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View Full Version : MILD lift options for 3rd gen 4runner: Ideas?



Martinjmpr
10-05-2011, 05:06 PM
Okay, now that I've decided to keep my 4runner a little while longer (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/67813-4runner-s-almost-paid-for-Double-Down-or-Fold), I need to start addressing some of the nagging little 'issues' that I've had with it.

First and foremost is the dreaded and well-known "rear sag" problem. As you can see from pics like this:

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z256/ZappBranigan/Crested%20Butte%209-2011/2011_0904_123414AA.jpg

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z256/ZappBranigan/DVNP%202011/2011_0323_100310AA.jpg

I do suffer from the slight rear sag, especially when loaded up with a cooler, camping gear, etc (the sag is actually a bit more pronounced than you can see in these photos.)

I bought the truck with 117k on it, and it was obviously rarely if ever taken off road (the running boards were still on it and undamaged.) Based on the fact that I had to get the T-belt done, I'm probably safe in assuming that the springs and shocks on the vehicle are original equipment, IOW 12 years old and have 141k miles on them.

So, I'm thinking of suspension options. Concern here is that I seem to read a lot of "horror stories" of people who go with an OME or similar full suspension (i.e. new springs AND shocks, front and rear) and then complain about the horrible ride, or similar problems. They often end up spending upwards of $2k trying to "fix" the problem by variously swapping out parts and going from one kit to another.

I really don't want to go through that. The ride on the 4runner is decent now, if not great, and I'm a strong believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." OTOH, I wouldn't mind upgrading to higher quality products, particularly if the cost of those higher quality products is the same as OE or only slightly more.

Here are my needs:

* Need to lift up the back end a bit, and wouldn't mind if it were more capable of carrying a load without sagging so much. I'm willing to put up with a slightly stiffer ride, but I don't want a buckboard.

* Need to replace worn components (shocks) as they are long past their replacement mileage.

Those are my only needs. Lift is NOT a requirement, in fact, the truck sits as high as I want it right now (except for the saggy rear.) I've been running 265/75/16s and have had no problems, and I have no desire to go with a bigger tire.

Not looking to spend a ton of money, but will spend what I have to. I haven't priced them but I would assume OE or replacement OE shocks would run on the order of $100/ea max (is that realistic?)

So my questions are as follows:

1. Would a spacer (puck) lift in the rear only get me where I need to be? What are the pluses and minuses of a spacer lift?

2. Same question but instead of a spacer (which seems like a cheap part for such a critical component), would replacing the rear springs with something slightly longer and/or stiffer (get your mind out of the gutter! :hehe: ) be a better way to go? If this would be a good idea, which spring? I know some people talk about using LC coils, and there's always OME.

3. Assuming I go with either a longer spring OR a puck lift at the back, I assume I'll need longer shocks, yes?

4. Since I like the front springs just the way they are, would it be a good idea to leave the springs as-is and just put in a higher-performing shock (bilstien, OME, etc?)

5. Maybe this is a dumb question, but can I cure my rear-sag by simply fitting heavier duty rear shocks? That doesn't make sense to me (since shocks aren't really designed to carry a load) but I have to ask.

I'm not neccessarily going for "cheap" here (though I wouldn't mind that), however, I want my modification to deviate from the original equipment as little as possible. My belief is that the vehicle was set up the way it was from the factory for a reason and I'm not going to mess with that more than I absolutely have to.

Thanks in advance. I've never modified the suspension on any vehicle I've owned so I'm approaching this with a little trepidation. I don't want to screw up a good thing, but it would be nice to squeeze a little bit more capability and/or performance out of my rig. ;)

CA-RJ
10-05-2011, 05:41 PM
A couple of thoughts--

The OME setup on my 4Runner is very nice and rides great. I have the stock upper control arm up front as well and am able to get a good alignment.

An option to help your rear end sag is to run some airbags.

If it was me and I wanted to retain the stock height, I would look at Sonoran Steel's stock suspension replacement. It's the 1999 4Runner coils with new shocks. I would then add the airbags and air them up when you are running weight in the rear.

woodeye
10-05-2011, 05:56 PM
I have an 02 and have been running adjustable Bilstein 5100's up front on the middle setting w/ stock springs. OME 906 springs and shocks out back. Been almost 3yrs and
still ride great. Before the new rear springs, the cone bump stop was 1/4 " from the
axle. Got about 2" lift all around.

