Author Topic: The Ultimate Gen 3 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread  (Read 24609 times)


  • Member
  • Posts: 111
  • the agile gearhead
The Ultimate Gen 3 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« on: May 13, 2017, 12:04:36 PM »
If you've ever owned a gen 3, help us help others find the right gen 3 for them. Tell us why you like(d) your gen 3 and why you didn't like it. What should someone know before choosing a gen 3 over an older truck? Any deal breakers they should know about? When should they walk away from a deal? And what special equipment or mods warrant a little extra elbow grease? Pictures if you've got em, please!

I'll be using this info to build buyer's guides for the guys to help them grow their business. More business means more revenue. And that means more budget for new parts.

Thanks in advance!
The Driggins | 98 Pajero | 11 Juke
(Previously: 89 Pajero 2.6, 92 GVR4, 91 GVR4, 97 Talon)


  • Member
  • Posts: 43
  • Third Montero, First 2.5
Re: The Ultimate Gen 3 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2017, 01:51:00 PM »
If you're new to the Gen 3 Montero, the main issue is there's very little aftermarket support if you're looking to do an aggressive build. It thrives as the Pajero/Shogun in Asia, Australia and Europe where there are great aftermarket offerings, but the Montero fizzled here in the States.

Mitsubishi missed the marketing train on the Paris/Dakar victories, an opportunity to position the Montero nicely against British and other Japanese offerings, not to mention the Big Three's SUV inventory, which were posers at best at the time. Instead they focused on AWD rally cars with Subaru in their sights. Not to mention Mitsu's almost devastating $0 $0 $0 marketing campaign from which they're still recovering.

This not only made the Montero a wall flower, it squelched any incentive for aftermarket development for both the Sport and full-size platform, a good thing for used purchase price and the bane for anyone looking to modify. Stock, the Montero already has a robust drive-train, some models with standard limited slip differential and respectable nine-inch ground clearance. The driving position is best in its class, its outward visibility is terrific, rearward by comparison is great and the cabin is well-appointed and thought out with one of the largest sunroofs offered.

Apparently Mitsu figured the American market would stick to Jeeps, leaving the Gen 3 Montero with plastic bumper caps and a departure angle rivaling UPS trucks. Aftermarket wheel offerings are limited given some models' air pressure sensors and its huge center hub and the V6 has a tendency to pressure oil through the rear main.
1998 Mitsubishi Montero Winter Package
2008 Kawasaki KLR 650 - sold
2007 Hummer H3 - sold
2003 Mitsubishi Montero LTD - sold


