Mitsubishi Pajero 3 with a Mileage: Paint for the Ages, Lots of Rust Underneath, and Simple Electrics



In terms of market positioning, the third generation of Mitsubishi Pajero has followed in line with the decisions of predecessors – it is still a big honest SUV with a moderate shot at the premium. But the design of the car has changed very much.

First of all, it should be noted that the frame is integrated into the body now, as it was on Delica model and its Hyundai H1. At first glance the body has the same powerful side members as before, but they are permanently welded to the body, and at the expense of this design became much safer and more durable, and at the same time there is more space in the cabin for legs, because the central part of the longitudinal side members of the “frame” is much lower. This so-called RISE technology allowed achieving very good parameters of passive and active safety in terms of SUV, because the steering also improved, and the indicators of body strength during rollover became better many times. The body, however, remains entirely of steel.

Suspension became independent front and rear, and the front suspension finally abandoned torsions and now springs are used everywhere. True, the rigidity of the suspension is considered one of the main drawbacks of the car – it is still able to break the seals when driving fast rally-raid style on rough terrain. The steering has also been updated – the car received rack-and-pinion steering instead of a gearbox.

The engines are also updated. The main 3.5-liter V6 engines from the 6G74 series received optional direct injection and a power system update on the distributed injection versions. Mechanically, there were few changes compared to its predecessors. There is a new V6 6G75 in the US, but it is simply a larger displacement version of the ’74. There was a new 4-cylinder diesel engine 4M41 – the successor of 4M40 from the predecessor, but with a new cylinder headers and increased to 3.2 liters displacement.

Mitsubishi Pajero 1991–1999

Thus, instead of the old 4-speed Aisin, a 5-speed automatic transmission of its own design is used here. The control scheme of the transfer gearbox was updated: its drive became electric, and the mechanical part was also changed. Less vibration-loaded front PTO shafts are used. Hub control remained pneumatic.

With all this, there were versions of Pajero 3 with units of previous generation. For example, cars from the Emirates come with an old V6 6G72 and 4-speed automatic transmission, and in Brazil were sold with old diesels.

In Russia, the Pajero 3 are collected from all over the world, there are enough “Arabs” and “Americans” (known as Montero), but the share of dealer cars is relatively small.


August 2, 1999. New generation Pajero in V60 body is presented to the public.

Fall 2000. Sales begin in Europe. Three- and five-door, five- and seven-seat variants are introduced. Engines 6G74 3.5 GDI 2032 17 hp and 4M41 3.2 Di-D 165 hp. A choice of five-speed manual transmission or automatic transmission. For the U.S. and Asian markets, 4-speed automatic transmission options were available with 3.0 6G72 180 hp, 3.5 6G74 MPI 203 hp, 3.8 6G75 210 or 220 hp, and 2.5 4D56 114 or 136 hp and 2.8 4M40 138 or 160 hp diesels.

June 2001. Due to the introduction of the new Euro 3 econorms, the diesel engine for the European market is weaker by 5 hp.

June 2003. Restyling of the model. Minimal cosmetic changes. Stabilization system is added to base equipment, ABS block is changed for more reliability, interior is updated a little. The multimedia system and equipment is significantly changed.

2005. The Pajero Classic for Europe with petrol engines without GDI and very simple equipment sets was released.

February 2007. The next, formally 4th generation V80 body model came out, which can be considered a product of the deep modernization of the third generation. Pajero 4 will be produced until 2021.

Exterior panels.

Finding an openly rusty Pajero of this generation is still a bit difficult. Factory paint quality is not bad, there are usually chips and scratches, but just from driving on the highway paintwork here does not peel or scratch. Defects of the front edge of the hood and the front edge of the roof happen, but not much corrosion. Usually there are scratches under door handles, you can find cars with scuffs and light corrosion at the contact points of plastic arch extenders and metal fenders, but hardly more.

The secret of success is really good body rigidity and good protection. True, huge plastic covers are not only useful, but also harmful. At solid age, problem points can hide under them.

