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I have a 99 Vitara (not a grand vitara)..it has the 2.0 engine, auto trans and 4x4...and i want to swap a 97 1.8L into it. I am told the engines blocks are identical. What other things do i need to be aware of? Such as, can i use the 99 ecu? Will the ac compressor match up? Do I need to be concerned about intake and exhaust manifolds or map/maf sensors and other sensors matching up? Will the fuel flow be adequate or too much etc. I expect you get the idea by now. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Reason for the swap. The 2.0L ate it's timing chain and took several valves with it. Replaced the head and timing chains, guides and tensioners etc. It ran for several months and the top guide broke off, fell into the chains and gears and destroyed the cam gears. Weak oil pump let the tensioners back off maybe? Anyway, no longer trust the 2.0 and I can get a 1.8L to replace it.
 

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Search the forum and you'll find the answers - in a nutshell there are just enough differences to make it a very challenging swap, unless you have the complete J18 engine with all the manifolds, sensors, ECU & harness - and since your existing transmission is controlled by the ECU, you probably want the transmission & transfer case from the Sport as well (assuming it is a Sidekick Sport you're getting it from - if's the Esteem, I'd say forget about it.)

I also want to put this thought at the forefront of your mind - the timing gear on the J18 & the J20 are 100% identical - if you no longer trust the J20, why would you trust the J18 - the potential for failure is exactly the same.

Weak oil pump let the tensioners back off maybe?
Why would the oil pump be weak? As a general rule, they don't give trouble, they sit submerged in the pan, and are well lubricated - unless maintenance has been neglected.

The adjuster/tensioners "backing off" is not very likely - they ratchet as they come out, which limits how far they can back off - how about sub standard, non OE parts? By the way - did you use a new gasket behind the #1 adjuster - that one is not reusable.

I've got close to 90,000 miles on my J20, on the original timing gear, and that top guide shows very little sign of wear or fatigue (I checked it whilst replacing a leaking cam cover gasket)
 

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1.8 swap

Hello Fordem.

Thank you for the reply. The parts that were installed were indeed purchased on Ebay and most likely not of good quality now that I have compared their cost with original parts from Suzuki or N.A.P.A. The information you provided is appreciated and I think the swap is more than i want to attempt.

Fortunately, the timing did not jump this time and I won't have to replace the head or any valves.
 

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Just curious...did you use loc-tite on the bolts when you replaced the timing components? I didn't notice that step printed anywhere in the Haynes manual when I did the timing set on my 2.0, but it seemed like a no brainer. Those are not bolts you want backing out for obvious reasons.

Opps, just reread your post. So the top guide actually broke? Strange, since that guide is made of steel while all the others are plastic and aluminum. You would think that would be the last thing to break.
 

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There have been several anecdotal reports of that top guide breaking - including at least one where the guide ended up on top of the head, rather than dropping down in between the cam gears.

Not having witnessed it personally, I can only assume that the guide fatigues & breaks due to the constant vibration resulting from the chain slapping the underside - because of these reports, I took the time to remove & inspect the guide on my engine when I had the cam cover off - I would have replaced it had I seen anything strange.

Again, not having any evidence, I can only wonder about the cause - substandard materials - or - possibly the manufacturing process - could/would bending the plate cold cause cracks at the bends?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
1.8 swap

Hey guys, just had one more question. Since the 1.8 and the 2.0 blocks are identical, would it be possible to take out the 2.0, swap in the 1.8, and then use the existing 2.0 intake and exhaust manifolds? I am thinking there will be issues with the 2.0 map/maf sensors on the 1.8 engine if I do this. Any ideas?
 

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I didn't feel like typing it all again, so ...

Search the forum and you'll find the answers - in a nutshell there are just enough differences to make it a very challenging swap, unless you have the complete J18 engine with all the manifolds, sensors, ECU & harness - and since your existing transmission is controlled by the ECU, you probably want the transmission & transfer case from the Sport as well (assuming it is a Sidekick Sport you're getting it from.
 
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