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Located a '96 four door tracker with the auto trans, motor is shot...what years and engines will be a direct bolt in??  looking for stock suzuki/tracker motors...just want to remove the bad 1.6 and drop in a good 1.6...thanks   pj

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Thanks for joining the forums, Deltas69!  Your '96 Suzuki/Geo Sidekick reminds me of the Rubicon Trail venture that I undertook with Steve Kramer from Calmini Products and a Chevrolet engineer—around the time your vehicle was on the assembly line!


post-1-0-16551100-1373672455_thumb.jpg post-1-0-55585000-1373672456_thumb.jpg

This was the 1.6L SOHC doing more work than customary—the Rubicon Trail in the mid-'90s, these were the first two 4WD Geo Trackers to ever traverse this notorious route!  I drove both of the Trackers through this particularly rough stretch of a Sluice Box, moving the granite rocks with a Warn winch.

(Click on photos to enlarge...Photos viewable by all forum members—join us!)


There are several ways to go here.  Although you're talking about a direct Suzuki swap, I'd like to share a personally appealing option first: The VW TDI diesel can be swapped into your chassis.  See the Acme Adapters website for details, they describe this process very thoroughly.  Kits fit Suzuki models and also the Toyota 22R applications:




If cost is a consideration, unless you can find the VW TDI diesel engine at a reasonable fare, plus all of the peripheral swap parts discussed on the Acme Adapters website, this is not your path.  Find a cheap TDI engine, and this is a prospect.


Another non-Suzuki option is the 4.3L G.M. V-6 conversion.  This would press the engine bay space limits for a Sidekick, and I'd opt for an aluminum cylinder head version for weight savings.  Having lived and breathed a pair of essentially stock two-door models on the Rubicon Trail for two days and nights taught me respect for their frame integrity and overall stamina—that's a lesser concern.  Here is the website if you're curious: 


http://www.suzukiconversion.com/ and http://www.suzukiconversion.com/suzuki_tracker.htm


Nobody says the V-6 conversion is "easy", and cost aside, the TDI VW diesel swap is at least 40 hours of work.  The V-6 conversion would be at least that time.  Lightning Conversions has the scoop here.


As a footnote, your 16-valve Sidekick engine makes an excellent swap into the Samurai, and there are several conversion kits available.  It's not that the '96 1.6L SOHC engine is unreliable, the issue is power-to-vehicle weight ratio.


Thanks for indulging me, PJ!  I know you asked for a straight-up Suzuki swap answer, so I'll comply.  Suzuki used the 1.8L I4 with twin camshafts in the 1996 Sport Sidekick.  This upscale package has port fuel injection, 120 horsepower and improved torque over the 16-valve 1.6L.  There is also a 2.0L engine that both the Sidekick and Tracker introduced, with 127 and 130 horsepower output.  These are inline, twin-OHC fours.  A 2.5L V-6 Suzuki Grand Vitara engine pumps out 155 horsepower by 1999, when owners were demanding significant power gains to match the size and weight increases on these Suzuki models. 


That said, there are many kits to put your 1.6L four into a Samurai.  However, Tough Trail appears the only company making a kit to put the 2.0L DOHC four into your Sidekick chassis.  Here is the scoop:




Although you can do this swap yourself with a 2.0L engine and Vitara automatic transmission, a 2.0L "turnkey" installation by Trail Tough is available for $3,900.  I'm certain, from experience with swaps and the implied issues in the parts list provided by Trail Tough, that they can justify this cost.  You need to contact Trail Tough if you do have an interest in this swap, as I'm unclear about the components you need from the 2.0L donor model Sidekick, Tracker or Vitara.  Ask about necessary modifications beyond the engine installation.


Typically, these swaps can involve the computer, wiring harnesses, any interface changes between your chassis and the chassis of the donor engine, the engine/transmission mounts, shifter considerations, interlock and ignition devices, upgrade cooling, and so forth.  I can't speculate how involved this might be for the 2.0L four.  Trail Tough is certainly a source for details.  Their kit's components do indicate that there is a market and interest for this conversion.


If you do contact Trail Tough about this 1999-2002 J20 engine swap into your 1996 Sidekick, members at this forum would value your findings.  The 2.0L four is likely the most straightforward Suzuki-to-Suzuki engine and transmission conversion for the 1.6L Sidekick/Tracker. 


Chassis and electronics changes would make the 2.4L J24 engine of later years a more complex swap.  For one reason, many later vehicles have the VIN code embedded in the instrument cluster, computer and steering column/ignition key switch electrical circuits to help prevent vehicle theft.  This has made engine swaps much more complicated with regard to wiring and electronic requirements.


Although I mentioned the 4.3L G.M. V-6 swap as an outside approach, it is often easier to make that kind of swap than to sift through schematics and splice OEM wiring harnesses together for the electronic and electrical systems.  There are aftermarket wiring harnesses available for G.M. Vortec 4.3L V-6 engine installations.  Sources like Howell Engineering can make the 4.3L V-6 engine easier to install. 


Of course, you need engine and transmission mounts, an exhaust system, cooling system, emissions interface and other chassis-to-engine swap components.  Wiring includes the charging, starting, ignition and electronic fuel injection.  The throttle linkage and cruise controls (if present) must be sorted out, too.  Each of these areas demands attention and takes time, tools and equipment.  Even for a 2.0L Suzuki engine swap, I would closely compare the donor vehicle's engine and transmission installation before plunging into the swap project! 


Be aware that any vehicle emission inspection will expect, at bare minimum, an engine the same year or newer with a tailpipe emissions reading equal to or cleaner than your original engine in good operating condition.  These guidelines once applied only in California but have been adopted in many states. 


You will need to use a "referee" station in states like California for any engine change of this nature.  They will do a visual inspection to make sure the engine, exhaust, air intake and chassis have all their original emission devices in place.  Any aftermarket engine, exhaust or air intake parts must be approved for use in that state.


Looking forward to continuing this discussion!  We encourage others to share and participate... 



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  • 1 month later...

deltas69, as you didn't say where you were going to source the new engine, i thought i would add this to the discussion. Dont overlook U-Pull salvage yards. Although unlike a full service yard, or a reman engine, you have to pull the parts yourself.  Some U-Pull yards will also offer to pull the part for an added fee. U-Pull and even most full service salvage yards will also give you interchange information for almost any component on a vehicle.


Another place where a U-Pull yard is useful, at least in this instance and with the information Moses posted, is that you can source any of the needed components, such as engine, transmission if needed, wiring, ECM, and almost any other part you may need to do any of the engine swap options that Moses spoke of, and then get the needed adapters from the suppliers Moses mentioned. Moses mentioned finding parts cheap or fairly reasonable, and i have gone the U-Pull route many times with different vehicles over the years.

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