03-06 Montero or 06-09 forester


Hi All,

(I posted this over in the “other vehicle” section, but figured I should post it here as well.)

Looking into getting a vehicle to build over the next year or so and then ship to South America to travel with during the winters. Right now I am considering these two vehicles for their relative low cost to ability ratio, but would be up for other suggestions. Looking to spend roughly 5k for the vehicle though.

The planned usage is to travel around South America with my wife and son. I would like something that has decent Offroad ability, mostly for gravel, poorly maintained, and rough roads. No rock crawling or mudding is in the cards.

While I’m not in S.A. the car will be with my wife’s family in Guayaquil and used as a daily driver sparingly. Please let me know your thoughts!


Expedition Leader
Wow, two very different rides. I wonder about parts availability of the Suby? The Monty should have parts under the Pajero name. Also, I suspect the Monty would be way more capable on deeply rutted roads, deep dust, or deep mud.


New member
Definitely the montero. I wouldn’t trust even my own subaru off road. I believe the montero also is an actual 4wd as opposed to an awd.

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Nwoods: I know they are on different ends on the overlanding spectrum, but they are really the only two vehicles (that I could think of) that check all the boxes.
-Around 5k
-sufficient room (reason I excluded a tracker/sidekick)
-aftermarket support
-active forums

I hadn’t thought of parts availability down here. Monteros definitely outnumber Subaru’s, so I would imagine the parts availability would favor the Montero.

Astrormi: what makes you say that? It seems plenty of people Offroad their Subaru in the “other vehicles” forum. I would upgrade the forester with a small lift, 215/70r16 ATs, and skideplates before heading south. Has your Subaru been unreliable? I agree the Montero is the superior Offroad vehicle and overall a more HD unit, but the operating cost seems to favor the Subaru (mpg, aftermarket/factory parts cost, etc).


Brush Dawg
I lived in Ecuador for several years, Monteros everywhere. Great size and ability for traveling down in that area. Another thing you see a lot of are the Gran Vitaras (tracker/Sidekick) the 4 door versions are similar sized the Suby and everyone down there swears by them. In contrast I don't think I saw a more than 3-5 Subarus that were newer than 2000.

Personally I'd take the Montero and enjoy a better driving experience and more peace of mind, and take the mpg hit.


Do Suby engines even last past 100K miles? I'm joking, I owned one years back. Not remotely comparable to a Montero.


Southofantarctice: I would agree with your assment if the amount of monteros vs Subaru’s. I also like the vitaras but I think to storage space I’m them is lacking compared to the other two rigs. I’ve been coming here for about the last ten years spending a total of a year and a half or so down here. Where did you live here?

Plh: I would agree that a Montero is a more heavy duty vehicle, but looking through this forum I keep seeing random problems with the third gen and it kind of has me hesitant. I know Subaru’s are not without fault, but it seems their problems are consistent and within my abilities to address (thinking head gasket in particular). What issues would I expect to address with the monteros?


Hanzo: main mechanical issues common across Gen 2 and 3 petrol Monteros/Pajeros (6g72, 6g74 and 6g75 engines) are valve stem seals, valve guides and rear camshaft seals. The guides wear out after 100-150k and the valve stem seals dry out. Once the guides are worn, the seals don't seal properly also. This allows oil to get into the combustion chamber messing w/ fuel economy, ruining cat converters and producing blue smoke out the tail pipe. Replacing the guides and seals seems to be part of common baseline procedures for most folks here when buying Monteros above 120k or so. The rear camshaft seals also leak after 100k+, an updated part made of better material fixes that. Other gaskets also sometimes leak (valve cover gaskets, crankshaft seals), but less often.

For the DOHC 6g74, there are butterfly valves that give little performance benefit but increase engine complexity and have bad failure modes (possible catastrophic failure), so most people remove them. Also there's an updated crankshaft bolt and washer for all engines in the 6g family that are supposed to be more resistant to shearing on disassembly (e.g. during timing belt work).

Not much else, the 6g bottom ends, Montero transmissions and 4WD systems are considered bulletproof. The frame and body components are large, heavy and durable.

Edit: 6g family is also known for valve tick. Folks fix that by cleaning/replacing the lash adjusters/valve lifters and using 5w20 oil instead of 5w30.
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Brush Dawg
Southofantarctic: I would agree with your assessment if the amount of monteros vs Subaru's. I also like the vitaras but I think to storage space I'm them is lacking compared to the other two rigs. I've been coming here for about the last ten years spending a total of a year and a half or so down here. Where did you live here?
True, the vitaras are hurting in the storage side of things. Great little rigs once you find a way to work around that, they handle those roads down there without blinking an eye. I lived in Misahualli, near Tena, for just over two years. I also spent a fair amount of time in Manta and in the valleys around Quito. Loved the country and the people. I've had a soft spot for those Lada Nivas ever since...


