Well after over 2 years of ownership of my 2008 Trail Teams Special Edition FJ Cruiser, I will finally begin my build thread!
First off here is a shot from Day 1 of ownership - 12/6/15:
And a photo of basically how she looks today!
If you want to see all the mods I have done to my FJ leading up to the present, then you’re in the right place! But if you just want to see pictures of the adventures and trips I go on with my FJ Cruiser, check out this thread specifically for that: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...es-thread.html
It all began with my last FJ. For that build thread look here: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...trd-build.html. I ended up selling my first FJ before I went to serve a 2 year LDS mission with the intentions of purchasing a new one when I got home. Upon my return, the search began. I searched far and wide for the "perfect" FJ for me which would ideally have these specifications: be a reasonable price, be in good condition, be newer than my last FJ, be a special edition, have less miles than my last one had when I sold it, and hopefully already have decent mods so I can save money on making it off-road capable. Well I eventually found the perfect FJ on Craigslist and it turned out to be everything I had been looking for (except for the mileage which really wasn't a big deal). It turns out the previous owner was actually a member on here too. I ended up flying out to California to pick it up and became the 3rd owner of this awesome FJ! Drove it all the way back to Colorado and here is where it was mod-wise when I bought it.
Baja Rack Standard Basket Rack
ARB Front Bull Bar Bumper with Warn Winch, Fog Lights, and OEM FJ Aux Lights
ARB Rear Bumper with High Clearance Hitch
Icon 2.5" Front Coilovers
Total Chaos UCAs
OME Rear shocks and coils
Metal Tech Aluminum Rear Bump Stop Extensions
Bushwacker Pocket-Style Fender Flares
ARB Safari Snorkel
TRD Cold Air Intake and TRD Cat-back Exhaust
TRD 16" Alloy Wheels in Matte Black Finish
All-Pro Kickout Rock Sliders
Baja Rack Rear Ladder
285/75R16 General Grabbers
Spidertrax 1.25" Wheel Spacers
Springtail Backpack Hooks
Springtail Rear door folding MOLLE rack, Cargo Side rack, and Straddle Racks with M-PAC Bags
Rough Country front UCA bump stops, rear sway bar links, and panhard bar
Needless to say, she was fitted for adventure! In her past though interestingly enough, she had once sported a Rough Country 6" lift! But because the first owner didn't really enjoy the look, it was brought back down to the 3" lift it currently sported. Off-the-bat it drove nice, felt good, and the only things I really noticed were that the rear wiper motor was toast and I wanted to change the nose-down stance it had, and with it having adjustable coilovers, that could be fixed!
The first mod I ended up doing was one of my favorite mods I did on my last FJ, center console lights! I love these! It makes it sooooo nice for seeing the center buttons under the radio and other center console stuff, including my iPod. Check this thread out for more details: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...s-install.html
Around the same time as the rear wiper motor replacement, I also added another unique mod I did from my last FJ, a 3rd brake flight flasher. I just like how it looks and if it helps keep me from being rear ended, then sign me up! I did a write up for this one too: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...e-install.html
Over time the IPF fog lights in the ARB bumper kept burning out so I tried replacing them with high end Sylvania halogen bulbs. Those new bulbs unfortunately didn't last long so I tried adding LED bulbs. But because of the nature of the housing and the multiple LED bulbs I tried were hitting the reflector in the housing and the light thrown out was never the same as a halogen bulb, regardless of bulb LED pattern or brightness. So I eventually added Rigid Industries Duallys mounted sideways on one of the normal fog mounts. These were way bright and amazing but because they were mounted on a plastic tab they did shake a bit when going over rough surfaces like dirt roads.
As Christmas of 2015 came along, I got quite a few goodies to add to the FJ including the visually appealing and functional aluminum hause fairlead from OK Offroad and a Factor 55 ProLink! It really cleaned up the look of the bumper so I didn't have the old, nasty, rusty rollers on the front and the winch line hook just hooking to the front recovery loops. I also added some new cheap LEDs from Amazon. Not sure what they are really but they were advertised as running Osram LEDs and they were a HUGE improvement from the factory bumper-mounted driving lights.
Seeing as my FJ is a Trail Teams Special Edition, for that Christmas mentioned earlier I got the rare Trail Teams billet door sill protectors and they are awesome! Getting all the old residue off from the OEM protectors was a pain but with these on it looks so good and of course matched the Trail Teams badging of the dash and floor mats! More details here: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...installed.html
As mentioned earlier, I always felt the FJ had almost a "nose down" look to it so I finally got the Icon coilovers cranked up a bit to level the ride and boy did it look good! Another item from Christmas I added was a front sway bar relocation kit, as the sway bar was SUPER close to the Icon coilovers.
