So we’ve covered, in great detail, the pros and cons of converting your standard 4×2 to a 4×4 in this previous article which you can find here titled: Can you Convert a 2wd to 4wd (adding 4wd to a truck). The general consensus was that, though it is possible, it’s not a financially feasible option versus selling your current 4×2 and purchasing a used 4×4. This will be the easiest, quickest, and least frustrating approach. However, there seem to be a lot of inquiries about 4×2 to 4×4 conversion kits on almost all the popular 4×4 discussion forums and what kits are available out there. So let’s dig in!
I trolled the entire internet to source what 2wd to 4wd conversion kits are available for the more popular 4WD manufacturers out there and added some insight on the dos and don’ts of each project. So instead of you reading through pages of irrelevant clutter to find the answer, continue reading this article.
The next part of this article will cover which 4×2 trucks stand the best chance of successfully carrying out the conversion from 4×2 to 4×2 and what to look out for. Obviously, if you drive a truck that was offered in both 4×2 and 4×4 derivatives you are in a much better position to source parts from a junkyard and buy most of the used parts at a reduced rate. Still not going to be a walk in the park, however, let’s give it a crack.
In case you missed it – read this first
2wd to 4WD Conversion Kits
So there are ready-made conversion kits available for 2” upgrades ready for purchase online. These are for the most popular American makes and models, especially for those with Dana axles. You will still need to source a donor truck at a junkyard and purchase the following components before you can proceed.
4×2 to 4×4 essential components include but are not limited to:
- Transfer case
- Steering linkage
- Front axle
- OEM Rear block
Once you’ve sourced the above components/parts you next need to purchase the ready-made kit or you could source these suspension items from the donor vehicle, and save a buck or two. The ready-assembled suspension kit will roughly set you back anything from $2000 upwards.
The basic suspension components needed for 4×2 to 4×4 conversions include but are not limited to:
- 2″ Shackle Reversal Kit
- 2wd to 4wd Frame Boxing Brackets
- Panhard Bar
- Front Axle Shackle Hangers
- Stock Panhard Drop Bracket
- 4×4 Brake Lines
- Front Axle U-bolts
- 4 Upgraded 4×4 Shocks (Fox/Bilstein/OME)
- Dual Shock Brackets
- Pitman Arm
Next, let’s look into the upgrade procedures per vehicle. I cannot cover every make and model, however, I’ve listed the most popular (online demand) requests below.
Chevy 2500hd 2wd to 4wd Conversion
Good news for the Chevy boys, since this can and has been done before. It is a lot of info on the conversion available online and a few forum members have appeared to successfully pull this off. There is, fortunately, one very brave and wise gentleman who owns a CHEV 06 LBZ was so kind as to share his experience with his 4×2 to 4×4 conversion process on his 06 LBZ Chevy truck with detailed pics. He specifically mentions from the outset that it’s not a comprehensive guide, but rather a good place to start and highlights some important challenges to look out for. Most of the parts can be sourced off craigslist or eBay from somebody parting a truck. Unfortunately, no part numbers are listed.
The good news is that parts from Chevy trucks between 01-07c all use the same parts. Bonus! Your parts availability should be easier. All the front suspension, transmission cross-member, and torsion bar cross-member parts are the same. You will need some diff mounts. You can have a look at that 2wd to 4wd Chevy conversion here. Some very good pics to help you visualize the conversion as you go along. Worth a look!
As for converting a 2500HD Chevy to a 4×4 you need to keep a few things in mind. Most owners and forum members agree it’s not financially viable to do the conversion however it is possible. The easiest thing to do would be to put a solid front axle under the 2wd truck after the IFS is all cut out. Then either get a different tail housing/shaft for the ally and source a transfer case OR run a divorced transfer case.
Some pointers on converting your Chevy 2500HD from 2WD to 4WD:
- Make sure you get a manual-shift transfer case and stick with the same transmission type for the same reason. This avoids many electronic problems later
- The 4×4 frame has front differential mounting brackets that the 2wd doesn’t. You’ll need to cut the top bracket off and weld it on the lower cross member on your 4×2
- The bracket has mounting provisions on it for the diff.
- The wiring harness and plugs seem to already be in place.
There are unfortunately no pre-assembled suspension conversion kits for the Chevy 2500HD.
88-98 Chevy 2wd to 4wd Conversion
Almost every single online 2wd to 4wd conversion inquiry starts like this:
“Hey guys I have a 1998 Chevy c1500 sidestep w/ 2wd and I really don’t like it that way. How hard is it to convert to 4wd? How much would it cost? Thanks in advance guys!”
This is followed by a hundred responses like this:
“sell the truck and buy a used 4×4. It’s a ton of work and money and even more downtime. But if you really must, go to the junkyard and source a SAS for the conversion”
Ending with the OP saying “thanks everyone, I’ve decided to lift my truck 2” and keep it”
The truth is if you really want to convert your 88-98 Chevy from 2WD to 4WD you need the following:
- Front SAS (Solid Axle Swap)
- Transfer case
- Front Driveshaft
- Swap kit
These are just the basic components. There’s a lot more mechanical and engineering know-how required to successfully do it.
Again, I would strongly advise that if you really need a 4×4 rather trade/sell your truck for a used 4×4.
Silverado 2wd to 4wd Conversion Kit
Below is a walk-through of what is required to get you started on converting your 4×2 Silverado to a 4×4. Big thank you to some really smart people online who were so kind as to share this valuable information with us. I’ve done all the spadework for you by trolling the web through multiple forums and articles to find the most reliable info on this conversion.
