Just Picked up my first Overland project truck!!! 1996 T100, 3.4, 4x4, 240,000 miles. What to do first?

itmustbeslim

New member


I think I got a pretty good deal on a well running truck! Has some major oil leaks that need to be addressed first, definitely valve cover gaskets, an oil pan gasket, and probably a front main seal and cam shaft seal. Nothing super complicated! No warning lights, heat and a/c work great and manual everything!

So what do you guys think? What should I look at first for upgrades? I am thinking new leaf springs and all around new suspension with a small lift.
 

Kpack

Adventurer
I'd say general maintenance first and clean up those headlights. I don't know if T100's suffer from frame rust as bad as other Toyota trucks, but if so I'd get under there and clean it all up. My dad's T100 is super clean underneath despite being in Washington winters for over a decade. Chances are you'll have some front end work to do: leaking CV axles, tie rods, etc. May have some other things that need to be addressed like axle seals and such. Definitely want to change out all fluids and start fresh.

I'm not sure what is involved in lifting the front on these trucks as they use a torsion bar instead of a spring. Leafs in the back would be pretty straightforward.

Depends on what you are trying to do with it, but maybe sliders first before other major mods?
 

thezentree

Observer
I'd say general maintenance first and clean up those headlights. I don't know if T100's suffer from frame rust as bad as other Toyota trucks, but if so I'd get under there and clean it all up. My dad's T100 is super clean underneath despite being in Washington winters for over a decade. Chances are you'll have some front end work to do: leaking CV axles, tie rods, etc. May have some other things that need to be addressed like axle seals and such. Definitely want to change out all fluids and start fresh.

I'm not sure what is involved in lifting the front on these trucks as they use a torsion bar instead of a spring. Leafs in the back would be pretty straightforward.

Depends on what you are trying to do with it, but maybe sliders first before other major mods?
What he said, I'd just vote for a good set of tires before sliders.
 

bkg

Explorer
I agree with @Kpack. Deep clean top to bottom, change all fluids and address all consumables. That in of itself can be a fairly expensive undertaking.

If you have to change out ball joints, that could potentially be an opportunity to consider additional suspension work. But what that ends up being depends on what your goals are - there are plenty of options. I would suggest not doing suspension “lift” until after you have a good amount of seat time - get used to what you have and then determine what you want to upgrade!
 

SC T100

Adventurer
I had a T100 for a long time and did some offroading, and only rarely felt I needed more clearance (only once or twice on trails I really shouldn't have been on). The thing sits higher than some lifted trucks, so I wouldn't worry about a lift at first unless you know for certain you'll need one. The other issue is that because of the torsion bar front suspension, you're pretty limited in terms of aftermarket suspension options. I think there are some beefed up torsion bars you can get or a ball joint spacer kit. Other than that there's not much unless you go long travel. The rear leaf packs are pretty robust so I'd be surprised if you need new ones...you may just need shocks.

I would focus on baselining it and getting the front suspension and steering in order. New ball joints, new sway bar bushings and end links from Energy Suspension, rebuild the idler arm, replace the steering damper, new shocks at all four corners (KYB Gas-A-Justs or Bilsteins are some of the best choices) and ensure all the drag link ball studs are in good shape. Slap on some Aisin hubs from an IFS pickup or 4Runner, and you'll be in good shape. Check the CVs too...they spin all the time stock (the Aisin hubs allow them to be disconnected). If you really want to make the steering robust, you could throw on the Total Chaos idler arm.

Make sure the timing belt is new, and replace it if not (while you're doing the seals). Plugs would also be good, and ensure they are the correct Denso or NGK dual electrodes (plugs really woke my truck up). I would also plan to replace all diff, trans, and tcase oils, and make sure the rear axle housing isn't cracked at the spring perch welds. Then throw on some good A/Ts and have fun.
 

