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Toyota IFS Truck - Rock-Ready

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on January 1, 2005 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Jesse KatzSean Estes
Photographers: Sean Estes

The off-road performance of '86 and newer IFS Toyota trucks leaves a lot to be desired, especially when compared to the earlier-model straight-axle trucks. We prefer to build our trails rigs with straight-axles too, but wondered if we could build a more versatile long-travel IFS setup that would perform well off-road without compromising the ride quality or on-road ride quality.

Total Chaos Fabrication of Corona, CA, has been building desert-racing-inspired IFS systems for over a decade. Their Gen. II Caddy Kit for '86-95 4WD Toyota trucks increases wheel-travel and tire clearance with minimal suspension lift to improve high-speed off-road performance. The Chrom-Moly upper and lower A-arms are extended 3.25" per-side and use 2.5x8" stroke coil-over shocks to dampen 12" of wheel-travel without eliminating four-wheel drive. The setup clears 33" tires (with fiberglass fenders) and is adjustable to achieve anywhere between 2-4" lift. As a secondary benefit, these suspension modifications actually improve the ride quality and the truck should handle better than stock. We ordered a Gen II Caddy Kit from Off-Road Warehouse to install on a '89 4Runner to compare the performance of an IFS overhaul to a straight-axle conversion.

All of the components included in the Total Chaos Gen II Caddy Kit are shown here. To complete the installation we ordered a pair of Sway-A-Way Racerunner 2.5x8" remote reservoir coil-over shocks and two 500x18" Eibach coil-springs. These race-quality coil-over shocks should allow us to really dial-in the spring-rate and shock-valving for a great ride and improved performance on/off-road.

Stock Suspension
Removing the stock suspension components on any older truck is a wild card. Almost every bolt and bushing in the front-end of our truck was seized in place. After removing the shocks from our `89 4Runner, we still couldn't cycle the stock suspension through its limited range of travel because the factory bushings were so worn-out and dried-up that they were holding the suspension in place.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow

Replacing the stock torsion bars with coil-overs (retaining 4WD) is one of the most distinguishing features of the Gen II Caddy Kit and provides enthusiasts with a much wider selection of spring-rates. We selected a pair of 3.0 x 18-inch x 500lb coil-spring for our application. 16-inch coil-springs are often used with 8-inch stroke shocks, but most 16-inch springs over 450lb have less than 8 inches of spring compression, which would result in coil-bind. This meant we had to use 18-inch coil-springs in order to get enough spring compression from free length. The 18-inch springs needed to be compressed about 3/4-inch just to fit onto the shock, which meant that there was no more room to adjust the preload/ride-height. Luckily the final ride-height settled to exactly what we were looking for: about 3 inches over stock.

PhotosView Slideshow

Wheel/Tire Selection
We chose to use 33x10.5-inch BFG Mud Terrain tires, mounted on 15x8-inch forged aluminum wheels from Alcoa with 4.5 inches of backspacing. This is absolutely our favorite tire size for compact IFS pickups. These 10.5-inch wide tires are noticeably lighter than 33x12.5-inch tires. The reduced un-sprung weight improves acceleration, braking and handling without compromising traction off-road.

Completed Installation
The Total Chaos coil-over Caddy Kit is just as expensive and almost as time-consuming to install as a properly done straight-axle conversion, but this is not a second-rate upgrade. Our completed 4Runner only sits 3 inches higher and 6.5 inches wider than stock, cycles 12 inches of vertical wheel-travel and clears 33-inch tires.

Our initial impression is that we're going to enjoy the improved ride-quality, handling and all-around performance of this versatile setup. We're planning to install a pair of Deaver leaf-springs in the rear along with a pair of 2.5x12" remote reservoir Sway-A-Way Racerunner shocks and then enjoying the drive on our way to the trail.


Eibach Springs
Corona, CA 92879
Off Road Warehouse
San Diego, CA 92111
BF Goodrich Tires
Glassworks Unlimited
Total Chaos
Trails Less Traveled


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