Suzuki Swift Sport Buyer’s Guide (Mk1 & Mk2)

The different generations of the Suzuki Swift Sport are some of the greatest small performance cars on the road today. While they don’t set the world alight with their performance figures, they are great fun to drive and make excellent everyday drivers.

We have put together a complete used car buyer’s guide for the first and second generations of the Suzuki Swift Sport. Note: much of the information in the buyer’s guide section of this article will also relate to non-Sport models as well.

How To Use This Suzuki Swift Sport Buyer’s Guide

This Suzuki Swift Sport Buying Guide covers a lot of information and as such we have broken it down into a number of different sections. To start with we will be looking at the history and specifications of the Suzuki Swift Sport.

Following this we will be looking at specific problems and things to watch out for. To finish off we have more general car buying advice and information on how to import a Suzuki Swift Sport from Japan. You can skip to the specific sections by using the table of contents below.

The History of the Suzuki Swift Sport (Mk1 1 & 2)

First Generation Swift Sport (2005  – 2012)

The original Suzuki Swift launched in 1983, but it wasn’t until October 2005 that the company would launch the first Sport model (Swift RS in Japan). Suzuki based the Sport on their second-generation Swift platform and the car was introduced into European markets in September 2006.

The Suzuki Swift Sport was given an enhanced 1.6-litre M16A DOHC four-cylinder engine that featured a compression ratio of 11.1:1, high lift cams, strengthened valve springs and forged pistons. All these updates meant that the little Suzuki produced as much as 123 Brake horsepower (92 kW) and 148 Nm (109 lb ft) of torque.

Along with updating the power unit, Suzuki also modified the exterior of the Swift Sport. They elongated the Sport by 70 mm (2.8 inches) and gave the car new sportier bumpers and spoilers. Twin exhaust tail pipes were also added along with 16 or 17-inch wheels (depending on the model and market).

Cornering performance was also improved via a stiffer suspension setup and the car was given four-wheel disc brakes. On the inside the Swift Sport retained much of the standard car’s trim, but was given red sport seats (Recaro seats were an optional extra).

Second Generation Swift Sport (2012 – 2017)

With the success of the first-generation Swift Sport, Suzuki decided to create a new version based on the third-generation Swift platform in 2012. The new Swift Sport featured a revised 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that produced as much as 130 horsepower (100 kW) and 160 Nm (120 lb ft) of torque.

Buyers were given the option of either a six-speed manual transmission or a high performance seven-speed CVT transmission with paddle shifters.

On the outside, the second-generation Suzuki Swift Sport was given a new rear spoiler, a new body-kit, a larger front grille and lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels. The car was also lower than the standard model and featured a slightly stiffer suspension setup.

The second-generation Sport received new leather bucket seats with sporty red stitching and a “Sport” logo. A new steering wheel and different instrumentation rounded up the interior alterations.

In January 2014, Suzuki updated the Swift Sport with a 6.1-inch combined satnav/dab radio infotainment system.

Suzuki Swift Sport SZ-R

UK buyers were given the option of a special edition version of the Swift Sport known as the SZ-R. It was limited to 100 units and came with a 136 horsepower VVT engine that let the car go from 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.7 seconds and onto a top speed of 194 km/h (121 mph).

The SZ-R was also equipped with seven air bags, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, 17-inch wheels, rear privacy glass and Bluetooth connectivity.

Suzuki Swift Sport Specifications

ModelSwift Sport Gen 1 (RS416


Swift Sport Gen 2 (AZG416)
Year of production2005 – 20122012 – 2017
LayoutFront-engine, front-wheel driveFront-engine, front-wheel drive
Cylinders 44
AspirationNaturally aspiratedNaturally aspirated
Power123 hp (92 kW)130 hp (100 kW)
Torque148 Nm (109 lb-ft)160 Nm (120 lb-ft)
Transmission5-speed manual6-speed manual or 7-speed CVT Transmission with paddle shifters
Tyres (front)195/50 R16/17195/45 R17 or 195/50 R16
Tyres (rear)195/50 R16/17195/45 R17 or 195/50 R16
Weight1060 kg (2,337 lb)1060 kg (2,337 lb)
0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)9.2 seconds8.7 seconds
Top speed199 km/h (124 mph)195 km/h (121 mph)


Suzuki Swift Mk1 1 & 2 Buyer’s Guide

While the first-and second-generation Suzuki Swift Sport models are based on different platforms we have decided to combine them into one guide. This is largely down to the fact that they both use the 1.6-litre M16A Inline 4-cylinder engine.