Soon after this while off-roading and having a good old time with some folks from Utah, I ended up busting a hole in my upper oil pan as the result of the front differential's rear securing bolts both being gone, allowing the front diff to move enough when articulating to come into contact with the oil pan. It was not a fun day to say the least but luckily I was working at Toyota at the time so parts and labor were half off. Thank goodness! Here are some links on the subject: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...-headache.html and https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...d-turning.html
Being the fan of LEDs that I am, and after hearing so many good things about Diode Dynamics, I ended up replacing my dome lights with the SMD12 boards, the mirror lights with the HP5 bulbs, and license plate lights with the HP3 bulbs from Diode Dynamics. They are sweet, look good, and are BRIGHT! But the most import bulb I replaced was the reverse bulbs. I paid for the high end XP50 bulbs for the reverse lights and boy are they worth it! You can actually see when backing up at night! It is a miracle! Check out these threads for details: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forum...installed.html and https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forum...installed.html
One sad thing about the FJ is that the previous owner had worn out the Trail Teams floor mats in such a way that the drivers side mat had torn at the securing hole and the cargo mat had split at the seams. Seeing as finding actual TTSE floor mats was near impossible and any that did pop up were grossly priced, I ended up getting some normal first generation floor mats and found a safe way to transfer the badges from the TT mats over to the regular mats that were in better condition. They have held up till this day and I'm very satisfied! More details here: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forum...at-badges.html
Next on the lift of mods were little things like adding CruiserGear angry eye decals to the headlights as well as painting the Toyota grille logo white to off-set the black of the grille. The previous owner had blacked it out but I loved having the Toyota stand out!
It is also worth mentioning around this time that I battled quite a bit with the ARB turn signals/marker lights. Because they aren’t a sealed housing quite a bit of rust and corrosion had occurred in both housings and though I was able to get one of them to work, the other had to be replaced entirely. I went through some halogen and LED bulbs that failed until I found a great option from SuperBrightLEDs.com that had the LEDs enclosed in a glass housing to be weather resistant and worked great in the ARB turn signals/marker lights! Check out the following links: https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...retrofit/3698/ or https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...ofit-car/1686/
Next I decided it was time to clean up the look of the old halogen headlight bulbs and do what I did with my last FJ, run HIDs from DDM Tuning! Unfortunately DDM changed their H4 Hi/Lo Bi-Xenon bulbs so they weren’t as bulletproof as the last set I owned for my last FJ. Not only did they have mechanical issues but they were also way shaky. Therefore I went a different HID route via Xenon Vision and unfortunately decided to give once I found their HIDs to pretty much still have the shaking issue I was seeing previously. I then made the jump to Zenon Vision’s LED headlight bulbs and I’ve actually been happy with them.
One thing that had always confused me is why the previous owner bought General Grabbers but didn't get the sweet-looking red sidewalls facing out, so that is something I had done at the shop when I went for a tire rotation and balance. The only thing I enjoyed about those Grabbers was the red sidewalls so I'm glad I got them flipped around.
Now we will finally get to some of the exciting stuff! I had a buddy at my school who drove a 2014 FJ Cruiser and he loved my ARB bumper but I had never been a huge fan of it personally. The bumper just felt dated to me and I wanted something lower profile, meaner looking, and different than the average ARB. Luck just so happened to smile on me as I had the opportunity to sell my ARB bumper to my buddy and purchase a used Demello Offroad 3-hoop bumper I found online for a steal of a deal. I felt so lucky! We got together one day along with his other 2 siblings who both also drive FJs and after playing musical bumpers (putting his brush guard on his sisters FJ, putting my ARB on his FJ, and putting the Demello bumper on my FJ) we both had the bumpers we wanted and all was well! The bumper came with some Acro fog lights and I transferred my Warn winch over to the new bumper. Later after it arrived, I installed my custom “FJX2000” engraved Gzila Designs hause fairlead which with the red ProLink cleaned up the bumper really well!
Next mod after the bumper was replacing my old, squeaky OEM lower control arms with Moog LCAs. The ball joints and bushings were wearing out so they were due to be replaced. Forum member RJAMSOIL helped me with the install, thanks bro!
