How to Choose the Right Drivetrain - Chevy Tracker Project Part 3

    We Choose Tracker Drivetrain Components (Twice)

    Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

    It has been months since we wrote an update on our Chevy Tracker project affectionately known as the Jet Puff (July ’15). Life has put this project on the back burner, but it hasn’t been completely abandoned. It has changed direction a few times though, which is the curse of a project that takes too long to complete. If Goldilocks were building a rig, she would want to take enough time so that no corners were cut but not so long than she got distracted by the latest and greatest new widget.

    Shiny widgets don’t necessarily appeal to us, but we have made some unforced errors on the Jet Puff that set us back and added unnecessary expense. Originally we started with a 4WD Tracker with a 1.6L engine and purchased a Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series front axle and 4Runner rear axle. None of those parts remain now, with the exception of some of the front axle components like hubs and spindles. The intent is for this to be a budget project, but the best way to save money is to not spend it twice. Now we have a 2WD Tracker with a 2.0L engine, a divorced Samurai transfer case from Trail Tough, and Toyota-based Diamond axles.

    Why Toyota-based axles? There are several factors when deciding what drivetrain components to run, but perhaps none is more important than tire size. If you intended to run 40-inch-tall tires, consider 1-ton axles mandatory. Similarly, if you only plan to run 33-inch-tall tires, 1-tons will just result in getting the diff hung on every rock on the trail due to a lack of ground clearance. In the case of the Jet Puff, we plan to run 37-inch-tall Maxxis Trepadors on KMC Enduro beadlock rims. We consider 37s at the upper limit for half-ton axles, depending on other factors like driving style, gearing, vehicle weight, and horsepower. Of course, all half-ton axles are not the same, and thanks to RCV, Nitro Gear & Axle, Diamond Axle, and Spidertrax, the axles we put under our Tracker offer strength that rivals 1-ton components without the weight or ground clearance penalties. If only we had turned to these companies from the start; we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and money.