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Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 and earlier)



  • My wife and I are considering purchasing a pre-owned '99 or '00 GV. We appreciate any and all comments regarding this vehicle. It will be used as a second vehicle, primary vehicle is a mini-van to transport our twins. Thanks for your candid comments.
  • bunnyhop1bunnyhop1 Posts: 2
    I'm looking seriously at the Suzuki Grand Vitara both the JLS and the JLX. Does anyone have any information on either of them? (Hopefully it is good news) I didn't like hearing they seemed weak in the snow! I live in Northern RI...and I HAVE TO have something that is excellant during the winter! I have looked at both the Toyota Rav4 and the Nissan Xterra....they both seemed o.k. fact I own a Nissan Sentra, but I DON'T like the fact that the Rav4 is so "STANDARD".... and the power is crappy. I like the Xterra too, but there is something sweet about the GV. Please let me know what you think of this SUV....and how it handles. I'm looking at the 4wd, 2001.
  • cosmo2cosmo2 Posts: 61
    I'm a 1999 Tracker owner, not a GV owner. I've read the postings about the GV's poor ice and snow performance, yet I have found my Tracker's performance on very slick Cascade mountain roads to be little short of perfect with just the stock all weather tires. I think the GV's disadvantages are the extra torque of the V6, the wide tires, and the probability that those owners complaining have the automatic transmission. If you must have the GV instead of the Vitara or the Tracker, consider buying the standard shift so that you can start in second or third gear on ice and stop without the transmission fighting the brakes, and buy a set of studless ice tread 205/75 X 15 tires mounted on Tracker 15 inch wheels to change over to in the winter.
  • bunnyhop1bunnyhop1 Posts: 2
    I understand what you are saying about the Tracker, but I was going to be buying the GV in the automatic transmission...... What I was hoping for was, some good news on their handling in the snow. I definitely could do the tire idea, and probably will..... I'm just gun shy now that I have heard some problems with their inclement weather handling. Maybe someone you know can tell me more about them? I'd hate to buy this SUV and end up with a raw deal! It snows far too much in NE, and I have to have complete confidence in the GV's inclement weather abilities.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Suzuki roars away

    Vans, SUVs and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

  • 1badsidekick1badsidekick Posts: 135
    Hi, I know this is a Grand Vitara room, however, I noticed that several of you have owned Suzuki's in the past. I have a 1998 Suzuki Sidekick Sport JX 4x4. I cannot agree with some people that it is one of the best SUVs ever made. I may have a lemon, but I have had many problems with my Sidekick. My current problem has left me without my car for a month now. The rear end (differential) decided to die at 34,000 miles. The problem had been a long lasting one, however I didn't notice it until it hit 34,000. The car has about 34,900 on it now. I cannot get a response from my local Suzuki dealer about a replacement, the car was there for 4 days and all the head guy in the shop could tell me was "you got a sound in that rear end there." I was like "thank you, I'm such an idiot!! I knew that and I brought it down here for you to tell me something I already knew!" I did not say these words to him, however I felt like it. He told me that I could make the 45 minute drive over a mountain back to where I live. I haven't driven the car since. Also, I was told that my warranty is already up, so, I sent Suzuki America a letter asking for help. Nothing from them either. I am seriously considering taking the thing to a dealer (as I cleaned it up last week, its ready to go away now) and trade it in on something that will get me somewhere. If any of you Suzuki owners have had ANY similar problems with your Sidekicks or Grand Vitaras please feel free to let me know. Also, if you have any reccomendations as to a good, fuel efficient vehicle as a replacement, please let me know that as well. Thank you in advance for any and all comments and advice!!!
  • pfwpfw Posts: 1
    I haven't been on these message boards for some time... I purchased a 1999 GV way back in 1998. To date, it has been the most trouble free new vehicle I have ever owned! And considering I've averaged a new vehicle every 20 months in the last ten years, that's saying something!

    The GV is the vehicle that is the exception... I've already had it a year longer than any other vehicle I've owned. Nothing has been done except normal maintenance... except I've changed the auto trans and diff oils more often than suggested... which Suzuki has made very easy by providing drain plugs.