Both the first and second gen models of the Suzuki Swift Sport are fairly reliable cars, however, many of them have been owned by people who have not looked after them properly. This means that you need to be careful when purchasing a Generation 1 or 2 Suzuki Swift Sport.

Setting Up an Inspection

Buying a Swift Sport sight unseen is a big risk, so try to physically inspect any car you are interested in yourself or get a reliable third party to do so for you. Another tip is to bring a friend or a helper along with you to an inspection as they may be able to spot something you missed.

You should try to arrange an inspection of a Swift Sport in the morning when the engine is cold and the ambient temperature outside is lower. The reason for this is that pre-warmed engines can hide a number of issues that can be very expensive to fix.

Lastly, try to avoid inspecting a Swift Sport in the rain or when the exterior is wet (if the car has just been washed for example). The reason for this is that water can hide several serious issues with the bodywork of a car from crash damage to paint problems and more.

How Much Should You Pay for a Swift Sport

This largely depends on the model and condition of the Suzuki Swift you are looking at. Additionally, the location you are in (or the car is in) will also play a big part in how much you should pay for one.

For these reasons we will not give you an exact price you should pay for one of these cars. What we recommend you do is to check the prices on auction/classifieds websites or with dealers. This way you can get a rough idea of what you need to pay for a specific Swift Sport model/generation.

Suzuki Swift Sport Gen 1 & 2 Inspection Guide

In the following section you will learn everything you need to know about inspecting a first- or second-generation Suzuki Swift Sport.

VIN Check

Checking the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is an important thing to do. The VIN can tell you quite a bit of information about the Suzuki Swift Sport you are looking at. We recommend that you enter the VIN into a check-up website or decoder to see what comes up (you can do this on your phone while you are inspecting the car).

M16A Engine

When it comes to the engine the first thing you want to do is to take a good overall look at the engine bay – Does it look clean and well maintained? Are there any broken parts or modifications? Are there any leaks?

If the engine bay is completely spotless it either suggests that the owner is very meticulous with their car or that they are trying to cover something up (an oil leak for example).

Don’t forget to check that the Swift Sport’s engine is cold. If it is not it may be a sign that the owner has prewarmed the engine to hide an issue (or the owner may have just driven to the inspection point).

Once you have done all that it is time to start checking the fluid levels. Try to do this both before and after a test drive to see they are around the same height (A slight change is to be expected).

Fluid levels that are too low or high are a sign that the Swift Sport you are inspecting has not been maintained properly. Incorrect fluid levels will lead to premature component wear and possibly even total engine or part failure.

When Should the Oil & Oil Filter Be Changed on a Gen 1 or 2 Suzuki Swift Sport

Both the engine oil and oil filter need to be changed regularly on the generation 1 or 2 Suzuki Swift models (or any car for that matter). Make sure you check with the owner and in the service history to see if the engine oil and oil filter have been replaced at a regularly interval (might not be in the service history if the owner has done it themselves).

If the oil is left too long before changes it can breakdown in the presence of contaminates and become dilutes. We have included information on when to change the oil and oil filter on both the first- and second-generation versions of the Swift Sport below.

Engine Oil

According to the service manual, oil changes should be every 15,000 km (9,000 miles) for both the Swift Sport Gen 1 & 2. However, many owners recommend changing it much earlier at every 7,500 – 10,000 km (4,500 – 6,000 miles) if a synthetic oil is being used.

If you don’t drive that much the oil should be replaced every 6 – 12 months. Cars that are run on non-synthetic (dino) oils need more frequent oil changes than those that run on synthetic engine oils.

