Up it goes…the 4Runner gets a new lift.

Hi again, it’s been along time since I wrote about anything vehicle related. I took a break to enjoy other life experiences.  However, I’m a man and love vehicles so I thought I’d share one of my latest adventures with my 4Runner. This adventure happened right here in my own garage.

I bought my 2010 Toyota Trail Edition 4Runner with only 18K miles on the odometer a few years ago. Shortly after I purchased it, I headed to Ouray Colorado where I spent two weeks as an alpine host. What a fun job!! Other road trips in included a few excursions to North Carolina. I just love the balance of on road comfort and off road capability.

I bought the Trail Edition because I wanted to spend more time exploring rather than in the garage working on the truck. The trail has all the necessary toys such as locking rear differential, active track, crawl control and the like. The previous owner added things like rock sliders and over sized all terrain tires. As soon as I saw it, I loved it!!

I always said it only needed one thing; a mild lift kit. It just sat too low and the clearance under the front wasn’t as good as my previous 4Runners. While I had zero problems going anywhere, I just knew it would be more capable and look better.

After several years and the odometer  now turning 64K, it was time for a new suspension.

So I did what I always do; research!! And research, and research, and research. I think I literally read every post on the Toyota-4unner.org website!  Finally it was time to purchase and wanted to speak to a live person. I wanted to speak to someone to confirm I was on the right track. I made the call to Toytec, whom I bought the lift for my 98 4Runner years ago. Reading online is great, but talking to a live person who could answer all of my crazy questions was really fun!  I’m really glad I did, because they suggested a different rear spring and shock combo to ensure a smoother ride.

I purchased Bilstein 6112 set on the 4th notch and Toytec superflex coils with matching Toytec Boss shocks. Since the Toytec coils are only 10% stiffer than stock, they said this is a much smoother ride, especially with their longer, matching shocks.

Then came the time to install the lift. This was my 3rd time installing a lift on a 4Runner and by far the hardest. Let’s just say KDSS (kinetic dynamic suspension system) is awesome both on/off road. However when it came to install the lift, it was truly a 4 letter word!! Starting at 10am and taking breaks along the way, I single handedly finished the install around 8:30pm. At times I used every appendage possible(hands, feet, elbows) to get everything lined up so I could bolt it together.

When I stepped back and looked at it fully together, I really liked the stance of the 2.5 inch lift. Now came the fun part; did I measure accurately enough to get out of the garage! Thank fully, I did and headed out for a ride. Instantly I noticed that it soaked up the bumps much better and overall was much smoother.

A few weeks later and many miles, I still love it. It rides so much better. Bumps are still felt, but they’re less intrusive. And the big ones are absorbed so much better. Heading down a washboard road at 35mph was easy and just cruised right along without rattling the truck to death. Tires play a big part in the ride and I’m running 275/70/17 Cooper STs which have about 50K on them and are running 40psi.

My ground to fender measurements are as follows:  front 37 inches, rear 38.5 inches so it still has the factory rake which I wanted to keep. I like it higher in the back so it’ll sit level when loaded.

Aside from riding smoother, one of the best parts is the 4runner now looks like a Trail Edition. It’s sits high enough to be more capable, fits in all the parking garages, and most importantly….friends can still easily climb in.

Now I’m ready to go hit the trails looking for great photos and maybe an occasional T-Rex.

Here’s the before and after photos:






















Sights and Sounds from Imogene Pass

I had the pleasure of experiencing Imogene Pass in Colorado. Tons of history, lots of wild flowers and the trail isn’t too difficult. Just a fun, historic drive.
Here’s a short video compilation:

Tie Rod end replacement

After 133K miles, I figured it was time to replace the tie rod ends on my 4Runner. I’m not sure if they were original or not, but they looked like it.tie rod end for 4Runner

I’ve done this before and it’s not too difficult. For $98 delivered, I ordered OEM tie rod ends and set off to replace these.

With a vehicle of this age there is one thing that is a must; lubricant! PBblaster, Silly Kroil, ATF, or all of the above will work. I sprayed the bolts and alignment nuts liberally a few days prior.

tie rod end for 4RunnerWhenever I embark on these projects, I find the simplest things often create the most problems. On this job, it was the rusted cotter pins that secure the nut for the tie rod end. Liberal coating of lubricant, even a little bit of a torch to heat it didn’t phase it. It wasn’t budging and I ended up breaking off the ends. Then it was time to break out the real tool; hammer!! I used a screw driver to drive the broken pieces out the other side of the nut.

At least now the 19mm socket could fit over the nut. Loosening took some leverage, but it came off. The new tie-rod ends come with a new nut as well, but you’ll still need to get this one off.

Before removing the tie rod from the steering knuckle, I always loosen the tightening nut on the steering rack first.  This usually requires two wrenches; one on the tie rod and one on the steering rack side.

Once the steering rack side was loosened enough to remove by hand, I set off to remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle. None of my pullers would fit in the tight space. A few well-placed wallops with my hammer knocked it out of the steering knuckle.

Installation was easy, just screw the new one back into the steering rack and then bolt it into the steering knuckle and install new cotter pins.  A  new alignment will be needed, even if you line up the marks close to what they were previously. 4Runner tie rod end

The steering is a little tighter, the clunk in the front end is gone, and now I know those critical parts of the steering section are good for awhile. On to the next project…..