2003 Isuzu Rodeo 3.2 Liter V6 from North America


Our real dilemma now is how to sell this car, but still be ethical and sleep at night


First, we drove the car off the lot and a day later we noticed the special trim that we had to pay extra for and didn't even want, but it was all they had - the trim was hanging off the passenger side door. Called the dealer and I was told to bring the car in because they needed to take a picture to send into Isuzu for warranty claims. Took the car in and the dealer never even took a picture, just wrote down what I could have told him over the phone. He told me I would hear back in a few days when the new trim came in - well almost two weeks later after not hearing from them - I called - they couldn't find my file and I had to bring the car back in for them to see what was wrong. Again, they ordered the part and two days later they told me it was in, well it wasn't the trim they ordered - they went and ordered the Isuzu name plate, so again - I had to wait another couple of days - the trim comes in and they fix it.

Second, at about 20,000 miles I took the car to Midas to get a oil change and I asked them to look at the brakes because I was hearing something funny - they told me the brakes were fine. Two weeks later the ABS light came on - I took it into the dealer the brakes were shot - we had to get completely new front brakes. Everything was under warranty except the stupid ABS light - it wouldn't go off, so they had to order a new light or something and we had to pay $300 for that.

Third, we had to get a completely new transmission and transfer case at 50,000 miles. Apparently, the transfer case was completely dry - absolutely no fluid in it, but yet we had no leaks - I don't get it??? And there was no warning that the fluid was low. Again, everything was under warranty, but the dealer is like 30 minutes from our house and it was pain because their courtesy shuttle didn't come out that far to pick me up - despite the fact I drove to them to buy a brand new car.

Then at 55,000 miles - I went back in to have the drive shaft replaced. I was without a car again for about 2 days.

Then at 60,000 miles the check engine starting going on and off. This turned out to be the intake valves. And they had my car from a Friday to a Monday - I picked up the car Monday night and drove about 10 minutes from the dealer when the light came back on - I almost purposely crashed it when this happened. Took the car back the next day and there was still something wrong with the intake valves.

Now, at 63,000 miles I'm noticing the gas gauge is totally wrong. I will fill up and 10 minutes later, I'm already at a quarter tank! Today, I was showing to be low on gas - close to E - then I got home and was sitting in my car talking on the phone and the engine was still running when I looked at the gauge and all of a sudden, it had a 1/4 tank of gas!

I'm also noticing the car to be shaking a lot anytime I'm over 50 mph. Not sure what this is yet and not sure if I even want to deal with it.

General Comments:

Do not buy an Isuzu!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 9th March, 2006

9th Mar 2006, 22:37

I second that!!! Do not buy an Isuzu!!!

10th Mar 2006, 14:08

A 4wd system needs to be watched and maintained as it's a part time system and can be prone to damage from neglect after long periods of inactivity. Say you didn't use 4wd for a year or something, then the 4wd system would probably be worn, locked, or something else would be wrong with it. Its not a thing to forget about.

Everything else = isuzu's fault.

2003 Isuzu Rodeo 3.2L V6 from North America


A good truck, if you don't mind a "ghost" or two.


I have not had any "MAJOR" mechanical issues, yet. There are, however, a few mild to moderate irritations...

1: This is not a quiet, serene ride. There have been NUMEROUS creaks, squeaks, rattles and groans with this SUV, starting when it was only about 6 months old. Most of the noise comes from the back seat and storage area. It did go into the dealership once. They purposely bent the welded metal piece on the truck frame where the back seat latches to quiet it up some. This did help for awhile, but it's started making the noise again. I've got a year of warranty left, so I'll have this looked at again when I take it in for some other reason.

2: There's a bit of a "ghost" in the electrical system: about once per month, when I put the key in the ignition and try to start the truck, nothing happens. It's not a huge deal, but I have to take the key out, and then reinsert it to start the truck. It starts instantly the second time I try.

3: Another (likely) "electrical problem" is that I have had two times (in two years) where I started the truck, put the gear shifter into "reverse", and absolutely nothing happened! It wouldn't move. I had to move it back to "park", shut it off, start it again, and then it worked fine. I mentioned this problem when I took it in for an oil change at the dealership. They said "no codes showed up", and they couldn't reproduce the problem, so they really couldn't help me.

4: I've also had two times, where I've been driving down the road, and noticed the "check transmission" light was on. As soon as I pull to the side of the road, the light goes off again. Fluid levels are fine, etc.

5: I've had a few times (probably less than 4 times) where the transmission has put itself into "Snow" mode without me telling it to do that. In snow mode, there is a greatly reduced amount of torque sent to the drive wheels, to keep from spinning out in the snow. This makes for a fairly slow start from a red light, or a stop sign. This corrects itself after you reach about 15 miles per hour.

