If you need any information, or indeed have any info please feel free to PM me (this include guides you have written, or read on this site, ) and i will add them into this write up as I go.
First let me say there are many more people who are much more experienced than me, and I am sure they will come around and post something else which I will add to the mix. Also people spend thousands of pounds making their Vitara higher, wider, stronger and better off-road but fail completely to consider safety
Watch this video then go and buy a roll bar or cage BEFORE you carry on reading this little snippet of information
There are various ways to improve your Vitara, and if you want you could spend thousands and thousands turning it into an off-road beast. However there are also some cheap and cost effective ways you can make it both better and more reliable off-road
Consider what you are going to do with it.. If you intend to do trials obviously you want to be spending some pennies on it but a Vitara for greenlaning is one of the most capable vehicles off the shelf with simply a good set of tyres on. It is even reasonably capable off-road with a good set of AT tyres on, so obviously this should be your first consideration.
Depending on what you need, please read on, there is much more information about lifting/changing/strengthening and improving your Vitara below.
Shops and places to buy
This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive and is of my own personal opinion, in no way associated or linked with this forum
- http://www.bits4vits.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - The original and best! Parts for various vehicles. Originally more Vitara focused friendly shopkeeper Dave has expanded his range to include a lot of nice goodies. You can rest assured that what he sells is of high quality and rigorously tested.
- http://www.jimnybits.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Another good supplier of parts and modifications. More focused towards the SJ and Jimny market.
- http://www.llama4x4.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Braided brake hoses, and some nice bits for various makes including zooks. Great service!
- http://www.4x4tyres.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Tyres at good prices
- http://www.camskill.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Tyres at good prices
- http://www.rhinorays.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Looking for pretty much any bespoke fabrication work (just ask), as well as peugeot diesel conversions done for you, and much much more.
- http://www.rhinopower.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Need to reprogram or replace your ECU? Go here!
- http://www.mountaingoatperformance.eu" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Selling some gearbox internals and a few other nice goodies for your off-road vehicles
are looking for at the price you want to pay.
Aside from the engines there are a few specifications that are important thankyou to rhinoman for these (this is for the G16A engine variant but the rest holds true for most vitara's)
http://www.rhinoman.org/SuzukiStuff/inf ... _tech.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
also in polish showing the torque and KW figures for each engine (petrol)
http://www.rhinoman.org/Tech/Vitara/G16A_torque.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.rhinoman.org/Tech/Vitara/G16B_torque.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
there are also a few weaknesses which i will detail first:
front drive shafts The Vitara has Independant front suspension as you may have seen (small drive shafts left and right, like most road cars, and unlike the SJ and Jimnys, and various other offroaders) This was done first and foremost to improve road handling and it does beleive me. However it presents the problem of extremely weak CV joints on the newer vitaras.
the 26 spline variants have larger CV cans, which exasperate the problem. These problems are made a lot worse if you have a suspension lift due to the steep angle of the drive shaft in all cases
The next major weakness associated with this is the alloy differential housing. The torque of the engine (especially in low ratio) in some cases has the ability to turn the pinion gear out of the top of the box, effectively snapping the top of the casing off above the pinion gear. there are some Steel cases available from some of the suzuki's and these pop up on here and on ebay occasionally.. they are becoming rarer so hence more expensive). Careful driving can somewhat alleviate this as well as the snapping of shafts.
the third issue is a notchy gearchange, usually caused by the wearing of the small plastic end of the gear lever, however sometimes caused by worn clutch, or bearings and/or even a problem with the syncromesh.
The fourth issue is the absolutely shocking bushes that suzuki seemed to like to use for the suspension components again an easy correction.
there is of course the issue of rust... Generally the chassis on these little suzukis are solid, althought he body mounts do sometimes rust..
however there are some nasty spots to watch out for with respect to rust and if youa re buying one.
under the rear seatbelt mount/seat latch on the boot floor, especially on the soft tops (Water sits under and eats away at them)
generally around the rear wheel arches where it joins to the boot floor
boot floor join where it joines to the rear passanger footwell (just under the front of the rear seats)
rear footwell and front seat seatbelt mounts
front of the front footwells just wher the bodymount is (under each side)
and finally (but not exhaustively) they rust to hell just under the headlight each side (the water flicks off of the road, up and sits in teh corner of the outer front arch, against the metal, eating it away and a small bubble will appear right at the bottom of hte arch where it joins the bumper on the front wheel arch.
- Post below merged at Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:46 am - Please edit rather than double posting within 1 hour of last post - Admin -
the biggest upgrade you can do to your vitara
Tyres: a good set of tyres is like night and day.. you can spend thousands on lifts, suspension, locking differentials, etc etc, and with ATs you will get stuck more than the standard one with Mud terrains.
