5th Gen Mods, Install, Off-Road, Overland

Ironman 4×4 Stage 2 Suspension Lift Kit – Step by Step Install on the 5th Gen 4Runner

Last Updated on

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t run out and get a lift first.

As the amount of gear that you put on there will affect the suspension. I always protect the rig before lifting. With all the protection and recovery equipment I’ve added, I now have as much ground clearance as an Outback. It’s definitely necessary for an upgrade to the suspension.

There are a plethora of choices when it comes to lifting your 4Runner. If you are new to lifting your 4Runner, check out this guide first or for some inspiration, check out these 10 Lifted 4Runners.

Bucking The Status Quo

For the longest time, I had my heart on the coveted Icon Suspension Stage 6.

After talking Suspension budget with my wife, I got a solid FU on their price point. After having my hopes crushed, I started to rethink what I am really going to be doing in my rig? And with any build, I would always suggest starting with the end in mind.

For my ride it is a daily driver and weekend warrior first, then second it tackles longer 2-3 week-long adventures in the backcountry. I am not going to be thrashing whoops on the Baja or crunching steel on Moab Boulders.

As my research dug deeper into actual user comments and I started to peel away marketing hype, I came to a conclusion: there are very few differences in any of the technology out there and what difference is there comes from racing technology.

Why I Chose Ironman 4×4

Even with advances like adjustable remote reservoirs, they are still stiff.

I want to find the perfect balance in plush ride and control, both on and off-road, also without breaking the bank.

This led me to Ironman 4X4, an Australian company that has been in business for over 60 years which is now breaking on to the US scene.

I had picked up a winch from them at Expo West and had a chance to talk with the US CEO, Luke Schnacke.

“It does what it says on the Tin”

Ironman 4X4 has the no-nonsense approach to their product development, and I love the phrase that Luke used “It does what it says on the Tin”.

In all the products that they had on display, I did take note of their Pro Cell Suspension since it was different from what I was used to.

While I didn’t pick up the suspension then, It stuck with me and I began to do more research. The founder, Gunter Jacob, migrated to Australia after surviving the brutality of the Concentration Camps of WWII. He survived by having the valuable skill of a Blacksmith, hence “Ironman”. He started the company building suspensions for the Australian military.

About 10 years ago, his Son transitioned the brand that’s strictly utility to include the recreational market as well. Now it is the largest family-owned Australian Offroad Brand, a brand built off of Foam Cell Suspension.

Find It Online:

  • Ironman 4×4 Foam Cell Pro 2″ Suspension Kit, Stage 2: Check Price

What are Foam Cells?

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: What are Foam Cells?

Standard shocks use gas to stabilize the oil inside a shock, normally nitrogen.

This means there is a portion that is oil and a portion that is gas.

The Foam Cell doesn’t use gas. They use a piece of closed-cell foam that acts the same as the gas-filled, however, it allows the shock to be filled with oil. More oil means more heat dissipation and takes more abuse to cavitate. Cavitation is when the oil begins to create bubbles from the valving process.

Every shock, no matter the company, can have this occur with enough abuse, think miles and miles of corrugated roads. The Foam Cell Shocks limit this by, not only filling the shock with oil but also having a larger shock and thus even more volume and cooling surface.

Another benefit to not having gas is the fact that you can now rebuild your shock at home vs sending them out or taking them to a shop.

They also have a 3-year unlimited mile warranty… who has that?

Foam Cell Suspension Standard vs Pro Edition: What’s the Difference?

It’s simple and has been proven for many years across the pond. Ironman 4X4 has two types of foam cell shocks.

The difference between the Standard and the Pro is that the standard is nonadjustable and the Pro is adjustable 2”-3” with small threads for even micro-adjustments.

The Foam Cell Pro Suspension Kits come in 3 variations:

  • Comfort Load for stock weights: If you don’t plan on adding winches, bumpers, skids, and racks this is the best choice.
  • Performance Load: If you do plan on adding all of that, then another option is Performance Load, which takes accessory weight up to 660 pounds.
  • Constant Load: If you have your rig fully kitted for overland expeditions with additional weight over 660 pounds up to the vehicles max weight.

For my 4Runner build, I went with the Performance Load.

