1995 Sidekick 4-Door Daily Driver

Filed in Suzuki Sidekick by on May 28, 2017 • views: 3270

Looking for an economical family adventure vehicle that gets 20-25 MPG? This 1995 Suzuki Sidekick 4-door was built to be just that.

The vehicle was purchased for $3,700 with 70,000 miles on it. It was then lifted with Old Man Emu OME962 springs in the front, which are actually designed for the front of a 1999+ Grand Vitara. It has the same spring rate as the medium-duty front Sidekick LWB springs, but a 15mm taller ride height.

In back, the Grand Vitara uses a different rear coil, so the owner chose the Old Man Emu OME955 springs. Along with these springs, he used the N103S and N32 struts & shocks. After driving about 100 miles to settle the suspension, he took measurements again and found that the front sat at 33.0 inches and the rear was at 29.75 inches. He had anticipated that this would happen, and installed a pair of Daystar 3/4 inch coil spacers for a Jeep TJ (part number KJ09107BK) into the rear, which required absolutely no modifications. This brought the rear up to 33.5 inches, giving it the exact same stance as it had when it was stock, except that it was 3 inches taller front and rear.

How hard was it to install the lift?

The install could hardly be any easier.

Jack up the truck.
Unbolt the wheels.

Unbolt the tie rods.
Unclip the brake line retainers
Unbolt the struts.
Remove the front springs.
Slide out the passenger side CV slip connection.
Wrestle the new springs in place.
Reinsert the passenger side CV.
Install the new struts.
Clip back on the brake line retainers.
Reinstall the tie rods.

Unbolt the shocks.
Remove the springs.
Slide the coil spacers over the bumpstops.
Install the new springs.
Install the new shocks.

Finish it up:
Reinstall the wheels.
Lower it to the ground and test drive.
Take it to an alignment shop to adjust the toe and center the steering wheel.

The springs will settle a little bit after a few days, correcting the front wheels’ slightly excessive positive camber. You really don’t need camber bolts; the OME struts have enough correction built in even for the taller springs. You also don’t need to worry about the CVs pulling out because the OME struts limit the downtravel before it becomes a problem.

Since this vehicle is primarily a daily driver, he didn’t want to mess around with a body lift, cutting the fenders, or regearing it just to run 31 or 32 inch tires. He installed a set of BFGoodrich 30×9.5×15 All Terrain tires on a set of Pro Comp’s wheels, 15×7 with 3.75 inch backspacing. Measuring again, the wheelwells sat at 34.5 inches in the front, and 35.0 inches in the back. This now had the Sidekick 4.50 inches taller than stock.

As far as the topic of lockers, the owner reports:

I’m also having some real 2nd thoughts about even installing a locker in back. In this long, deep, uphill rut, I spent a good 100 yards with 1 or more wheels high up in the air, and I didn’t need lockers to make progress. This is one thing I’ve really learned to appreciate about the automatic transmission: the “poor man’s limited-slip-diff” trick where you ride the brakes while applying throttle to transfer torque from the wheels in the air to the ones on the ground. I never would have believed how effective this could be, because I’ve always driven manual transmission vehicles in which this is much more difficult to succeed.

This picture, for example, was taken right after the vehicle’s weight transitioned from both rears and 1 front tire on the ground to both fronts and 1 rear on the ground. Even with such limited traction, I was able to drive right through it by applying just the right amount of braking force. Obviously, this isn’t as easy or as effective as having dual lockers and gobs of articulation, but it’s at least safe to say that everyone who saw my Sidekick on the trails was surprised and impressed by its capabilities.

Once the suspension was done, the Sidekick received a new ARB Bull Bar front bumper, and an IFS skid plate from Aftermarket4x4. He also added an All Road Basket Cargo Basket #9000-0350 to the roof that mounts perfectly on the Sidekick’s factory optional roof rails.

Modified vs stock


Old Man Emu OME962 (ARB 2962) Springs (front)

Old Man Emu OME955 (ARB 2955) Springs (rear)

Daystar 3/4 inch coil spacers for a Jeep TJ PN KJ09107BK

ARB 3426020 Bull Bar

ARB Safari Snorkel SS800HF

Project Costs:

$3,700 for the truck with 70,000 miles.
$663 for the suspension.
$703 for the Bull Bar.
$212 for the roof rack.
$125 for the IFS skid plate.
$5,403 total.


The owner took this project a step further by adding a rear Lock-Right locker, snorkel, 30×10.50 Swamper Radial TSL’s, Shrockworks’ sliders, Aftermarket4x4’s IFS and gas tank skidplates, and a Warn M8000 winch.

This would make a great overlanding vehicle. Don’t get distracted by the limited wheel travel. Land Rovers are highly regarded, and they don’t flex any better. Go out, build one of these, and hit the Trans America Trail (TAT)!

 More Photos:

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