Keywords: Daewoo Musson
Description: For those interested, this car was designed by Ken Greenley of London's Royal College of Art and first manufactured around 1995, by a Korean company called Ssang Yong. The interesting thing was,
For those interested, this car was designed by Ken Greenley of London's Royal College of Art and first manufactured around 1995, by a Korean company called Ssang Yong. The interesting thing was, that Mercedes Benz participated in Ssang Yong, and so the Musso was produced using Mercedes engines (2.0, 2.3 and 3.2 lt petrol engines and a 2.9 lt diesel one). It was a very upscale model, and was marketed as such, competing with Jeep Cherokee and its likes, based mainly on it being fully equipped and sold at a relatively low price.
Around 1998, the Korean group Daewoo, purchased Ssang Yong, and hense the rights to manufacture and sell Musso (and the short-wheelbase model, Korando). The Musso was thus re-introduced in 2000, to several markets around the globe, with Daewoo's badges and logos, but more or less still the same car (ALMOST, please read below).
The car at this moment, under Daewoo's name, is marketed in several countries in Europe, and it is said that it will also be imported in USA in 2001. This is good news, because hopefully, some after-market accessory manufacturers will eventually develop add-ons for it.
Latest Development: I just heard (December 2001) that Ssang Yong and Daewoo have again parted company. This means that most probably the Musso will be sold again, under the Ssang Yong badge, but it will still be sold and supported from the Daewoo distributors. The future of the car remains to be seen.
The car is a very nice rig for off-road driving. It is not a rock crawler, in the sense that it cannot compete with properly prepared (or even standard) Wranglers. in climbing rocks, due to its very big length and its rear end, which protrudes quite a lot after its rear axle. In other words, the departure and ramp angles are very small. Additionally, the suspension does not allow for huge travel amounts, so it is not a Scorpion. It is however a very capable off-road machine, and its capabilities can be improved with a few simple mods.
There are three areas that the Musso needs improvement. One is its engine, which is not producing enough power, for the weight of the car. People lucky enough to live in countries where cars are not taxed, according to their engine size, should definitely go for the 3.2 lt engine or the diesel one. With those power packs, the Musso becomes a very capable truck, at least as far as performance is concerned. The 2.0 lt motor is barely adequate. For those interested, Mercedes can upgrade the 2.0 lt engine to 2.6 lt, offering 185 bhp of horsepower and 260 Nm of torque, but at a significant cost (almost 7000 US$).
Another area that needs attention, is the differentials. Even though the car uses the very well known Dana axles (30 at the front and 44 at the rear), the normal diffs which come on the truck, are open diffs. When ordering the Musso, make sure you specify the anti-spin system (ABD in Daewoo terms), if it is not included in the base package (read below). You do want (and need) it . Without it, you may easily get stuck. If you do not order this system when ordering your car, you will then need to retrofit the truck, with some sort of limited slip differential or locker, which will eventually cancel your manufacturer's guarantee (and possibly cost you more).
The final problem with the Musso, is that it sits a bit low. The lowest point (which are the central gearbox cross member and the rear differential) are only 19,5 cm from the ground, and that can certainly be improved. Tires taller than the standard 235/75-15 can be fitted, but only marginal difference can be obtained, as anything bigger than 31x10.50R15 will rub at the various plastic covers of the fenders, and at the bumpers. If you are interested in fitting the Musso with 31x10.5R15, e-mail me for the small details you should know. If you want to go to anything bigger than that, see the Musso Modifications chapter. You can even go up to 44" tires, if you so want and are a bit adventurous.
There are some other areas that need attention, such as the front axleshaft, which needs its grease nipple relocated, in order to better lube the slip yoke. Or the front wheel hubs, which are vacuum operated and of poor design. Thank God Warn hubs can be fitted with minor alterations. Also, a higher output alternator would be nice if you have a winch or other high consumption equipment. I plan to deal with these problems soon, for the time being the car works wonders as is, but I know that these areas need to be addressed, as soon as possible.
