Mileage Mitsubishi Pajero 3: Insidious ABS pump, weak fuel injection system, eternal automatic transmission and excellent V6



Running gear
Braking system.

The Pajero has disc brakes front and rear, and uses a drum brake inside the rear hub as a parking brake. The design of disc brakes are not very reliable sleeves and dusters, and the use of two-piston calipers with floating bracket implies the accumulation of dirt between the cylinders, and the caliper pins material is not chosen very well – they easily corrode and wedge. After any trips to the mud is highly desirable to clean the brakes completely, if, of course, do not want in half a year overhaul calipers …

Disk size is 290 mm – on a big SUV could be bigger, so the intensity of brake use is high, and the risk of overheating. Disks and pads life is quite acceptable, less than 30 thousand does not fall.

Brake tubes rot, but not so intensively. Their re-lining, if needed, will be more expensive than on the average passenger cars (because of the large number of elements to be dismantled), but not critical.

The real problem is with the ABS. It’s a system without a vacuum booster, with an electric pump that pressurizes the main line. Who said “Mercedes SBC”?! That’s right, that’s exactly the kind of system used here. Such electric pumps have drunk much blood of owners of E-Klasse W211 and CLS-Klasse C219, and even earlier – Saab 90000 and VW Passat.

Mitsubishi Electric offered its variant for Pajero of the third generation at about the same time, when Mercedes announced its SBC. The design is similar: two accumulators, electric motor drive the pump, pressure holding by hydro accumulator, backup circuit and generation of artificial pedal force. In general, the system from Mitsubishi was simpler than the soon appeared SBC, was not so seriously integrated with the vehicle’s onboard systems (Pajero in general is simpler arranged) and did not aim to ultimatumatically increase the pleasure of driving. And it certainly had no counters of everything and everything, so it worked until one of components died without reminders of problems. Car owners weren’t even particularly worried about how many pushes they had and how much mileage the unit had.

Front Brake Disc 290×26

The first massive problems started to appear in about sixth year of usage. At first, ABS unit error and tight pedal were rare problems, and most of the time the problem was a pressure drop in the hydraulic accumulator. The “pear” was simply replaced with a new one, and all was restored. Repair pears didn’t last that long: the original on cars before the restyling lasted 6-8 years, the next one lasted 3-5 at the most. In cars after restyling hydraulic accumulator was slightly more reliable, in any case, its life was better, many cars lasted up to 10 years with the original.

But replacing the hydro accumulator is only part of the story. The electric motors of ABS block hydraulic pumps started to fail about 10 years before the restyling. The main problem is the wear or just splintering of the manifold plates. And “light” tapping with a hammer on the pump in the morning, installation of electric motors from Gazelle heater through adapter plate, repair of motors with replacement of a manifold….

Now all cars before and after the restyling for sure have replaced hydraulic accumulators, many have replaced or “hacked” the pump. Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee that everything was done “for ages” and of any quality. Inspection of the ABS system when buying should be thorough, and you should be prepared for trouble if it has not been completely rebuilt recently. An old hydraulic accumulator finishes the pump, a worn out pump finishes the accumulator. Replacement separately usually leads to a waste of money. A new unit costs from 130 thousand rubles, which is frankly a lot for cars priced at an average of 400-700 thousand, as of spring 2021.Suspension

Suspension of Pajero is rigid, even of its American twin – Montero, it is not so comfortable. Probably, this is its basic lack. Because it is very good otherwise. Double wishbone in front, multilever behind, it allows “untie” the size of rubber and clearance of the automobile, thus it has turned out resourceful, with big moves, well adapted for impassability.

In front the double wishbone is very strong, it is a pity that original silent blocks are not on sale, only ball bearing. But non-original is enough. The main thing is to set the exact operating position of the lever when tightening, and the silents will last a very long time, with mileage over a hundred and a half to two hundred met factory.

It is also important not to miss the moment of spring subsidence – it is worth restoring the “midpoint” once a year, especially after the installation or removal of additional equipment. Ball joints are strong, but it is necessary to monitor the condition of dust covers, they often get scuffed in mud, and the moisture and sand get into the joint. The levers are massive and strong, it is hard to damage them, but the fixing points to the subframe are damaged more often. They suffer from corrosion and mechanical loads, so sometimes it is necessary to underweld them. The fixing of the subframe to the body also suffers.

