The Mother-In-Law... Build thread, Intro, and request for guidance ('03 LX470) (3 Viewers)

CPC

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My first post on this forum, so I thought I would jump right in with a build thread, introduction, and plea for help all in one. I have a small customization shop in the Houston, TX area that focuses on doing full builds for customers from design to completion. I do the research, acquire the parts, and guide the design of each build, but I sub out a majority of the labor to other shops that I have worked with over the years. Most of my builds have been G Wagons, Square Body Chevy trucks/SUVs, Ford Raptors, Super Duty Fords (F250-F450), and the occasional Porsche. If you use Instagram you can see some of the stuff I've done @Custom.Performance.Center. This will be my first LC build, and I acquired the LX470 from my Mother-in-law (thus the build name). The truck is a 2003 with 149,XXX miles on the clock. I've been searching this forum, and have acquired a good amount of information. Thank you all for the contributions you have made to what appears to be a very informative community.

As with any forum, the volume of information can be overwhelming (and at times redundant), so input from those who have traveled this road before is very welcome. I apologize in advance if some (most?) of this has been gone over ad-nauseam. I have indeed searched, but if anyone can quickly point me to links where some of this stuff is covered in detail it is appreciated.

Let me start out with some build objectives:
  1. Build a cool looking truck. (Isn't that always the point?!)
  2. Retain a comfortable ride on city streets and the highway. This truck will serve as a dog transport, airport shuttle, and truck to be driven to ranches for hunting. It's not a daily driver, but comfort and convenience are key. Most of the off-roading will be on ranch roads and trails, none of which are too difficult. 4WD is needed occasionally, but it won't be crazy rock crawling.
  3. Keep the overall build cost "reasonable". I've alotted $10K to the budget, and I need to factor labor into that, not just parts. I typically allow a 10% "contingency" amount on every build, but my goal is to not dip into it too much. As I get close to the end of the build I will assess what remains to be done and figure out how bad the other items are needed/wanted.

