A body lift is one technique used to gain extra clearance for larger
tires and to lift parts of the body higher to reduce the risk of damage
from obstacles on the trail. A body lift is relatively easy and
inexpensive to do, has the least impact on center of gravity (compared
to suspension and tire mods) and can make installation of other items
easier. On the downside, it adds no extra capability to the suspension,
it adds extra stress to the body mounts and may require modifications
to other components.
So why did I choose to do this to my truck? Well, actually I did it in
stages; first installing polyurethane body mount bushings, then
slipping in a few washers for the heck of it, and then finally doing it
for real. This was taking place during the time I was deciding on front
and rear bumpers and rocker panel protection. By lifting the body off
the frame a bit, it allowed the Rock Sliderz and rear bumper to be
mounted higher than would be possible without the lift. Since these
were two problem areas on a 4Runner, every inch gained makes a huge
difference. I decided on 1" as the most lift I could get without
When I first installed my new suspension, it seemed like a good time to
replace the stock rubber body/cab mounting bushings. I installed a set
of ProThane polyurethane body mounts.
There are a total of 10 on my 4Runner; 5 on each side. I was actually
missing the right rear bushing completely and the two front ones were
badly damaged due to improper bumper installation by the previous owner.
Comparing the stock rubber bushings to the new poly ones is
interesting. The rubber is cracked and soft enough to squeeze between
the fingers. The poly is firm, about like a skateboard wheel.
The best way I found to do the swap is to remove the nuts on one side
of the truck (also helps to remove the bolts holding the front bumper).
Then, use a HiLift jack, with a 2x4 under the lip of the rear fender,
to lift the bolts clear of the bushings. I had to replace the front two
mounting bolts, as they had been replaced with undersized standard
bolts after a fender-bender a few years ago. I found 7/16" Grade 5
or 8 bolts do the job quite nicely.
I found the second set of bolts (from the front) are not captive and
you'll need to pull the carpet up, pop the plastic plug and hold the
bolt with a wrench from the top while turning the nut. The other bolts
are captive, but can be accessed in a similar manner. In fact, you can
remove them, drive the bolts out of the captive washer and drive in a
new 7/16" bolt and they hold tight. I did this so I could add
aero-lock nuts to the all the bolts.
The new polyurethane body mounts are the best improvement you can do to
the truck's ride. They completely eliminated the shudder and really
reduced rattles. Since they tie the body to the frame much more
securely, the body doesn't vibrate or shudder like it used to. And,
contrary to the common misconception, polyurethane bushings are not
prone to squeaking, at least as far as body mount bushings go. If you
think about what it takes to make a squeak, you need two parts moving
past each other repeatedly. With a properly installed body mount
bushing, there should be no relative motion between the body and
bushing and the bushing and frame. If there is motion, that means
something is wrong, likely a loose bolt or two. If that is the case,
fix the problem. After all, no motion = no sqeaking.
Urethane body mounts: $95
I needed to get a little bit of body lift for added clearance of the front and rear bumpers as well as to make
room for my Rock Sliderz. I
felt 1" would do the job nicely. Since nobody makes 1" body
lift kits for Toyota, I decided to design my own from available
hardware. I found some 3/4" standard washers at the local hardware
store. They are stamped from 1/8" thick steel and measure about
2" in diameter and they cost about $0.20 each. Next, I found
3/8" galvanized pipe has an inner diameter just over 7/16"
and an outer diameter a bit over 1/2". I cut 1" sections of
pipe, and stacked up 8 washers on top of the body mount washer. The
pipe goes in the center of the washers and I used a polyester
resin/filler to cement the washers and pipe into one solid unit.
Its important to make the body lift block one solid piece, otherwise it
can shift. Also, I feel the use of polyurethane body mount bushings is
important with a body lift as well. The stock rubber bushings are way
to soft to handle the added shearing stress of the lift and some
aftermarket lift kits use no bushings at all. You end up with the body
rigidly mounted to the frame which eventually leads to stress cracks in
the body sheet metal.
The body lift went quite well, taking an afternoon. With my electric
radiator fan, I did not need to make any changes in the engine
compartment. With the stock fan, you'll have to makes adjustments to
the radiator mounts in order to re-center the fan within the radiator
shroud. I ended up re-mounting the radiator when I switched back to the
stock fan/clutch setup.
In the above two images, you can see the piece of 1/8" x 1"
flat aluminum stock, drilled and riveted to the radiator mounting
flange. Then I drilled new mounting holes 1" above the stock holes
(to lower the radiator) and re-installed the radiator. This places the
top tank of the radiator about even with the front of the grill. My old
radiator had a nice dent in top, no doubt caused by someone leaving a
wrench over the tank and closing the hood. I replaced the aftermarket
2-row radiator with a new 3-row GoDan (GDI) unit for extra cooling.
Inside, I needed to nibble away some sheet metal in front of the
transfer case shift lever. The lever would hit the metal in 4L and
would knock it out of gear. Other than that, there is enough slack and
play in all the other components to accommodate a 1" lift.
This lift ended up costing me half of an off-the-shelf body lift kit.
It made it possible to install my
rear bumper an inch higher than otherwise possible and also made a
more secure installation for my Rock
Sliderz. It also allowed my 33" tires to compress upwards an
extra inch which proved useful once I softened up my springs.
One side effect of a body lift is that the stock wheel well liners no
longer cover the space between the wheel well and the frame. I was
missing the front left one anyway, so here's how I installed
new liners to cover this gap.
80 3/4" washers 15
12" 3/8 galv. pipe 3
Polyester filler 2
10 7/16 bolts 10
10 7/16 lock nuts 5
[Last updated: 30.September.2019]