If ever a company was bound to produce a decent commercial vehicle it was going to be Isuzu. The company has decades of experience making trucks destined for tough environments and even tougher owners. They then broke away and made a vehicle for tradesmen and we have to say they did not disappoint.
Lets look at the D-max common problems.
The D-max is mechanically amazing but we will get to that in a moment. Aesthetically the D-max is a little poor. Its no Mercedes Benz inside and thats for sure, however interior wise the Ford Ranger, the Hilux and the Amarok are all much nicer vehicles to sit in and operate. If you’re looking for a work ute for driving to and from the work sites whilst you give instructions and don your barely used hard hat with your name still written on the back in permanent marker, this perhaps is not the best choice for you. However, if you are the bloke that needs to get into the site, throw a tonne of materials in the tray, run to Bunnings and drag you excavator out of a ditch, you can’t go past the D-max. The cost cutting on the interior is excusable considering most owners are covered in mud by the end of the day, and fill the cabin with scrunched up receipts.
Isuzu D-max Common Faults.
Mechanically the D-Max is brilliant. There are a few common issues with them to watch out for. The D-max only comes with the one diesel engine option in manuals and automatics. This diesel like all its counterparts runs a DPF (diesel particular filter) which if your truck only does around town, start stop driving, never gets a chance to do a regeneration burn and eventually the DPF blocks up. This is not a unique problem to the D-max it plagues all diesel engines living in the city. (Even our work Hilux had a DPF problem at 40,000Kms)
Likewise to the DPF issues the D-max are common for carbon buildup on the EGR valve which can cause the valve to get stuck open. Sometimes this can be repaired with a clean however nine times out of ten, once its stuck open, it needs replacing. Preventative maintenance can reduce the risk of this occurring. Many workshops now have an aerosol based EGR and intake cleaner which we have had success with in the past. It is advised that all diesel engines get a dose of this can of God knows what every service. Don’t breath it in, it may put hair on your chest (or burn it off). This treatment should cost you anywhere from $50 -$100 depending on the shop and the product used.
Some consumers feel this is a gimmick and an unnecessary up sell. Those people save themselves $100 a year but loses $1500 every 20,000Kms when the EGR valve needs to be replaced. I’ll leave you to do the maths on that one.
Keyboard warriors, grey nomads and super cheap auto mechanics will all advise you to blank off the EGR Valve. Firstly this is illegal as it tampers with the vehicles emissions and secondary Dwayne Smith in his mothers basement somehow feels he has more mechanical engineering experience than the engineers who spent millions of dollars developing this vehicle, I somehow think Mr Smith has a somewhat limited level of credibility. Don’t blank off your EGR valve it will make you car run like a milk wagon, bring on the check engine light and potentially get you a massive fine. Maintain you car properly and the need for a flimsy $2 piece of metal to be added to your engines emissions system is now gone.
Other common issues with the D-max are airbag warning light issues. This is totally avoidable by owners but it comes down to customer education. Under the front seat are the harnesses for the drivers and passengers airbags and seatbelt pretensioners. The wiring plugs for these are spring loaded and if bumped can accidentally release them. Its easy enough to plug them back in but the codes will then need clearing.
This problem is often caused by tools rolling around or small blow moulded cases being stored under the seats. Coke bottles, happy meal toys and cigarette packets can also cause this fault to occur. Don’t put things under the seats of your D-Max.
Some more fun facts for the D-max. Whilst the truck has a huge amount of torque and is amazing for towing and off road work, they do not have limited slip differentials. State of the art traction control systems allow this truck to operate and easily compete with Hilux, Ranger and any of the Nissan range. The traction control system allows the driveline to cut power to wheels when required giving it the same abilities as a limited slip differential but without needing them.
Costs of servicing. The D-max is a relatively low cost vehicle but like all vehicles do require you to maintain them. Isuzu, like all Japanese vehicles are more forgiving for poor maintenance than anything our Krout brothers produce.
Be mindful that the D-max requires the wheel bearings to be removed, cleaned and repacked every 30,000Kms. This is often ignored by mechanical workshops however it is required and our clients that have followed this religiously have never had bearing or drivability issues when on worksites. Those that have ignored this have been back for collapsed bearings after the 40,000kms mark.
Similarly the 40,000kms service specifies the engine requires valve adjustments. Again most workshops including some of the dealerships are not bothering to do this. The manufacturer specifies this for a reason. Stick to the schedule and this ute will outlast any of its competitors.
Aftermarket trinkets are now readily available such as lift kits, bull bars, snorkels and other paraphernalia. Be advised the D-max chasis in the front end doesn’t cope well with the fitment of aftermarket bull bars and nudge bars. We have seen several with split chassis caused but he extra load put on the front when bars are fitted.
Cost of the D-max: in our humble opinion the D-max is a great looking truck up to the task it was made for and on average is around $10K cheaper than any of its competitors. If you’re after a work ute, something your apprentice can’t break or your forman needs to fill with takeaway coffee cups, you can’t go past the D-max.
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