1. Remove your Silverado 4×2 transmission for modification/swap. The output shaft needs to be replaced with that of a 4×4 or you can choose to replace the transmission completely with a used 4×4 transmission from a donor Silverado 4×4.
2. Replace the extension housing with that from a 4×4.
3. Remove and Replace control arms, springs, and cross members from a 4×4
4. Transfer Case – Recommended to source the one from lower-end models with the floor shifter.
5. Source used A-Arms/Spindles
6. Source cross member for the transfer case – no welding required as pre-existing holes line up
7. Source a front diff including brackets
8. Source front driveshafts
9. Source a Transfer Case shifter, with linkage
10. Source 4WD Tail shaft with housing
If you go to a wrecking/scrap yard with a list of all your items needed they would put together a package deal at a much-reduced price. If you are mechanically inclined you could get a lot of the above work done yourself.
I would recommend taking the transfer case to a professional garage to have it wired up correctly since there are all sorts of speed sensors and electric wiring that require a professional touch. If you shop around wisely you could source all your parts for under $2000.
2wd to 4wd Conversion Kits Ford f150
So the trick to converting a 4×2 to a 4×4 is actually in the year model. The 4×2 to 4×4 conversion can be done relatively “easy” if you go for the much earlier models that have little to no electronics and very basic structures and frameworks.
If you opt for the pre-92 version trucks, you make your life a whole lot easier since the same chassis frame was used throughout the production of 4×4 and 4×2 models. This was intentionally done to save both production time and building costs.
Here are a few things you’ll require when opting to convert a Ford.
- Source the 4×4 extension housing for the M5R2 transmission
- Source your transfer case
- Source the 4×4 front driveshaft
- Source the front 4×4 mono-beam
- All 4×4 suspension parts
A used transfer case with a new rebuild kit will be a solid option to keep the operation simple and costs low. Junk/scrapyard shopping is always your best option in these kinds of projects.
Suspension parts on the old Fords are all compatible right as far back as 84 models so that makes sourcing parts a whole lot simpler. Tie rods I believe are the same but the pitman arm is different.
An important point to remember: You will need a 4×4 ECU for a 96 model F150, which means any electronic additions will need to be compatible with a 96 and OBD2. This is not a necessity but only important if you want the 4WD light on the dash to be activated when you engage 4WD mode.
Convert 4×2 to 4×4 Ford Ranger Conversion Kit
There are 2 main options: IFS 4×4, SFA 4×4
In both cases, you’ll require the suspension, front axle, transfer case, chassis components, 4×4 transmission, and both front and rear drive shafts.
For IFS (Independent front suspension) 4×4 you will either need to own a 2006 Ford Ranger Sport which means it has the torsion bar front suspension. In this scenario, you can mount an IFS front axle in and swap to 4×4.
If however, you own an XL or XLT with the coil spring suspension that has IFS 4×4, you would have to swap to a 4×4 frame that has the torsion bar suspension. For SFA (solid front axle) 4×4 you can have any Ranger and you cut off the whole front suspension and mount a solid axle from a solid axle vehicle like a Jeep or an old F-150 from the 70s.
The 4×4 Ford Rangers use a different chassis design to the 4×2 derivatives, meaning production starts off differently from the outset than that of the 2WD models.
4WD was not a simple bolt-on option that is simply added later when a customer orders a new Ranger.
Converting any 2WD to a 4WD will require lots of cash and serious engineering and welding experience and skills. Not to mention metal-cutting skills.
Ranger front suspensions are complex. There are differences in the frames in that 4WD has a box frame up front and mountings for front axle suspensions whereas the 2WD version does not.
There are no bolt-on conversion kits available for 4×2 to 4×4 Ford Rangers.
Convert 4×2 to 4×4 Dodge Ram
The most obvious and popular response to converting your 4×2 to a 4×4 is to rather buy a donor truck and swap the parts out, or simply sell your 4×2 and purchase a used 4×4, yes, we’ve heard it all before.
However, there is good news for some.
Turns out the 4×4 Dakota is exactly the same as the 4×2. It differs with extra suspension parts and different programming. There are no shared parts, including the chassis/frame and differential mounting points. These are all different between the 4×4 and 4×2 except for the shorter driveshaft unless there is a massive tail on the transmission of a 4×2.
But on the mechanical side, you will need a C205F IFS axle (matching gear ratio preferably) with two CV half shaft assemblies (the 4×2 hubs will work as 4×4 if the splines aren’t rusted out),
Your drivetrain components like the front driveshaft and transfer case can all be sourced from other Chrysler products that are direct fit like the factory NV244 & NV233 that are mechanical shifting. You will require a new rear driveshaft too.
There are no direct bolt-on 4×4 conversion kits for the Dodge Ram available.
Whenever you research this topic on the web forums, the first few responses are always the same, and for good reason. It goes like this,
However, the other option of buying a used scrap 4×4 or similar made and model for all the 4×4 parts and swapping out the 4×4 essentially. Then you can always piece together the 4×4 with the two-wheel-drive pieces and sell it and recoup some of the project cost.
Many people have attempted the swap. Most have regretted it since it turned out to be MUCH more expensive than expected, and the end product didn’t work as well as hoped. Many sell the truck afterward to offset some of the costs involved, most times for used parts.
This project can be done however, the time to do it and the engineering expertise to make it work would be a long-term project. Expenses involved with this project are also a major factor to consider.