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Tracker Complete J18 Swap with Caveats

New here, but I suspect I'll be using this forum as a resource a lot over the next coming months. And I understand that this topic has probably already been covered, but I'm having a hard time finding specifics. I plan on doing a full restoration of my 1995 Geo Tracker.

Now, before you go bashing me and telling me it's not worth it, I already know. I know that it's easier to just find another one in better shape (though, mine's really not that bad, just some rust in typical areas, but structurally sound), lower miles, different car, etc. I'm not restoring it in hopes of selling it or making any profit. It's purely for sentimental reasons, and it'll probably become a daily driver. That and out of the many, many vehicles I've owned, that one is probably the one I miss the most.

That being said, I'll be doing a complete teardown and body-off-frame restoration of the Tracker. It currently has a 8V G16 with a 5 speed and it's 2WD (for now). Essentially, what I'm looking to do is swap in a complete 1.8L 5-Speed 4WD driveline, ECU, harness, etc. from a Sidekick JLX Sport during the restoration process, which I also own. Not doing a 2.0 swap because a.) I already have the 1.8 and b.) the 2.0 only has 10 more HP. Also, I'm under the impression that a vast majority of the 2.0 parts will fit the 1.8 (2.0 is a stroked 1.8..? Cranks are a little different, I think; different tone wheels for CKP).

My question is (questions are..?): What kind of roadblocks am I going to be facing? For example, are the engine and transmission mounting points the same (or can I at least use the mounts from the Sidekick to mount them to my Tracker)? Can I use the rear driveshaft from a regular 1.6L 4WD tracker, or am I going to have to modify one (I know that my 2WD one won't work, no Xfer case)? I plan on also swapping the axles/suspension components. Which brings me to another question, will they fit? Other than being longer and a having a different engine, the JLX essentially looks to be identical to my Tracker from a body/frame perspective.

Since I plan on using pretty much the ENTIRE harness and ECU from the JLX, I'm not concerned about adapting the Tracker's current harness to work with the new drivetrain. The body and frame is *COMPLETLY* boned on the JLX (floorpans? what floorpans?). Hence why I'm not just fixing the JLX. Driveline is in good shape. I want to use the JLX axles/front suspension to essentially keep the gearing correct, as well as add 4WD to my Tracker.

Any input is much appreciated.

the sport is 4 inch wider frame.
and suspension and and many things do not fit.
and you will have to fab up mounts

what you do, or how, or spend cash, nor labor is your call, I could care less, that, no really !
but I only said buy SPORT or Vitara j20 and spend less.
but if you want to learn the hard work of swaps, by all means do so.

later I will post SAMMI with J20 to see the extreme and lots of other facts.
Effort required it is.

Eh, I'm not concerned with what it's worth. Like I said, the point isn't to make it worth more, it's just for sentimental reasons.

I always found the power to be somewhat lacking with the 8V. It's also pretty tired, as that engine and tranny have 260k miles on them.

I wasn't aware that the 96-98 Sports had a V6 offering.

Aye, the best engine that came in the pre-96 Trackers/Sidekicks was the 16v 1.6. But if I'm going to do an engine swap, it's more worth my effort to go through the trouble of installing an engine with 40 more HP than 15.

The suspension thing is kind of a bummer. I s'pose I'll have to look more into that.

I was hoping that the transmission used the same spline count and had about the same tailshaft length as the 1.6 4WD trans/xfer case. Could get away with using the 4WD Tracker driveshaft. I s'pose I'll have to see how extensive the modifications I'll have to make are. The Sport has a functioning A/C system, more power, 4WD, power steering (not that these really need it), etc.

If it's going to be an absolutely absurd amount of work to make the 1.8 fit, then yeah, I'll probably just keep the 8V and rebuild it. I would rather have the 1.8, however, and I don't mind making some modifications to make it work, so long as it doesn't require me to re-engineer the vehicle. I'm going to have it tore completely apart anyway.