    As far as low-traction performance such as snow, the automatic GV has a nice feature. In "power" mode the transmission will start off in second gear by placing the shift selector in "2" instead of "D"... great feature!

    The only drawback to snow is the stock Bridgestone tires that came on the '99 GV... but there are many good tires that will fit and provide excellent traction. (I don't know what the new GV's come with for tires)

    In fact, if I had a "complaint", it would be those stock tires... but they wore out quickly and the Goodyears I replaced them with have been working and wearing great!

    "GV" stands for "great value" in my opinion!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Edmunds' link

    7 New Sport Utility Vehicles Sustain Big Damage In 5 Mph Bumps

    Vans, SUVs and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

  • wdblackwdblack Posts: 1
    While having the oil changed the technition discovered an oil leak. I looked at it myself and it appears to be coming from the top and front of the engine. Things are so tight in there that I can't really see any details, but the front and bottom of the engine are coated with grime. The funny thing is that even though it's leaking, there's no oil on the ground. This must be a very slow leak. Has anyone else had troubles with gaskets, because I think that's what it is. Also, does the basic 3 year 36,000 mile warranty cover something like this? At any rate it's going into the shop ASAP. Haven't even had it for two years yet, the warranty should cover it.....I hope!
  • Like somebody else who posted on this GV board, I also own a 1999 Chev Tracker 4X4 and that thing flat out cruises through most anything I put it though. Not only does it cruise up extremely steep hills, whether they be dust or snow, it goes into small places where even a Jeep might start trembling.

    I did not have any problems driving in the snow when I oringinally bought the vehicle, even though it was using stock tires at that time. I have upgraded tires on the vehicles now, which are taller and slightly wider than stock, but more importantly they are off road tires. Also my rig has the 5 speed manual, which makes it a whole lot less scarier in the stuff. Really its all a learning experience when it comes to driving any vehicle with 4WD. The only conditions that really bother me are slushy roads, which do pull this vehicle around a little bit, but not terrible.

    Hope this helps,

  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    ...but I'm here to announce the new Suzuki Grand Vitara Owners club now available on Owner's Club board. Please stop by and introduce yourself in Meet the Members and let me know how I can help build your club.

    I have linked this discussion into that folder, but it will always reside here in SUVs.

    Looking forward to meeting everyone!

    Owner's Clubs

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • A lot of GV has similar whinning from the differecial component. Hope this helps.

    You may search for yahoo group to join the GV owner email group for more information.
  • It has been 10 weeks now, and I still don't have a car. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see post #307. I had the car hauled to a dealership today an hour and a half away, as the one that was 40 minutes away was closed by the bank because the owner had been discovered by the cops for embezzeling, so therefore went out of business. That would explain why I could never get any service out of them. So now, I have to foot a $300 hauling bill that had the car hauled to this dealership, and as noted by the woman who was filling in at the service desk while her superiors went to lunch "it will be Monday before we get to look at it." All I have to say is, if ANYTHING else goes wrong with the car after I get it back in oh, probably 3 weeks, and all the expense that I have put into this thing, if ANYTHING goes wrong with it that will require me contacting a local Suzuki dealer? I will sell the car and save myself some time and stress. I will update you next week as soon as I find out something from the dealership.
  • Hi,

    Looks like the right group. I had a Sidekick for a dozen years and loved it for 150,000 miles, seldom a problem that wouldn’t be expected after that time – a couple alternators, a new front seal, a couple valve adjustments, etc.. Bought a 1999 Vitara 2WD 2DR to replace it and have had nothing but troubles. After 1500 miles, needed a new engine. Metal scraps in the oil pan. No explanation , though it was out of commission for a couple weeks.

    Since day one, it has smelled like maybe rotten eggs. We drive 4-5 miles to the freeway and within a mile or two, it stinks. The dealer has said it is normal exhaust, but it ain't! They have said over and over it is the "Cosmolene burning off" which seems odd, and they say it is not anything to do with the catalytic converter. After more research, I suspect it might be partly the gasoline we use, but it is a major brand at a premium price, and we use the octane recommended in the users guide.

