Drive – Daihatsu Charade Used Car Review

1 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Daihatsu Charade Used Car Review
Daihatsu Charade

Rod Easdown

Daihatsu Charade 1998-2000

Daihatsu Charade 1998-2000

Daihatsu was never a particularly aspirational brand but over its near 40 years in this country it presented us with some honest and hard working little cars and four-wheel-drives. They also endeared themselves strongly to their owners.

Toyota, which took over the operation of Daihatsu Australia in 2000, recently announced it would shut down the brand here. Daihatsu has been struggling to justify its existence in a very tough market for some years. Sales will continue until existing stocks are cleared and servicing and parts will be available through Toyota dealers for a further 10 years.

This is the second brand to be shut down by a bigger parent this year. General Motors closed down Daewoo’s Australian operations on January 1. Since then a number of Daewoo owners have reported difficulty in trying to get service and parts through Holden dealers.

Resale values of Daihatsus can be expected to dip with this news, which is bad for existing owners but good for secondhand buyers. These are well made and reliable cars and usually give a long life, just the sort of thing most secondhand car buyers are seeking.

The Charade was Daihatsu’s best-known model. It was introduced in 1980 and has been through all manner of incarnations including, most incredibly, a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbocharged sports model developing 50kW.

By the late ’90s it had found its spot as a good-quality mini-car at a bargain price. It came under a sustained assault from Hyundai, with the Excel, Daewoo with the Lanos and Ford’s Festiva.

The difference was that while those models suffered numerous mechanical difficulties the NRMA inspectors were uncharacteristically mute when asked what to look for in a used Charade. About all we got was that the timing belt needs to be changed every 100,000km or five years and purchasers should check that this has been done.

The car was powered by a 1.5-litre, 66kW, four-cylinder engine that had to work hard much of the time. Given the fact that most owners were on a tight budget and therefore were often tempted to skimp on service, a high proportion of Charades show signs of deterioration.

Check the condition of the engine oil and examine the service history thoroughly. The car should drive well with tight controls and little or no looseness in the steering, gears or pedals.

There is a five-door CS model and a three-door TS, both running the same engine and transmissions. Although a four-speed automatic was available, a high number of Charades were sold with the standard five-speed manual gearbox. They are fun to drive and forgiving as a first car.

What to look for

Engine and transmission

Daihatsu Charade

Poor, incomplete or irregular servicing is the greatest danger. Inspect the engine oil by lifting the dipstick. If it’s thick and black, or if the stick carries nicotine-like staining, get advice from a mechanic.

Ensure the timing belt was changed at five years or 100,000km.

Fit and finish

Although finish is good, the car’s interior is made with inexpensive materials that deteriorate with time, so some ageing is not always a sign of neglect.


Check the condition of all tyres and wheels, including the spare, and check all electrical functions. Check the service history carefully.

Disclaimer: The condition of used cars varies greatly. If you find a car you like we recommend an NRMA inspection (131 122). Whether buying from a dealer or private seller, the cost of the check is likely to be cheaper than repairs.

Dealer used car warranties also vary greatly. It is best to avoid the hassle in the first place.

How much?

A 1998 auto five-door with 103,000km is $8500, while a 1999 model with 83,000km is $9500. Add $2200 for the three-door TS, which ran until 2000. Deduct $500 for manual.

Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
Daihatsu Charade
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