Talk to me about Jimnys.

Ok i know they are not every bodys ideal car but things are changing in my life and one of those things is my youngest son will possibly be moving out.

Confession time, the MX5 hasn’t been out of the garage since Gaydon (sorry but it is my toy) and i have insurance on my sons car which will go when he does.

I am now seriously looking for a second car as my works van isn’t insured for private mileage and the Jimny is ticking all the boxes.

I’ve looked at two recently around £3-4000 and i want/need one in my life.

Bullet proof engines, low running costs i.e. insurance and tax, are there any inherent problems with them?


I,ve had two Vitara,s. They are very similar to Mx5s in as much as they are virtually indestructible and simple to fix. I test drove a Jimny but found the ride incredibly hard, bouncy and unsettled. If you haven’t already done so give one a test drive down a rough road. 

Very popular down here in south Devon.

Could well be my next purchase when I have to finally let my old workhorse VW Golf go.

They have a good reputation all round and hold their value well. 

Not everyone’s cup of tea but worth a test drive on roads you would be typically using it on.

£3-4k should buy somewhere around 2006 - 2009 - about right I would say.

Please report back.   


This may be of interest…

Read the owners reviews as Car Buyer seem to have missed the point! 

i bought this last winter just for fun cost me 2400, ran it a couple of months and sold it for 2750.

it was fun , i took my then 12 yr old daughter down some dirt tracks for her first taste at driving…


watch for rust under rear seats and inside engine bay behind lights.


not good on juice and dear road tax…but good fun , ( other half refused to drive it…lol ) was a bit bouncy she said.



Hired a well used RAV4 in Cyprus a few years back. Nice to drive even on gravel and stone tracks.

Nice bouncy little cars that can go anywhere. Make sure it is properly under-sealed and wax injected. If you get an auto make sure the fluid is in good nick, otherwise bulletproof.

One of my ski friends had a couple of three-door A10 RAV4 with 4wd because she lives on a hill in the Chilterns.  But she was not so keen on the later shapes saying they were too big, and when a truck wrote of her first XA10 she spent time looking for another in mint condition.  When that died last year because a very big tree fell on it one stormy night she went for a Jimny instead, because of the small size and the options for fat off-road tyres.


Short wheelbase equals ride like a fairground horse . Lurches back and forward. £4k will buy you a proper 4x4 make sure it’s a LWB. or buy a large saloon, which are dirt cheap at present.

Thankyou for all your thoughts and advice.
Just off to work, but i will reply to you all later.
Please keep your advice and thoughts coming.

The good lady got her first one in 1998, one of the early cars.

Due to short wheelbase they for the first 10k miles have a bumpy ride but it gets better. The original engine was a bit rough. Changed engine design say 2002.

Very reliable but around 70k miles needed new clutch and Catalist, back box at 30k mile. Got new King pins at 30k miles under warranty.

There is a aluminium bracket that holds the transfer box that tends to corrode through even it is say 15 to 20mm thick happened at say 80k miles

Sold on at 99k miles in August 2007 and the next owner SORN’d the car August 2012.

Purchased demonstrator from Suzuki garage in September2007 as Suzuki chopped £2,500 of the price over early to late 2007. Traded in November 2016.

Needed two new front calipers which in turn cooked the grease out the wheel bearings, therefore had to change them and also the offside CV Joint

Had to replace brake pipes and the metal vacuum pipes over the front axle that operate the front hubs.

The sump and both foglamp brackets rusted through. Cat rusted through at 50k miles as well.

Therefore metal is not as good but it was still on the existing exhaust back box.

Both Kingpins need doing at 35k miles but due to an accident the car was off the road for a month and that happened outside the warranty.

The back end was getting well rusty by the time we got rid of it and the bracket that holds the rear panhard rod to the body to stabilise the rear axle rusted through and damaged a few bits. traded in at 65k miles.

Oh and one of the air operated free wheeling hubs fell apart but a secondhand one was £25 and is a 10 minute job to replace.

SWMBO wanted a small 4WD we live up a snowy, icy track.

We looked at the Fiat Panda but did not want a diesel and the salesman said do not buy the 900cc petrol car.

It went through it’s next MOT with no advisories with the new owner.

