Part 2 – DIY Gas Tank Lift for Offroad Clearance on Vitara Tracker 2


Check out the details for part 2 of relocating the gas tank in the rear of my Vitara to gain about 7″ of ground clearance behind the rear tires!

Starting up where we left off with Part 1 where we had pulled the gas tank, cut out some crossmembers and cut a HUGE hole in the floor. Now it is time to start putting stuff back together

First thing is first, we need some new crossmembers. The gas tank is about 15 gallons so that comes out to 120ish lbs when full of gas including the tank. So we need some decent support to keep everything from moving around while wheeling.

DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Cutting a piece of 1 3/4″ x .120 wall round tubing to use as a crossmember.

1 3/4″ by .120 wall tubing is a very common size used for roll cages, bumpers, and other automotive structural projects. It is a handy size to keep around for projects like this. This is also the only size die I have for my tubing bender.

Read more about tubing benders in my other article – Tools of the Trade! Tubing Benders

DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
I just cut the ends freehand with an angle grinder. The lip sits on the top of the frame rail.

Relocating the EVAP system

The EVAP system was developed for capturing evaporative emissions and filtering them so the engine recover and use them. This increases fuel mileage and reduces emissions. They also serve to relieve pressure on the tank and vent it to the atmosphere through filters when necessary.

The Evap system on the Tracker/Vitara is under the passenger side floorboard. During my last offroad trip I hit it with rocks a couple of times and put some good dents in it, so it is time for it to get relocated also.

DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Removing the EVAP system and all of its tubing.
DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
There is a lot of ‘stuff’ that goes with the EVAP system, we are going to try to shrink it down as much as possible.

My goal is to get the EVAP system relocated without causing any check engine lights. Being that this is a 2003, it is probably not as sensitive as the newer cars today. There are literally only two wires in one connector that hook to this system (along with a whole slew of hoses). No reason to just throw it out since PJ is still street licensed and there is always a chance I might sell it or emissions laws change.

DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Got the new tubular crossmember welded. Now welding the angle iron on the front crossmember and measuring for some more braces. The angle iron on the front crossmember is mostly just to provide me a flat surface on the front tube to put the tank on because there were some brackets sticking up from it.
DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Welding in the additional cross braces made from 1.5″ angle iron.

Notice the extra cross braces in the pic above are an odd yellow color. I literally cut these out of an old piece of bed frame I had gotten for free a long time ago. Metal fabrication doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to take some extra time to come up with creative solutions.

DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Test fitting the relocation site of the EVAP system. I am relocating it to where the fuel tank used to be. The jack is to hold it in place while I measure/ponder.
DIY Gas Tank Lift - Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
View of the EVAP mockup from above. I think everything will fit and it will hang just barely below the frame rails.

Some time-saving tricks

I like to do stuff myself, however that doesn’t mean that I like to be inefficient about it. It takes FOREVER to make rounded surfaces and drill holes with the tools I have and they always end up looking like crap. So when I go to mount up something, I go straight to my ‘fab stuff’ drawer where I have already purchased a bunch of pre-cut and drilled tabs where all I have to do is weld them on.

DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Trying out the various Rusty’s Offroad brackets I keep around for projects just like this.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Bolted on with some generic 5/16″ hardware then tacked it to the tube. Remove the part, final weld and it is done!

There is no reason to spend extra hours making sub assemblies like tabs that could be bought cheaply pre-made. Not to mention the tabs mentioned above are CNC laser cut and are way better than anything I could come up with. It is like cooking, you could crack and shell a bunch of pecans for hours or you could pay a couple of bucks more to get just the nuts ready to use.

Check out Rusty’s Off-Road for a whole bunch of pre-made offroad and fab assembly parts pre-cut HERE

How to make your own brackets

The pre-made tabs don’t work in all situations though, so here is how I made up a tab for the other side of the EVAP system.

DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Building a tab for the other side. I took some scrap and held it up so I could mark how long I wanted it. (top right)
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Once I cut the sheetmetal, to mark the holes for the bolts I have always found it handy to use lithium grease to mark hole locations.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Dab some lithium grease (because it is white and easy to see) on the bolt heads then smash the part to be drilled up against it in the location you want.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Center punch the marks then drill them out.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Viola! a custom bracket that was also easy to make. Now I just weld it on to the angle iron.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Had to shorten one of the hard lines. Instead of using a sawzall like usual I decided to actually sand it down and use a pipe cutter to have a cleaner cut.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
The old fuel filter looks like it came from the bottom of the ocean, time to get that fixed.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Tabs and brackets all welded on, lines shortened, new fuel filter installed, and all painted up!
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
View from underneath. It is pretty much totally hidden and almost totally covered by the tires. If I hit it while offroading, I likely have bigger issues to be concerned about.

Connecting the hoses

Here is an example of using what you have instead of always going on wild goose chases for parts that may or may not exist. The existing EVAP system had this little tee in it where a tiny hose and bigger hose hooked together halfway down a pipe. Since I am removing the pipe, I needed to find a tee that would work but figured I wouldn’t be able to find one at the store. My solution? I just cut the one out that was already there!

DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Old EVAP hard lines. Notice the little line T’ing off of it in the middle.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
I’ll take that, thank you.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
Trimmed and sanded my freshly created T joint
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
And the shortened hoses with the T-joint attached. Now I just need to hook from it to the EVAP filter housing and in theory it should work.
DIY Gas Tank Lift Relocation- Vitara Tracker without Body Lift
I didn’t bust open this filter because there wasn’t a way to open it without destroying it. After some poking around it looked like there was a drain at the bottom (left in the pic).
In order to make it more fit under the truck better I wanted to rotate the housing, so I simply drilled two new drain holes on what is now the bottom.

Conclusion

So this turned out to be a very long and detailed post. Congratulations if you read this far.

Lifting and relocating the fuel tanks on these little trucks is something that gets asked about pretty often. I wanted to provide all the details in case anybody else wants to try this project out!

All in all, I probably have less than $100 in this entire project mostly in consumables and hoses/clamps. The bigger investment has simply been in man hours which is OK because this is a hobby I enjoy anyways.

Now YOU, go out and work on something. Otherwise stay tuned for Part 3 where this project takes a bit of a turn into something much cooler.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

2 thoughts on “Part 2 – DIY Gas Tank Lift for Offroad Clearance on Vitara Tracker