The $4K 4Runner: Part 1

    Lifting A Toyota On The Cheap

    Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

    Toyotas have a reputation for being tough and reliable, and they command a premium price as a result. Our newest project, the $4K 4Runner, is the exception. Its torsion-bar front suspension and bloated body make it less than ideal for trail use. But this Toyota only cost us $1,000 since it came with a blown head gasket when we bought it. This is a common problem on these 3VE 3.0L engines, which has earned them the nickname 3.slow. A few clicks on RockAuto.com and we had the parts we needed to replace the head gaskets and were back on the road for another $800. Not a bad initial investment for a clean wheeling rig, but we still aren’t going to try and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Why call it the $4K 4Runner? The goal is to make this Toyota more capable on the trail without sacrificing road manners, and to do it with a budget of $4,000 for aftermarket modifications. That means we don’t have the cash for a solid axle swap right now, and we don’t want to invest a bunch of money into IFS lift either, knowing that it will likely get cut off in the future. So we used a variety of products that moderately boost the 4Runner to make enough room for 33-inch tires without breaking the bank.

    Part Price
    4Crawler 1-Inch Body Lift: 78
    4Crawler Ball Joint Spacers: 99
    Daystar Low Profile Bump Stops (3 pair): 27
    Daystar Rear Coil Spacer: 85
    Rancho RS90000XL Shocks: 445
    BFGoodrich 33x10.5R15 Tires (5): 745
    Samco Fabrication Tire Mounting and Balancing: 50
    Sunshine Service Alignment: 99
    Total: 1628

    Measuring Up

    Approach Angle (°) Departure Angle (°) Ground Clearance (at rear diff, in)
    Before 42 27 9.25
    After 52 35 10.50