Suspension Round-Up for Toyota 4x4s
This page will contain submissions
for the 2nd generation of the 4Runner
Downey HD Rear Coils:
After I began driving my 4Runner, I really wanted to get rid of the rear-end sag that accompanies all 2nd Gen 4Runners. I did some research over at Outdoorwire, talked to a few people, and then decided on getting the Downey HD Rear Coil kit. It included new coil springs, a relocation bracket for the brake proportioning valve, and a stainless steel brake line extension. I didn't do any formal measurement, but I would guess that I got about 2" of lift from my Downey coils. Overall, I believe the kit cost about $170, and was worth every penny! This has been my favorite mod to date.
The ride is definitely stiff in the rear end, but I kind of like it that way (I'm young). The rear end is very solid feeling with the new coils, and the made the stance of my rig very awesome. I love the way my 4Runner looks now. I have had the Downey's on for two and a half years, and they haven't shown one sign of sagging or given me any problems.
Rancho RS5000 Shocks:
I finally replaced my stock shocks after they were 6 years old. Ya, I know - I waited too long. As you can see in the picture below, the rear shocks were way overextended after installing the Downey coils.
After doing some research, and getting some mixed reviews, I decided to spring for the Rancho's anyway. The install went pretty well, with no real setbacks, except for the fact that the rear shocks are a pain to install.
About the shocks - they are firm, and give a nice, controlled ride. My rig does indeed handle better than it did with the stock shocks, and front nose dive during braking has been reduced as well. Overall, if someone is on a budget (like I am being in college), I would recommend the Rancho's, as I have not had any problems in nearly a year and a half with them on. However, my next set of shocks will likely either be Bilstein's or Edelbrock's - that will take some more research as well.
I have not cranked the torsion Bars on my rig as I sort of like the look with the rear end slightly higher than the front. However, when I upgrade to a new front bumper, I will likely order a set of Sway-A-Way 25mm Torsion Bars to compensate for the increased weight on the front end.
Additionally, I am running 31" tires, and haven't had any problems with rubbing to this date. I think that my next set of tires will probably be 32"s, and at that point I will most likely go ahead and crank the torsion bars to even up the front and rear end height.
Downey HD Rear Coils:
When I bought my 4Runner back in the fall of í98, one of the first things I noticed was that the rear end sagged back there.
After inquiring on some Toyota forums I came upon, I found out this is a common trait amongst the 2nd gen 4Runners.
There are several aftermarket coils available, but after doing quite a bit of research, I settled on the Downey HD coils.
The Downey kit includes a new brake proportioning valve relocating bracket, and a longer stainless steel brake line hose for the added lift.
The HD model is 20% stiffer
than the normal Downey coil, and won't sag when you start loading up the
rear with cargo.
They brought up the aft end a good couple of inches or so.
If I was buying new coils again, I would get the exact same ones.
To compensate at the time,
the following week I had the stock T bars cranked up to 14.50" to raise
the front to match the rear.
When you raise the front like this, you should really think about switching to manual hubs.
I ended up putting on a set of Aisin manual hubs, the same ones that Toyota uses from the factory on models that did not come with the ADD setup like mine did.
With manual hubs, you take strain off of your CV joints & boots since they are not turning when unlocked.
Edelbrock IAS Performer
My shocks that were on the rig when I got it were a joke.
They were leaking, and I had lots of body sway in high winds on the freeway.
I went with Les Schwab tires' Mountain Ryder shock that were made by Gabriel, and were nothing more than a heavy duty truck gas shock.
My 4Runner rode better, but still lacked control in high wind situations.
Next was the Downey coil installation, but something still did not feel right with the ride of the vehicle. Off to the Internet I went in search for articles and reviews from other 4Runner owners. About the only other high performance shock owners were using were the Bilsteinís. They are a very good shock from what I have heard, but I wanted to be different, and I had just heard about a new shock out from Edlebrock called the IAS Performer.
They were supposed to control
body sway, and give an improved overall ride. Indeed they did. After installing
them, I got less sway immediately, and on the freeway in high winds, the
vehicle had much more control.
