New 100 Owner...advice for expeditions?

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Sep 13, 2013
Hi, I have been lurking for awhile, and finally decided to register since I bit the bullet and bought a 1999 100. Earlier in the summer, my Forester was totaled by an uninsured driver. It was a great car, a great trail runner, especially with the aftermarket suspension and steel skidplates I had installed. But when it came time to replace it, I decided I wanted something more capable. I have to say, this LC is the most awesome vehicle I have ever owned, and I'm looking forward to years of good times with it. (My daughter argued that we should get a custom plate that read "GD TYMZ" so she could say things like "Let the good times roll!" She lost that battle.)

I got the LC not as a future rock crawler, but more of an expedition vehicle capable of touring British Columbia, Alaska, the American West, and maybe even (someday) South America. I'm into hiking, camping, rockhounding, and backcountry photography, and I love driving's just that the offroading is usually in service of getting somewhere. So I'm hoping the Landcruiser brain-trust here can help me make some good modding decisions, since I'm not totally clear on what upgrade route to take.

I've read some say that I may need to be concerned about the strength of the 2 pinion front end? For my purposes, is the IFS front end okay? Will it hold up for a multi-week trip through the boonies? Can/should it be strengthened? (Or even replaced with a solid axle? But how much would that cost?)

Will 33 inch tires be good enough?

Do I really need a winch? Or can one of those Hi-Lift jacks get me out of the same jams?

Are rock sliders necessary for overland expeditions? If not, I'd rather not have the extra weight.

I'm looking at the OME heavy 2.5 inch kit. Seem reasonable? There will usually be four of us heading out to wherever. Plus, we'll often be hauling home some heavy rocks.

I have other questions, but that's probably enough for right now. I haven't really worked on cars/trucks since I was a teen, but I like building things and would enjoy making mods myself if they aren't too tricky or delicate. Otherwise, there are some good shops in my area. I will post pics as I make changes, and in time I hope I can contribute to the forum. Thanks!
It sounds like you and I use the LC for similar purposes.

I live in Alaska and use my 1998 model for high speed road trips on long bad roads, and safe winter travel in places that get a lot of snow and the majority of the other drivers are drunk.

For really tough trails, I use a mountain bike, hiking boots w crampons, or skis. The LC serves to get everybody to the trailhead and back safely, which can be a non-trivial task when the weather is bad and the location is remote.

Coming from a Subaru, you will be blown away by the capabilities of the LC.

From my perspective, stock size tires are best as long as you have good tread.
I recommend studded tires for winter use; combined with the full time 4wd it is a great combination for winter driving.

I don't think you need sliders and lift kits for hauling ass on bad roads, and to me it seems like this is what the 100-series does best. Once you add a lift and big tires, you can run into problems with driveline angles and steering geometry. My advice is to keep the geometry stock (no lift; stock size tires) and the vehicle will perform the way it was designed to.

Once you start lifting things and messing with the steering geometry you can gain performance for some limited applications like driving over large boulders, but you sacrifice the stability and high speed offroad/badroad handling that was originally the focus of the design for these trucks. You might need heavier-duty springs in the rear if you plan to haul > 1000 lbs in the back, but for most normal applications, the original equipment from the factory seems to hit the sweet spot in terms of comfort and onroad-offroad performance. Same is true for the original Toyota shock absorbers. My LC has ~190k miles, and there have been no problems with the differential, transmission, or any parts of the driveline for that matter. For 95% of all applications, the IFS is preferable to a solid front axle and you would not benefit from a solid axle swap unless you want to add a big lift and try driving over giant rocks. As mentioned before, I prefer to climb over big rocks using climbing gear, and use my LC mostly for long trips on bad roads- getting to trailheads in remote locations.

It will hold up fine on a multi-week trip through the boonies.

In summary, I would drive it in stock configuration for a while and make your modifications on an as-needed basis. Many of the modifications that seem sexy (big lift, big tires) will actually decrease the performance of the vehicle for most applications.

The engineers at Toyota got most things pretty close to perfect from the factory, and my advice is to leave it in stock configuration unless you have an application that absolutely requires you to modify something.

Hope this helps.

Welcome to mud!
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Get the ARB locker in front, end of conversation.

33's are fine for most stuff. Bigger and you open a can of worms. I have several years of travel on my truck with two sets of 33's and have seen more trails than many who run much bigger tires.

You don't need rocker protection until you need it, repairing the damage to your rocker panels is a lot more costly than sliders. The weight is negligible in the grand scheme of things.

Get the OME lift.

A high lift is a suck ass substitution for a winch, that said I don't have, and probably never will have, a winch on my 100. If you don't want a winch I'd look at one of the TIRFOR winch variations.

Or just use common sense and avoid situations that might lead to needing a winch unless there is a winch equipped rig in your party. This is what I do, it's worked well for many years.
From my perspective, stock size tires are best as long as you have good tread.

It sounds like the OP would be a perfect candidate for some 275/75/16 tires. That's 1" bigger than stock and would be nice for this application.

Unfortunately the next jump in size to something that is actually available would be 285/75 which is about 1.5" taller/larger diameter than stock. Mars - would you recommend stock size even given his application?