Edit: It's also worth noting that my Tracker was in an accident at one time that bent the frame, and has had a new frame put under it, so it's value is already compromised. The body, engine, and trans are the only things original.
Near as I can tell, the Sport transmission is the same length as the 1.6 transmission, with the newer 16-spline output. So, might be able to get away with using the driveshaft from a 96-98 4WD tracker. Same story with the front driveshaft, although, it looks like I'm going to have to get a 4WD Tracker front axle, since I can't use the Sport's. Also, the manual Tracker uses 5.125 diffs, which is the same as the Sport (I believe).
the axle ratio matches the transmission type, 2 automatics and 5speed stick
where the custom made mounts fit up, dictates what else fits.
in your mind picture the body missing and 2 frame rails there, then you know what must fit up, mechanically.
some even had to cut the fire wall all up to get alien engine to fit this car.
very few ever do this extreme swap.

look here for swaps


and here


go to Trail Tuff, and see what they have first, they sell harnesses and may have guide.

the issue here in SAMM J18/J20
would be a good read, lots of of issues.

they are DOWN UNDER...

95 to 96 spline changes, transfer case.
the clutch is not the same nor bell, or flywheel, the J18/20 has hydraulic clutch slave, and no cable.
J18 (understroked, J20) is near the same engine, even the J18 ECU can run a J20 engine no problem.
The 2 cars have vastly different parts, end to end, (ignoring cosmetics, the important , hard things are different, for sure wiring and engine cooling and other odds and ends. (exhaust)etc)
Engine driveline, suspension frame, body, clutch , transfer cases, prop shafts and mounts all different.
sure it can be done and there are examples on the internet that show others doing it.
best is to search them out first. (can save you time, and learn if you want to try, after reading 1000 of details, and facts doing so....

one more extreme say, the ACME diesel (just fun read) not on topic. but....


even better is this. I think this is the best post here, on topic


and this.
The J20 tranny box had wider pilot bearing tip.. and will not fit G16 hole. (fly pilot bearing) (J18 same)
Yeah, I knew the pilots were different sizes, and the clutches were different. Hence, the G16 bellhousing isn't going to work, which is fine, I need/want to use the Sport's transmission and xfer case anyway. Far less miles. The hydraulic clutch is a plus, in my book. Went through 3 cables on mine, bent the stupid clutch arm at the end of the pedal shaft each time too.

As far as spline count is concerned, I only care about output shaft spline count. I knew about the spline count change in 96. What I'm hoping to be able to do is essentially get the end of the xfer case to be in the location the xfer case would normally be in a regular 1.6 4WD Tracker. If I can manage, I should be able to use the driveshaft from a 96-98 4WD 1.6 Tracker, as that driveshaft would have the 30mm 16 spline yoke that would fit in the Sportage xfer case. And if I can manage to get the motor mounted in a good position, I can use the 4WD 1.6 Tracker driveshaft without modifying it. I don't know if that's possible, however.

Again, plan on using the Sportage wiring harness.... Like the ENTIRE wiring harness. So, splicing wires, other than potentially shortening/lengthening wires, I don't have to worry about tying it in with the Tracker's current harness. Still need to figure out how to get the cluster in and make it look good.

I am bummed about the suspension being too wide, but it's fine. A 1.6 Tracker front axle and spindle assembly can be had relatively cheaply. Hopefully the transmission with sit and end in the same place as a G16 transmission. If not, custom driveshaft it is. Anyway, I'll have to make some progress before I can really start figuring out what I'm getting into. If it's gonna be a ridiculous amount of modification, will probably sell the Sport and rebuild the 8V currently in it. The LSi isn't worth the trouble of putting in, nor worth the expense.
the engine mounts are first. getting that where all driveline parts line up and then not having to cut firewall all up or can't fit a radiator or can get the steering shaft out of the way.
but anything an be done here, with plasma cutter and TIG/MIG welder,
(04-10-2019, 09:45 PM)fixkick Wrote: the engine mounts are first. getting that where all driveline parts line up and then not having to cut firewall all up or can't fit a radiator or can get the steering shaft out of the way.
but anything an be done here, with plasma cutter and TIG/MIG welder,

I seem to have found a solution for the motor mounts. Emailed them about them, and they are in fact for putting the 2.0 in a Tracker/Sidekick narrow frame. They maintain the stock engine and transmission position, I guess. Near as can be, anyway, since the 1.8 it a little bulkier.

the 1.8L thermostat must have that rear of housing, bypass hose /pipe working or the thermostat goes wild (crazy)
the flow is also backwards.
that hose is part of the dash heater, so make sure that is all hosed up right or the thermostat will go nuts.

see my 1.8 page on this topic

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