FJOE

Adventurer
I had a '95 DX and took it overseas with me. Aftermarket support can be pretty tough. I can send you a CAD drawing for a front skid to replace the plastic one. The company that made mine from aluminum was in NC and was top notch. Aisin hub swap for sure. Parts department at Olathe Toyota in KS was awesome, and great prices. I never felt like I needed a lift, and I ran 31's (General Grabber AT2's). Loved that truck. It had the bench seat. See if you can pull a factory CD player from the same year SR5 4Runner, and definitely replace the speakers.
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20DYNAMITE07

Just along for the ride
If you haven't seen it yet, there's a YouTube channel called TheTravelingTogetherJournal (they also post on the forums here). Aimee and Matt have a T100, and they toured Baja and Central America for more than a year in the thing. You might want to DM them, as I'm I betting Matt would give you a run down on things to look for... they're both super nice.
 
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Doc_

Sammich!
T100s are awesome, congratulations on your score!

As one T owner to another, the biggest PITA with these trucks is that almost nobody makes anything for them. There are few bolt-on mods or improvements that can be easily done. Regardless, if you have a death wheel and some creativity then won't be a problem.

I just did a 3" lift on the front of my truck with upper ball joint spacers, and it was worth it. With a 150lb plate steel bumper, it worked out to a 1.5-2" lift, but it's yielded a less harsh ride than cranking my torsion bars would've gotten me.

Otherwise, all I can really think of is basic maintenance: plugs, wires, fluids, cleaning the throttle body and idle air control valve. Good quality shocks will seriously improve the handling characteristics of these trucks, too; I just threw on a pair of KYB Monomax shocks with my UBJ spacers and the truck rides almost better than when I first bought it.
 

dman93

Adventurer
I had a ‘97 T100 for a while ... often wish I had kept it. Perfect size truck. Stock suspension height provides plenty of ground clearance in my opinion. As @SC T100 said, going through ball joints, shocks (I used low end Bilsteins), sway bar bushings, steering damper and other suspension consumables transformed the ride and handling. Quality brake pads really helped the drivability of the truck in the mountain West. I like the 3.4, the AT was OK for me, but the worn out stock bench seat sucked. Buckets are hard to find, but I think if I’d had buckets and a 5 speed I might have kept it. And, that blue is the best color :)
 

P40Wolf

Overlander
The 3.4 is in my mind one of the best motors out there. I’d get the “100k” service done on it, just so you have a good reference point on what’s been done. It’s all the seals, timing belt and water pump, and other sundry freshening up. Oil pan and rear main might not be part of that service on a motor still in the truck, but the place that did mine sourced a low mileage 3.4 for my 4Runner and did all the seals on a stand (long story as to why I needed a new 3.4 in the first place. Only go to shops you know and trust!). It’s a good looking truck though! Perfect start point
 

GB_Willys_2014

Active member


I think I got a pretty good deal on a well running truck! Has some major oil leaks that need to be addressed first, definitely valve cover gaskets, an oil pan gasket, and probably a front main seal and cam shaft seal. Nothing super complicated! No warning lights, heat and a/c work great and manual everything!

So what do you guys think? What should I look at first for upgrades? I am thinking new leaf springs and all around new suspension with a small lift.
Beautiful truck. Good find. I have unexplained "like" for these .5 gen Tundras. :)
 

bimmeryota

Observer
Even though I’m looking at replacing my T bc of a growing family I think it’s the best truck out there. You’ve chosen the best out of the box Toyota ever made!
Mine had similar mileage as yours when purchased and hasn’t missed a beat. The suspension design is very robust and simple to repair. Same suspension used on the world Hilux for a long time so it’s a proven design. I redid everything but the control arm bushings and put 1” bj spacers with longer kyb monomaxs. Rear has custom deavers for carrying my Fwc. I replaced my headlights with amazon versions for about $50
 
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Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
I had a ‘97 T100 for a while ... often wish I had kept it. Perfect size truck. Stock suspension height provides plenty of ground clearance in my opinion. As @SC T100 said, going through ball joints, shocks (I used low end Bilsteins), sway bar bushings, steering damper and other suspension consumables transformed the ride and handling. Quality brake pads really helped the drivability of the truck in the mountain West. I like the 3.4, the AT was OK for me, but the worn out stock bench seat sucked. Buckets are hard to find, but I think if I’d had buckets and a 5 speed I might have kept it. And, that blue is the best color :)
Yeah,those bench seats are killer especially if you are the one sitting in the middle.
 

Nikkshepherd

Observer
Sweet truck, I'd kill for the 3.4 in my pickup. So at least you have that on some of the older Toyota's out there. Good luck with the build.
 
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