Buying a Jimny

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So you are considering to buy a Jimny?

Whoever you are, your story probably matches one of these:

  1. Maybe you had just seen one for the first time on a street (or in an off-road situation), and you liked it so much that you are considering the purchase.
    • Therefore, you don't know anything about the Jimny.
  2. Maybe you used to drive some other all-terrain vehicle model in the past, and now you want a small all-terrain vehicle like the Jimny.
    • Therefore, you know the characteristics of all-terrain vehicles in general, but are not acquainted with the particular characteristics of Jimnys.
  3. Maybe your friend has a Jimny and you liked it so much to buy one for yourself.
    • Therefore, you have some hands-on experience in/with Jimnys, but you want to know some Jimny-specific peculiarities in order to avoid a bad specimen.
  4. Maybe you used to drive a Suzuki SJ 41x or even a Vitara, and you are interested to know how much different and/or improved Jimnys are.
    • Therefore, you are most concerned about what has changed for both on road and off road experience.
  5. Maybe you have just seen one brave or stupid Jimny driver doing some crazy s**t with their heavily modified Jimny in a random Youtube video, and now you suddenly want to do the same.
    • Therefore, you now feel a sudden childish urge to immediately buy a first Jimny which you stumble upon, and to transform it into an unstoppable offroading monstrosity.
    • You wonder which Jimny is the best for that.

Whatever your background story is, this article will cover most of your answers.

This article will also provide some specific useful information on what to test / look out for when buying a Jimny, in order to avoid buying a problematic one.

Applicable vehicle models



Just to clear up any confusion, below are the pictures of vehicle models which this article refers to.

Jimny 3

Jimny 4

General vehicle model description



  • Suzuki Jimny 3 and 4 are rather specific vehicles - quite small and impractical all-terrain vehicle of old-era construction, pretending to be a modern 21st-century vehicle.
    • Jimny 3 or 4 will either suit you quite well or not at all.
      • There is hardly any middle ground between those two.
  • The fact that the 3rd generation Jimny has been in production since 1998 up to 2018 indicates that there is a significant number of people worldwide who find Jimnys rather suitable.

Note Icon.pngA Jimny 3 owner from Brazil wrote a comprehensive essay on various advantages and disadvantages of driving a Jimny 3 after his extensive 6 years of daily use.
(Use Google Translate if you don't understand Portuguese)

Note Icon.pngAnother good source of information on about all Jimny models and generations is Generic world Wikipedia article on Jimnys.

For those who are completely unfamiliar

  • Suzuki Jimny 3 and 4 are true, proper all-terrain vehicles, which were designed and built for all-terrain use.
    • However, Jimny 3 looks rather "bubbly" and "cute" from the outside (like a lot of new modern crossovers / soft-roaders), so its tough all-terrain genetics might not be obvious at a first glance.
  • Jimny 3 and 4 are quite capable and durable in all-terrain exploitation (as their suspension and mechanics have a similar design like in a military heavy duty truck).
    • In some all-terrain situations, Jimnys are even more capable than large heavyweight all-terrain vehicles (Land Cruisers, Patrols, Range Rovers, Grand Cherokees, etc.) because they are very small, light and maneuverable.
  • The negative side of their all-terrain oriented design and construction is that (like any such vehicle) they are wobbly on the road with a high center of gravity, handle relatively insecurely, and therefore sharp driving does not suit them well at all.
    • They have to be driven defensively and easy-going.
      • When driving a Jimny, the driver must bend to the laws of physics, not the other way around!
    • However, driving a Jimny is always quite fun and joyful, as the vehicle provides exceptional (and often excessive!) road feedback.

  • Jimny's small dimensions and small turning radius make it excellent for maneuvering in city environments, much like a small Fiat Panda for example.
  • Jimny's interior space is rather sufficient for two persons.
    • When transporting three or four passengers, it gets cramped, especially for the rear passengers.
      • Therefore, a Jimny is not well suited for transporting four people on long journeys.
  • Jimny has very small cargo space, and it is all visible to the outside world.
    • A roof rack is a typical accessory for any Jimny owner who desires some "normal" cargo volume with some privacy.
      • Either that, or removing the rear seats completely and tinting all the rear windows.

