Just got a CPO 2017 GX460 Premium, and I'm an offroad newbie looking for advice. (1 Viewer)

Joined
Jun 13, 2020
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21
Location
Nevada
Hi Everyone,

First off, thank you to all of the posters who have gotten me this far. I've been reading as much here as I can, and I'm grateful for all of the vast information on the site. It's really great, and I deeply appreciate the effort it takes to run a forum like this (so also thanks to the moderators and owners). :)

Just got a GX460 Premium certified pre-owned a couple weeks ago. As much as I wanted a gray or black one, the white seemed more practical (and it was in the best shape / mileage from the ones I looked at). Anyway, I'm on the fence about some stuff.

In a few months, we will be moving to a fairly rural area of northern Nevada. Because I do like to use BLM land for recreational shooting and hiking I was thinking I'd lift the 460 a little to get some additional ground clearance. Nothing too extreme. I don't abuse my stuff generally and since I opted for the Platinum extended warranty (I have bad luck sometimes) I don't want to venture too far out and cause warranty denials later on.

Thus far, here's what I'm looking at -

1) Getting the MTS and Crawl control happening. Already ordered the MTS module and the CC switch (thanks again to the great info on which part numbers and install instructions!). Hopefully I can install these without messing anything up too badly.

2) There's a local place called 88Rotors, and I've been discussing suspension options. My goal is to keep things as simple and bulletproof / low maintenance as possible. The nearest Lexus dealer is about an hour from where I'll be living, so my desire is to be as self-sufficient as I can reasonably be. Usage will just be BLM roads and maybe a few medium difficulty trails. I have zero interest in the rock crawling thing, it scares the crap out of me just watching other people do it. ;)

Here's where I'm at in terms of a prospective setup:

Fox 2.5 non-reservoir coilovers, Eibach springs, Method 17" wheels, and either Toyo AT3's or K02's in 275/70/17. 2" lift.

And here's what I'm stuck on:

- UCA choice. From all the reading I've been doing, and for my needs of lowest maintenance and dummy-proofness, I'm leaning towards the Dobinsons UCA's. I like that they're sealed and use the Japanese ball joints. The uniball options didn't appeal to me because I've gathered that they're more prone to wear and won't be as low maintenance in the long term (I realize they have advantages, but I'm not sure those would help in my scenario).

- Wheels / tire size and spare location. Since it looks like going up in size of the tires will force me to not use the stock spare location, this is a bit of a sticking point. I haven't seen many good options here. Losing a good amount of the already-limited cargo space doesn't appeal much to me, and the spare carrying options haven't stood out as great. The upcoming Ronin metal rear carrier looks good in the single pic on the site, but it's hard to say (plus, I'm really ignorant about this stuff in the first place). Right now, if I decide to pull the trigger, I'm thinking I'll carry the spare in the cargo area until the Ronin option appears, and make a decision then. Hoping that's sound thinking, but not sure.

- In order to maximize longevity, should I also have the installers replace the panhard rod and links, or would that only be applicable to situations unlike mine? I'd rather buy-once-cry-once than wish I had done it later. Especially if it takes strain off of the KDSS components or things like that. It's not a gigantic investment to get those parts, so if there's a long-term advantage I'm open to it. Is there?

- I like the idea of larger non-reservoir shocks. The Ironman Foam Cell Pros seem great from what I've read, but the installer doesn't carry them. Are they better than Fox to the extent that it would be worth buying them and just having the shop install those instead?

Enough of me droning on and on. Sorry about that, just wanted say hi and maybe get some advice about some stuff that's been swimming in my head non-stop for a couple weeks.

Thanks in advance for any replies,
Sfx
 
Joined
May 23, 2003
Messages
265
Location
Ballard / Seattle WA
Sfx - Sounds like you are off to a good start in thinking through your build for Nevada terrain...

I have been on a parallel path and just returned from a first "shakedown" trip with recent upgrades in place on a 2013 GX (basic). A couple notes:

1 - With a 2" lift, UCA may not be required, I installed a Radflo 2.5 (adjustable, non-reservoir) suspension upgrade with no UCA.
2 - Depending on budget and desires, there are options to stick with a factory 18inch wheel. I went tall/skinny with a 255/70R 18 (GY Duratrac) on factory wheels.
3 - If you have plan to add heavier accessories (bumper, winch, armor, drawer system, RTT, etc) rate your springs to that load

Agree, location for oversize spare a bit of a conundrum... the JW Offroad solution looks like a good solution.

Good success with your build.

