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Lada Niva really handy stuff

Baxter’s collected Lada Niva
Technical resources & modifications.




Welcome Nivaesti.

When I first bought a Niva I started collecting helpful do-it-yourself maintenance and modification resources off the ’net. Sadly within a year or so many useful Niva sites & resources started disappearing - hence the creation of this site to save such knowledge and information and keep it easily available.

If you have a resource that would be helpful to other Lada Niva owners and would like it hosted here, e-mail me (address below).

Please note, I can not vouch for the trustworthiness of all of this info and see the disclaimer below.

Files are an eclectic mixture of web-pages, Word docs, images, and PDFs sorry. Most are in English language.

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Interested in importing a Lada to the USA? - check out this thread


General Info
  • Advice for Newbies - Essential resource, welcome to the world of Lada Niva ownership, now here's a couple of things I wish I had known...
  • Also see Buyers Guide (UK) - magazine article (4x4Mart, May 2006)
  • Also see Buyers Guide (Aussie) - magazine article (Australian 4x4 Monthly)
  • Also see Niva as a Daily Driver? (Baxter)
  • Also see Niva Rejuvenation article (French) (4x4 Mondial, N.105, 2010)
  • Lada Niva 1600 Owner's Manual - very handy resource (1.1M)
  • Full Niva Workshop Manuals (AvtoVaz, c/o Gadgetboy ) - 1600, 1700, injected, & Diesel Highly recommended
  • Parts Catalogue (AvtoVaz, c/o Gadgetboy ) - part numbers for every single part of your Niva 2121/3/4/5/7, and specs for every bolt etc.
  • Parts Drawings and Numbers (AvtoVaz/Cloggy)
  • Hi-res Disassembly Photos - text in Russian, but quality photos of gearbox strip-down, CVs, brakes & suspension disassembly, etc - photos of every job
  • James May Reviews Niva - (TopGear Magazine, Jan 2011)
  • Niva Development History (Ivan Shevelenko) - a comprehensive history of the development of the Niva with lots of prototype and pre-production images (1.3M)
  • Lada Oddities - a hand-full of odd things you probably didn't know about Lada & the Niva.
  • The Communist Manifesto (Marx & Engles)

    General Improvements
  • Random Handy Modifications - make your Niva more versatile & easier to live with: door pockets, raised seat brace, central locking, etc, etc...
  • Larger door-mirrors - like to be able to see when reversing or changing lane? (Mk 1).
  • Shift the lightswitch - make sure you never switch the lights off instead of the heater (Mk 1 only).
  • Seat Swap (Baxter) - mount the seats from a Honda etc in the Niva.
  • Fold the Seats into a Bed (various) - My conversion, some badly translated Russian ones (images look simple to follow), and pics of a couple of others.
  • Oil Gauge Calibration (Szentirmai) - yep, I panicked too the first time I looked at my oil gauge at idle (200K).
  • Soundproofing (Andrei/Baxter) - yes, it can be done relatively easily (500K).
  • Power Steering (Cloggy) - Toyota Cressida steering-box into a Niva.
  • Heater-fan Upgrade (Jack, 400K), Heater Upgrade2 (crb247, 1.5M) - replace your tired old fan with a modern one.

    Engine Upgrades & Service
  • Timing-chain Adjustment - Essential and dead easy.
  • Oils for the Niva - grades and volumes for the engine, gearbox, TC, and diffs etc.
  • Alejandro's guide to more power (Alejandro Gabatel) - tips to ringing a few more hp out of the Lada lump.
  • Weber Carburetor Swap guide (Baxter et al) - cheapest and easy mod to up your power and drivability; if you can find a good Weber these days. Popular
  • Carburetor to Injection Swap (Mats Ahlberg) - convert a carburetor Niva to single throttle-body injection.
  • Junkyard Injection Swap (Torok Imre) - convert a Carburetor Niva to multipoint-injection using junkyard parts (600K).
  • Electronic Ignition Swap - swap in an electronic distributor from a later model Niva (500K).
  • High Compression Cylinder Heads - Riva 1200 head swap and Head planning.
  • 1600 Engine Rebuild Part 1 (2M) and Part 2 (1M) (Alejandro Gabatel)
  • Fiat DOHC Engine Swap - Need more power or torque? Cloggy's full write-up of a DOHC swap, power-steering, and more. Popular
  • Also see Giving a Niva More Grunt - Fiat DOHC swap article (International Off-Roader, March 1993), and photos of various DOHC swaps

