Pre-Purchase Checklist

Pre- Purchase Inspection

Before we go into details what to look for to get the “pick of the litter” some more general statements.
Always remember that the truck you intend to purchase is at least 25 years old and even with best maintenance there may be hidden defects which can not be detected without taking it completely apart. All trucks were used for military applications and they will never be without some bruises and the special infrared reflecting paint is fading pretty quick. As the paint is also not very water resistant the Swiss Army repainted them manually on a regular basis.

In the following list we included some points you would also look for buying any used car. In the excitement of evaluating your dream truck you may just overlook them. If you have the chance to take a Pinz owner with you, by all means, do it! He may already know what to look for and he's definitely not as excited as you are. This list may also be helpful to inspect your Pinzgauer after you owned it for a while.........


Besides severe bends and a twisted tub the main enemy you are looking for is rust.

  • Air tunnel. Both bottom corners are prone to rust through due to the sound deadening foam collecting water. Either remove the grill and check both seams or check from the foot wells. On the driver side the corner behind the low-high range shifter lever would show rust in severe cases, on the passenger side reach for the area above the heater hose.
    Look here Check along this seam
    Look here Now, this is BAD!
  • Gas filler neck. The area where the filler hose goes through the floor is the potential culprit.
    Look here
  • Doors. Unfortunately there are 3 places to look for rust. The entire area where the top section meets the bottom part, the entire bottom section of the door and the inside of the windows hidden by the rubber window channels.
    Look along this line                     
  • Foot wells. Remove the diamond plates and check for rust. Must likely you will find half of the Alps in there... That much about steam cleaning the trucks prior to shipping them to the US........
  • Rub rails. The area behind the rub rails is prone to rust as the wooden rails will trap water.
     Rubrail removed, rust around rivnuts
  • Bedsides. The seam between the bedsides and the tub frame can be rusted. Most likely this will be hidden under several layers of paint following the rule: if there's paint there's no rust.
  • Rear bed. Check for rust on the inside of the tub on seat level where it meets the tub frame. Don't forget to check from underneath too!
  • Rear door. As for the front doors check the bottom corner for rust.

  • Spring cups. Check the metal cups on the top side of the springs as they tend to rust through and make for an ugly repair. While you are there inspect the limiting straps. They shouldn't be frayed out.
    Top cup Top cups
         Bottom cup
  • Roll bars. Now you have to get your nails dirty! Jump into the bed and reach under the canvas to check whether the roll bars have started to rust.
  • Check for flaking or pits in the plating of the swivel balls (front hubs). This is a costly repair!
  • If you haven't found any rust during this part of the inspection the truck just left the factory.......


    Let's continue with the next parts....


  • Rear distribution box. Crawl under the right rear corner of the bed and look up. You will see a small black plastic box with one cable coming in from the front and 2 leaving on the rear side. Open the box and check the contacts for corrosion.
     Distribution box
  • Molex-type connectors. These connectors are used on several places around the engine and under the instrument panel. Just check them all for excessive corrosion.
    Connectors behind dashboard
  • Lights. Check to make sure all lights work as they are supposed to. The truck has European style light scheme with Swiss Army special tail lights! This means: front turn signals which are just turn signals and headlights with a parking light, driving light and high beam. On the tail side it gets Swiss. Amber turn and brake light (one bulb) and red tail light. Austrian trucks are standard with amber turn, red brake and red tail lights.
  • Engine:

  • Carburetors. Grab the carbs at the top and try to wiggle them. If they “rattle” they should be tightened before you buy the truck! Check the linkage for the throttle by slowly pushing and releasing the peddle. The linkage should return to the original position.

  • Compression. The absolute value is less important, anywhere between 120 and 160psi is ok as long as they are within +/- 10psi. Especially cylinder 4 (the rear one) could have been overheated.
  • Oil cooler. Check whether the cooler is filled with all the branches and leaves from the Alps. No reason to really complain but something to clean pretty soon.

  • Fuel filter. Check for small red flakes in the fuel filter. If you find them be very careful! The lining in the fuel tank may peel off!!
     Fuel pump
    Fuel filter
  • Heat exchanger and muffler. Check all the junctions for leaks while the engine is running. Look whether the joints have sliped. Otherwise just listen whether the truck sounds like a rocket or makes a noise similar to an old VW beetle.
     Check these joints!
  • Leaks:

  • Fuel pump. Check whether the gasket between fuel pump and engine block is dry.
    Fuel pump, no leak at base!
  • Oil pan. Check the gasket of the oil pan.Quite often the small bolts holding the pan are loose!

  • Axle boots. No oil leaks and no torn-up boots!
     Axle boot
  • Wheel drive. This can only be tested if you take the wheels and brake drums off. make sure there's no oil inside the drums! A good time to check the brake pads too.
  • Driving test:

    While driving the vehicle test the following things:

  • Does low and high range work (engage)?
  • Do 4WD, rear lock and front lock engage and disengage? Caution! It sometimes requires some left-right-left turns to disengage which is normal!
  • Excessive whine of the gears. Here you will need the help of a Pinzer as even newly rebuild drivetrains with Exec II will whine........
  • Propeller shaft unbalance. Drive the Pinz at higher speeds and if it starts to vibrate or shake. If so, engage 4WD, and if the vibration goes away the truck may have some drive shaft unbalance. If not it's most likely the fact that the Swiss never balanced the wheels of the trucks.

    Simple to fix but:
    Caution! The Pinzgauer rims are lug-centric, not hub-centric as all modern cars and so far no tire place was found who could rotate them right. You will need a balancing adapter to make the wheels fit onto a modern machine....
  • Hope this helps you to find the ideal truck for you and doesn't drive any seller nuts........

    Compiled by Jürgen Schöpf
    Pictures by Jay Reich and Denis Pinard

    To download this page as a printable PDF file please click this line. Caution: 450kB size!

    Design: K. Jürgen Schöpf

    © 2002-2005, SDP-Pinzgauer