Front end modifications for the Suzuki Sidekick.
Editor: Eric Bewley Photo: Mike Hagen
Cottage Grove, MN. -A couple of years back I started having this chronic problem with blowing the guts out of my front differential. 32-inch tires, a strong motor, and a driver who didnt want to let up just proved to be too much for the aluminum differential to take. It wasnt until I couldnt get through a weekend of wheeling without smoking a differential a new plan was devised.
Solutions at this time were very limited so I designed and constructed what Im currently running which is a home built narrowed tracker 7.5-inch rear end with a locker, in the front end. Our time is not well spent discussing in great detail how to do this extremely labor intensive modification considering there are at least two equally rugged and easier to implement options available today that weren’t available then.
Between the time I built this custom housing and now, Suzuki has been pushing the envelope in offering power and size to it’s customers. This has led us to two ‘bolt in’ upgrades for our Sidekicks. The XL-7 front 3rd member housing and the 5-speed Grand Vitara housing. The latter being the one we’ll focus on today. In addition to putting in the Steel center section which cures the ‘broken gear’ whoas; we’ll also demonstrate how to put a locker in the front using available Suzuki components.
We’re starting with a steel housing from a V-6 5-speed 02 Grand Vitara. We purchased this from the Suzuki dealer for $168. Next we got a Samurai rear carrier to hold our Lock rite locker. We chose the rear carrier because the tracker I was working on today has 26 spline axles. Most 94 and older Tracker/Sidekicks have 22 spline, while most 95 up are 26 spline. If youre running 22 spline axles, this is the time to upgrade. There is one part that needs to be machined to fit the Samurai carrier into a Tracker/kick. Separate the carrier and remove everything. In the bottom of the cup there is a lip that needs to be machined all the way through. This needs to be machined through to fit the CV shaft. NOTE: If you use the Calmini Anvil housing you do not need to have this machined because Calmini provides an improved design axle shaft. Install a Samurai locker in the carrier.
You will need a ring and pinion retainer sleeve kit. This can be purchased from Hawk Strictly Suzuki or Spidertax. This kit is designed to put a Tracker/kick ring and pinion into a Samurai axle. This kit is a two-piece kit. Since we are putting a Samurai carrier in a Tracker/kick housing, we will only need the barrel from this kit. The barrel is to hold the pins for the locker in place so they do not hit the pinion. Assemble into the Steel housing.
Next, is a quick tip. When you are in a hard reverse situation it can put a lot of stress on that pinion mount. I broke several aluminum ears off and after going to steel, several brackets bent. A solution presented itself in the form of this simple fix. Take a piece of strap steel 11 inches long and drilled 2 holes in it 9 inches apart. Take a rubber mallet and bent it up to fit snug over the carrier. Next drill a mounting hole in your crossmember. Finally, bolt the assembly into your Sidekick and enjoy.