    Gearbox & Transfer-case
  • Gearbox Over-fill - easy & Essential protection for your gearbox.
  • Gearbox Removal (Huffman) - how to remove the gearbox (2.6M)
  • Gearbox Removal (Ahlberg) - with handy pictures
  • Diagnosing & Rebuilding the Gearbox (Volodjushka & others) - fixing the Niva's only real weakness
  • Gearbox Bearing Alternatives (Ahma)
  • Fiat Gearbox Swap info - it's 90mm longer, but handily it's bell-housing bolts to Niva engine (30K).
  • Transfer-case Alignment - mysterious tranny vibrations (ew, er)? Try these fixes... Popular
  • Some Doughnut tricks (Various)
  • Low-ratio Gearbox Swap (Baxter et al) - includes magazine article (International Off-Roader, Feb 1993).
  • Low-ratio Transfer-case Modifications - lower your TC's low ratio gear; includes the "French Crawler Mod".
  • Doughnut joint Double CV Substitute (Stief) - replace the doughnut and universal with 2 CV joints (100K).
  • See also Double CV joint - more of the same (200K).
  • Transfer-case Braces & Mount Upgrades - Beefed-up TC mounts or braces to minimise movement.
  • Gearbox, Transfer box, Tyre and Wheel Ratio calculator external link (Neil Chowney)

    Tricks, Tips & Replacements etc
  • Alternative Parts that fit Nivas Under constant construction - Please feel free to e-mail me (address above) substitutes you've tested that work - and ones that don't work.
  • Other Fiat 124 Based Cars - what else can I crib other bits off?
  • Removing the Starter-motor - it's fiddly on a rhd, best to do it from underneath with a ratchet, long extension, and uni-joint.
  • Steering tracking, Camber & Castor adjustment (Hoodoo)
  • Fix that Crappy Steering - feel like '50s truck steering? Sort that weaving, wooliness or bucking bronto...
  • Rust - common Niva rust traps & prevention.
  • Windscreen-washer Pump Overhaul (unknown author) (2M)
  • DIY Crank-start Handle (Huffman et al)

  • Good 1600 (2121) Wiring Diagrams - good copy with colours of the wires visible, and a guide.
  • Good 1700 (21213/4) Wiring Diagrams
  • Wiring diagram cyrillic colour guide external link (Gadgetboy )
  • Electrical Improvements (Giovanni) - an automotive electrician's electrical upgrades
  • Ignition-barrel Wiring & Removal (Ahma)
  • High-output Alternator Swap (Huffman) (100K)
  • Wiring a internally regulated Alternator in a 1600 - (SimonAllen)
  • Electric Radiator Fan - with kill switch for water-crossings, see below in Off-Road Mods
  • Raised Alternator Brackets - keep your alternator out of the river, see below in Off-Road Mods

    Wheels & Tyres
  • Tyres (Baxter) - how big can I go?
  • Other vehicles with Niva PCD / wheel stud pattern (Baxter) - what can I borrow rims off?
  • Guard Trimming (Baxter) - dolly or cut back your wheel-arches to fit larger tyres.

    Brakes, Diffs, & CVs
  • Rear Brake Adjustment (Baxter) - do it once (well, once every 6 months or so) and do it right.
  • Front Brakes (GM404) - freeing sticky pistons and replacement seals.
  • Brake Regulator-valve Adjustment
  • Front CV Joint Disassembly & Rebuild (Alejandro Gabatel) (3.5M)
  • CV Boot replacement (Jonno)
  • Rear Disk Conversion (Niva Nuts) (400K)
  • See Also Canadian Rear Disc Conversion - lots of photos (1M)
  • Self-adjusting rear brake upgrade - Anyone got pics etc of this swap?
  • Ford Diff into a Riva Housing
  • Low-ratio Diff swap
  • LSD & Diff-lock options
  • Protrack Diff-lock - (Hoodoo) - fitting notes and report.
  • Fiddle/Cutting brake aka Poor Man's LSD - a twin handbrake set-up that can simulate aspects of an LSD (1.3M).