The gearbox is suspended on two brackets, each on its silent blocks, and they also are worn out. Often owners don’t change the “minor” elements, in their opinion, and for years they can’t cope with vibrations and shocks from suspension and transmission. And the surprise is that only as long as the elastokinematics of all the silentblocks are coordinated, the car remains relatively comfortable.

Most of all difficulties arise at those who make an “elevator” of a body relative to a subframe, sometimes in this case even with all new “rubber bands” it is not possible to defeat vibration. And it is impossible to forget about the replacement of the shock absorber bushing, the backlash in this connection is mainly responsible for the feeling of “breakdown” when passing the joints.

The rear suspension has a smaller service life, usually only up to 150 thousand, but the main reason for repairs is not backlash, but the hard knocks coming to the body. It is usually quite simple: wear of shock absorber, shock absorber bushings, and lack of rubber bushings under suspension spring. The silent blocks are often still visually intact, but you can find traces of contact between the arm and the silent mounting location due to the increase in its suppleness.

The ball bearing is still running as long as there is no dirt in it – that’s as luck would have it. Small transverse arm “toe-in” also often starts squeaking just after trips to off-road. If your car is an “expeditionary” one and is exploited with overloads, one should look at condition of a bump stop, geometry of upper triangular arm and condition of springs. The condition of suspension of “cutlets”, prepared for serious adventures, is absolutely unpredictable.


Steering is with a usual rack and steering booster. The resource is quite decent, the mechanism usually fulfills its 200-300 thousand, but the leaks happen regularly, both with hoses, and with a rack. Note that the lane leaks more often the side seals, but not the rings and the shaft. The reason for many problems is in overheating of the system at low speeds and on the ground – it could use a big radiator for hydraulics, if the car goes off the road very often. And carefully check the hoses in the engine compartment

Additional attention should be paid to the pump in diesel cars, it is very non-standard here, with gear drive, and is expensive – the new is more than 1000 euros, and used also is not cheap. There are original rotor repair kits, but they are more expensive than the complete pump from the non-original supplier, about twice as much – 120 euros for gasoline and 200 euros for diesel. So a howling pump is no good, here it howls only with serious wear.

General problems

Pajero’s Super Select 4 transmission is complex, with a rich choice of modes, and is surprisingly strong. All units, including the driveshafts, are made very reliable. Options included front and rear differential locks, and regional versions could be fitted with simpler variants with a mechanically driven transfer case and even with no center differential.

The bulk of the trucks were equipped with Mitsubishi’s V5A51 five-speed automatic, but not all were. American Montero was equipped with 4-speed V4A51 in conjunction with the 3.5 motor in the basic XLS range, and the LTD was already equipped with a 5-speed gearbox. Right-hand drive versions from the home market in the Exceed-L, ZF and Exceed-S configurations came with a 4-speed even in the long wheelbase and 3.5 GDI engines. Options from Southeast Asia with a 3-liter engine come with the same V4A51, but the cars from the UAE – suddenly with 4-speed Aisin AW30-70LE, although the documentation does not show it.

Even greater variety is in the choice of locks, reinforced transmissions, etc. With documentation for all kinds of “special series” all is not simple, and there can be difficulties with repairing, but in general the truck saved potential of the “big designer”. Generally speaking, everything fits from anywhere: the body itself is universal, the boxes are joined to the engines and transmissions through the adapter plates and a removable box bell. The main thing when ordering non-standard variants is to take control units and wiring at once. By the way, in case of an accident the gearbox bell is often cracked, so check it for welding.

Manual Transmissions

“Manuals are mainly V5M31-6 or V5M31-6-X, it is still used in Pajero Evo and other most powerful versions of the second generation, it has more than 450 Nm of torque, so it has no problems with petrol engines. Unless the bearing in the middle body of the box will spin… It happens after overheating, when the pressure plate and the bearing seat in the aluminum body get loose.

