Strengthening the Sidekick Idler Arm
Editor: Eric Bewley Story/Photo: Bill Lane
INDIANA. As the Sidekick is used more offroad, it is natural that the size of the tires used will increase and the terrain tackled will become tougher. One of the earlier things to bend or break when building a Sidekick is the Idler arm. With a thin bracket and no lower support , the idler arm shaft will bend with 31 or larger tires. Also the bracket can break at the lower mounting holes.
First remove the idler arm assembly. Lay the bracket on a 6 x 6 piece of 1/8 plate. Scribe the bolt holes and all the way around the outside of the bracket. Extend the outside dimensions by 1/4. Cut out the plate and drill the bolt holes. C-clamp the plate to the back of the bracket and weld around the outside and weld around the hole in the middle of the bracket. Front Of The Bracket
On the top of the bracket where the shaft starts , you can see the small welds and thin piece holding the shaft. To try and strengthen this part , this is what I did. In the before and after pictures of the bracket you can see the small 1/8 pieces I welded on to help hold the shaft. This is 1/8 x 1 steel strap you can get at any hardware store. Remount the assembly.
Lower Support Mount
This lower support will help keep the shaft from bending when turning the wheels while in rocks, ruts, or any kind of bind. Take a piece of 3/16 thick angle with 2 1/2 legs and cut it to 2 3/4 long. On one of the legs cut off 1 1/4.Lay the short side against the A-arm mount and mark where the idler shaft meets the plate. Drill the hole to fit the shaft. Mount the angle to the shaft then drill holes thru the angle and A-arm mount. Use at least grade 5 or better hardware and use flat washers and lock washers. To make the angle a bit stronger you can weld gussets on the outer edges of the angle. Hit the assembly with some Rustoleum paint
By performing this modification to your Sidekick, you will be able to keep from bending the idler arm bracket. The Lower bracket brace is definitely the key piece to this build up for it spreads the applied force out over the frame and give a couple more bolts to take the stress.