Plans/Parts for the build:
  1. Front Bumper
  2. Rear Bumper with tire carrier
  3. Sliders/Steps
  4. Roof Rack?
  5. Suspension
  6. Tires/Wheels
  7. Lighting
  8. Winch
  9. Stereo
    1. Front Bumper: There are several cool styles, but cost and availabiliy has me leaning towards and ARB combo bumper. I'd love a Dissent, but can't wait 12-16 weeks for one to get built. The notes for the ARB seem to indicate it won't for an LX470, but my understanding is that you can trim something on either the bumper or the front grille of the truck to get it to fit. I'm pretty sure I saw something about it in the help/FAQ section, but any guidance is apprecaited.
    2. Rear Bumper with tire carrier: Dissent would be an option if not for build time, and the Slee is a bit more expensive than I'd like. Once again I'm leaning towards ARB with a right hand swing tire carrier, and left hand swing jerry can mount. I'm not opposed to waiting on the rear bumper, so it's possible this will change. Unless someone says the ARB rear is complete crap, it's an attractive price.
    3. Sliders/Steps: I like the OPOR/MetalTech sliders, but if I keep the AHC are those compatible? I'll have to call them to discuss unless someone knows the answer already. I also need something wide enough to actually step on with a size 15 shoe, so if there are other good options please let me know.
    4. Roof Rack: This one is dependent on the overall height of the truck after the lift and larger tires are added. It still needs to fit in parking garages, so the roof rack will potentially not be added. It would mostly be for looks anyway, so it's not a big deal if it doesn't get added to the build.
    5. Suspension: This truck has the AHC, and it rides pretty darn nice. I saw somewhere (FAQ I think) that there is a "trick" that would allow you to keep the suspension in the High position all of the time. I think you essentially reset the system by adjusting a nut on one of the sensor arms, and filling the reservoir with more fluid. I'm not against going this route unless someone says it's a horrible idea. I'm also not against deleting the AHC and doing a proper TB/Coil/Shock suspension. I've never been a fan of OME shocks (dating back to the late 90s when I was putting them on Jeeps), so I was thinking OME TB/Coils and the Bilstein 5160s. I also came across Ironman 4x4 with their foam cell shocks, and I'm curious how that rides. Looks like maybe Ironman had a few bad reviews back in the day, but I wonder if they have improved. I'd consider Dobinson too, but I don't know anything about them. Since this won't be a heavily off-roaded rig, do I need upgraded UCA or trailing arms in the back? Can you get decent alignmnet specs out of the factory stuff after a lift? I'm all for a diff drop to get the CV joints less bound up, but again, is it necessary? Guidance on the suspension options (from keeping the AHC and tricking it into high, to complete removal of AHC and lift kit install) is appreciated.
    6. Tires/Wheels: Toyo MT is my go-to tire, and I have installed more sets than I can count on various trucks over the years. I'm not opposed to going with something different (Nitto Ridge Grappler?), but they have served me well so it's likely I will go that route again. The question is, what size? There are a number of 17" wheels I'm interested in (Method, Icon, Raceline), so I'd like to get the largest tire that can fit on a 17" wheel. It seems like the ideal wheel spec is 17x8.5 with 0 offset. If that's not the case please let me know.
    7. Lighting: I'm for sure going to put some lights on the front bumper, and some back up lights in the rear bumper. I've used Rigid extensively in the past, but I thought about trying Baja Designs this time around. For the front I'd like two large, round lights for the middle of the bumper. I'd also like something street legal to enhance the factory headlights. I've used and liked Rigids before with the SAE lens, so I'll have to figure out how mount those potentially. Does the fog light additon to the ARB front bumper give a decent amount of light? I'll add those if so.
    8. Winch: Probably going to go Smittybilt 12K Gen 3 unless someone knows of any mounting issues with it in the front ARB bumper. Cost is a factor here since it will rarely get used, but will be nice to have if needed.
    9. Stereo: I haven't looked, but by the sounds of the speakers the foam surrounds are toast. I typically go overboard with stereo upgrades, but I'd actually be fine with a foam surround rebuild in this truck and the addition of an aftermarket sub. However, I want to add a touch screen with CarPlay functionality, so I think I'll be adding/replacing the head unit at a minimum. Looking at the dash of this truck I'm not sure what options exist since much of the HVAC controls and other functions are tied into the existing screen. Plus, the lower controls don't look to even be single DIN, so I'm not sure what route there is to go here. Any guidance on this is welcome.
And finally, a pic or two of our starting point:

IMG_0552.JPG


IMG_0551.JPG
 
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Welcome from another newbie! Sounds like a great build; is your budget factoring in the price of the truck itself?
 

CPC

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Welcome from another newbie! Sounds like a great build; is your budget factoring in the price of the truck itself?
Thanks for the welcome. No, the cost of the truck is in addition to the build budget. I think I should be able to get most of it done, but I'll have to choose wisely and weigh the pros and cons of each addition versus cost. I tend to go higher quality if the expense isn't ridiculous.
 
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Thanks for the welcome. No, the cost of the truck is in addition to the build budget. I think I should be able to get most of it done, but I'll have to choose wisely and weigh the pros and cons of each addition versus cost. I tend to go higher quality if the expense isn't ridiculous.

Looking forward to seeing it come together! I told myself $10k all-in (3k on top of the truck purchase), so I was eager to see someone build on a similar budget. I will definitely be getting creative with mods!
 
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Welcome congrats and sounds like a great build.

Forewarning, $10k is going to be tight for everything you have listed there. You could end up spending 60% of that in just steel (rear bumper $2500, front bumper $1250, sliders $750 and roof rack $1250). Timing is good though w/ Black Friday (OPOR sliders are already on sale at MetalTech) and If you're patient you might be able to get some finds in the classified section.

Not sure what part of town you're in but when you need tech/service help definitely give @duggy a call. They are great. Did a full baseline of my truck there before purchasing. Highly recommend.
 
