It has been a while since my last
update. Other than a burnt out starter relay the 4runner has
been running surprisingly well mechanically speaking so it was time
to address some of the minor issues.
The first order of business was to
eliminate the quadraphonic door rattles. Best I could tell
there was no way to adjust the door catches and the movement of the
door was coming from play in the plastic parts of the latch
mechanism buried in the door. I then confirmed there was no
adjustment at the latch either. The idea of replacing all the
latches was quickly dismissed once I found out how much they cost
(and I needed one for each door). After some more
contemplating I realized that even though the door catches were held
on by flathead bolts that there was still clearance between the bolt
head surface and the front/rear doors. A quick check with my
calipers confirmed I could change out the hardware for button head
cap screws and still clear the door with the addition of a shallow
counter bore to the door catch. This hardware change opened up
the possibility for making the catch adjustable by slotting the
mounting holes (not possible with the original flathead bolts). With
the catch mounting holes slotted .100" and reinstalled we were
treated to golden silence. Success!
Next up was addressing the
lack of interior lighting, something we discovered the first time we
drove the runner at night on a dark road. We
found ourselves fumbling for the heater controls and when the light
bulb went off: where the heck were all the lights? Initially I thought a fuse had blown
but after various checks and poking around under the dash I came to
the realization that nearly every bulb in the 4runner was burned
out. A Google search turned up various places selling replacement
LED's so I ordered about a dozen from
Here's the 96 4 Runner light list. One the arrived it took the better
part of an afternoon to root out all the bad bulbs; eventually had
lights in the dash again along with courtesy lights.
The first off-road
modification was a set of nerf bars to protect the rocker panels.
This was going to be a home fabrication project but really good
X-mas sale convinced me the effort wasn't worth it.
straightforward. Once the frame was cleaned up we clamped the
nerf bars to the frame and welded them on. Most of the day was
actually spent prepping the vehicle to spray the nerf bars.
Next up was
addressing the terrible state of the interior. I went with a
complete carpet kit from Stock Interiors. You can almost smell
the improvement by just looking at the before picture above.
Installation took a while mostly because we went with the optional
sound deadening layer which made the carpet stiff and difficult to
We had taken the 4Runner off-road a few
times but never on a full day trip so technically this was the
maiden voyage. We hadn't been up to Crown King since I sold the Jeep
almost 2 years back so we decided to head up the day after a big
winter storm had rolled thru the valley.
About 5 miles into the trail the 4Runner
hit 300k miles, followed shortly by a check engine light. We
all wondered if it was really a "time for a new 4Runner light" set
to go off at a certain mileage because after pulling the battery
cable for a few minutes it has not come back.
The snow level was the lowest I had ever
seen with a good 6 inches still setting around at the base of the
switchbacks. I have driven 4 different vehicles on this trail (King
Cab Nissan, Samurai, LJ) and the 4runner seemed as sure footed as
any of them. I was actually expecting BFG All-Terrains to clog
up with mud but I could count how many times I felt the car lose
traction in the mud on two fingers.
The 4Runner felt a little more skittish
on the hard packed snow but I was expecting that with the rear
locker. All in all the truck did good and felt smaller than
the Jeep while at the same time being much more spacious on the