Going Bigger? 4″ Lift on 5th Gen 4Runner

 In 5th Gen Mods, Accessories, Install, Off-Road

4″ – 4.5″ Lift on 5th Gen 4Runner (Strut Shims & Springs)

Strut Shims (4" Lift) 5th Gen 4Runner

5th Gen 4Runner Front 4″ – 4.5″ Lift with Adjustable Coilovers, Strut Shims & 3″ Rear Springs

There are many ways to achieve different heights on your suspension lift. This is not the only way to achieve a 4″ – 4.5″ on your 5th Gen 4R, this is just how we did it. If you are looking for a suspension kit that is higher than the average 3″ – 3.5″ suspension kits out there, you have a few options. You can always look at a full lift kit, not a suspension kit or go the route we are going.

Fab-Tech makes a full 6″ kit and ProComp makes a 6″ kit for the 5th Gen, which are always an option if you want to go that route. You can also go with the example in this post (4″ – 4.5″) and then do a 1″ body lift. This would put you at 5.5″ of lift.

Although a body lift is not technically part of your suspension, it will still give you a “lifted” appearance. A body lift is lifting your 4Runner body off and away from the frame. This is a pretty touchy subject among many truck and SUV owners in any automotive circle.

For now, we are staying away from the body lift and from overkill kits, like the Fab-Tech 6″ kit along with the ProComp 6″ kit. If we ever decide to go another direction with the 5th Gen, we will likely go with a rear metal tech long travel set-up and a front Total Chaos long travel set-up. As for going up any higher with the Stage 2 Icon Suspension that we have installed, I think we are done. Long travel is a topic for another post but it is likely that we will get there eventually.

In short, here is what we are doing: 

  • Starting with a Stage 2 Icon Suspension (adjustable coilovers)
  • Adding Ekstrom Design Strut Shims on top of the Coilovers
  • Keeping the same upper control arms
  • Replacing our Icon 2″ rear spring with an Icon 3″ overland rear spring
  • Keeping the same rear shocks

In short

  • Icon Stage 2 Coilovers
  • Icon Tubular UCAs
  • Ekstrom Designs ¼” shims (4) – 2 on each coil.
  • 3” rear overland springs
  • Icon 1-3″ rear shocks

Optional:

  • Upper/Lower Links
  • Adjustable track bar/pan hard bar (Icon)
  • Extended brake lines

This set-up will take us from 3″ – 3.5″ in the front to 4″ – 4.5″ and from 2″ in the back to 3″ in the back. The goal here is to increase our ground clearance more than what we already have. By adding the rear 3″ Icon overland spring, we can also start adding additional weight without pulling the rear down too much.

Icon Rear Overland 3″ Springs Vs. 2″ Springs

Icon Rear Overland 3" Springs Vs. 2" Springs

The 3″ Icon overland spring is designed for expedition-style builds that load down their ride with excessive weight. The overland spring is designed to accommodate rear bumpers, fridge and drawer systems, winches, rooftop tents, and more. An overland spring will set you at 3″ of lift with an unloaded vehicle and 2″ of lift with a typical overland style build; bumpers, drawer systems, load roof racks, etc.

It also adds a better look to the 4Runner as it does sit a little higher when unloaded. It is important to keep in mind though, once you start adding additional weight, the spring will settle down to a 2″ spring. The 2″ spring is not designed to “settle” once you start adding weight. If you are running a 2″ spring, you can expect a similar ride height when loaded and unloaded.

If you are looking to add an excessive amount of accessories; rear bumpers, fridge and drawer systems, winches, rooftop tents, then go with a 3″ spring. If you are are looking for the occasional loaded 4Runner, then go with the 2″ spring.

What are strut shims (Ekstrom Design Strut Shims)?

Ekstrom Design Strut Shims for 5th Gen 4Runner

Strut shims are designed to fine tune the stance and height without adding preload to your coilovers. The Ekstrom Design strut shims measure .250″ thick and are installed in the middle of the pivot, between the frame and where the tire makes contact to the ground.

You can stack 1 strut shim on top of your coilover or 2 (stacking up to 2 is recommended). This gives you the ability to adjust your front suspension without maxing out the preload on your coil, which is not typically recommended.

