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Suspension Modifications Discuss modifications to Toyota's high-mounted, double wishbone front suspension and a 4-link rear suspension.

So you wanna lift your FJ... Read ME!


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Old 02-03-2011, 05:46 PM   #1
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Default So you wanna lift your FJ... Read ME!

Why should I lift my ride?

The first determination you need to make when considering suspension lift kits is what you want to do with it. There are essentially two main purposes for installing truck lift kits: style or function. Although the two are somewhat interrelated, it's still important to consider which purpose you most wish to pursue, as it will assist you in making the correct modifications to your vehicle.

Style:

When it comes to adding lift kits to make a style statement, looking good is the easy part. Sometimes it's easy to overlook general, everyday performance in the midst of decking out a ride. For this reason, choosing the right suspension lift kit with attention to comfort, reliability, durability, safety, and not to mention price, should be given just as much consideration as those precious inches you want to add.

Performance:

So you've made the jump into tuning your rig for the off-road world, and you're ready to take the plunge to invest in one of many truck lift kits. But before diving headfirst into a custom truck lift kit and gigantic tires, there are a number of issues to address to ensure a correct setup. The first step is to ask yourself what you will be doing the most, whether it's slow-speed rock crawling, high-speed desert racing, general purpose 4 wheeling, mud racing, or long distance open country treks. From there, you can narrow down what you need to do in order to customize your vehicle to suit your needs.

Whether you're just starting out, or you're the experienced professional, tuning your rig for optimum off-road performance is an expansive hobby with numerous factors to be wary of. The possibilities are limitless, which can sometimes make it hard to determine exactly which suspension lift kits are ideal for what you want.

Where do I begin?

As if determining which lift kit to purchase wasn't complicated enough, installing lift kits can alter other components in your vehicle, sometimes causing unforeseen issues that could affect performance or be potentially detrimental to the vehicle itself. For example, drive shaft length, steering geometry, brake lines, highway performance and handling, gear ratios, and overall weight are just a few of the factors that could potentially be impacted by adding a lift kit.

Finding ample resources to determine what products you need can be difficult. Speaking with a mechanic can provide some insight. Reading factory service manuals, off-road magazines, internet message boards, manufacturer's guides, and a number of other resources can help as well. But by far the most useful way to determine what lift kit is right for you and your vehicle is to consult an experienced and knowledgeable person who has a vehicle similar to yours and uses it in the manner similar to what you want to do. Not only can such a person suggest the correct products, but also likely has experience with installation tips and general drivability.

In the meantime, here are some of the basic elements of suspension lift kits for you to keep in mind as you plan your modifications.

What does a Suspension Lift Kit do?


Clearance

For starters, one of the foremost reasons for installing truck suspension lift kits is to raise the height of your ride off the ground to enable steeper ascent or descent off-road, and higher ground clearance. In general, it makes sense that when driving over boulders, slogging through mud, coasting across the desert, or even just making your way through the occasional forest trail, higher clearance facilitates negotiating certain obstacles. This can often be a tricky bit of artistry to manage, as higher clearance also raises your vehicle’s center of gravity, which can reduce handling.

Larger Tire Fitment

The general consensus suggests that larger tires equate to more traction, right? Well, not entirely. While larger tires may provide some improvement to traction in off-road conditions, there are other ways to improve a vehicle's traction that are far more efficient than simply bulking up the rubber. Aside from the obvious stylistic discretion, the main reasons for adding larger tires are for higher vehicle clearance for improved performance in mud, deep snow, rocks, and deeply rutted trails. Certain tires designed specifically for off-road conditions can improve traction depending on the circumstances, but the added clearance is the most immediate and direct benefit of larger tires.

