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While I have no plans to get a lift right now, I will probably get one eventually. I understand the very basic concept, add more distance between the axle and the frame, thus giving you more clearance. But I do not have an understanding of all the details. How does an IFS handle the extra angle? If a 3" lift is added is there any increase in articulation, or just space? Is there a way to get articulation without a lift? Kits seem fairly small on parts... what about the control arms, sway bars, etc? Do lifts risk a less safe highway vehicle? Will a lift control the stability control and/or ATRAC, etc, etc.

Can somebody point me to a primer. I tried a few searches, but I just don't know the vocabulary.
 

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For the front suspension, this is a simple way of thinking about it and the install of a lift.
Think of the articulation as a scale from 0-5. 0 being full compression and 5 being full extension. At stock height, the FJ sits at 2.5 (in the middle). If you add a lift, say OME, it simply puts you at a point say 4 in that range.
It does not increase articulation, you may even argue that it reduces articulation since the springs are now firmer and want to prevent compressing more. The rear is similar but different because it is an axle set-up.
Any time you raise a vehicle it raises it's c.o.g. (center of gravity). However, this is generally obtained by using stiffer springs so it will have less body roll because of this.
I actually noticed less body roll with the OME springs installed.
 

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Depends RC lifts lower the whole strut down which could allow you more articulation downward of 1-1/2 inches. Sway bars prevent this actual gain unless both wheels are off the ground together, and upward extra articulation is stopped by the lower control arm bump stop.
 

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Drop bracket 6" kits don't increase articulation either. The lower control arm is the same one that came, stock. It still goes through the same amount of angular change up and down. The length of travel is still the same, from full droop to full compression. It just happens farther from the wheel well. The only thing that will increase the length of travel in front of an IFS system is longer control arms.

The reason to get a lift kit is NOT because of extra clearance in the wheel well. This is precisely the fallacy that many people fall into. If a given set of tires and wheels would rub without a lift, then it will rub WITH the lift too, unless something is done to stop the wheel from rising up all the way into the wheel well. This would be by way of dropping the bump stops (limiting up-travel) or else by using the drop-bracket technique which moves the entire arc of travel down out of the front wheel well.

If you want to make sure that a wheel clears the wheel well, then "clearance" the wheel well. That is, modify the wheel well itself in order to gain the clearance you need.

The role of a suspension lift kit is that it moves the underbelly up away from the ground. It increases ground clearance under many important parts of the vehicle. This is manifest mostly as an increase in breakover angle. Breakover angle is defined as the "complement of the greatest angle drawn between the wheel tangents and the undersurface of the car in a profile plan view". It does not increase the actual ground clearance which is the minimum distance between the lowest part of the vehicle (not on the wheel) and the ground. The lowest part of the vehicle is typically the differential housing in the axle, and the only way to raise this up is to go with a larger diameter tire or swap to a different design of axle.

A lift kit decreases the amount of times you hear your under-parts scraping on rocks.

Bigger tires help a lot too.

For the IFS FJ Cruiser, there are several options for mucking with the suspension:

1) Spacer lifts (with extended shocks for the rear)
2) Combined spacer/spring kits (with extended shocks)
3) Replacement shocks/springs for front and rear
4) Replacement rear links with any of the above
5) Replacement front upper or lower control arms with any of the above.
6) Drop bracket kits that drop the front lower control arm, with the above.

or...

7) Totally redesigning the suspension and custom building it (solid axle swap)

Mostly, people do a "3 inch lift" which really just moves the existing suspension components down away from the frame a little bit. This is a good ground clearance upgrade without any significant issues regarding handling on or offroad. Many of these kits come with improved performance springs and shocks, which actually help make use of the potential suspension travel better than stock parts.

The least expensive lift is a spacer kit, and there are several available. Toytec sells a couple and they do hybrid options. Daystar makes a pure spacer kit. Revtek does too, and they'll sell you a decent pair of shocks along with it. These are moderate to advanced do-it-yourself projects or can be done by a shop.

Spacer kits utilize the stock springs which are fine. Everyone agrees that they feel stiffer than stock configuration, but I'm not exactly sure why. I've talked to people about it and it doesn't completely make sense that it should act stiffer, but I have to agree - having driven these things before and after, multiple times.

People typically do a wheel/tire upgrade along with their lift kit, in order to get the biggest improvement they can get, for their money. They often do the "body mount chop" which you can read about here with a search. The body mount chop is a fairly basic project for anyone who has rudimentary cut and weld capability in their garage, or you can get a shop to do it too.

