1997 Suzuki Sidekick JLX Sport


Once fully restored, a most remarkable vehicle indeed!


Bought this car sight-unseen from a dealer in AZ, fully expecting it would need virtually everything.

In my experience, most owners keep these charming vehicles until so many items need replacing that they trade in for something else, or they are wrecked off-roading and/or by a 'totaling' accident.

This one needed approximately $6,000 to bring it 100% like new.

- Brake master cylinder.

- Windshield wipers.

- Transfer case shifter repair.

- Radiator cap.

- Battery hold down hardware.

- Fan clutch replaced.

- Water pump replaced.

- Thermostat replaced.

- Drum brake reline.

- Fuel filter replaced.

- All hoses, fan, water pump replaced.

- Power door lock left repair.

- Replace missing rear tail light.

- Battery hold down hardware replaced.

- Replace blower motor.

- Fuel filter replacement.

- Clean fuel injectors.

- Replace front struts.

- Front brake pads, replaced.

- Replaced front brake calipers and hoses.

- Replaced master cylinder, brakes.

- Replaced valve cover and oil pan gaskets.

- Replaced fluids, gaskets and seals all over.

- Clean engine.

- Wash, wax, detail.

- New tires all around.

- Etc etc...

General Comments:

By now you are no doubt asking why in tarnation did I support all this???

Well, this is my third Suzuki SUV. I'm in love with them. Would save them all if I could afford it, but alas... no.

My first was a 1988.5 Suzuki Samurai JX, on which I had a total frame-off restoration done; total cost = $25,000, which included a new body, custom paint, new transmission and engine, etc. A real beauty when done.

The 2nd was a 1994 Suzuki Sidekick JX... needed new engine and new transmission, plus various bits and bobs for mechanicals... A truly delightful driver when done.

However, I then purchased a 1994 Mercedes Benz E320 Cabriolet -- thought it would be my daily driver forever. Soon discovered it is not the car to drive in rain, snow, sleet and hail... or for that matter, than in other than perfect conditions. She has become my first Garage Queen.

Thus, needed another good 4x4 to cope with a steep driveway in foul weather.

Not being a fan of new cars, and/or too much electrical complication, I sought out yet again another old world Suzuki 4x4. VERY HARD to find... especially since it was already 2015. So many have been tarted up or beaten to death.

Finally located a decent 1997 Suzuki Sidekick JLX Sport in Arizona. Had it shipped here. My mechanic has restored it to top condition, and there have been no further problems. Engine and transmission are both strong, the interior and exterior arrived in immaculate condition, and I expect all to be quite well for as long as I need her.

Rock on, Suzuki SUVs!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd May, 2016

8th May 2016, 02:58

Nothing major on that repair/replace list - good choice :)

1997 Suzuki Sidekick JLX 4WD 1.8


Toughest, most reliable small SUV ever owned. 200k miles don't lie


A few wiring issues; rear speakers some how kept getting wet every time it rained.. Ripped them out and dropped a 10 inch sub in the back with a 200 watt amp; sounds beautiful.

In 200k miles I have changed my share of bulbs.

My reverse lights come on by toggle switch, as does my window.

General Comments:

This is a wild little zuki for its size. It has good power and great mileage. 4wd is hardy and powerful enough; just don't pull the e-brake at high speeds on corners, or even take corners too fast, or you're gonna have to climb out and flip it back over LOL.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd May, 2010

1997 Suzuki Sidekick Base 1.6 16-valve


Great on gas, fun, reliable, but beware of those over 200,000km


I bought this car for the harsh northern Canadian winters.

The WORST thing that happened with this thing:

- The "key" on the crank went and dug a nice hole into the crank... I was told it's a pretty common problem. The fix was about $500 with labour and I was told changing the timing belt will be impossible.

- Started always dragged (would stay on a little after the engine started), though I never bothered fixing it and it didn't get any worse in the 60,000+ kms I drove it.

- TONS of electrical problems near the end of my ownership... brake lights went out, signals went out, wipers went out, horn went out, etc. These were all results of electrical shorts hidden deep, deep in the wiring harness. Not cheap to fix.

- Started rusting REALLY bad in the last year (only 11 years old)

- Started puffing blue on start-up (was running synthetic) near the end. When I switched to conventional oil, it stopped doing it, but it's a bad sign.

- Emergency brake would not disengage (and therefore heat up rear brakes)

- Rear door/tailgate squeaked like crazy towards the end, enough to drive some passengers crazy.

General Comments:

I bought this car for the harsh northern Canadian winters, beaten-up back roads and deep snow.

By and large I absolutely loved my "Zukini" (It was a green Suzuki hehe).

Off-road it was amazing, in the snow it was unstoppable. It got great gas mileage (as low as 7.3L/100km on the hwy and 8.1/100km in the city). It was an absolute hoot to drive around in the conditions that left some of my friends sitting at home because their cars were stuck.

It was fairly comfortable on long trips, but the wind noise, at times, was deafening. Very cold inside in the winter (to be fair, I lived in a pretty harsh climate, but had to wear gloves, hat, big jacket, even with the heater on full blast).

Clutch was getting near the end of its life, but still going fairly strong at 203,000 kms, with a fair bit of off-roading. Aside from the puff of blue at start-up, the engine ran great, transmission was solid, 4x4 worked awesome.

Soooo much fun with the top down!

Fair amount of room in the back with the seat folded down (or taken out).

I took it on tons of roadtrips, and to see my family/girlfriend, and never thought twice about throwing 2,000+ kms its way on a weekend, I knew it could handle it.

I'd definitely buy another one as a weekend offroading toy...

- LowriderS10.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th July, 2009