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Installing Lift Kit Suspensions:
Many manufacturers offer manuals for installing truck lift kits onto certain vehicles; however, some installations are quite intricate, requiring some welding or cutting in order to add some necessary components. In this case, having a trusted mechanic or a few knowledgeable friends is the best resolution.
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Additional Modifications:
Upgrading to truck lift kits with taller tires also means that a number of components may require part upgrades or some tuning to compensate. For instance, a truck's engine is tuned at specific gear ratios to propel the vehicle. When adding taller tires, the gear ratios must be tweaked accordingly, since the engine has to spin much larger, heavier tires. Again, consult with more experienced individuals for further insight.
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Highway Performance:
Larger, wider tires can sometimes result in instability on roads or a noisy, uncomfortable ride, particularly at high speeds. Also, more aggressive off-road tires tend to wear faster on the highway, and traction might not be as great as you would expect on wet roads. In this sense, larger tires can sometimes be a gamble without any direction from an experienced off-road veteran.
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Weight:
larger tires are heavier, which can put a lot of strain on your suspension, particularly if it's a stock suspension. Trusted, durable suspension components and lighter aluminum wheels can sometimes help to reduce the strain.
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Handling:
Adding truck suspension lift kits will undoubtedly raise the vehicle's center of gravity, resulting in less stable turns. This is a common issue when installing truck lift kits, but is mostly just a matter of becoming accustomed to a vehicle's change in performance.
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Legality:
Some suspension lift kits are such a serious change in your suspension system that it may not be legal. Check the suspension regulations within your country, state, or province to be sure.
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A Few Useful Accessories:
Before installing a lift kit, it's a good idea to first examine if any components will be affected by your vehicle's new height. Here are a few useful accessories that may need to be upgraded:

* Brake Upgrades: Stock brakes can't always accommodate larger tires, or will wear easily due to the added strain.
* Drivetrain and Differential:
Axles, gears, differential covers, lockers and more ensure that your drivetrain is up to par with your suspension.
* Replacement Parts: Longer Control Arms and Track Bars to compensate for the additional height of your rig.
* Shock Absorbers: For those taller lifts, longer shocks will ensure the smoothest performance both on and off road.
* Other Parts: Steering linkage, slip yoke, drive shaft length, u-joint angle, and brake lines are all worthy of consideration before installing suspension lift kits.

I'm not here to advertise for any manufacturer or brand. It's important to find a set-up that is designed to work with your FJ. Many brands make specific FJ lift kits that cover a gamut of needs and or requirements. Icon is just the example I'll use. Icon offers suspension packages that are targeted to provide everything you need in one simple package. They offer entry level suspension upgrade packages starting around $1500 and advanced suspension upgrade packages that retail for about $4500.

The entry level package includes; front coil-over shocks that are tuned to compensate for the additional weight of other modifications. IE, bumpers, racks, winches, recovery gear, etc. It also includes rear shocks that are tuned to match the front coil-over shocks in every aspect. This package recommends a tire size of 285/75R16 which is perfect if you have the TRD or All-Terrain wheel set-up.

The Stage 5 package is the platinum suspension upgrade with top of line components to give the best possible over-all suspension upgrade. It includes
front Remote Reservoir Coil-over shocks matched with ICON Rear Piggyback shocks and coil-springs, along with the Billet Upper Arms and Billet Lower Links. Recommended tire size at 285/75R16, wheel 16X8 with 5" back spacing is once again perfect for the TRD or 16" All-Terrain wheels.

A simple internet search will point you in the direction of countless options and let your wallet and research be your guide. Reading build threads is a great way to do your research because you get to benefit from the experience of others. Many threads are full of photos so you'll know before you even open your wallet, what your rig will look like with this set up or that. It's important to be honest with yourself and decide what's best suited to your needs and not solely your aesthetic interests. A designated rock crawler doesn't make a good daily driver and remember, your FJ came off the lot with all the capabilities it needs to get you in and out of some hairy terrain!

Good Luck and Have Fun!
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:34 PM   #2
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Nice write up
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:39 AM   #3
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Very nice work Jack. Maybe you can do my taxes for me?
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:19 PM   #4
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Excellent!

When you do Cap'n's taxes send the refund to me.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:23 PM   #5
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Will do Tom.. but as of yet I don't think you pay taxes when you lay on your parents couch all day watching re-runs of Boy Meets World...
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:03 PM   #6
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haha, I can honestly say, I've never seen an episode of BMW (<--gay) in my life. And no, I lay on my couch, that I do not like, but the wife wanted.
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:06 PM   #7
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Oh well I stand corrected.. Gay prostitutes unfortunately don't pay taxes.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:27 PM   #8
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Yeah, we work under the governments radar.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:51 PM   #9
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Or... mostly everyone just tries to pretend you don't exist.
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Old 02-06-2011, 05:44 PM   #10
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Your mom doesn't pretend I don't exsist.
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