What is the Best Engine Oil for a Suzuki Swift Sport Gen 1 or 2?

The correct/best engine oil for the 1.6-litre M16A engine in a Suzuki Swift Sport really depends on a few factors from the temperature to how the car is driven. Generally, lighter weight engine oils are more suited to cooler temperatures, whereas heavier ones are better for hotter environments.

Suzuki tends to recommend a good quality 5W-30 engine oil for M16A engined Swift Sport models such Castrol GTX MAGNATEC 5W-30 Fully Synthetic engine oil. If you live in a slightly hotter environment a good quality 10W-30 or even 5W-40 will work as well.

There are more oil weights that are suitable for M16A engined Swift Sport models such as 0W-20, but 5W-30 tends to be the most recommended.

Oil Filter

It is recommended that you replace the oil filter with every oil change. If you are replacing the oil very frequently (every 7,500 km/4,500 miles or less) you can probably get away with changing the filter every second oil change, but for the small cost of a filter you may as well change it at the same time.

While a number of aftermarket oil filters are available for the M16A engined Swift Sport, it is usually recommended that you use a genuine filter from Suzuki (part number 16510-61A31).

Checking the Oil

It is always a good idea to inspect the oil as if you see any metallic particles or grit in it, you should move onto another Swift Sport. Additionally, remember to watch out for a frothy dipstick as that can be a sign of a failed head gasket.

Common Leaks on a M16A Engine

Remember to check for oil leaks both around the engine bay and under the car. If you notice puddles of oil underneath the Swift Sport you are looking at you should move onto another car. We wouldn’t necessarily rule out a Swift Sport if it has a small oil leak problem, but leaks are almost always bigger than they first appear.

It is quite common for the VVT gasket and solenoid to leak over time, so watch out for that on older or higher mileage cars (this also applies to standard Swift models as well).

Another common place for oil to leak from an M16A engine is the oil filter assembly. If the oil filter or plug is not installed properly it can lead to leakage as well. Not a major issue, but one to watch out for.

Do First & Second Gen Swift Sports Have a Timing Chain or Belt?

Thankfully, the M16A engine in the first- and second-generation Swift Sport models uses a timing chain instead of a belt, so it shouldn’t need to be changed. If the engine is being completely rebuilt it may be a good idea to change the chain, but don’t worry about it too much.

While the timing chain should be good for hundreds of thousands of miles, the timing tensioner will probably have to be replaced at some point. If this is replaced the guide rails and water pump should also be changed for new ones. If the timing tensioner is in a bad way it can lead to problems with the timing chain, which can cause damage to a Swift Sport’s engine.

Inspecting the Cooling System on a Gen 1 or 2 Swift Sport

It is important to check the integrity of the cooling system on a generation 1 or 2 Swift Sport. Overheating is a major problem, so take your time inspecting the following components:

  • Radiator – removes heat from the water/coolant
  • Thermostat – sends water/coolant that is hotter than the target temperature to the radiator to be cooled
  • Water Pump – belt that is driven from a pulley. Pushes water/coolant through the engine
  • Overflow or Expansion bottle – removes air from the system and provides a filling point
  • Coolant Lines – hoses that allow water/coolant to remain contained as it moves through the engine/cooling system

A failure in any one of these components can cause the car to overheat and may even lead to total engine failure.

It is always a good idea to check the cooling system both before and after a test drive. We recommend that you do this because as the engine heats up more problems can become apparent.

Additionally, don’t forget to check the height of the coolant as if it drops massively after a test drive there is a problem. If the expansion tank is warped or cracked it may be a sign that the Swift Sport you are looking at has overheated at some point.

What Are the Signs of an Overheating Swift Sport?

Below we have listed some signs that may indicate that the Swift Sport Gen 1 or 2 you are looking at is overheating or suffering from a failed head gasket.

