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Is the Grand Vitara worth it?


Zinger
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Dear experts,

I've been looking for a compact 4x4 for a while now. I was hoping I could get your honest opinion on a 1998 Suzuki Vitara 2 door model with a DIESEL converted engine

Do you think it's worth it? It's an AUTOMATIC too with 125k KM on it (as listed on the ad), and its below 2 million.
Since I'm the only one who's going to be using this car, I would be fine with the space too.

It comes with selectable 4WD too. I'll mainly be using it for mild city use, and occasionally to travel on a beaten path (no serious off-roading).
I'm looking for a crossover that's easier to maintain and is reasonably comfortable too on tarmac roads.   

Please let me know what you guys think. I appreciate your invaluable feedback.

1996-1998-suzuki-vitara.jpg

Edited by Zinger
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8 hours ago, TheFlyingFox said:

No RPM meters wont work on most of the conversions. Not a deal breaker for the majority, they want the benefits of a Diesel.

@tilvin's story is because of a incompatible conversion (Toyota engine in a Peugeot) just like the Volvo S80 example i gave.

 

Very true! What i have been trying to tell you :) and yes with the proper technicians. Of course there is nothing to beat a car which came originally with a diesel engine, but a "proper" conversion can come close, specially with the discount from the market price.

Bottom line is incompatible or compatible, most of the conversions in SL are done on the cheap....as a result not much work in areas of using the proper mounts, suspension upgrades, etc...is done. These guys just drop the engine and play all kinds of tricks to get it running and out the garage door. A proper and complete conversion is not cheap when compared to most of the conversions out there. 

As for the body....well...depending on the car...diesels would have extra weld points and other braces for body rigidity that petrol vehicles do not have, to make sure the extra vibrations and torque bursts do not hurt the structure of the car over time.

At the end of the day, as long as the conversion has been done LEGALLY, there is nothing wrong with it; PROVIDED that it has been done PROPERLY. So ask for a detailed portfolio of work that was done, including where they got the parts from (some donor engines are just nightmares because they are rebuilt junk units). If things are missing or has not been done properly, then negotiate on the price so that you can do the missing work yourself or just walk away.

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3 minutes ago, Zinger said:

hi @tilvin Thanks for your reply. It's a R2 engine and it seems to have all of its original parts. Do you still think its a bad idea? Could you please explain it to me, I'm an amateur when it comes to cars. 

My friend, think rationally and wisely. Before a vehicle is manufactured several experts designers, automobile engineers, safety analysts, other domain experts, etc spend significant amount of time on research and come up with the blueprint first and then only they manufacture a vehicle. After manufacturing, before releasing the vehicle to the market, they do rigorous testing. They do lot of quality and safety testing before they actually start to sell vehicles.

So, think practically - how in a vehicle which was originally designed for petrol or diesel (Chassis, shape and position of fuel tank, suspensions, electrical system, brakes, AC units, steering components, etc) - few idiots (mostly one or two useless bases) join and put a different engine? Think...?

Just for a joke - If some Lankan doctor came and change your heart into a Dog's heart - Can you live with all your "human" qualities? Similar logic applies here....?

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A diesel convert is not actually a bad idea provided it was done with the correct parts. For example if it’s a Suzuki , a Diesel engine from the same brand , same model must be used. Then most of the engine mounts will be the same. Front suspension might have to change a little bit to accommodate the weight of the Diesel engine (springs commonly have to be changed), the meter board for the warning lights , rpm etc. also the proper documentation at RMV. Then I don’t think there will any major issues other than market value. 

 

If you bud mounts and electronics to use a Diesel engine of another brand it can cause a lot of issues. For example a Volvo with a Toyota 2C engine. 

Edited by TheFlyingFox
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12 minutes ago, TheFlyingFox said:

A diesel convert is not actually a bad idea provided it was done with the correct parts. For example if it’s a Suzuki , a Diesel engine from the same brand , same model must be used. Then most of the engine mounts will be the same. Front suspension might have to change a little bit to accommodate the weight of the Diesel engine (springs commonly have to be changed), the meter board for the warning lights , rpm etc. also the proper documentation at RMV. Then I don’t think there will any major issues other than market value. 

 

If you bud mounts and electronics to use a Diesel engine of another brand it can cause a lot of issues. For example a Volvo with a Toyota 2C engine. 