Condition of transmission even at mileage of 350-400 thousand is usually still decent, although the wear of synchronizers and clutches of 2nd and 3rd gears occurs quite regularly, it is no longer possible to shift quickly. The bearings are quite reliable, the shafts are strong. Repair is possible, but usually it is not reasonable, because the price of a complete box is lower than the price of a typical repair set of bearings and forks with synchromesh. And in case of serious troubles with a box, for example, after an oil leak, the difference between the contract price and repair price will be many times greater. Just take care of the unit, don’t allow leaks and bumps on the case – it is rather delicate here. And when buying don’t forget to check oil and condition of magnets.

With a 2,5 motor it is possible to meet weaker and less reliable V5MT1 gearbox. Fortunately, the engine itself is rare, it is used only on some European versions and occasionally it is found among the Asian versions.

Automatic transmissions

Since the design of the 4-speed V4A51 and 5-speed V5A51 are generally the same, they also have common problems. The box is quite reliable, no massive problems, the cooling system is implemented with the use of a heat exchanger in the cold tank of the radiator and an additional radiator in most versions. There is only one minus of this scheme – when the antifreeze is replaced rarely, the tubular heat exchanger sometimes corrodes on the welding spots with the consequent ingress of the antifreeze into the automatic transmission. For this box it’s not fatal, if you notice the problem in time, but, of course, it doesn’t help for longevity – the most loaded friction clutches are usually affected.

The most frequent problem with these automatic transmissions is not that, but the simple failure of input and output shaft speed sensors, and also the selector sensor. At high loads and mileage well over 200k, purely resource problems with wear of GDT lockup linings, Reverse pack friction clutches, brake tapes and Overdrive clutches start to appear little by little. Besides the filter of a box is very sensitive to impurities, it strongly loses pressure with accumulation of a dirt and the solenoids of a GDT lock and line pressure with the lapse of time are worn out and need to be replaced.

The gearbox is very easy to repair, it has good wiring and good mechanics, even though it is not made with an insane margin of safety, like the old 4-speed Aisin. But a solid amount of cars have mileages over 400 thousand now, so investments in this part are not excluded.

Repair is unlikely to be cheap, so buying contract automatic transmission from Japan is still the easiest way, but the guaranteed working units seem to start to run out. Get ready for the fact that just replacing and all won’t work. “A new box” is likely to go for a while and beg for repairs, too. And the best choice is to pre-defect the used automatic transmission before installation, with replacement of seals, the most stressed friction packs and solenoids.

Four-wheel drive

All-wheel drive on almost all cars in this generation is Super Select II with a full range of driving modes, downshifting, center lockup, and rear-wheel drive capability.

The main problems almost everyone encounters are valve and actuator errors on the vacuum actuator front axle hub connection and transfer case sensor failures. The pneumatics is a delicate thing, the valves break down with time, and here the “relatives” of Hyundai H1 are helpful – the valves from them are three times cheaper than original, and not worse in quality.

The transfer gearbox sensor unit starts to malfunction with time, and it is possible to understand from the manual which of the sensors is bad, thank goodness they can be cleaned and repaired. It also happens so that there is nothing wrong with the sensor itself, but the wiring has a short circuit.

In cars with long runs, the modes selector in the interior and the motordrive-reducer in the transfer case also get worn out and fail. Both parts are not cheap, for the price of a new one it is often possible to take a used automatic transmission assembly. Thus, it is not worth neglecting the check of operation of all modes of transmission at purchase. The indication must work and there must be no blinking of orange selector lamp on the dashboard when driving.

Front and rear transmissions mainly suffer from water ingress while driving off-road. You have to watch out for oil and fogging, but in general they are almost trouble-free. True, there are quite a few options, especially the rear one. And, as mentioned in the part about the suspension, don’t forget to keep an eye on the gearbox suspension, it often leads to unnecessary vibrations that are hard to “catch”.

The driveshafts in cars are strong, but not eternal. Front CVT usually fails, it does not live long in case of torn cover, but as long as there are contract ones, including from Delica, it is not a big problem.

Common problems.

Aside from the 4M41 diesel engine, everything here is essentially old friends. The 6H72/74/75 gasoline family has been around for years and generations at the time of installation on the Pajero3/ Montero 3. The diesels of 4D56 and 4D40 families have also been installed on its predecessor.

