Our 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Is Fixed And Ready To Rock Again! Here’s What Happened

The car had issues when we first took it off-road

Our 1990 Daihatsu Rocky is getting emergency maintenance for an unseen problem.

Our 1990 Daihatsu Rocky just had a bad fuel pump – or so we thought.

A few weeks back, we bought our 1990 Daihatsu Rocky with the idea that we could hit the trails right away. That didn’t quite happen. For those of you who don’t know, Daihatsu had a (very) limited run in the United States where they sold a small three-cylinder economy car (the unfortunately named “Charade”) and the off-road-capable Rocky.

Our friend Toby at German Auto in Boulder, Colorado saved our bacon by finding, diagnosing and fixing this problem.

They actually built solid vehicles, but Daihatsu never had the backing and recognition needed to be successful here.

Our Daihatsu Rocky cost us $4,500, and it was in excellent condition. The engine and interior were in fine shape, as were the tires and suspension. It was a rare, but cool choice. It’s a simple vehicle; four-banger gas engine, five speed manual, solid rear axle and an independent front end. It has manual locking front hubs and it weighs just a bit over a ton.

Compared to the Suzuki Samurai, it’s several inches wider and it has a much more comfortable/larger interior. Off-road, the Rocky’s worldwide reputation is excellent. It’s a tough and capable little bugger.

If you can see that corroded mess on the right, well that’s what’s left of the idler-arm. It was so loose, it could have failed at any moment.

The problem

Unfortunately, it came with one problem that immediately stopped it from going up against the Suzuki Samurai off-road – the fuel pump was leaking. Being cautious, we opted to flat-bed the Rocky to our favorite mechanic – and that’s where things got interesting.

It turns out we had an idler-arm (steering component) that was about to fall off. Simply put: if the idler-arm gives, we lose steering control and wind up in a ditch immediately. Bad mojo.

Fortunately, we caught it in time and we have the video to prove it!

This article is also posted on TFLoffroad.com.