  • Engine oil that smells of coolant
  • Sweet exhaust smell
  • Coolant leaking externally from below the exhaust manifold
  • White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it)
  • Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
  • Oil that is white and milky
  • Fouled spark plugs
  • Low cooling system integrity

Don’t completely really on the temperature gauge to tell you if the car is overheating as they can often be a bit inaccurate if there is a problem. Still, if the gauge is on the higher side it indicates that the Swift you are driving is overheating. If the temperature gauge is on the lower side it may be a sign that there is a problem with the thermostat.

Spark Plugs on a M16A Engined Swift Sport

Try to get a look at the spark plugs if you can. A spark plug’s appearance can give you quite a bit of information about the health of the M16A engine inside the Swift Sport you are looking at. Take a look at this guide for more information on spark plug analysis.

Suzuki recommends replacing the spark plugs every 50,000 – 60,000 km (31,000 – 36,000 miles) or every 48 months if iridium plugs are used.

Best Spark Plugs for a 1.6-litre Swift Sport

ZC31S Swift Sport (Generation 1) – M16A Engine


ZC32S Swift Sport (Generation 2) – M16A Engine


Inspecting the Exhaust System on a Swift Sport

Remember to check as much of the exhaust system as you can as one in bad condition can such power from the engine and be costly to replace.

  • Black sooty stains – Is a sign that the exhaust system on the Swift Sport you are looking at is leaking.
  • Corrosion – Not as much of a problem on newer cars such as gen 1 or 2 Swift Sports, but still an issue to watch out for. This problem is usually more apparent in countries that salt their roads (UK for example).
  • Cracks or accident damage – Can be a sign of a careless owner.
  • Bad repairs – Watch out for quick bodge jobs as they will almost certainly fail earlier and are a sign of a bad owner.
Suzuki Swift Sport Gen 1 & 2 Start Up

We recommend that you get the owner to start the car for you for the first time, so you can see what is coming out of the back. Additionally, if the owner/seller of the Swift Sport you are looking at revs the car hard you should move onto another car.

What is the Correct Idle Speed for a 1.6-litre Swift Sport?

The idle speed should be around 700 to 900 rpm (800 rpm is perfect) when hot. Initially, the idle speed will probably be around 1,500 rpm but this should drop as the engine heats up. Remember to turn on all of the electronics, air con, etc. to see if the car stalls (expect to see a slight increase in idle speed). If the Swift does stall then there is a problem.

Idle speed problems are usually caused by issues with the ISC or EGR valve (this only affects idle speed if it is really gunked up). A clean of these two components will usually solve the issue, but incorrect idle on a M16A engined Swift Sport can also be several other issues as well.

Smoke or Vapour from a 1.6-litre Swift Sport

Smoke is almost always a sign of trouble, especially if there is lots of it. Don’t be too alarmed if you see a bit of vapour from the exhaust on engine start up as this is probably just condensation. If there is lots of white vapour or smoke pass on the vehicle. Below we have listed what the different colours of smoke indicate:

White smoke – This is usually caused by water in the cylinders and could indicate a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is probably coolant.

Blue smoke – Can be caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings, and/or worn valve seals. To check for blue smoke, ask a friend to follow you while drive the vehicle and take it through the rev range. Alternatively, get the owner to drive the car for a bit and watch out the back. Blue smoke on start-up and overrun is a sign that the car has been thrashed.

Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.

Engine Rebuilds

While you are less likely to come across a second-generation Suzuki Swift with a rebuilt engine, first-gen models are starting to get a bit long in the tooth, especially those that were produced at the start of the models production run.

If you are looking at a Suzuki Swift with a rebuilt M16A engine it is important to make sure the work was carried out by a competent mechanic or Suzuki specialist. Find out from the owner/seller who did the work and then check their reviews/feedback.

Additionally, it is usually better to purchase a Swift Sport with a rebuilt engine that has done a few more miles. Fresh rebuilds are an unknown, so you are taking a big risk when purchasing a Swift with one.


A bad gearbox can be an expensive fix, so make sure the one in the Swift you are looking at is in good condition. Earlier Mk1 Swift Sports had weaker 5-speed transmissions, so keep that in mind if you are looking at one of those. Later Gen 1 & 2 Swift Sports had stronger transmissions, but they can still suffer from a few issues.

