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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have decided that I'm gonna make my element an absolute crack addict. Not actually but I wanna make it really capable and one of the ways I'm going to do that is a 4wd conversion. I've got a 2007 sc element which I don't even think they came in 4wd. It's got 205k miles and an engine leaking worse than a beamer. With that said I'm also gonna do a duromax swap because I also found transfer plates for the trans onto gm motors. I've seen that the 4wd is possible just difficult, and as a dumb 17 college student dumb seems like the right way to go. first things first gotta get it registered and then save up money lol. I'll be posting here my journey and who knows I'll even start a yt channel maybe, if anyone has any ideas for what I'm calling "project Phoenix" Let me know!! I much look forward to the responses.
 

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2003 EX AWD auto
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239 Posts
The engine/transmission is transversely mounted in the FWD-based Element. Pretty sure all Duramax engine/trans are longitudinally mounted in RWD applications.

I'm not saying it can't be done but this would be a crazy amount of work.
 

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2007 EX AWD AT; 2008 LX FWD AT
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You will need a 4WD transmission. The FWD differential does not have the extra ring gear that drives the transfer case and does not have the machined interface on the transmission housing to install the transfer case. So, you would the 4WD transmission, transfer case, drive shaft, differential assembly, rear axi
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Both of those are absolutely true, I may even have to run a tube front end to make room for the engine but that's part of the fun in my eyes. I need to get a welder though so I can do custom fab work when it comes to engine mounts, and thank you fleetw00d cause I was gonna just buy a transfer case but as you said there's no place for the transfer case. But based on the first reply I might just go with a GM transmission from a chevy Colorado.
 

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2003 EX AWD auto
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Well, a few things to think about. The smallest "Duramax" engine is the 2.8L 4-cylinder in the Colorado. This puts out ~370 lb-ft of torque @ 2000 rpms.

IF you were to somehow mate a Duramax engine to the rest of the Element's drivetrain I'd think you'd be breaking things left and right. I also highly suspect the E's center viscous coupling would handle that amount of torque. I don't think anybody has put that much abuse through an Element's drivetrain before.

Converting to a full Duramax engine/trans/transfer case you'd still have to worry about the dinky rear differential. This thing is not built to be driven all the time.

One last thing, the fuel pressure (at the injectors) in a diesel is ~30,000psi. In a gasoline engine it's usually ~60psi; even GDI engines only go up to ~2000psi. I have no idea if the rest of the fuel system would also need to be upgraded to accommodate the increased fuel pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, a few things to think about. The smallest "Duramax" engine is the 2.8L 4-cylinder in the Colorado. This puts out ~370 lb-ft of torque @ 2000 rpms.

IF you were to somehow mate a Duramax engine to the rest of the Element's drivetrain I'd think you'd be breaking things left and right. I also highly suspect the E's center viscous coupling would handle that amount of torque. I don't think anybody has put that much abuse through an Element's drivetrain before.

Converting to a full Duramax engine/trans/transfer case you'd still have to worry about the dinky rear differential. This thing is not built to be driven all the time.

One last thing, the fuel pressure (at the injectors) in a diesel is ~30,000psi. In a gasoline engine it's usually ~60psi; even GDI engines only go up to ~2000psi. I have no idea if the rest of the fuel system would also need to be upgraded to accommodate the increased fuel pressure.
That info on the fuel system is very helpful so thanks for that. The other info isn't anything new. I know that a little E trans isn't gonna handle diesel torque. I just need it to be tourqy for offloading. I'll likely have to build a trans tunnel of sorts to linear mount the duromax, get a standalone ecu. New fuel system as you said, another name for "project Phoenix" could also be "project money pit" lol. Also this will be a lot of custom fab work I'm aware of.
 

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Good to hear you're going in with eyes open. This will be a long project but it'd be cool to see. Post up progress pics!
 
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