Lev: So it sounds like working over the heads and seals would be good idea before I go. Any idea on parts cost? (I’d do the work myself at a friends shop). Also I assume the 03-06 3rd gens have the 6g75, am I correct in this assumption?

Southofantarctica: MY MAN! I love me some Lada Niva, and if I were a single man I’d be driving one now. In my mind they’re like a 4wd vw bug. I’ve spent some time in Tena, Manta, and Quito but I mostly am hanging around the coast.


I bought a 3G montero as a winter beater. I want to hate it. The more I drive it the more I love the damn thing.

I've owned three subarus, and worked as a tech/sales for a very big name in the Subaru world... I have never once said I loved my Subaru.

I'll gladly take leaky gaskets over dropping a valve blowing apart the #4 piston or other random Subaru issues.


Corprin: The more I hear, the more it sounds like 3G Montero is the way to go. I’ve always been a LC/Toyota guy, but the idea of full independent suspension down here sounds good to me....plus the premium an LC demands isn’t something I could stomach for a vehicle I drive 1 or 2 months a year.

With that being said what do I look for in a 3rd gen Montero? And does anyone have advices on suspension, armor, etc. for the 3rd gen?


Hooots: thanks for the links, I’ve been searching around the ADD forum and there’s a lot of info there. Really think I’ll be purchasing a Montero to build and take down!


Correct, the 03-06 ones will have the 6g75. How much initial work you decide to put in the car will depend on your risk tolerance. Some folks fix only what is clearly broken, others do a lot of preventative maintenance as a baseline (w/ high mileage multi-owner vehicles and missing/spotty service records this seems a safe course and one I subscribe to).

Main complexity w/ any head work on the 6g74 and 6g75 is that you must take off the intake plenum to get to them (and replace the relevant gasket). Here's a quick price list from RockAuto (personal preferences, not cheapest, I've had good luck w/ Fel-Pro, some of those are on closeout and cheaper than usual) as to what doing the stem seals would take (not incl. tax, shipping):
  • Valve Stem Seals: FEL-PRO SS70795 {#B45870A} $20.99
  • Valve Cover Gaskets and spark plug tube seals: FEL-PRO VS50461R {#MD303148, VS50270} PermaDry®; Set $29.79
  • Intake Plenum gasket set: FEL-PRO MS96740 {#MS19532} $14.74

While working on the heads, I'd also clean the intake, throttle body, EGR valve (and replace the gasket too), and clean/replace valve lifters/lash adjusters (clean w/ diesel), examine/replace spark plugs, spark plug wires and boots, replace rear camshaft seals. Might be a good time to do a leak-down test at the same time (to estimate the condition of the bottom end).

Additional stuff I'd do as a baseline if maintenance history is unknown (in no particular order):
  • Replace PCV valve
  • Change oil, oil filter, drain plug, add oil catch can (guys in Aussie forums use them for Challengers (Montero Sports) and Pajeros (Monteros), less often seen in the US though)
  • Intake air filter
  • Transmission filter, gasket, flush (coolant line method; SPIII seems to work best; Mitsu, Hyundai, Kia, Eneos make it)
  • Gear oil (transfer case, differentials)
  • Brake flush (and check pads, rotors), check caliper pins (apply clean silicone paste, replace boots and pins if necessary), check caliper sliding surfaces (clean and apply brake grease as appropriate)
  • Power steering flush, check tie rods, check rack and pinion (seals), check power steering pump (seals)
  • Grease ball joints (replace or install grease fittings as necessary)
  • Check wheel bearings
  • Check shocks/struts (KYB Gas-a-justs are popular if replacing)
  • Replace serpentine belt, adjust tensioner/idler pulley
  • Check stabilizer bar bushings (I like using 303 to keep the rubber flexible, but that might be snake oil/placebo effect)
  • Timing belt, water pump, tensioner
  • Replace crankshaft bolt, washer if using old style
  • Wheel rotation, balancing, alignment (303 is supposed to be good for sidewalls and dry rot, but I'm undecided about that)
  • Flush coolant system, new coolant
  • Clean battery terminals, check battery and cables
  • Clean any easily-accessible electrical connections and grease w/ dielectric grease

A good way to find previous threads on the Gen 3 (the in-forum search feature doesn't work as well) is to search the site in Google w/: site:forum.expeditionportal.com/ (Montero OR Pajero) AND ("Gen 3" OR "Gen III")

Small world! The Niva was the first 4x4 I fell in love with in the 90s in Moscow :D Soon followed by some UAZ 4x4 the army used (469 maybe?). Unfortunately neither have been imported in the US (although some Nivas were imported into Canada in the 80s and made their way to the US as grey imports).