Lexus GX 470. Sliders, Rock Lights and Suspension upgrades.
When I bought this GX 470 everything was great except for the suspension. Paint is excellent, motor runs like a top, interior is nearly perfect (except for some of the interior lights) and it even had some very decent All Terrain tires. Everything was rosy, except for that suspension.
The rear air bags leaked and I knew it, and the shocks were pretty much non existent. Going down the highway you could feel the tires just bouncing all over the place. I knew I wasn't going to keep this suspension anyway when I bought it, but it's going to be a little time before I swap it all out for an RST front and rear three link setup, so I needed something that I could put on it that wasn't expensive, that provided a decent ride and put the vehicle back to stock level if not just a very mild lift.
I looked at all the "kits" out there for swapping out the rear air bags for coil springs since I wasn't going to go through the expense of replacing those factory air bags and I even ordered a kit but later canceled the order.
Most of the kits out there for the rear are fairly simple. Some coil springs, an isolator for the top of the spring and in some case's a mount for the bottom of the spring. Throw in some shocks for the rear and a new set of coil overs for the front and your done.
Kits started at around $250 and went up from there to over $5,000 depending on the type of shocks you get and whether or not you even replace them. You can get just the rear coil spring setup and be done with it keeping your stock shocks if you'd like. Mine were so shot and had never been changed since they were new in 2004 that keeping them wasn't an option for me if I was going to live with this truck for a few months.
With all of that in mind, I decided to make my own kit. First I got rid of the factory air bags and stuff.
Next I headed to my 2004 4Runner sport with the 4.7 V8 and got under it for a good look at it's suspension. It has the Xreas suspension that is still running very well, but I was more interested in how the rear coil springs were mounted and what kind of mount they had. To my surprise, they have the very same mount that the Lexus has. So why are company's selling a kit that has another mount for the lower portion of the spring on top of the axle when the factory saw fit not to have one? Since my 4runner drove so nicely I decided to just follow their lead. I mean heck, Toyota has more money and engineers than I do so why argue with them over something like this. I found some 4Runner springs from my good friends at DeMello-Offroad and made my own 1" lift mount and isolater for the top of the coil springs perch and placed the spring in the same place the air bags were. They aren't going anywhere and there is no need for another mount on the top of the axle.
After I got the springs installed and drove around for a day like that I knew I needed shocks now. I did some research and found that for what I needed for a few months at most, was a good riding system that wouldn't brake the bank. I landed on the Bilstein 5100 setup that allows for a mild lift while providing an excellent ride and great suspension component quality for a relatively modest price. I got this entire setup for under $500. Well under!!!
Then I ordered the KYB mount kit for the front coil overs because I knew the stock ones were probably toast. They cost about $25.00 each. You'll need a pair of them.
So, with the material to make the top mount for the coil springs at $12.00 and the material for the two isolaters at $6.00, the Bilstien kit for well under $500, but we'll say $500.00 for kicks and giggles, and another $50.00 for front coil over mounts, ( remember, I got the 4runner springs for free) ( I have since changed the rear springs from the stock 4runner springs to the Icon 2" lift springs because the 4runner springs proved too soft over time ) so my cost for this entire kit is less than $600.00. That's still less than the retail cost of just two air bags alone. I'm happy already.
For a similar kit I would expect to pay around $800.00 retail.
Now for the install. It was really simple. Took me about two hours to install it all. Now, keep in mind I have two full shops. One at my house and then the shop itself so its easy for me to do these jobs. I would expect the average back yard mechanic could do this job in about 4 hours.
First I did the rear springs and shock replacement. I pulled the old airbags out as well as the rear shocks. ( I didn't get any pictures of the rear shocks before I tossed them.) Lets just say they were old and leave it at that.
Then I installed the new/old 4Runner springs, the custom isolators and retainers I made and the Bilstein 5100 shocks. That was fairly easy. No drama there.
The lift amount this provided me was just at 1".
Next was the front. this was a little more difficult but still within the realm of the average garage mechanic.
First I took off the old shocks and springs. I would re-use the stock springs on the new setup.
Removing the front coil overs can be a problem if you don't know what your doing. There are a couple of small 4mm Allen bolts holding the electronic components to the top of the shocks that need to come off first and the rear Allen bolt can be a pain. It's best to spin the shock around a bit to get that rear Allen bolt out Patience and the right tools is the way to go with these little gems. I actually took a 4mm L shaped Allen wrench and cut down the small side so it would fit better in the wheel well since there is so little room to work in.
Once you get the electronics off, the rest of the coil over removal process is the same as any other Toyota IFS 4wd vehicle.
Now to the front Bilstein shocks. These have multiple settings for lift or ride height. I choose the .85" setting for mine since I didn't want much of a lift yet. Worked perfect. For those that are worried about the little "C" clip holding the spring seat for these shocks you shouldn't worry. Have you seen the welds on the stock shocks?!? Those I would be worried about. The "C" clip type of system has been used for years without an incident of failure.
I used the stock GX springs after I cleaned them up a bit and assembled them onto the Bilstein shocks.
NOTE: You'll need to use a spring compressor to get the coil springs off of the old coil overs then I installed them onto the new Bilstein shocks.
Once the Bilstein coil over system was completed I installed them onto my GX.
Since I removed all of the air bags and electronic suspension on the GX I had that blinking off light. To get rid of it I just pulled the 10 amp fuse for the TEMS unit under the dash and the 50 amp fuse for the air compressor in the engine compartment. No more lights.
Next I needed to get it aligned and since I can't do that at my shop I took it to my good friends at Discount tire in Huntington Beach.
If your in the area go see Art and tell him Wyatt from RockSolidToys sent you. He is a great guy.
You can't see it in the pictures but I had them add caster when they did the alignment to move the front tires forward a bit to help clear the the back side of the wheel opening. This is one thing I always do when adding lift to the front of an IFS vehicle.
After the alignment I took it for a ride. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! The ride was smooth and controlled. No more bouncing of the wheels and the rear was now under control in turns instead of swinging wildly like it did before. No more bottoming out on small speed bumps and dips.
Now, I don't know what these things drove like with the stock suspension functioning properly, but I can say that this system is driving and riding far better than the stock system in my 2004 4Runner does. It's smooth yet firm when needed and it's precise. Going around corners is fun now and surpasses what the sport edition 4Runner does. To say I'm pleased is an understatement. This thing drives REALLY nice.
With the suspension under control it's now time to get to the sliders.
DeMello-Offorad is the foremost producer of bumpers, sliders, and suspensions components supply than any other for your Toyota product, and that includes your GX470 as well. With that in mind I went to my good friend Jason for some of his sliders for the GX. He didn't have any for the GX 470 so we used the Hybrid sliders for the 4th Gen 4Runner and they worked perfectly. We welded them on but you can bolt them on as well.
The GX 470 comes stock with running boards along the side that have courtesy lights that come on when you open the doors. We took the running boards off to install the sliders and in doing so we lost the little lights.
This is a great time to add some rock lights under there so we kept the wiring harness for those lights and used them to add some rock lights that come on when you open the doors and we can also control them now with a switch in the cabin.
So there you have it. Suspension, Sliders and Rock Lights. All pretty simple modifications that you can do in your garage or driveway.
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Thanks again, RockSolidToys