- The check engine light was on
- The brakes were grinding and shuddering
- The tires needed to be replaced
- There appeared to be multiple engine oil leaks
While none of these were major problems, they all had me worried that the Suzuki wouldn't pass safety and emissions testing. As much as I loved the idea of owning a 'proper' 4x4 like the Grand Vitara, I didn't want to have to spend alot of money to get it on the road, only to find that something else would go wrong in a short time.
Another great feature is the true 4x4 system. Unlike other small 4x4s with button-selected or fully automatic all wheel drive systems, the Grand Vitara features a manual gear selector to shift between 2WD, 4 HIGH and 4 LO. 4 HIGH is designed for driving in snow, mud and other low-traction situations, while 4 LO is designed for low-speed off-road use.
The owner of the Suzuki had been offered $270 as a trade-in on a new vehicle, so was only asking that much when I went to check it out. He liked his little 4x4 and preferred the idea of someone driving it a bit longer. I decided to take gamble and buy it, not sure if it would prove to be a money pit or not. It took a few hundred dollars to safety, but for well under $1000 dollars it was on the road.
Eight months have passed since I bought the Suzuki, and I feel that it has definitely proven itself. A scan of the OBD system indicates that the intermittent check engine light is due to a faulty O2 sensor. Changing the brake pads fixed most of the brake shudder, though new rotors will be necessary. I installed new winter tires to tackle the snow and will soon be installing a set of meaty summer tires. My brother in law helped me tighten the valve covers and the oil leak has all but stopped.
- Replace the faulty O2 sensor
- Remove the valve covers and replace the gaskets
- Change the oil and filter
- Replace the warped/worn brake rotors in the front
- Replace the worn brake drums and shoes in the rear
With this bit of TLC, I think the Grand Vitara will easily make it to 250,000 kms, and hopefully beyond. I enjoy extracting every last km out of an older vehicle and am excited at taking it on more adventures this summer. While I have yet to do any serious off-roading, I have tried it in 4x4 on some rough, muddy trails and enjoy seeing what it can do. A friend said that with a small lift and some serious all-terrain tires, my little 4x4 would be unstoppable as an off-road warrior. This is probably the best $270 investment I have ever made, so lets see just how far I can stretch it!