Piston Slap: Weather The Storm, Trooper!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap weather the storm trooper

Alex writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have recently come into possession of a 1994 Isuzu Trooper (pictured above). 158k, One owner, with good service history until 100k. After that the (affluent) previous owner basically used it as a Home Depot Hauler for 7+ years so besides oil changes and tires, not much was done. That’s fine by me as the truck cost $1600 and it is pretty great running shape.

However, I have noticed a few things that may need attention, or are just plain bothering me. Unfortunately Isuzu forums are pretty sparse due to the waning popularity of these trucks…if you can help me out that would be wonderful.

1. The timing belt was done once at 60k and its gone 98k on it. I heard somewhere the Isuzu timing belt maintenance was switched to every 100k? I think this is a non interference engine, do you think I can squeeze 120k out of the timing belt?

2. I think the Trooper is on the original clutch (Previous owner things he may have changed it but doesn’t remember and doesn’t have documentation. The clutch feels fine however.

3. The trooper has a squeal that is heard when driving slowly (heard when near walls since the sound bounces.) This squeal is heard even when brakes are not pressed. My father in law jacked up the car from the rear and it seems that when the rear wheels turn, there is a rotational squeal every half turn or so. It seems to be coming from the area where the drive shaft meets the rear differential, right after the U-joint. If I go faster than 10 mph you cant hear it, but you can hear it when driving slowly. Maybe some tired seals or something caught in mechanical? Doesn’t affect drive-ability at all.

4. Ripped CV boot in the front driver side. Can i drive it till it starts to creak or is it worth replacing with a Quick-Boot split CV boot from autozone?

Sajeev answers:

Troopers are far from my forte, but perhaps [s]you’ll trade it in for a Crown Vic[/s] we can give such a cool and obscure ride a group hug via this esteemed column.

So let’s do it, to it:

  1. A thread from Planet Isuzoo suggests your 6VD1 3.2 SOHC V6 (correct?) is not an interference motor. Probably. But if there’s any doubt, there is no doubt: at your mileage, the Trooper’s had two timing belt changes and the next one is coming up soon. Soon-ish. Can you extend the service intervals? Is it worth the risk? Don’t be a tight wad: FIX IT as per owner’s manual recommendation.**
  2. Clutches aren’t like timing chains: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, son!
  3. Squeals are usually the realm of slipping belts. This sounds like a “squeak” from a bad bearing. If it isn’t an easy fix, get a replacement assembly from a junkyard with a warranty. It’s easier to swap axles than diagnose an internal problem. Especially if you aren’t rear axle savvy, don’t learn this particular trade on your own ride.
  4. I’ve never used quick boots before, the big concern is that a CV joint with a ripped boot already has grease contaminated with dirt. Perhaps the quick boot (when installed correctly) can dramatically increase the life of the CV joint. Or, if you bought it with a ripped boot, perhaps not. Only you can make an educated guess here, best of luck with that.

**Or sell it and buy the Ford/Chevy SUV equivalent and enjoy a bulletproof timing chain and easy repairs for the rest of your life.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

This is a good time to mention that owning such an obscure machine means one must, absolutely must, own a set of factory shop manuals. Hell, I bought the FoMoCo ones for my British Ford Sierra before it even landed in the Lone Star State. Even though it’s kinda like a Merkur XR4Ti, it’s different enough to justify the cost of buying the proper manual.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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4 of 35 comments
  • Claytori Claytori on May 05, 2014

    Other than the low speed squeeky thing, I generally agree with the foregoing comments. Those, I think may be something in the rear brakes, like a stone or a bent shield, etc. Regarding quick boots, I have used these twice with mixed results. These were precipitated by lack of available cash, on cars that were near to scrapping. One was done in my driveway in March using a hair dryer to generate the needed heat. No self-respecting shop would use these, but they are adequate for DIY. Do not expect long life. If installed properly, they are fine. But they are difficult to install properly. A shop can install a new "stretch over" boot with a special tool for cheap which would be much better.

    • Gtem Gtem on May 06, 2014

      I've actually heard of wrapping saran wrap around the torn boot works surprisingly well as a temporary fix. Key word being temporary!

  • Mechaman Mechaman on May 09, 2014

    No. My wife owned one, despite my insistence that she NOT buy such a beast. It came in handy when moving a couple times, and that 4wd was great in snow. Otherwise, money pit. And you say the owner before used it as a Home Depot/get the hardware type of car? I'll bet there's a LOT more needed to work on. I owned an Audi 5000 wagon someone had used that way. Not only did I constantly find nails, screws, and drywall pieces somewhere in the car on a daily basis, they'd done nothing but gas, oil, and battery it. I needed a car, it was a tough time, and it lasted about three years, started daily, even in Chicago's evil winters, but every time I went to fix one thing, I saw three or more things that needed fixing. I liked that car, but, we had to part company .. 'cause someone was gonna die, and I didn't think it should be ME.

    • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on May 07, 2015

      While I liked the 88 or 89 manual 4 cyl I had, my wife thought that it, and her 92 4 cyl A/T were money pits, though a lot of it was deferred maintenance that we were doing in the mid to late 90's. Bought both used with under 100K miles, sold both around the 200K miles range a few years later. Never had a major failure, but brakes, suspension pieces, minor electrical hassles, etc. Not continuous, but something would always happen sooner or later. I took it in stride as being part of the price of owning a used car, but perhaps I was too forgiving, since I liked them. Have to admit overall I liked my 95 Jeep Cherokee Sport with the six cyl. a good bit more, overall.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?