Woody

98roamer
10-05-2011, 05:56 PM
5 years ago it started for me with the rear sag and hitting the bump stops loaded up for camping or with 5 people. I also didn't need a lift just better load carrying ability without sacrificing the ride. (Try to catch a unicorn)
1. Air assisted rear shocks, last 6 months and trashed
2. Moved to OME 906 with Tokico Trek Master shocks all the way around with 99' Toyota 4Runner front springs. Harsh rear ride and the struts only last 60k and the rake was very irritating. Went cheap on the shocks after reading good reviews of them.
3. Currently: OME 880 front and OME struts. Firmer than stock but not bad at all at low speed. At highway speed it's much better than stock. Even the wife is fine with it. It doesn't bottom out but it is a small lift. Thanks Will at Sierra Expeditions for his advice.

I never did try airbags but read plenty about them. I do wish I would have gone straight to # 3 but I was going cheap which cost me more in the long run.

Box Rocket
10-05-2011, 06:35 PM
I helped my brother in law install some LC coils in the rear of his 4Runner. Personally I think this is a great option because in stock form the LC are known for a cushy ride, but since it is a larger vehicle the LC coils will have a better load rating than the stock 4Runner coils, and they are longer so you'll get a mild lift. It is also an incredibly cheap alternative. There are LOTS of people getting into 80 series LCs these days and adding lifts to them so finding stock rear coils should be quite easy. The ones we used on my brother in law's truck were free from a local cruiserhead. Took us about an hour to install them. I thought the ride was great and he gained about 1.75" lift. His OEM shocks were probably a little short with this set up but he wasn't flexing it much so he kept the OEM shocks for a while, then just moved the lower shock mounts up on the axle tube (welded new mounts) to get the shocks back in a better working range and continued to use the OEM shocks without issue.

the nice thing about this route is that if you don't like them, you probably won't be out much $, and maybe a couple hours time and you can have them pulled back out.

Beyond, that, I would find someone local if you can that has a 4Runner with OME suspension and have them take you for a ride. I believe you'll find it is not a harsh ride. Maybe slightly stiffer than worn stock suspension but the added control is a big plus IMO. When I put the OME suspension on my Tacoma my initial thought was that it was quite a bit stiffer. But I got out on the dirt soon after that and WOW what a difference. At moderate to higher speeds the OME suspension gave me a lot more confidence and I had much better control than with stock suspension. After a couple trails runs the suspension had broken in nicely and I haven't felt like it has been stiff since then.

tacollie
10-05-2011, 07:28 PM
Everybody who rides in my 4runner comments on how nice it rides. I am running 882s in the front and 890s in the rear and it is tall unloaded. I would recommend Bilstein shocks over the OME shocks.

Garage Guy
10-06-2011, 01:16 AM
* Need to lift up the back end a bit, and wouldn't mind if it were more capable of carrying a load without sagging so much.

Bags are a good way to do that. Cheap, easy to install, easy to adjust according to load. I'm running these http://www.suspensionconnection.com/cgi-bin/suscon/4135T.html on our 3rd gen 4Runner, and they work well.

--Paul

philndz
10-06-2011, 01:31 AM
I'm about to put 881's up front, 906's in the rear and OME comfort shocks all round on my 97 SR5 this weekend. I'm hoping for the same results.....slightly stiffer, yet no more bouncing off the bumpstops and about 2" of lift.

cruiseroutfit
10-06-2011, 04:03 AM
You'll notice no shortage of OME recommendations, with a proper setup using the right parts I think you would he very satisfied. I've setup and installed dozens and dozens of OME setups on 3rd gen 4Runners, never have I heard from someone that didn't enjoy the ride.

SilverBullet
10-06-2011, 08:31 AM
I had a Sonoran Steel system in mine before I traded it. I know others who complained, but mine rode great.

Applejack
10-06-2011, 11:25 AM
Here is some reading if your interested. I wanted the same thing as you are after (initially) and this is my experience with an OME setup.

http://backcountryjournal.blogspot.com/2010/07/4runner-old-man-emu-suspension.html


http://backcountryjournal.blogspot.com/2010/08/ome-suspension-update.html

Martinjmpr
10-06-2011, 04:10 PM
Here is some reading if your interested. I wanted the same thing as you are after (initially) and this is my experience with an OME setup.

http://backcountryjournal.blogspot.com/2010/07/4runner-old-man-emu-suspension.html


http://backcountryjournal.blogspot.com/2010/08/ome-suspension-update.html

Thanks for the links! That setup (881 front/906 rear) is pretty much what I would consider.