Note Icon.pngRead the wiki article "Cargo space expansion and management" for more info about the topic of Jimnys and cargo.

For those who are familiar with all-terrain vehicles

  • For those who are even vaguely familiar with Suzuki's all-terrain vehicles, it could be vaguely said that Suzuki Jimny 3 and 4 are modernized, improved and nicer Jimny 2 (SJ 41x / Samurai).
    • It's a similar difference like a Volkswagen Golf 4 or 5 versus Volkswagen Golf 2.
  • So, Jimny 3 and 4 are essentially a Jimny 2 / Samurai with nicer interior, power steering, ABS, air bags, air conditioning, electrically operated side door windows and external side mirrors, fog lamps, etc.

  • Dimensions of Jimny 2 / 3 / 4 are almost the same, as are most of the mechanics.
    • Jimny 3 and 4 still have body-on-frame construction, solid axles both front and rear, dual transfer gearing with 2:1 reduction ratio in low range, and manually selectable part-time four wheel drive without center differential.
    • The only major mechanical difference between Jimny 2 and later generations is that Jimny 3 and 4 use coil springs on both axles as opposed to Jimny 2's leaf springs on both axles.
      • This significantly improves ride comfort and wheel articulation is also slightly improved as well.
        • On the other hand, the expenses of applying some off-road oriented vehicle modifications (like suspension lifts) are increased.
    • Jimny 3 and 4 have relatively large amount of "plastic surgery" applied to them, with plastic front and rear bumpers, wheel arches, door sills, etc.
      • Some of these body elements can present a vulnerability in some serious off road situations, or can present an obstacle for certain vehicle modifications (using larger tyres for example).
    • Late Jimny 3 vehicles (approx 2014-2018) and all Jimny 4 vehicles also have selectable electronic traction control aid when driving in low range 4WD transmission mode.

  • The other perspective to look from is to say that Jimny 3 and 4 are mechanically roughly like a Nissan Patrol Y61, just a lot smaller.

Main vehicle editions

Note Icon.pngThe wiki article "Manuals and owner's guides" has all the editions and variations classified in more detail.

Jimny 3 editions


There are several main editions of 3rd generation Jimny.

The small JB23 edition:

  • Sold exclusively in the Japanese domestic market (it has its own specific small turbocharged petrol engines).
  • Produced from 1998 until today (2018).
    • Not much is known about this edition - add some info here if you know!

International petrol JB33 edition:

  • It has the old G13B engine, manual or automatic gear box, and manually operated transfer box.
  • Produced from 1998 to (usually) 2001.
    • "Soft top" JB33 body specimens were produced even until 2005.
  • There exists a rare "el cheapo" variation of this edition which is 2WD (RWD) only.
    • It can be recognized by being produced before 2003 (certainly with the old interior design) and by not having the transfer box lever between the gear box lever and the hand brake lever in the cabin.

"Early" international JB43 petrol edition:

  • It has the newer M13A engine, the same manual and automatic gear boxes and the same manually operated transfer box.
  • Produced from 2001 to 2005.

"Middle" international (still JB43) petrol edition:

  • It uses the refined M13A "VVT" (variable valve timing) engine, new manual and automatic gear boxes, new electrically operated transfer box and new interior design.
  • Produced from 2005 to 2012.

"Late" international (still JB43) petrol edition:

  • Тhis edition has the same engine and transmission as the "middle" JB43 edition.
  • The visual difference is in a cosmetic facelift - partially modified front exterior (bumper, hood) and front interior (instrument panel, steering wheel) design.
  • However, some specimens also got ESP + TC and TPMS.
  • Produced from 2013 until today (2018).

Older European JB53 diesel ("DDiS") edition:

  • It uses Renault-sourced K9K 700 engine ("1.5 dCi", 48 kW), with the same interior and transfer box as the early JB43 edition.
  • Gear box, differentials and several other parts are specific to diesel Jimnys.
  • Produced from 2003 to 2005.

Newer European (still JB53) diesel ("DDiS") edition:

  • It uses Renault-sourced K9K 266 engine ("1.5 dCi", 63 kW), with the same interior and transfer box as the "middle" JB43 edition.
  • Produced from 2006 to 2011.
  • Gear box, differentials and several other parts are specific to diesel Jimnys.