In any case, if you want a big rig, with ample of space for the family (and the pet), with good off-road capabilities, no other car (in Europe) comes close to Musso's value for money. Yes, the interior is not as luxurious as that of a Grand Cherokee (even though leather upholstery is an option), and the quality of the plastic parts in the cabine leaves something to be desired, but the space is huge. Both front and rear passengers have ample of space both for their legs and their heads, while the cargo area is. abysmal. The truck's components are from reputable manufacturers (see the specs above), so you can expect to have years of troublefree usage. The Mercedes engines guarantee their reliability, while Borg Warner and Dana are very respectable names in the gearbox and axle areas. Suspension-wise, the independent front suspension gives the car excellent road manners (although it certainly limits its off-road capabilities), while its rear axle is very well suspended thus eliminating live axle problematic handling. Its steering (rack and pinion, assisted) is very nicely adjusted, transfering the right information to the driver, but not oversensitive to be a problem in the rough, dirt roads. Overall it is a nice truck for its price, it costs about US$ 24,000, while a standard Jeep Cherokee (not the Grand Cherokee) in Greece, comes at around US$ 29,000.
I visited the representative yesterday, and I first saw the new version of Musso. Some things I noticed are:
- the new version sits taller than the old one. It looks as if stiffer rear springs are used (the new truck sits as high as mine with the lift installed). That should take care of the height limit problem mentioned above. Unfortunatelly, the stupid plastic fender covers are still the same, so are the bumpers, so it is not easy to install tires bigger than 31x10.5R15. Correction. The new version does not sit taller, it is just that the plastic fender flares make it look taller. I measured one at the Daewoo's garage, and there is no difference from the previous model.
- the new version features a new dashboard/console layout. In line with modern trends, the new console has strips of aluminum-looking plastic. In my eyes, the old dashboard and console, were better looking, but this is a personal opinion. Oh, yes, the new console comes with a decent ashtray (for those with bad habbits), the old one is an excercise in futility, its surroundings are full of ashes in my car, it is so small and awkward-positioned, that you can never hit it with your cigarette.
- I noticed a new steering pump, which has an integrated steering pump fluid reservoir. The old setup has the reservoir separate, on the left fender, thus stealing space from the under the hood area, because of the pipe connecting the pump to its fluid reservoir.
- Some minor rearrangements in the underhood area have also taken place, the battery now is living on the driver's side, just behind the front left light, instead of the passenger's side, near the firewall. This has made the underhood area less cramped than before (good news for those who want to install lots of added parts in there, like the ARB compressor).
- The most interesting and important change is in the gear shift mechanism. In my truck, the gear lever is connected to the gear box via two cables, which might be acceptable for a car, but are really a problematic area in a 4x4. A cable is easily damaged and the last thing you want during an off-road trip is to be left with a useless gearbox. These cables are eliminated in the new version, in favor of a direct connection, with the gear lever sticking directly out of the gear box. As you can read below, I had already one failure of the shifting cables, so the direct link is a very welcome new feature. I checked if my gear mechanism can be upgraded to the new one, and it can, but the required components cost almost 2,000 US$, which is outrageous. All there is to it, is a steel bar, which transfers the movement of the gear lever, from the top of the gear box, to another location about 40 cm to the rear. I think, I'll stick with the cables.
So far (34,000 km, August 2001), the Musso has been proven quite reliable. The services are performed at the local distributor of Daewoo, where they seem to know the car well. The followings have been fixed or repaired with no cost (the car is covered by a 3-year guarantee):
- Strange noises coming from the rear seat. The rear seat is foldable (in 50/50, in other words the seat backs can be folded individually, but also the whole rear seat can be folded so that you have a big, flat area for loads) and it is equipped with two armrests, one at each end. It looks as if the locks which keep the seat in place, during normal operation, are not the best on earth, and they let the whole assembly vibrate. All you have to do to eliminate those noises, is to wrap a layer or two of electrical tape around the axis on which the locks click to secure the seat. Not a permanent fix, but an easy one to apply every so often. Another problem is that the mechanism of the armrests is not that great. Result: vibrations and noise. Solution: you need to restrain the movement of the armrests, in order to eliminate the vibrations. In my case, a couple of plastic tie-rods (those plastic straps, which are used to keep wires together), were used to make a long loop, which is passed around the upper part of the armrest. The other end of the loop is secured to one of the thumbscrews used to hold the rear parcel shelf (an optional accessory) in place. In that way, the armrests are held tightly at their rear-most position and do not vibrate any more.