Thank you @TheFlyingFox ! That was really helpful. I do believe it the same model. Here's a screenshot from the RMV website. 

What do you think? Thanks a lot for your reply! 

 

Engine.jpg

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47 minutes ago, Zinger said:

Thank you @TheFlyingFox ! That was really helpful. I do believe it the same model. Here's a screenshot from the RMV website. 

What do you think? Thanks a lot for your reply! 

 

Engine.jpg

Hmm, isn't R2 is from Mazda? i know some times Manufactures use, different Manufactures engines for Diesel Variants, for example 3rd Gen Vitara uses Renault F9Q Engine in Diesel Variant. but check whether 1st Gen Vitara uses Suzuki Diesel or something else.

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2 minutes ago, Ruslan said:

Hmm, isn't R2 is from Mazda? i know some times Manufactures use, different Manufactures engines for Diesel Variants, for example 3rd Gen Vitara uses Renault F9Q Engine in Diesel Variant. but check whether 1st Gen Vitara uses Suzuki Diesel or something else.

Hi Ruslan! Thank you for your comment. I did a search on it, and this is all I have so far. What do you think? 

e.jpg

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1 hour ago, TheFlyingFox said:

For example if it’s a Suzuki , a Diesel engine from the same brand , same model must be used. Then most of the engine mounts will be the same.

 

Even if same manufacturer, in order to accommodate the vibration and resonance behaviour , Mounts would be completely different. Not only that, also the gearbox,clutch,axels etc. because of different torque curves. The few bucks you save on petrol would be gone when an improper Convert starts to fail everywhere.

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13 hours ago, Zinger said:

Dear experts,

I've been looking for a compact 4x4 for a while now. I was hoping I could get your honest opinion on a 1998 Suzuki Vitara 2 door model with a DIESEL converted engine

Do you think it's worth it? It's an AUTOMATIC too with 125k KM on it (as listed on the ad), and its below 2 million.
Since I'm the only one who's going to be using this car, I would be fine with the space too.

It comes with selectable 4WD too. I'll mainly be using it for mild city use, and occasionally to travel on a beaten path (no serious off-roading).
I'm looking for a crossover that's easier to maintain and is reasonably comfortable too on tarmac roads.   

Please let me know what you guys think. I appreciate your invaluable feedback.

1996-1998-suzuki-vitara.jpg

This came with a petrol V6 - does the rev counter work? do the gears change normally?

Edited by Twin Turbo
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11 hours ago, ajm said:

Even if same manufacturer, in order to accommodate the vibration and resonance behaviour , Mounts would be completely different. Not only that, also the gearbox,clutch,axels etc. because of different torque curves. The few bucks you save on petrol would be gone when an improper Convert starts to fail everywhere.

Not really, I have personally witnessed a conversion done to a w126 merc. This was a 1989 300SEL. Came with a 3L in-line 6 Petrol engine. He got down a used 3L Diesel engine from another w126. Most of the mounts were the same (places of the mounts, not the actual mount), things he replaced ,

engine, gearbox , gearbox bar , radiator , propeller shaft, and some other small bits and pieces. Air condition hoses needed minor modification, He ran with the same meter board so the RPM didn’t work. There weren’t any single vibration and he still runs that car , around 7 years since he did the conversion. “Saving” quite a lot on fuel, it is not only economy , more range in one tank, less stops at fuel stations etc . After two years of the conversion he got down a set of springs from another diesel W126 as the front of the car was pitching down with the original springs, to the extra weight of the Diesel engine.

 

Manafactures create a car platform to accomadate various engines and other components. A conversion done properly with the “right” parts can give one the benefits they want sacrificing market value, time and energy to do it. Improper convert as you said can be a nightmare. 

Edited by TheFlyingFox
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?, until The mid 90s The cars were over-Engineered and yes you could cut and bud as you wish. Not after computer simulations came in to the design phase, where car makers started cutting corners and designing only for the INTENDED-USE. So applying same logic to a late 90s,2000 car is just invalid since things have got much complicated.

Edited by ajm
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19 minutes ago, ajm said:

?, until The mid 90s The cars were over-Engineered and yes you could cut and bud as you wish. Not after computer simulations came in to the design phase, where car makers started cutting corners and designing only for the INTENDED-USE. So applying same logic to a late 90s,2000 car is just invalid since things have got much complicated.