Foam Cell Pro Front Suspension Install

The Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2 comes with everything you need including forged upper control arms, sway bar relocation brackets, and all new mounting hardware.

I also had Ironman 4X4 prebuild the coilovers as I hate messing with the cheapy spring compressors.

The install is fairly standard with a few specific details that need to be observed with the placement of the shocks.

Note: If you are interested in how Ironman sets the coilovers, then check out their video here. There is also a video (above) of this install by Adventure Built, my brother’s channel.

Step 1. Remove Front Sway Bar Mount

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 1. Remove Front Sway Bar Mount

After jacking up the 4Runner and removing the tires, remove the front sway bar mounts and bunged the bar out of the way.

Step 2. Install Relocation Bracket

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 2. Install Relocation Bracket

I installed the relocation bracket since I was there but this can be done later. This bracket will move the sway bar forward and give more room to the larger springs.

Note: You can’t mess this up, as I tried to, the holes only line up a certain direction. I added Loctite to the bolts.

Step 3. Remove Splash Guards

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 3. Remove Splash Guards

Remove the rubber splash guards with the trim tool.

Step 4. Disconnect Brake Lines From UCA + Steering Knuckle

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 4. Disconnect Brake Lines From UCA + Steering Knuckle

Disconnect the brake lines from the upper control arm and steering knuckle to create more room to work.

Step 5. Disconnect UCA

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 5. Disconnect UCA

Disconnect the upper control arm.

Step 6. Remove Top Bolts From Shock Tower

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 6. Remove Top Bolts From Shock Tower

Remove Upper Bolts from shock tower.

Step 7. Remove Lower Shock Bolt

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 7. Remove Lower Shock Bolt

Remove Lower Shock Bolt, may have to drive it out.

Step 8. Unseat Shock & Remove From Tower

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 8. Unseat Shock & Remove From Tower

Pull from the bottom to unseat the shock then lower it out of the shock tower.

Comparison of the OEM and Foam Cell Pros

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Comparison of the OEM and Foam Cell Pros

Shown above is a side-by-side comparison of the OEM and the Foam Cell Pros.

Not only are there more coils but they are a larger gauge as well. The diameter for the mount is beefy as well. The prebuilt are marker driver and passenger.

Step 9. Install Foam Cell First

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 10. Install Foam Cell First

Install in reverse, the foam cell goes in easier. Hand-tighten lower bolt and torque lower when on the ground as it may damage bushing.

Step 10. Cover Up Spring + Remove UCA

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 11. Cover Up Spring + Remove UCA

Cover up the spring before removing UCA, as not only cosmetic the powder coating protects from rusting and once compromised it is a pain to control on springs.

Use Two Wrenches For Add More Torque To Loosen UCAs

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Use Two Wrenches For Add More Torque To Loosen UCAs

The UCA bolt can be accessed on both sides without removing anything from the engine. My Genesis Dual Battery made me nervous but still had plenty of room. Using two wrenches will allow more torque to loosen.

OEM vs Forged UCAs

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: OEM vs Forged UCAs

The weight feels close, however, the Ironman 4X4 forged UCAs are thicker and more robust around the bushings. OEM bushings and ball joints are maintained in the new UCAs as they are affordable and function very well.

Step 11. Reinstall in Reverse Order

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 12. Reinstall in Reverse Order

Installation is the same in reverse, however, these are an exact fit.

There is no play on either side so you must have them exactly lined up and angled properly. It took about 10-15min each side to line up.

Also, make sure that the washers are near the bushings as there is not enough room for them around the body.

Step 12. Reattach Front Suspension

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 13. Reattach Front Suspension

Reattach all the front suspension components, when attaching the front sway bar the bolt should be on the second hole from the front.

Now, let’s get started on the rear suspension install!

Step 13. Disconnect Rear Sway Bar

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 14. Disconnect Rear Sway Bar

Disconnect the rear sway bar. You may also disconnect the track bar to make it easier to remove springs.

Use Pipe Strap To Pull Out OEM Rear Shock

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 14. Disconnect Rear Sway Bar

Pro Tip: Save time taking out OEM rear shock by using pipe strap instead of holding the top.

A few bangs with a hammer on the bottom of the shock will help you to easily pull it off.