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r2m

Richard
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
Messages
3,082
Location
San Clemente, CA
First off, congrats on your new rig!!
Now, one thing you did not mention and you should have at least a minimum of is some under carriage armor.
Get some skid plates. Never know if you go over something you don't see on the trail or even fire road and you bottom out hard on a rock or something.
It's relatively cheap insurance and peace of mind on the trail.
Also, not sure if you've seen any of the rear hitch/receiver type tire carriers. There are some slick looking ones AND a couple of guys designing and building swing-out tire carrier while still keeping the factory rear bumper!
But what ever you do, don't keep your spare on top of your rig. You don't need the weight up there (increases your CG), keeps you from a lot of parking garages or drive through car washes, may buckle your roof and it just plain does not look good (IMHO).
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
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2,422
Location
Texas
You'll likely get a different suggestion on parts from every single one of us that replies to this thread. In all honesty, there aren't really any bad options on the market for these trucks. Pick a price point or something that will match your travel desires and needs and find the best price on it and move forward.

I went with Ironman FCP's, I was dead set on King's but I got a killer deal on the FCP's and I couldn't pass it up. I am extremely happy with them, no regrets whatsoever other than you are stuck with their coils due to the larger shock body. King's are fantastic but like the uniball UCA's they will require more maintenance.

285/70's definitely won't fit in the stock spare location but that location is kind of terrible to begin with. I'd run the spare in the cargo area until you come up with a rear bumper/carrier solution, I currently do the same. I did fit a 255/70/18 in the stock location which is what I ran on the vehicle stock and prior to the lift.

Ironman FCP's, SCS SR8 17x8.5's, and 285/70/17 Nitto Ridge Grappler's.

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Joined
Mar 14, 2013
Messages
609
Greetings, welcome to the GX club. Everyone that has posted on this are in the process of building solid vehicles and offer equally solid advice. Being new to offroad driving and vehicle building may I suggest that you look for a I4WDTA certified trainer in your area to learn to use the tool you purchased.


By working with a trainer you will learn what your vehicle is capable of and what you as a driver are capable of.


My final input is to be mindful of weight. Overland vehicles quickly go over GVWR, nothing ruins vehicle driving dynamics more than weight, especially a roof top tent 6’+ above center mass.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2020
Messages
21
Location
Nevada
Thank you for taking the time to reply, everybody. Some great thoughts and ideas here, and some sweet setups in the pics! Also the thoughts on keeping the weight down are very much on my mind. Getting some training driving offroad is a solid idea too. I train for all the other stuff I don't know much about and want to get into, so this is no different and some guidance would be very helpful. I'll look into options there after we move and settle in a bit.

It definitely seems like one of those things where a person like me needs to be careful with their choices. It appears easy to go too far with the mods and end up in a spot where the truck doesn't really fit the need, but maybe that's just part of the fun of it. Vehicles as recreational items is a new-again concept to me, or at least one that I hadn't considered much since I was younger (grew up on a farm and all my friends had ATV's and dirt bikes). I want to end up with plenty of capability, but not go so overboard that it starts degrading the utility of the truck to do everyday tasks. Plus, gotta watch the $.

When I get a couple of good questions going, I'll pop back in. Won't be long. :) In the meantime, thanks so much again for the ideas and photos.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
165
Location
California
Welcome to the forum! I have 275/70R-17 tires and they will NOT fit in the spare tire location especially if you have a hitch. If you want a spare you're going to want one of the spare tire carriers out there. Since you're in LA, stop by JW Offroad and check theirs out too. I have a spare tire and currently keep it inside the truck. Only temporary until I can save some cash for a tire carrier. I've pretty much narrowed it down to JW Offroad or Victory4x4's upcoming rear bumper (depends on what it looks like and how heavy it is).
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2020
Messages
410
Location
Colorado Springs
Welcome Sfx!

As other have mentioned, you're absolutely asking the right questions and with that mindset, you'll do well setting up the rig. Here's my $0.02 on your specific questions:

- UCA choice. From all the reading I've been doing, and for my needs of lowest maintenance and dummy-proofness, I'm leaning towards the Dobinsons UCA's. I like that they're sealed and use the Japanese ball joints. The uniball options didn't appeal to me because I've gathered that they're more prone to wear and won't be as low maintenance in the long term (I realize they have advantages, but I'm not sure those would help in my scenario).

I like the sealed ones too and considered Dobinsons. Casual-to-medium duty rigs don't need uniballs and I'd agree that the maintenance isn't worth it if you don't need them. I went with JBA UCA's for that reason, but seriously considered the Dobinsons as well, would be a great pick IMO.

- Wheels / tire size and spare location. Since it looks like going up in size of the tires will force me to not use the stock spare location, this is a bit of a sticking point. I haven't seen many good options here. Losing a good amount of the already-limited cargo space doesn't appeal much to me, and the spare carrying options haven't stood out as great. The upcoming Ronin metal rear carrier looks good in the single pic on the site, but it's hard to say (plus, I'm really ignorant about this stuff in the first place). Right now, if I decide to pull the trigger, I'm thinking I'll carry the spare in the cargo area until the Ronin option appears, and make a decision then. Hoping that's sound thinking, but not sure.