Unfortunately, everything is fixed very thoroughly, on numerous clips and double-sided adhesive tape, there is even additional metal brackets on arches… So, it is impossible to look under plastic and see what happens there. You can assess the condition by indirect signs – for example, corrosion on the metal bracket or the inside of the arch, which can be seen without disassembly.

Also during the inspection you should carefully check the door frames (especially the back one at the top near the glass) for blown moldings and paint. Also check the sills: they may only have a couple of bubbles on the outside, but the inside is already caked.

All in all, the Pajero is that rare case where it is useful to have a thickness gauge when choosing a car older than 15 years, because the car has a high chance of being in its native paint.

From below

The view of an old Pajero from below to an unprepared person is usually frightening. The fact is that the rather thick longitudinal members of the ladder frame, which is a part of the body base here, are very poorly protected against corrosion and rust quickly and well. So the Pajero has a very peculiar look underneath: if it hasn’t been regularly anticorroded, there will be a lot of rusty surfaces. According to many owners, it’s not a problem, but in fact, electrochemical corrosion is greatly accelerated with rusty areas and dissimilar metal. Only the very unlucky exemplars will rust through the frame side members, but the surrounding metal will suffer a lot. In fact, body floor and sills are made of usual steel, and not very reinforced and only minimally covered with anticorrosion.

The situation in the wheel arches is not better: the lockers are very narrow, they cover only from sandblasting, and the inner edge of the fender is not protected at all. Technological joints are led out by ribs in arches, so there are places of dirt accumulation, and vulnerable to rust metal ends.

Brackets fixing plastic covers of arches are made of black metal and are painted very bad – its lower edge is rotting even on very intact copies. The condition of the elements can be seen even if you do not remove the plastic, but only bend the bottom edge.

At the back right the situation is aggravated by the fuel filler pipes, which are rotting to the holes behind their casing, the upper edge of arch, where the clods of dirt gather behind the protection of pipes, suffers in the same time. The rotted tubes are often replaced with plastic ones from Lanos or Nexia, they fit well into the arch with some modification.

In general, the rotten edges of the arches and many pockets of surface corrosion are certain, and if you start the process of corrosion, then it will be difficult and expensive to treat.

The good news is that the metal is thick enough for the most part, so there probably won’t be any holes yet when you clean it. Especially if the arches have been washed at least occasionally. If you want to prolong life of arches, there are non-original lockers, covering almost all surface, and anticor is often made at cars, all the same not cheap SUV was at that time, and it was well taken care of.

A serious problem is the middle part of the sill: the drainage is unsuccessful here, and it rots through over time. And if the power sills were put poorly or were damaged during off-road operation, it can rot in any other place. The gas tank is a big trouble – it often rots and starts to leak.

I want to point out that the tank and sills are suitable for V80 generation, because the body is almost the same, and the arches are compatible in many ways.

The floors of the body from the outside rust rarely, there is rather a thick layer of mastic on them, and even if there is rust, you can’t see it. But if there is rust at the seams, it is worth taking a closer look at the interior from the inside. In the back of the body there is traditionally a lot of rust, around the trunk niche and behind it the floors are rusty underneath and the seams are often rotten. But this area is also worth a look from the cabin.


Rusty brackets, exhaust, subframe, tank and engine guards could not be mentioned. There is a lot of rusty iron here.

It is necessary to lift the carpets and take a look what is going on under them when examining Pajero – ventilation is not the best here, and off-roading imposes its imprint. The carpet is removable quickly, but the rust can be everywhere. It is most often on the edges of the floor, near the plastic wiring box it is the strongest. The skids of seats serve as an excellent litmus test. If there is rust on them, there is almost 100% probability of swamp under carpets.

In a trunk and in its side niches, it is often damp; there are cars with serious joint corrosion and perforation of floor panels. The cars with a working heater of back row usually have less problems, the condition of a body is better, and upholstery is drier. But the pipes to the rear heater often rot by 10 years of age. Some replace them with domestic metal-plastic, some disconnect the rear heater.

Body equipment

The car, of course, is made for the ages, but a few unfortunate points can be noted. The windshield is relatively intensively scratched, but the cracks occur only with serious impacts.