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Pro Tip: Save time taking out OEM rear shock by using pipe strap instead of holding the top.

From the photo above, you can notice the rust on the inside of the bushing and mount.

Step 14. Use Floor Jack To Lift To Lower Side You’re Working On

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 15. Use Floor Jack To Lift To Lower Side

Pro Tip: Once the shocks are out, use a floor jack to lift the opposite side to drop the side you are working on. They will come right out without effort.

Step 15. Install Coil Spacers Or Reuse Factory Spring Isolator

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 16. Install Coil Spacers Or Reuse Factory Spring Isolator

I reused the factory spring isolator, as I didn’t want an additional lift. Ironman 4X4 does have polyurethane coil spacers than can give more height or correct for lean.

Step 16. Insert Closest Side Into Mount Towards Axle

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 16. Install Coil Spacers Or Reuse Factory Spring Isolator

The rear shocks are very beefy, and the base is offset as they would not sit properly on the mount.

The closest side inserts into the mount toward the axle.

Step 17. Secure Top Nut With Needle-Nose

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 18. Secure Top Nut With Needle-Nose 

Getting the top nut on takes 3 hands. Once installed, though, you can use a needle-nose vise grip, however, I found the grips may chew up the stud, a ¼ wrench worked better.

Step 18. Apply Anti-Seize To Mount Bolts

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Step 19. Apply Anti-Seize To Mount Bolts 

Remember that rust? Make sure to hit the mount with some anti-seize or taking this off for rebuild will be a mess. I hit every bolt with it!

That’s it! You’re done with the installation! 

Final Review

Ironman 4X4 Foam Cell Pro 2” Suspension Kit Stage 2: Step-By-Step Install + Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: Final Review

Overall, I gained 4” in the front and 3” in the rear.

But it’s a 2-3” lift… How did you get 4”?

Great question, the stated lift is from the factory height. Not only is it sitting pretty, but I also regained my ground clearance from all of my additional weight.

This is truly the best bang for your buck suspension upgrade you can do!

Most importantly… the RIDE! I am so impressed with how nice the ride is.

It is a perfect balance of firmness for control and softness for comfort. It has no issues handling bumps and dirt roads at speed, plenty of flex for getting up obstacles. Nosedive is cut dramatically steering and corning is improved and it is not STIFF! It still feels like a truck but not abusive in the slightest. The rear is a little stiff when going over large bumps but that was expected.

When speaking with Ironman 4X4’s Product Manager, Chris, we crunched the weight numbers and with the future addition of a rear drawer system, it should be just as plush as the front.

In a sentence: This is truly the best bang for your buck suspension upgrade you can do!

Comments or Questions? Leave them below!

Love the 4Runner Lifestyle?

JOIN THE COMMUNITY - FREE GEAR AND UPDATES

The latest in new 4Runner parts, products and gear. You also get a leg up on vendor specials, free gear, giveaway notifications, and more. Our newsletter is pretty much the best thing you'll ever read!

Get paid for an Install or Review

GET PAID FOR WRITING A 4RUNNER PRODUCT REVIEW OR STEP BY STEP INSTALL

Recent Posts
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
31 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SeanB
SeanB
July 11, 2020 7:25 pm

I recently purchased the stage 3 foam cell pros. I took it to a professional shop to install and after the set up was complete the mechanic noticed that the driver side was sagging by about 1.5” so he adjusted it an inch to compensate for the sag. I was wondering if anyone had ran into the same issue.

alex
alex
June 23, 2020 2:41 pm

Hi, i was wondering what tire size are you running? It looks very proportional in the after picture. I currently have ironman shocks with oem coils. Im not shure if buying the ironman coils since it may look weird the my current tires (nitto terra grappler 265,75,16).

Alejandro Medina
Alejandro Medina
June 24, 2020 9:04 am
Reply to  Trevor Varney

I forgot, my truck is a 4th gen 4 runner. Do you think it might have too much gap? The tires are new hahah.

Romel
Romel
August 6, 2020 10:15 pm
Reply to  Trevor Varney

Did you have to do a bmc to fit the 285’s? I’ve been looking at that size and was hoping to be a quick change out. Worst case scenario I do it but I’d rather know ahead of time. Thanks.

