Yes, this is an accurate description of the Niva. I presently own a '97 model, and have owned an old carburetor-equipped '84 model in the past. It is indeed '70s tech, but with very clever design, which translates into truly incredible off-road capabilities. Really too bad that general quality of the materials was not on par with the level of ingenuity of its mechanical design...
I also have the same problem, the Lada has a very strong smell of petrol. I still have not been able to find the problem.
I have a Lada Niva 1986 model. It has all of the idiosyncrasies that are mentioned above except the back seat problem. For that I would suggest that the owner checks out the clips, mine works OK. The driver's foot well on my Niva was a problem when driving with my boots on, but this is because it has been designed as a left-hand drive vehicle. I simply "spread" the pedals out a bit more by bending and reshaping to get more distance between each pedal and now it's tolerable.
The versatility of this vehicle is very good off-road. I don't expect great things in town, but there's no problem there either.
A lot of the road and transmission noise can be easily and significantly reduced by simply adding soundproofing materials to the vehicle. I have soundproofed the transmission tunnel inside the car as well as the footwells using appropriately cut sheets of insulation felt material which has an inner layer of a bituminous compound. The material is approx. 1 to 1.5 cm. thick and fits easily under and behind the original plastic covers in the Niva. I have also lined the firewall inside the engine bay with the same material and the noise reduction in my Niva is tremendous. Soundproofing felt can be readily purchased in rolls from most automotive accessory shops and is quite inexpensive. Soundproofing under the engine bonnet is also worthwhile.
"On road comfort left a lot to be desired". In what way? Using off-road tyres for highway driving is not advisable on any car. Seats? Well, their comfort is legendary.
As far as suspension is concerned, if your Niva is a bit "bouncy" over uneven or corrugated surfaces, all you need to do, is fit a new set of upper and lower front ball joints. The originals wear, after some 75-100,000 kms., and will cause a somewhat uncomfortable and 'pitchy' ride. The new ball joints only cost about $35 Aust. each- and are easy to fit. I had mine done recently, and the difference in road comfort-and road holding, is tremendous! Get yours done; make sure you fill them with long-life grease; and whilst you`re at it, check, and if need be, replace the inner and outer rubber CV boots.
I also changed the two front wheel bearings. My Niva now purrs along the highway, at any speed. Completely stable and smooth. Well worth the money. Parts are plentiful and inexpensive.
I have not had the brake problem (s) you describe, however I`d like to offer some help- which may be relevant in your case
1. Is the brake booster working? The diaphragm inside may be faulty. Also, check the vacuum line (from engine to booster). Intact?
2. Check caliper on the other side (if not done already) - may be defective.
3. Check that both pistons on the front brakes are working- i.e. are able to push in and out- and thus operate the new disc pads. They may be seized up, and may need to be removed (not easy) and thoroughly cleaned or replaced.
4. Check all rubber brake hoses for possible splits, cracks and/or leaks. Check master cylinder and obviously fluid level.
5. Check bleed nipples. Are they blocked and/or rusted?
These are just some thoughts as to what might be wrong. Generally, Niva brakes are reliable- unless of-course they have not been properly maintained e. g brake fluid never changed. Water in the fluid can cause problems- as in any car.
Personally, I would refer the Niva to a good brake specialist, and give the brakes a thorough over-haul.Once fixed, they will be great for many years.
Hope this has been of some assistance. Cheers.
I live in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and am debating whether to purchase a Niva. It would be my first car, so I know I have a bit to learn, and am prepared to do some maintenance on the vehicle before it's ready for the road. I just need a cheap way to get up into the mountains. The Niva is up for auction starting at 900 USD (obviously bids will be higher). It is a 2000 model with 76961 km. According to the auctioneer, the suspension, front and rear shaft, gear box and shift need to be repaired. Are these major, or will they be easy to fix? What else should I know about this vehicle before I commit to buying it?
Hopefully somebody with specific knowledge of these cars will get back to you, but in general, it's pretty serious on any 4x4 when you talk about needing to rebuild the transmission, transfer case, and drive shafts. That kind of adds up to a car that has been beat on pretty good, regardless of the apparently low 76,000 kms on the odometer. Not sure what costs are like in Georgia, but in the US, the cost of that work would probably run about $2,500 on an older 4x4 at an honest garage. That doesn't include whatever the suspension needs, but I figure that unless the springs are broken or the front end is totally trashed, it's probably still drivable.
Sounds like this particular vehicle has had a REAL hard life. As a Niva owner, I`d be cautious about purchasing it- unless you`re mechanically skilled, and confident of doing a lot of the repairs yourself. Parts are relatively inexpensive, but it`s the labour component that could end up being very expensive. My advice- 'look for one that hasn`t been abused.'
Get someone who owns a Niva to check this vehicle over before you say do or die... chances are it aint as bad as they may say it is. one bad U joint can make some people think the whole drive train is buggered-because of the noise the clunk-clunk feel when you shift and the terrible vibrations that will occur at full speeds and such... look it over; drive it... if all the stated problems ARE true... it certainly won't be a cheap fix... But I certainly would check it out first... Regards Robert.
Re- water entering the headlamps, as mentioned by some owners- a simple fix (if you haven`t already done it), is:
1. Remove chrome trim surrounding the lamps.
2. Cover around the edge of the lamp with masking tape (on both sides)
3. Apply a thin strip of clear, waterproof silicone sealant around the circumference edge of the lamp.
4.Replace chrome trim.
5. Seal opening at back of lamp (where electrical wires run in), with waterproof tape and/or with the silicone sealant.
I did mine, years ago- and haven`t had the problem since- and I do a fair amount of off-roading. Happy Motoring.