1997 Lada Niva from North America


Fun on four wheels


The cylinders flood on the highway, but idles just fine???

General Comments:

Awesome fun, and economical. Just like driving a recreational vehicle to work everyday.

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

Review Date: 7th April, 2009

1997 Lada Niva Bushman 1.7 injected from Australia and New Zealand


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.

1997 Lada Niva Hussar 1.7i from UK and Ireland


Just get one and fall in love


Nothing that matters.

Put new tailgate struts on, as the old ones died, but a broom handle did the same.

Soon to change the ball joints and track rod ends, but that's just wear and tear.

Had to put a fuel vapour tank thing in, as mine was missing, strange things previous owners remove LOL.

General Comments:

It's slow and rusty, it smells very odd, it shakes and rolls, and it's thirsty, but I love it so much.

It has charm, is easy to fix, parts in England are cheap at Lada UK Ltd.

When it really breaks, it is very easy to fix.

Great off road and it has a very cult classic style.

If you're poor like me, or want a cool car, buy one. They're dead cheap - mine was £450!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th July, 2006

13th Jul 2006, 20:04

Good review! The Niva is developing a cult status throughout the world as a unique car. It is cheap to buy and maintain, and is fun to drive. It is also VERY safe in case of a collision. The Niva has military origins - its like driving a small tank, that can handle virtually any terrain.

1997 Lada Niva Cossack 1.7I from North America


With a healthy sense of humor, even you could be a proud Lada Niva owner


Instrument cluster failed for previous owner and had to be replaced at 9000km.

Headlight switch burnt out twice.

Headlight beam adjustment assembly never worked.

Drivers side window roll down assembly failed and had to be replaced, the cable cut into the pulley resulting in high resistance on the mechanism and I had to replace 2 window cranks before properly fixing the problem.

Cigarette lighter broke.

Heat control lever on dash is problematic, cable tends to slip off the mechanism. It also can't fully engage the heat valve to maximum heating. You have to reach under the dash and do it by hand.

Rear windshield washer fluid spray pump failed and I replaced it with an after market one. The fluid container was also cracked and had to be repaired when I bought it.

Front ball joints creaking and had to be replaced.

Front CV boots replaced.

Had to adjust steering box twice.

Front Differential failed at high speed on highway due to my own error. (I failed to re-fill diff after draining, to its credit, it went 350km on the highway with no oil in it before seizing).

Lost 5th gear and reverse gear on the highway in the middle of nowhere, probably linked to the differential failure.

Horn broke at steering wheel twice. (After market steering wheel though)

Rear defrost clip on window broke off.

Alternator malfunction after installing immobilizer. Had to re-build.

Leaky rear axle seal.

Reverse light switch wire became disconnected.

Foot brake stop light switch replaced.

Front windshield wipers do not function when temperature dips below minus 15 degrees Celsius.

General Comments:

I take the blame for the major problems with the Niva IE, the Front differential and the transmission failure. They were a result of my own error. All the other things are minor and are easily fixed. That's a good thing because they break often. I have toyed with the idea of replacing all the dash switches with simpler toggles, especially the headlight switch because it is particularly problematic. Installing after market pumps and motors to drive the wipers is also a good idea.

I have driven my Niva to Tampa FL. and back to Winnipeg MB. with no problems whatsoever. I changed the oil in Tampa and didn't burn a drop in either direction.

I like to go into the back woods and the not so travelled roads in attempt to find the perfect fishing spot. It never lets me down and comfortably carries a large fiberglass canoe on a roof rack.

In the time that I've had it, the longest its been out of commission was one month when I was waiting for transmission parts from Russia. Otherwise repairs are normally completed in a day.

I bought it at the end of 2001 for $6000 Canadian funds. It had only 46000km and was only 4 years old. To me, as far as 4x4s go, it was a steal.

I am interested in buying one of those after-market pop-up beds for the roof. Anybody know where I might find one?

I got my Lada re-painted in an attempt to fight the rust problem. I know the factory paint is poor quality so I thought paint would be a good investment. Its been one year and so far so good.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th February, 2006

10th Feb 2006, 22:01

Nice review. I`ve experienced some of the minor problems you list, too. However, they can all be easily fixed. One of the joys of owning a Niva, is tinkering with and modifying the car - to one`s specifications. To me, it`s a hobby - and I love it.

If you ever get stuck for parts in Canada, bear in mind that they are plentiful in Australia and New Zealand. Lada Parts, 42 Aerodrome Rd. Caboolture, Queensland, 4510. Australia, have everything from a door handle to a new transmission. The new parts are inexpensive, and the service is friendly and most efficient. I have used them for years, and have never been disappointed. Happy Motoring!