As most of you already know, a 1.5″ spacer would give you 3″ of lift. So, a .250″ thick shim will produce .500″ of additional lift. In our application, we stacked 2 shims on top of our coilovers and produced 1″ of additional lift. If needed from here, we can adjust the preload on the coilover and achieve a slightly higher or lower ride height. Strut shims are great. You can add 1-2 shims per side and safely add .50″-1″ of additional lift without changing ride quality.

Installing the Ekstrom Design Strut Shims

Ekstrom Design Strut Shims on 5th Gen 4Runner

NOTE: Your bolts will need to mount through the top of the coil bucket, through the shims, and thread into your coilovers. This is just an image to give you an idea of the concept.

If you are not familiar with a 4Runner suspension install, you should check out that post first. This should get you up to speed with the basics of your suspension. The process is relatively the same. Depending on if you have KDSS or not, it might be a little different. For the quick rundown on this process:

  1. Unbolt coilovers
  2. Unbolt lower spindle to lower control arm
  3. Drop your coilovers down to make room for the shims
  4. Slide in the strut shims and line the holes up
  5. Realign your coilovers and bolt everything down

You don’t need to remove your upper control arms for this. You need to unbolt your strut and allow yourself enough room to slide in the strut shims. This will also require unbolting your lower spindle bolts. These are the bolts that connect to your lower control arm. Once your spindle is free and your strut is free, you can pull your strut down a few inches and then slide in your strut shims.

If you have KDSS, the passenger side might be a little tighter than the driver. We were aware of the KDSS open valve trick to release pressure of the anti-roll bars but it didn’t work on the passenger side. The driver side seemed to have dropped quite a bit, but the passenger side was tight. We loosened the KDSS valves exactly 2.5 turns and it didn’t seem like much of anything happened for the passenger side. We had to remove the KDSS once again on the passenger side to get the strut back up into place.

Find the KDSS accumulator assembly and shutter valve information at the bottom of this page for reference.

Installing the Ekstrom Design Strut Shims

Ekstrom Design Strut Shims on 5th Gen 4Runner

Depending on how many shims you have will determine the ease of installing these. I would image one single strut shim would be easier as aligning 2 shims with the Icon threads and the coil bucket holes took a bit of patience. You do not need to remove your strut completely. By dropping your lower control arms, you can drop your strut down, and feed the shims into place.

Once you place your shims into the correct alignment, start working your magic with the bolts down the coil bucket holes, through both shims, and into the threads on your coilover.

We found it helpful the second time around to thread a set of matching thread bolts from the bottom up through the shims, just reaching “flush” in order for us to align the coilover into place. We threaded two bolts on the outside and left the hole inside the coil bucket open. You really only need two bolts to align the shims and we wouldn’t be able to reach the rear bolt in the bucket after the coilover was in place.

Once we had the bolts through the bottom, we aligned the strut/ coilover and threw it up into place. It was much easier getting the bolts in from the top down, with a set of bolts already threaded from the bottom up.

You don’t”need” a second set of same thread bolts, though. You can just use your patience young padawan and then drive off into the sunset.

Installing Rear Overland 3″ Springs on your 4Runner

If you have installed a rear 2″ spring, you know it was tighter than the stock 4Runner spring. The 3″ spring is a pretty big difference, again. The best method we found for getting these springs in was by using coil spring compressors. Once you get the springs in, you should be all set.

Best Location for Spring Compressors

Installing Rear Overland 3" Springs on your 4Runner

Before you pick a spot on your springs, take a look at where they are going to sit once they are mounted. To get an idea of where the spring will sit, align the pigtail of the spring in its correct location and then choose spots on the spring where you can access with an impact drill and large socket. Once you find your desired location, you can pull the spring out and then start compressing your springs.

Compressing Springs

Installing Rear Overland 3" Springs on your 4Runner

Compress your springs until you feel comfortable. You can compress your springs anywhere from 1-2″ comfortably to allow a much easier install. You want your spring compressors to be directly across from one another in order for the long screws to stay straight. After your springs are compressed and installed, pull your compressors off.