  • Member
  • Posts: 7
Re: The Ultimate Gen 3 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 03:36:18 PM »
Gen 3 Montero’s:
As it stands is a very capable vehicle. Step one is to just take it out and drive it. If you don’t have experience off road then you will need to learn how to drive up hill, downhill, over terrain, over sand etc. The point is that you don’t need a lot of accessory stuff until you know how and why you will benefit from it. I purchased mine to go camping, shooting, off exploring (mild overlanding) and just getting away for a while. My criteria were:
1.   Don’t get stuck, The Gen 3 Montero is really good off road. Not rock crawling and keeping up with jeeps with 35 and 37" wheels. If I air down a little, pick a good line, know my limitations I do fine out there. This was fine for me.
2.   Don’t spend a ton of money. You can find one for $3000.00-5000.00. That was fine for my budget.
3.   Have a decent amount of room. Plenty of room for what I had planned.
4.   Don’t be afraid to get it dirty or scratched.  Not an issue for me since I only care about performance and not a few scratches and pin stripes from trails.
5.   Be reliable. Mitsubishi is known for making rugged, reliable cars and trucks. The Gen 3 is no exception. With regular maintenance they are very reliable.
I love mine. I drive it in the Southern California desert frequently. My longest trip so far was from Needles, CA at the Colorado River across the Mojave Road to the 15 Freeway in San Bernardino. No issues at all.
It is extremely capable as it comes stock.
Even though it is very capable you may want improve certain things:
Skid plates. If you are driving and hit something you can damage a lot of stuff you’re your truck. I hit a cone in the middle of a freeway lane while traveling about 70 mph and had to replace my 4wd actuator my Gen 3 after only owning it for about a week. I was pretty mad. The factory bash plate was missing. I knew it was missing and planned on replacing it but I did not get to it in time. If I was on a trail and had hit a log or a rock the damage could have been worse. I highly recommend skid plates.
Things you may want to improve: Clearance. It comes with 265-70-16 (30.61” tall) tires which hypothetically can give you 15” of clearance (half your wheel size) to the underbody except for the fact that the muffler and differentials hang down slightly below the center of your wheel so the real clearance to your rear diff is actually 11.” So if you go up to a 33” you gain 1.5” of real clearance and are now at about 12.5”. Is it worth it? Well if you can avoid slamming into a rock and damaging your truck it is worth it. If you can avoid getting stuck on dirt or a rock in a rut or high spot on a trail and have to spend time and energy arranging some kind of vehicle recovery then it is worth it.
Now to compliment your larger tires (or even with standard tire size) you will gain more clearance with a suspension lift. You cannot do a body lift since the frame is woven into the metal body of the Gen 3 Montero. Current thinking is that 2-2.5” is the safest, most practical, least damaging size for a lift. If you go beyond 2-2.5” your CV (constant velocity or universal joints) of your axle shafts may wear prematurely.  A lift can be achieved two ways on a Gen 3, with spacers on top of the coil springs or with stiffer, taller springs. Spacers simply move your springs (and or struts for the front end) down by placing an aluminum or synthetic ring above the spring or strut assembly. You will not gain stiffness just clearance. A taller, stiffer spring increases load carrying ability and will stiffen up your ride. This may be very important since on many off road trips you will be carrying extra gear, equipment, tools, food etc.… For this reason you may want a stiffer spring. Another reason is that if you do a spacer-only lift is that if you raise your back end and then load your truck for a journey you will cause sag in the back since the springs are the same. Now all of your hard work installing a spacer lift is degraded since you lose some lift to gravity. And your now-loaded truck will have a sloppy, mushy, unresponsive ride and your improved vehicle is less improved.
A roof rack. As I already mentioned, if you start going on adventures you may start bringing more stuff. You can use your cargo area (take out the 3rd row seats and use the empty storage space above and below.) You can also put stuff on top. You can attach crossbars that are easily source on Amazon and EBay. You can also buy roof racks from a number of sources. Some warnings:  Your factory roof racks have a weight limit. Multiply that times bouncing around on a trail with the weight of whatever you are carrying and you may damage your roof rack. Many of the available roof racks are heavy all by themselves. They are also bulky and made from metal tubing and sheet metal. All of this is not aerodynamic. That means drag while driving and significant wind noise. Keep in mind that most of your driving will be unloaded since we only get so many days for adventuring and many more days for daily driving. Do you want the added weight, wind drag and wind noise? This is not even going down the road of storage boxes like ones from Yakima and Thule. Those are also big and heavy and most of us cannot put our truck in the garage with one of those up top. So right now you are thinking that I do not have a roof rack. But I do. I kept it low profile and as close to flush with the factory roof bars as I could. I used some hard wood from Home Depot (out of the scrap pile in the back which is 70% off) and used a router to round off all of the edges to reduce wind noise. Worked pretty good and it was sturdy and cheap. If I had more money I think I would buy a sheet of 3/16” aluminum diamond place and just bold it directly onto the factory rails. You could decide how long you want it so you can still utilize the sunroof. I made my wooden rack the entire length of the factory rails since I was only concerned with roof cargo and not sunroof usage. 3/16” aluminum is strong enough to hold a grown man standing on it with only a little flex. Proper packing of a vehicle for overland use dictates to put heavier objects as close to the floor of your truck as possible and toward the middle. If you do this you should only end up with some lighter gear up top. Typical objects that end up on top are fire wood and gas and water cans. None of these are particularly light weight so you will need to be cautious and not overload.
