Are Unimogs Reliable?

By Tiraboschi Tiziana – Own work, Public Domain,
Photo Credit

Unimogs are off-road utility vehicles that were made to finish just about any task. They typically have a steep price tag on them, though, so you’re probably wondering if they’re reliable and worth the price.


Unimogs are reliable vehicles that were built to do tough jobs. Many of them aren’t meant to be driven on roads, but should instead be used on uneven terrain. Unimogs work well in most terrains and environments. They last at least fifteen years, and many people own Unimogs that are forty years old.


If you’re interested in purchasing a Unimog, continue reading. Let’s go over what they’re capable of and what kind of problems you might run into.

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All About Unimogs

Unimogs were first made in the 1940s in Germany. They’re still manufactured in Germany today under the Mercedes-Benz brand; Mercedes-Benz didn’t acquire the Unimogs until the early 1950s. 


The Unimog was designed to be used in agriculture and was meant to be more powerful than the typical tractor. They weren’t intended to carry as much as full-sized trucks, but they were intended to have the power to get the job done.


Today, you probably won’t see a Unimog in your day-to-day life, especially if you live in the city. Unimogs are huge, and many of them aren’t meant for driving in the streets. 

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However, you’ll definitely see them being used by militaries, firefighters, and world travelers. You’ll see them in deserts, mountains, and jungles. Farms, snowy areas, construction sites, and the forestry industry frequently utilize Unimogs because they can handle uneven terrain.

Lifespan and Durability

Unimogs were built to last, so it’s possible to inherit the Unimog your parent purchased when you were a child. If the vehicle is properly cared for, you could pass it on to your child when they’re an adult.


Unimogs have a minimum lifespan of fifteen years. With the right care, they can last up to forty years. Of course, you’ll need to repair it every now and then because even the most durable vehicles can break, but repairs are worth it in the end. 

By B101uk – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The vehicle can be used for many different purposes, so it’s definitely a sturdy vehicle. It can go through water, plow snow, and carry heavy objects. It’s bound to suffer some knocks from falling trees or rocks, but the machine will keep going.


You can’t expect to drive every Unimog on roads. Older models only reach 30 or 40 mph (48 to 64 kph), although modern models can go up to 55 mph (88 kph). 


Some models are permitted to be driven on roads, and you won’t even need a special license for it, but that can’t be said for each vehicle. You won’t be able to drive them on highways because of the slow speeds. Remember, Unimogs are essentially a super-powerful tractor.


Driving Unimogs isn’t exactly a smooth ride, especially if you’re on uneven ground. They’re absolutely capable of handling every bump and hill, but you’ll feel each one. The vehicle will likely sway from side to side, and the spring seat will bounce back and forth when you switch gears or go across rocky terrain.

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Is it comfortable? No. Is it capable? Yes. Capability is really all you’re looking for when there’s work to be done.

Dress It How You Like With Attachments

Unimogs can be decked out to suit your needs. You can attach a plow on the front if you need to move around snow and dirt. If you’re carrying something, turn the back into a flatbed area. Bucket lifts can be installed on the back for telephone pole repairs, and you can even add extra cab space to haul your family around on a long off-road trip. 

By GoMinU Unimog – Flickr: 2012 Unimog 405 UGN forestry and arboriculture, CC BY-SA 2.0,

A Unimog is pretty much guaranteed to get the job done. You can even put rail axles on it to make it follow along railroad tracks. No other vehicle has this kind of versatility.

Common Problems

Not even the perfect vehicle is perfect. You can expect there to be problems, especially if you have an older model nearing its fortieth birthday. Fortunately, the issues you might experience can be fixed, although it might be pricey.


Repairing your Unimog is typically cheaper than replacing it. Since they’re built to last, repairs will extend the life of your machine and will save you from spending thousands of dollars on a new one for a couple more years.


Unimogs are meant to be used, so they’re highly susceptible to corrosion if they’re left to sit for too long. Many places in America utilize Unimogs for snow plowing, and that’s it. Sitting unused for most of the year causes them to corrode. 


Unimogs were built to last for fifteen years, so there are currently many older models. Older Unimogs are prone to rust. If your model is recent enough to have electro-plating, you won’t have to worry about this so much.

Water Damage

Even if your model is capable of going through 4 ft (1.2 m) of water, your vehicle will leak eventually. Seals break after many years of usage, so this is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re buying a well-worn used model. 

Replacing Parts

Unimogs and spare parts aren’t readily available in the United States like they are in Europe. Expect to see high prices and low availability for spare parts. You’ll likely have to order your parts online from a service that orders the parts from Germany.


If your Unimog was made before 2005, you wouldn’t be able to get yours hooked up to a tow truck because it won’t have prop-shafts. Instead, it will have to be lifted. Unimogs occasionally break down, so you’ll need to be prepared if it does happen.

By Alf van Beem – Own work, Public Domain,

Old and New Models Perform Differently

A Unimog made in the 1970s will (obviously) perform much more differently than the latest model. There are pros and cons to old and new, and they’re definitely worth thinking about in terms of reliability.


Older models don’t have as many electrical parts inside of them. That essentially means that there are fewer pieces that will malfunction or break. The older models are said to be better at the “rough and tumble” work like forestry.


Newer models are best suited for uneven terrain and longer times spent on the road. The many electrical components and circuits help the vehicle stay on the ground. 


Off-roading usually depends on momentum to keep you from flipping over, but a Unimog only relies on all the electrical parts to keep the tires on the ground. If you have to recover your Unimog, the extra circuits will make it much easier.


The age and usage of your Unimog will affect the kind of repairs you’ll need. A twenty or thirty-year-old model that was kept in good condition might not need many repairs, but a heavily-used newer model that hasn’t been properly cared for might require frequent repairs to get it back to a perfectly-functioning condition.

By Norbert Schnitzler – Flickr: 2009_08_22_Weelde_142240, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Final Thoughts

Unimogs are reliable utility vehicles that will do what you need it to do. If you’re searching for a Unimog of your own, consider its age and how it was used. It’s safe to say that a Unimog is always reliable, but each vehicle’s work history will factor into how reliable it really is.


Eventually, a Unimog will break down and need repairs. If your Unimog is old, you might need to replace it soon if it frequently requires repair. If it’s new, it will still have a lot of life left in it because they’re built to last at least fifteen years if they’re properly taken care of. 


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