Releasing Compressor Springs

Step #3: Removing KDSS for 3" Rear Springs?

Once your spring is properly aligned, you can remove your spring compressors from the spring and bolt everything back up.

KDSS NOTES: If you have KDSS, you might need to remove the anti-roll bar in the back. We removed ours. We also removed a few brake line nuts to free up some droop, but we did not remove the track bar.

The KDSS Valve Trick (Does it work?)

We followed the directions from Iron Man 4×4 exactly and still had to remove the anti-roll bar in the back.

We did have luck on the front driver. We did not remove the KDSS on the driver side, but we had to on the passenger side and in the rear.

The 5th Gen 4Runner KDSS accumulator assembly and shutter valves

KDSS accumulator assembly and shutter valves

These instructions are coming straight from Iron Man 4×4.

This special instruction must be followed exactly when removal of any suspension component is performed.

The KDSS System is a Hydro-Mechanical Semi-Active anti-roll bar. Failure to adhere to the below steps will result in malfunction or damage to the KDSS System.

  • 1) Hoist vehicle, and allow wheels to hang freely.
  • 2) Locate the KDSS accumulator assembly positioned under the vehicle, just beside left chassis rail.
  • 3) Remove steel protective shield.
  • 4) Locate shutter valve bolts on side of the accumulator.

Unscrew shutter valve bolts 1.5 – 2.5 turns MAXIMUM.

DO NOT REMOVE SHUTTER VALVE BOLTS OR UNSCREW ANY FURTHER THAN THAN ADVISED.

  • 5) The KDSS shutter valves are now open, allowing full movement of front and rear anti-roll bars. It is now safe to remove and install suspension components.

DO NOT START OR OPERATE THE VEHICLE WITH SHUTTER VALVES OPEN.

  • 6) When suspension works are complete, lower vehicle onto level ground, then close BOTH shutter valve bolts fully by turning clockwise and tightening. Reinstall protective shield.

After the Install and ripping off the rear valance

Leave a comment below if you have any experience with the KDSS shutter valves or the Shims on your 5th Gen. We would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks, everyone!

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jhemp00
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jhemp00

Dang! I was hoping the KDSS valve trick would work! I guess once you’ve removed the KDSS it gets easier subsequent times. I’m still not looking forward to it though.

Jorge
Guest
Jorge

My current setup is Toytec Boss 3″ front / 2″ rear with Total Chaos UCA. as you all mentioned in one of your articles not every 4Runner is the same, in my case after lifting it I noticed it was leaning on the drivers side, Toytec offers a (.25″ thick Front Lift Top Plate Single Spacer) to correct the lean, I had it installed and everything was good to go. So my question to you all, if I decide to go with ICON-stage2 setup (not including the UCA) does this address the lean or do I have to get 3… Read more »

Devon
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Devon

Glad to see the big lifts on KDSS equipped T4Rs! Have you noticed any negatives with the KDSS functionality after this much lift? Has it impacted max travel, articulation or KDSS functionality? I’d love to see a pic of the rear KDSS piston and sway bar to see what the angles look like now when it’s all connected. Or a video of it in action! 😛 I love the way the KDSS functions on my stock suspension, but looking to lift it soon and want to know the limits.

Jeff
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Jeff

Do you have any comments on the results of adding the 2 front shims to the icon coilovers? I have been searching to see if anyone had done this on a 4Runner but everything I read said that it was not recommended to add spacers to coilovers. What happened to the ride quality? How is the suspension geometry and front alignment? Are there any pictures after the install? Thanks

Brian
Guest
Brian

What’s the effect of having that much lift up front? Everything I had read suggested no more than 3″ over stock, due to stressing the CV axles too much at any additional angle.

Love the website, I have about 30 tabs open right now that I need to read 🙂

mike
Guest
mike

did you have to get extended bolts for the icon coilovers after installing the shims so they could reach?

If so could you tell me where you found them?

mike
Guest
mike

Hey Brenan,
Thanks for the response about the bolts. Did you adjust your preload at all while adding the shims? Or did you leave the height adjustment (pre load) on the coilovers alone and only add shims?

