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.
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?
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.
Ironman 4×4 Suspension Step-By-Step Install
- Remove Front Sway Bar Mount
- Install Relocation Bracket
- Remove Splash Guards
- Disconnect Brake Lines From UCA + Steering Knuckle
- Disconnect UCA
- Remove Top Bolts From Shock Tower
- Remove Lower Shock Bolt
- Unseat Shock & Remove From Tower
- Install Foam Cell First
- Cover Up Spring + Remove UCA
- Reinstall in Reverse Order
- Reattach Front Suspension
- Disconnect Rear Sway Bar
- Use Floor Jack To Lift To Lower Side You’re Working On
- Install Coil Spacers Or Reuse Factory Spring Isolator
- Insert Closest Side Into Mount Towards Axle
- Secure Top Nut With Needle-Nose
- Apply Anti-Seize To Mount Bolts
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.
Step 1. Remove Front Sway Bar Mount
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.
Step 3. Remove Splash Guards
Step 4. Disconnect Brake Lines From UCA + Steering Knuckle
Step 5. Disconnect UCA
Step 6. Remove Top Bolts From Shock Tower
Step 7. Remove Lower Shock Bolt
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
Shown above is a side-by-side comparison of the OEM and the Foam Cell Pros.
Step 9. Install Foam Cell First
Step 10. 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
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
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
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.
Step 12. 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
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
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.
Step 14. Use Floor Jack To Lift To Lower Side You’re Working On
Step 15. Install Coil Spacers Or Reuse Factory Spring Isolator
Step 16. Insert Closest Side Into Mount Towards Axle
The rear shocks are very beefy, and the base is offset as they would not sit properly on the mount.
Step 17. Secure Top Nut With Needle-Nose
Step 18. 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!
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!