1996 Isuzu Trooper S 3.2 V6 from North America


I am very happy with this vehicle, as it is obviously well-built and is simply a beast in the snow


I am listing the items below - almost all of which are wear items - to give kids and / or a parent trying to buy a "cheap" vehicle for anyone some idea of what to expect (maybe).

Update to the below: at approx 193000 miles, the rear main engine seal blew on the interstate, lost all oil and burned up the engine (was distracted by kids at time, but the thing never knocked very loudly before crapping itself - it was more like extra loud valve noise... maybe it was knocking in Japanese?); engine replaced: approx 2000 bucks parts and labor (had 'em put in a new timing belt, etc, etc in replacement).

162500 miles - $900 parts and labor - timing belt (and its pulleys), and water pump, fan belts and hoses, repair of several mouse damaged wires, general inspection (lately I've been given conflicting info about the 3.2 being an interference engine, but I wanted the timing belt done right away).

162500 - $145/garage quote: (350) - radiator, hoses, thermostat - parts bought online and self-installed.

166000 - $100 (375) - transmission filter and fluid change. Self-installed. Includes new bolts to replace the 7 rusty bolts I snapped off trying to remove the cross member. The garage quote is high because the procedure is more involved than for most vehicles (and no dipstick on the vehicle; I improvised measuring the fluid temp).

166000 - $35 - trans mount (wasn't bad, replaced because I was in there already).

166000 - $70 - de-scaled and osphod frame; frame still solid though it's a Wisconsin/Minnesota vehicle.

166000 - $250 - windshield (done by Safelite).

168500 - $10 - section of power steering hose.

170000 - $125 - front wheel bearings and seals (might not have been needed if I had them checked and greased right after buying).

170000 - $35 - front shocks; easy job on this vehicle. I used Monroe Sensa-matic and wished I hadn't; this vehicle at this mileage needs something stronger.

170000 - $30 - front and rear differential oil, and transfer case oil change.

170000 - $55 - radiator fan clutch.

175000 - $600 - tires (Discount Tire Cooper's).

184600 - $145 - muffler and tailpipe (Bosal from rockauto.com).

184600 - $22 - exhaust flex-pipe (2" I.D. with 4" long flex section from NAPA; sawzall'd the pipe and clamped it in). I saved money on the exhaust, but it was a real time consuming pain, because every rusty bolt snapped off and I had to drill and Dremel my time away on them.

184600 - $20 - rear shocks; got these Sensa-matic dirt cheap from rockauto.com at the same time I got the ones for the front, but I'd strongly recommend finding a shock stronger/stiffer than Monro Sensa's for this vehicle. DIY was not bad with the muffler and tailpipe out).

184800 - $160 - lifetime 4 wheel alignment (Firestone); I dunno yet what to think of the Firestone guys.

184800 - $210 - driver's side inner and outer tie rod end and adjustor; Firestone said the adjustor broke while trying to align; adjustor not available separately (they got the assembly from Subaru).

Next up are valve cover gaskets and plugs; garage wants over 700 bucks to do the valve covers (on this vehicle, the damn plenum has to come off to do the passenger side).

Finally? It does have the common 3.2 valve-tick that can make it sound like a diesel at times. I did the 0w30 thing for one change and then started using Castrol 5-30 full synthetic; it wants 5.7 quarts, and once after a change I emptied a 5 quart container into the engine and the dipstick still read as if it was full... this intermittent problem is mostly unnoticeable as long as the oil is kept full.

General Comments:

It has not been cheap to maintain, but no vehicle with so many miles on it is likely to be.

I got it to use as a winter vehicle in Minnesota for less than 2000 bucks, but I now drive it every day. For most things, it has been tough to work on, but some things turned out to be easy to do. Every time I've started to wonder whether buying it was wise, we got hit with a snow storm and I was happy I had it.

I am going to try to make it reach a million miles.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th March, 2014

1996 Isuzu Trooper S 3.2L V6 from North America


Very capable vehicle and at a very low market value. Find one now


Brakes at 90000, and replaced brake lines with Goodridge SS lines.

Seats are pretty much worn out as far as padding, fabric still looks good.

Shocks replaced with Pro Comp at 90000, and replaced rear springs with OME Heavy Duty, and front torsion bars with Sway-A-Way 30% stronger than stock.

Muffler at 100000, replaced with Flomaster 40, along with O2 sensors.

Tires at 100000 with Dunlop RVXT in 255 70 r16.

Oil consumption is 1-2 quarts in 3000 miles. In winter I run Max Life 10w30, and in summer 20w50.

Starter and battery at 100000.

General Comments:

Very rock solid build on this vehicle, can carry all the people, gear, and supplies that you can carry, especially with the upgraded suspension, which also solves the body lean issues noted in original press. Great Kayak vehicle, and base camp.

Motor torque is solid, even if the HP is a bit light for the weight of this vehicle.

Due for 120000 mile service this spring, and will change all belts, water pump, and hoses. Considering crankshaft and camshaft front seals as well.

Estimate I will rebuild the clutch in the next 20,000 miles, and would replace the rear engine seals at that time.

4.56 standard gearing makes this thing climb like a mountain goat, with minimal effort. Don't expect to win any drag races.

Next set of tires I'm going to 32", mileage is reliably 16 in mixed driving, good is 17.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th February, 2010