1997 Suzuki Sidekick JLX Sport from North America


Once fully restored, a most remarkable vehicle indeed!


Bought this car sight-unseen from a dealer in AZ, fully expecting it would need virtually everything.

In my experience, most owners keep these charming vehicles until so many items need replacing that they trade in for something else, or they are wrecked off-roading and/or by a 'totaling' accident.

This one needed approximately $6,000 to bring it 100% like new.

- Brake master cylinder.

- Windshield wipers.

- Transfer case shifter repair.

- Radiator cap.

- Battery hold down hardware.

- Fan clutch replaced.

- Water pump replaced.

- Thermostat replaced.

- Drum brake reline.

- Fuel filter replaced.

- All hoses, fan, water pump replaced.

- Power door lock left repair.

- Replace missing rear tail light.

- Battery hold down hardware replaced.

- Replace blower motor.

- Fuel filter replacement.

- Clean fuel injectors.

- Replace front struts.

- Front brake pads, replaced.

- Replaced front brake calipers and hoses.

- Replaced master cylinder, brakes.

- Replaced valve cover and oil pan gaskets.

- Replaced fluids, gaskets and seals all over.

- Clean engine.

- Wash, wax, detail.

- New tires all around.

- Etc etc...

General Comments:

By now you are no doubt asking why in tarnation did I support all this???

Well, this is my third Suzuki SUV. I'm in love with them. Would save them all if I could afford it, but alas... no.

My first was a 1988.5 Suzuki Samurai JX, on which I had a total frame-off restoration done; total cost = $25,000, which included a new body, custom paint, new transmission and engine, etc. A real beauty when done.

The 2nd was a 1994 Suzuki Sidekick JX... needed new engine and new transmission, plus various bits and bobs for mechanicals... A truly delightful driver when done.

However, I then purchased a 1994 Mercedes Benz E320 Cabriolet -- thought it would be my daily driver forever. Soon discovered it is not the car to drive in rain, snow, sleet and hail... or for that matter, than in other than perfect conditions. She has become my first Garage Queen.

Thus, needed another good 4x4 to cope with a steep driveway in foul weather.

Not being a fan of new cars, and/or too much electrical complication, I sought out yet again another old world Suzuki 4x4. VERY HARD to find... especially since it was already 2015. So many have been tarted up or beaten to death.

Finally located a decent 1997 Suzuki Sidekick JLX Sport in Arizona. Had it shipped here. My mechanic has restored it to top condition, and there have been no further problems. Engine and transmission are both strong, the interior and exterior arrived in immaculate condition, and I expect all to be quite well for as long as I need her.

Rock on, Suzuki SUVs!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd May, 2016

8th May 2016, 02:58

Nothing major on that repair/replace list - good choice :)

1997 Suzuki Sidekick 1.8 from Finland


An excellent and economical buy


There was a manufacturing problem with the driver's door, so that it was hung a little low and would cause the dome light to stay on. I adjusted the mechanism myself, and it worked fine.

The rotors had to be replaced at first, since they were uneven so that the brakes were not smooth.

The rear hatch seal collected dust easily, and caused it to leak a little inside.

The screws around the air filter casing rusted.

The inside heater bearings made some noise in the winter time as well.

One of the window rails came loose, and I had to open the door to re-align them.

Other than that, it had no repairs other than normal maintenance.

The lock would freeze in the winter.

Nicks on the body needed to be sanded, primed, and re-painted to keep them from rusting through.

There was a rust problem beneath the passenger door frame, perhaps due to some damage on the body frame (apparently happened at manufacture).

This model had no additional electronics, other than the stereo.

General Comments:

The engine ran so cool, that in the winter I had to put cardboard in front of the radiator so that the engine would warm up enough. The timing belt replacement was quite easy, and I did it myself.

The tires wore fairly evenly if rotated, and were occasionally re-mounted on the rims (the outside edges on the front normally wear more).

Wish that I still had the car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th February, 2012

4th Feb 2012, 13:42

The engine coolness sounds like a stuck or leaking thermostat.