1997 Lada Niva 21213 1.7 carburetor from North America


Good cheap 4x4 for bad roads


Several times I was not able to start the engine in a moderately cold weather when humidity was high - carburetor failure, probably ice or water got inside. This happened 4 or 5 times just without any visible reason. Unless I removed the upper cover and add some gas manually into the carburetor, it did not start in such a case. Replacing the gas pump and cleaning the carburetor did not help.

The 4x4 distribution box was replaced before me, but it was not done well enough, so it feels rough on the road - but it still drives satisfactory after that.

Rust is a general common problem for all Russian cars - paint is of cheap quality.

General Comments:

This is typical Soviet car - model of 1979, and still being manufactured with some minor improvements. But this is 4x4, and it is really 4x4, although at a very low price.

The idea of design was actually good, and in 1979 it was really something. I used to drive many different cars in Russia, U.S., and Canada.

However, quality of some parts is insufficient - like with all Soviet/Russian cars so far. You may need to replace some parts several times if you are not lucky.

Standard tires are terrible. But with better tires it handles well, and it is quite good for mud and snow.

No power steering. OK for 1979, bad in 2003. Controls are just like you return back in time. Standard door locks are terrible too. But I have custom power locks controlled remotely.

I probably need to tell that I did not go to mechanic with this car for 3 years except for oil change and carburetor cleaning.

I bought this car in Moscow in 2001 as a second car and paid $2500. I could probably sell it there now for $2000 (US), but I still drive it when I am in Moscow. This tells.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 10th January, 2004

2nd Sep 2005, 02:22

Performance rated at 4 out of 10 is a curious assessment. Surely you are not referring to the off road ability of the Niva where the performance deserves at least a score of 9 out of 10. As far as reliability goes, a lot has to do with the way a conscientious owner looks after his or her vehicle. Perhaps your Niva lacked sufficient T.L.C. Most Niva owners rate reliability as one of the most positive features of the car.

5th Sep 2009, 18:09

It is annoying when people try to correct other peoples review for them, to eliminate references too bad points of the Niva. I have one, and although I love it dearly, and do maintain it well, I think any Niva owner needs to concede that it is fairly unreliable. Nearly every weekend I find myself fixing something or other, although I have only been unable to get home once, when a transfer case bearing gave up, and let a shaft punch through the aluminium casting. Always half broken, never breaks down.

1997 Lada Niva 1.7 from Russia


A mountain goat on and off the road..


Windshield washer pumps failed, cost 8 dollars to replace.

2nd Differential rusted in place, no repair estimate yet.

Carburetor failed, cost 150 dollars to replace it and some starter pieces.

Exhaust system completely rusted out, unknown repair cost.

Left front ball joint cracked. Cost 20 dollars to replace.

General Comments:

Considering the car cost $200 I have no complaints. It handles Moscow weather with no problems, easily scooting up hills and through large slushy pot-holes. Having driven off-road (before the differential went south), I can say you cannot buy off-road performance like this anywhere else. It rocks!. Handling is predictable, albeit slow. Highway performance is passable, pick-up is mediocre. It is oriented towards off-road driving, and this is what you get. I would happily buy another one given the chance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th December, 2003