Steve Schaefer (sschaefer3)
Toyota Tech: Toyota SUV Suspension Lift Collaboration
4x4Wire Toyota Tech Short Cuts
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1999 Toyota 4Runner, 4WD, 2.7 Liter, 4 Cylinder, 5-Speed

Sway-A-Way RaceRunners
ATS Racing Upper A-Arms
Daystar Poly Bumpstops
Thermonuclear "20 Megaton Performance" front sway bar disconnects

Old Man Emu N86 Heavy Duty Shocks
Old Man Emu 891 Heavy Duty Coils
Daystar 3 " competition style bump stops with Sonoran Steel adapters
Sonoran Steel Panhard drop bracket 2 "
Avalanche Engineering 18? limiting straps
AOR Rear Braided Stainless Brake Line 18"
Spidertrax lower control arms with heims and Toyota bushings

Bilstein Shocks:

I really like the Bilstein HD shocks a lot. This was the first alteration to the suspension that I performed. Just these shocks alone greatly improved the off-road ability of the truck. I actually ran Upper Woodpecker, a rock crawling trail rated 4/5 near Florence Junction, Arizona with no lift, stock size tires, a pair of rock sliders and a set of Bilstein HD shocks. The above components work great with these shocks and my intention all along was to retain the Bilstein shocks along with gaining some lift. Most people really like these shocks, but some of the street only folks find them a bit rough. They seem to be perfect for a combination of off-road and on road use. Bilsteins in general are stiff shocks, care should be taken when choosing accompanying springs. Softer springs seem to work better with the stiffer shocks, in addition this also seems to be a good combination for rock crawling.

I did for a short period of time actually run FJ-80 Land Cruiser rear Bilsteins on the rear of my 4Runner. The result was a much stiffer ride and the drive shaft would contact the gas tank skid plate when the driver?s side rear tire was stuffed into the wheel well due to over extension of the rear suspension. These shocks are 4? longer than 4Runner Bilsteins and this longer length allowed the rear axle to flex too far causing parts to collide.

Cornbred Front Spacers:

The front Second Generation Cornbred 2? spacer lifted the front end exactly 2?. The spacer installs inside the spring pack and a spring compressor and complete disassembly of the strut unit is necessary. The spacer actually replaces the stock top plate in the spring assembly and pre-loads the stock spring creating the lift. It is made very well and machined completely out of a single piece of steel and then gold anodized. The spacer is adjustable to either 2? or 2.5? with a thick rubber washer. This obviously does not have the adjustability or a coil over, but does offer 2 settings. These spacers are extremely popular on the Tacoma Territory board and the individual making them usually takes 6-8 weeks to get you the parts.

Thermonuclear "20 Megaton Performance" Disconnects:

These front sway bar disconnects are made by an individual who goes by the screen name of NUKE on the Tacoma Territory board. After running a set of Rockstomper disconnects that rattled my brain to death, these are a much quieter design. They are very simple; the lower heim joint slides off of a mounting shaft when you pull the pin out. The upper end has a wing nut that holds the poly bushings snug. These do not make noise when the truck shifts weight and are holding up very well. The off-road gain from disconnecting the front sway bar is quite significant and well worth the trouble. You should never operate your vehicle on the paved road with the front sway bar disconnected.

Downey 3 ? coils:

These are real nice springs that I decided to order after putting this suspension collaboration together. I read all of the other peoples reviews on how much they liked the Downey springs they were using, so I though I would try a set. They are quite nice, and in reality lifted the rear end of the 4Runner only 2.5? just as the Downey catalog states. These springs also came with an emergency brake bracket, but I used the one I made since it is more refined. The kit included a set of Rancho 18? limiting straps and a warning that if you do not use the straps you may damage your shocks. From the testing I did with the Land Cruiser Bilsteins, I would agree with Downey and welded the strap tabs on to the frame as indicated and installed the straps. The straps will hold the rear coil springs in if the rear shocks do fail and break. The limiting straps do not limit the rear axle travel, the rear shocks do that, they are just installed as a back up. The straps are slightly longer than a rear shock fully extended.

Daystar 3 " Competition Style Bump Stops with custom adapters:

These bump stops and adapters replace both the center isolator cones in the coils and the stock frame mounted bump stops. They are softer than the stock dampening system and soak up anything that comes their way. This is more of a comfort modification than anything else. I originally designed these to work with rear 2" Cornbred spacers, which would not allow the rear isolator cones to be re-installed, but they are also working great with the Downey springs as well.

Panhard drop bracket 2 ":

The custom made 2 " panhard drop bracket is a permanently welded on modification but it does allow you to return the pan hard back to the stock location. It retains the stock mounting hole as well an additional one 2 " lower. What this actually did was re-center the rear axle under the truck. After the lift, the rear axle was sticking out further on the passenger side than it was on the drivers side. This modification did not affect the drive shaft hitting the gas tank skid plate with the longer shocks, as once believed. If anything, it made it worse, this simply re-centers the rear axle under the truck.