Additional notes:

  • All these editions, except the late JB43 edition, exist in the regular "tin top" as well as in the (much less common) "open top" / "cabrio" body editions.
    • Exception: The late JB43 edition also exists in the "open top" body edition exclusively in the Brazilian market.
  • Most of these Jimny editions have been produced by several factories around the world.
    • Some of them (like Santana factory in Spain) had a certain level of "technical autonomy" when choosing which vehicle parts to use during construction.

Jimny 4 editions


More info needed ...

All that is currently known is that there are two major editions - narrower edition for the Japanese domestic marker and wider edition for the international market. They can be visually distinguished by the presence of extended wheel arches on the wide edition, which are not present at all on the narrow edition.

Before you buy



  • Take one for a test drive.
    • Take into account that, compared to modern on-road cars, even the most recent Jimnys feel primitive when driving them.
  • Buy one in the spring and sell one in the winter.
    • Everyone wants a 4WD vehicle when the snow falls, so prices are higher in the winter.
  • In United Kingdom, check the MOT history online.

  • Last here but first before all - gather enough money for the purchase.
    • Don't forget to bring the gathered money with you to the seller (this tends to happen due to overexcitement).
  • Lack of financial funds can be remedied by buying a new loan at the bank, by selling a non-vital body organ or by performing various criminal activities.

General points of attention



Note Icon.pngThe rest of this article is written primarily for the "international" 3rd generation (1998-2018+) Jimny "Wide" model editions (coded as "JB33...", "JB43..." and "JB53..." in the VIN number).
There is also the smaller JB23 model for the Japanese domestic market, which is not specifically covered here.

Note Icon.pngAs of 2019, it is still way to early to tell what plagues Jimnys 4, so it is only assumed here that some of the indicated issues might more or less plague them as well.

  • Most vehicle models have some common issues which plague them more or less severely.
    • Jimny is no exception.
  • The point is to be properly informed about the common issues to be able to detect them.
    • Being informed is also helpful to evaluate whether the risks and costs of those issues are worth your purchase and ownership.

Note Icon.pngThe wiki article "Common problems - overview" contains a a lot more details on some issues, and also contains links to some dedicated wiki articles about certain problems.

Below is the quick check-list & summary of the usual points to which a potential Jimny buyer should pay attention when buying or considering a purchase.




  • This is the main issue with most Jimnys.
  • Depending on the year/model etc. some had rust protection but others did not.
    • As the vehicle has body on frame construction, it can pass a UK MOT test with quite a bit of rust unless the rust is around the body and seat mounting points.
  • Try and look behind the front headlamps, underneath the lamps and the splash guard, this is a rust point and is near the front body mounts.
  • Lift any carpet in the boot and look into the small pan where the tools/jack are stored, this can rust out, particularly on soft-tops.
  • Check the boot floor and the floor below the rear seats in general, this can rust through and is the most common issue.
    • This is a real problem for older Jimnys.
    • Remove the lower part (the bench) of the rear seats by simply pulling its front part up with your bare hands and this will expose the rear part of the floor.
  • Check around the seat belt mounting points for rust, especially rear seat belts.
  • Check around the plastic trim cladding, particularly on the sills as rust hides behind.
  • Check the brackets which connect the arms holding the axle in place.
    • These rust at the axle and at the chassis end.

King pin bearings



  • A common issue on most solid/live axle 4WD vehicles.
    • These corrode and wear quickly.
    • It is almost inevitable that you will have to change them at some point.
  • When buying, take that vital test drive and check for steering wobble around 45 - 50 mph.
    • See the wiki article Death Wobble for more info about the issue.
  • Worn king pin Bearings are not the end of the world.

Swivel balls on the front axle



  • Beware of ex-Land Rover mechanics regarding these.
    • They can insist that the swivel joint should be filled with oil (yes for Land Rovers, no for Suzukis).
  • Swivel balls can get corroded.
    • Again a Land Rover issue, where the chrome balls are vital.
      • NOT a Suzuki issue - simply file them smooth and paint.

