor so a bit of extra padding was added there as well.

The gradual coolant leakage from the RHS of the head gasket has been a problem. I removed the head thinking it was a cylinder head gasket problem but it turns out that it was caused by corrosion around the water passage openings in both the head - these passages are quite close to the outside on the RHS of the engine. My father had owned the car for 9 years before he died, but had not done the 40k stipulated as the change interval. He obviously had not read the bit about 2 years/40k whichever occurs sooner. I presume the coolant had turned corrosive. I just bolted down a new gasket and used Bars Leaks to try to stop the leaks, but eventually decided it might be better to do without it. Loss has remained modest, but coolants without ethylene glycol anti-freeze seem to leak less. If the corroded metal can be replaced I will have the head and block fixed, but it will be a major job.

Fuel consumption and power improved noticeably after running an injector cleaner in the vehicle - I used BP Diesel GO which is added with every fill up, and it took several years for the full benefits to occur). Commuting gives 8.7 lt/100 km (32.3 mpg) and the best I have had on a trip was 7.7 lt/100 km (36.6 mpg). Pretty good for a heavy (1600 kg) vehicle with no aerodynamics, although of course terminal speeds don’t go much over 90 km/hr/. Performance is not a word that I would associate with diesel Rockys, but they do pull a load very well.

I am constantly surprised that there is no sign of deterioration in the radiator or heater hoses, which are original (24 years old). I fitted a coolant level alarm and bought spare hoses just in case. One design failing is the self-adjusting mechanism on the rear drum brakes- they simply don’t work. Adjusting them manually is not all that difficult once you work out how to do it, and it makes a noticeable improvement on the hand brake. I am also surprised that I have had no problems with the fuel pump seals following the introduction of low-sulfur diesel fuel.

All in all just a very faithful vehicle which will outlast me.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st November, 2008