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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm tired of being a mall-cruising soccer mom. It's horribly boring and it's time to put my 4WD FJ to work.

My roots in 4-wheeling were established out of necessity to get to our horse pastures outside of Flagstaff when I was a kid. I spent half my time between my mom in Yuma, AZ (and the dunes there) and the other half in the pines outside of Flagstaff as my dad was stationed at the Navajo Army Depot.

My dirty secret: my husband wanted to buy the FJ. I didn't want it. I didn't want to get rid of my new Lancer which was a manual transmission and I loved it. My husband can't drive stick though, so he won, I lost, and my compensation was that the FJ would be mine since my Lancer was newer than his 4Runner and I wasn't about to "trade down" to an older model car. Yes, I'm spoiled like that.

So in July of 2006, I got my 2007 Silver 4WD FJ.

My FJ is stock but I'm looking into practical mods for off-roading. It's time to get away from the malls and back to the solitude of the outdoors. My husband supports me but he's totally not interested in 4 wheeling or anything to do with camping, whereas I grew up doing all that stuff. Now that our daughter is nearly 2, I'm ready to learn to be the driver and not the passenger for off-road excursions.

So hi and stuff. :wave:
 

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Kajun Kim
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WELCOME! And you have come to the right spot! There are folks here that can pretty much answer any question you might have. There are talents here beyond your wildest dreams.

I too am from the equestrian background. Hunting, fishing, camping, pretty much anything that involved the outdoors is what my family did. Now as an almost 45 year old mom (he will be 21 in a few weeks) it is my turn to play. My hubby supports my habits without making fun or anything. Now that is cool.

Enjoy your time here and if you have any questions you don't want to post up, just use that little PM button and send me a message. I will point you to the right folks.

Kim
 

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I'm tired of being a mall-cruising soccer mom. It's horribly boring and it's time to put my 4WD FJ to work.

My roots in 4-wheeling were established out of necessity to get to our horse pastures outside of Flagstaff when I was a kid. I spent half my time between my mom in Yuma, AZ (and the dunes there) and the other half in the pines outside of Flagstaff as my dad was stationed at the Navajo Army Depot.

My dirty secret: my husband wanted to buy the FJ. I didn't want it. I didn't want to get rid of my new Lancer which was a manual transmission and I loved it. My husband can't drive stick though, so he won, I lost, and my compensation was that the FJ would be mine since my Lancer was newer than his 4Runner and I wasn't about to "trade down" to an older model car. Yes, I'm spoiled like that.

So in July of 2006, I got my 2007 Silver 4WD FJ.

My FJ is stock but I'm looking into practical mods for off-roading. It's time to get away from the malls and back to the solitude of the outdoors. My husband supports me but he's totally not interested in 4 wheeling or anything to do with camping, whereas I grew up doing all that stuff. Now that our daughter is nearly 2, I'm ready to learn to be the driver and not the passenger for off-road excursions.

So hi and stuff. :wave:
Oooooh boy... you're really opening the can, aren't you. ;)

K... here's the few first things that I *strongly* suggest.

1) Go wheeling. You'll still have a good time totally stock.

Hook up with people who have a variety of different kinds of vehicles, and not just FJ Cruisers, though I'm sure you'll have your eye on whatever FJ Cruisers you see with modifications. The point being to get a first hand experience with the vehicle and figure out what you want to do with it based on FUNCTIONAL RESULTS.

2) Avoid impulse buying. The fever sets in before you know it.

There are tons of people with advice to buy this or that, and it can end up in a fever to bolt one of everything you hear of anyone else getting... onto your FJ Cruiser. This is a bad idea. Not every part of this vehicle needs replacement and dfferent people have different concepts of what "4 wheel driving" means. If you don't notice that the vehicle lacks some sort of capability that you want it to have, then you probably don't need to modify that aspect of it.

3) Be mentally prepared for the wear and tear that you'll put on your vehicle.

