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Hello Suzuki-forums! I would like to hear from people who drive sidekicks/trackers. I would like to know why you love your vehicle choice, whats better about it than anything else. Suzuki and Jeep are my last two remaining contenders. I went to some Jeep forums and their members have no end of praise and admiration for their machines. I have no experience with suzuki. I am interested in a four door sidekick early to mid 90's. Thank you for your opinions.
 

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I love my Suzuki because it is light, reliable and gets 25-28mpg on the roads with the lowest I have ever gotten off road was 22mpg and that was pretty rough, slow going. My friends with jeeps got 10-12mpg on the same trail. n other words, I can drive a lot more trails on 5 gallons of gas than the jeep drivers.

It is very maneuverable on trails and rides pretty well around town. Plus the community here is friendlier than the Jeep guys ;)
 

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I don`t know in which area you`re living.

I got my first Tracker ever last year, It`s a 94 4wd 1.6l 8v. As Colonel said , one of the good thing is that this little 4wd is light, it makes work on it very easy.

I got a GMC SIERRA 5.3l 4wd. Let say that I wouldn`t want to be stuck in the snow with the Sierra, it`s heavy. The Tracker is amazing , even in the deep snow.

I also like JEEPS, however for the difference of price (gas/repairs/etc) I`m happy I chose the Tracker. One of my friend had many Jeeps(still got one). One thing is sure, , he would never have a 4 engine again but only 6 engines. He had to invest a lot more money than I did, but it`s his main vehicule, my Tracker isn`t mine.

It dépends of your needs. if you`ll have to tow heavy stuff with it, it will be to much for those Trackicks. i won`t say anything neg about those Jeeps, I never had any. But for sure, I`m very positive about tose Trackicks. I went to work with mine last years, (distance 90km a day) more then half was highway. I simply loved it, but don`t expect to make a race with a Ferrari with it !!
 

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Here are my thoughts:

JEEPS the Good

Millions sold, dealer support (sold in US) massive aftermarket network of parts and customization possibilities

A large and loyal following

Solid underpinnings of a body on frame construction 4x4.

Jeeps the Bad

Millions sold---you are anonymous. There are a 100 Jeeps on the road for every Suzuki/Tracker. Own a drive-able Suzuki X-90? There are MILLIONS of JEEPS on the road for every X-90 still out there.

Jeeps are EXPENSIVE in the Used Car World. Jeeps from the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's (the ones you can afford) are $3,000 to $15,000. Most are lousy, worn, high-millage at that. JEEPS have GREAT RE-SALE, which is good as a seller, NOT SO GOOD as a Buyer

80's-90's Jeeps/Chrysler (except Diamond star/Mitsubishi) were very poorly built vehicles. JEEP has had 3 owners in the last 30 years (AMC, D-Benz, and Now Fiat) because of financial problems directly tied to the quality and reputation of their product. Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge Transmissions from the 80's and 90's? The worst in the automotive world. Jeep lost millions on auto transmissions as warranty work in this period, and they only had a 36,000 mile warranty! My dad was a Dodge/Jeep/Chrysler mechanic for almost 40 years. These transmissions had a usable life-span of no more than 50,000 miles. Chrysler was having massive financial problems trying to keep the company afloat in this period and cut corners everywhere: suppliers parts, engineering, fit & finish, etc. I had a Jeep and so did friends in this era, we spent half the weekend fixing em.

SUZUKI the GOOD

A robust little engine and solid frame construction. These little trucks will go through almost anything and get good mpg. The simple design is easy for repairs and fixes.

They are CHEAP. Search Craigslist in any city, Geo Trackers, Sidekicks, X-90's Samurai they are on there. I bought a 1996 Geo Tracker 4x4, running and driving for $350. The mechanicals were solid, the body was solid rust. The best one i ever bought was a 1994, 4x4, new soft-top, new tires, 71,000 original miles. I bought for $1,500 in 2012, still drive today. With the $500 total I have put in the tracker in parts in the last 4 years (wiper blades, fuel filter, rear shocks, oil and air filters) it has cost me an average of $500 a year to own and drive a nice little vehicles. For new car, this would be one payment.

Unique---there are a 100 Jeeps on the road for every one Tracker. You like to be different? Drive a Suzuki.


Suzuki the BAD

No dealer support, an Orphan brand in the US. Some parts are getting hard to find, many have bit the dust. Not everything is available on Rockauto, I needed a ignition coil (tiny) and a ignition module (size of a book of matches) $74 for the coil at Autozone $93 for the module. I am afraid this will continue. The EGR is over $200, same for the Idle Control valve.

Little to no aftermarket support for customization. Samurai is better than all others. Tracker/Sidekick there are 4 or 5 companies (Low range, Rocky Mnt, Roadless Gear, Zuks) in North America---not many or cheap choices for customization. Jeeps have 500 + page catalogs with nothing but Jeep parts.
Millions of pages of parts on E-bay for Jeep. Suzuki? Few and far between.