I would advise to put some good tires on it and drive it as-is. Then if you find out you're not able to get places you want to go, do the lift kit/larger tires/front locker as a unit. As mentioned though, this can open up a can of worms, and the 100s are pretty darn capable in stock form, so make sure that's something you really want to do!
My .02. Do as Fireball and others recommend. Drive for awhile in stock form (maybe add upgraded/larger tires that will fit the stock suspension and possibly sliders first if you think you'll EVER need them). Then figure out where your limited in travels and install the mods you need. I bet after 1 or 2 trips you'll find out pretty quick what you need and what would be nice to have. In my part of the world (South Texas) I see a lot of land cruisers and other vehicles that are built to the extreme that never see a dirt road. They look cool, and it's great if that's what the owner wants.

My 100 is relatively new to me (< 1 year). Recently went to Colorado (100s in the Hills) with new 33s and sliders installed (that's it). Had considered doing more before the trip but thought I'd see what my limits/needs were first and use the opportunity to see what others could do with the mods they already had installed. Although I never used them, for peace of mind, was glad I had sliders and new/larger tires. I found the only other mod I would have needed was more lift/suspension improvements. With stock springs, the rear felt very mushy and bouncy, particularly when weighted down with a few hundred pounds of gear (have < 50,000 miles on the land cruiser). So, I now have a 2.5 OME suspension sitting in the garage waiting to be installed. If you are planning on carrying heavy loads, I'd strongly recommend also upgrading the suspension for the load capacity you'll need.

Hope this helps.
ARB bumper, perhaps a winch, and maybe the ARB locker in front are all the mods I would consider, if you're set on sinking more money into it. But, chalk me up as the third Alaskan here suggesting you leave it stock. You need none of those mods to go the places you've suggested. A SFA swap would be big bucks and lift the vehicle so much it would be an entirely different animal. From the factory, as sold overseas with the FZ engine, a SFA 100 would be another story. Don't fool yourself and search for excuses to make it look more cool. The priority should be keeping it well maintained.
Some good advice - it all just depends on how you plan to use your rig. Here's some additional info:

  • Tires - P-rated tires are good for passenger vehicles, whereas LT-rated tires are designed for carrying heavy cargo or towing large trailers (Trailer Tech Info.). You can run larger than standard size tires w/ the stock suspension - 285/75/16 or 295/75/16 on the stock rims.
  • 2-Pinion Diff - The 2-pinion front diff is a potential weak point. Unless you plan to do some rock-crawling though, it should suit you well. Otherwise, there are a number of front lockers and other configurations to consider.
  • Rock Sliders - Rock sliders are good insurance, but depends on where you plan to run your rig, and may not be necessary. Deleting the OEM running boards is a common first mod.
  • Lift Kit - A lift kit is a good idea for a number of reasons; e.g. how much weight do you plan to take on your excursions, are you going to tow, do you have plans for a front or rear bumper, etc.? While the OEM suspension is certainly plush, going w/ an aftermarket setup will definitely change the ride characteristics.
  • Winch - Like rock sliders, a winch most likely depends on where you plan to go and what you might encounter. Like Mars wrote, there are other alternatives to consider if a winch isn't necessary.
You might also check Expedition Portal's Land Cruiser forum for additional ideas and feedback.

Post some pics - lets see the new addition - and yea . . . welcome to the addiction.

Thanks for all the perspectives! My first expedition vehicle (which I still own) is a 1997 Honda Odyssey with oversized AT tires. The bottom of this van has so many massive dents from hitting rock that it is a wonder it still runs. The right front fender panel is also held on only with zip ties due to a high Cascades adventure. It got to a point though, where I realized that it was just not up to the task. I was recently on a logging road in it which was graveled with really large hunks of rock, and realized that I could easily get stranded...and since I had four kids with me, we had to bail on our ultimate destination. That sucked.

The Forester came and went. It was an excellent upgrade and I liked the car, but it's demise was a good opportunity to get the LC. It ticked me off that it crumpled up so easily when I was hit (though I WAS protected and came out unharmed)..and frankly, this is a strong motivation for me to consider steel bumpers.

Approach and departure angles aren't hugely important to me, but clearance is. Freeway mileage is also a concern. So, since clearance is ultimately going to be dependent on tire size, and I don't think I would want to go beyond 33s, I don't know that I will need additional lift. For now, the tires have some life left in them, so I will run them down until they're done for or until I feel like I really need a better tire. But the suspension is definitely too mushy for me.

Does it sound like a reasonable plan for me to simply tighten the front torsion bars and slap some Bilsteins on? Will that be enough if I put on steel aftermarket bumpers (front and back) someday?

Pretty sure I am going to order Slee step sliders this week. I don't care for the running boards, but the step sliders provide protection and make the wife happy by providing access.

I appreciate the advice to keep it stock and see what I need as we go out into the world. I'm going to mostly follow that advice, but I have got to do something to make the handling more to my liking. It drives too much like a Caddy right now. I'd like it a sportier/stiffer...and not feeling like the back end is in constant danger of bottoming out. There is also a bit of nose dive in braking. Can I rectify this without a complete overhaul of the suspension system? (Sorry for rambling, been a long day.)
If a Honda Odyssey has served you well, just put new stock shocks on your truck and go enjoy it.
Here it is, new to me.

Removal of running boards = 10% more radtastic

Next off: the factory option brush guard

Removal of the running boards was easy, with the caveat that you remove the one nut holding the little heat shield thing in place on the passenger front - in order to swing it out of the way and access that high bolt.


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