2wd to 4wd conversion

Discussion in 'Chevy Silverado Forum (GMC Sierra)' started by WhiteRice, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. WhiteRice

    WhiteRice New Member


    I have a 2000 Chevy Silverado stock 2wd with about 20k miles on it, and I'm curious about one particular thing that I've heard is possible. Now before I continue I am not interested in anyone saying its not worth it, just buy a new truck. I am a rather high rank in the military, and cost is not an issue, but like most in today's economy I would like to find the biggest bang for my buck. The truck is the last possession that my father left me before he passed away and it has great sentimental value. I already have another truck, and so I'm just curious as to what I would have to get, or rebuild, to be able to convert this truck to 4wd. I've heard stories from all over the place saying you don't need a new trans; that you just need to modify it, and people saying you do need a new one - which is it?

    This is just a fact finding mission so please throw your mechanical knowledge out there and let me know. Any and all assistance would be appreciated.

    Also, Please forgive me if this has already been discussed or I am in the wrong section.

    Thank you.
  2. ChevyHD

    ChevyHD Rockstar 100 Posts

    Like you mentioned it would take money, patience, and fabricating...But what you are doing is pretty awesome! I'm not sure if you can modify your tranny or how that works but I would guess you would need a new 4X4 4L60E tranny with a transfer case, front differential, new hubs, and counter shafts just for starters. Now putting that all together and which part numbers is beyond me. But anyhow, thank you for your service to this country!! I appreciate it!
  3. donyms

    donyms Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Well, if it were me I think I would start looking for a doner truck like yours but 4X4 I think it would be much better results all the way around if you did find one. Good luck, post some picture of your progress and welcome to the GMTC :sign0016:
  4. ahmitchell1

    ahmitchell1 Rockstar 4 Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I'd have to find a compatible transmission with a tcase with a floor shifter. Then I'd find a front axle and custom fab a suspension. Just helped a buddy drop a solid axle in his 90ish f150. It was very easy, which was surprising for me. Going to a pull apart junk yard and finding a 4x4 version of your truck would be the easiest way,
  5. GM-Guy

    GM-Guy New Member

    Piece of Cake........
    Money however, using used parts plan on about $15-2000+
    Depends on what type of 4x4 your looking for.....
    "Auto" type, not a easy/realistic swap
    2WD and Part time 4wd, is doable

    Your trans has a tail shaft that would have to be converted to short shaft and adapter to take the TC, this required trans R&R and disasembly
    You would also need a different rear drive shaft

    There is a easy way a complicated way, the hard way requires a TC Contol Module and wiring
    Heres the easy way

    If you don't have a center console, you would use a NP261 trans case and add the floor shift
    With a console, you can still use the 261, but would have to make manual shift linkage and crawl under to shift
    You would then need a actuated front differential
    2/ correct front 1/2 shafts and
    2/ correct front 4wd hubs
    1/ correct front drive shaft

    The issuse become that actuation of the axle. If looking for "auto, then you need the TCCM
    you could use a Posi-Lock cable to shift the axle manually
    Now, this would be 2WD and part time 4WD, [which means off road only, no pavement]

    The other alternative is go AWD with a NVG149, AWD differential, but needs a lockng rear axle

    There are other issues like Suspension and height
    I agree with others, If you could fing a complete/doner vehicle, maybe a rollover or hit in the rear

    I actually did the opposite, I converted my AWD Denali to 2WD/PT 4WD

    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  6. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    After having done over a dozen 2wd to 4wd or Solid Axle swaps I'll start by telling you this isnt for the average backyard mechanic. Getting everything perfectly aligned is very important or you could end up with one big piece of junk.

    To start off with you need a plan of action:
    What type suspension are you going to use

    Leaf spring easiest to build
    Coil spring with multiple links hard to build and get right but rides best

    Nexy choose your parts:
    For axles I'd use either a Dana 44 or a Dana 60, most popular axles available and they have quite a few different models. Dana 44 is less expensive and not as strong as the 60, use really depends on how much you plan on off-roading and how hard. Before choosing your specific axle you need to find out if you'll be using a center drop, right drop, or left drop.
    You'll need to source steering gear and box.
    And the part that has you concerned the trans, you can use your present trans under 2 situations, 1-if you use a divorced transfer case (drive shaft btwn T case and trans) or 2 if your trans can be converted to a short shaft trans and have a T case connected to it, dont know your specific trans so I couldnt give you a positive on that.
    You'll need to build/buy a crossmember for the "T"case/trans.
    and you'll need to make sure the rear axle and new front axle have compatable gear ratios.

    Theres much more to the project than this, like many hours measuring, cutting, grinding, welding and just plain wrenching. Expect a project like this to take the better part of 3 months in a decent equiped garage.
    At a shop the project will normally take about a month.
    Parts cost will probably run just under $5000 when all is said and done.
    Theres quite a few companies that manufacture kits to do A "SAS", if your gonna do this project I'd think about buying one of the kits, they normally include most but not all the parts you'll need, this will save time and agravation in the garage. If you have a shop do the conversion they normally use a kit because it's just much easier this way.

    If you've never done something like this I would recommend you let a reliable shop handle the job since your obviously serious about having the conversion done. The problem with this project is screw-ups in the suspension can make the vehicle seriously unstable and you wont find out until your on the road.
  7. WhiteRice

    WhiteRice New Member

    I live in a rather small town in Florida so I am pretty much friends with most of the top mechanics in the area. I'm not going to be doing the more technical aspect of the job. I would however like to get most of the parts on my own to avoid spending an arm and a leg. Is there anyway one of you could post an actual list of the parts I would need to get to convert the tranny and make this truck 4wd? It would once again be much appreciated.

  8. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Post specs of your truck, engine, trans, etc, and I should be able to give you more info on your trans and compatability.
    You dont want to use a donor truck for this swap, do it right the first time and buy most of the parts new except for the axle, and T-case.
    A parts list will depend on which way you want to go, coil or leaf, you'll need to decide before you get into the project.
    For the trans if yours cant be converted to short shaft I'd highly recommend swapping in a complete trans/transfer case, possibly an older 700R4 with a Dana case hooked to it, this way you avoid costly adaptors and computers, unless you making a total trail terror then I'd recommend a built TH400 and a Dana 300 twin stick case.
    I'm glad to see your open to using experienced mechanics.
    Google SAS kits for you truck, like I said a pre made kit will take a lot of the fab work and engineering out of the equation.
    After I retired from the Navy 8 yrs ago I started my own shop doing SAS's and 4wd conversions and one thing I learned right off was it was a lot cheaper and easier to purchase a pre-made kit rather than try to engineer and make every part for a swap. The price for a decent kit normally runs btwn $1000-$1200 but they include parts that'll save you days trying to manufacturer.
  9. WhiteRice

    WhiteRice New Member

    I' m rather new at this truck stuff. I know how to change the oil n brands n some minor engin repair at max. What would ur suggestion be with those type of things. Only think I know is my friends say I should get a straight axle instead of a independent front suspension. And also. How do I find out that tranny info?
  10. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    Take a picture of the label inside your glove box and post it, those codes should give the info needed. IFS tends to ride nicer on the road. Solid axles are more robust and heavy duty, they may ride stiffer. As far as the difference in the work involved between the two, I don't know the answer to that. But, I am sure that someone like @tbpus10 can give you that info.

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