    Also, the brakes squeel like a pig when I back out of the garage every morning. Maybe they fixed that finally today after 6 months, but we'll see in the morning. It worked OK the first morning, but now squeals again every morning when cold, and if it sits in the shade for 8 or 10 hours at work.

    My biggest question at this point is if anybody smells anything funny from under the car when cruising at 60-70MPH after the car warms up. Any ideas? ALL I ever get from the dealership is "Can't duplicate complaint."

    For the record, we took this car on a quick trip to Las Vegas from San Diego, and it just handles poorly – bouncy, vague steering, lousy acceleration when passing, and not very comfortable. After driving a 1989 Sidekick for so long, I was surprised at how unresponsive this car is both in steering and acceleration. It also seems much less stable, and I can't put my finger on why, for sure. I feel MUCH less safe turning corners at freeway speed than I did in the old car, and, though maybe it's the scare from all the stories I've heard about Explorers, but I often fear a blowout and rollover.

    From driving the 89 Sidekick 150,000 miles with VERY FEW problems other than a seal here and an alternator there, I would have expected a better experience from a 10-year newer car, but I don't.

    Also, the new design of the convertible top is terrible. We took it off once, and had a real bear of a time pushing it in and getting it on right. The old car was a lot of trouble too, but if you just remembered all the snaps and connectors, all was well. This one requires very brute force, and I almost got out the hammer to pound the fittings in. If you own one, you must know what I mean.


    1. Why does it stink?
    2. Is it an easier rollover than an 89 Sidekick?
    3. Has anybody else had major problems with theirs?
    4. Also, TWICE, it has lost all the antifreeze in the garage overnight. Anybody else with this problem???

    I must say that the dealership has been most pleasant and seems to have tried hard to fix the problems. However, after we got it back when the engine was replaced, believe it or not, the key would not unlock either the right or left door. It worked on the tailgate.

    Someone suggested they locked the key in the car and used a whatchamacallit to slide down the window to pop the door open and knocked the bar off the locking mechanism, but they could have crawled in the tailgate. Of course, the other suggestion wsa that they disconnected the electric locks. This has no remote, but they are electric from the inside of the car. That makes a bit of sense, now that I think of it.

    Although it is fun, and a cheap convertible, when it was in the shop for two weeks and they gave us a rental for the second week, we got a Taurus and were totally delighted with it and plan to buy one soon to replace the sedan.
    Any comments?

  • We have a 2000 Vitara 2dr 4wd 2 litre engine with a softtop. Purchased new and have 9600 miles on it. No real problems with this vehicle. Engine runs good, automatic trans works well, heater and a/c very good. Great around town car. Not as well suited on major highways because of wind buffeting although the car can do 85 mph with ease. We have not been back to the dealer for service since we bought the vehicle.

    At this point I recommend this car.
  • Not really the same truck but my XL-7 has 6500 on it and runs like a top. As they say in baseball: no runs, no hits and no errors.
  • My 2001 Grand Vitara still runs great after 22,000 miles in 8 months. It still has not received any other maintenance than its scheduled maintenance. The breaks and the front alignment are starting to need work. This shouldn't have happened until about 30,000 miles. Otherwise, the car feels solid.
    Since the GV is more car like than the Side Kick, I was afraid that it would perform worse in the mud. But so far, it really runs well, even dragging its belly.
    Regarding lack of acceleration, I am satisfied. it goes from 60 to 85 mph in an instant. It reduces speed well. So, passing is easy. It is not a sport car. But I didn't want a sprt car when I bought it.
    Overall, I am happy with the performance. But I liked my old Sidekick better. I hope that Suzuki develops a more basic car again. Else, My next Suzuki may be an old 1998 Sidekick, rather than a 2003 GV.
  • it's not the car, while an individual driver's habits may influence the frequency of the occurrence It is the high sulfur content of gasoline. Sulfur deposited in the convertor as exhaust passes thru it combines with free hydrogen to become hydrogen sulfide(bad eggs) Gas in the eastern half of us has higher sulfur content than out west. Sulfur content is being regulated to lower content soon. Until this legislation passes the only thing you can do is change gas brands in hopes of finding a lower sulfur content gas. California regulates it gas to have no more than 80 parts per million. Gas in NY has an average of 230 parts per million. The smell should be worse in summer as sulfur content in gas will raise in the summer time. Hope this helps explain the smell, sorry I have no advice to make it go away. The dealership telling you it is normal was not much of an explaination.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059

    Thanks for the information!