Gasoline engines are characterized by good appetite, long service life, maintainability and wide range of options. All this leads globally to two things. Firstly, to the frequent installation of HBO. Secondly, to an independent or garage repair, quite seldom qualitative. As a result, under a hood a total mess, non-original units from other models of Mitsubishi and Hyundai, and also traces of kolhozny repair are often observed.

Gasoline engines

The family of 6G7 engines appeared in 1986, and Pajero 3 received its rather late versions. Japanese and European cars were using mostly 3.5-liter 6G74 with GDI direct injection and twin cam head (DOHC 24V) rated at 203-223 hp depending on the model. The American cars more often also were equipped with 3.5 liters 6G74, but with distributed injection MPI and SOHC-“heads” (though, also with 24 valves), 200 power. An alternative option for the USA was the 3.8-liter 6G75 MPI SOHC 24V with an output of 220 hp. In Europe and Asia, 3.0 6G72 MPI SOHC 24 (180 hp) engines were also available, even with a cable throttle, but often with electronic throttle.

The main problems and features of this family of engines have not particularly changed over the years and the release of new modifications. First of all, the use of a hydraulic tensioner in the timing belt drive imposes high requirements for the quality of the part itself and oil pressure. The tensioner easily fails before the rest of the timing component is worn, causes vibration if oil pressure drops or the oil channel is choked. When starting from cold one should be careful, do not start the engine with a pusher and try to use cold flowing oils in winter. A sharp knocking when the engine is running is one of the signs of tensioner failure, and the flapping belt will not last long, the phases will sooner or later jump over.

The expansion joints here have an unusual design, they are installed in the rocker arms of the valves, and their body is held in its place only by a stop in the valve. The design itself is very compact, and with rare oil changes, bad oil or sealant in it, the hydro-compensator gets clogged very quickly. However, even under ideal conditions, they rarely live more than 200k. Certainly, it is possible to procrastinate with change and to change only those, which are evidently easily compressed, but there are 24 pieces here in any case, and resource is plus or minus the same, so you will have to return often. On the other hand, replacement of all at once will easily cost 250 euros.

Sometimes the wear of seating of the hydrocompensator in rocker arm is encountered, what leads to loss of the hydrator from seating at high revolutions, and at initial stage – simply to oil leakage from it along the case. And at any oil starvation the liners suffer, they are relatively narrow and loaded here. And their service life is not very long, with mileage 250-300 you need to watch carefully for oil pressure and suspicious knocks. Fortunately, the crankshaft is damaged very seldom in such cases, only if the bearing has already rotated.

Smaller service life problems like leaking gaskets and tubes are also present, especially unpleasant when the tubes in the crush block, under the intake manifold or rear connection channels of the cooling system and ECG are flowing. Uneven idle and weak engine mounts are not much of a trouble, and depend heavily on mileage and motor variant. The best here is the 3-liter motor with electronic throttle, a little worse – the 3-liter with a mechanical throttle, and 3,5 GDI has the most problems.

But it’s not the revs alone. In general, if you get a 203hp 6G74 with direct injection, expect problems. There is an expensive fuel injection system, intolerance to 92 gasoline, tendency to coking of piston groups, and, especially unpleasant, absence of repair pistons on sale. The company withdrew them from sale quite a long time ago, and it is already problematic to buy a set. The piston itself is very different from that of the MPI version – it is here with a developed displacer, not interchangeable.

The only way out is to order forging, which in any case will be more expensive than serial castings. And also in most cases they don’t want to make forging from high silicon alloys with a low expansion coefficient, such castings are not in demand among tuners, and this means that the engine will have to be assembled with large clearances. That’s why American Montero with “exactly 200” power and conventional injection are more popular with connoisseurs, despite the simpler interior and high mileage.

Diesel engines

The main diesel on this generation is the 3.2-liter 4M41 with 160/165 hp. Unlike the earlier 4M40 it has direct injection instead of swirl chamber and 16 valves instead of 8. And the displacement has increased by 200 cc. The third generation received the version with an electronic fuel injection system Zexel VRZ, which is considered problematic because of its design and price. Zexel was purchased by Bosch, but the service at the company’s service stations is unlikely to help you. Repair of this unit in Russia is obviously difficult, there are not many specialized service centers, spare parts are expensive, and the hardware that breaks in it is not that cheap. In most cases, when broken you have to look for used fuel injection valve, especially if you live in the country. Or learn the skills of reanimation of precision mechanics on YouTube.