RUST. WOW, do these things rust hard. The Toyota pick-ups of the 80's rusted the fastest of any vehicles I can remember, Suzuki's are a close second. You have to look at what you are getting and what you can live with. Many people see a little rust and think, "No Big Deal". Well, rust that is seen is tiny to what you don't see---like an Iceberg. Some are frankly unsafe to be on the road.

POWER----yup, every man wants more power. 1.3, 1.6 or 1.8 engines, that's not alot of power. Now for me, I think it is fine and understand the trade-off (power=money, fast=money, low power vs. lightweight). Some people will never be happy with 1.6 liters. Can you cram a 4.3 chevy or a VW diesel in a Track-Kick. SURE. But, for every job done right, 10 are done wrong and even worse, good vehicles that could have been driven and enjoyed are now Suzuki's with the engine out and sitting in barns and backyards, victims of owners with huge dreams and small skills and few tools.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the comments. I live in the pacific northwest--a great place geographically. I do have concerns about aftermarket opions and parts in general. Jeep aftermarket is awsome...some say neccessary:) I like the idea of a light 4x4 with four doors so the sidekick has alot of appeal. In my shopping I have found sidekicks in the $2500 range. Jeeps can be acquired for half that. I am leaning toward the suzuki because its #1000 lighter than even a cherokee, but the independant front suspension is something I have heard not much good about in any 4x4. The initial investment cost difference does not concern me as much because I plan to keep this machine for the duration. For the record though, I would love to find one in that $350 range that one of you- found! (sorry my screens so small I cannot read the name in that post) If I could get good info about the sidekicks IFS not being a problem & not costing a fortune to work on, it would be another point in the suzuki column.
 

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I forgot to ask about halting the rust problem before it starts. What do you do, what are you using to stop that. Rust is problem I do not want. I met a guy who "line-x"'ed his who car. He said it added #300 to he vehicle weight. Putting rust protection on is important to me but not #300 worth!
 

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What part of the PNW? I lived in the Willamette valley for a few years and it was a great place (possibly the best place in the nation) to find Suzukis, and most are rust free up there (unless it has lived in a coastal town).

The IFS is fine as long as you don't run huge lifts and drive moderate terrain. These things shine on trails, not rock crawling. I got my 93 and 96 for $650 and $500 respectively...I have found putting a wanted ad on craigslist brings nice examples with "major" problems (that often are simple) out of the woodwork.
 

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I have never solved the rust problem, but continue the fight! Some are to far gone to repair, and must be enjoyed as beaters (rough cars for winter use or mudding). I have cut sheet metal and welded, bonded, seam sealed it in floor, rear pan, and rear corner and taillight areas. I recently cut the rockers out on both sides with a cut off wheel and bonded (automotive 2 part epoxy) on new rockers.
 

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Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to respond. You presented good rational reasons for owning them. For my criteria, these machines sound like a fit and I've decided to persue one in the morning.
 

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I have both so I can compare. I guess it depends on what you are going to do with your vehicle. If you are doing heavy off roading, the jeep is the answer. Light off roading and most commuting to work, the Zook is the answer., Jeeps have MUCH more access to parts and service too. HUGE difference. Zooks are much cheaper. Its really up to you and what you are looking for
 

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I 4-Wheeled in my 1992 Samurai with some friends who had Toyotas and Jeeps on some pretty tough trails and we all did good. We all got stuck in different spots so the differences in them was there to see, but at the end of the day none of us could claim to have a superior vehicle.

I really liked my Sami, and I didn't mod it much. It rode hard though and didn't have any A/C so it wasn't the most comfortable ride off the trail. A stock Tracker is a lot more comfortable ride than a stock Samurai.

I've seen Sidekicks do pretty darn good on some pretty tough trails with just a few mods too. If you're going to do a lift and bigger tires you'll want to gear it down. I put a Rockcrawler Transfer case and 31" tires with 2 inch shackle lift on my Sami and that's all it needed to keep up. I think something similar would turn a Sidekick into a pretty fair trail vehicle. Without the transfer case it wouldn't climb at all, just burn the clutch. With it I could practically idle up steep climbs without any slipping at all.

The main reason I chose the Sami over a Jeep is they're easier to work on. The transmissions and transfer case, and pretty much everything else are all smaller and lighter. The 4cyl engine parts are easy to get at, and overall I'd still say parts will cost you less in the long haul.

The small size of the 2dr models has some advantages on trails that we all learned to appreciate. There were spots I could wiggle through a lot easier than the bigger vehicles I wheeled with, and some places I could get they just couldn't.

Years ago my wife and I had a 1992 Suzuki Sidekick 4dr 4wd that we both loved. It was stock, and I never took it on any 4x4 trails, but I did take it off road on dirt trails that most cars would never get far on and I think they'd make a great trail rig with just minimal mods.

We just bought a 2000 Chevy Tracker 4dr 4wd about a month ago and that was going to be my new trail car but my wife drove it and said she'd be taking it and I could have her old car, a 2000 Merc Cougar. They're no fun at all off road.

