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New Shocks and Springs: 2003 Toyota 4Runner

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4th Gen Toyota 4Runner Shocks and Springs

I purchased my 2003 Toyota 4Runner 5 years ago and have been driving on its stock suspension since. After seeing tons of lifted 4Runners online, I finally made the plunge. A lifted 4Runner provides a really nice looking stance; many say this is how the car should have come from the factory.

I didn’t want to just lift the 4Runner just for the sake of looks alone. If I were to have the suspension upgraded, I would patiently wait until I felt the shocks and struts were in need of replacement.

My car has really been through a lot; I’ve used it to haul furniture, dirt, concrete—you name it.  The 4Runner could probably go on for many years with the same suspension, but I felt it was getting incredibly soft. I decided after 5 years of driving on the same stock suspension, it was time for a change.

Which Lift Configuration To Go With?

I debated on whether I’d want to go for a full 3″ lift, but there were a few things that kept me from going that route. First, I was worried it might make the car too high for my family to get in and out of, so I thought a more mild lift would be a better choice. The other issue had to do with the possibility of having to replace other parts: upper control arms (might need aftermarket UCA’s due to the caster being out-of-alignment), brake lines (they could stretch from the increased height), and sway bar relocates (due to possible contact between front coils and front sway bar).

To avoid these issues, I decided to go with a smaller lift that would raise my vehicle about 2″ all around. This would require the Bilstein 5100 shocks with the front adjustable shocks set to 0.85″, and FJ Cruiser OEM springs all around. This setup eliminates the factory rake (front end of car lower than the back end) and most closely evens out the final rake of the vehicle.

FJ Cruiser springs are a tad stiffer than the 4th gen 4Runner springs. I also like the fact that they are OEM parts. The thing I did not like was the fact that they were difficult to procure. They are difficult to find on forums as people will snatch them up the moment they are for sale. New OEM springs are pretty expensive.

Since I couldn’t find any used FJ springs, I shelled out some money to pay for the new springs. This just gave me reassurance that I wouldn’t be getting some used springs that I could not verify the mileage of.

These are the parts that I purchased:

4runner 4th gen suspension bilstein 5100 shocks

Front Bilstein 5100 Ride-Height Adjustable Shocks (Part #24-239370) – Qty 2
Rear Bilstein 5100 Shocks (Part #33-187174) – Qty 2

Full set of Bilstein 5100 front & rear shocks on: Amazon.com
Search Results for Bilstein 5100 front & rear shocks on: eBay.com

4runner 4th gen suspension fj springs

 

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs strut mounts 4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs strut mounts

Moog Front Strut Mounts – Qty 2

For miscellaneous parts, I did research to see if I should use aftermarket parts in place of OEM parts. In the case of the strut mounts, I came to the conclusion that Moog strut mount assemblies were adequate. I purchased these off RockAuto.com, which is an excellent and well-priced solution for these types of products.

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs oem reboot kit

OEM Re-boot Kits (Part #: 04427-60141) – Qty 2

I noticed that my 4Runner had some torn CV boots. I explored the option of replacing the entire axle shaft (half shaft), but the OEM option was incredibly pricey. Aftermarket axle shafts were more affordable, but I could not find a universally recommended one.  What scared me was the fact that all aftermarket axle shafts available for this vehicle, had some horror story of it snapping off while they were driving on it.

OEM re-boot kit on eBay.com

Because I could see that the boot had not been torn for an extended period of time, I thought it would be cost-effective to buy an OEM re-boot kit and have my mechanic remove the old boot and grease, clean it all up, and re-grease and re-boot the axle shaft. If a lot of dirt had gotten into the boot causing grittiness within the axle shaft, I would have shelled out the money to replace the half shafts with OEM ones instead. I was lucky in this case.

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs seals

Axle Shaft Oil Seal – Passenger Side (OEM Part #90311-47013) – Qty 1
Purchase on Amazon.com: Genuine Toyota 90311-47013 Type-T Axle Shaft Oil Seal
Search results on eBay.com

Axle Shaft Oil Seal – Driver Side (OEM Part #90311-47027) – Qty 1
Purchase on Amazon.com: Genuine Toyota 90311-47027 Type-T Axle Shaft Oil Seal
Search results on eBay.com

Because the half shafts were going to be taken out of the vehicle, I figured why not replace the axle shaft oil seals on each side. For the additional cost of these seals, it gives me comfort knowing that I won’t have to worry about it leaking in the future, and in-turn having to remove both sides’ axle shafts in order to get to them.

All of the new parts ready to go in!

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs

Stock Parts Removed

Here are the removed axle shaft oil seals. They still look like they are in decent shape, but it’s better to get these taken care of while they are already accessible.

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs seals  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs seals

Over 200 thousand miles on these stock 4Runner shocks and springs.

4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs

Before: Stock Ride Height

4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs
4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs
4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs
4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension stock shocks springs

After: Lifted on FJ Springs & 5100 Bilstein Shocks (Front Shocks Set at 0.85″)

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs
4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs
4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs
4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs

Lift Height Comparison

When trying to decide what exact lift height I wanted on my 4Runner, I scoured the web for photos of different configurations and what they looked like. I hope this comparison helps those who are looking at comparing what different setups look like. Below are the following lifts:

Left: Stock shocks & stock springs
Center: 
FJ Cruiser springs and Bilstein 5100 shocks all around – 0.00″ height setting on front shocks
Right: FJ Cruiser springs and Bilstein 5100 shocks all around – 0.85″ height setting on front shocks

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs

4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs  4runner 4th gen suspension shocks springs

Scott enjoys fixing and improving cars, motorcycles, and his home in his spare time. He does his best to transcribe his journey as he navigates across unknown territory, finds himself in peculiar predicaments, and figures out how things work in the process.

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