I have been wanting to put a winch
bumper on the 4Runner for a while now but until last month had not
seen any bumper designs that I liked. Aesthetically I was
looking for a plate style bumper that didn't look bulky. I
have always felt the tube style bumpers have an unfinished look
about them, maybe because of all the suspension components they
expose. I stumbled across a thread on the 4Runner.org forum that
talked about adapting an All-Pro Offroad Apex bumper made for a
Tacoma for use on a 3rd gen 4Runner. The pictures I saw looked
appealing so I finally bit and ordered a bumper. Here's what it took
to get it installed.
Some before pictures. Going into
this I knew the Savage skid plate up front was not going to work
with the new bumper due to the elimination of the front frame cross
member it bolts to (more on that later). If you want a bolt on
solution, All-Pro offers a set of skid plates that will supposedly
work with this bumper. I figured I would adapt the Savage skid
plate to fit.
The bumper arrived and it looks like a
quality piece. There are braces where I would want them and
the welds all looked very well done. I purchased the optional
light bar protector but no other options. The bumper came with
two small turn signal lights which will mount in the outer light
holes. The inner set of holes are sized for a 4" driving
I pulled the front bumper off and set it
aside. The first step is to remove the cross member in front
of the radiator/AC condenser. I did this carefully with a
grinder and .06 thick cutoff wheel. Note the A/C hard line on the
driver side. While test fitting the bumper I noticed it was
going to interfere with the Apex bumper.
marked the bumper where the A/C line was going to hit and cut a
notch out of the bumper using my grinder and cutoff wheel. I was
able to then invert the cut out piece and re-welded to the bumper
making a pocket for the A/C line. I clearanced the bumper way more
than needed but wanted to error on the safe side.
Next, the two frame horns need to be cut
back 3". This measurement does not have to be precise (if you
install the frame caps as described below) and ended up being inline
with the factory weld for the front body mounts. These cuts are
required to get the bumper setting far enough back to line up with
all the mounting holes it requires to attach to the frame. In this
picture you will notice the nut that is welded to the body mount
tab. There is another nut behind the body mount and both of
these should line up with the outer tabs on the bumper. You
can also see the leading nut inside the frame rail, that and the nut
behind it are also used to mount the bumper. A cap is provided to
weld in the end of the frame rails which provides a 5th mounting
hole for each side (don't weld these in yet). While test fitting the
bumper I realized there was no way all 5 of these holes were going
to line up. Not sure of the frame is different on different
model year 4Runners but I knew some mods would be required to make
I ended up having to cut off the forward
mounting tab on the body mount which would allow the bumper to set
far enough back to be flush with the frame horns and allow the two
mounting holes on the underside of the frame to line up with their
respective mounting holes on the bumper.
At this point I could attach the bumper
via the 4 mounting holes on the underside of the frame. I
noticed there was room to get my welding torch in to the frame caps
to tack them in with the bumper bolted in position so that was the
route I went. The holes on the threaded frame caps are not centered
so test fitting the bumper is also the only way to get them lined up
with the holes in the bumper due to the fitting required to get the
frame caps nested in the frame (try sticking them in and you will
understand). So, once I had the frame caps fitted so they would slip
into the end of the frame I set them in the frame then the bumper
was lifted into position and attached via the 4 mounting holes on
the bottom of the frame rails. Next I installed the screws for
the front fame caps which pulled them flush with the front bumper.
Making sure the bumper was setting level with the bodywork (use a
Jack to hold it up if needed) I then tack welded the frame caps in
position by sticking my weld torch thru the 4" light holes.
The bumper was then pulled off again and
the frame caps final welded in place. You can also see the forward
facing tabs of the front body mounts are removed and some extra weld
thrown in for goof measure.
Here is a side view of the body mount.
Since neither tapped hole would line up with the slotted tabs on the
bumper I drilled a new 1/2" clearance hole thru both the bumper tab
and body mount bracket centered on the body mount bracket with the
bumper attached via the other 6 mounting holes.
With the bumper mounting completed
everything in the front end was painted flat black to blend better
with the bumper.
Now it was time to figure out how to
adapt my front Savage skid plate to work with this new bumper. With
everything in place there is a roughly 3/4" gap between the Savage
skid mounting flange and the bottom of the Apex bumper. The
All Pro bumper did come with a radiator guard that shares the 4
lower frame rail mounting bolts with the bumper.
After test fitting the All Pro supplied
radiator guard I decided the best course of action was to make a
hybrid front skid plate by notching the Savage skid to fit around
the All Pro radiator guard. The above pictures shows the Savage
front skid tack welded to the All Pro radiator guard.
Cutting the Savage skid to fit was
surprisingly easy. First I cut the front portion out using my
plasma cutter. I followed the welds where the front meets the
sides and then left 3/4" across the front edge. Next I drew a
vertical line down the center of the speed hole closest to the front
of Savage skid and then another line tangent with the bottom of that
first hole running forward. I then made a square cut along my
The finished hybrid skid plate after
At this point you would think the
fabrication would have been done but I overlooked the winch solenoid
pack. We proceeded to mount the winch and lights before
bolting the front bumper on for the last time. A few hours
later after some wiring I realized I did not have a spot for the
winch solenoid pack and the short wires it came with pretty much
dictated I was going to have to cut the bumper to make a spot. I was
able to extend the relief cut on the top of the bumper towards the
passenger side which allowed me to mount the solenoid pack using the
supplied bracket. I notched the grill to make plugging the
controller cable in easier.
The supplied turn signal is on the left.
I filled the 4" driving light holes with a set of Inspired
Engineering Revolver LED flood lights. They came complete
with a harness/relay/fuse holder and switch all ready to bolt in. I
had hoped to be able to use these as driving lights on the road but
they are way to bright and will be off-road only. A 19"
generic E-bay light bar sets on top of the bumper and is comprised
of a mix of flood and spot LED's.
I went a different route with the
switches and ditched the supplied ones for these Contura models
complete with legends. Minor filing of the stock switch mounting
holes was required to get these to fit in the dash.
The finished package.
If I had one complaint it would be that
the sides are set up for use with fender flares and since I don't
have flares there is a 2" gap between the back of the bumper and
wheel well. I may make a filler panel down the road to neaten
Along the way I also installed a battery
box since the factory hold down did not do a very good job holding
my AGM battery. The box is attached to the truck via 3 tabs that I
welded to the factory sheet metal, Due to its size I had to
come up with a smaller overflow bottle since the stock one would no
longer fit in front of the battery. I had this small
catch can left over from a previous buggy project, we will see if it
is big enough.