Mate, i have stated in my example of the merc that there were no cutting and budding , things were more of less straight forward. The engine mount places for the diesel engine matched with the petrol, little modification of the other parts such as AC and the wire harness. I know of a couple of VW Golfs, W210 mercs and Audi A4s of the 2000s which are converted with the "Original (Same model)" parts. They run flawlessly, again most of the parts matched for the diesel engine to fit. So does it mean the logic is invalid ? I also know of a Volvo S80 which was converted with a Toyota 2C (cut and bud) engine and that was always having some problem. Not with the actual engine itself but vibrations, electrical issues , starting problems because of the electrical issues etc.

 

I don't think a manufacturer has enough time or to put funds for R&D to create completely new platforms for diesel and petrol for the same model. It doesn't make any sense. They wont be "exactly" the same but conversion is possible with minor modification.

 

In OPs case, If the diesel engine was from a Suzuki Vitara at that time, also done correctly without compromise, I don't think there will be any major problems mechanically.

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49 minutes ago, ajm said:

?, until The mid 90s The cars were over-Engineered and yes you could cut and bud as you wish. Not after computer simulations came in to the design phase, where car makers started cutting corners and designing only for the INTENDED-USE. So applying same logic to a late 90s,2000 car is just invalid since things have got much complicated.

This also not valid bro. I know how a conversion to diesel of a Peugeot 504 affected our neighbor. There was a  good aunt who is called 'Poochchi aunty' in our neighborhood. She had a nice Pug 504 in excellent condition which was used by her father and presented to her. Some idiot have told that a 'diesel conversion' can be done on that. So she appointed a mech to do this task. They got a 2C Noah engine and somehow put that to the Pug. That mech somehow linked the Pug's 4 forward gearbox to the Noah engine and given to Poochi aunty. They ripped off huge some (Around 4 lakh in 2008) from aunt. Then aunt told them that she wants a Power steering since she feels difficult to turn. So the same mech got a Carina AT150 power steering rack and parts and somehow fitted to the car. After fitting the issue was it only had half turn (Original Pug 504 have a great turn...?). So aunty was struggling to turn this car on middle of the road due to this half turn. Then aunty told one day to me to come to their home (She had a pretty daughter - same age as me. We are teens those days....?. Usually aunty was reluctant to allow boys to their home......) and drive and see what improvements can be done to the car. I do not like to drive a Pug with a wrong heart. Anyway........?? went there and ran the car few kms after getting permission from my mom. I never driven such a horrible car. It was very, very worse than Tata loader pickup (You can imagine.....?). Poochi aunty asked what can be done from me after the drive. I told her - ONLY thing good to do for that car is - "DEMOLISH IT"......?

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2 hours ago, TheFlyingFox said:

Audi A4s of the 2000s which are converted with the "Original (Same model)" parts. The

is the RPM meter working? its completely different max limits for diesel A4. And the immobilizer is in the cluster which makes the conversion difficult. As from Tilvins story, it might work or might not, depending on the compatibility of the parts and the knowhow of the technician. I would neither take the risk nor recommend anyone to buy a vehicle with a conversion.

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8 minutes ago, ajm said:

is the RPM meter working? its completely different max limits for diesel A4. And the immobilizer is in the cluster which makes the conversion difficult. As from Tilvins story, it might work or might not, depending on the compatibility of the parts and the knowhow of the technician. I would neither take the risk nor recommend anyone to buy a vehicle with a conversion.

No RPM meters wont work on most of the conversions. Not a deal breaker for the majority, they want the benefits of a Diesel.

@tilvin's story is because of a incompatible conversion (Toyota engine in a Peugeot) just like the Volvo S80 example i gave.

 

Very true! What i have been trying to tell you :) and yes with the proper technicians. Of course there is nothing to beat a car which came originally with a diesel engine, but a "proper" conversion can come close, specially with the discount from the market price.

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Sorry for bringing up an old thread. I am contemplating of buying a Vitara for some time now. The model I am looking for is the 1994-1995ish manufactured Vitara JLX, the LWB version. Registration number 18- , 19- or 301- I know its not be best time to buy vehicles here 😕 but will it ever be normal again, and how long to wait.. 

Main reason I am looking for one is tackling bad mountainous roads like once or twice a month with 2 adults, 3 kids and luggage. Wont be using it for serious off-roading. I know these comes with a 1.6 engine, not sure if these can handle that too now after these years. These are old, and changed hands numerous times, undergone engine rebuilds most are not in good shape etc.