Worn chains in the transfer box



  • Be mean to the car on its test drive - dump the clutch at high revs in 1st gear and listen for a very loud machine-gun-like KKKRRRRRR!!! noise with no car movement.
    • Transfer boxes are usually quite cheap on the scrap market - no point in changing the chain.

4WD transmission system



  • Check if it works in all modes.
  • Find a loose surface and try engaging it and also disengaging it.
  • Listen for loud clicks to confirm hubs have engaged / disengaged.
    • Beware that you cannot drive in 4WD on the road in dry conditions in a Jimny as it is Part-time part time 4WD and that damages the car.

Vacuum hub heads on the front wheels


  • These are part of the 4WD transmission system.
  • Vacuum hub heads can fail as they are not used often.
    • A simple clean and service will fix most issues.

Worn trailing arm mounts



  • A clunk from the rear as you pull away in 1st gear is the indicator for this.
    • Sometimes it just loose bolts.
    • Other times the mounting hole has worn away which will require welding.

Edition-specific points of attention

Soft-top ("cabrio") specifics


  • The Soft-top edition retained the G13B engines until the end with some late first-time registrations in 2005.
  • There are some M13A engined soft-tops around but these seem to be rare and an anomaly.
  • The soft-top frames suffer considerable corrosion at the front.
    • Suzuki no longer makes these parts and getting hold of replacements is extremely difficult.
  • New soft tops can be bought from Monsoon in the UK.
    • They have a reputation for good quality.

Suzuki Jimny cabrio with plastic hard top
  • There is a removable hard-top available to replace a soft-top during winter.
  • Contact the BigJimny Store as some are still available.

G13B engine specifics


  • These engines have a traditional cam-belt.
    • Make sure its been changed at the correct intervals.

M13A engine specifics


  • This engine has a cam chain which DOES NOT require changing.
  • This engine is nice and has no real common issues.

M13A VVT engine specifics


  • This engine is nice and has no real common issues.
  • Vehicles with this engine have a new style gear box (model name R72), which happens to develop issues for early specimens (cca 2005-2008).
    • Check carefully for noises in 3rd or 4th gear.
      • If an issue occurs, the repair costs about £700.

Note Icon.pngThe wiki article "Rebuilding the R72 gear box" covers the resolution of the failure of R72 gear box.

K9K diesel engine specifics


Information sent by Bosanek from the BigJimny Forum.

  • Not available in the UK.
  • Engine is a Renault 1.5 dCi and most Renault parts and service skills apply to this engine.
    • For common issues regarding this engine, ask around on Renault forums or in Renault service workshops.

  • There are two generations.
    • First generation was produced from 2003 to approx 2006, and it used an older Renault K9K 700 engine with the manually operated transfer box.
      • Engine specifications: 1461 cm3 cubic capacity, power 48 kW / 65 PS, turbocharged, non-intercooled.
      • First generation engines suffer from high pressure fuel pump failure which wrecks the injectors and effectively ruins the engine.
    • Second generation was produced from approx 2006 to 2011, and it used a newer Renault K9k 266 engine with electrically operated transfer box.
      • Engine specifications: 1461 cm3 cubic capacity, power 63 kW / 86 PS, turbocharged, intercooled.

  • Like a lot of Santana built vehicles there are some mixed combinations of engines and features around the 2006 change over date.
    • Later ones (from 2006) were mostly built in Japan.

Note Icon.pngMuch more information about diesel Jimnys is present in the "Diesel (DDiS) Jimny specifics" wiki article.

Electric transfer box specifics


  • This is the electrically push-button operated transfer box, as opposed to the earlier mechanically lever-operated transfer box.
  • This transfer box is used in Jimnys ever since cca. 2005.
    • It is present in all Jimnys with M13A VVT engines and in all Jimnys with K9K 266 engines.
    • It is also present in some late Jimnys (made in 2005) with M13A engines and also in some late Jimnys (made in 2005) with K9K 700 engines.
  • It is OK for average users, but not liked if you are modifying the Jimny.

Automatic transmission specifics



  • Make sure they change smoothly and go through all the gears correctly.
    • They love fresh AT Fluid and need regular changing and topping up.
      • Otherwise changing is poor and top gear fails to select.

Page last edited on 4/11/2019 by user Bosanek