IMO, all the current options for tire carriers just "work", none work well. I, too, am hopeful for Ronin to actually start making his version, I think it's going to hit the nail on the head for my needs.

- In order to maximize longevity, should I also have the installers replace the panhard rod and links, or would that only be applicable to situations unlike mine? I'd rather buy-once-cry-once than wish I had done it later. Especially if it takes strain off of the KDSS components or things like that. It's not a gigantic investment to get those parts, so if there's a long-term advantage I'm open to it. Is there?

I didn't, but considered it and may still do this. Not in a rush though and I'm not overly savvy on these things anyhow so not much insight here.

- I like the idea of larger non-reservoir shocks. The Ironman Foam Cell Pros seem great from what I've read, but the installer doesn't carry them. Are they better than Fox to the extent that it would be worth buying them and just having the shop install those instead?

I'm in the same boat. Would of liked Stage 7 ICON setup, but don't need it, didn't want to afford it and didn't like the rebuild requirements, so stuck with a good quality non-reservoir shock. If you don't foresee the need of adjustability, then they're a solid option. I've heard really good things about the Foam Cells. I went with Dobinsons and am happy so far, but both Ironman and Dobinsons have good reps. No experience with FOX.

My main advice is to find out what the rig does stock, have an honest conversation with yourself on what you want it to do better (ground clearance, looks, storage, comfort, protection etc) and let that guide you in modifications, which is what it seems like you've already got a handle on. I struggle with seeing loads of cool rigs and wanting one (I am still 12 mentally and see something shiny and big and want something shiny and big) but have been better with age about sticking to function before form...just not forgetting about form.

Jake
 
Joined
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Messages
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Nevada
jmanscotch, that's a great post. Really thoughtful and good assessment of where my head is at. Sounds like we are thinking about things in a very similar way.
Part of me feels like I need to decide quickly because where I'll be moving (just south of Gardnerville, NV), there doesn't appear to be many 4x4 shops that aren't focused on Jeeps. Maybe there are, and I just haven't seen them. My fear is that I get into a situation where I have work done by people who aren't familiar with the GX, and something gets messed up. Then I'm in a finger pointing match in a new town with a Lexus dealership that's relatively far away. If I pull the trigger pretty soon, I'll have a few weeks to let things settle. In the off chance I need a tweak, it's not so difficult. Hmmm. Still lots to consider, but your post helps a lot and it's nice to know there's other folks approaching it this way.
 

r2m

Richard
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
Messages
3,082
Location
San Clemente, CA
jmanscotch, that's a great post. Really thoughtful and good assessment of where my head is at. Sounds like we are thinking about things in a very similar way.
Part of me feels like I need to decide quickly because where I'll be moving (just south of Gardnerville, NV), there doesn't appear to be many 4x4 shops that aren't focused on Jeeps. Maybe there are, and I just haven't seen them. My fear is that I get into a situation where I have work done by people who aren't familiar with the GX, and something gets messed up. Then I'm in a finger pointing match in a new town with a Lexus dealership that's relatively far away. If I pull the trigger pretty soon, I'll have a few weeks to let things settle. In the off chance I need a tweak, it's not so difficult. Hmmm. Still lots to consider, but your post helps a lot and it's nice to know there's other folks approaching it this way.
Albeit, I don't know where you're at presently but if you're anywhere around So. Cal, YotaMasters is a GREAT Toyota off road specialty shop! They did most all the work on my GX. Good people to work with also.
Also, my Mom used to live in Gardnerville, great little town, rural, but not red-neck, yet there's decent shopping so you don't have to go all they way into Carson. And you can be up skiing Heavenly in about 20 minutes at Bolder Lodge!
Been going up there over 20 years!
 
Joined
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Messages
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Tiny and insignificant update:

Have the appointment for my suspension install on 7/13. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Ended up with the Nitro Gears UCA's. It came down to either those or the Dobinson's and I wasn't able to find the Dobinson's in stock so I went with NG. They appear to my untrained eye to be very similar in design, with the desired sealed ball joint vs. uniball. Really beefy at least compared to the stock UCA's. The shop uses a lot of SPC's, and I can understand why I think. There's a ton of adjustability and with larger tires I have come to understand that this flexibility allows significant leeway to prevent rubbing and other issues. The NG UCA's will hopefully allow me to not have to do much in the way of trimming / cutting, which I have also read can become more of an issue post-alignment. I do wish the shop I am using to do the suspension could also do the alignment so any nasty surprises could be rectified immediately. Such is life, and I have a lot to learn still.