Anyone can shed some light of this model, how they cope up with the age. I am willing to spend some on repairs if needed, and any potential modifications. And anything specific to look for when buying for one. 

Any better alternatives for the price range of 2.5 mn- 3mn with 4wd ? All I seek is good ground clearance, 4WD, and 'some' reliability that It does not breakdown middle of nowhere :D fuel is not a concern. All your opinions and ideas are most welcome. 

Edited by GK_007
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On 1/22/2022 at 9:56 AM, GK_007 said:

Sorry for bringing up an old thread. I am contemplating of buying a Vitara for some time now. The model I am looking for is the 1994-1995ish manufactured Vitara JLX, the LWB version. Registration number 18- , 19- or 301- I know its not be best time to buy vehicles here 😕 but will it ever be normal again, and how long to wait.. 

Main reason I am looking for one is tackling bad mountainous roads like once or twice a month with 2 adults, 3 kids and luggage. Wont be using it for serious off-roading. I know these comes with a 1.6 engine, not sure if these can handle that too now after these years. These are old, and changed hands numerous times, undergone engine rebuilds most are not in good shape etc.

Anyone can shed some light of this model, how they cope up with the age. I am willing to spend some on repairs if needed, and any potential modifications. And anything specific to look for when buying for one. 

Any better alternatives for the price range of 2.5 mn- 3mn with 4wd ? All I seek is good ground clearance, 4WD, and 'some' reliability that It does not breakdown middle of nowhere :D fuel is not a concern. All your opinions and ideas are most welcome. 

Not much experience with that model, have driven one once thats about it. The Gen 1 Vitara you are talking about was the first of its kind (Toyota Rav4 is said to be the first of its kind, but the Vitara came much before).

You are looking at a very good base for an off roader with a ladder frame chassis and uncomplicated 4wd system. The systems should be alright as by the time the Vitara came out Suzuki owned the Spanish Defender plant (Santana) and for sure they would have nicked the good things and included the good bits from Suzuki like the engines.

I can swear by the 1.6l engine, its bullet proof and you can hack it but it will still keep running. There was a 1.8l and a 2.0l as well if I'm not mistaken. The 1.6l would be about 97hp, some might say its underpowered but to pull that light weigh vehicle it should be enough. Even my Rav4 with a 2.0l engine has only around 125hp. Downside would be the fuel consumption as you might be putting a lit of strain on the engine if you are carrying a load.

Its a rear wheel drive vehicle by default and you can change from RWD to 4WD with the lever and you will also have the additional benefit of a low range for hard off road.

 

On the bad side you will have issues finding parts unlike a Toyota or a Nissan of that era, but you maybe able to find the mechanical parts that are shared with other Suzuki models. Issue would be in terms of body parts etc. And do not expect the comfort of a modern day SUV / crossover as this is more agricultural although it was targeted at ladies and hair dressers during its day.

 

Not a big market but the old Santa Fe from 2001, Kia Sportage, Rav4 gen 1 would be in that price range. The cars in that price like the Pajero io's have gone above 4.0mil now.

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5 hours ago, Gummybr said:

Not much experience with that model, have driven one once thats about it. The Gen 1 Vitara you are talking about was the first of its kind (Toyota Rav4 is said to be the first of its kind, but the Vitara came much before).

This is a misconception as to what the RAV4 is....the RAV4 was/is the first "crossover (SUV)" based on a car platform using a monocoque body. Until then what was available were small body on frame based SUVs which were not necessarily considered corssovers at the time (because it wasn't using a platform that was crossed over for the SUV). The Vitara which came out in 1988 was considered a mini SUV with a body on frame structure. A more urbanised continuation/evolution of the likes of the Blazer/Rocky and the exapnsion of Suzuki's 4x4s from the Jimny. In fact until the RAV4 all the SUVs were retaining a body on frame structure. Of its time...the only other crossover was the CR-V...the Pajero iO and the Vitara were considered to be mini SUVs. All models of the Vitara, until the latest, were considered mini SUVs or mini offroaders (in many ways considering these Vitaras to be crossovers is a bit of an insult because they are not crossovers but purpose designed platforms)

When buying any of these crossroaders/mini-SUVs check and double check the 4x4 system...there are plenty of ones around where people have messed around with the transfer case to make it 2wd with the hope of saving money.

 

 

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