6: Finally, the front brakes squeak pretty loudly the first few times they are used each day. They have plenty of "life" left in them, they just sound bad when used the first few times. It's just embarrassing, that's all.

General Comments:

Generally, I actually love this truck. I think it was a heck of a value. I paid exactly $20K (sticker was about a $26K). I routinely see postings on the Internet where people claim these trucks "last forever" if given proper maintenance, and are not abused.

Yes, there are a few annoyances, as listed above, but after owning other vehicles with "genuine", serious problems, I can't complain too much about the problems with this Rodeo. I do expect a certain amount of noise from a vehicle made on a truck platform, especially since my city has potholed roads most of the year.

As to the starting problems, they have very, very little practical effect on me. Putting the key in the ignition a second time takes less than 5 seconds, once a month. No big deal.

I'm slightly more concerned about the faulty "check transmission" light. I'm concerned that if it ever came on when driving down the interstate, I would be in some danger slowing down and pulling off the road to check if the problem is for real, or not.

When all is said and done, I would not hesitate to buy a new Rodeo (if they still made them). I would have very little hesitation in buying a used 2003 or 2004 model. In fact, they are probably a great bargain, because asking prices are usually very low, since not many people consider buying a new or used Isuzu, due to a lack of advertising.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th February, 2006

28th May 2009, 12:37

I own a 1998 2wd four cylinder Rodeo green. The 4 cylinders are rare. I have the same issue as you describe - "a ghost in the electrical system". I too find that every blue moon I turn the key to start the car and - NOTHING, DEAD SILENCE. I then proceed to scratch my head, look up to God for help, and voila! - the truck magically starts. Go figure???

But all in all. My truck is a cacophony of squeaks and noises. I hit a tiny little pot hole, and WHAM!!! You think as though a misguided missile just zeroed in on you, and your eyes open wide and you are as alert as any scared to death creature would be. In short, the car handles like total s@#$. I get the wobbling steering wheel at 65 and up too. However, if you depress the gas pedal a tad and get her up to 75, the rattling wheel and shimmy of the car dissipates. Let it slip back down a bit though, and wwwooodggaddaadadaa she goes again.

I have had a host of issues and problems with it. Head gasket blew on me once and I couldn't get heat in the dead of winter. That one stumped me quite a bit because she was not overheating at all. no performance issues either and no smoke etc... changed the thermostat, topped off the fluids, and not damned heat... I eventually threw in the towel on that one, and my mechanic, who is intimately familiar with the truck, fixed it by replacing the head gasket and resurfacing the head.

Uh, right now I have my steering column apart because I refuse to pay $300 dollars to replace the turn signal switch that is located there. Apparently, I have another goblin in the electrical system. When I step on the brake, the right turn signal comes on. It lights up on my dash display, and both in front and behind on the exterior of the vehicle. So no legal right turns for me at the moment. The brake appears to supersede the blinking right blinker and causes it to not blink - just light up. Then I take my foot off the brake, and the blinker works fine. This is obviously not good when trying to slow the vehicle to make right turns. I googled the issue and other folks have the same issue.

Man this is just the tip of the iceberg. The exhaust system on these vehicle suck big time. They are loud and will break every time prematurely before the actual muffler is bad. It will break in one spot. It's due to bad design. The spot it breaks in is on the pipe. But in order to replace the broken spot, you are forced to replace the whole central baffler system.

Man I could go on and on and on...

Steer clear of the Rodeo folks. This is coming from someone who has owned one for 7 years. The truck had 40,000 when I bought it. It's got roughly 130 now.

10th Nov 2012, 10:04

First of all, the key thing is exactly correct. It's scary the first few times it happens, but it does start. If you take it to an Isuzu tech, they pretend that they don't know what you are talking about.

The shift lever eventually becomes worn and dirty, and needs to be rebuilt. A new lever mechanism is around $600, but a knowledgeable Isuzu guy can clean and rebuild it in about an hour.

The transmission light (for me) only happens when I don't get it into D, or I bump it out of D, so I am driving around in 3. Once it starts flashing, you have to stop the car and restart it to completely stop that light from flashing at you.

Interior trim got a little flimsier near the end of the product line. I have a 2003, and I'd love to have new door panels and a new pad for the console storage.

Great car, very sturdy, it took a mud flap for me that I know would have creamed my wife's sedan. All I got was a broken headlight assembly and a dented hood.

4th Feb 2015, 15:16

Noises - agree, mine too.

Problem with starting with the key - agree, mine too.

In addition, I've had my wiring worked on twice - $800 each time to find wires with the covers splitting. This causes the check engine light to come on - to be followed with the "low power" light, which causes the power to cut down to 5 miles an hour.