- One of the air ducts on the dushboard stop functioning after 5 months. The small tiltable surfaces which direct airflow are connected between them, with a small plastic part, which broke. The new duct was installed in less than one minute by the helpful people of the Daewoo service.
- Steering noises. When the steering wheel was slightly turned, you could sometimes feel some clicking from the steering mechanism. Problem known for this car, the axle connecting the steering wheel to the rack and pinion mechanism is of a stupid design. A new connecting axle of improved design was installed (free of charge), and it solved the problem and made the noises disappear.
- The armrest between the front seats is a plastic thing covered with vinyl. Due (most probably) to the high temperatures in Athens, the glue which holds the cover on the plastic was destroyed and now, when the car is parked in the sun (and the internal temperature is high) you can see a bulge on top of the armrest. The distributor had ordered this item at least twice (first time was in March 2001), but until today (February 2002), it has not come. I guess that I'll have to take this thing apart and apply some new glue on the inside. Well, the part finally arrived and got replaced during the same visit at which the flash relay was changed (see below, March 2002).
- Electric windows switches. The quality of those switches is questionable, at least as far as the plastic used for them is concerned. Guess what? They peel! Their black color comes off, and since the plastic underneath is white, after six months, some of them look like my trusty M-1911, functionning perfectly but looking very used, with its edges being discolored. The passenger's side front one, especially, looked so bad, that it reminded me of some of the switches of my old 1978 Fiat. The representative replaced the offending switch at no cost. Somehow I think that they would have to replace all these switches. The driver's side one started showing its white color also. This is a big switch assembly, allowing you to control all the windows! It has also been replaced free of charge.
- Gear lever linkage. While driving to the beach on a Sunday morning, the gear lever went bananas. The truck was in 4th gear, when the lever stopped responding, it could be moved in any which direction, but without the movement being transmitted to the gear box. Typically of a good 4-wheeler, I pulled over and removed the center console to investigate. One of the two cable linkages which connect the lever to the gear box had parted company. Upon closer investigation, it looked as if the pin which secures the linkage to the gear lever has been pushed away and this lead to the linkage being totally removed. I was thinking of what I could use to replace the pin, when I noticed that the whole mechanism is sealed from the underbody, with a rubber boot. I looked for the pin, which -sure enough- was in that rubber boot. I replaced the pin, and the lever began operating as usually again. I have to remember to get a couple of those pins from the representative, next time I take the truck for service.
- Gear lever linkage (2). Well, I can say one thing, this is certainly not the strongest part in the truck. You see, the gear lever is connected to the gearbox through two cable wires. On a very rainy day, one of the wires went south, the external cover broke thus preventing any gear lever movement. The truck was transfered to the dealer's shop, where the two linkage cables were changed (at no cost). Daewoo is very aware of the problem, since the latest version of the Musso is coming equipped with a new, direct gear lever. I asked the dealer's technical people to investigate if the new setup can be retrofitted to my truck. No answer yet, so I guess I should at least add those two linkage cables in my spare box. Imagine if you are stuck up in a mountain with a useless gear lever?
- one of the fog lamps was taking water in. It was replaced at the last service, within the guarantee coverage.
