& Brake Modifications
I drive my 4Runner
mainly on paved surfaces. I simply do not need all of
the off road capability and wanted to make it handle
better in the road. Here is a list of what I have
done in the order in which I made the modifications:
springs and Bilstein shock absorbers:
I ordered a set of one-inch
lowering springs from Performance Products and a set of Bilstein shocks. I made a trip to my
Brothers shop in Bethesda and had him give me a
hand with the installation. It is really nice to have
access to a lift!
To replace the rear springs the
vehicle has to be lifted with all of the weight off
of the rear axle. The shocks are removed and the rear
sway bar is disconnected. This gives plenty of room
to pull the rear springs out and install the new one.
The new shocks are bolted in and the sway bar
reconnected. Done with the rear.
The front is a little more
difficult. The stock shock/spring (AKA coil over)
assemblies are removed and then a spring compressor
must be used to disassemble the assembly. The top
portion is reused on the new assembly.
The new spring is placed on the
new shock body then compressed to the point the top
spring seat can be attached to the shock. Then the
assembly drops into the vehicle. I then had the front
The set up dropped the vehicle
about ¾ of an inch. I think it would have been the
full inch if the stock shocks were reused. The
Bilstein have a higher gas rebound pressure
(resistance to compression) than the stock shocks and
I think that accounts for the ¼ inch difference.
The overall road manners were
drastically improved. It corners much better with a
much better feel of the road. Before installation the
rear in would "skip" in turns with an
uneven surface. It also would get jittery"
hitting potholes and uneven pavement joints at
highway speeds. All of that is corrected and the
4Runner is much more stable at high speeds and during
evasive maneuvers. I am very impressed with the
additional control this setup provides, and highly
recommend it to anyone who wishes better road manners
out of their Road Runner. If you decide not to
install the springs, I would still install the
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Due to some very
"spirited" driving I overheated my brakes
and cause the front disks to warp. I never really
like the over all performance and feel of the stock
brakes and wanted to change that.
I ordered a set of TRD Carbon
Metallic brake pads from TRD NW and a set of Power Slot gas slotted
rotors from Performance Products. Installation was a snap and took about
40 minutes. It is very important that the wear in
procedure is followed for the pads.
I did notice right away that
there was a drastic improvement in the braking. After
a couple of days of wearing in the new brakes, I
decided to see how well they did. In no uncertain
terms,,, WOW! There is a big difference in braking
performance. I can not say whether it is the pads,
the rotors, or the combination that made the big
difference. I am very happy with the new brakes. I
have over 14,000 miles on them and I am still
The TRD pads do generate more
dust than the stock pads. I talked to Ron about
it and he recommended a wheel cleaning product from
Blue Coral called Self Clean Tire and Wheel Cleaner.
I ran out to the store and got some. He is right,
this stuff is great. If it is one thing that Ron
knows about, it is how to keep a 4Runner clean.
The TRD brake pads are made by Performance Friction.
You can get almost the same brake pads from
Auto Zone for $36. Performance
Friction part number 5024. The only difference is a slight change
in the wear indicator on the inboard pad. This slight
change was made so the TRD would have an exclusive
only pad that no ones else could get. BIG DEAL. I
just put these pads in my truck and they are the same
thing and about half the price. The real nice thing
is that Performance Friction gives a LIFETIME
warranty so you never have to buy another set. When
you wear them out you trade them in for brand new
Performance Friction entered into an exclusive
marketing agreement with TRD. This gave TRD the exclusive
marketing rights under their TRD label for the 4Runner/Tacoma
applications. If you go to Auto Zone and ask for Performance
Friction Carbon Metallic pads for the 4Runner/Tacoma you will find
that there is nothing listed.
They do have a listing for the 96 Land
Cruiser. It is the pad that TRD sells for the 4Runner/Tacoma
with only a small change in the wear indicator. I was told by
the head guy at Performance Friction that the Land Cruiser pads will
drop right into the 4Runner/Tacoma and it does. Ask for part
number 5024 and if they ask what you are putting them in for the
lifetime warranty paperwork, tell them a 96 Land Cruiser and you
will be in good shape.
I really liked the slotted rotors, but they are more
then twice the cost of OEM rotors. I also found that
when they warp, they will warp again very soon after
they are turned. I switched back to OEM rotors and I
get them from Conicelli
Toyota for about $50
each when I buy them 4 at a time. When they warp they
go in the trash and I pop in a new rotor. I think in
the long run I will save money this way.
I installed a set of braided
stainless steel brake lines from SMC Products
(949-369-5223). The new brake lines give a firmer
feel to the brake pedal over the stock lines. Steve
at SMC covers the brake lines with a heat shrink
covering in your choice of colors. I chose yellow to
match my springs and shocks.
the the Right Front brake line
rear brake line connection on the rear diff
After installing the lines I
flushed the fluid using a one man brake flushing kit.
I helped Ron
install his lines and we used the two man method to
flush the brake fluid. It turned out so much better
then mine, I went back and reflushed mine using the
two man method. It turned out much better. So I
recommend the two man method to flush the brakes.
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I wanted still better on road
handling and ordered a set of Addco sway
bars through TRD NW.
They were on backorder for about eight months.
Apparently Addco had some problems at their factory
The stock front bar is 1 inch
and the Addco replacement is 1 1/4 inches. The stock
rear bar is 3/4 inch and the Addco replacement is 1
inch. It does not sound like much of a difference,
but it really makes a big difference in the way the
The front bar can be easily
installed while the vehicle sits on the ground. It
took me about 40 minutes to install it, not hard at
all. The rear one requires a lift so that the rear
axle can be dropped enough to fish out to old bar and
slip in the new one.
TRD NW talked me into not using
the bushings that come with the bars from Addco. They
recommended that I get graphite-impregnated bushings
from Energy Suspensions. I got the sway bar bushings
and end link bushings. The sway bar bushings and
brackets fit the front bar work just fine. You will
need to replace the four bolts on the front bar
brackets and they are not included in the Addco kit.
You will need 4 bolts (8x1.5 x25mm), washers and
nuts. The stock bushing clamps use captive hardware
that can not be reused. The Energy Suspension end
link bushing can not be used on the front bar. They
are to thick and will not allow you to install the
retention nut. The Energy Suspension sway bar
bushings can not be used on the rear bar because the
holes in the brackets will not line up with the
mounting hole in the rear axle.
Overall the bars are a snap to
install if you have a lift for the rear bar
installation. I recommend that you just use the Addco
bushings that come in the kit and dont spend
the extra money on the Energy Suspension bushings.
With a little work you can make the Energy Suspension
bushings work if you just want to upgrade the
bushings without upgrading he bars. The stock front
bar ends are thinner and the Energy Suspension end
link bushings will work with the stock bar. The
Energy Suspensions rear bar bushing brackets will
require some grinding to get them to fit the axle
The new sway bars did for the
handling what the TRD supercharger did for the
performance. It is a substantial improvement. The
truck corners absolutely FLAT. I have not been able
to detect any bad manners that the sway bars may
induce. I just can not describe how good my 4Runner
feels when I drive it. It handles better than some of
the so called "performance cars" I have
I highly recommend the Addco
sway bar upgrade and I am very glad I waited all the
time it took to get them.
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