Table of Contents
- Complete Step By Step Guide For Replacing The Front Struts On A (4th GEN – 2002-2009 ) 2X4 4Runner
- Which Parts To Buy & Where Buy Your Struts And Not Get Screwed Over
- Reasons I Replaced My Struts And What Problems They Fixed With The Front End
- Toyota Forerunner Suspension Problems
- Toyota 4Runner Limited Front End Sag
- Should You Buy OEM Or Aftermarket Replacement Struts?
- Best Replacement Struts For Toyota 4runner
- 4Runner Strut Replacement Cost
- Where To Buy Replacement Struts For Toyota 4runner
- Should You Buy The 4Runner Springs And Shocks Separately?
- Strut Installation
- How does it ride?
I’m going to come back and update this article months after I’ve installed the struts as well, with an updated ride quality report, parts sourcing info, and more.
Update – I ended up doing a lot more than just front struts on my 4runner, but most of that is due to getting ready to take a 1500 mile plus road trip from Florida to Maine. A big thanks goes out to my cousin Doug, who helped me do all these repairs, and who you’ll see in the videos explaining the majority of the process that will make this easy to follow (even without automotive repair experience).
Complete Step By Step Guide For Replacing The Front Struts On A (4th GEN – 2002-2009 ) 2X4 4Runner
** A big thanks to my cousin Doug for helping me with this project… Wouldn’t have been able to do it without him!
Which Parts To Buy & Where Buy Your Struts And Not Get Screwed Over
Specialty Tools Needed To Remove Tie Rod Ends In Order To Drop The Lower Control Arm To Remove Your Struts
- Ball joint separator: http://amzn.to/2bRhx7J
I had a really bad experience when I first ordered my replacement struts from a company called Auto Anything. They were delayed an extra 12 days within 24 hours of ordering, and then every day I’d get an email with a different shipping date. Needless to say it was impossible to deal with that company, and I reordered my struts on Amazon and had them within two days.
Of course I recommend you do the same, since it took over a week to get my money back from Auto Anything. (did I mention the struts were already installed before they got around to getting my money back to me? 😉 )
I’ll talk about why I think the KYB strut plus replacement kits are the way to go below, but here’s the info to find them since it’s kind of a pain to use Amazon’s search:
Replacement Strut Part Numbers (KYB Strut Plus – Complete Kit Including Shock, Spring, Mounting Plate, & Rubber Bushing Pre-Assembled With Extra Tower Bolt Nuts)
- (front right) KYB SR4119
- (front left) KYB SR4120
- note – fits 2006/4th Gen 4Runners (Except X-REAS and Adjustable Suspensions), Recommended OE Replacement
Reasons I Replaced My Struts And What Problems They Fixed With The Front End
I have been having issues with the front end of my 4Runner for a little while, and it was getting worse when going over speed bumps, driving on brick roads, and even in sharp cornering. The front end was clearly hitting the bump stop on the control arms for quite a while as well.
Toyota Forerunner Suspension Problems
It’s a common problem to have one side of the 4Runner sit a little lower than the other (usually the drivers side is an inch lower than the passenger side), but in some of the limited models, there’s all kinds of reports on some of the 4runner forums about springs wearing out prematurely. I think this is due to installing softer springs in the Limited models compared to the Sport and SR5 models to soften up the ride a little bit. But no doubt it feels like they put V6 springs in a V8 after 100kmi… They’re definitely worn out.
Toyota 4Runner Limited Front End Sag
The original reason I was interested in replacing the front struts on my 4Runner, is I noticed some front end sag when standing in front of the vehicle during a routine waxing. It also looked like the camber was off a little bit as well, even though it had been aligned prior (I think the adjustment was either maxed out, or the sagging wasn’t accounted for correctly when it was up on the lift). Upon further inspection, I could see uneven tire wear on the inner part of the front tires. I knew by all the signs, that the front and was sagging more than it should, and was most likely the springs that needed to be replaced since the shocks just control the damping of the suspension… Not actually supporting the weight of the vehicle.
After doing some research on some of the Toyota 4Runner and Tacoma forums, I noticed a pattern with some of the forerunner limited models… Especially the 2 wheel drive models like mine. I’m fairly certain that they put softer springs in all limited model 4runners, to give it a slightly more cushy ride, but that’s also in line with many reports of front end sag. There’s plenty of instances where people have measured the front end, from the ground to the top of the fender, and the driver side commonly sites an inch lower than the passenger-side.
The other indication I had that there was something going soft in the front end, is the bottoming out over small speed bumps even at slow speed. You could be going 5 to 7 miles an hour and even tap the brakes before speed a bump, and the front end would bottom out on the bump stop, while the rear works perfectly. I’ve hauled jet skis and other assorted trailers with my 4runner, and never had an issue with the rear. But the front springs seem to have outlived it’s lifespan currently, and most likely needs to be replaced if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.
Should You Buy OEM Or Aftermarket Replacement Struts?
I did an absolute TON of research on just replacing the springs and leaving the OEM shocks, but I realized it’s the same amount of work to do either, so why not replace the entire unit for $40 bucks more, right?
