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

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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

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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

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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

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2017, 08:51:39 PM »
So if anyone's wondering why I haven't put the larger tires on yet, here's why. I've been trying to sort out some front end issues with my Alter Ego lift kit along with Geoff from Alter Ego. My problem is my front end is only lifted around 1", with the 3" lift springs installed. He says my frame height should be sitting at around 11" with stock tires with the 3" lift and I'm only at 9". My front struts are bottoming out any time I go offroad because with the strut spacers they only have about 3" uptravel. So far we haven't come to a conclusion WHY my XL7 is different than the other ones successfully running the AE 3" lift, but we're going to run a trial on the new A-arms that are part of AE's new 4.5" lift. The A-arms are designed to use the same 3" lift coils that I already have installed, in addition to a modified lower spring seat that gives another 1.5" lift for a total of 4.5". Since mine is sitting almost 2" low, it's probably not going to hurt to add 1.5", plus I gain the benefits of having my front wheels moved forward 1.25", bolt-on replaceable balljoints, and the spring is straight instead of bowed. So here's hoping it all works out, then I can finally run my big tires, get an alignment, and start working on the important stuff like skid plates and rock 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

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2017, 07:54:59 PM »
Built a tranny and t-case skid plate today out of aluminum. I used 2" tall, 1/8" thick corrugated trailer flooring and some 3/16" flat aluminum and lots of bolts and washers and nylock nuts to hold it all together. It's nice and light, was super easy to drill, should be strong enough, and won't ever rust. I bolted the flat pieces to the pre-threaded factory holes in the front suspension and t-case crossmembers, then bolted the corrugated pieces onto the flat pieces so the corrugated sits higher than the bottom of the framerails.

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 #11 on: June 08, 2017, 09:22:00 PM »
Here's a little better photo of the skid plates:


And I put these guys on today:
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 #12 on: June 19, 2017, 05:39:36 PM »
Got my front end sorted out I think. I initially installed the a-arms with the ball joint mounted to the bottom of the arm for mega clearance, but this gives way too much lift and my struts were topped out permanently. I pulled it apart for the 6th or 7th time and mounted the ball joint on top of the arm (I think this is normal, looking at Calmini's product photo) and also removed the three 1/8" shims from on top of the spring, but this made it sit sort of low in the front so I took it apart again and put 2 shims back in on both sides. With the factory tires I was sitting at 10.25" clearance at the front of the framerail, and 11.5" at the rear, and the suspension looks to have a decent amount of travel in both directions this way. So the next step was to install the new tires. The front ones fit pretty good since the AE arms move the wheel forward, but I removed the mudflaps and will probably need to sledgehammer the back of the front fender still. The rear was a tighter fit; I needed to cut the bumper back about 2" but it was pretty straightforward. I didn't have time to see if the tire contacts the front of the rear wheelwell, I'm hoping not since the tire moves back as it goes up but it will be extremely close.



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

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2017, 11:35:48 PM »
Interesting read.  Manual Xl7's are hard too find.
93 Tracker,XL7 springs & 1" raised spring pads in front with YJ springs in back, home built bumpers rear & front (w/winch), 2" x 4" rock tubes,  ARB front & rear, converted Sami rear to IFS, 33x12.5x15  aluminum rims, roll cage, 2.7L w/5 speed auto.

Offline olija

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Re: Project Zuk 3.0 (rows of seats) - 2003 XL7
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2017, 10:37:53 PM »
Yes they are...I was looking for one for a few months before I found this one. I had to drive all the way to Vancouver to get it but it was worth it!

Now for some flex test pics:









Front and rear tires are so close to rubbing at full flex it's crazy. I probably have 1/4" between the front of the rear fender and the tire, and there's not much that can be done about that. In the front I think I could give it the sledgehammer treatment at the inboard edge of the plastic liner and it will be good. Those A-arms sure do alot to get the tires away from the firewall...I'm sure if I didn't have them I'd be pulling my hair out trying to stop the rub.

The truck rides really nice, even with the E-rated tires. I've been working on a 2-piece aluminum front skidplate that will go from the front suspension crossmember to a bracket that shares my lower bumper mounting bolt. Got the front half done, just gotta figure out the rear when I get a moment.
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