Therefore in Novemeber 2016 we bough the third new Jimny.

We have driven them from Aberdeenshire to the Lake District twice and it did the job. Not as nice as the Impreza or the MX5 Mk3 on a long run but to an extent no worse than a Mk2 over a long run due to the low gearing of both cars.

Yes it is OK if you are doing say 30 miles or so but for a 100 mile run you would want something else.

Great offroad and shooting friend now deceased would take it up the woods on his shoots with no problem if his Range Rover was in the garage where it spent a lot of time.

So what to look out for

Sticking Calipers from 30k miles and yes I do flush the brake fluid on my cars.

Rusty Sumps

CV joints they click and judder on full lock.

Front wheel bearings noisey and 4WD does not engage.

Issues getting in to 4WD due to vacuum system and no centre diff so does not like reversing round a corner in 4WD.

The Dreaded Death Wobble but look on for details of that.

Rust around the fuel tank at the rear.

They are a cheap rough car that does 35 mpg, great if that is what you want not for a less active person who wants to sit in luxury 4WD barge in great comfort, they are not quiet above 60mph and cannot be thrown into corners, Tyres last 25k on the front and say 35k on the rear.

Never changed a damper or spring but did one droplink.

Rust proofing of 2016 car I have the pictures somewhere as I did it this summer.

Good information there. I have never owned one but have known a couple of owners and briefly considered one a good while back. They will go anywhere by all accounts, but not good for long distances. It also sounds as if some rustproofing might pay off.

First off THANKYOU to everybody who’s taken the time and trouble to reply.
Even though some of you have given negative but constructive comments, which is what i was looking for, i am still sold on the idea of a Jimny.
This would be a very lightly used car and as i do my own repairs nothing has put me off the idea.
I know i’ve only looked at two cars and i’ve seen the rust behind the head lights and on the chassis rails on one of them, also the corrosion to the rear suspension, again i’m not deterred.

There is only so much washing, cleaning and polishing i can do to my MX5 and i get bored very easily where as a Jimny that needs a little TLC would really give me something to do on the summer evenings.
Clean and repaint the under carriage.
Derust the chassis rails.
Strip out the rear suspension components, clean repaint and fit new bushes.
Complete strip and brake rebuild.
Plugs, oil, oil fuel and air filters, would be done within 48hrs of it landing on my drive.

My hands are itching to get started.

The one i have more or less decided on has just had the king pins and bearings done to get it through the MOT and it has a very sloppy gear stick which presumably is a simple bush replacement.

Question to Drumtochy, could you please clarify how the front hubs are vacumn operated as this would be my first venture into the 4X4 world.


Duplicate post

Hi Dave

I was interested in this too as it seems to be a system that can have issues.

Here is a good writeup…

Rhino, thankyou for that link, seems a simple but effective system a vac tap from the inlet manifold via swtichable solenoids which push or pull sliding hub locks, which fail to which ever mode is selected at the time of failure, very similar to gas regulators on fork lifts.

I’ve only had a quick glance but will read more later this evening.


Spend a few hours on that will answer your questions including the ones not already thought about.


I’m sure you would’t have to many issues with insurance for ones of these but if would would like a quotation at some stage on one then please feel free to drop me a line.



Had one for a couple of years when i wanted to do something different car wise. Simply hilarous to drive, no need to worry about speed humps or mini roundabouts, jimny just hops over them. Did a few off road days in it and with just some mud tyres they are pretty unstoppable, although they can get a bit upset by deep wide ruts left by the bigger vehicles. Horrible on long journeys but so much fun on short ones. Laugh out loud funny even ghough they are uber slow

Hubs on the front are indeed vacuum actuated. They activate when you switch to 4wd. However they have a habit of failing for various reasons including vacuum leaks are sticking hubs. 3 choices, try and fix (tine consuming and potentially expensive), pull tye vacuums out and leave them permantly locked (means front diff is always turning but not necassarily an issue), or replace with manual hubs that you lock by hand like you got on old vitaras and the like (this is what i did and cost about £150)



Cant talk about long term ownership, but had one of these for a few days in NZ on a trip through the forests of N Island.  Never heard my wife scream so much!  The thing could go anywhere:



very handy too…