Suspension install on 3rd gen 4Runner (96-02)
The following will cover installing front coil springs and spacers and rear coil springs on any 1996-2002 4Runner. The job is rather simple, and the only specialty tools you need will be a coil spring compressor. You can rent one from AutoZone for free, or they sell them for $10 or so at Harbor Freight. I bought the coil springs from www.4x4connection.com. I chose heavy duty coils front and rear because I wanted a firm ride. The spacers came from http://www.cornfedsuspension.com/
My front setup includes OME 881 heavy duty coil springs, Cornfed 2" aluminum spacers, and Bilstein heavy duty shocks.
First thing you should do is spray all the bolts with some PB blaster. This stuff works wonders on stuck and rusted bolts. Just spray it and let it sit for a few minutes. Makes life easier.
Then raise the vehicle up and support it on jack stands. Make sure to lift it high enough that you can droop the lower a-arm assembly down far enough that it doesn't hit the ground. Then remove the wheels.
Next, compress the upper a-arm with the stock bottle jack. It give you that extra bit of room to wiggle the coilover assembly out. Here's what it looks like:
Next, unbolt the lower shock bolt. It's on there pretty tight, and space is limited. If you don't have an impact, you can use the stock lug wrench as a cheater bar, like so:
The shock bolt will be a little difficult to remove since its in there so tight. I had to hammer it out with a long screwdriver.
Now unbolt the 3 top outer bolts on the shock tower, making sure not to touch the inner one, which is the bolt for the shock itself. The coil over assembly will now be removed from the truck, like so:
Next is the fun part, compressing the coil springs enough to separate the spacer from the coil spring. Make sure you line everything up evenly, and work slowly compressing the springs, double checking the alignment as you go. If the compressor lets loose, it could fly off and injure someone. Theres a lot of force on the springs. Here's what it looks like:
Once the coil spring is compressed enough to be able to move the shock topper around, you can now unbolt the top shock bolt. Make SURE your spring is compressed enough, otherwise when you remove the nut from the shock shaft, the spring will compress and send the shock flying downard. Hold the shock shaft with a box wrench, and loosen the nut. Now its safe to SLOWLY release tension on the spring compressors, and remove the coil spring.
With the new coil removed from the shock, go ahead and compress it. You will have to compress it quite a bit more than you did the stock spring, as the new spring is a little bit longer and stiffer. Put the spacer on top, and keep test fitting it and compressing it until you can get the nut on the top shock stud. Tighten the shock stud down. SLOWLY remove the compressor. You are now ready to reinsall on the truck.
The new coilover/spacer combo will now be a little bit longer than stock, so it will be a little harder to get back in. Use your bottle jack to push the upper a-arm down a little further. Bolt the lower mount in first, and then the upper mount.
That's it! The front end is done.
My setup for the rear includes OME 891 heavy duty springs, JC Whitney 2" rubber coil spring spacers, (which are distorted and will be replaced with some billet aluminum spacers from Cornfed), and Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser bilstein shocks. I ended up with about 3 inches of lift.First, disconnect the sway bar by taking off the end link from the frame like so:
Next, jack the truck up under the axle, supported it on jack stands, and take off the wheels. Make sure its jacked up high enough so that the axle could droop down far enough to take the springs in and out without having to compress them.
Next, unbolt the lower shock mount from the axle. I had to take a screwdriver to the back of the shock, and pound on it to make it come free of the mount.
Then comes the fun part. The upper shock mount. I wanted to remove the shocks without damaging them so that in case I had to re-use them I could do so. Some people find it easier to just cut the shock off if they are not going to re-use it. But that wasn't the case here. There is so very little room to work with on the top bolt. The frame and body are right in your way, so you can barely fit your hand up there. Luckily I have small hands and fit a socket wrench up top. I then had to pull the shock boot down and expose the shock shaft. I then gripped the shock shaft with a pair of vice grips like so:
That method worked just fine for one side, but the other caused a problem. I got most of the second shock off, but then it got stuck, and the vice grips were just turning on the shock shaft, and could not get a firm grip. I tried and tried and tried, but I could not loosen, or even tighten, the shock. So that left me no other choices, but to either saw off the shock, or try to pull on the shock and snap the bolt clean off. Since I only have a 4" angle grinder, and I really didn't like the idea of a bunch of sparks near the gas tank, I decided to try to snap the bolt off. Well, that didn't work. I snapped half of the shock shaft off and left the rest there, like so:
So now I had to use a cheesy little hand saw to hack off the shock. See that little metal part at the top with the two bands? I had to hack that off with the saw in order to expose the part that needed to be hacked off so that the top bushings could be removed and pushed up and out of the top. Oh boy it was fun sawing that thing in such a tight cramped space! Took me a good long time, but finally it came off.
Anyways, next step is to get the old springs off of the truck. To do so, put your jack under one side of the axle and jack it up as high as it can go. This will allow you to remove the opposite side coil spring without having to compress the springs. Repeat this process for the other side.
After taking the JC Whitney spacer out, I noticed that it is kind of deformed, and probably not providing the 2" of lift it once did. I will soon replace it with a billet aluminum one, but for now I had to re-use it. Here's how it looked:
Next you will simply install the coil springs in their buckets in the same fashion you removed them. The spring should fit right in without compressing.
Next install the top shock stud into its mount. Space is limited here, so it helps to have small hands. You will probably have to get a pair of vice grips and grab ahold of the shock shaft so the whole shock doesnt spin when you tighten the nut, since there is no room to get a wrench of the top shock stud. Tighten it down just enough so the bushings compress slightly. Do not overtighten. Now let the axle hang down. Line up the lower shock mount with the shock. You will probably have to jack the axle back up into place so the shock lines up with the mount. Tighten everything up and your done!
Here's something optional if you are installing extra long shocks like I did. (not nessisary with stock shock sizes) There is a possibility of the springs literally falling out when I have the rear flexed out to the max. To make sure this doesn't happen, I chose to use some galvanized steel guy wire from RadioShack to attach the coil springs to their mounts. Doesnt look pretty, but it holds the spring in just fine. Maybe you can be more creative and fab up some metal brackets and bolt them in place. Here's how they turned out, bottom mount to the axle pictured first, then the upper mount on the frame:
You will also need to relocate the brake line bracket. I had a friend make an extension that simply lets me bolt it up a few inches higher. Unfortunatly, I did not take any pictures. Its pretty simple though. Easy to make, or you can purchase one.
That was it! Just put the wheels back, re-connect the sway bar end links, on and take it off the jack stands.
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