Which front and rear shocks did you go with? Also what is the difference between the 880 and the 881 front springs?

To you (or the rest of the group), is a front diff drop neccessary or advisable with such a mild lift? And what about the panhard bar in the back? Will the stock one work OK?

As stated above, I want the absolute minimum lift, but a better overall suspension would definitely be a plus!

ObGobOobaleeney
10-06-2011, 04:39 PM
Yes, like many others I can recommend the OME suspension kit. But choose carefully which version of the kit you get, and I highly recommend getting the complete kit, not mixing it with different shocks or springs.

I put OME full kit on my 1999 Tacoma xtracab v-6, and at advice of an ARB tech I stuck with their "light stock" OME package. It resulted in a little over 2" lift above stock height, I carefully measured before and after. My stock suspension had 85k miles on it at time of swap, I have no winch, etc. Stock truck, stock 31" size tires. (nope, I would not recommend upping the size either unless you really need it)

The heavier springs are where many complaints come from, and I was told by ARB that unless I have several hundred pounds of permanent gear like winch, aftermarket bumpers, etc, stick with the light stock OME kit. Otherwise your front end, they said, will ride too high, too stiff and you may have CV axle issues.

I love the ride, it was a huge improvement over stock system. My stock springs had 86k miles on them, shocks were street crap.

I also probably recommend a drop dif kit, I'm about to do that as I did notice grease seepage in one CV after the suspension change. I think they are showing signs of strain with the constant, steeper angle. Tacoma's don't like too much suspension lift.

I also bought the full kit because they were designed to be used together. That's very important when it comes to mixing and matching springs and shocks. It's nice to have them get along with regards to suspension travel length, height, etc. I have stock upper control arms.

Dunno about the 4runner kit, but the OME kit for Tacoma is designed with a rear rake in it, which helps keep the rear boosted a touch for load leveling. I'd definitely boost the rear by some means if I had a 4runner, with its inherently heavier back end.

I had airbags long ago on the rear of my truck. I will never again use airbags. Full axle articulation tends to crush them, shorten their life. The local shops I talked to never recommend them, telling me what I found out quick-- they just don't last if you use the truck off road, and the problem is made worse if you don't keep pressure in them constantly.

hope this helps!

cruiseroutfit
10-06-2011, 08:01 PM
...Also what is the difference between the 880 and the 881 front springs?...

http://www.cruiseroutfitters.com/tech_OME_coils.html

Identical spring rate, different free height.

rickashay
10-06-2011, 08:31 PM
There are a tons of good ideas in this thread but i'll throw my .02 in as well.

My thoughts:
It depends on which of your priorities is MOST important....

OME: the 881/906 setup will make your truck sit low and level unloaded. Just under 2" of lift all around and slightly more weight carrying capacity in the back. This setup wont look weird either with a stock sized tire(IMO). However, if you load up the rear with more than 200lbs it will sag quite a bit and you will have reverse rake. But as an alternative you could go 880/906 and the truck will sit level once loaded, as the 880 and 881 have the same spring weight, just different lengths.

Sonoran Steel OEM replacement lift: http://www.sonoransteel.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_2_5

A good setup. Will replace your tired out factory 99 springs with some new ones. Shocks are not causing the sagging issue, its the coils that suspend the large majority of the weight. You will gain a small amount of lift unloaded. But, as other have said you will be using the stock coils with low weight capacity, they will sag substantially when loaded. BUT airbags can be an effective option to cure that if you really want the super low height. This setup will also ride the softest on the street.

OEM Landcruiser coils: If your serious about not wanting lift, dont go this route. There are three sizes and spring rates : 7.5wrap, 8wrap, and 9wraps. 9 Being the tallest and softest. The minimum lift I have seen after settling is 3+". the 9 wraps usually give like 4.5" of lift. They are super plush, flex like crazy, and ride awesome on the street though!!