- One of the exhaust rubber hangers broke causing the muffler to touch the axleshaft when cornering hard right. Replaced at a cost of 3 US$. (July 2001)
- There is two problems that we cannot solve until now. First, the car's idle speed changes erratically. With the engine running, sometimes the idle speed goes up and down, up and down. It changes more, if you even move the sterring wheel! Also, with the air condition engaged, and running at its full setting (full power), when the engine returns to the idle speed, it drops all the way down to zero RPMs and then comes up again and stabilizes at the idle speed. We cannot understand what causes it. It might be the Temperature Inlet Air sensor because this problem usually manifests itself when the car has run for some time, especially in hot temperatures, in heavy traffic. There is no indication however that the sensor is faulty, at least the computer diagnostics do not show any problem with that sensor. The mechanics tried to rectify these problems, by resetting the Throttle position sensor in the car's computer. It didn't do any good, so finally the Daewoo people replaced the whole throttle body. It looks as if the problem is solved. Thank God for that! (October 2001)
- During a recent off-road excursion, we were wheeling with the winch cable connected to the winch plug and had the winch remote control in the car. I wasn't paying attention, and the wire was caught by the weheel and pulled forcefully out of its plug, bending one of the three winch plug pins. I straighten the pin back, but it finally broke. Now, I have to design a new control for the winch, which will allow me to control it from inside the car. Stay tuned for developments here. (December 2001)
- At the 40,000 km, the catalytic converter and the rear muffler of the car had internally disintegrated. They were replaced at no cost by Daewoo. The problem with the catalytic converter is well-known, almost every other Musso owner I've talked with, had faced it. (December 2001)
- On our last off-road excursion, a fuse blowed. So we got stuck and had to tow the car to the asphalt road and then get the road assistance to carry it back to the dealer. Before you start yelling at me, that an off-roader should be prepared and have all kind of spare fuses and be able to rectify such a situation, please read what happened. We were going up a very muddy stream and have used the winch to get us out of trouble. I was out of the car controlling the winch, while a friend was behind the wheel, keeping the engine revs up, so the battery stayed charged, and helping with the engine to extract the car from the mud. When we finally had Musso almost out, we decided it was time to help him get his truck unstuck. He got off my car and switched off the engine. We turned his truck around and I went back to the Musso to start going downhill. It was then that I noticed that there was no current. We figured out it was a blown fuse, but this is no ordinary fuse. It is an 80 Amp monster fuse, which had the following label "P/HEAT-ABS". Why would this fuse cause the car to go dead, we couldn't understand. We tried to wire the poles of the fuse together with a piece of wire, but the current passing through it, was melting the insullation. So there was a short circuit somewhere or simply the wire we used was not enough to handle the current. But I could not understand what was causing the problem. I have an ABS eliminator switch so I took the ABS off, but this didn't help. There was no heater working, so what could I do? The mystery was solved at the dealer's shop, where it became obvious that the fuses were mis-labeled. Right next to the blown fuse, there is a similar one, labeled "ALT". Someone has mixed up the wiring and the fuse that was blown was the one for the ALT (Alternator) and not the ABS or whatever. And probably the problem has been initiated by some mud (or water) thrown on the alternator and causing a short. By the way, this fuse cannot be replaced by just pulling it out. Its poles are connected to the wires with 10mm bolts, which have to be removed first. And of course those bolts are kept in a plastic box, which you have to pry open before reaching them. Oh well, now I know. (December 2001)
- The relay which controls the parking lights is doing strange things. You switch it on, and it works for a few seconds, then it gets stuck in the open position keeping all flash lights on. The problem happens only early in the morning, when the car has sit in the night outside, so it is probably related to temperature affecting the relay. The offending part has been changed during a meeting at the Daewoo garage.
- At around 57.000 km, the clutch was gone. It was changed at the distributor's shop, at a cost of around 320 US$.
In general, the personel at the distributor's garage, are quite helpful and understanding, the only thing I do not like about them is the fact that you cannot stay and watch while work is carried out, you have to wait at a nice room, overlooking the work area. I do not like it, but I can understand their policy. Prices are logical. They however do not have any deep knowledge of the truck. In other words, they usually do assembly swapping, instead of parts troubleshooting. The differential makes noise? Replace the entire axle. I guess this is the policy followed by almost all dealers these days. The only thing I hate is that the service manual suggests changing the oil every 5,000 km, which is a pain. If you do not do those oil changes your guarantee may be void. As a result, you should take the car to the shop every 5000 km, just to do that stupid oil change. I plan to switch to "Mobil 1", which I've been using in my previous car (Honda Civic) and which lasts for at least 10,000 km. It is one of the finest engine oils I've ever tried, and being synthetic it has better specifications than the normal engine oils.
Since this rig is not yet introduced in the American market, there are very few aftermarket accessories for it. The side steps are Daewoo's own (crap, no good at all, made of "tissue" metal), as well as the aluminum wheels and front fog lights. Here is a list of the mods done so far. Click on each item for a detailed description.
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