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 you’ll trade it in for a Crown Vic 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.

  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.
  • Abqhudson Passenger seating in recent accords has been unacceptable with my 5’2” wife forced to look at the dash while sitting in the hole provided.