Alphaequipt wheels coming this week. The suspension will be Fox 2.5 coilovers in front (non-reservoir), and Fox 2.0's with a piggyback reservoir in back. I didn't want to have the frame drilled for reservoir brackets, so this might be a good compromise. Tires will be Falken Wildpeaks in 275/70r17. Was a long internal debate between 265/70r17's and the 275's. Still not sure I made the right choice, as I suspect most of my decision making was for appearance and not function. With longevity being one of my main goals / concerns the heavier tires don't seem like the best idea, but..... yeah. Might not be too late to switch if I supply the tires. Thoughts welcome on that.

I took off the running boards, and cleaned up where my sliders will be going. Metaltech had one set left and I grabbed them (not the OPOR ones, their other model). Plan is to install those myself to save a few bucks, make sure every bolt gets anti-seize, I can clean up threads properly, and hopefully that I'm able to learn something along the way. With my GX (starfire pearl) the removed running boards leave an ugly bare zone on the body where they mount, so I'll be cutting the steps up as many do. Part of me wants to spring for the Prado running boards or at least buy another set of steps to cut, but after pricing it out it gets out of control quickly.

Related to sliders, I'm curious if folks have found a good solution for reusing the puddle lights and their brackets along with sliders. Seems like a situation where everybody figures out a unique solution. I'm game for trying to do the same, but was also wondering if there are some good quality puddle light replacements that use the stock connector that I could just plug in and mount without too much trouble. Might be nice to have a high quality purpost-built solution, but I'll try to get creative and figure it out if not.

Ordered a Rigd Ultraswing for the spare. Don't love the idea of it, but appears to be a good compromise. Easy to remove if I want to install a "real" bumper at some point and would likely be easy to sell because of its wide compatibility. At least that's how I'm justifying it currently, haha. Since they are out of stock and the wait may be over a month there's a chance I'll cancel the order and go with something else, but for now this is the plan.

So anyway, sorry for the long rambling post. Just wanted to participate a little on this great board and hopefully get some good advice. One area where I'm still researching is panhard rods, links, and other aspects. Since I'm not trying to go too extreme in my intended usage, I think my current selections will be more than capable enough. BUT, if there's a durability / longevity advantage to doing any additional stuff I'm all ears and grateful for guidance. I want this GX to last a very long time with minimal maintenance.

Thanks everybody,
Sfx
 
Joined
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I used a set of the cheap Amazon LED puddle/rock lights on mine. I cut off the plugs from the stock lights when I removed them along with the side steps (later cut and reinstalled) and then soldered/heat shrink them onto the new lights. I took some aluminum flat stock and made a few brackets that reuse the threaded holes where the factory side steps mounted. $25 all in and I couldn't be more pleased.

*I rounded the edges of the brackets after these pics for a cleaner look.

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Joined
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I used a set of the cheap Amazon LED puddle/rock lights on mine. I cut off the plugs from the stock lights when I removed them along with the side steps (later cut and reinstalled) and then soldered/heat shrink them onto the new lights. I took some aluminum flat stock and made a few brackets that reuse the threaded holes where the factory side steps mounted. $25 all in and I couldn't be more pleased.

*I rounded the edges of the brackets after these pics for a cleaner look.

That's really cool! Well done. I think I'll attempt to replicate what you've done here. Thank you, Sir.
 
Joined
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Nevada
This thread is great. I'm in much the same place and appreciate the consideration given to each mod. Can you share an update?
Hi there! Well, things are still moving really slowly. I did get the RCI sliders delivered (Black Friday small discount helped out in this decision). Ended up with the flat sliders that have the tread plate. Mostly because the dirt road I live on does kick up a bunch of rocks, and also my girl finds it a little tough to get in sometimes.

Another update is with the Falken Wildpeaks. They are great until they aren't. I'll explain.... We had a heck of a snow dump here about three weeks ago now. Unmaintained road, so it was probably 22" or so before I attempted to leave the house. What was weird is that when the snow was fresh and powdery, I just plowed right through it with zero problems. It was a lot of fun, actually. But the next day, and this is with only a mild temperature shift, the GX was sliding all around terribly. This could easily be expected behavior no matter what the vehicle, but it did make me put snow chains or even a set of studded snows on the radar. It was pretty worrisome that it was as bad as it was. I'm sure a more experienced driver would have fared better than I, and I'm not trying to say that the Wildpeaks or the GX are somehow lacking. But I am curious if different tires would have been better given this particular circumstance.

Otherwise I'm still going ahead with mild mods. I should have the sliders installed pretty soon, and I'm still on the lookout for a front bumper. Hitting deer around here is apparently pretty common so it's been on my mind. No real issues with the GX so far! Still feel it is the best vehicle out there that I could afford.

Sorry I don't have much more to report. Couple pics from the aftermath. ;)

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Joined
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609
While you were driving the second day did you lock your center diff lock? Compacted snow, now ice, did you air down?
 

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