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N. Salerno

96 tracker engine and trans swap

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I have a low-mileage donor '96 Tracker (of course 1.6-16V) 4x4, 4-door with an auto trans. I have a '96 2-door tracker 1.6-16V with manual 2WD available to me with a junk engine. Ultimately, I'd love to have a 2-Door 4x4 with the 4-speed auto trans..Can I swap the engine and O'drive trans from the 4-door into the 2-door? From what I've read I can install the front diff etc. from the donor.  From what I have gathered, there may be a cross-member mount issue and the wire harness may have to be removed from the 4-door and installed in the 2-door because of the O'drive trans. Logic tells me that I should be able to just change the ECM from the 4-door and just add the transmission wiring and the transmission's computer. But I know logic rarely applies. Bottom-line: Can it be done without being a life-long, expensive project?

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N...The electronics would be the busiest part of the swap.  I would begin with a look at the wiring harness diagrams for a manual versus the automatic transmission models.  Lay one diagram over the other and see whether there is a significant difference.  Color coding and plug ends would be critical here.

If this conversion is feasible and practical, you're right about the ECM and other items from the 4-door donor vehicle needing to be moved over.  Follow the wiring circuits carefully, usually this breaks down as the engine harness, the transmission module harness and the ignition circuit.  The starter neutral/park switch would also need attention.

In evaluating the difficulty, the next exploration would be parts layout between the 4-door donor model and the 2-door.  This would be largely a visual and measurement comparison.  You can also look at part numbers and wiring harness or plug layouts.  

Also look at the frames to see if the live front axle, suspension members, transfer case, crossmember and such will fit.  Basically, 2-door versus 4-door will not create a problem with a front driving axle swap and driveline unless the frame or engine oil pan is different between the 2WD and 4WD versions.  Make sure the 2WD frame will accept the front driving axle assembly, the suspension members, any steering gear or linkage needs and the driveline.  In general, many 2WD chassis/frames do not have a provision for mounting 4WD components; you need to see if this applies to the '96 Geo Tracker.  A quick check: Verify whether the replacement frame part number is the same for a 2WD and 4WD model Tracker in 1996. (A G.M. dealership should have parts listings for a replacement frame.)

For this job, I would want a factory service manual that covers these areas of the vehicles, both the 2-door manual and the 4-door automatic.  As for difficulty, there's a lot of work involved here.  You know your skill sets, tools, available work environment and your motivation level.  Go from there.  It would be easier if the automatic transmission and electrical/electronic needs were not involved. 

Moses 

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Thanks once again Moses. I think your readers will find this quite interesting. I met with the guy selling the '96 2D body and drove his converted early 2-Door Sidekick. What I learned was not to bother with a 1.6 and just sell my 4D. HIS CONVERTED TOY IS A ROCKET. I am serious saying this: It reminded me of the muscle cars I used to drive.

He bought a low-mileage, rolled Vitara XL-7 with the 2.7 V6, auto trans and 4WD. He cut its frame just ahead of the rear diff to the same length as a 2D, and mounted a 2D body on it. He never removed any of the drive-line from the frame and he used the original Vitara's radiator keeping all cooling hoses original. He had to remove the wire-harness, but only on the passenger side of the firewall. He said that the inside part of the wire-harness went in place easily. He used the Vitara's A/C evaporator and he had to have hoses made to and from it. Also he used the speedo from the Vitara, but he hasn't made any trim to fill a relatively small gap yet. Of course he had to shorten the driveshaft and the tail-pipe. He used 2" exhaust tubing pieces 2" long and longer bolts to lift the body 2", and he had to lengthen the 4WD lever the 2". With the Vitara's radiator in place, there wasn't room for the hood latch so he installed hood pins.  Bottom-line: The stock Vitara XL-7 shed more than 1,000 lbs. and the converted 2D gained 1,100cc's and 105 HP, a 5-speed auto trans, its 16" alloy wheels, the larger braking system, and most importantly A WHOLE LOT MORE FUN!

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N. Salerno...Way to go!  This is a very interesting approach that updates, powers up and improves the vehicle.  You get the body you want on a thoroughly better chassis and powertrain!

Thanks for sharing, others will find this helpful...The fabrication is not excessive but will take time and the right tools.  Care must be taken on the frame shortening effort.  If the end result is worth the work involved, go for it...Keep us posted on your plans and the project. 

Moses

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