C Fontenot
C Fontenot
May 27, 2020 11:22 am

What rear springs did you go with? The performance ones or the stock rate ones? I’m debating these 2 right now. I only carry extra weight in the back when I’m camping and I don’t have a rear bumper or anything.

Since its been a few months, how are you liking this setup? Anything you would change?

Adam
Adam
May 24, 2020 2:11 pm

I’ve been eye balling this suspension for a while. I currently have the TRD Pro Bilstein suspension with stock UCA’s on my 2018 ORP. Do you think the Ironman Cell Foam Pro would be an upgrade from my current setup, about the same, or a down grade? I was looking at getting the Stage 3 in performance load.

Meng
Meng
March 17, 2020 5:22 pm

Hey Trevor,

Just took my car to the shop to have them install this kit and they said that the rear shock is hitting the axle or a part of the chassis which would cause it to rub. Did you run into this issue?

Thanks.

Meng
Meng
March 18, 2020 5:54 pm
Reply to  Trevor Varney

I spoke with them, said that they know about the issue with the rear strut, but it still rubs. They said that it will only rub mainly when i am offroading and flexing the rear.

Meng
Meng
March 18, 2020 6:23 pm
Reply to  Trevor Varney

Please keep me updated, I will keep a close eye on mine as well. Thank you!

Meng
Meng
February 11, 2020 7:55 pm

Do you have KDSS on your 4runner? I emailed Ironman and was told that KDSS needs to be disabled to run this kit unless it was a total misunderstanding.

Trevor Varney
Trevor Varney
February 11, 2020 9:28 pm
Reply to  Meng

Meng, I do not have KDSS. In my research it seemed that when stock the KDSS is great, as it gives more sway control on the road and more articulation when off. However, as soon as you lift it most of those benefits are limited, no matter what lift is put on. Some companies will say their lifts may be capable however, that just means that non of their components will make contact with the KDSS system. I would double check with Ironman as in their Lexus GX Video they show install with KDSS and it is the same lift… Read more »

Chris W
Chris W
January 19, 2020 10:17 pm

Trevor, I just installed the Dobinson’s 3″ lift kit with their UCAs on my 2018 4runner. The ride feels really busy on the road, like the twin tube nitrogen shocks do not do very well soaking up small road imperfections. I am thinking about purchasing the Ironman foam cell shocks and installing them with the Dobinson’s springs. How is the everyday street driving with the Ironman suspension? Does the ride feel busy or smooth?

Nick
Nick
December 21, 2019 4:16 am

Why didn’t you install the new uca before installing the new struts?

Hunter
Hunter
December 20, 2019 1:41 pm

What would be the max weight for the stock or ‘comfort’ option (vs the 0-660 listed for the perf.)? Is there a reason the stock or ‘comfort’ kit on their page does not include control arms, like the performance and constant options?

Hunter
Hunter
December 21, 2019 11:53 am
Reply to  Trevor Varney

Thank you Trevor.

“In a sentence: This is truly the best bang for your buck suspension upgrade you can do!”

What about your July 2018 article on the Bilstein 6112/5100 upgrade (https://trail4runner.com/2018/07/03/bilstein-6112-5100-install-5th-gen-4runner/)? That is ~$600 less than the Ironman comfort pkg detailed in this post.

Jack
Jack
July 28, 2020 1:02 am
Reply to  Trevor Varney

Which Bilsteins did you have on your Xterra? 5100s? Also, if you were trying to improve on and off road handling while maintaining < 1″ of lift, what brands or parts would you go with?

Patrick
Patrick
December 19, 2019 5:42 am

I ran the standard foam cell on a 2012 Tacoma and currently run the nitro gas iron man on my 2019 4runner , I find it comparable to ome with the foam cell being better.

Start typing and press Enter to search

31
0
Questions or Comments? x
()
x

GET 20% OFF!

Get Up to 20% Off the Trail 4Runner Store!
Your Email
Our content is pretty fire! We will never spam your inbox or sell your data.
DMOS Offers Unique Shovel Options for Overlanding in the 5th Gen 4RunnerSouthern Style Off-Road (SSO) Slimline Hybrid Winch Front Bumper step-By-Step Install For the 5th Gen 4Runner