By Johnny Lange - Wild Yoats Toyota 4x4 Association


Hello there new Toyota 4x4 owner! Interested in building your Toyota for some serious fun on the rocks? Well hopefully this simple straight to the point article will give you some direction as far as different options you will be looking at and the costs involved. The prices you see reflect only the price of the part. If you will be needing a mechanic or professional installation, then you will need to think about this heavy cost as well. My recommendation: read, learn, and do it yourself. Itís a lot cheaper this way. Before you buy anything, get a copy of John Muir's How to Keep Your Toyota 4x4 Alive for the Complete Idiot. This is a great book with a lot of information and comical information. Muir tells it as is and is not so "dry" in doing so.

Here you will find basic information on what it takes to build a decent trail rig for Rock Crawling and or getting there on the road with it. I'm not talking rock buggy here, I'm talking a rig that is road worthy and could be used as a everyday driver. If you are building a rig for mudding, pre-running, or other driving then you will need to find another how-to article to read. The following components I talk about are mainly for the type of trails we run at Wild Yoats.

Disclaimer- When I first got into this hobby, many friends told me what to get and what to stay away from. I learned from this. At times the hard way, spending money on items that I will need to spend more money on later. Yes, it may be cheaper now, but will it be cheaper in the long run? Probably not. Trust me, spend a little more now and you will be happier in the long run.

Furthermore, I wrote this article based on my opinion and experience with over 14 years of fourwheeling. Some people might disagree with a product, if they do, then great, have them write their own article!! Welcome to my world. :-) (donít mean to sound arrogant here).

Also, my theory is at times, the less the better. The more you tweak a vehicle, the more you have to fix later ( to a certain degree). Do you want to have fun on the trail or do you want to be screwing with everything?

Letís get started. Hereís the food:


Many and all different Toyota 4x4's are extremely capable to being killer four wheelers. However some are more desired. In a nut shell, 1985 is the year to have. Why? Last year of the solid axle and first year of the EFI. Although any of the 79-85 trucks and 4runners are great. These days, there are a lot of folks switching their 86 and up IFS (Independent Front Suspension) to solid axle. This way they have a nicer ride, a little more comfort or power from the V6 and extreme off road capability. The drawback, more money spent on other things you could have spent it on. Not to mention, you REALLY need to know what your doing on a axle swap otherwise your in for quite the treat or hospital stay.



Is it absolutely necessary to do a whole rebuild? Maybe so if your engine is weak and worn out. Nobody likes being behind a stinky smoking vehicle on the trail. Will you need the extra power? Probably yes it would be nice BUT NOT necessary if you have proper gearing. I have run many rigs out there with little or no engine mods done on them. But, there are a few little things you could do to get a little more oomph out of your engine.


K & N Filter, $35
Header $ 200-300, with 2 1/4" (yes thatís the size you want) piping and muffler
Jacobs Electronics ignition $300
Racing Cam $100 - 200

Note- Think about the muffler you buy. Yes you can get something that "sounds" cool, but trust me, this will give you a migraine after being on the trail all day long. I personally like the quieter "Turbo" style mufflers.



No doubts about it, you will need larger tires to be out on the trail. I won't BS anyone here, most people are running 35's. Yes some still run 33's with great luck, and some are going to 37's as well. The larger the heavier, the heavier the more strain, the more strain, the more breakage. Get it? Go bigger if you want, but plan on upgrading more drive train components.

Price $130-200 each

Some popular tires to consider for ALL ROUND driving and great off road traction:

Big O XT
Goodyear MTR
BF Goodrich AT or MT



Rims- You want cheap? You canít beat the black rockcrawler style rims. They are stout and I think look the best. 15X8 or 15X10 are the most popular sizes to get. Price $30-45 each






Yes you can fit 33's without a body lift and a 3" or 4" suspension lift. If you go larger in tire, you will need a 2 or 3 inch body lift. Most people I know run a 2" Body lift, itís most common. Price $70-$85







Ok, hereís the beef. Yes, you can spend less for suspension but you get what you pay for. Besides, the money you save you will need to pay the orthodontist to put your fillings back in after a day of wheeling. Letís face it, fatigue is common in wheeling for a whole day. If you choose stiff springs, you will only be much more fatigued and pissed at the world. Not to mention the articulation thing. By the way, the word "articulation" is now your new best friend. This is what you need for rockcrawling.

Which? Add a leaf, blocks, or complete spring packs. Go with all four new spring packs period, donít even mess with the other crap.

How much lift? At least 4" or 5.5" or somewhere in between. Donít get to high, it may look cool but trust me, itís no fun on the trail when your constantly almost tipping over. The goal is to keep your center of gravity at a decent level.

