Project 4Runner

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It has been over 6 months since my last update and the 4Runner is still chugging along with 314000 miles on the clock.  Been doing some light off-roading and a lot of weekend errands in the 4Runner and as far as the shocks go they were worth the price of admission.  With the shock upgrade the 4Runner may be our best riding car, besting my 2010 328i Coupe when it comes to handling the pavement bumps. The shocks really cleaned up the body roll so the 4Runner feels very smooth and controlled on-road.  Off-road the shocks soak up the bumps very well and have virtually eliminated any hint of the suspension bottoming out at moderate speeds to high speeds. I would honestly say the driver runs out of skill before the truck runs out of suspension which is what you want in an upgrade like this.

The next upgrade was a complete set of lower skid plates from Savage Off-Road.  Our 4Runner was missing all the stock skid plates making the radiator a juicy target for rocks so this is a long overdue upgrade.

After brushing on some gloss black rustoleum paint we installed the skid plates starting from the back and moving forward.  The only issues to note were needing to remove a few of the brackets hanging off the stock transfer case to clear the rear skid plate. We also had some difficulty getting the slots on the front skid plate to line up with the factory cross member holes.  I ended up having to leave one bolt out.  Overall I feel a lot better about taking the 4Runner  off-road now that the radiator, steering rack, steering hoses, oil pan, transmission pan and transfer case are shielded.

The next project was a light duty roof rack. After a lot of research and weighing build vs. buy I ended up purchasing this universal Rola cargo basket from for two reasons. Reason number one was cost: at $184.95 shipped to my door this rack was easily the most economical solution out there.  Reason number two was the option to easily extend the rack another 18" if desired using this off the shelf extension. The base rack itself measures 52" long x 40.5" wide x 6" deep, ships as two pieces which slide together and is rated for 130lbs.  The optional extension installs in the middle of the two base components. These dimensions set it perfectly over the 4Runners stock roof rails side to side and between the sunroof and rear gate front to rear.  If you have no sunroof or cut a 2 bars you could have the extension overhang the factory sunroof if desired.

The Rola basket comes with mounting brackets which allow you to clamp the basket to the factory cross bars.  MY 4Runner didn't come with the factory cross bars and I didn't want the cargo basket mounted that high anyway so a different solution was in order. After some mock up work I determined I wanted the basket approximately 1" above the roof.

My mounting bracket solution came from Surco.  Channel adapter set #CH100 includes 4 of the above mounting brackets and hardware to interface with the cargo channel on the roof of the 4Runner. The link is to Amazon but they can also be found on E-bay for roughly $50 for a set of 4.

These brackets line up pretty close to the lower bar of the cargo basket so they will work with a few modifications.

The stock angle on the bracket is roughly 60 degrees.  I cut the welds almost all the way thru and bent the bracket so it is 90 degrees to the table. Next I trimmed off the top of the bracket so the overall height is 1".

Next, I welded a piece of 1 x 1 steel angle to the top of the Surco bracket to create a ledge for the basket to sit on.  The angle was positioned with the vertical face on the inside for appearance. Either way the piece of angle fully supports the weight of the basket and prevents the basket from moving side to side so I just needed to add some hose clamps to hold the basket down.  This setup allows you to install 8 clamps, one on each side of each bracket.  To make them look cleaner I installed some black shrink tubing over the exposed section of the hose clamps.  

The finished product is low and rock solid for a budget of under $250.

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