Cornbred 2" Rear Spacer and Daystar 2.5" Rear Spacer:

The Cornbred rear 4Runner spacers come in 1" and 2" heights. These were designed using a 96-98 4Runner so you will not be able to re-install the rear center Isolator bump stop cones that came with the 99-02 4Runners or that were added to the 96-98 during the rear spring service campaign. They are milled out of Aluminum and are a very high quality product.

The Daystar poly rear spacers come in 1.5" and 2.5" heights. They are molded entirely out of Polyurethane and do allow for you to re-install the center Isolator cones found in the 99-02 4Runners. The spacers are tapered to allow for the cone to insert through. The botom is contoured to fit the shape of the spring.

Over all I personally do not recommend or would use rear spaces with the stock Toyota rear coils. For the same cost as the rear spacers you can get a set of lift coils that replace the stock Toyota rear coils entirely. When the truck sits higher with the weak stock springs you will get quite a bit of side to side sway on the highway. At slower speeds and off road this is not noticeable and the only issue would be the soft stock springs bottoming out. Much like they do without a lift.

Sway-A-Way RaceRunners:

These are the best front end solution hands down. If you can afford them, this is your solution. They are fully adjustable so you can fine tune the amount of lift they are set to. They are fully rebuild able so they can be taken apart, tuned up and run like they were new again. Finally the on road ride is superb, they are the best highway riding suspension piece I have ever had on my 4Runner. An interesting thing about the RaceRunners is that even though they provide lift they still remain relatively soft like the stock suspension. Unlike spacers that stiffen up the spring rate to achive lift, the RaceRunners provide lift and remain soft. This is one product that I can not recommend enough.

ATS Racing Upper A-Arms:

The ATS upper a-arms do a few things. The return the upper ball joint angle back to the position it was before any lift was set in. Secondly the arms are 1/16" longer than stock, so they push the lower arms out to the maximum adjustment point built in by the factory, giving the 4Runner a 1" wider stance on each side up front. The wider stance will give you more travel, specifically more droop. Finally they dramatically increase clearance between the upper arm and the tire. These arms are very well made and there are three versions offered. Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner. I originally had Tacoma arms but they were too long at 3/16" over stock that the camber even at max adjustment was still 1 degree positive. I informed Chris Gamborg at ATS Racing and he designed a 4Runner specific arm that is 1/16" over stock. The 4Runner specific design aligns correctly.

Old Man Emu 891 HD Coils and N86 HD Shocks:

When I built my custom rear bumper which weighs 187 pounds without the tire, I had to change the rear springs and coils. The Downey springs were holding the weight but the Bilstein shocks were then valved too soft for the weight. I could have tried a custom Bilstein 7100 shock application and had custom mounts made, but I decided to keep it simple and just swap in a set of Heavy Duty Old Man Emu shocks and coils. The Old Man Emu 891 rear coil is designed to hold 350 pounds over stock on a Toyota Prado. Seems exactly what I was looking for. The rear N86 heavy duty shock is fro a Toyota Prado as well and is 1" longer than the Bilstein shock and 1.5" longer than a stock 4Runner rear shock. The stiffer springs and the longer shocks fit the bill perfectly with my very heavy custom rear bumper. I also re-installed the stock Toyota rear cones but cut the bumper off so all they would do is provide a small 1/4" of lift and center the top of the springs. I also added in one ARB trim packer to each coil for another 1/4" of lift. Currently I have 2.5" of lift with the 891 springs, 2" from the coil and 1/2" from the stock cone top/ARB trim packers. Keep in mind the stock rear bumper is 45 pounds, stock class II trailer hitch is 45 pounds and my bumper is 187 pounds.

Final thoughts on the several months of working with the suspension and lift process:

The 3rd Generation 1996-2002 4Runner suspension is unlike most typical 4 Wheel Drive vehicles in that it uses an IFS strut/shock assembly up front with a behind the front axle rack & pinion steering and a 4 link with a pan hard bar, coil suspension out back. Modifying this suspension is like stealing from Peter, to pay Paul. All of the current lift options increase the angle of the a-arms (front) or control arms (rear) to gain the lift. When you increase the high of the vehicle you effectively decrease the droop or down travel by the same amount. After several months of testing various longer shock and suspension adjustments in an attempt to restore the lost droop or down travel on top of the lift, I have conceded. When you venture outside of the design that Toyota engineers originally built into the suspension, parts begin to collide and fail. This happens with even the smallest increase in rear shock length, the drive shaft/rear axle will begin to collide with the gas tank skid plate. Increasing the ride height with spacers, different springs, or adjustable coil shocks and not changing the shock length or the overall geometry of the suspension does produce a nice sound lift. Of course the down ward travel of the suspension will be minimized, but the increased ride high should compensate for this setback. To sum it up you will loose droop or down travel but gain ride high and clearance.

Cornbred Spacers Front Shock NUKE Disconnect

Downey Coils PanHard Drop Custom Bump Stops

Martinez Canyon Broken Arrow Rancho Limiting Straps

Downey & OME coils Rear Shocks ATS A-Arms

Sway-A-Way top Old Man Emu ATS & SAW

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