I didn't get any pictures from the last trip out, had to turn back
due to the truck overheating. I later confirmed I had burnt
out another fan control module so the electric fans were only
running in the low speed setting. I haven't had much luck with
electric fan controllers in the past so made up my mind fairly
quickly to remove the electric fans the previous owner had installed
in favor of a stock engine driven fan. Not knowing the age of the
radiator I also opted for a pre-emptive replacement for that
component as well figuring if it had 305,000 miles like the chassis
does it was a ticking time bomb.
Once again the used market was a huge
let down and I found it cheaper to just get new parts and ended up
with the following parts: radiator ($101), fan ($47), fan
clutch ($63), Expansion Tank ($23), upper fan shroud ($38) and lower
fan shroud ($11). Installation was a breeze and the truck now runs
cooler according to the stock temperature gauge which now stays
below the halfway mark as opposed to slightly above it with the
electric fans. The fact that the stock shroud forces the fan to pull
air thru the entire radiator is probably a big part of the running
While I technically didn't have to
replace the expansion tank and radiator, the piece of mind knowing
the plastics on those two components was no longer 17 years old was
easily worth $124. About the time I was getting ready for a test
drive I noticed we had some cords showing on one of the front tires
where it had started to chunk. They must have been more dry
rotted than I thought. The tires in question were BFG AT's
(285-70's) on 18" rims and I had been planning to replace them with
some shorter tires and a set of 16" rims to improve all around
drive-ability on-road. Tires for 16" rims are also way cheaper and
available in load ranges more suitable for a lighter SUV like the
4Runner. The 18" BFG's were load range E and were pretty harsh
riding at road pressure.
I ended up ordering a set of 16"
aluminum wheels from FN wheels, 16 x 8" FN Five Star's in light
gunmetal to be exact. They were a simple, lightweight wheel
that matches the character of the 4Runner better than the typical
rims available from Tire Rack and Discount tire. Here's a few
pictures from the test fit to confirm they cleared my Tundra brake
calipers, I have the larger 231mm calipers and there is room to
For tires I went with a set of 265-75
Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac's which have very aggressive looking
tread design. These are Load range C which I had to have shipped in
from Nevada via Tire Rack after coming up blank for a local source.
I am really impressed with the ride
quality improvements of these tires. They are very smooth
riding at all speeds and track especially well at highway speeds.
Other than slight hum starting around 50mph you would think you were
riding on a street tire.
The rims have a slight bit of offset
(25mm) which makes for a nice stance when combined with the skinny
Duratracs. Using a tape measure I came up with roughly 10.5"
wide and 31" in height at 32psi. For reference the previous 285-75's
were 32.5" tall and almost 12" wide. You can definitely feel
the difference in weight and diameter when accelerating, this tire
size is a much better fit for our stock gearing.
The next thing that needed attention was
the dash. There were two pretty good sized cracks in it when
we purchased the 4runner which had swelled up about an inch above
the dash surface towards the middle of this summer. I had been
watching the classifieds and E-bay for a used dash with no luck.
Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon
a place that made vacuum formed covers:
http://coverlaymfg.com/ and after watching a YouTube video
showing one installed I decided to give it a try. I chose the
dark brown but I am almost thinking the light brown would have been
a better match for our faded interior.
To install the new
dash cover we had to trim any high spots in the old cracked dash with
a razor blade. Next, the dash is washed with an ammonia based
cleaner. The coverlay dash cover comes pre-cut so you just
have to apply a light bead of silicone around the perimeter of the
cover (a tube is supplied with the plastic cover).. The cover is then dropped onto
the old dash and requires a couple hours of drying time. We put
some weights on the cover to hold it down while the silicone dried.
Once done the dash looks much better.
Now it is time for some suspension improvements.
I actually already installed these Icon 3" lift adjustable coilovers in he above
tire pictures. I am not sure what coils are on the Bilstein front struts
that came with the truck but they rode very stiff and we couldn't get a good
alignment on the front end due to how tall they jacked up the front end of the
4Runner. From the looks of the spacer on top of the Bilstein I am almost
wondering if the old shocks give more than 3" of lift? I set the Icon shocks for approx. 2" of lift which gave the
4runner a slight forward rake and made the front CV angles look much better.
I have only taken the truck off-road once with the
new shocks. We ran some of the familiar roads back behind Lake Pleasant
and the change in handling was very noticeable. With these new shocks the
truck can carry quite a bit more speed over the bumps and washboard roads than
the Bilsteins. Most noticeably the Icon's have eliminated the harsh
bottoming we experienced with the old shocks. The rebound of the shocks
felt really good, I never got to a point where I felt the front shocks were
packing up, in fact I think I was the limiting factor and not the shocks. I
can't wait till I can afford to upgrade the rear shocks now.