My current setup:
I currently have the OME 881's (without the Top Plate spacer) upfront and the 890's in the rear. I originally wanted a small amount of lift and the ability to haul more weight for offroad/camping trips etc. I wanted to run 265/75/16 tires and clear without rub. The OME 881's provided me with just under 2" of lift after they settled. The 890's gave me around 2.75" after settling. (keep in mind, lift heights are variant as to what model year your 4Runner was and how "sagged" your old suspension was, I forget my "hub to wheel arch" measurements as of now but can go get them if you need...) I have just under an inch of rake unloaded. The truck levels out nicely to the 2" of lift mark with about 200-250lbs of gear in the back. However, I am one of those people that think the OME setup is too stiff. The front rides awesome and is slightly firmer than stock. The rear however is pretty stiff, so much so that it bothers me when driving on the street and unloaded. I have the OME "Comfort shocks" on all corners. The rear matches the front more when I have the 200-250lbs of gear in terms of "seat of your pants" feel. I now am finding that I should have planned for larger tires and more lift from the beginning, so you might want to consider that also. I was SURE I would stick with a 32" tire for economy purposes and now I am considering otherwise. Overall, the OME setup has been great offroad when loaded up, but I dont like it as a DD suspension in the city. I now have a new setup in the mail (trying to "fix" the OME as you mentioned in your first post) including LC 8 wraps, bilstein adjustable 5100's, and Tundra TRD progressive coils.

Hope that helps!

tacollie
10-07-2011, 12:23 AM
I ran 255/85s with the 881/890 combo. I am running 882/890 now and have the same amount of rub. I would plan on having a little rake unloaded so it will sit level loaded. I think the OME springs are the same rate as the Tundra TRD coils. Any harshness in the ride comes from the 890s being unloaded. The front feels great.

rickashay
10-07-2011, 03:39 AM
^ I was currently reading the comparison in spring rates between the 881/882/TRD tundra coils and I can't remember the exact numbers! the TRDs are a Toyota spring, they are progressive rate, and are supposed to hold weight from a bumper, winch, etc better than the 881s.... That's my reason for the switch. Like I said, I DO also like the ride of the 881s and OME comfort shocks.

I agree, always make it raked unloaded unless your building a mall crawler.

GL with your decision.

Applejack
10-07-2011, 01:58 PM
After re-reading your first post this is what I think you should do: Buy the OME 880 coils for the front and the 906's for the rear. Initially you should get about 1 1/2 inches of lift in the front and 2 inches in the rear. They will settle once broken in. Buy the OME comfort shocks, not the Sport shocks like I have. No need for a diff drop or pan hard mod. This will net you a smidgeon of lift and a close to stock ride with better on road handling. The rear is going to sit a bit higher and if you have no extra weight in the back you may find it just a tad stiff but IMO not too harsh.

P.S. The coils are cheap, it's the shocks that get you!

Martinjmpr
10-07-2011, 02:25 PM
If it helps, my '99 is definitely one of the "tall coil" models. It sits pretty high even with the stock suspension.

880 is the taller version of the 881 but with identical spring rate?

Applejack
10-07-2011, 03:03 PM
If it helps, my '99 is definitely one of the "tall coil" models. It sits pretty high even with the stock suspension.

880 is the taller version of the 881 but with identical spring rate?

Mine is the same. It's the 881's that are taller I believe by about 1/2 an inch or so. That's what I choose after speaking to ARB. If you have any qualms go ahead and give them a call, they are happy to help.

cruiseroutfit
10-07-2011, 05:11 PM
...880 is the taller version of the 881 but with identical spring rate?


...It's the 881's that are taller I believe by about 1/2 an inch or so...

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/67862-MILD-lift-options-for-3rd-gen-4runner-Ideas?p=968499#post968499

;)

Tundra TRD coils (neon/lt blue & neon/yellow) are ~20% higher spring rate than 880/881/882. I ran the Tundra coils on my Tacoma for a bit, went back to the OME 882's as they were just a better fit for my needs. If you don't have weight, etc, the 880/881's are going to be your market.

Martinjmpr
10-07-2011, 07:11 PM
http://www.cruiseroutfitters.com/tech_OME_coils.html

Identical spring rate, different free height.

Very informative chart.

Couple of questions, though:

First off, in some cases, two measurements for free height are given. What are these two numbers?

For example, free height of the 906 is listed as 390/380 (in MM) Is this with or without some part attached?

Second question, does anyone have a reference that shows the free height and spring rates for the stock 99 Tall Coil springs, for reference?

cruiseroutfit
10-09-2011, 02:00 AM
Driver and passenger side springs, built slightly different to combat lean.