While you are test driving a Swift Sport, make sure you go through all the gears at both low and high engine speeds to make sure the transmission is working correctly. Grinding or graunching on both 5-speed and 6-speed manual cars can be a sign of worn synchros. Sloppy or loose shifting is usually caused by worn gear linkages which can be replaced.

If you detect any excessive tightness or stiffness in the transmission a replacement may be on the cards in the near future (however, expect the transmission to be stiffer/tighter when the car is first started).

There is not too much to worry about on CVT equipped Mk2 Swift Sports, but watch out for shuddering during acceleration, slow throttle response, loud whining sounds or an overly hot transmission. If there is a problem with the CVT transmission it will be very expensive to fix.

Transmission Fluid Change Intervals for 1.6-litre Swift Sports

At some point the transmission fluid needs to be changed, so make sure this has been done on the Swift you are looking at. Below you can find the recommended Suzuki service intervals for both manual and CVT/auto transmissions.

Manual Transmissions – Every 45,000 km (27,000) miles or every 3 years.

Automatic/CVT – Every 165,000 km (99,000) miles or every 10 years if Suzuki gear oil is used. Many owners feel that Suzuki’s recommended service interval for automatic/CVT transmissions is too long and that the transmission fluid should be changed much earlier (closer to the manual transmissions service interval).

What Transmission Oil Should be Used in a Mk1 or Mk2 Manual Swift Sport?

It is usually recommended that you use a good quality synthetic 75W-90 transmission oil. Additionally, another alternative is 75W transmission oil as that is what many Suzuki dealers use to service their customer’s cars.

Making Sure the Clutch is Working Properly on Manual Cars

Below you can find some ways to check the condition of the clutch on a Mk1 or Mk2 Swift Sport.

Clutch Engagement – The first thing to do is to check the engagement of the clutch. To do this put the Swift Sport you are inspecting into gear on a level surface and let the clutch out slowly. It should engage around 7 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 inches) from the floor. If the clutch engages immediately or too far up the pedals stroke there is a problem.

Clutch Slippage – The way to check for this is to shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. Once you have done this, plant your foot on the throttle and watch the revs. If the engine speed goes up but the car doesn’t accelerate the clutch is slipping. Here are some things that can cause slippage

  • Worn clutch
  • Clutch covered in oil
  • Clutch cable is too tight and is not releasing properly

Clutch Drag – Find a flat surface and press the clutch pedal to the floor (this should be done while you are stationary). Rev the Swift Sport hard (once it is warm) and see If it moves. If the car does move, the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.

Suzuki Swift’s are well known to suffer from a juddering clutch which can often be a sign of a deeper problem. This nasty issue usually manifests itself when the weather is cold. If the problem is particularly severe, especially when shifting down, the whole clutch unit will have to be replaced. Avoid purchasing a second hand Swift Sport with this problem unless you can get it for a great deal and the rest of the car is in excellent condition.

Mk1 1 & 2 Body & Exterior

While the body of the first- and second-generation Swift Sports are different, much of the information below applies to both of them.


Corrosion really isn’t much of a problem on either Mk1 or 2 Swift Sports as Suzuki did a pretty good job of rust proofing them. However, this doesn’t mean you should not check for it. Rust can occur and is usually made worse or more likely by the following:

  • If the roads are salted in the country that the car lives in
  • If the car is in or spent time in a country with a very harsh winter
  • If the car has spent lived by the sea for an expended period/periods of time
  • If the car has always been kept outside
  • If there is any accident damage.

While rust shouldn’t be an instant dismissal it is almost always a bigger problem than it first appears. If the Swift Sport you are looking at is suffering from major rust issues you should move onto another car. Small rust issues can usually be treated with a small wire brush and a bit of zink primer.

