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Early Shogun Sport Buyers Guide – Why They Are a Safe Bet

Early Shogun Sport Buyers Guide – Why They Are a Safe Bet

Early Shogun Sport Buyers Guide – What to look out for in a first generation Shogun/Montero/Pajero Sport

Buying a used vehicle can be a risky business especially with older vehicles, when considering a 4×4 you also have to throw in the possibility that the vehicle may have had a rough life off road, or…. if you’re lucky, just been used for the school run and the supermarket shopping trip.

Shogun Sport [UK model] Overlander

In this early Shogun Sport buyers guide [1st generation 2001 – 2009 K90 series] we’ll be looking at what to be aware of when viewing one of these 4×4’s, Shogun Sport known issues and how to go about viewing your potential purchase.

Researching the vehicle

If you’re reading this then you may already have your mind set on one these old ‘real’ 4×4’s, check out prices and make sure that what is being asked is reasonable. Older models are getting on in years which means that there is not a huge selection out there so be prepared to travel to get the right vehicle. Doing a free DVLA check [UK vehicles] makes sense as does carrying out an HPI report before you pull the trigger.

Be Prepared to view

First generation Shogun Sport’s have a habit of looking very nice and well cared for on the surface, while this is great special attention needs to be made to the areas of the car you can’t see – rust is a an issue so take the following items to have a good poke around underneath:

  • Old clothes or overalls
  • Gloves
  • Torch
  • Screwdriver
  • Clean rag or kitchen roll/paper

Overalls are self explanatory, many older cars may have underseal treatment so gloves are a must unless you want to get covered in the stuff. A screwdriver is essential for poking around the chassis – don’t be afraid to use and check the body panels with a magnet, any fiberglass panels or areas where filler has been used should be a red flag.

Check the paperwork

  • Ask for the V5C doc
  • Cross reference the VIN numbers [rear chassis member/left side of dash/engine bay]
  • MOT history – this can be checked online and will flag up any fails/advisories
  • Check service history/receipts for work done
  • Check when timing belt was last changed [should be every 60,000 miles]
  • Check when last oil change was done [should be changed every 5000 miles]

Questions to ask the seller

If you are making the purchase through a private seller there are some questions you should be asking prior to seeing the Shogun. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and be inquisitive, it’s your money and more than likely a lot of it.

  • How long have they had the car? If the owner has only had the car a short time then a solid reason needs to be given as to why they are selling it so quickly – in other words, what’s wrong with it?
  • Has the vehicle had any recent parts or servicing that isn’t in the paperwork or history file?
  • Has the vehicle had any bumps or incidents not recorded through insurance?
  • Ask the seller not to start the vehicle before you arrive, cold starting can present issues with excessive smoke and engine rattles etc.

Inspection [outside]

When you pull up to the forecourt or the sellers house there will no doubt be a shiny Shogun Sport parked there looking it’s very best. While paintwork is of course important try not to get too excited as looks can be deceiving… In this section of the Shogun Sport buyers guide we’ll be listing some of the obvious and less obvious things to cast your eye over whilst walking around the 4×4.

shogun sport first generation
Shogun Sport in woodland/Granada
  • Put your hand on the bonnet and see if the engine is cold, confirm when the vehicle was last run and open the bonnet, how does everything look? Is it clean?
  • Check the oil level
  • Check the engine [top and underneath] for any evidence of oil leaks.
  • Open the oil filler, any white gunk may suggest a head gasket issue
  • Check all the external lights work
  • Check the headlamp washers/front and rear wiper all work
  • Using the key, check all the locks as these can become stiff [WD40 sorts this]
  • Examine the tyres, are the tread patterns the same on each axle? Are the tyre walls in good condition? How much tread is left? Is there any uneven tyre wear.
  • Get underneath the back of the Shogun, the spare is under the boot, is it in good condition? Is the brand/tread the same as what is already on the vehicle?
  • Does the Shogun have a towbar? Many do which can put stress on the rear suspension, check the electrics.
  • Push on all four corners of the vehicle, does the suspension bounce or does it settle immediately, if the former the suspension may be worn.
  • Check rear spring dampers [located inside the coil spring at the top] are they still attached? If not or if not present these will need to be replaced and there may be some rust where they bolt to the vehicle
  • Look at the rubber bushes around the anti roll bar and any others you can see, are they in good condition?

Inspection [RUST]

Unfortunately we have to have a special list here for corrosion. Older Mitsubishi 4×4’s are prone to rust underneath and this is something to look out for especially if your country salts its roads in the winter. If you are looking at Pajero import then be aware that Japan does not salt its roads and therefore vehicles have less corossion protection on the chassis, this is where we have to talk about underseal.

Our own vehicle had been undersealed a lot of years before we acquired the Shogun and when we stripped it off there was just rust – everywhere

Underseal or tar based protection used to be the way to go when protecting your chassis and other areas from rust, it still is a matter of preference but there is one fundamental problem with underseal and that is that it hides what can be happening underneath.

shogun sport k90 service manual

Our own vehicle had been undersealed a lot of years before we acquired the Shogun and when we stripped it off there was just rust – everywhere, luckily nothing serious but over time it would have rotted out the chassis.

