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!

1997 Lada Niva Bushman 1.7 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


The best S.U.V. in the world at the price


Front upper and lower ball joints showed wear and needed replacing.

Outer rubber boots on front wheels split and replaced.

Taillight bulbs checked as some were not working.

Steering was a little bit loose and was easily corrected by adjusting the relevant nut as indicated in the manual.

Soundproofing the transmission tunnel, inside, eliminates noise.

General Comments:

The Niva is, without doubt, the most honest and reliable four wheel drive vehicle in the small to medium class.

It will literally go anywhere, where others will bog down and fail.

Reliability is an outstanding feature of this Russian car. The strength and ruggedness it displays, is truly remarkable. The thickness of the metal body panels is almost twice that of any other car. The suspension is robust and designed for longevity.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th July, 2005

15th Sep 2005, 10:43

The Niva is certainly a strong and reliable off-roader and is ideally suited to Australian conditions. In Australia, the most popular car is the Holden, which is produced by General Motors. In Russia, General Motors combined with the giant Avto-Vaz Company, in a joint venture, to produce the new 'Chevy Niva'- which I believe has been a great success. I wonder whether G.M. has considered importing the new Niva to Australia under the G.M. banner and marketing it through its vast network of dealers? The Chevy Niva, I believe, would be a winner for G.M. here in Australia, as it would provide them with an excellent product to take on established rivals such as Suzuki Vitara, Toyota RAV-4, Kia Sportage etc. The Chevy Niva has a very modern design, and with the G.M. inspired 2 Litre fuel injected motor, the true four-wheel drive system, and the proven reliability of the vehicle, it will certainly shake up the market here in Australia! I, and many others, would love to see the new Niva out here in the not to distant future!