First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

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gwagensteve
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First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by gwagensteve » Tue 18 Mar, 2008 7:56 pm

This seems to be something that comes up as people are first getting into the club and they won't be on the members side of the forum.

I also think that this info is hard to find in one place on outers or similar.

Its easy to look at photos of heavily modified, large tyred cars and really want to build a radical car, but everyone starts somewhere and its important to get the first step heading the right way.

Before you go off road for the first time, here's the stuff to do/check:

Fit diff breathers. There are cheap/easy and expensive/hard ways. Remember that the environment under your car is harsh, fuel line or trans cooler line is the best hose to use. Garden hose or other PVC stuff will have a short life and a busted breather is worse than no breather at all. Here's some threads from outers.

http://carl.outerlimits4x4.com/viewtopic.php?t=127110
http://carl.outerlimits4x4.com/viewtopic.php?t=99469

The transfer can be done too but is a bit more involved - best done with the transfer apart.

Make sure your charging system works, you have a good battery clamp (it's well tied down) and solid terminals. I really like projecta brand satin brass-

http://www.projecta.com.au/catalogue/cid/50/asset_id/80

If your battery is stuffed, save some money up and buy the finest battery money can buy, an Optima. This will give you years and years of reliable service, and fits in a sierra tray without too much hassle.

If you alternator is stuffed, look to the Ford EL 100A upgrade, info here: http://carl.outerlimits4x4.com/viewtopic.php?t=79826 It is an excellent conversion, and cheaper than a reco Sierra alternator (with 1/2 the output)

If you're having trouble getting your starter to pull in, look at the starter relay upgrade, an easy DIY project.:

http://suzuki.off-road.com/suzuki/artic ... ?id=277618

Make sure the free wheeling hubs engage. To check this, put the car in 4WD and in gear, and jack up ONE front wheel. It should spin with the hubs in free. put the hub into "Lock" and the wheel should NOT spin freely.

Remember to buy a snatch strap, 2X 3.25 tonne rated shackles, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher, and keep them handy. (especially the fire extinguisher - it must be able to be reached from the driver's seat, regardless of what's in the car or what angle it's on. If you need it, it will ALWAYS be in a hurry.

Image

You can see the extinguisher in Greg's old car here. It's the best spot for one in a Sierra.

Speaking of fuel, so to speak, it seems that most sierras are getting to an age where the fuel system is giving trouble. Ihave seen lots of fuel pumps in cars from 89-91 starting to pack up, filters clogged and hoses starting to split. As the fuel pumps fail, they will work fine on the flat but the car will stall out badly and not restart on big hills. On almost any old/unknown sierra, I'd replace the fuel pump ( don't go electric, just a new stock one), lines throughout, (only a few dollars) and filter.

If you car doesn't have a fan shroud (many get discarded as they make a fan belt change hard) try and get hold of one from Suziworld or another wrecker source. A shroud will be the difference between an overheating sierra and a happy sierra off road.

As you can see, none of this is the glamour stuff, but a reliable car you can depend on to keep working is far more important than the big tyres or spot lights... or whatever.

NOW to the modifications.

First up, remove the front antisway bar and see how you like the handling. If you like it, leave it off, it will make the car work much better off road.

Lock the rear diff, however you can afford. Most expensive is the ARB airlocker (up to $1800 fitted, full retail) the cheapest is to weld your existing diff, but this is illegal and has some drawbacks.

Fit a 2" Body lift from Justcruzin' on outerlimits: http://carl.outerlimits4x4.com/viewtopic.php?t=135423 You'll want one eventually and everything else gets easier once you fit one.

Now you can look at gearing and tyres.

Personally, I'd look to 15X7" Speedy rims and 31 10.5 tyres such as MTZ's, Cooper STTs, Goodyear MTR's or similar.

As for gearing, go straight into the transfer case, and go fir transfer gears from any of the major US suppliers - Lowrange offroad, Trail Gear, Trail Tough. If you never want to go beyond 31's, maybe 4.9's or similar will be fine, but many of us have gone to 6.4's or something would be the go.

Set up like this, you'll have the best "bang for your buck" able to drive right up to hard trips, but still have a useful daily driver.

Note, I haven't mentioned suspension at all. In all honesty, suspension work can be a fair minefield but as laid out above, it won't add much capability, only add comfort. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, only that it's complex and won't get you further or on more trips.

Just some thoughts. Hope it helps some prospective members.

Steve.
michaelpiranha2000 wrote: The rear is in great condition. but has a broken crown wheel and pinon

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mightymouse
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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by mightymouse » Tue 18 Mar, 2008 8:24 pm

There's years of experience packed into just one post. :D

And as a suggestion to a new owner of any 4WD, search the web - you will find downloadable copies of factory manuals.
Get one - some knowledge of your car is very valuable and can save you considerable money and make a big difference if you do have a problem.

