1988 Suzuki Samurai JA 1.3 gas from North America


One tough and reliable 4x4!


Replaced the clutch at 118,000 miles.

Replaced U-joints at 118,000 miles.

Starter relay replaced at 149,000.

Front brakes replaced at 92,000.

Rear brakes replaced at 151,000.

Hoses and belt replaced at 92,000.

Driver's seat is worn out.

General Comments:

This vehicle has been extremely reliable. I have added a lift kit, larger tires, rear locker, gear reduction transfer case, and various other accessories.

The ride is terrible. The interior is small. Yet this vehicle has been through some incredibly tough trails. It is great in the snow when in 4wd, if in 2wd you won't go far.

When new (with stock tires, gearing, etc.) the vehicle averaged 32 mpg. With the modifications (tires, gearing) and over 151,000 miles, it now averages 25 mpg.

The engine is still completely stock and the head has never been off. It just passed the CA emissions test with ease. Until about 100,000 miles, the engine never used any oil between changes (every 5000). Now it uses about a quart every 3000 miles.

This is one tough little vehicle. I paid about $7000 US for this car in 1988 and I still take it out four-wheeling regularly. With gas prices on the rise I drive it more often than my 1993 Ford Bronco (4wd, 351 V8).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st July, 2001

1988 Suzuki Samurai 1.3 gas from North America


The car you love to hate. Very reliable, but very low performance


A pin in the shifter broke three times. The third time, I found that Suzuki had designed a heavied-up pin and housing to replace it, and it hasn't broken again. That was over 100K miles ago. Obviously a design flaw that they corrected.

In 192,000 miles, it has also needed two clutch replacements and I've been down to the valves and rings once, probably at about 100K miles. I think that's acceptable. The clutch, though, is absurdly small. It should be on a child's toy. I've bought an aftermarket clutch to install the next time the clutch goes bad, which I believe is coming up soon. It is said to have an improved grip without changing the requisite pedal pressure. We shall see.

I've had to replace the seats with readily available aftermarket items. Had a problem burning up alternators, but that hasn't recurred in a few years. An impossible to diagnose starting problem was solved by pirating a relay off of another car.

General Comments:

That's about it. I hated this car the moment I saw it. I bought it for my girlfriend, because it was the cheapest 4x4 available. She has now been my wife for over a decade. I have hated to see the Sammy in my driveway for the last eight years or more, but it keeps running like a top just to tick me off.

For the last 3/4 of its life, it has had even worse performance than when it was new, and the mileage has fallen from 30 mpg to 24. I guess I've had worse car problems, though.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th December, 2000

27th Jun 2009, 10:27

I like this writers opinion, he strikes me as a guy who tells it like it is. This was a good honest comment...thanks, bob.

5th Jan 2010, 21:28

My Samurai has been my primary vehicle for 15 years, and the durability surpasses anything I have ever owned. I do my own repairs, and have spent no more than 350.00 dollars on this vehicle in that time. I paid 2000.00 for it in 95, and still love it.

Anthony, South Carolina.

22nd Jul 2014, 23:22

I have an '88 Zuk that I bought for my wife too, but I always wanted one from the time they were introduced. I have only had mine for four or five years, and replaced the shifter bolt three or four times. I replaced the engine, rebuilt the transmission, replaced the carpet, re-upholstered the seats, repainted it, put in a new clutch, put new wheels and tires on it, and I would not sell it for any price. Maybe the love you give is equal to the love you receive.

1988 Suzuki Samurai 413 1.3 petrol from UK and Ireland



General Comments:

This was my first jeep and very good it was too. Very stylish at the time but a very rough ride.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd August, 1997