Suzuki Samurai Weak Links

Suzuki Samurais have increased in popularity over the past. Fourwheeler Magazine named the Samurai as one of the top ten used 4×4’s in their December 2003 and October 2007 issues. Their reasonable prices, light weight, and nimble size make them a perfect choice for budget-minded off-roaders. Their small size make them ideal for tight, technical trails. With very few modifications, Samurais can be made into excellent off-road vehicles.

For those looking to purchase a used Samurai, or new owners looking to upgrade your Samurai, here is a break down of know weak links:

Transfer Case Mounting Arms:
Problem: The stock transfer-case mount fails.


What You Can Do:



When off roading your Samurai its not a question of if, but when. Even with stock gears we have seen the factory transfer case mounts fail and most of you will be adding aftermarket lower gears that put more stress on these mounts.

The Heavy Duty T-Case Arms works with our aftermarket Polymount Kit and the original OEM rubber mounts. It also works with the E-Brake Kit and any other t-case mounted e-brake.

This product comes with both arms and all hardware needed for the install. The arms are powder coated silver for superior corrosion resistance. The HD T-Case Arms are guaranteed to be the best t-case mounting system on the market.

Visit Spidertrax website at 


Trail Tough:

If your’re tired of broken transfer case mounts, here is the answer! The NEW “Gorilla Grip” unbreakable transfer case mounts are designed to work specifically with the Mighty Kong” and won’t allow wallowed out holes in your frame like the poly transfer case mounts do! P/N SGG-400 (sold individually)

Announcing our “Mighty Kong” combination t-case mount / skid plate. This extreme-duty unitized design will not flex or distort and actually adds strength to your case. It provides protection where you need it – not where you don’t and weighs only 12 lbs. It is also designed to accommodate drum or disc e-brake upgrades. P/N MKT- 400.

Visit Trail Tough website at


Rocky Road:

Our custom built mount arm eliminates any possibility of twisting or damage at all. It is constructed from full 3/16″ thick square tubing. The biggie though is that it mounts via a laser cut arm to the face of the transfer case too at the rear PTO mounting point. This eliminates all possibility of mounting holes ‘egging’ out in the soft aluminum housing (which they do), or cracking your transfer case housing (which happens) due to the extreme loads put on just the one mounting location. This also means a more responsive power transfer to your axle. Less slop in the system really tightens up your drivetrain’s performance. Other mounting arms on the market that use the PTO takeoff just beef up a stock mounting arm. Not good enough! Those units are still light enough steel to allow twisting and bending in the most extreme usage.


(Spidertrax Transfer Case Mount)

(Trail Tough’s Gorilla Grip Transfer case Mount)

(Trail Tough’s Mighty Kong Transfer Case Skid Plate)

(Trail Tough Gorilla Grip Transfer Case Mounts On Mighty Kong Skid Plate)

(MEGA-Mount T-Case Mounting System)

Starter Relay Wiring:
Problem: The wiring on Samurais from the battery to the starter often goes bad over time leaving you stranded.


What You Can Do:


Many companies offer wiring kits with a relay. It does more than stop the clicking starter that is so embarrassing and very common to the Samurai. It also gives your starter the power it’s been starving for by taking the old worn out factory connection out of the loop!

The problem is that the power turning over the starter goes through your key switch. Newer vehicles run a relay putting direct battery to the starter. If you get in and turn the key and you find your Samurai has the dreaded click syndrome, then this is the fix it needs. 

These kits have 14 gauge wire (OEM is 18ga.) and 30 amp relay. The Low Range Off-Road, Rocky Road and Spidertrax kits also includes a water proof heavy duty fuse holder, and 30 amp fuse to protect the battery to starter connection.


Check Out:

(You could probably do this self buying the relay, wire and connectors from a parts store)


Sputtering & Hesitation:
Problem: Carburetor vent tube gets clogged causing sputtering & hesitation.


Years Affected: 1986-1990 carbureted models.


What You Can Do:


The problem is related to a clogged vent tube, and was addressed by Suzuki under Technical Service Bulletin TS 4-06 03109(R). Replace the vent tube with a new piece from either the dealer or one of the companies below:


Check Out:


Stock Door Handles Break:
Problem: The stock door handles are constructed of plastic and over time they can become brittle and eventually break.


What You Can Do:


Aluminum door handles for both the interior and exterior of your Samurai are available from the following companies:


Check Out:


Sloppy Transmission Shifter
Problem: Shifter locating bolt breaks causing sloppy shifting.


What You Can Do:


Contact one of the companies below for a replacement. You’ll need to specify whether it’s a 1986-1989 or 1990-1995.


Check Out:


Sloppy Transfer Case Shifter
Problem: The transfer-case ‘shift sheet’ bushing that is located under the shift lever. Eventually all Samurais will be affected by this part failing at some point. When the seat fails, the transfer case will be stuck in Neutral or locked so that it will not turn.


What You Can Do:


The shift sheet can be replaced from inside the vehicle with just a screwdriver. The part can be obtained from the dealer or one of the companies below:


Check Out:

(You can save money by purchasing the Spidertrax Shifter Fix Combo Kit (SHF-001) which includes all three shifter fix parts)


Oil Leaks
Problem: Most Samurais seem to leak oil from the back of the motor.


Distributor Housing O-ring
The most common oil leak comes from the distributor housing o-ring against the back of the head. It is a hard to find replacement and cannot just be found at your local parts store


Distributor Shank O-ring
Another common oil leak comes from your distributor housing o-ring.
This fresh new o-ring can also assist you when setting your timing by holding you distributor in place before tightening the set bolt.


What You Can Do:

Get new o-rings from one of these companies:

Check Out:


(Distributor Case O-Ring)

(Distributor O-Ring)

Leaking Brake Fluid:
Problem: The Samurai master cylinder will start to leak brake fluid.


What You Can Do:

Install new grommets in the master cylinder. 


Check Out:


Faulty ECM (Electronic Control Module)
Problem: The fuel-injected Samurais have a known problem with the electrolytic capacitors in their computers leaking a corrosive fluid, which if left unchecked will eventually eat into the copper circuit board.


What You Can Do:

You need to have the ECM sent to a company who can repair it. Avoid buying a used ECM from a salvage yard, it will just be another problem waiting to happen. Another option is a new ‘reman’ module from a parts store.


Check Out:


Fusible Link

Problem: The Samurai only uses one 30 AMP fusible link, which is attached to the positive battery terminal. When this fuse blows, none of the electrical components on the vehicle will operate. If you start adding accessories such as off-road lights and/or a winch, you’ll most likely blow the fusible link.


What You Can Do:


Option 1 – Replace the fusible link with a one.

Option 2 – (Better) Replace the 10 gauge wire from the alternator positive terminal and alternator with a 8 gauge wire. Replace the fusible link that was in the wire with a 30 AMP fuse. 


Seat Belt Related Problems:
Dashboard lights: The seatbelt-warning light stays on due to a shorted wire under the driver’s seat. (1990)


NHTSA Recall History:


1990-1991: Front seatbelt-buckle release buttons can break, leaving occupants inadequately protected in a crash.