Where to Check for Rust on a Gen 1 or 2 Swift Sport?
  • In the boot (lift the carpets, etc.)
  • Wheel wells & arches
  • Around the windows and doors
  • Underneath the car
  • Around any areas where accident damage has occurred
Rust Repairs on a Swift Sport

While you are inspecting the bodywork, you should also keep an eye out for rust repairs. Look for any areas that may have been resprayed or repaired and check the service history. Additionally, check with the owner, however, remember that they may not be 100% honest with you.

Use a magnet on steel sections of the car or a coating gauge thickness tool such as this one to find any areas that may have been repaired.

Accident on a Mk1 or 2 Swift Sport

This is a biggy when it comes to both the first- and second-generation Suzuki Swift Sport models as even a slight ding can be extremely expensive to fix (or may even be a write off completely).

If the owner or seller of the Swift Sport you are looking at mentions that the car has been in an accident, try to get an idea of how big the accident was and what sort of damage the vehicle sustained. Remember, always assume the worst and hope for the best. Below we have listed some signs that may indicate the Swift Sport you are looking at has been in an accident:

  • Parts under the car that are bent, broken or modified – Check to see if everything is straight underneath the vehicle and watch out for any replaced parts. Take a good look at all the suspension, steering and exhaust components for damage.
  • Rust in strange locations – As we mentioned before, this is a good indication that the car you are looking at has suffered some form of accident damage.
  • Paint runs or overspray – Can indicate that the Swift Sport you are looking at has been resprayed due to accident damage (this may also be a factory issue).
  • Missing badges or trim – Can be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.).
  • Misaligned panels or large panel gaps – Check that the bonnet lines up correctly and fits as it should on the Swift Sport you are looking at. Additionally, check the bonnet catches as if they look new the car has probably been in an accident. You should also inspect the doors, tailgate and the lights for any damage or signs of past damage. If the panels are uneven it could suggest an accident has occurred.
  • Doors that don’t close correctly or those that drop when open – If the doors drop or don’t open/close properly the Swift Sport you are inspecting may have been in a crash.
  • Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different coloured panels – Indicates a respray which may have been conducted as a result of accident damage or rust.
  • If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not – This may indicate that the Swift Sport you are looking at has been crashed into something (even a light knock can cause this problem).

If you notice any of the above issues, mention them to the owner and see what their response is. They may give you a straight answer or they may lie to you (alternatively they may simply not know what happened). If the owner/seller is not forthcoming with information about an accident the car has been in or about repairs done, you should probably move onto another Gen 1 or 2 Swift Sport.

Suspension & Steering

Remember to inspect as many of the suspension and steering components as you can. If they look worn, corroded or damaged in any way they will probably have to be replaced in the near future (Can be quite expensive depending on the component/components and the work required). Additionally, check to see if the parts are original or modified.

Below you can find some signs of worn suspension & steering components.

  • Delayed or longer stopping distances
  • Uneven tyre wear
  • Excessive tyre bounce after hitting a bump
  • Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
  • Sagging rear suspension – usually caused by bad bushings in the rear
  • Knocking or creaking sounds during a test drive (don’t forget to drive in a tight figure 8)
  • Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
  • Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
  • Tipping during turns
  • High speed instability
  • Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel (could indicate alignment issues or failed ball joints)

When the car is stationary, push down on the front of the car and see how many bounces it takes to return to position. If it is more than a couple (should really be around 1.5) then the bushes may need to be replaced.

Checking the Wheel Alignment

Remember to check that the Swift Sport you are inspecting drives in a straight line without wheel corrections. Some slight wheel corrections are to be expected on a curved road, but on a flat piece of tarmac you really shouldn’t need to do any.

If you do have to correct the steering wheel (especially if you have to do it excessively), the wheel alignment is probably out. Alternatively, the wheel alignment issues may be caused by accident damage. If the wheel alignment is out excessively it may also be a sign of a poorly maintained car.