My strongest advice, for anyone who is looking to upgrade parts on their FJ Cruiser, is that if this is your first 4x4, start by 4-wheeling the thing, stock, first.

This is because there are a ton of people here doing a ton of different things to their FJC's, and all for different reasons. Because of the different things that people mean by "4-wheeling", it's very hard to use the advice you get as gospel. My goals for my FJC may be very different than yours. My choices may be counterproductive for you.

Go wheeling with different people in different types of 4x4's. See what aspects seem to work better in the conditions YOU wheel in. Then, start looking at what you have on the menu, between available parts and budget.

Work backward from a goal to a plan.
 

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Drop bracket 6" kits don't increase articulation either. The lower control arm is the same one that came, stock. It still goes through the same amount of angular change up and down. The length of travel is still the same, from full droop to full compression. It just happens farther from the wheel well. The only thing that will increase the length of travel in front of an IFS system is longer control arms.

The reason to get a lift kit is NOT because of extra clearance in the wheel well. This is precisely the fallacy that many people fall into. If a given set of tires and wheels would rub without a lift, then it will rub WITH the lift too, unless something is done to stop the wheel from rising up all the way into the wheel well. This would be by way of dropping the bump stops (limiting up-travel) or else by using the drop-bracket technique which moves the entire arc of travel down out of the front wheel well.

If you want to make sure that a wheel clears the wheel well, then "clearance" the wheel well. That is, modify the wheel well itself in order to gain the clearance you need.

The role of a suspension lift kit is that it moves the underbelly up away from the ground. It increases ground clearance under many important parts of the vehicle. This is manifest mostly as an increase in breakover angle. Breakover angle is defined as the "complement of the greatest angle drawn between the wheel tangents and the undersurface of the car in a profile plan view". It does not increase the actual ground clearance which is the minimum distance between the lowest part of the vehicle (not on the wheel) and the ground. The lowest part of the vehicle is typically the differential housing in the axle, and the only way to raise this up is to go with a larger diameter tire or swap to a different design of axle.

A lift kit decreases the amount of times you hear your under-parts scraping on rocks.

Bigger tires help a lot too.

For the IFS FJ Cruiser, there are several options for mucking with the suspension:

1) Spacer lifts (with extended shocks for the rear)
2) Combined spacer/spring kits (with extended shocks)
3) Replacement shocks/springs for front and rear
4) Replacement rear links with any of the above
5) Replacement front upper or lower control arms with any of the above.
6) Drop bracket kits that drop the front lower control arm, with the above.

or...

7) Totally redesigning the suspension and custom building it (solid axle swap)

Mostly, people do a "3 inch lift" which really just moves the existing suspension components down away from the frame a little bit. This is a good ground clearance upgrade without any significant issues regarding handling on or offroad. Many of these kits come with improved performance springs and shocks, which actually help make use of the potential suspension travel better than stock parts.

The least expensive lift is a spacer kit, and there are several available. Toytec sells a couple and they do hybrid options. Daystar makes a pure spacer kit. Revtek does too, and they'll sell you a decent pair of shocks along with it. These are moderate to advanced do-it-yourself projects or can be done by a shop.

Spacer kits utilize the stock springs which are fine. Everyone agrees that they feel stiffer than stock configuration, but I'm not exactly sure why. I've talked to people about it and it doesn't completely make sense that it should act stiffer, but I have to agree - having driven these things before and after, multiple times.

People typically do a wheel/tire upgrade along with their lift kit, in order to get the biggest improvement they can get, for their money. They often do the "body mount chop" which you can read about here with a search. The body mount chop is a fairly basic project for anyone who has rudimentary cut and weld capability in their garage, or you can get a shop to do it too.

My strongest advice, for anyone who is looking to upgrade parts on their FJ Cruiser, is that if this is your first 4x4, start by 4-wheeling the thing, stock, first.

This is because there are a ton of people here doing a ton of different things to their FJC's, and all for different reasons. Because of the different things that people mean by "4-wheeling", it's very hard to use the advice you get as gospel. My goals for my FJC may be very different than yours. My choices may be counterproductive for you.

Go wheeling with different people in different types of 4x4's. See what aspects seem to work better in the conditions YOU wheel in. Then, start looking at what you have on the menu, between available parts and budget.


Work backward from a goal to a plan.


Huge Help. That was awesome. Now I have a follow question..... since I have the TT, with the Bilstein shocks and I love my 16" TRD wheels. That said, what would be my best option for getting the most out of my rig while keeping the TRD wheels??