Here in Arizona, the shrubs take an immediate toll on the paint job. The rocks scratch away at the bumpers and undercarriage. Even if you never crinkle any sheet metal on an obstacle, you'll quickly become aware of the increased rate of aging on your FJ Cruiser. If that's a problem, be ready for it. Don't fail to keep up on maintenance. Be ready to spend more money on repairs and replacement of worn components than you originally anticipated. Tires, in particular, go faster when driving offroad.

4) Freely ask questions, argue, doubt, and force people to convince you of the validity of their conclusions regarding the decisions they've made to modify their vehicles before you follow suit. If something triggers your bull$#!+ alarm, pay attention to it.

5) Get used to the concept of picking compromise points. Every decision you make will be a choice between having your vehicle be more ROAD-worthy or having it be more OFFROAD-worthy. These goals are diametrically opposed. There is no "have it all" result. For each decision you face, you'll have to decide where along the spectrum you feel most comfortable.

Those are my recommendations on principles to adhere to when considering how to proceed with getting into 4 wheeling.

Dirt tires are usually the first thing most people put on a 4x4 in order to upgrade it's performance offroad. You'll see two broad varieties "All-Terrain" and "Mud-Terrain", although the mud type is really just a more aggressive tread pattern that is more specialized for offroad (not specifically mud) and the All-Terrain (AT) type is really a street tire that is a touch beefier so that it can do better offroad.

MT's are generally more capable offroad at the cost of being noisy on the road. Don't agonize over tread design too much. There's very little science other than big open voids between big fat lugs grab really well, but then the rubber is more likely to chunk away. If you get really aggressive tread, be prepared for problems with wheel balancing. Losing a chunk of rubber off of the tread is like losing a balance weight of almost twice that mass from the inside of the rim.

The most important aspect of offroad tires isn't the tread, though, it's the sidewall. Sidewall durability cannot be over emphasized. Many dirt tires die an early death (get thrown away with lots of tread left) because of getting the sidewall ripped open which is not repairable.

Larger tires increase ground clearance, which is a huge plus. That being said, the larger the tire, the more chance there is that it won't fit properly and will rub inside the wheel well during driving on rocks.

Many people think that you can do a lift kit and then fit larger tires. This is true, however, only for a car that remains parked. The types of lift kits typically done for the FJ Cruiser make it stand up a bit taller and give more ground clearance, but the suspension still goes up and down in the same space that it did before. If the tire would rub without a lift kit, then it will rub with a lift kit too... excpet perhaps not so often.

The best first modification for an FJ Cruiser would probably be dirt tires.

There are a variety of ways to decrease the risk of crushing important parts of the vehicle on rocks (other than intelligent driving), and increased ground clearance is one. Another is armor.

There are a variety of ways to armor the vehicle. Rock sliders are bars that go under the rocker panel (threshold of the car door) and protect it from rocks that might hit from below or scratch along from the side. There are also skid plates that can be bolted over sensitive bits.

Consider armor.

Finally, there's lift kits. The simplest ones are spacers that bolt into the exsisting suspension components. Spacer kits are inexpensive, but you need to get longer rear shock absorbers too. These kits are easy to install. A reasonably clever driveway mechanic can do a spacer kit in a day and have time left over.

The next tier is hybridized kits with some spacers and some upgraded springs. After that there are various types of complete suspension replacements with improved performance.

If you're going to get larger tires, then do a lift kit at the same time or before.

One clear "flaw" in the FJ Crusier design is that the front wheel well is limited by a stupid bracket that sticks out of the frame to take a bolted rubber mount holding the body onto the frame. This sticks forward into the wheel well slightly and rubs on larger tires. It can be safely trimmed back in a maneuver folks here call a "body mount chop". There are a half dozen versions of this procedure mentioned on this board. A reasonable garage shop guy can do this in a couple of hours. It's a major improvement if it gets you some peace of mind with decent tires.