I've got all the standard oem coils listed on our build sheets that we use when setting up a suspension, I'll try to remember to post up when I'm back at my work computer on Monday.

philndz
10-10-2011, 09:02 PM
Reporting back after my 881/906 install this weekend. NOTE: I added the 10mm trim packers to the factory cones on each of the rear coils for this install. The resulting rake is what I would consider perfect! After sitting for a couple days and doing a few miles around the block the pinch welds of my rocker panels on my '97 SR5 4Runner are 20.75" at the rear (below rear door) and 20.2" up front (under front door/fender area). So the truck sits about a 1/2" higher in the rear than the front. Perfect for sitting level when loaded.
In summary, I highly recommend adding the trim packers to the 881/906 setup.
Lousy photo:
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-CHvDQ7DH7BE/TpNd_yQVU0I/AAAAAAAAAkQ/roOVX-sh8kM/s512/DSC_0179.JPG

rickashay
10-11-2011, 03:36 AM
Glad to see you found the perfect setup for your needs! Your truck looks so clean!

MB3
10-13-2011, 09:10 PM
Yes, like many others I can recommend the OME suspension kit. But choose carefully which version of the kit you get, and I highly recommend getting the complete kit, not mixing it with different shocks or springs.

I put OME full kit on my 1999 Tacoma xtracab v-6, and at advice of an ARB tech I stuck with their "light stock" OME package. It resulted in a little over 2" lift above stock height, I carefully measured before and after. My stock suspension had 85k miles on it at time of swap, I have no winch, etc. Stock truck, stock 31" size tires. (nope, I would not recommend upping the size either unless you really need it)

The heavier springs are where many complaints come from, and I was told by ARB that unless I have several hundred pounds of permanent gear like winch, aftermarket bumpers, etc, stick with the light stock OME kit. Otherwise your front end, they said, will ride too high, too stiff and you may have CV axle issues.

I love the ride, it was a huge improvement over stock system. My stock springs had 86k miles on them, shocks were street crap.

I also probably recommend a drop dif kit, I'm about to do that as I did notice grease seepage in one CV after the suspension change. I think they are showing signs of strain with the constant, steeper angle. Tacoma's don't like too much suspension lift.

I also bought the full kit because they were designed to be used together. That's very important when it comes to mixing and matching springs and shocks. It's nice to have them get along with regards to suspension travel length, height, etc. I have stock upper control arms.

Dunno about the 4runner kit, but the OME kit for Tacoma is designed with a rear rake in it, which helps keep the rear boosted a touch for load leveling. I'd definitely boost the rear by some means if I had a 4runner, with its inherently heavier back end.

I had airbags long ago on the rear of my truck. I will never again use airbags. Full axle articulation tends to crush them, shorten their life. The local shops I talked to never recommend them, telling me what I found out quick-- they just don't last if you use the truck off road, and the problem is made worse if you don't keep pressure in them constantly.

hope this helps!

I used to have a Tacoma...traded up for a Grand Cherokee

MB3
10-13-2011, 09:10 PM
Of course I miss my Toycoma greatly...


Yes, like many others I can recommend the OME suspension kit. But choose carefully which version of the kit you get, and I highly recommend getting the complete kit, not mixing it with different shocks or springs.

I put OME full kit on my 1999 Tacoma xtracab v-6, and at advice of an ARB tech I stuck with their "light stock" OME package. It resulted in a little over 2" lift above stock height, I carefully measured before and after. My stock suspension had 85k miles on it at time of swap, I have no winch, etc. Stock truck, stock 31" size tires. (nope, I would not recommend upping the size either unless you really need it)

The heavier springs are where many complaints come from, and I was told by ARB that unless I have several hundred pounds of permanent gear like winch, aftermarket bumpers, etc, stick with the light stock OME kit. Otherwise your front end, they said, will ride too high, too stiff and you may have CV axle issues.

I love the ride, it was a huge improvement over stock system. My stock springs had 86k miles on them, shocks were street crap.

I also probably recommend a drop dif kit, I'm about to do that as I did notice grease seepage in one CV after the suspension change. I think they are showing signs of strain with the constant, steeper angle. Tacoma's don't like too much suspension lift.

I also bought the full kit because they were designed to be used together. That's very important when it comes to mixing and matching springs and shocks. It's nice to have them get along with regards to suspension travel length, height, etc. I have stock upper control arms.

Dunno about the 4runner kit, but the OME kit for Tacoma is designed with a rear rake in it, which helps keep the rear boosted a touch for load leveling. I'd definitely boost the rear by some means if I had a 4runner, with its inherently heavier back end.

I had airbags long ago on the rear of my truck. I will never again use airbags. Full axle articulation tends to crush them, shorten their life. The local shops I talked to never recommend them, telling me what I found out quick-- they just don't last if you use the truck off road, and the problem is made worse if you don't keep pressure in them constantly.

hope this helps!