    Off-road Upgrades & Modifications
  • Raising Niva (Baxter et al) - options to lift your Niva for better ground clearance or to fit bigger tyres; includes world famous DIY Hoodoo 2" lift. Very popular
  • Also see Hoodoo Lift Fitting Instructions (Jonno)
  • Also see Tube Lift (Dalibor Lon) - a variation on the Hoodoo, using tubes instead of wedges (1M).
  • Also see Hoodoo2 Prototype Install (Baxter) - all around rubber ring lift (avoids raising coil platform).
  • Also see Niva Gets a Lift - magazine article (International Off Roader, October 1992)
  • Also see Body Lift - Simon Allen's guide to a Niva x-member lift (600K).
  • Also see Body Lift - a Spanish guide to cross-member lifts (Spanish) (900K).
  • Increased Articulation (Cloggy) - remove 40mm from all of the front bump-stops and remove the front anti-roll bar...
  • Tow-hook Mounts - Cloggy's 50x50mm box-section solution to the Niva's lack of a "chassis" to mount hooks.
  • DIY Snorkels - aftermarket ones exist but can be difficult to source; PVC drainpipe can make a fine DIY alternative.
  • DIY Power-train Breathers (Alejandro) - keep water out of your diffs, 'box and TC.
  • DIY Raised Alternator Brackets (Hoodoo/Vipenzas) - keep your alternator out of the river (6M).
  • High output alternator swap - see above in Electrics
  • DIY Rock-sliders & Sill Upgrade - protect your sills from off-road damage.
  • Sump & Diff-guards, and other Armour
  • Body Reinforcement - see Dakar rally preparation below
  • Bigger Tyres & Wheel-arch Trimming - see above under Wheels & Tyres.
  • Low-ratio Transfer-case & Low-ratio Gearbox - see above in Gearbox & TC.
  • Low-ratio Diff Swap - see above under Brake & Diffs.
  • LSD, Diff-lockers & Fiddle-brakes - see above in Brakes & Diffs.
  • DIY Sand-ladders - perhaps a tad heavy, but look cheap, effective, and easy to make (100K).
  • Electric Radiator Fan - with kill switch for water-crossings
  • Reinforced Front Shock Mounts - stronger mounts for the front shocks

    Well Sorted Nivas
  • The Full Hoodoo - A well though out and prepared Niva for green-laning etc. Before going bananas with modifications this is a must read (1M).
  • Niva Nuts - a highly developed Niva built for exploring Australia's outback, including LSD, disc rear, power steer, etc (1.3M).
  • Niva Hawk - magazine article about Nissan V6 powered racing Niva (Overlander, Nov 1989)
  • Ex-Works Hill Rally Niva - was once a great sounding bit of kit (1.4M).
  • V6 Niva - article on Simon Allen's Ford V6 conversion (4x4i magazine, Nov 2009)(1.5M).
  • Build your Niva to survive the Paris-Dakar Part 1 (1M) and Part 2 (1M) - Poch's preparation manual (extreme thanks to Hoverfrog for the translation, French original here, 2M).
  • Chepic's trials Niva - images of a European trials Niva


    external link Also try searching:
    UK Lada forum
    The main English speaking Niva forum
    Difflock (select Forum: "Niva")
    Knowledge base
    at Lada.co.uk
    UK National Niva Owners Club Technical Documents

    Russian Niva FAQ English/Spanish section

    Russian Niva FAQ (Russian)
    Mods & Accessories section of my Niva Gallery
    After-market Goodies section of my Links page


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    Tread Lightly


    Full Credit: Unfortunately being originally for personal use means I haven’t always collected authors’ names. If you can give me credit details for a piece here please e-mail me.

    Copyright: Much of the resources here and not mine. Unless otherwise stated, please consider them under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or similar licence (ie basically you can't use them to make money without the owner's permission). They are reproduced here in the spirit of keeping hard-to-find Niva information online and available, and as far as I'm aware is not a problem with the authors or owners. If a resource here is yours and you don't want it on my site please let me know (contact below) and I'll remove it.

    General Disclaimer: I can not vouch for the trustworthiness of all of this infomation. While the infomation posted is from mostly reasonably reliable or reliable looking sources, I have not tested much of it myself. Indeed if you see something here that is misleading - or plain wrong - PLEASE e-mail me.
    I take no responsibility if you do something suggested on this site and ruin your car, hurt yourself, or break laws of your country (however, if this does happen then please do tell me so I can update things). The information in this website does not hold its authors, owners or hosts liable for any damage or injuries sustained.
    No liability is expressed or implied for any use of this information. Beware that mechanical work, off-road driving, and life in general can be dangerous.


    Contact Baxter
    Important: Make sure you put something sensible in the subject-line as I get a lot of spam and will likely miss or mistakenly delete your e-mail if you don't.
    I'm "Baxter" or "baxter" on a number of Lada forums (though sadly don't regularly check into all of them).
    You can telephone me on New Zealand 021-1146-753.

    And please remember that this is a non-commercial non-expert all-volunteer website. While I will try to deal with everything in a mostly timely fashion, there's nobody sitting behind some desk dispensing cheery greetings to callers, brewing the morning coffee, doggedly researching the answers to your questions, and giving professional advice. So if it takes more than a few days to get back to you, please accept my apologies in advance. And remember there's always the forum at lada.co.uk as an excellent source of advice.

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