I was caught by the 'new project' bug. Hard and heavy, with time being the only known cure. Interestingly enough, this little bout of weakness came at the same time as V deciding she wanted some extra seats to haul around some kiddos. Que the search for an 06-09 4Runner, V8 and 3rd row seats. This was the end of April. We looked at over a dozen 4Runners, driving over 12 hours one day to look at three. For giggles we test drove a GX470 (04, KDSS, Nav, etc.) and V didn't think it was worth the extra money. As of the wee hours of May 3rd, we were through looking. With my annual pilgrimage to Overland Expo less than two weeks away I decided I would drop some money into the OCS Taco. It needed rear brakes, strut bushings and a few odd bits. I decided to upgrade some of the rear suspension with different bump stops and larger ubolts. Once the search was suspended I hit 'order' on a few different websites and the money was gone. Items had shipped and I was prepping the garage for a tacofest. On May 4th (May the fourth be with you!?) V sent me a craigslist ad to a GX470 in Kansas City, roughly 7 hours round trip. It was straight up perfect for us. Body was straight, few dings and knicks. Mechanically? 41, YES, FORTY ONE service records. EVERY OIL CHANGE, EVERY TIRE ROTATION, EVERY SINGLE VISIT TO THE DEALERSHIP. It had a radiator under warranty at 71k, an alternator at 109K (Autozone Alternator, Lexus dealer install) and a variety of other little things.
Fast forward several hours, some bargaining and a lengthy semi-illegal 3.5 hour drive home in the wee-hours of the morning, some excited giggling as I foot-smash the throttle every chance I can to feel the V8 POWAHHH and you'll have V and I, looking at the impulse buy of the century.
It's obviously a GX470, which means it is a Lexus. Specifically:
05 Lexus GX470
Nav, AHC, etc.
133,XXX on the odo
Metal-tech rear airbag delete kit w/FJC rear coils.
Rear sitting about 3/4" above rear bumpstop.
Initial impression was excellent. Power was fantastic. Ride was smooth until you hit the smallest bump in the road, then it was harsh. There was no uptravel - the truck rode on its bump stops. A slight pull to the right and a vibration above 75 were the only two immediate concerns.
Right - we have a new-to-us platform and I'm planning on driving it on a 3 week, 3500 mile road trip tackling Moab and SW Colorado handling some crazy terrain and trying to keep up with a group of guys on 35"+ tires with lockers and armor and winches and months, if not years to build their vehicles to the extent they have. Come to think about it, I have helped build over 1/2 of the vehicles in the group. Only 11 days until I wanted to leave to Expo. It's Thursday, two day shipping means it'll arrive Monday. Give me two days to get it all together and it's Wednesday. Align it on Thursday. Build sliders Friday. Install sliders Saturday. Pack Sunday. Leave Monday. Totally doable, right?! I forgot the part where I prep my life for a disappearance of 21 days.
May 5th - I swing into my go-to tire and alignment shop, RTF Tire, and we pull it up on the lift. A general inspection showed some concerns. Mainly surface rust. Lots of surface rust on the rear axle. We check each corner of the truck and this is what we found:
Rear brake pads are severely worn.
Front passenger wheel bearing has enough play to warrant replacement.
CV Boots are non-existent (I knew this going into the purchase).
Small weep from transfercase output seal.
Not bad - Time is short so I call around and find what I can source locally. No luck on a wheel bearing until Monday. Reman CV axles can be had that afternoon. Brake pads were in stock. Scheduled an alignment for the following Wednesday and went to the computer.
I'm a massive fan of Amazon Prime. I won't lie. I source a MOOG wheel bearing with the "Country of Origin" listed as Japan. It can be delivered Saturday. Sweet.
At this point I'm very intent on figuring out how I want to go about lifting this truck. The words "Do it once and do it right" stick with me, as a cheap set of spring pucks aren't going to last me very long. Here is what I came up with:
OME Medium Coils at all four corners (#2895, #2885)
KYB Rear shocks (#344358)
Bilstein 5100 Front struts (#24-239370)
KYB Strut Mounts (#SM5640)
I had a few favors to cash in and sourced all of it, including the two day shipping (Fedex for Saturday delivery), for $586.00.
The Bilsteins, rear shocks and Strut Mounts arrived Saturday. The coils were delayed and the Fedex branch they were shipped doesn't deliver on Monday. Ouch.
I spent the weekend doing a few important things. I removed running boards, fixed the wheel bearing, swapped CV axles, changed plugs and changed the timing belt and water pump using Aisin kit #TKT021.
Monday rolled around and the coils were at the Fedex Hub on a locked truck and the driver couldn't be reached to unlock it. He wasn't scheduled to come in until the following morning. They offer to expedite it so I'll have it first thing in the morning. The parts didn't arrive until Tuesday at 4:30PM, around 3 hours later than Fedex typically delivers.
I hit some snags, mainly rust related, and was unable to meet the Wednesday alignment time. On a brighter note, my tires arrived Wednesday.
I went with the K02 - Having seen the tires on various vehicles I knew I liked them aestetically. What convinced me was there performance at Hurricane Expo last Fall. For an A/T tire, they kicked the ST Maxx I was running at the time to the curb for mud performance.
As soon as the coils arrived I tackled the rear suspension and then the front. I was so engrossed in the process I didn't take a single photo. Enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Unbeknownst to us, a set of Nissan keys were packed deeply within the Lexus. So deeply that they went all the way to Flagstaff, AZ and had to be next-day mailed back!
With exception to the few odds and ends needing to be tidied up, the truck was ready to hit the road. Maiden voyage? A 21 day, 3500+ mile trip west.