Off road these are excellent handling shocks. I drive mainly on old abandoned logging roads and dirt trails with some rocks and ruts thrown in.
These shocks perform quite
well and are long enough too, even with the 2Ē lift I got from my Downey
HD coil springs in the rear.
The shocks come with polyurethane bushings that will give a tighter feel over the rubber type of shock bushings that come with most shocks.
The poly tightens up the feel and makes the shock firmer. Would I purchase these shocks again? Yes I would, but I also would like to ride in a 2nd generation 4Runner with Downey coils like I have, and Bilsteinís to get a comparison between the two shocks.
Saw A Way Torsion bars:
Down the road I ended up adding an ARB bumper and Warn winch up front. The stock T bars could not take the added weight, and I experiencing a "porpoise" effect when coming to a stop.
I had heard about the SAW T bars available from Performance Products, and I ordered a set .
The price it right too at $108 a set.
These made the rig ride so
much better, and the porpoise effect was now gone.
I don't think I'd recommend these though unless you plan on adding the extra weight up front like I did.
These bars are cranked to about 15", and I'm just slightly higher in the front.
That could be from all the weight I have in the rear. That's a lot of weight back there.
Energy Suspension low profile bumpstops were added up front to allow the IFS to get a little flex back after cranking the T bars.
Gibby's 1994 4Runner, came stock with 29" tires, coil spring 4-link rear suspension and IFS front suspension. The ramp score stock was 430.
The first step was an IFS 4" lift and a 4" coil spring lift from Tuff Country (Les Schwab). I was satisfied with the look and ride, and the fact that I could get some 35" tires on, with only a 2" body lift. I was very unhappy however with the fact that I broke 4 upper control arms and eventually tore one the right side mount right off the axle housing and cracked the housing.
On the front end, I continued to have problems with broken differential mounts and inner tulip joints pulling apart. I solved this problem by moving the differential back up 2". My articulation however was pitiful. I had chosen the Downey double shock hoop, but the longest Rancho shocks that fit this setup were way too short. The suspension had to be compressed 3/4" with full weight on the vehicle, just to mount the shocks. On the upside, the 4" lowered bump stops severely limited up travel.
The next step was to replace
the rear suspension, since that was broken.
I purchased a leaf spring conversion set up from All Pro Offroad. These 56" springs offered 5.5" of lift. The toughest part of this was cutting off the old suspension.
I installed an ARB locker, the perch spring removal kit as well. The results were excellent with improved articulation and a better ride.
Now it was time to start the front. I compared several systems and decided on the AOR Orbit springs with a 6" lift. The installation was not technically difficult, but took several days, but my fabrication skills improved as the project went on. I originally installed a Lockrite locker, which soon broke. An ARB was soon installed. I also installed custom mounts to facilitate 14" travel shocks on all corners. The front axle is currently 3" forward of it stock location. My ramp score is now 870.
My overall impression in comparing AOR's springs vs AP's springs is that AOR have FAR more articulation. I would go with AOR products in the rear if I had to replace these springs.
Faith Wheeler's Off Road Club
My Runner too was
plagued with the infamous 2nd Gen Butt Sag.
After seeing a few write ups and some before and after pics I decided to get this mod going.
I had heard nothing
but good from Bilstein shocks and the Downey HD's so that's what I went
The shocks I had were totally toasted. The factory ones were in the rear and I had some blown Gabriel's in the front.
My Runner felt like
a POS when off road. I did the install myself and it was pretty straightforward.
See the Tech section for a complete write up.
Overall I am VERY
pleased with the results. I gained 2 inches in the rear and about 1/2"
in the front from the Bilsteins.
The thing that I am most impressed with is the improved ride and handling with the Bils.
There is simply no substitute for descent shocks. It corners much better because of less body roll, and off road is much more pleasant now.
Some people using Rancho shocks with the coils complained it was too stiff but with the Bils mine rides great. It's not harsh at all. I highly recommend this mod!
Below are some before & after pictures of the way his rig sat before the Downey coils were added, and a shock comparison between the old ones and the Bilsteins.