If they named it after the most revered icon of its originating country's past, then the Suzuki Samurai must be something truly special, right? The Samurai was a strange bird. Billed as an SUV, it seemed more like a jeep trying to be a pickup and convertible all at onceand that's why it worked out so well. When it came out in 1985, it became very popular with the 4WD community in the United States who sang praises of it great off-road performance and reliabilityespecially when pitted against the other 4WDs out at the time. That's no mean feat in a community that is difficult to please.
The beauty of the Suzuki Samurai lay in two things: it was compact and it was light. This lightness gave it the ability to weave effortlessly off-road with no chance of sinking in soft ground like other full-bodied and heavier SUVs would. With an equally simple design coupled with easy engine and suspension modification options, the Samurai was also the perfect starter ride for beginner off-roaders. Its 1.3-L, 63 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine might not seem impressive all on its own, but given the Samurai's lightweightthis was a powerhouse that was fuel-economical too!
Though the Suzuki Samurai stopped rolling off the assembly lines in 1995, it still is very popular among off-roaders and so-called "ruggeds on a budget". Second hand models go for the cheap, and the Samurai still performs as ably off road as it did over two decades ago! As a nod to a great ride, many manufacturers continue to churn out a lot of top-quality Suzuki Samurai parts and accessories. You can do anything from convert your Samurai from soft-top to hard-top and back again. Overhaul the engine, retool the air conditioning, and calibrate the exhaustthose are all still possible today!
Suzuki Samurai Upkeep Tips
Going off-road is a great way to have fun for adventurous and outdoorsy people. If you have the Suzuki Samurai to go along with you in your exploits, then you're lucky, because not only is it great for those rugged trails, but it is also just the right size: small enough to go through narrow paths. But unlike urban cars though, 4x4's need extra attention when it comes to their maintenance as they are used on extreme conditions and are more prone to being overworked. Here are upkeep tips that will help your Suzuki Samurai last longer in the wilderness:
- Change your transmission fluid regularly.
As an off-road vehicle, your Samurai is going to rely heavily on its transmission to successfully traverse those rugged trails, which makes the transmission more susceptible to wear and in need of a more frequent fluid replacement. Because of the constant gear changes, the transmission wears out, which in turn causes minute metal fragments to chafe off and mix with the oil. And when metal particles contaminate the oil, it turns it into a murky mess of a sludge. So, to ensure that your transmission is going to work properly, a regular change in transmission fluid is vital. It will not just guarantee that your transmission will be in a good working condition, but it will also give you an assurance that your car will able to navigate through rocky paths with ease.
- Practice proper differential lubrication.
Since your 4x4 would be making a lot of different turns, it is equipped with limited slip differentials to successfully traverse rocky paths. The limited slip differentials are more complex than the usual open ones found in on-road vehicles making it more high maintenance than its counterpart. Make sure that you properly lubricate the differentials to ensure that all the gears would work flawlessly. Watch out for any signs of wear and leaks because those issues need to be immediately addressed. If your differentials cannot hold the oil properly, or is not lubricated appropriately, it would cause premature wear and could affect how your brake functions.
Going off-road is synonymous to going dirty. With the absence of paved roads, dirt and mud are just normal souvenirs after an adventurous drive. You'll never know when several types of debris like rock, sticks, pebbles, and leaves may have found their way through your car's interior, or worse, under your hood; and not to mention, the mud or wet soil that can cause your car's frame and other vital parts to corrode. A simple solution to that problem is giving your 4x4 a good, thorough bath. Don't just focus on the vehicle's exterior and tires, like you would, if you're washing an on-road car. See to it that the interior and each of the car parts under the hood is free from any form of debris. It's better to be thorough and sure, than to be sorry in the end when your Samurai refuses to start just when you're already set to go.
Suzuki Samurai: The Japanese Line that Redefined Off-road Vehicles
Since 1968, Suzuki has been manufacturing the Jimny—one of the best lines of off-road vehicles in the automobile industry. But in 1984, in order to meet the demands of the public for a much better version, the Jimny was revamped and was called the Samurai. Known for its affordable cost and reliable performance on many kinds of terrain, this vehicle line holds the record for the most number of debut-year sales of any Japanese car brand. Though its production already ceased, the Samurai continues to inspire many car manufacturers and enthusiasts around the world.
1985: First model
When the first model of the Suzuki Samurai was released in the United States in 1985 for the 1986 model year, it was powered by a 1.3-L four-cylinder engine that could produce 63 horsepower. Sold as either a hardtop or convertible, this off-road vehicle quickly became popular because of its reliable and good performance. Also, because of its reduced weight, the first model of the Samurai did not easily sink when driven on soft ground. Aside from these features, this vehicle was easily modified, therefore earning it a total of 47,000 unit sales in its debut.
1988: Second model
Dubbed as the 1988.5 Samurai, this model was redesigned so it would perform better on-road. Some of the significant changes done during this period were the installation of a bigger anti-sway bar for less incidents of body rolls and the revision of the suspension settings. The fifth gear was also lowered which gave way to better highway performance. Interior-wise, the Samurai became more comfortable because its seats and dashboard were redesigned.
1991-1995: Last US model
From 1991 to 1995, the Suzuki Samurai did not undergo many changes. Nonetheless, some of the notable improvements were the introduction of a new engine in 1991. The then new 1.3-L four-cylinder engine that came with a throttle-body fuel injection was able to generate 66 horsepower. In the same year, this vehicle was equipped with fresh transmission bearings and transfer case. For the 1994 model year, the rear seat was discarded. And in 1995, all models of the Samurai were sold with standard rear shoulder safety belts.
Unfortunately, in the same year, due to steadily declining sales, Suzuki decided to withdraw the Samurai from the United States markets citing the unfavorable review by Consumer Reports in 1988 as the main cause.
1995-1998: Model sold outside the US
Although sales of the Samurai already stopped in the United States after 1995, it was still sold in other countries. In fact, it received several updates such as the installation of a coil spring suspension, therefore earning this model the nickname Coily. Aside from the revamped suspension, this Samurai model received redesigned seats, doors, steering wheel, and dashboard. Engine-wise, most of the Samurais that were sold in export markets were powered by the 1.3-litre, G13BB, 16-valve engine that could produce as much as 85 horsepower.
However, not all models of the Samurai were improved. Some still followed the narrow design of the original version. Thus, after 1998, the third generation Jimny replaced the Samurai in many markets.