Steve - perhaps you can give an oversight of a beginners "off road" toolbox as well ?

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pezooki
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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by pezooki » Tue 18 Mar, 2008 9:14 pm

You bugger Steve! I had to do months of research before I came up with those answers! :mrgreen: hahaha

Thats almost exactly what I have nearly finished doing to my Zuk. IMHO it's a bloody good formula! You are right too, the info is never in the one place and it can take ages to sift through what is relevant and what is not.

I would also recommend replacing the shifter sheet from the transfer case: http://www.outerlimits4x4.com/phpBB2/vi ... p?t=132393

Good job!

Pez
91 Sierra soft top. Locked and geared.

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cj!
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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by cj! » Thu 20 Mar, 2008 9:38 pm

mugginsmoo wrote:
gwagensteve wrote:

Fit a 2" Body lift from Justcruzin' on outerlimits: http://carl.outerlimits4x4.com/viewtopic.php?t=135423 You'll want one eventually and everything else gets easier once you fit one.
i'm not too sure about the need for a bodylift?

as i have prooved there is no need for anylift to fit BIG tires :mrgreen:
I think the operative word here is "easier" and I don't think that you could completely disagree with that ;) although you have proven that lifts aren't absolutely necessary.

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andrew_wale
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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by andrew_wale » Fri 21 Mar, 2008 7:54 am

This is good information Steve.

As you all know I have a 1999 V6 Grand Vitara.
It is almost stock as a rock.

However, I now have 4.6:1 diff (correct me if I am wrong CJ) rather than the stock 4:3.1.
With the slightly bigger tyres 225/75 R16 MTR's (approx 29") this has corrected the speedo.
The stock tyres are 235/60 R16 (approx 26")

With the new diffs I was able to fit a rear ARB air locker (As it is my daily driver, I did not want MIG lockers).
Since these have been fitted, the car is more capable than before or I can get bogged further...
I have thought about a front locker but can't really afford it yet.

The only lift I have is the ARB OME suspension (approx 40mm lift)..
Without major modifications, the car is still able to show up the big guys and it still looks fairly stock..
___________________________________
Andrew Wale
2009 JK Jeep 2 Door Wrangler (Rubicon)

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cj!
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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by cj! » Fri 21 Mar, 2008 3:34 pm

The bulk of that list also applies to Vitara's and Grand Vitara's.

The unfortunate reality for Vitara owners though is that there are very limited gearing options when you change to larger diameter tyres. If you have a 1.6 with a 5speed manual or the 4 speed auto there are no R&P options currently available but if you have a 1.6 with a 3 speed auto or a 2.0 with either a 5 speed manual or 4 speed auto you do have some options. As far as transfer case gears go they do make a big difference to low range but do not alter high range at all.

Locking the rear diff on a Vit or GV is well worthwhile also.

A standard 1.6 Vit can be fitted with 235/75R15 tyres and with a little work 30x9.50's will also fit. On a 2.0 Vit 235/70R16 or 225/75R16 are fairly easy to fit and these would also suit the GV. For larger diameter tyres a bodylift and/or bodywork is going to be required.

The Old Man Emu (OME) suspensions kits seem to work well as an off the shelf item for the Vits and GV's and they have the best replacement front strut on the market but there are alternative setups that can also be considered.

It is also an idea to keep an eye out for the steel front diff housing from some model GV's and XL-7's to replace the standard alloy housing.

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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy sierra

Post by Mock » Sun 04 May, 2008 8:53 pm

mugginsmoo wrote:
gwagensteve wrote:

Fit a 2" Body lift from Justcruzin' on outerlimits: http://carl.outerlimits4x4.com/viewtopic.php?t=135423 You'll want one eventually and everything else gets easier once you fit one.
i'm not too sure about the need for a bodylift?

as i have prooved there is no need for anylift to fit BIG tires :mrgreen:

Word :mrgreen:

Great post Steve 8-)

Mock :mrgreen:
PS see youz next week ;)
mugginsmoo welding grinding sanding painting my old shit in melb

shaunvit
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Re: First steps to an off-road worthy Vitara

Post by shaunvit » Wed 16 Dec, 2009 1:02 am

hi guys
i have a 93 5 door vitara, i currently have 325/75/15 tyres on it but i neen more hight
so i am thinking of going bigger for use off road only can i turn tyres that big?
if not can you get diff reduction?
or do you know of any other options?

I all so keep braking diff housings do you guys know of stonger housing/places to get gards made?

thanks shaun


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