One of the things I added but didn't get photos of was the addition of the CB radio kit I got from PureFJCruiser.com. That way I would have a more permanent setup for events like FJ Summit.
Around this time I also realized some of my OEM switch bulbs had burned out. So I decided to figure out how to replace them so everything would be up to FJX2000 quality standards (and since my OCD was going crazy). Click here for more details on the install: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...tch-bulbs.html
Next we have my WheelSkins leather steering wheel cover. I always loved how the 21012 TTSE had the red accents on the steering wheel and after the leather on my steering wheel was in rough shape, I got this black and white steering wheel cover. It feels good and looks great. More details here: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...eel-cover.html
Up next is a sweet one, Baja Designs LEDs! The Rigid Duallys from my ARB bumper didn’t fit into the fog light holes of the Demello bumper which is why I ended up running the Acro lights in the first place. But these Baja Designs Squadron-R Sports fit the bumper perfect, perform amazing, and look super clean! Got them for a super sweet price from Moore Racing Technology - Top Quality Offroad, Outdoor, Overland & Racing Parts - Homepage during a Black Friday sale.
Next up is a big mod I had been wanting to do for quite some time. I wanted to change my tires since the General Grabbers weren’t anything to brag about and were running low on tread. My dad had purchased toyotacolin’s barely used 315/70R17 BFGoodrich KO2s to put on his Raptor, but since they were Load Range C, none of the shops in town would install them on his truck. Lucky for me the tires were up for grabs and after purchasing my dream wheels, the 17x7” TRD Pro wheels (originally seen on the FJ-S Cruiser Concept seen at the FJ Summit/SEMA where I fell in love with them) I was able to get them put on my FJ and now it is looking sick! The 285s with the Bushwacker fender flares were looking a bit small but these 315s are awesome. They do rub occasionally at full lock but after a little more trimming they should be fine.
Next is a mod that I thought would be super unique and one of a kind, altering my Baja Rack air dam to be a custom CruiserGear one! My buddy owns CruiserGear and I wanted to sport his brand and logo much more than Baja Rack’s, so I stripped the paint of the air dam. Once the surface was clean and prepped, I applied a red vinyl across the air dam and then the CruiserGear decal. It turned out great!
Recently, I was able to install my full RESZ Fab rear link set and panhard bar complete with Duroflex joints. It took quite some time to receive the panhard after ordering it due to bushing parts becoming unavailable It is riding great and the shiny red parts look so awesome. Thanks RESZ Fab! I also installed the quick disconnect rear sway bar links I got from Bazross and they are super sweet! The old links I ran from a 6” Rough Country lift were completely shot so these are a huge upgrade and the links in general have made the ride seem smoother and more comfortable.
I also got flex LED strips back in the Christmas of 2015 but finally got around to installing them 2 ½ years later. I installed them under the front doors and hooked them up to the dome lights so they illuminate the area on the ground at night only when the doors open. They are awesome!
Finally I was able to get around to a project I had been wanting to do for a LONG TIME. At the end of my Spring 2017 semester, a fellow FJer on the Utah FJ Offroad Facebook group posted saying how he was clearing out his garage of FJ parts and was giving away his barely used medium Metal Tech 4x4 long travel coils and Icon 2.0 VS Series long travel shocks for free to the first person who claimed them. I was that first person! So for the past year I had these long travel shocks and springs laying around ready to go, and at the 2013 FJ Summit I actually was given for free a set of Low Range Offroad stainless steel extended rear brake lines during the raffle. With the FJ having the Metal Tech extended rear bumpstops already installed when I bought it, I had everything I needed to run long travel, but I knew my stock links would be an issue with binding at full droop, so I waited. But now that the RESZ Fab links were finally installed which are designed to work with a long travel lift, I was ready to begin the long travel process!
I made an appointment to have the rear coils installed at a shop as I don't have the tools or equipment required to do that install, but I knew if I could do the shocks myself, that would at least save some time and money. Therefore I went ahead and installed the rear shocks! Unsurprisingly the Old Man Emu rear shocks were rusted at the top bolt and on the lower shock mount. So I tried using an angle grinder to take off the shock near the upper mount, but found it was way easier and faster just to use a sawzall to take off the top bushing and nut above the upper mount once you bend the fender metal out of the way a little. Using a lot of rocking and flexing of the lower bushing I was able to persuade the shock off the lower mount eventually. Had to clean up some rust but made it a nice clean surface for the Icon shocks to install on, and boy are they long!
