How to Choose the Right 4x4 Modifications

These days the market for suspension and wheel/tire options for your Toyota or Lexus performance and offroad upgrades and products are seemingly endless. Choosing the right 4×4 modifications for you can be a difficult decision, but we are here to help! We will go over some things to consider about how you are going to be using your vehicle, and suggestions about what you can do to accomplish your goals.

White Toyota Classic 4Runner

What will you be using the vehicle for?

The first major thing to consider when selecting a suspension system and 4×4 modifications is what you want to do with it. Is it going to your main base camp? Or is it just transportation to your actual adventure? Is the goal to offroad, or is the only season you are off-road is to get somewhere? What types of terrain do you see yourself encountering on your planned journeys? Let’s start with someone who just needs their vehicle to get them to let’s say a remote trailhead.

Toyota Truck Bilstein 5100 front and rear shock kit

For an application like this, we would recommend a simple Bilstein 5100 front and rear shock kit, reusing the stock front springs and a simple add-a-leaf in the back. This will make the truck much more comfortable on long rough dirt roads, have plenty of clearance for mild obstacles, and still have very much the same driving characteristics of a stock vehicle. We would also select a wheel that is close to a factory offset and size, and a 31-32” tire.

The next type of person we will consider is someone who will be doing more overland type travel or vehicle-based adventuring. These types of vehicles are going to be carrying lots of extra weight, so some special considerations must be made.

Toyota 4 Runner Upgrades

For this 4×4 modification, we would recommend the Toytec 3.0 Toytect 3.0 VS Series or the Dobinsons front coil-over kit with a differential drop to ensure that the CVs stay at an acceptable angle. The next item we recommend in the front would be an SPC adjustable upper control arm. This allows us to have precise control over camber and caster alignment angles as well as giving us more droop or down travel in the suspension as the SPC ball joint allows for a higher operating angle. Now onto the rear. There are several ways to do this depending on budget and what vehicle we are working on. Let’s start with a leaf-sprung pickup. The cheapest way to add some extra load carrying capacity is going with the ICON 1.5” leaf expansion pack. This would be best suited to a truck on 33” tires. The next option would be going to a complete replacement heavy-duty leaf pack. We have found the Deaver leaf packs best suited to these trucks as they are made from scratch for your vehicle and load-carrying needs. Either of these would be paired with a high-quality shock from either Toytec or Dobinsons. Now if we are working on a coil-sprung rear suspension SUV, we use only Dobinsons Rear coils as they offer many different rates tailored to the weight of your vehicle. This is also paired with the same shock options as above. With this setup, we can run up to a 35” tire with a body mount chop.

How to Lift Jeep Grand Cherokee

The next Setup we will consider is the hardcore offroader. This person is using their vehicle strictly for difficult trails, and technical offroading. Strength and articulation are required here.

Lifted Toyota TRD Offroad Gray Mud

For this application, we would recommend the Total Chaos long travel kit. This is a high dollar kit, but absolutely the best on the market. This is not for everyone though. Most joints are replaced with a heim (bearing) joint, which is loud and requires lots of maintenance. Most of the suspension is replaced, and new heavy-duty CV axles are installed.

Now we move on to tire size choice. Some of this is a personal preference, but there are some things to consider before deciding.

Toyota 4runner before and after lift kit

For the weekend warrior going to the hills to camp and hike, a 31-33” tire will be more than enough to get that 4×4 modifications job done. For someone who is going to be doing more technical offroading, we will push you towards a 34-35” tire. This is a stopping point for most folks because once you get into the 35” tire range, you are going to be looking at regearing your axles so your truck still has enough power to get up the hills. Most Toyotas will also need what we call a body mount chop with anything over a 33” tire. We cut off a small section of the frame just behind the front wheel and weld on a new plate to clear larger tires.

Toyota Frame Cut for large tires

The 35-37” tire is just about maxed out for these trucks. Regearing is required at this point, and we start to worry about the CVs and rear axles. We exclusively use East Coast Gear Supply to do all of our re-gearing.

Brown Toyota Tacoma TRD Custom Lifted 4x4 Modifications

I hope this has helped you make your decision! And if not, you are always welcome to drop us a line at the mechanic shop where we do performance and offroad upgrades and we can chat about your personal goals, and what we can do to help you accomplish your custom 4×4 modification needs!