Old underseal cracks and when it does it lets in moisture [and salt], that moisture then works its way behind the underseal resulting in corrosion. It can also seal in any dirt or existing corrosion with the same results.

Removing underseal is a horrible job.

  • Check all aspects of the chassis, what type of protection has it had? If undersealed make sure there are no flaking or bubbling areas.
  • Check where the mud flaps are bolted on, each flap has a metal plate which rusts out.
  • Get your fingers or a screwdriver in the inside of the wheel arch behind the plastic trim, is there any rust that falls out?
  • Check the area behind the rear mud flap under the bumper, any bubbling paint?
  • Check front wheel arches above bumper trim, any bubbling paint?
  • Look around all the door pillars and sills for rust
  • Examine around the windscreen rubber
early shogun sport buyers guide
ladder frame chassis still solid

The main area to spend some time on is the chassis, look at the rails, jacking points and all the bolts, also check for dents. Do not be afraid to start knocking the metal work and see what falls off. Not all Shogun Sport models will be rotten.

Inspection [inside]

The interior of the 1st gen Shogun Sport is functional and basic, there are a few things to check though some of which are quite specific to the model and common weak points/faults that could be missed:

shogun sport cloth seats
Shogun Sport cloth seats
  • Check general condition of fabrics
  • Is the bolster on the drivers seat excessively worn [suggests high mileage]
  • Front seats can also wear at the cushion
  • Check pedal rubbers for smoothing/wear [suggests high mileage]
  • Check if all illumination on dash pod works [compass bulb failure is common]
  • Check all warning lights on dash go off after start [flashing 4WD light is common problem and may need new sensor]
  • Does the air con work, if not it may need re-gassing
  • Examine seat belts for fraying or cuts
  • Open the sunroof, are there any areas where the rubber seal is raised? This will be rust and can be excessive, sunroof removal is an easy job however – see this post on how we fixed our rusty sunroof
  • Check all tools are present including the bottle jack – these can be found under the back seat on the drivers side [rhd]
  • Examine the plastic trim around the luggage area, is it heavily marked?
  • Examine the roof lining in the luggage area, is it punctured or ripped [may suggest heavy loads]
  • Check interior courtesy lights work, contacts can fill with gunk and need cleaning
  • Move the gear stick around, it will have play in it due to the nature of the system but is the play excessive, go through the gears normally, does the stick get ‘stuck’ at any point? This post details how to fix a sloppy gearstick on a Shogun Sport

Test Drive

  • Take the Shogun for a test drive and listen for any rattles or knocks from the engine.
  • If starting cold, take note of how much smoke comes from the exhaust initially
  • Accelerate heavily and look out the back window for smoke
  • Brake, is the vehicle pulling one side?
  • Brake, listen for any scraping grinding sounds
  • Does the vehicle ‘wander’ left or right on tarmac?
  • Is the hand brake nice and tight or loose and able to be pulled up high? Test handbrake by parking on a hill
  • Drive through all the modes, 4High and 4Low, any suspicious grinding or knocking?
  • How high is the clutch pedal? Pull the handbrake on and release the clutch while in gear, if the car does not stall the clutch is faulty, if the pedal is high before the ‘bite’ the clutch is on it’s way out.
  • Drive over bumps or get off road, is there any rattles or knocks coming from the suspension – watch this video to find out more


Like any other used four wheel drive there are things to look out for, some of which are vehicle specific. The thing to remember is to make an informed buying decision, there are still some great examples out there and no matter which second hand 4×4 you decide on it will at some stage need work and replacement parts.

It’s worth noting too that the first generation Shogun Sport has one of the highest ratios of vehicles still on the road which speaks volumes to its toughness and general Mitsubishi reliability. It’s a tough old 4×4 and well worth spending your time seeking out the right one.

Shogun Sport Classic2001 – 2006
*Shogun Sport Elegance2001 – 2006
Shogun Sport Equippe2001 – 2006
Shogun Sport Animal2002 – 2003
Shogun Sport Trojan2006
Shogun Sport Warrior2003 – 2006
Shogun Sport GLS2000 – 2003
Shogun Sport GLX2000 – 2003
*Elegance model available only in 3.0ltr V6 auto

2004 saw the Shogun Sport receive another facelift, notable differences were a new front grill, newly designed running boards optional] extended interior roof console [no sunroof] and upgrade in alloy wheels from 16″ to 18″.

Another point of note is that somewhere in the 2004 – 2006 timeframe Mitsubishi put full length wheel arches on the Shogun Sport, these arches had no rubber mud guard at the bottom and were slightly flatter in appearance, this however did not last as later models were referred back to the original mud guard design.

We hope this Shogun Sport buyers guide helps, if you have any suggestions or points to add to this list drop us a line in the comments below.

Read our full ownership review

1800 1197 Mac


K90overland is Mac and Gayle, they lived in Andalucia for 19 years before moving back to the UK. Overlanding since 2019 the pair have built up a 'budget rig' and now enjoy a relaxed approach to discovering Scotland and the north of England.


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