Another common problem with the Vitara and Trackers is the aluminum pinion mount on the front differential breaking off which then allows the differential to twist up and bash into the oil pan when in 4wd and reverse.
My Vitara was no exception, the mount had broken and the oil pan was already dented. I needed a solution that was simple, cheap, and tough.
Find a differential from a newer model XL7/Grand Vitara 5 speed made from steel (needle in a haystack)
Replace the differential with the same aluminum one but not broken (really doesn’t help because I would just break it again)
Come up with a custom solution and fix it myself
I had already taken the front end apart to fix (permanently weld) the 4wd actuator engaged in the front differential. Read more about that HERE. So here I am fixing the pinion mount while it is already taken apart.
Parts: 1/2″ or 5/8″ diameter 4″ ID Round U-bolt w/ nuts 1/2″ or 5/8″ jam nuts (for extra safety on the u-bolt) ~2ft of 7″ wide baler belt (available at most tractor supply stores)
Tools (in addition to those needed to remove the diff): Various drill bits and step bits 1.5″ hole saw drill bit Angle Grinder (I prefer 4.5″) Drill Vice (handy but not necessary) Misc garage tools – Utility Knife, Board, Straight edge, etc.
Starting to build the new mount
What I really needed though was a u-bolt with a 4″ Inside Diameter. I am impatient though and it was the weekend so I made my own.
The passenger side hole towards the right in the pic above is tricky to drill because it is curved upwards. Be sure to use a pilot hole and drill up in steps to get the hole exactly where you want it. Toward the end I ended up using a step drill bit until it got to the size I needed.
TIP: When cutting any threaded bolt, allthread or the like, always screw a nut on ABOVE where you are going to cut it. That way when you spin the nut off it will fix the threads from where you cut it.
Side note: As you can see above, my oil pan is already dented from the rear pinion mount being broken for who knows how long. Not sure what the original un-dented pan looks like or if this mod would work on one that wasn’t dented. I suppose you could also go to a smaller u-bolt diameter if you needed more clearance, 5/8″ is definitely overkill.
Reinstalling the differential
http://www2.izook.com/pinion-mount/ Pictures of an alternate pinion mount that retains the factory bushing mount yet still surrounds the snout of the pinion and adds another bushing on the passenger side.
I thought about this mod for a while before I executed on it. I think I came up with just about the simplest fix possible. It is literally a couple of pieces of rubber and a u-bolt with some strategic hole drilling and massaging. This is a totally custom mod though so while I line out the plan, you should expect some head scratching and actually need to have some tools/skills to execute on it.
If I would have replaced the diff, I would have retained the same weakness. With this mod I actually made the rear mount stronger and more reliable with very little money invested.
Hope this helps your project. Now YOU go to the garage and fix something!