(disclaimer: I know that I could likely find the answers to all of these questions by searching. I apologize for not doing so. Right now I am working 2 jobs (one of which is my own small business) and studying for the bar exam, and getting my new samurai together. I am asking for help from someone who maybe has a little more time than I do to spare. Thanks.)
I got the haynes manual from the prev. owner.
Now the questions:
How much would tracking down the suzuki shop manual help?
How unstable are the Samurais, really?
Is there any way to perhaps give the thing a wider stance without putting big tires on it?
Would weighting the bottom edges somewhat help the instability issue? Suggestions?
How tough is it to install a lift kit (I know I need to go up at least 2" for the VW swap).
I plan on using this vehicle on-road about 80% of the time, but I want it to be able to so some semi-serious off-roading (which I know will require more power than the 1.3 has to offer.)
What sort of upgrades would you all recommend? (Transfer case? heavier axles?)
Basically, I'm looking for a good primer. I've poked around online and haven't been able to find a great all encompassing samurai FAQ.
1. You can download a Factory Servce manual for an '88 Samurai at Ack's FAQ. The link is in my signature. Do a search for fsm
. Except for possibly the engines intake system, everything that you need to know is in the FSM. You'll find searchable links to a lot of other useful information there too! (The Haynes manual makes for great campfire kindling.)
2. Really?? Pardon my bias, but my research of the Suzuki vs Consumer's Union lawsuit (now settled out of court and difficult to track down the Discovery information -- EDIT here is a direct link to the very revealing Discovery video produced by Consumer's Union at Ack's FAQ: http://www.acksfaq.com/videos/suzuki...merreports.wmv
) indicates that the Samurai actually outperformed the other SUVs that were being tested at the same time. My personal experiences with my 4.5" SPOAed Samurais on 30" tires are very satisfactory. Naturally, any cretin can roll a truck. The Samurai is as well-mannered (if not better) as any other truck of it's type. You want to see Brown-25 in your shorts? Try stomping on the brakes of a Volkwagen bus or a Pinzgauer 710M at highway speeds...
3. You can install wheel spacers or - even better - buy wheels with a shallower backspace that will improve the stance. Do a search for backspace
at Ack's FAQ for a link to an informative webpage on the subject. See #2, above.
4. No. One of the Samurai's great offroading characteristics is it's light weight. Adding weight will only hurt the truck's performance. Also, see #2, above.
5. If you are handy with a welder (or like me, willing to learn how to weld) you can buy a complete SPOA kit for around $400-$450 and install it yourself. For a 100 or so bucks more, you can also buy a High Steer (or Over The Top) steering system that will reduce or eliminate the bump steer effect caused by the SPOA (or any other suspension lift). This is especially important if you plan to use the truck as a daily driver. Doing a suspension lift without fixing bumpsteer will make your Samurai drive as scary as Consumer's Union makes it out to be if you are not CONSTANTLY VIGILANT when driving on rough pothole-strewn roads.
6. Before you go much past bigger tires and a suspension lift, try wheeling the truck. If you are ready to spend more money, then it's time to choose between t-case gears or Ring and Pinion gears. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Probably the simplest and fastest to install of the two is the t-case gears.
Try Ack's FAQ for more information on modding Samurais. It has a searchable database of over 320 links to all kinds of information about offroading a Zuk that is much harder to find simply by doing a forum search. Heck, there are even links to great stuff here at Offroad.com!
Finally, once you drive and wheel a Samurai - especially when you leave all the expensive hoity-toity offroading trucks in the dust on the trail - you'll see why Samurai owners both Love and Hate Consumer's Union.
We hate the publication for spreading lies and misinformation that killed the North American sales of one of the most widely-produced 4x4 truck of it's kind in the world. The Basic solid-axle Samurai is still in production today in updated form elsewhere.
We love the fact that our little Samurais can outperform the big guys on the trail under most conditions leaving them frustrated, embarrassed and puzzled in our dust.