If you are lucky enough to go for repair immediately after the injection advance sensor error occurs, you will most likely avoid damage to the advance piston, scoring of the shaft, rotor and bushings. In such a rare case, the repair price will be in the range of 10 thousand rubles. A complete repair in the best years would cost over 60,000 rubles. This is if you can find a master who will do it.

This fuel injection pump doesn’t tolerate freezing of the system, a serious breakdown is almost guaranteed in this case. When checking is mandatory scanner control, check the parameters Actual CSP and Target CSP – should be up to 29%, better under 25, after 32% are usually visually noticeable irregularities in the engine. High readings indicate problems with the rod or wear of the plunger pair. You can also try checking the engine under load and see if there is heavy black smoke coming out of the exhaust. Diagnostics in a professional service can tell a lot about the problems, but such services are still to be found.

Later versions of the engine on the Pajero 4 was equipped with Common Rail Injection, which made the engine significantly more reliable, but on the third generation of the machine is such a motor can not put without major alterations. A simple mechanical fuel injection pump Bosch VE from the earlier 4M40 is not suitable, it can be put and even start the engine, but the shape of the injection curve and the moments of pressure peak of the engine with swirl chamber mixing and direct injection are too different. There were experiments, they put and tune Covec-F or Bosch VE injectors, but the engines usually are underpowered and smoke, so the selection of the set point disc shape and angles goes on. There are individual success stories, but such conversions won’t work properly with ABS and ESP anyway.

In addition to the unfortunate HPF, the motor has other complications. Resource of chain timing is quite decent by today’s standards, 200+ thousand kilometers, but one should be attentive at replacement. If there is a backlash of balancer shafts, it is necessary to change their liners at once. And the chain breaks at over mileage, you can’t drive with a knocking one. Damper pulley is very delicate, its service life is low, especially in cars with manual transmission, rubber is flaking very quickly with frequent driving at low rpm. There are also several drive belts, each requiring tension control. The timing belt clearances need to be adjusted very often, literally every 15k miles, just like on the old 4D56. And oil leaks through the oil filter cup and heat exchanger on a regular basis, due to a bad gasket.

Versions from the beginning of 2000 with actively working EGR-valve are also distinguished by heavy deposition in the intake manifold, which causes blocking of the EGR-throttle, built for better performance. With overheating, both cylinder heads and pistons get cracked, and at 300+ miles the cylinder heads need to be checked carefully. Cracks sometimes get not in the antifreeze channel, which is easy enough to detect by excess cooling system pressure and piston soaping, but in the cylinder head cavity, which causes a sharp increase in crankcase pressure and oil leakage.

The old 2.5 liter 4D56 diesel on the third generation Pajero is extremely rare. And, strangely enough, it is the second version of the engine with still regular mechanical HPF and regular injectors, without Common Rail and variable geometry turbines. In addition to the difficulties with a small belt in the timing drive, there are shortcomings in the form of heavy oil leaks from all cracks, the piston and cylinder head sensitivity to overheating and tendency to crack during prolonged operation under high load, and crankshaft liners are often worn out at mileage of 250-300 thousand during operation with manual transmission. In general, you have to keep an eye on oil pressure and noises, though with a diesel it’s hard to catch extra noise. Read more about the 4D56 in the Hyundai H1 review.

It is almost unreal to meet a diesel engine 2,8-liter 4M40, unless it is in Brazilian or Thai automobiles. They are available only in neighboring Belarus, and only in trace amounts.

To buy or not to buy?

The best version of the Pajero is petrol with distributed injection, that is either 3-liter, or rare 3,5 from the USA with 200 horsepower, instead of 202 or 220 – it is logical that it will be not Pajero, but Montero. Cars with direct injection or diesels will be noticeably more troublesome. As usual, it is possible to advise, as always, to give preference to cars maximally close to factory condition, and not to save money on diagnostics. From unusual expensive problems we can remember only the notorious ABS pump, but otherwise it is the strong car, which has quite good remaining service life even at the age of 20 years.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *