Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7

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Offline olija

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Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« on: February 15, 2017, 08:35:10 PM »
Hey all. I picked up this 03 XL7 5-speed as a cheap replacement to my 1989 Land Cruiser for our next family 4x4. Knowing it had big shoes to fill, I did alot of my research beforehand and investigated build options. I previously owned a 97 Sidekick 4door and a 2001 Vitara 2.0L 4door, so I've been elbows deep into Suzuki tech before and it didn't take long to refresh my memory. The main reasons I chose the XL7 over something else was buy-in price, cost of modifications and maintenance, ease of modifications and maintenance, and I wanted a manual transmission, 7 passenger vehicle our family could grow into.

The plan is to add enough lift to run a 235/80/17 tire, aka a 32x9.50 pizza cutter, tall and skinny. My philosophy is that a light vehicle like this doesn't need anything wider, and narrower tires rub less. I plan to regear to 5.13's in the diffs to compensate for the tires. Since this is a standard it came with 4.30's so I can just use diffs from an auto. Then I will build my own skid plates, rock sliders, and possibly bumpers. At some point I plan to add a 3rd row of seating and roof basket but that is not an immediate concern at the moment.

Before:


First job, remove and clean the EGR valve. Was throwing a P0051 code.


Fast forward to just before Christmas, I ordered my lift and tore the front end down:


Stock spring on right, Ford Aerostar spring on left, gives 3" lift:


Front diffs. On the left is the 4.30:1 air-actuated shift on the fly factory unit from the XL7. On the right is the 5.13:1 actuator-free unit from a 1997 Sidekick. The goal: swap the guts from the Sidekick aluminum member to the steel XL7 member, to gain lower gearing and eliminate the failure-prone actuator system and keep it all encased in the stronger steel pieces.




Picked this up used for a good price, figured it won't hurt...2" Altered Ego body lift, and the little pieces in the bag are the RRO steering extension I paid $40 USD for. What a joke, it's probably about $5 in parts and labor.


My Altered Ego 3" deluxe lift arrived about 6 weeks after ordering. Looks good...


Modified the passenger CV cup so it runs the longer Sidekick splines. Had to do this because the XL cup is larger in diameter, therefore not interchangeable with Sidekick CV parts.






Pics will be uploaded as things progress...stay tuned!
97 Sidekick 4door 5 speed, 1.5 spacer lift, 2" body lift, CJ rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low <SOLD>
01 Vitara 2.0L 5 speed, 2.5" Calmini lift, 2" body lift, Sidekick rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low, 5.13 diffs <SOLD>
03 XL7 2.7 5 speed, 3" AE lift, 2" AE body lift, 5.13 diffs, 235/80R17 BFG AT KO's

Online ebewley

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 06:16:58 AM »
Looking good! Xl7 is definitely the family man's Suzuki.

Anxious to see more.

Eric
Eric L. Bewley                               
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Offline Drone637

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 11:16:36 AM »
I like the welds on that CV conversion. 
x-SJ-410, 96 Geo Tracker, White Rabbit, Project Trouble

Crawlers NorthWest
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Online beagle..t

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 05:42:46 PM »
looks good glad you got it figured out
new rig aka "the mule" 2002 tracker
V6 swap auto  ,2 dr ,2" BL,2" jeffs kit 512 gears warn hubs and 30/9.5/15 BFG AT

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2017, 03:52:53 PM »
Some progress updates: Got the front diff installed without too much unexpected issue. Geoff from Zukination told me the exhaust crossover pipe interferes with the front driveshaft, and sure enough, it did, so I needed to take a drift and hammer and beat a little more of a recess into it than is already there. The other issue is when the front diff is installed, there's only about 1/8" clearance between the bottom-most reinforcing rib and the top of the crossmember. I was told to heat it up with an oxyacetelene torch and massage it for a little extra clearance, but I don't have a torch at the shop I'm working at so I will tackle that once I get it back out on the road.

One thing I found unique about the AE lift compared to others, is that they use a "coil shim" between the spring perch and the factory spring isolator on top of the front coil. The instructions don't include a diagram of how they are supposed to go in, so I took my best guess at it on one side, and found I had no down-travel in the front end when it was all together, so I emailed Geoff and he said I had put the shim in upside down so it was sitting ON the spring perch, not IN the spring perch. Took it apart and flipped the shim, assembled the front end completely, and everything is looking good.

The rear is basically done with the exception of the lower control arm-to-frame bolts. They were seized into the sleeves so I had to cut them out. The hardest part was getting the brake line apart after 14 years but I managed with a little persistence.

Sorry only 1 pic for now.

97 Sidekick 4door 5 speed, 1.5 spacer lift, 2" body lift, CJ rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low <SOLD>
01 Vitara 2.0L 5 speed, 2.5" Calmini lift, 2" body lift, Sidekick rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low, 5.13 diffs <SOLD>
03 XL7 2.7 5 speed, 3" AE lift, 2" AE body lift, 5.13 diffs, 235/80R17 BFG AT KO's

Online beagle..t

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2017, 07:36:12 PM »
is the rear trailing arms move your rear axle back? does it require driveshaft spacer? 
new rig aka "the mule" 2002 tracker
V6 swap auto  ,2 dr ,2" BL,2" jeffs kit 512 gears warn hubs and 30/9.5/15 BFG AT

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2017, 09:45:52 PM »
I quote AE's website concerning their extended rear link kit:
Quote
Picture
For all you out there that have the Spacer Lift or Spacer Lift/Body Combo and have the major tire contact issue in the rear, we have the solution to your problems!  When using spacers to lift the 99 + Vitara/Tracker, the spacers lift the vehicle but unfortunetely without the associated pan hard drop bracket your rear axle is pushed out of center. Combine this with the Vitara's naturally small wheel wells and short rear links and you end up with major contact between the tires and the wheel wells in the rear during up travel.  The end result being torn up tires and damaged body panels.... To combat this we have developed extended links, both upper and lower, that push the rear axle back eliminating the contact.  Included in this kit is a pan hard drop bracket to recenter your axle and a driveshaft spacer to correct the driveline for its new length.
Complete kit includes upper and lower extended links, pan hard drop bracket, all bushings, sleeves, and hardware needed, plus associated length driveshaft spacer to extend the driveshaft to match the new wheel base.
Minor trimming may be needed on stock rear bumper depending on tire size and amount of spacer lift.


I'm actually a little confused how the wheelbase is supposed to change when only the upper links are longer, so I sent AE another email to see what they say. There is also supposed to be a rear driveshaft spacer and track bar bracket but they said since the XL7 uses a 2-piece rear driveshaft with a steady bearing as opposed to the GV which has a 1-piece with a slip yoke built into the back of the t-case, there is more travel available in the XL7 setup so the spacer is not required. Regarding the track bar, he said they just finished an install on an XL7 at the time I ordered this kit, and when they put it back on the ground and checked the alignment, the rear axle was in perfect alignment without any modifications.

I also forgot to mention at the beginning of this thread...the reason I went with the Aerostar coils in the back was because AE's lift is made for a Tracker/Vit/GV, and there are not enough XL7 out there to justify building separate rear coils for them. Around 2003, some XL7's started using larger diameter coil springs (4.75 OD as opposed to roughly 4"), so the springs from the kit would not fit on the spring perches on my axle.

I still need to install the 2" body lift before my 235/80/17's fit in the wheelwells so it will be a little while before this thing sees some miles yet.
97 Sidekick 4door 5 speed, 1.5 spacer lift, 2" body lift, CJ rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low <SOLD>
01 Vitara 2.0L 5 speed, 2.5" Calmini lift, 2" body lift, Sidekick rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low, 5.13 diffs <SOLD>
03 XL7 2.7 5 speed, 3" AE lift, 2" AE body lift, 5.13 diffs, 235/80R17 BFG AT KO's

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2017, 10:50:48 PM »
So the verdict on the rear links is that they are longer, just not by a huge amount- just enough to compensate for the lift.

I finished up with the body lift. Was pretty straightforward, just takes a long time to tidy up all the details. I had tried to make my own strut brace mount spacers, but it was easier in the end to just cut the fender holes bigger.

Installed the Balmer Fab front bumper. He shipped it to me raw and with the brackets not welded on just in case there were any differences between my frame and the other Suzuki's he has fit this bumper to. It was a good thing too because the frame is slightly different at the very front. But it all worked out and looks great. Hidden behind the license plate is a 2" reciever.


Also modified the spare tire mount to accomodate a 32" tire.
97 Sidekick 4door 5 speed, 1.5 spacer lift, 2" body lift, CJ rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low <SOLD>
01 Vitara 2.0L 5 speed, 2.5" Calmini lift, 2" body lift, Sidekick rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low, 5.13 diffs <SOLD>
03 XL7 2.7 5 speed, 3" AE lift, 2" AE body lift, 5.13 diffs, 235/80R17 BFG AT KO's

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2017, 09:44:28 PM »
Sneak preview of what my tire/wheel package is going to be once I get my front end sorted out:



Went for a test drive to Telkwa Pass.


My son pointing out that I shouldn't be trying things like this until I get the big tires on and finish up the sliders!
97 Sidekick 4door 5 speed, 1.5 spacer lift, 2" body lift, CJ rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low <SOLD>
01 Vitara 2.0L 5 speed, 2.5" Calmini lift, 2" body lift, Sidekick rims, locked rear, 31's, 4:1 low, 5.13 diffs <SOLD>
03 XL7 2.7 5 speed, 3" AE lift, 2" AE body lift, 5.13 diffs, 235/80R17 BFG AT KO's