Welcome to the forum. Welcome to the mania.

Consider marriage counselling up front, and avoid the turmoil down the road. ;)
 

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Welcome Aboard! Take it out and see what she can do!:bigthumb::wave:
 

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Congrats and welcome aboard!
 

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Welcome! Spend some time here. It's a great place to hang out.
Chuck:)
 

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Welcome!!!!!!:cheers:

You will find this forum and the FJ community around it are a great bunch.
 

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Kajun Kim
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Are you having fun yet???? Welcome again!!

Kim
 

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I spent a lot of time in those places you stated. Lived in AZ for 12+ years.

My FJ was stock untill about 6 months ago. It went all over the place! Simple mods I would think of doing are... a set of sliderd to protect the rocker panels, and maybe some nice skid plates. Then do as you want, get out there with a group and learn a bit on how to drive. If you need more mods, it will become evident as you progres.

Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Daaaaaaaaamn! Talk about hearing from the welcome wagon! Thanks y'all!

Anyway, not to worry guys and gals....I'm a bit of a hard-sell on upgrades. My husband is the impulse buyer in the family and I'm the one who takes forever to make a decision and usually opts out. Like I said, I want practical mods. I'm not about to buy anything I really don't need-- I want to be a casual, yet serious 4-wheeler--so someone would definitely have to put up a good argument if I can't see the value in a particular mod.

And the AZ pin-striping doesn't really bother me too much...kind of comes with the territory. Besides, it's really not much worse than door-dings from the mall-rats. :lol:


My "obstacle" will be building confidence in my driving ability because I've mainly been a passenger on the trails. I've only driven a very few times and I was given such good direction that I might as well have not even been driving...that and I was driving a manual...and now that I have an automatic, I see new challenges in "trusting" my FJ to do the work for me.

Really, I'm interested in starting out somewhat easy and graduating to a moderate difficulty, and I'm hoping to avoid needing to be winched out of any situations. I can take a little body damage, but I'd like to keep it to a minimum--some of that will be due to driving skill and some of it is unavoidable. Over and above that I will leave for the experts in their rock buggies and the crazy people who don't care about body damage, broken parts and the amount of money it takes to fix both.

I have to say that I'm really glad to see other women here. Seems like AZ 4-wheeling is a predominately male interest--or at least it has been in my experience.

Keep the suggestions coming because I'm definitely interested in getting a wide knowledge base before I get too far ahead of myself. :bigthumb:

Thanks to everyone who took the time to post. Most appreciated! :wave:
 

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Hey there! Just and FYI, If you two are free tomorrow stop by Firebird International Raceway. I am a member of the Toyota Trail Teams and an FJ owner myself. We would be happy to answer all your questions and you can check out some of our slightly modified rigs.

If you do not know who the Trail Teams are, well basically we are a team comprised of off road professionals and off road enthusiasts who all share a passion for the outdoors. We attend various off road events though out the year as well as off road get togethers where we get to camp out and lead trail rides showing off the features of the FJ as well as educating others about trail safety, recovery and etiquette. This year we have added a Tundra and a modified Tacoma to the teams.

Enjoy your FJ and stop by if you have the time!! Monday we split and one team goes to Moab and my team heads to Missouri!

:)

I am warning you though, once you mod you cannot turn back!!
 

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AZFJ.org We(the locals) post all kinds of runs there.....next week(Sun.5/4) We will be taking a trip to Milk Ranch....A 1/2 day event that takes you from north Phoenix to the south side of the Bradshaw mountains.....I have it listed as "Milk Ranch run with Homedad"......It'll be a somewhat easy trail with incredible veiws and no humans for miles.....set up as a newbie run with no chance of damage....you should pack a lunch and come with....

Otherwise the local group does post on this site ....but the AZFJ.org site has become the place to post all the local stuff.....
 

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Welcome aboard!
 

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welcome to the forum
 
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