Towing A Car With A Stock 4Runner & The Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit

Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit

Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit – Towing A Car Across The Country In A Stock 4Runner

We’ve all asked this question before – can the 5th Gen 4Runner tow a car? Also, can it do so safely?

The 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner has been tried and tested with everything you can possibly imagine. I’ve seen builds range from hardcore overlanding rigs to beautiful grocery getters and everything in between.

This was one of the main reasons I decided to buy one. Whichever direction I wanted to take the truck build, I would readily have some examples and reviews – especially here on Trail4R.com. That and the 4Runner’s durability, because who doesn’t want to buy a truck that will last over 200k miles (on the short end)?

The towing capability was not a deal breaker for buying the 4Runner. We were going to buy it anyway, but one thing I couldn’t find much information on was if it could tow a car. I’m no racecar driver that needs to tow my racecar around the country. Rather, I’m just a novice car enthusiast on a budget. I’m currently building a few project cars that I’d like to be able to take around to car shows. Also, I move a lot, so saving the repeated car transport expense would be a HUGE plus!

While I dive into more detail below, the 5th Gen 4Runner can, in fact, tow a car. The caveat is that it can do so only with a little help. This is where I turned to the Firestone Coil-Rite air bag kit.

Find It Online:

Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit

Research

I did a lot of research on whether this has been done, and if anyone had any experience with towing a vehicle behind their 4Runner. I was only able to find ONE instance online. They did exactly what I was looking to do, towed a car cross country. From the few posts they shared (no pictures, unfortunately), it seemed like it went well. The post was from a few years ago, and yes I reached out to them, but never got a response.

The Experiment

The towing capacity for the 4Runner is 5,000 lbs. The U-Haul trailer weighs about 2,000 lbs, and the rolling Subaru was about 2,500 lbs. This got me just below the max towing capacity.

As you can tell, the sag was real! Here were some of the rough wheel gap measurements BEFORE installing the airbag kit:

Stock Height:

  • Front: Right: 20″ | Left: 19.75″
  • Rear: Right: 22″ | Left: 21.75″

Height with Trailer Only:

  • Front: Right: 20.75″ | Left: 20.5″
  • Rear: Right: 21.25″ | Left: 21″

Height with Car Loaded:

  • Front: Right: 21″ | Left: 20.75″
  • Rear: Right: 19.5″ | Left: 19.25″

From the lack of evidence on if this could have been done or not, I turned my attention to the 4Runners that towed campers.

Now there is A LOT of information out there on this subject, and to save yourself the trouble of reading through another guide to tow a camper, I specifically looked at what these owners did to prevent the rear from sagging.

Since I would rarely have a trailer/car hooked on the 4Runner, I would need something fairly temporary, and also something that didn’t break the bank. Therefore I introduce to you, the Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit.

Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit

These actually don’t need any introduction, but to me, the Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag Kit was groundbreaking. The price was great (just around $100) and seemed to be a great solution for the sag issue at the time. Now this article is more of a novice user’s experience with these and not an official review.

Results

We placed the air fillers on each side respectively, so as to not interfere with the functionality of the liftgate.

We’ve since towed the Subaru, and other utility trailers, and also used the airbags when the truck was loaded with other gear in the trunk. While keeping the minimum ~5 PSI in the airbags, their presence is barely noticeable.

Once you have 20 PSI or more, that’s when the ride gets a lot stiffer. This doesn’t bother us though, since we imagined that towing a car with a 4Runner wasn’t going to have the same ride quality anyway. It’s not perfect, but we didn’t buy the 4Runner for that anyways.

When towing the car, we did some trial runs with different PSI in the airbags, and here are some of the rough wheel gap measurements AFTER the installation. We just used a standard tire inflator with a digital gauge.

Stock Height

  • Front: Right: 20″ | Left: 19.75″
  • Rear: Right: 22″ | Left: 21.75″

Inflating the Air Bags to 26.5 PSI

  • Front: Right: ~20″ | Left: ~19.75″
  • Rear: Right: 21.5″ | Left: 21″

Inflating the Air Bags to 30 PSI

  • Front: Right: ~20″ | Left: ~19.75″
  • Rear: Right: 21.5″ | Left: 21.25″

Inflating the Air Bags to 35 PSI

  • Front: Right: 20″ | Left: 19.75″
  • Rear: Right: 21.75″ | Left: 21.5″

We’ve driven the truck about 10,000 miles since the installation, and so far they are holding up well. However, we’ve probably only had about 500 miles of inflated use. As the title mentions, I almost found out how the cross-country tow would have been. For a few reasons unrelated to the 4Runner’s ability to perform, we ended up having the Subaru transported.

Final Thoughts

The Firestone Coil-Rite Air Bag kit certainly solved the rear sag issue, and at the same time helped with preventing the headlights from beaming to the sky once the trailer was loaded.

So would the 4Runner functionally be able to tow a car cross-country? Absolutely. But would I recommend towing a car cross-country after doing these tests? Absolutely not. Just the fact of having to drive at 60 MPH for hours will drive you mad. Also, the strain that this may cause on the truck and its stock components like the transmission and rear suspension may outweigh the benefit.

I do, however, see myself towing the car and probably even a camper for shorter distances in the future. So if you see yourself in this predicament, try this out at your own risk.

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JT Moreton
JT Moreton
8 months ago

I’ve got some experience towing an Infiniti G35 in my 4Runner Limited. Total towing weight ends up being closer to 5,500lbs for the trailer and car combined. I also carry extra wheels and tires plus tools in the back of the 4runner (~300 lbs). With my setup, I experienced much less suspension sag, and I would probably contribute that to the weight distribution on the trailer. The G35 is longer than your Impreza therefore the center of mass is further back on the trailer. That being said, I noticed very little ride quality change while towing. I am quite impressed with how the 4Runner was able to tow above its rating. It really only lacked in the power department (que supercharger).

For future towing experiences, I would recommend finding a way to center the vehicle better on the trailer to reduce your tongue weight. I think this will allow you to run less pressure in the airbags. With less spring force for your shocks to contend with, your ride quality will improve.

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