Suzuki XL7 Problems

by Dennis Hartman
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Image by, courtesy of Kyle May

The XL7 was a mid-size SUV available from Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corporation between 1998 and 2009. The vehicle was sold alongside the compact Vitara model. The XL7 was redesigned for the 2007 model year, as Suzuki's first crossover utility vehicle. While the XL7 competed with other SUVs by offering a low cost entry-level option, it has become known for several recurring problems that owners and potential buyers should be aware of.

Brake Problems

One of the most common problems with the Suzuki XL7 involves the vehicle's braking system. While a recall dealt with certain specific brake issues, other problems have afflicted models from different years that were not part of the recall. In some cases drivers report weak brakes that require a long distance to bring the vehicle to a full stop, resulting in a potentially dangerous scenario. In many other cases, owners complain of brake pads that wear down prematurely, especially on the XL7's front disc brakes.

Timing Chain

The engine timing chain presents another common XL7 problem. The chain itself can become loose, resulting in a loud noise; making it susceptible to breaking. In other cases, timing chain tensioners have been known to fail, leading to a very loose chain with a high likelihood of breaking or disengaging completely. Part of the problem with the XL7's timing chain is Suzuki's statement that timing chain noise is normal on a new vehicle, as part of the breaking-in period. However, Suzuki has not specified at what point timing chain noise should be considered a sign of mechanical failure.


The Suzuki XL7 has been the subject of several recalls. In 2005 more than 1,600 models were recalled because of a problem with the braking system. Faulty brake discs were found to be susceptible to breaking when used to make an emergency downhill stop. New discs were installed for owners of XL7s with this problem. Another recall, made in 2003, involved nearly 200,000 vehicles. The recall addressed weak cables used in the speed control system, which could prevent the driver from operating the speed control properly.

Safety Issues

Other Suzuki XL7 recalls have dealt directly with safety issues. In 2007 more than 900 models of the XL7 were recalled due to the use of incorrect materials in the installation of the windshield. The windshield was especially prone to coming out of its frame during a crash -- potentially causing injury. New glass was installed in cases where dealer inspections revealed problems. Although only the windshield was the source of the recall, new glass was also installed on the side windows and rear liftgate in some instances.

General Problems

Another group of problems with the XL7 involve general shortcomings or faults. Many owners have complained of excessive road noise, especially when driving at high speeds. The quality of the XL7's interior materials, along with its fit and finish, have also been criticized by reviewers. In terms of overall reliability, the XL7 received a mediocre "5" ranking (out of 10) from US News & World Report and was cited as especially inferior to other SUVs in its market segment (although the XL7 is actually priced below many of its direct competitors).

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