Wheel spacers next: Grayston do some 32mm wheel spacers available from most of the shops listed above. these will add over 2inches to your track width, tighten your turning circle and make your car more stable overall, i wouldnt go above this as it puts unnecessary pressure on your wheel bearings.
with larger tyres come the consideration of larger wheels.
the PCD for the vitara wheels is the same throughout the SJ, all vitara, and X90s, and diahatsu fourtrak and sporttrak's (139.7x5, with a center hole requirement of 108mm, especially if you have locking hubs on the front).
the newer grand vitaras have 16inch alloys and steels available should you wish
the default steel rims from the SJ and vitara's are 5.5inches wide, the older vitara alloys are 5.5inches wide, with the newer scalloped ones (off of the 4u and JX variants) are 6inches wide (thanks slimjim16v for this), and the fatboy variants come in at 8 inches wide.
there are bespoke alloys available wider, as well as Diahatsu rims up to 10inches wide.
it is important to note however.. That anything much above standard will require a significant lift, and/or a significant amount of cutting of wheel arches to avoid rubbing.. Hence most people fit 31inch tyres (31/9.5/R15) after a body and suspension lift has been completed.
it should also be noted that with an increase in tyre size comes 2 things:
Significant increase in strain on the drivetrain, from wheels up due to a change in the gearing by the larger wheels, this also affects speed, top end and the ability to get there. Without changing the gearing you will find yourself struggling up hills in most foward gears and motorway driving will be limited to 4th at most.
To get around this, thankyou suzuki, you can in most cases fit lower geared differentials.. there are various different variations to this but the most common is 5.125:1 found in the pre "4u" SWB 1.6 manuals. if you have a 4u you will likely have a 4.88:1 ratio, meaning the change in ratio nicely accomodates a set of 32" tyres.
Vehicle :: Engine Valves, Fuel system :: Diff:ratio :: Final:drive ratio
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.6 8v. carb. :: 5.125:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.6 16v. inj. :: 5.125:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.6 8v. inj. :: 4.875:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00 (4u and 4u2)
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.8 inj. ( * ) :: 5.125:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 2.0 V6 24v :: 4.625:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 2.0 12v :: 4.875:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.9 D 68 cv :: 5.125:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.9 TD 75 cv :: 4.875:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.9 TDi 90 cv :: 4.30:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 2.0 TDi 87 cv Mazda:: 4.30:1 -
Suzuki Vitara :: 1.9 HDI 90 cv :: 4.30:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
Suzuki Vitara :: 2.0 HDI 87 cv :: 4.30:1 :: 1.816 / 1.00
The ratio of the gearboxes gears (for the manual) are all the same with 2 exceptions.. the commercial diesel, which has a taller 5th for better motorway driving, and the EARLY 8valve carbed models which had a lower 5th gear, to compensate for the lack of power
there are other bespoke ratio's available for both the differentials (notably 5.6:1) and the transfer box low ratio (as low as 6:1 with the right gearing) but these begin to get quite expensive.
on occasion you may want to go the other way as well, for example if you fit a diesel engine, in which case 4.3:1 and 4.6:1 are available from some suzuki models.
- Post below merged at Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:47 am - Please edit rather than double posting within 1 hour of last post - Admin -
to lift the body.. this is the quickest to "fit" once you have the parts but presents a few issues with respect to the gear levers and positions.. and obviously doensst change ground clearance at all, but allows you to fit marginalyl larger tyres.
body will need to be raised obviously by way of spacers.. few ways of doing this.
Cheap, 1/2/3inch box section, drill appropriately sized holes in,
unbolt body, lift, place bolt through, do nut inside box, bolt lower to chassis mount. (the bolts are captive in the bodywork so you could extend bolts but it requires cutting and welding of the body).. some guides around about doing this.
http://www.nitromax.nl/SAMBODYLIFT.HTM" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; yes yes i KNOW it is a samurai, but the principle is the same.
Good poly kit from somewhere like Bits4vits or jimnybits. (DO NOT GET EBAY ONES) the B4V.jimnybits ones contain sleve bolts, meaning you slide the spacers over, and bolt the sleve bolt through the chassis mount onto the existing bolts, no cutting, drilling, rubbish required
for the larger body lifts (you may get away with it for the smaller ones) you will need to extend the gear levers you can unbolt, cut the straight part (before it bends back into the cab) and weld a peice in taking care NOT to melt the plastic on the end of the gear levers, and possibly reposition the brake master cylinder, and also *sometimes* you will need to extend the steering shaft (kits available from the 2 shops above).
Suspension lift: Bolt on, no cutting or sticking or pasting.. but requires time, and patience to do the front (back is easy)
2inch and below..
simply fit 1.5inch strut spacers front and back, and some SWB GV springs (from the slightly newer version of the vitara than yours). this will acheive a nice 1.5inch lift on the suspension without hassle..
i would recommend a differential drop bracket for this too... but not absolutely necessary
2inch and above (max is about 3ish). you will need.
2.25inch strut spacers front and back or on the front and mk2 astra saloon (belmont ones will do) shocks for the rear.
3inch lift springs (i would reccomend the jimnybits ones as i have heard good things). - OR -SWB GV springs and 1.5inch poly spring spacers
Differential drop brackets (available from both Bits4vits and jimnybits.. better still if you can get the calmini ones as they are the longest)
drive shaft spacers for the rear
Heim joint spacer
may require a longer rear brake line as it will go taught upon full downward articulation (dave @ llama4x4)
extended rear bump stops if using astra rear shocks.
a HEALTHY supply of front drive shafts, as you WILL snap shafts with a lift this high even with a drop bracket for the diff.
i have a full set of braided steel hoses from Llama4x4 and i must say i am extremely happy.
with respect to the GV springs make sure they are SWB, the LWB ones are much harder and will make the ride harsh offroad and onroad.