    My experience has been that the H2S smell goes away or diminishes as the catalytic converter ages.

  • and they make the best customers. I have sen one blown engine due to not replacing an oil plug after changing oil and one bad rear end which was defective from factory. Besides the tire woes of many the only other problems have been AC hoses splitting after a long winter layoff. KEEP an eye on your tire pressure!
  • My 99 gv is in the shop waiting for a backordered valv cover gasket due to an oil leak
  • In late November during the 60,000 mile service, my technician also discovered oil leaking from the front/top of the engine on my '99 Grand Vitara. Mine being the only Suzuki he has worked on, he recommended that I watch the leak and if I wanted to get it fixed that I should take it to a Suzuki dealer as they would probably be familiar with such problems. After five weeks and 4,000 miles (Christmas vacation), it was down a quart. But now my wife and I have noticed the odor blowing through the vents when at an idle. For those of you who have experienced this same type of leak, what was discovered as the problem and how much did it cost to fix?

    I am a bit discouraged right now because it seems like a lot of little stuff is starting to go wrong with the vehicle on top of this oil leak. Wondering if I should just trade in on something else or fix the problems. But up until this fall, the vehicle has run beautifully and been problem-free. If anyone has any words of wisdom for me (first NEW car I've owned) or similar experiences to share, I'd much appreciate it.
  • arkainzeyearkainzeye pittsburgh paPosts: 473
    i really wouldnt trade it in just for a oil leak it might just be a valve cover gasket. and if you have a v-6 then i wouldnt really be sure what it would cost. but if i was you i wouldnt go to the dealer i would find another garage with CHEAPER labor rates, and have them fix it. cause who knows you could trade it in on something else and have even bigger problems or something else like that.. your problem that you have is NOT a big deal at all.... seriously
  • I rear ended a mini van with my 2000 Suzuki Vitara going 30 miles per hour (Yep It was my fault - I know) The Vitara had over $5,000.00 worth of damage (Drive train damage, transmission was shot, the frame was bent) It has now been 3 months and I still don't have my Vitara back. I have made three car payments and I have no Vitara to drive. The transmission took over a month to get from Suzuki. They said they were shipping it from Japan and it was stuck in customs. Anyway, my point is I don't think this truck holds up in a crash. What if I had been going 50 or 60 miles per hour, Would I be dead? Would this truck crumble? A lot of damage for a small rear end collision. I would not buy another truck from Suzuki just because of this. I want a truck that can hold up in a crash and I can get parts for it in America. By the way my air bag did not work and I hit my mouth on the steering wheel and cut my lip. The air bag probably did not deploy because I was not going fast enough. I must say before all of this I loved the Vitara. Has anyone else had these problems that I have mentioned?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I am sorry to hear about your misfortune but glad to hear you weren't seriously injured.

    How badly was the minivan damaged?

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    New Rollover Ratings and New Crash Test Results

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  • frankno1frankno1 Posts: 68
    Have a 4X4 Vitara JLX, 4D, 5 speed 2002, and would like to know what the rear and front gear ratios are. If anyone out there knows please advise. Am considering putting bigger tires on the vehicle and need to know what it will do to me if I do.
    Thanks ahead,
  • jbouchebjboucheb Posts: 19
    Hey everyone,

    I'm currently installing a K&N intake on my 5 speed, 2002 JLX Grand Vitara. I'm also planning on upgrading the whole exhaust system. Does anyone know of anything that I can add to make this bad boy go a little underdrive pulleys or something. Now I know that this is a mini-SUV, and it's dangerous to go fast, but it will only be for straight line sprints. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. If you like, you can email me directly at

  • jbouchebjboucheb Posts: 19
    Hey, does anyone know how to turn these off?? I'm using up my Xenon HID lights for no reason during the day.

  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    is 4.625 with the manual and 4.875 with the Auto.

    No wonder the hamster spins so quickly at hiway speed!
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