Checking the Brakes on a Mk1 or 2 Swift Sport

Don’t forget to have a look at the brakes as they can be expensive to repair if there is a problem. While the brakes on a Mk1 or 2 won’t tear your face off, they should be more than adequate for road use. If they feel weak or spongy there is a problem with them. We have listed some things to check below:

  • Condition of the pads
  • Pitted, scored or grooved discs
  • Corrosion
  • Modifications
  • Any leaks in the brake lines (get a helper to press on the brake pedal while you inspect the lines)
  • Fluid level in the brake fluid reservoir

Suzuki recommends replacing the brake fluid every 30,000 km (18,000 miles) or every 24 months, so make sure that has been done. If the pads need to be replaced and you still want to purchase the car you can use them to get a discount.

During a Test Drive

Remember to check that the brakes work well under both light and hard braking conditions. If they do not function correctly or if you hear any strange noises such as rumbling there may be a problem with the brakes.

If you notice that the car pulls to one side during braking it may have a sticking/seized caliper. This can happen when a car has been left sitting unused for an extended period of time. Another sign of this problem is a loud thud when you pull away for the first time.

Juddering or shaking through the steering wheel when the brakes are applied indicates that the discs are warped or damaged. This problem usually becomes first apparent under high speed braking conditions.

Making Sure the Handbrake Works Properly

Find a nice incline and check that the handbrake holds the vehicle in place. There was a calibration issue on some Suzuki Swift models that caused the handbrake to malfunction, so it is important that you do this.

Wheels & Tyres

Curbed or scuffed wheels are usually a sign of a careless owner. While getting them repaired or finding a new set is possible, it is an annoying problem and you should try to get a discount if you still wish to purchase the vehicle.

If the Swift Sport you are looking at is not fitted with the original wheels it came with, check with the owner to see if they still have them. We recommend that you do this even if you like the aftermarket ones as having the originals will only add value to the car if you decide to sell it in the future. Remember to check the tyres for the following:

  • Amount of tread
  • Uneven wear (Can be a sign of alignment or suspension issues)
  • Brand (they should be from a good or well-reviewed brand)


Make sure you do a thorough inspection of the interior, keeping an eye out for any rips, stains or broken trim pieces. Many Mk1 and 2 Swift Sports suffer from dashboard rattles that are annoying and difficult to fix.

Watch out for wear on the seats, especially around the bolsters and make sure there are no rips or stains. If the seats move during acceleration or braking it is a serious problem that needs to be fixed immediately (this is very dangerous and will be a WOF/MOT failure).

Inspect the steering wheel, shifter, pedals and carpets for wear as excessive amounts for the mileage may indicate that the odometer has been wound back (or may be a sign that the Swift Sport you are looking at has had a hard life).

Electronics, Air Conditioning & Other Areas to Check

Remember to check that all of the switches, knobs and buttons work as intended. If there are no warning lights on the dashboard when you start the Swift up it may be a sign that the owner/seller has disconnected them to hide an issue. Remember to get out of the vehicle and check that the lights and indicators work as well.

If the air conditioning system does not produce cold air don’t let the owner convince you that it simply needs a re-gas. While a re-gas will often fix air-con issues, the problem can sometimes be much more expensive and difficult to repair.

General Car Buying Advice for a Gen 1 or 2 Suzuki Swift Sport

How to Get a Great Deal on a Swift Sport

This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.

  1. Research, research, research – Prior to starting your search for a Swift, figure out what specs and condition you are happy with. Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far? Are modifications okay or do you want a stock model.
  2. Shop around – It is always best to shop around a bit before you make a purchase. There are loads of Generation 1 and 2 Swift Sports out there, so don’t limit yourself to one seller, dealer, area or auction platform.
  3. Test drive multiple cars – It is a good idea to test drive a many cars as possible, so you know what makes a good and what makes a bad Swift Sport.
  4. Adjust your attitude – Never rush into a purchase. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time when looking for a Mk1 or 2 Swift Sport for sale and only go for promising looking cars.
  5. Use any issues with the car to your advantage – Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
  6. Don’t trust the owner – While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say but back it up with a thorough inspection.
  7. Go between sellers/dealers – If you are looking at multiple Swift Sports, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
  8. Be prepared to walk away – If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.

Mileage vs Condition 

Mileage vs condition is always a hot topic for debate, but we feel that it is always better to buy on condition and then on mileage. Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good.