As far as I am concerned, there is only two companies that make great suspension springs for the Toyotaís. Alcan and All-Pro. Both are similar in cost and many who run Toyotaís run these.

Alcan Springs - AOR (Advanced Off Road Research)
All Pro Off Road -

Price $450-$1000 a set of four (depending on your options)


Extended shackles, youíll need them. $100 a set
Bushings, both above will come with them
U-Bolts, using your old ones is possible but it sure is a lot easier to cut those nasty ones off and start new




In my book, these are the only shocks I would go with that compliment your new springs for rock crawling. Something else to seriously consider is getting longer shock mounts. Buy em or make em, youíll need them at least up front. Price $ 15 to $150


Doestch Tech

                                                            Price $ 40-150 each


You have two options here: Stick with stock steering or go with a Hy-Steer set up

For many years, and to this date I have run stock steering. I have bent a few tie rods but thankfully not broke anything else. I do carry spare parts on board just in case. If you do stick with your stock steering, an extended drag link may be necessary if going higher than a 4" lift. Draglink price $110

In the future, I do plan on going with Hy-Steer or over the spring steering. Many claim this is one of the best mods to do. I guess I will find out. Figure on the price $400-700





The only modification you WILL NEED TO DO is replace your brake lines with longer ones. Make sure they are DOT approved. If you donít you will stretch out your stock brake lines and they may snap. If they do, you WILL crash and may break yourself or others and this hurts. Price $100-120







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In my book, this is one of the best mods you can do to any 4x4. First off, letís talk Ring & Pinions. Most Toyota folks these days are running 5.29's Some run 4.88's as well but I think more run the 5.29's in their differentials. This will dramatically restore lost power due to those large tires you are pushing. Going with higher gears such as 5.71's may result in breakage as the teeth are smaller and thinner. See lockers below before you install these, do them at the same time.  Gears can run between $100-200 a set (you'll need two sets) and about $150 for a master install set.



Once again, one of the best things to do to your rig. Lockers make the difference between night and day. However, this is one of those things like the ring & pinion gears that you probably want someone else to do. It takes special tools and they need to be set up just perfect or else youíll chew a lot of things up and this will cost you big time. There are many different options out there as far as lockers go, here at the most popular for Toyotaís.

Detroit Locker (strongest by far) $430
ARB Air Lockers ( $ 650 plus compressor at $200 plus professional install -up to $500)
Lock Right (cheap and easy to install but make noise and some have snapped them) $250



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Let me see your wallet, hmmm, no more money? Then put one of these on your credit card because they are well worth the money. You have some different options here for a transfer case modification.

1) Add a dual transfer case kit (Marlin Crawler, JP Eater)

2) Add Trail Tamer style gears to your existing T-Case (Advance Adapters)

3) Add both for the ultimate set up.

NOTE- You will need to lengthen your front driveline and shorten your rear when adding a additional t-case. Most places will charge $120-175 to do this if you bring the d-lines in.

Price Range $400-$1400





Now that you have your rig all nice and set up, you need to consider protection and tow points. If you will be seeing any type of trail, you want to get the following to help preserve both you and your rig.

Roll Cage $250-$700
Side Rock Sliders (not cheap Nerf bars) $250
Front & Rear Bumpers WITH tow points


Note - You need to have some good solid tow strap/winch points on your vehicle. THIS IS A Courtesy to anyone that is there to help pull your ARSE out of whatever you got yourself into. Donít make people hunt for something under your rig to strap on to.



Birfield Axleís,($50 used if you can find them) You better get to know these and how to change them on your own and what it takes to change them. Trust me, you will need to know this. By the way, most Toyota freaks are going crazy over "SUPER BIRFS" So far, they are being proven to be that most reliable on the trails.

Fire Extinguisher $20 - Ever have a vehicle fire? Nothing will get you to change your undies faster!!!!!

TOOLS!!!!!!!!!! Come on! Bring them with you on the trail! Nothing bothers people more when they donít have ANY tools with them when wheeling. This should be common sense.

A Tow Strap, once again, a common sense item

Fluids - Oil, Water, Coolant, Brake Fluid, Power Steering are all good to have.

A decent First Aid kit & emergency blanket



You can have the nicest built rig in the world and still not know what the hell you are doing. Take the time to learn and feel your rig. Donít be afraid and set a side your pride and ask for a "spotter" on a obstacle if you donít know what to do or how to tackle the obstacle.



Getting to know your rig is crucial in understanding itís capabilities and limits. If you want to have fun, donít try to impress anyone, go out and have some 4 wheeling fun. Good luck and have fun.



Need some more help? Feel free to post a question on the "tech" section of our Bulletin Board. We will try to help you.

Thanks and good luck!




Happy Toyota wheeling,