So I just bought a 91 Geo/Chevy Tracker 2dr instead and that's my latest "Project Car". I'm not sure if I'll mod it all yet. I'll need to take it on some trails to get a feel for how it does here first but I suspect it will do pretty good as is. It has an auto trans and already has aftermarket wheels and tires that are bigger than stock, so I really do not know what to expect from it. It might need to be geared down too.

I might sell it though, and buy another 4dr instead. I can get one of those here that's still pretty nice and rust free for a pretty decent price and then mod it all I want and end up with a pretty great trail rig.

And that brings me to pretty much where you are and I have to say that's a pretty good way to go. I won't claim to be an expert on off road vehicles but I did build and customized a lot of cars when I was younger, including some "Monster Truck" show cars (but that really doesn't count because they were never driven off road or anywhere). And I've driven a lot of high-end cars (and pushed even more), and I've really come to love these Samurai/Sidekick/Trackers.

Of all the cars I've ever worked on or owned these are my favorite to own and drive.

Here's a link to some photos of a gathering of Samurais in Disney Oklahoma back in 2001. There were some pretty tough Zuks there.
 

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I love my sidekick. With 30" tires, a 3" lift and a rear locker it does great on trails. It is a great hill climber due to the light weight. My only complaint is that there is no aftermarket support as far as gearing to run bigger tires than 30-31". I still get 23 mpg or better with mixed driving including country roads, highway and offroading in a tank of gas. I just really like the way the little Zuk drives and handles the way it is set up. My buddy has a 99 Jeep Wranger with 31" tires of the same model as mine and I prefer the Sidekick for fun in the mud. For me it is easer to control and steer out of slides. The Jeep feels like I am driving a full size truck compared to the Suzuki which feels as easy and intuitive as a Honda civic. I do like Jeeps and they feel very solidly built in the rough terrain but at the end of the day its a Chrysler product. The Zuk has that Japanese mechanical quality that is simply more reliable.

And even though I wish I could run bigger tires sometimes, like 33's or so, most of the trail obstacles and mud holes are doable with the 30's. The bigger your tires are, the smaller the obstacles. With the exception of some deep mud holes that have been dug out by bigger tired vehicles, it is rare that I get stuck in the Zuk. Really I think its best to be smaller and keep the trails a bit challenging on average than to just monster truck over everything.

So if you're just looking to have fun and not claim the title of world's greatest rockcrawler, just grab a sidekick/tracker, 2 or 4 door lift 2-3" and put some 30" tires on and have a blast.
 

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Just figured out how to change pages to read more comments (just got into the 21st century recently). I really appriciate the information. I"m getting more excited about the decision to go with a sidekick the more I hear from this community. The advantages you mention really excite me. My experience with Jeeps and Jeep people has been very positive but something about what you all describe resonates with me. Lack of aftermarket parts/mod items concerns me a bit but the simplicity and ease of working on these that you've talked about overrides the concerns. I found one I like but have to wait until Tuesday to see it. Now that I have made the choice, I feel like a puppy waiting to play.
 

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Hope you find a nice sidekick/tracker. I just drove my friend's Jeep today and I do like it, don't get me wrong but it reminded me of one more positive point about the Sidekick 4 door. It's like driving a greenhouse. The visibility is amazing. Even coming from my Honda Cr-v to the Sidekick is like night and day. The Suzuki is so open and bright.
 

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Here are my thoughts:
SNIP
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Excellent write up.

One thing I will say is in the southwest [AZ, NM, TX, SoCal] There are virtually no rust issues.

Anything from the 'Rust Belt'...... well it's called that for a reason.

Never had a jeep, but I really like my 'kick as a daily driver, need it just to get up my driveway. No Mods at all, just one size bigger tires.
 

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does anyone know the biggest tires you can put on a Suzuki sidekick without lifting it

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this is covered in numerous threads on this forum, use the search feature.
 

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does anyone know the biggest tires you can put on a Suzuki sidekick without lifting it

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Ah, welcome to the forum. It’s really best to start a new post for something rather than piggybacking on an old thread. But to answer your question, the largest that you can safely put on is probably 225/75/15. Some people are lucky enough to be able to put on the 235/75/15 without rubbing, but many do have rubbing at full extension. Note that your speedo will be off with the larger tire - I have 235’s on mine, my speedo is off about 6% (I am going 6% faster than the speedo says) and the heavier tire has impacted my mpg in local traffic to about 2 mpg. I was driving the 225’s for years, and loved them, but they are getting hard to find here.
 

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I had this same choice a wrangler or a Suzuki. I wanted a tin top but I couldn't afford a clean one. I found a cheap sidekick 4dr and I pulled the trigger.

These cars with 2in body and 1 or 2in coil , 31s or 32s, and some lockers is a bad ass rig. Steel front differential and a stubby axle mod are on my list too.
 

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Fuzzy thinks: :confused: "What is this JEEP you speak of... (J)ust (E)mpty (E)very (P)ocket... :confused: :mellow: :rolleyes: :p
 
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