1987 Suzuki Samurai JX 1.3 from North America


Best Car I Ever Had!


At 105,000 miles Suzuki replaced my Catalytic Converter for free.

I didn't change my first headlight until after 65,000 miles.

My transfer case took a beating from the Colorado Rockies and had to be replaced at 250,000 miles.

General Comments:

Great through any terrain. My car was kept mostly stock and I went on some of the toughest trails in Colorado. My Samurai took us from Crested Butte, CO to Paonia without touching a street or county highway. My Samurai had the best brakes of any car I have had to date. I drove my Samurai cross county (Colorado to Florida) 4 times without any issues. After the engine was broken in (6000 miles +) I was getting almost 42 miles per gallon. Gas was less than a dollar then and I could fill my tank up for less than $10 and drive for two weeks.

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

Review Date: 26th October, 2007

1987 Suzuki Samurai from North America


A Rolling Nightmare


Catalytic Converter clogged at 20,000 miles.

Speakers blew out at 25,000 miles.

Dashboard would short out and go dark when cigarette lighter was pushed in.

Hood latch broke.

Exhaust system replaced two times in 3 years.

Low speed rear end collision shorted out brake and tail lights.

Speedometer cable broke at 50,000 miles.

Wiper motor died during a rainstorm at 45,000 miles.

Engine seized and exploded finally at 65,000 miles.

General Comments:

Generally a really miserable little lemon.

I purchased one of the first ones available in my area, in the spring of 1987. Dealer told me there would be parties and galas for owners. No wonder I never got an invite... the dealer was too embarrassed.

Funniest thing: A rock broke the windshield in 1990. The auto glass place called the Suzuki dealer for a replacement, and they stated it would "have to be shipped, and would arrive in a MONTH." I could not go a month without a car, so They had to take the old windshield out, trace around a piece of auto glass, and jump up and down on it to get it to fit. So no more automatic car washes for me.

I went from being "the coolest guy on the block" to being a laughingstock in about a years time. I spent more time arranging rides while that junker was in the shop than actually driving it.

And yes, I had to do an emergency swerve once, and came within a hairs-breath of tipping the whole truck over.

The seized engine was my fault. The rest is poor workmanship.

When if finally died, it was almost a relief.

I hope Suzuki has improved over the years. Based on my experience with the "Samurai from Hell", I would not touch their product with a ten foot pole.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 27th January, 2006

5th Jul 2008, 23:49

That's too bad; my 86' Samurai was the first that I owned that I really used a lot, and I was hard on it for the first couple of years as I learned about preventative maintenance... two incidents especially come to mind:

1. At one the point the engine was squealing like a pig whenever running, and it got progressively worse over about 1-2 months, when my friend in the know, who teaches high-school automotive suggested checking the oil level. Needless to say the dipstick came up practically dry and with sludge black for what little there was. Running it with a ATF oil mix for 100 miles or so and then changing to fresh oil and and it settled right back into a smooth operation.

I'm amazed in hindsight it didn't seize up and I parted with it running just fine 5-6 years later (and definitely better cared for like oil change and other fluid change intervals on schedule.

2. At one point the engine seemed to be stalling and vapor locking easily. Repeated opening of the hood seemed to let a lot of heat out but couldn't find any problems. Checking the radiator coolant one day on a whim revealed the system was bone dry. Adding a 50-50 mix into the cooling system brought the power back and no more heat.

Again I am amazed the engine didn't die, it's a small in-line four so there must be enough surface area to cool the engine and Hawaii at least never gets scotching hot like some parts of the mainland. This vehicle is very forgiving for the owner who is a neophyte of car ownership, and the idea of PM, which it was enjoying much more of it in the later part of the 6-7 years I owned it, and parted with it running to a good friend...

9th Apr 2010, 16:00

I was determined to upgrade the engine, but I would have to justify the expense to my wife... so I stopped changing the oil, left it third and fourth on the freeway (redlining the entire time) and simply waited for it to die.

Over a year passed before I gave up, never killing the original motor. It did, however, fail to pass smog and that became my excuse.

3rd Jan 2013, 16:22

Sorry you had problems. There are always lemons from every car company. Wouldn't the dealer help you? Don't give up, try again, you might get lucky.