Tim
 

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Huge Help. That was awesome. Now I have a follow question..... since I have the TT, with the Bilstein shocks and I love my 16" TRD wheels. That said, what would be my best option for getting the most out of my rig while keeping the TRD wheels??

Tim
Tim, I won't answer for the doc, but you can keep your TRD wheels and just move up to a bigger tire. You'll have to do your own research for the right suspension setup. I would say stay away from the 6" lifts and find a quality 3" coilover setup.

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/suspension-tech/3161-complete-lift-listing-comparison-they-re-all-here.html
 

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Tim, I won't answer for the doc, but you can keep your TRD wheels and just move up to a bigger tire. You'll have to do your own research for the right suspension setup. I would say stay away from the 6" lifts and find a quality 3" coilover setup.

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/suspension-tech/3161-complete-lift-listing-comparison-they-re-all-here.html
I second that.

I would add that I'm an advocate of adjustable coilovers.

There are several high quality non-adjusting options, and you wouldn't be dissatisfied with their performance. The Old Man Emu suspension components, for example, are high quality, but you have a choice of one of 3 spring rates and a fixed spring perch position.

Adjustables typically come with a longer-than-stock springs, and they're typically good quality (mine are by Eibach) but the upper spring perch is a giant nut on fine threads around the shock body. This is good because you can install the coilovers, then see where the suspension sits, and finally crank the spring perch up or down to get the ride height that you want.

When you decide, later, that you want to add a heavy plate-metal bumper and a winch, you just adjust the coilovers accordingly. When you kill that bumper and decide to try a lighter tube bumper, you adjust again.

If, on the other hand, you go with a fixed position and a fixed spring rate like the OME components, you'll end up with different ride heights with these different choices of bumper. You may end up wanting different springs. Changing out springs is a pain.
 

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This thread has helped me out as well. I too, want to keep my 16in rims and lift my FJ. I want to more and more since I finally saw a 3in lifted FJ in person the other day for the first time!!!
 

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Tim, I won't answer for the doc, but you can keep your TRD wheels and just move up to a bigger tire. You'll have to do your own research for the right suspension setup. I would say stay away from the 6" lifts and find a quality 3" coilover setup.

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/suspension-tech/3161-complete-lift-listing-comparison-they-re-all-here.html
Thank you very much. I am asking for some hand holding, but given the above, what adjustable set up would you recommend and where should I get it?

Thanks in advance
 

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You really have to take into account what YOU mean when you talk about 4 wheel driving. I'm in Arizona, and I take trails which are primarily rocky, slow driving. In this sort of situation, the shock absorbers are less important than the springs.

On the other hand, some people like to drive fast on open dirt roads, or they want to find a different "optimization point" in the compromise between on-road and off-road behavior. These people would be much more interested in the actual characteristics of their shock absorbers than I.

I got the Walker Evans external reservoir coilovers and rear shocks from All-Pro. I liked them because of the adjustable spring perches, the adjustable damping (so I could play with it) and the fact that they're totally rebuildable. I've sent the rears in for a rebuild one time because the road grit had made pits in the shafts, which in turn had abraided the seals, causing a tiny fluid leak. They rebuilt them and sent them back, charging me for only the new shafts. This was far cheaper than new shocks! Now, I've covered the shafts with shock boots... we'll see if this lengthens the life.

Fox makes coilovers with adjustable spring perches. Donahoe, I think, does as well. There are probably several more coming from other well established manufacturers, too. I'm not sure I could honestly tell the difference.
 

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I've been reading this forum topic since I got my Fj and have learned a heck of a lot. But this particular thread, thanks to BellyDoc, cracks that nut, spills it out on the table, and makes it clear for any "dumb newbie" (like me) :) to finally have it all sink in! I think this one should be stickied as "Lifts for Dummies" as the OP so aptly titled it. Thanks Doc! :rocker::clap::cheers:
 

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Thank you very much. I am asking for some hand holding, but given the above, what adjustable set up would you recommend and where should I get it?

Thanks in advance
It's really hard to give advice on subjects like this. Ultimately the best thing you can do is read all you can then find some friends with different setups and see if you can bum a ride or get them to give you the keys for a bit on the trail. I have the same setup as Bellydoc (Walker Evans) and I like what I have.
 