Then in a moment of weakness I bought and installed FJ Toyman rear shock skids. After finally installing the Icon 2.0 VS Series Long Travel Shocks I didn't want them to get ruined while off-roading, and I had seen the skids from FJ Toyman Offroad and loved the design and toughness, so they were a must have! Plus the red powdercoating matched the RESZ Fab links!
Next I decided to tackle replacing the rear brake lines for 20" extended stainless steel braided ones from Low Range Offroad. It wasn't too bad for not knowing what I was doing, but if you wanted to see how it is done I made a detailed YouTube video explaining the process, check it out here:
Then I had a local shop called Rocky Mountain Sprayliners do the install of my Metal Tech 4x4 long travel rear coils and now it is all done! I officially have rear long travel! Still need to get out there and test it but it is looking and feeling great.
And recently I removed my rear sway bar, so now I have even more flex!
Another event that occurred in January of 2019 was my alternator going out! Lasted 129,000 miles so it was to be expected. Started off as the typical alternator whine and then soon I noticed the drop in volatage and the difficulty the FJ had starting up and staying alive. So I just ran down to AutoZone and got a Duralast one. I also ordered a Tacoma one from eBay but it arrived unusable and damaged... Sad day. Either way I installed a 130A alternator intended for a Tacoma with the Towing Package to replace the 100A FJ Cruiser one, now my rig is a little better equipped for the additional accessories.
Kind of a pain to remove, but this was my first ever alternator replacement!
The old and the new (refurbished) alternators.
And that about sums it up for now! So here is the mod list as it stands now. I'm glad to be evolving this FJ to meet my own vision.
The current mod list:
Bushwacker Pocket Style Fender Flares
Baja Rack Basket Style Roof Rack
Baja Rack Rear Door Ladder
Demello Offroad 3 Hoop Bumper (Used to have ARB Bumper)
ARB Rear Bumper with High Clearance Trailer Hitch
Warn M8000 Winch
All Pro Kickout Sliders
Factor 55 ProLink
Diode Dynamics HP5 LEDs - Cool White - Mirror Lights
Diode Dynamics HP3 LEDs - Cool White - License Plate Lights
Diode Dynamics XP50 LEDs - Back Up Lights
Cruiser Gear Angry Eye Headlight Decals
Whited-Out Toyota Grille Logo
XenonVision LED Headlights
Baja Designs Squardon-R Sport Amber Combo Beam
Dash Flex LEDs - 8" White - Mounted under center console
Dash Flex LEDs - 12" White - Mounted under front doors
Springtail Rear Door Folding Rack, side rack, and console rack with M-Pac bags
Diode Dynamics SMD12 LED Board - Cool White - for both dome lights
2013 Trail Teams Door Sill Protectors
Lots of Velcro Patches on the ceiling! Mostly from CruiserGear
WheelSkins EuroTone Black & White Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Premium OEM sound with Subwoofer
Midland 75-822 40-channel CB Radio
Boztec CB Antenna Mount
Firestik Quick Disconnect
Firefly 3ft CB Antenna
TRD Cold Air Intake
TRD Cat-Back Exhaust
Icon 2.5" Coilovers
Total Chaos Upper Control Arms
Old Man Emu Rear shocks and coils (889)
Rough Country Rear Trac Bar
Rough Country 6" Lift Rear Swaybar Links
Rough Country 6" Lift Upper Control Arm Bump Stops
Metal Tech 4x4 Rear Bumpstop Spacer
Generic Front Sway-bar Relocation Kit
Energy Suspension Red Front Sway Bar Bushings
Moog Lower Control Arms
RESZ Fab full rear link set + Panhard Bar (Duroflex joints)
Bazross Custom Rear Sway-bar Quick Disconnect Links
TRD Pro 17" wheels - Midnight Black
315/70R17 BFGoodrich KO2s Load Range C
Spidertrax 1.25" Wheel Spacers
Body Mount Chop
Moog Front Sway Bar Links
Icon 2.0 VS Series long travel shocks
FJ Toyman Shock Skids
Metal Tech Long Travel Rear Springs
Low Range Offroad Rear Extended Brake lines - 20" Stainless Steel
130A Duralast Alternator (for a Tacoma)
Ricochet Skid Plates
Rear Lower Link Armor
Updated! Just added the info about my Icon rear long travel shocks I installed as well as some FJ Toyman skids to keep them looking nice! Check in again soon for updates as this week I complete the long travel with having the rear coils and extended brake lines installed!