Rago Low Pro Ditch Bracket Step-By-Step Installation + Review Featuring Baja S2 Sports On the 5th Gen 4Runner
Installing ditch brackets on a 5th Gen 4Runner (or any rig for that matter) is not a new concept.
People have been doing this mod for years. As such, Rago Fabrication has been making heavy-duty stainless-steel products since 2013, and to our luck, they’ve primarily focused on the 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner. After all, it’s their flagship rig.
Ever since then, the company has evolved and now offers a wide range of vehicle applications. Their standard ditch brackets are a common purchase among 4Runner owners looking to add additional lighting, but the low-profile brackets are fairly new. So, we decided to give them a shot!
You can also see these ditch light brackets installed with the KC FLEX dual lights directly from KC.
Paired With True S2 Sports Driving/Combo LEDs
While the market is saturated with solutions for your ditch lights, we went with Baja Designs tried and true S2 Sports Driving/Combo LEDs in amber. The S2’s are small but pack a powerful lighting punch with a combined lumen count of 1,130. So, with a smaller sized light, we felt that the Rago low-profile brackets would give it that sleek look we were aiming for.
Now, there is an argument on the interwebs about low-profile brackets vs. the standard height brackets. The Rago brackets don’t interfere with the hood opening and closing, but based on where you direct your lights, the hood itself may cut off some of the light output. As you read further, we’ll discuss a bit more about the position we mounted ours in and why.
Price & Product
Rago’s low-profile ditch light brackets were CAD designed, they’re made of 3/16” stainless steel and are cut with a 3k Fiber Optic Laser. The brackets are then ceramic tumbled to smooth out any rough edges and then powder coated in textured matte black.
Find it online:
Many other lights are compatible with the Rago Fabrication ditch light brackets as well. You can now see everything from extreme LED KC highlights, Baja Designs, and much more.
Rago Brackets Step-By-Step Installation On 5th Gen 4Runner
Installing the Rago brackets is probably the easiest step in the process; punching through the firewall and fishing wires around is a different story (but still, not “challenging”). If you’ve never done a mod before, this is a great first-time DIY project.
Tools & Materials:
- Socket Wrench
- 10mm socket
- 14mm socket
- 14mm Open-End Wrench (2)
- 5/32 Hex Key/Allen Wrench
- Mini Screwdriver
- Zip Ties
- Klien Tools Crimps
- IRWIN Wire Cutter
- Rustoleum Satin Black Spray Paint
Step 1. Install Brackets
Open the hood of your 4Runner. Pick a side to start with and loosen the top bolt of the hood bracket with the 10mm socket. We started with the driver side figuring the snorkel might be tough to work around… it wasn’t.
You want to mount one bracket and bolt at a time to avoid throwing your hood out of alignment. The 10mm bolt you’re removing should be a bit tight, so be careful when giving it force; you’re not too far from the wrench coming loose and hitting your hood or fender. So, just take it slowly.
Once you have the first bolt loosened and removed, move the bracket into place and hand thread that original bolt back into place using the same 10mm bolt. Using your wrench, tighten the bolt down, but not completely as you’ll be removing the lower bolt and sliding the bracket into place.
Note: The Rago bracket mounting points are slotted, so you can adjust the brackets final position a bit more forward or backward. We installed our brackets as forward-facing as possible to keep the bracket far over the hood.
With the bracket fairly tightened down, loosen the lower bolt on the hood bracket and remove the 10mm bolt. With the bolt removed, slide the Rago bracket into place. Again, hand thread that original 10mm bolt back into place. Once you’ve adjusted the bracket and are satisfied with the placement, tighten everything down.
Now, repeat the process on the other side.
Note: The passenger side hood hinge has the window washer fluid line mount/clip tapped into it. Gently remove it using a small flat-head screwdriver. Once the ditch bracket is installed, you can pop the washer fluid clip back into place.
Step 2. Paint Baja S2 Brackets (Optional)
Our 4Runner is fairly blacked out, so in keeping with that theme, we took the additional (optional) step of spray painting the S2 brackets in Rustoleum satin black. The bracket is aluminum, so it’s not completely necessary and they shouldn’t rust, but again, we’re “murdered out” and want to cut down on potential future maintenance.
Painting is easy… Find a flat and dry space and spray a few light coats of the Rustoleum paint on. Flip them over and spray any unpainted areas. Ours dried in about 1-hour.
Step 3. Loosely Mount Brackets & Lights
With the brackets now painted, place the S2 brackets on the Rago brackets. Using both of your 14mm open-end wrenches, start to tighten everything down to about 90-95% of the way. You’ll want them loose so you can get your final placement once the lights are installed. Repeat the process on the other side.
Now, grab one of the included stainless-steel bolts, pop on the tooth lock washer, and going from the outside of the bracket into the S2 housing, hand thread the bolt in.
Follow the same process on the other side and again, tighten both at about 90-95%.
Step 4. Find Your Position & Tighten Everything Down
With everything loosely in place, find the right position you want for your ditch lights.
People tend to think it needs to be facing head-on like headlights, but ditch brackets are meant to light the sides of your rig when off-roading at night. But, if you just want to blind the soccer mom’s who cut you off, face ‘em forward (we are not liable for your aggressive on-road usage).
From the Rago Fabrication blog, Ashton Boles writes:
“Ditch Bracket LED Pods were made to light up and aim towards ditches to avoid crashing into them when off-roading and overlanding. Recently people have begun to aim the Pods towards the front of the vehicle, making it easier to see even the darkest trails.”
How To Angle Your Ditch Lights
If you’re running a forward-facing light bar or intense fog lights, you might not want to angle yours facing forwards. We angled ours to about 45° facing towards the sides of the vehicle. Once you’ve found the correct position, tighten everything down.
Now that the S2 is mounted to the bracket, accessing the top of that bolt that sits under the light might be tough, but use your open-end wrench for both the top and bottom simultaneously.
Step 5. Zip Tie Wiring Down
These were the first ditch brackets we installed on our 4Runner, so at first, we weren’t sure what the little openings in the bracket were for. Aerodynamics? After a few palm smashes to the forehead, we realized the purpose is so that you can slide zip ties through the openings to keep the wires snug and tight to the bracket. Well done Rago!
Make sure to keep everything taut as you zip tie the wiring into their final positions. We went with black because the brackets and wire are black… not to mention, we’re going for that “murdered out” look (do people still say murdered out?).
Once everything is zip tied in, cut off the excess and that’s it! You’ve successfully mounted your ditch brackets and lights.
The Rago brackets’ quality is second-to-none and appears to be indestructible… maybe even a bit overkill for some low-weight lights! They’re made from 3/16” cold-rolled steel. If you snag one of these brackets on a branch, we’re pretty sure they’re going hold up!
We’re really digging the ride height. Nothing really impedes our ability to see the road, no wind noise and the final look is exactly what we were going for; sleek. Your “look” all depends on what lighting solution you go with, but we’re really feeling the look and feel using the low-profile brackets. Not to mention, the 45° angle we went with seems to be working well and shines a bright light on those hard to see side angles.
So all in all, we think you can’t go wrong with the Rago Fabrication low-profile bracket.
On a completely separate side note… are we the only ones who think the S2’s look like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit? Bet you can’t unsee that now…