Any idea where you went to on preload measurement? (I think icon states not to go beyond 2.13″).

Appreciate the feedback

Steve Xiong
Guest
Steve Xiong

Hay Brenan, Sounds like I’m about to do the same thing to my 2011 4runner…. I went with 3”(2.65) bilstein 5100 for the front with stock springs, diff drop, and 3” bilstein 5100 back with old man emu coil spring. Drove it for two weeks about 500 miles and didn’t really like how it looks. My back end in my opinion was too high. So I took it back to the shop and have them order 2 .500 spacer for the front. (Not yet installed). So I was wondering how did yours level out so far???? Is my setup similar… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

Brenan,
Yes….
I meant to say two of the .25” spacers totaling .500 on each front side. Do you think that will level it out or will it be too much? I was told that one .25” will give me half of inch of lift and two of the .25” will give me 1” or did I get it wrong? My plan was to lift up the front 1 more inch….

Steve
Guest
Steve

3”

mike
Guest
mike

Hey Brenan,
Thanks for the response about the bolts. Did you adjust your preload at all while adding the shims? Or did you leave the height adjustment (pre load – height) on the coilovers with adding shims or only add shims and left the height alone from whatever icon had it set at?

Any idea where you went to on preload measurement? (I think icon states not to go beyond 2.13″).

Appreciate the feedback

Ryan P bjoro
Guest
Ryan P bjoro

Trying to figure out if I need new bolts for my coil overs? Did you reuse old ones?

Ryan P bjoro
Guest
Ryan P bjoro

Okay so how did you order? How many shims did you install? 2 on one side 2 on the other with preload to compensate KDSS? Also I’m about to order shims. So how many shims come in a package? Just 1 shim? If I order 4 shims seems like 4 sets of bolts will come. Wondering if I can just buy 4 shims with 2 sets of bolts if they can special order and be less money since I do not need 4 sets of bolts. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Duane
Guest
Duane

I currently have the Icon Stage 2 with the Icon 2 inch springs in the back with Icon billet UCAs. Just so I am clear, adding two shims to each side up front and the 3 inch spring in the back will give me 1 inch of additional height across the board? What happens if I only add the shims up front and keep the 2 inch springs in the back? Reverse rake? From a load perspective, I may add a roof rack at some point, but generally my load will be in the cargo area and consist of either… Read more »

Ryan
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Ryan

What is he max tire size you can clear after doing this mod and the body chop and fender trim? Still only 285/75/r17 ?

Chuck
Guest
Chuck

Thanks for this Post. I’ll be doing this Mod pretty soon as my Icons need to be serviced and just found a crack on each coilover spring. I do pack a ton of weight and regret not running the overland spring right from the get go. I have KDSS and a Stage 5 Icon set up , with the adjustable track bar, tubular uca’s, and billet rear torsion bars. My question is if you have any experience or feedback with the Stock Icon 13’x650lb coilover spring changing to a 14’x700lb spring. I do carry weight in the front ( winch… Read more »

Duane
Guest
Duane

Brennan – Did you do an alignment after installing all of the components? I am being told there is no way they can get a good alignment with adding two shims to each side. Thoughts?

Bolo
Guest
Bolo

I was wondering how is your ride quality with the overland spring? I got the same setup on my 4Runner but every time I go over a bump on the street the front seem to absorb pretty good but I can feel the back jump everytime , will the icon v2.5 rear shock with cdcv fix it since you can adjust the damping

Duane
Guest
Duane

Bolo – Did you put the shims and springs on yourself, or did you have a shop do it? If a shop, did they have any issues getting it aligned? As mentioned above, the shop I was planning on using is telling me they won’t be able to get it aligned with two shims per side.

Bolo
Guest
Bolo

I install it myself haven’t took it to do an alignment yet

Vee Almazan
Guest
Vee Almazan

I have a leveled 2016 4Runner and I bought the 3/8″ Strut spacers so I can add a lift over my Fox 2.0 coilovers to gain at least an inch more or close. I don’t know if adding these spacers are a good idea over my Fox 2.0 coilovers.

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