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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all! I'm looking to do the H3 front end and rear end swap. I've read that it can indeed be done, I just have a few questions about tire size, tire rub, e-brake, gearing, e-lockers, etc.....well, more than a few questions haha. Any and all information would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks
 

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I've not done a H3 swap but I've messed with the 7.6" front & 8.6" rear differentials extensively.

I've also re-geared differentials.

I'm currently messing with e-brake options so I may be able to help somewhat.

Go ahead with your questions. I'll help where I can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well I've found a scrap yard with many H3 parts for sale. I was quoted $1500cad for an entire front and rear end. I was going to go with 4.56 gears (from the H3 with i5). Is it worth trying to find one with e-lockers? Also, the newer H3s came with a cast iron ront diff...I'm guessing that would be even better.
Also wondering how the e-brake would work (I have a 5 speed standard)
 

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Well I've found a scrap yard with many H3 parts for sale. I was quoted $1500cad for an entire front and rear end. I was going to go with 4.56 gears (from the H3 with i5). Is it worth trying to find one with e-lockers? Also, the newer H3s came with a cast iron ront diff...I'm guessing that would be even better.
Also wondering how the e-brake would work (I have a 5 speed standard)
I'd recommend the 4.56s.

Personally I didn't like the e-locker that came in the H3. They used a locking pin design that was prone to failure where the pins engaged the locking "slots". The pins ends would kinda chew away and round off over time which made the locker not engage. Now, with that said I'd bet the problem is not as common as the Internet made me believe.

I went with an OX Locker rear (much better design that the stock e-locker) and an ARB air locker in the front (also much better design).

I swapped out my front differential for a H3 cast iron differential but it took me almost a year to find one. Also, the H3 front differential extension tube doesn't have the shift solenoid housing so you would need to re-use your current aluminum one. Using the aluminum extension tube adds another area prone to failure (especially when locked). The Colorado V8 models had a cast iron extension tube so you could maybe find one in a junkyard, but they are not very common in salvage yards.

The H3 e-brake design was better than the Colorado and I'm sure hooking it up to your truck would be pretty straightforward.

Check out my old threads for further information:



Good luck with your swap. I'm kinda debating going to the H3 front suspension myself so I'll be following your progress with questions of my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the info! As I wont be doing much 'heavy mudding', I may skip the cast and e-locker and just simply swap an aluminum 4.56 in. I'd just have to use my existing drivers side tube, yes? I could also just find an H3 GT5 rear end and not need to swap the front diff at all, as I already have 4.11 gears. Buuuuuttt, I'm thinking 4.56 gears would help turn 33's much better. Just hoping it's not too much of a jump in gearing, I'd hate to be cruising at 110km and 3000rpm
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Another issue I have is that I've already got a 4" skyjacker lift. 4" lift knuckles for a H3 are nearly impossible to find, so I'll be forced to strip off the skyjacker lift entirely. I'm hoping the H3 control arms with a slight Tbar crank will retain enough lift for 33s.
In the future, I plan on running Michigan Metal Works H3 tubular adjustable UCAs, slightly modified so I can fit a 2.0 coilover in there and ditch the tbars
 

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Thanks for the info! As I wont be doing much 'heavy mudding', I may skip the cast and e-locker and just simply swap an aluminum 4.56 in. I'd just have to use my existing drivers side tube, yes? I could also just find an H3 GT5 rear end and not need to swap the front diff at all, as I already have 4.11 gears. Buuuuuttt, I'm thinking 4.56 gears would help turn 33's much better. Just hoping it's not too much of a jump in gearing, I'd hate to be cruising at 110km and 3000rpm
Yes, you can re-use your existing driver's side tube.

If you already have 4.10s I'd say the swap to 4.56s wouldn't be worth the money. If you were starting with 3.73s or something similar I'd say go for it. 4.10s are what I'm running and they're not bad. The difference between 4.11 and 4.56s is pretty small.

Honestly, your truck is already setup pretty dang nice as it sits right now. I'd swap in a H3 rear differential and call it good. You'll gain disc rears, locker options, and better aftermarket support with minimal investment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm pretty set on the H3 front end, mainly for wider track width, beefier components, 4 piston brake calipers, and overall better hub/rotor design. And more room for future coilover upgrade. The rear end as well for disc brakes alone, plus wider track width to match the front. I believe I'll pull the trigger for 4.56 gearing as well, may as well give it a try, as I'm getting absolutely every component needed (front and rear) for only 1500 bucks. Plus I have over 350,000kms on this unit haha, so some newer running gear will be all the better. The H3s I'm looking at all have under 200k
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hoping someone who's done the swap can chime in....I'd love some pictures of stance afterwards. I need to know if cranking the bars will level the front enough to match the 4" skyjacker leafs in the rear
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Another option is getting custom 4" H3 lift knuckles fabbed up to match the skyjacker lift.....Michigan Metal Works quoted me $2200usd.....a bit much I'd say hahaha. Beautiful products for sure, but I cant be spending that much on knuckles alone
 

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I’m holding off my own H3 front suspension swap because I’m trying to gather parts for a SAS.
I’ve been sitting on these axles for almost a year!

Vehicle Auto part


I’m looking forward to seeing what type of improvement you get with a H3 swap.

Definitely subscribed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

This thread covered it pretty well
 

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This thread covered it pretty well
Yeah, I saw that when he posted it but there wasn't a whole lot of follow up regarding actual improvements or issues.

I want to see if I should go ahead with the H3 swap while I wait to find the rear axle I'm looking for. I'll be needing brakes soon so I thought it might be a good time to try it out.

I hope you post results if you get to perform the swap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah I was really hoping on some follow up on that thread, kinda defeats its purpose otherwise. I'll fire up an actual build thread when I do the swap, and I'll be sure to post lots of pictures both before and after. And of course, actual follow up with the end results. It'll likely be about a month before I get going on this, gotta save up a bit more cash
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Any idea what the stock H3 rear diff without the e-locker is like? Or even an e-locker rear, but while unlocked?Similar function as our stock G80?
 

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Any idea what the stock H3 rear diff without the e-locker is like? Or even an e-locker rear, but while unlocked?Similar function as our stock G80?
I’m not 100% sure what your asking but:

A stock H3 differential is an open differential.

An e-locker rear unlocked is an open differential and will not lock until the driver switches the locker on.

Our G80s don’t require an input from the driver to lock. The G80 locks by itself when it has a bias in wheel spin. Normal driving the G80 is an open differential. I’m an outspoken critic of the G80 but others think they are great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So will I notice much difference in going from my G80 to a stock 'open' H3 diff?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think I'm begin to understand that they're both 'open' under normal driving circumstances haha, yes?
 

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I think I'm begin to understand that they're both 'open' under normal driving circumstances haha, yes?
You got it.

I must say that I’ll never own a truck without at least a locking rear differential. I prefer front and rear but that’s not necessary for everyone. I like to camp off road so it’s important.

If I were you I’d at least try and look for an elocker H3 rear. Rigging up a simple switch for the locker is child’s play. Unfortunately I’d bet they aren’t very common in junkyards.

If you get an open rear H3 differential you have a few options at your disposal so it’s not a big deal if you need a locker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Theres a few to choose from at this scrap yard, but this one seems the best I could find.
 
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