After shopping around and getting prices on all the replacement parts, it didn’t make sense to buy OEM equipment for the strut strut replacement project. After all, they had worn out prematurely in the first place, and I’ve been in stock vehicles in the past and done a ride test comparing stock OEM shocks VS KYB’s and the difference is very noticeable. I’ve had friends in the past swear by KYB shocks, and I’ve been on the ride along’s post installation and have seen the difference firsthand. A quick check with KYB, and sure enough they make tons of different struts for all 4Runner and other Toyota models.
I believe the performance and ride quality will be far superior with aftermarket KYB replacement struts, and even cheaper for better quality parts, than the OEM replacements. I know a lot of guys on the 4runner forums love the Bilstein shocks and other brands, but being that my forerunner is a 2X4 model, I have no interest in lifting the front end or changing the stock geometry of the suspension.
Best Replacement Struts For Toyota 4runner
There are a couple of good options for all in one replacement struts for 4th gen 4runners. The most popular and more widely known are the Monroe Quick-Struts, but are only a few bucks cheaper per side compared to the KYB’s. Both are a complete strut replacement kit, and come with everything you needs to swap out the front struts.
I think the KYB Strut + OEM replacement struts, are the best blend of improve performance, ride quality, and price. Around the $120 mark per side, you’re out the door for less than $250 for the parts, which is quite a bit cheaper than the OEM struts through Toyota. Best of all, they come pre-assembled, so you don’t need a spring compressor or bearing press to reinstall the shock inside the spring housing like you normally would. Everything comes already done, and they even supply you with extra shock tower bolt nuts in case the old ones you remove are corroded. The rubber bushing and mounting plate are also included… It’s a direct replacement for the OEM part, and you don’t have to buy anything extra.
4Runner Strut Replacement Cost
I wanted to include this section, because after I put up the step by step video, you can save yourself a lot of money by replacing your struts yourself… With minimal tools too.
The cost to get the dealer to replace the struts is fairly expensive, especially considering you can get the parts for a couple hundred dollars. The replacement struts above with cost you less than $250 if you order the Amazon part numbers I linked to above. Most dealerships quote between $600 and $800 to replace the front struts on a 4th or 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner. And the thing I don’t like about that, is that they’re going to use the same OEM equipment that seemingly is prematurely failing in my opinion. If you scroll up/down and have a look at some of the pictures and videos, you can see the difference between the KYB spring rate in the OEM spring rate. I’ll talk about the difference in ride quality below as well.
Where To Buy Replacement Struts For Toyota 4runner
I wanted to include this section the article because I had a terrible experience with the parts vendor when I first ordered the replacement struts for my forerunner. I ended up buying a KYB+ struts from Amazon, and got them in two days, even though they weren’t even a prime item. I originally ordered from another company called Auto Anything, and the experience was absolutely terrible. They were supposed to arrive within 3 to 4 days, and after I paid I get an email the next day that said they won’t ship out for 14 days which is insane. It took over a week to get my money back, even though I never received any parts, and I’ll never order anything from Auto Anything again.
Here are the part numbers are used in the struts I bought on Amazon
- (front left) KYB SR4120 Strut Plus Complete Corner Unit Assembly
- (front right) KYB SR4119 Strut Plus Complete Corner Unit Assembly
You can get better KYB replacement struts on amazon here for under $250:
Should You Buy The 4Runner Springs And Shocks Separately?
If you’re going to replace either the shocks or the springs separately on your 4runner, I’d encourage you to highly consider replacing them with a complete unit. In order to change out the shocks only, you have to remove the spring, which requires you to drop the lower control arms anyway. If you’re going to go through all this work, may as well spend the extra hundred dollars and replace the whole unit. After you feel the ride quality of the complete replacement, I think you’ll be happy you did.
It’s the same amount of work to disassemble it, just to possibly have to replace either the spring or the shock later if it goes out, so again it makes a ton of sense to replace the entire strut unit with a pre-assembled complete strut assembly.
(update) – Moved the video to the top of the page for easier access. You can see it here on youtube.
Going to add all the videos of us doing this repair to the section. It will show you how to replace the front struts on a Toyota 4Runner 2 Wheel Drive Limited step-by-step. Keep in mind that part numbers, body ride height, and differential disassembly would be slightly different on 4×4 model. Also V8 and V6 matters, as spring weight and engine weight should be different.
How does it ride?
So this is the big question… Did it fix the ride height issues, and does it ride any better than it used to?
The answer is yes to both of those, as you can see in the pictures, the ride height issue has been fixed, and the new struts raise the front end about an 1″ 3/8 after everything settled in. I no longer hit the bump stops over speed bumps either, and the front end is much tighter down brick roads and washboard bumps.
The KYB struts definitely excel at better damping over ruts, cornering, and potholes over stock components. The spring rate is a tiny bit stiffer, and makes the Limited feel closer to the handling of a Sport model, in that it has a little bit tighter suspension in the front end and corners a bit better.
OEM Toyota 4runner shocks & springs compared to KYB
There’s a big difference here, as you can see just by comparing the two on the ground. See that spring rate difference? That is noticeable, but what I think really helps on washboard surfaces and bumpy brick roads, is the improved damping of the KYB shocks. Very happy with this setup, and it’s more comfortable (and cheaper) than the OEM equipment. I would definitely buy KYB struts again for another vehicle, and check out my KYB Strut Plus review to see why I didn’t buy Monroe struts instead.