Talking about roof racks ties in directly with bumpers. So right now you are saying’ “what the heck?” What I mean is this: Gen 3’s have bumpers made soft plastic that is not good for mounting hard, heavy objects. You certainly cannot weld anything onto them. This means no spare tire-or double spare tire, propane tank, hi-lift jack, gas cans, etc.… so you may end up with things on a roof rack. And the rear bumper is notorious for it horrible departure angle (when going up a steep incline the tail of the truck begins drop and can then drag on the ground until the ascent is made.) The problem is that it is annoying, can damage your plastic bumper (or tear it off) and can even prevent your upward travel if your rear wheels come off the ground or almost off the ground to the point that they do not get enough traction propel your vehicle. Solution: there is no good solutions. The fact is that the rear of the vehicle that extends past the back wheels is somewhat long and low to the ground. Due to the plastic construction it is not practical to just pull it off since it looks horrible and under the plastic is other stuff like air conditioning parts. You can minimize performance problems with the rear bumper by taking off the middle plastic section. This will eliminate the “scoop effect” the plastic can have over dirt and sand. It will give you a couple inches of added height from the ground. If you completely remove the rear bumper and wraparound rear fender parts you can then have a fabricator make you a rear bumper with all of the bells and whistles of other cool overland vehicles. You can even gain a few inches to improve departure angle. Be prepared to spend $1000.00 or more or parts and labor. A rear lift and larger tires will help also. 33” inch tires are about $250.00 each not including installation and a rear lift will be about $200-300.00 for springs plus shocks, about $50.00-100.00 each.
 A few other things to consider changing, modifying or “mods.” Engine rebuild. Most Montero’s benefit from a top end rebuild or refresh:  See some of the Gen 3 builds here:
These will show you some great work that has been done to keep Gen 3’s running strong for a long time.
When I got my 2003 it was already 13 years old. It ran perfect and didn’t have any dummy lights on or any codes on the OBDII port. One year later I have a flashing center diff light that comes on but it is nothing to worry about. That brings me to the next point which is things you should worry about and think about replacing as preventative maintenance:
•   battery,
•   fuel pump with filter,
•   alternator,
•   starter (best to use real Mitsubishi parts on these two in bold due to fit and long-term performance),
•   and the hydraulic brake booster (HBB) assembly or at least the motor. The HBB assembly replaces the old power brake master cylinders of the older cars in the 70’s and 80’s. This unit has an accumulator and an HBB motor. The HBB motor should be replaced with a new one or a quality rebuild. This is well documented on Montero and Pajero forums on the web. Link to part: REBUILT/322550499851?_trksid=p2485497.m4902.l9144
•   coolant line “T’s” these are brittle plastic located behind the right front wheel, up under the body. They lead to the rear a/c system and contain your coolant. If they break you will lose all of your radiator fluid and overheat your engine. You can use factory replacement parts that work fine. You can also use an aftermarket part that is aluminum and is much studier.
Rock sliders: The Gen 3 benefits from having bolt on running boards for three reasons. One, if they are damaged you can get another one and bolt it on. Two, want to simply remove them you can. Three, if you want to bolt on a set of rock sliders using the OEM mounting brackets where the running boards go you have got it right there. Some people may argue the pros and cons of bolt on rock sliders but some have already done this and claim it works fine. Maybe Adventure Driven Designs can make a set of Gen 3 Bolt on Rock Sliders and give them a try. I took off my running boards and took the mounting arms off with a saw to be attached later to some home made sliders. Probably with some 2x2 trailer hitch square tubing. Add that to my to-do list.
Rear recovery points: the back of your gen 3 does not have anywhere to hook a rope or chain. If you have a trailer hitch you can use that. Most of us take them off because it makes your already horrible departure angle even worse. The good news is that when you take off your hitch you expose the rear frame and the factory mounting holes for the large bolts that hold on the hitch. You can take off the hitch and replace it on both sides with some sturdy angle iron and bolt it right into the existing hole with your old hitch bolts. Cheap and easy.
These are some things you may want to think about with your Gen 3 Montero. If any parts manufacturers are reading this then maybe some new parts will appear. I know Adventure Driven Designs already makes skid plates and sells lift kits and urethane bushings for suspension. They have a number of other products for Gen 3’s as well. Check them out.