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Everyone has given GREAT advice so far. I can speak from experience. I bought a lift, went to a wrench day with other FJ owners, and decided not to lift mine that day. I'm so happy I didn't. I rode in as many rigs as I could and got feedback from all the different brands I could. Camburg, OME, Donahoe/Icon, Fox, SAW, etc. My advice to you is to see if you have any local get-togethers of other FJ owners and ask away. All the owners love to talk about and showcase their vehicles. Take full advantage and don't rush into your decision. I almost made a wrong decision, but thanks to my hesitation, I waited and researched more. I am very happy with my final result. Good luck!
 

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Everyone has given GREAT advice so far. I can speak from experience. I bought a lift, went to a wrench day with other FJ owners, and decided not to lift mine that day. I'm so happy I didn't. I rode in as many rigs as I could and got feedback from all the different brands I could. Camburg, OME, Donahoe/Icon, Fox, SAW, etc. My advice to you is to see if you have any local get-togethers of other FJ owners and ask away. All the owners love to talk about and showcase their vehicles. Take full advantage and don't rush into your decision. I almost made a wrong decision, but thanks to my hesitation, I waited and researched more. I am very happy with my final result. Good luck!
Thanks for the advice. I almost just picked one up, but I have taken a step back and continued to research. This whole thread has been very helpful. I think you are right, I need to wait and go to a few more events before rushing into anything.
 

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Toytec / OME $399.99 3" lift kit w/ 885 OME coils FTW! (See Part # FJ3-FRCC at 3" FJ Cruiser Lift.)

Included in kit:
-2 OME Front lift coil springs (884 coils are the standard Light front coils, 885 are medium)
-ToyTec Top plate spacers For a full 3" front lift
-6 top plate studs
-2" lift ToyTec "stock ride" rear coil springs (10% increase above stock capacity and spring rate for the best ride and flex)
-Installation instructions

I love mine!
 

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Thanks for the advice. I almost just picked one up, but I have taken a step back and continued to research. This whole thread has been very helpful. I think you are right, I need to wait and go to a few more events before rushing into anything.
If you have any questions, just PM me. I'm no expert, but I can definitely give you a point of view, and I can definitely get the right answer from the expert friends I have gotten; mostly through this forum!
 

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Nice thread guys. Thanks for the info. I'm still on the fence as far as what, if any, suspension mod I want to do to my TT.
 

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Everyone has given GREAT advice so far. I can speak from experience. I bought a lift, went to a wrench day with other FJ owners, and decided not to lift mine that day. I'm so happy I didn't. I rode in as many rigs as I could and got feedback from all the different brands I could. Camburg, OME, Donahoe/Icon, Fox, SAW, etc. My advice to you is to see if you have any local get-togethers of other FJ owners and ask away. All the owners love to talk about and showcase their vehicles. Take full advantage and don't rush into your decision. I almost made a wrong decision, but thanks to my hesitation, I waited and researched more. I am very happy with my final result. Good luck!
Landy,
I just moved to the DFW area and looking for the very type of gathering you mentioned... any hints or advice?

Thanks to everyone for dumbing this down for us newbs. :clap:
 

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Landy,
I just moved to the DFW area and looking for the very type of gathering you mentioned... any hints or advice?

Thanks to everyone for dumbing this down for us newbs. :clap:

Wow, you have awakened a thread from 2008! We probably won't have any get togethers in the DFW area until February (January has the Jamboree)

Even if you don't want to wheel your FJC yet, you could definitely come to the Jamboree

Lone Star Toyota Jamboree | January 13th - 16th 2011, Gilmer, Texas |

That would give you lots of exposure. If you want to get together before then and talk through the different options that would be cool too. I could gather some local guys together who really know their stuff. Shoot me a PM.

Let me know! :cheers:
 

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My strongest advice, for anyone who is looking to upgrade parts on their FJ Cruiser, is that if this is your first 4x4, start by 4-wheeling the thing, stock, first.

This is because there are a ton of people here doing a ton of different things to their FJC's, and all for different reasons. Because of the different things that people mean by "4-wheeling", it's very hard to use the advice you get as gospel. My goals for my FJC may be very different than yours. My choices may be counterproductive for you.

Go wheeling with different people in different types of 4x4's. See what aspects seem to work better in the conditions YOU wheel in. Then, start looking at what you have on the menu, between available parts and budget.

Work backward from a goal to a plan.
Well said!

There are many different kits and they are expensive. Before you spend the money make sure you are getting the kit you want. However, the more you wheel, you might be changing your equipment. When I got my FJC, I went with an OME lift and ARB bumper. I've always like desert running motorcycles. I then started desert running my FJC. The OME is not great for highspeed desert running. So, I know have a Total Chaos long travel set up.
 
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