1990 Lada Niva


Brilliant - a highly capable 4-wheel drive


Steering stalk assembly replaced.

Clutch plate replaced twice.

Three complete sets of tyres.

Brakes twice.

Heater failed after two years.

Windows didn't wind up and down well.

Check your seat mounts often if you travel over a lot of rough terrain.

General Comments:

In mud with the original Russian tyres they are unbeatable, especially with the diff lock engaged.

You need broader and lower tyre pressure for work on sand.

Engine is quick and responsive, need to use revs when working the car hard.

Body is strong and durable... don't be frightened to go where more expensive units cringe at tackling the terrain, the Niva will come through unmarked.

Maximum speed is about 120 k/ph and she'll just about do it in all conditions and here lies the Niva's one and only fault. The car travels so well on poor tracks it doesn't convey the condition of the road to the driver. Its all wheel drives gives instant corrective stability.

Cabin is a bit sparse, but it is after all a four wheel drive and designed for that purpose.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st August, 2007

1992 Lada Niva Quadro 1.6L


Brilliant concept that reflects a REAL 4x4!


The gearbox was noisy, due to a faulty bearing. The car had a 3 month warranty, and the dealer rectified the problem.

Original electronic ignition module failed, and was replaced with a Bosch unit.

Headlight beams needed re-adjusting - too low.

Rear stop light - in one tail-light - was not working.

Steering was quite heavy. Previous owner had fitted wide alloy wheels, plus steering adjustment nut had been set too tight.

Plastic trim alongside clutch pedal was cracked and had broken away. There is not much clearance between this side panel and the pedal - on a R.H.S. drive Niva.

A number of small niggling problems like rattles from the plastic interior trim panels - which I fixed myself by inserting small strips of double-sided tape into the crevices where the panels were not flush with the bodywork.

General Comments:

Apart from some minor faults, the Niva is extremely well made.

It is a strong, "no frills", go anywhere vehicle - in other words, a true 4x4! It is not pretentious nor is it loaded up with unnecessary gimmickry.

The Niva has incredible torque, and when in 1st. gear, in low range, and with the diff. lock engaged, it will literally "walk vertically up a tree" - well, almost.

On the open road, the Niva will cruise all day in 5th. gear, in high range, at speeds of up to 120-130km./hr. However, it does get quite noisy at these speeds, and some extra sound-proofing should have been a consideration in the design.

The Niva is inexpensive to run and service, and above all, it is extremely reliable. Not a car for everyone, however. More suited to buyers who have some basic mechanical knowledge and skills. Most Niva owners do their own maintenance and servicing. Parts are accessible and cheap.

My current car is a later model Niva (1.7L), and has been thoroughly reliable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st October, 2006

14th Dec 2006, 14:59

Nice review... I love Nivas.

1997 Lada Niva Bushman 1.7 injected


Good car so far, great offroad


Does anyone know why my Niva has got a vibration in 5th gear when traveling between 100-120km/h?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 12th September, 2006

9th Oct 2006, 10:11

Remember the gearbox & transfer case are TWO separate items that have a rubber drive link between them. That rubber item can deteriorate over time causing excessive vibration. Plus you are heading to the plateau of speed for that unit too! Also, watch out for the backing out of the nut on the end of the engagement fork for the 5th gear, usually indicated by "jumping out" of 5th gear (a tear-down fix of the gearbox). I hope this "helps."


Calgary, AB Canada.

11th Apr 2007, 22:25

5th gear problems may also be due to insufficient lubrication. The manual states 1.35L for the 4 speed box, and 1.55L for the 5 speed box. I advise 1.8 - 2.O Litres transmission oil in the 5 speed box. The car will also run quieter. You can tilt the car to one side, using a ramp under the front wheel, in order to accomodate the extra oil. Use a large syringe with a plastic tube attached, to fill the gearbox (using the top inspection/filling hole). Easy.

What is VERY important, is to adjust the camshaft timing chain - every 10,000kms. Only takes a couple of minutes. Loosen the cap nut (size 13mm.) on the front side of the motor, and then crank the motor over (manually) using a crank handle (clockwise), a couple of times. Make sure the car is in neutral. Then re-tighten the cap nut tightly. Don`t attempt to crank the motor over using the starter motor - as adjustment to the timing chain will not occur properly. Once done, the car will purr along with less vibration and valve noise - and will also have significantly more power.

Happy Motoring to all NIVA enthusiasts!

22nd Nov 2007, 00:57

If 5th gear is used frequently at speeds under 80 km./hr, especially under load, it will start giving problems. It was designed purely as an over drive gear for open road touring - with fuel economy in mind.

Also, if the trannie or the gearbox had at some stage been out of the car, when re-fitted they may not have been aligned properly. This is a common problem- easily adjusted. Best done with car on hoist, in neutral, and engine running. They mate up beautifully when refitted. Cheers.