The optics are not very qualitative and efficient, with the age the owners often have a desire to make a restomod – to renew the headlights stuffing, to polish the glass. The upper taillights suffer from leakage, and the lower ones just crumble from the inside with time.

Very unfortunate design of the wiper blade – it sticks at long idle times, and by the mileage of 200 thousand just falls apart. Cheap spare parts from the wiper blade on the Lada Kalina help me out.

Doorknob rod breakages are rare, but they do happen occasionally – a penny plastic insert that connects the handle and the rod breaks, but it is not sold separately. It is either replacement of the handle, or kolhozing.

The situation is the same with the retractable antenna on the cars before restyling. It is sure to break, but there is nothing to replace it with, as it can be easily reassembled. You can make a Chinese one.

Mirrors are weak: firstly, they vibrate at speed, and secondly, it is very easy to break them – the axis of rotation does not withstand bends.

It is useless to speak about weakness of bumpers of SUV. Whatever they are, they will be broken at the first serious drive out “in a dirt”. There are power bumpers on Pajero III, and the most expensive versions look difficult to distinguish from original plastic ones. But with a usual “rail” you have all chances not to get registered.


The Japanese idea of real “luxury” is quite visible in Pajero of all generations. Plastic “wood”, a lot of leather, spaciousness and big screens, levers, large handles and a lot of devices and screens. You can even find a car with a real wooden steering wheel, it was among the options.

It is a pity that the ergonomics is rather average, the noise isolation is also far from ideal, and the quality of plastic and the selection of materials was not paid much attention. The car is made according to American canon, so if you have ever driven a European car, you will not like it here very much.

Fortunately, in terms of reliability, everything is not bad. The main breakages are the bottom lock of the armrest and seats. The driver’s one has very weak covering, and foam rubber fills up to frame already after 150 thousand run, especially if a driver is heavier than 100 kg. Only the central part of cushion suffers for lighter riders and a little – the edge of roll on the outside. But the interior is strongly “frayed” for longer runs anyway. The steering wheel grows frayed, the leather grows old, gets scuffed, and even the covering under it grows frayed and twisted. Levers lose their texture, all decorative inserts and overlays around the climate panel, multimedia, on the central tunnel become matt. Visors sag, the ceiling strongly loses its texture, though it does not peel off. In most cars, the floor carpet is badly scuffed with dirt. Probably, the problem is mainly, that these cars are used for fishing and going to summer cottage, but more reliable fastenings of mats would improve the situation.

The once rich and now obsolete multimedia system with navigation is quite reliable, but useless, as the maps do not work, and the sound is far from ideal. Failures are often associated with power failures due to the automatically dimmed rearview mirror. Especially annoying short circuits its American version with a compass. But even the usual one has actively corroded the soldering inside, and short circuits form with time, knocking out in passing all that hangs on this wiring harness.

Lots of problems with the climate. Clogged heater radiator and its leaks happen relatively often. It has already been said about rear heater: the main problem there is rotting pipes under the bottom. Their replacement for metal-plastic is a very reasonable step, though it looks like “kolhoz”. Diesel cars are poorly heated, and Mitsubishi does not put any additional heaters in a climate system, unless it is a starting preheater.


As it should be for the Japanese car, everything is not bad in this respect. The owners are bothered with electrics minimally. Yes, there are breakages of wires in channelling, failures of buttons, failures of lambda-probes, sensors and relays of EGR system on diesels. But the alternators here are sturdy, the wiring is well documented, almost all units last a long time and are not particularly afraid of water. Bearings in the alternator belt rollers are replaceable, so after each ford you don’t have to replace a lot of expensive elements.

Quite a lot of trouble can cause anti-theft systems and modifications of multimedia systems, as, in general, and on any car.

Intermediate summary

According to results of the first part, there is an impression that Pajero even at the age of 15-20 years is still quite well preserved. Yes, the interior will be almost certainly not of the first freshness, it is necessary to invest something in a body too (at least to update an anticorner, and at most something to double up), but the game is more or less worth it. In the next part we’ll study the running gear, transmission and engines.

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