Short distance trips do not allow the M16A engine in a Mk1 or 2 Swift Sport to warm up properly, which can lead to increased component wear.

Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.

Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!   

Service History and Other Documentation

It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. The service history will give you a good idea of how the Swift you are inspecting has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications (if the car has any) can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.

If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any Generation 1 or 2 Swift Sport and will make it easier to sell the car in the future.

Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.

Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner 

  • How often do you drive the car?
  • When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
  • How much oil does it use?
  • What oil do you use in the car?
  • What parts have been replaced (engine, catalytic converter, etc.)?
  • When were the coils, spark plugs, leads changed?
  • What’s the compression like?
  • What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
  • Has the vehicle overheated at any point?
  • Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
  • Is there any money owing on the car?
  • Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
  • Is there any rust?
  • Has rust been removed at any point?
  • Has the car been used for track use at any point?
  • When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
  • Where do you store/park the car usually?

There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.

Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Mk1 or 2 Swift Sport

Here are some things that would make as walk away from a Swift Sport. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.

  • Overheating problems
  • Significant Crash Damage
  • Money owing on the car
  • Stanced
  • Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
  • Excessive amounts of power
  • Bad compression
  • Bad resprays
  • Significant rust problems
  • Engine swaps with non-standard engines
  • Significant track use
  • Major engine or transmission issues
  • Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)

Notes on the Owner 

The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their Swift Sport (however, don’t trust their answers completely). Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying an absolute lemon. Here are some things to watch out for.

  • How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
  • Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
  • Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
  • What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
  • How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
  • Do they know anything about the Swift Sport and the model they are selling?
  • What can they tell you about previous owners?
  • Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
  • What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
  • What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
  • How do they react if you ask to do a compression test on the vehicle?
  • How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?

If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Suzuki Swift Sport.

Importing a Mk1 or 2 Swift Sport (RS) from Japan 

The Swift Sport is known as the Swift RS in Japan. Many Swift RS models were sold in Japan, so if you are struggling to find a suitable one in your country/location you may be able to import one (remember to check your country’s importation laws).

Exporting vehicles from Japan is a big business as it keeps the country’s motor industry moving and older vehicles become more expensive to run. Below we have outlined everything you need to know about importing a Suzuki Swift RS from Japan.

How to Import a Swift RS from Japan

While importing a Swift RS from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite easy. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search “import Suzuki Swift Sport” or “import Swift RS”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for Swifts based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.

Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.

Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get completely scammed, many of these websites will be economical with the truth about a vehicle. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:

JDM Expo – Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.

Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars.

Japan Partner – Is one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles.

Note: many of these sorts of websites do not provide a grade or auction check sheet. The grade, auction check sheet, and car map are vital to picking a good car. Buyer beware!

Use a Private Importer

While the websites above are a handy way to give you a general idea of what to expect when importing a Swift RS, we recommend that you go with a private importer. A trusted private importer will be able to find the perfect Swift for you and import it, saving you the hassle. While it may cost you a bit more (sometimes it is cheaper) you are more likely to get a better vehicle.

You can get a full explanation of why we recommend using a private importer here.

How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work? 

The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles

They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.

Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.

While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.

Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.

Use the grade to whittle down the number of Suzuki Swifts you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you.

The Auction Check Sheet 

Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of a Swift RS and where any problems are located.

Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.

What Does the Number Grade Mean? 
  • Grade 7 to 9 or S– New car with delivery miles.
  • Grade 6– Same as above but with a few more miles.
  • Grade 5– Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
  • Grade 4.5– Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
  • Grade 4– Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
  • Grade 3.5– Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
  • Grade 3– Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
  • Grade 2– Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
  • Grade 1– Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
  • Grade 0, A, R, RA– Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade

As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.

The Car Map 

The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.

Our Guidelines for Importing a Suzuki Swift RS/Sport from Japan 

  • Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
  • If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
  • Try to go through a private importer
  • Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
  • Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
  • Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
  • Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
  • Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
  • Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
  • Avoid cars with unknown mileages
  • Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
  • Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents

Know Your Country’s Importation Laws 

Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.

Useful Links


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

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