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Shortpencils

Will work for Heater Tees
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Lx down by the river.
Build a cool looking truck. (Isn't that always the point?!)
No.
Retain a comfortable ride on city streets and the highway. This truck will serve as a dog transport, airport shuttle, and truck to be driven to ranches for hunting. It's not a daily driver, but comfort and convenience are key. Most of the off-roading will be on ranch roads and trails, none of which are too difficult. 4WD is needed occasionally, but it won't be crazy rock crawling.
Toyota/Lexus already did this for you.
Keep the overall build cost "reasonable". I've alotted $10K to the budget, and I need to factor labor into that, not just parts. I typically allow a 10% "contingency" amount on every build, but my goal is to not dip into it too much. As I get close to the end of the build I will assess what remains to be done and figure out how bad the other items are needed/wanted.
30k, bought, not built.
 
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My advice is wait until the end on the rear bumper, it's expensive, With light off-roading you don't need the tire carrier, and it's a pain to swing out every time you want to load up dogs, luggage, etc. Keep the AHC, flush the AHC fluid, and maybe replace the rear springs, both cheap.

Then you have more money for the other stuff.
 
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Welcome and congrats on the purchase! I’m sure you know your way around budgets and all that, so I won’t comment on that aspect, but considering your uses for this rig I think you could modify your priorities to this order:

1. Tires/wheels (first, no question about it)
2. Speakers/stereo (with most your miles on pavement, this will be very well welcomed)
3. Front bumper (considering animal strikes in your area)
4. Sliders (minimally expensive and much cheaper than body damage)
5. Lighting
6. Winch (considering your uses this sounds pretty much unnecessary)
7. Rear bumper (as others said, this complicates most of your use for this rig, only necessary in very infrequent occasions)
8. Leave the AHC and enjoy the push button lift.
 
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Also something nobody has stated yet is very frequently mentioned here on Mud, baselining your rig is priority #0. Before all that add on weight, lift, and electrical complications, get your maintenance up to par. Unless your MIL has deep pockets, likely it’s in need of some maintenance. Not sure if you can DIY but you’ll save a lot that way.
 
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By the way, nice score on the LX!
If you get tired of the project, let me know. I would be interested in it. I have an '03 LX, but with WAY more miles than that.
 
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CPC

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Welcome and congrats on the purchase! I’m sure you know your way around budgets and all that, so I won’t comment on that aspect, but considering your uses for this rig I think you could modify your priorities to this order:

1. Tires/wheels (first, no question about it)
2. Speakers/stereo (with most your miles on pavement, this will be very well welcomed)
3. Front bumper (considering animal strikes in your area)
4. Sliders (minimally expensive and much cheaper than body damage)
5. Lighting
6. Winch (considering your uses this sounds pretty much unnecessary)
7. Rear bumper (as others said, this complicates most of your use for this rig, only necessary in very infrequent occasions)
8. Leave the AHC and enjoy the push button lift.

I hadn't really listed them in order of importance, but I think you made some very good suggestions. I agree with your order of importance from the enjoyment perspective. Thanks for those observations! The only thing that might need more consideration is the lift. I want larger tires, so at a minimum the AHC is going to have to get tricked into High mode, but if an actual lift is better then I'll do that. If I can save the $ on a lift by tricking the system and it will still perform fine, then I'm good with that.

Also something nobody has stated yet is very frequently mentioned here on Mud, baselining your rig is priority #0. Before all that add on weight, lift, and electrical complications, get your maintenance up to par. Unless your MIL has deep pockets, likely it’s in need of some maintenance. Not sure if you can DIY but you’ll save a lot that way.
My Father-in-law is fastidious about maintenance, and he does it himself, so I'm sure this is in good shape already. He has legit shop in his barn, including a lift. I know he just swapped in 4 new O2 sensors, and the current tires actually brand new. Oil changes are regular, but I'll check with him on the other items to see what has been done (or not).
By the way, nice score on the LX!
If you get tired of the project, let me know. I would be interested in it. I have an '03 LX, but with WAY more miles than that.
Will do!
with all the rush, I assume this is just to flip.
Not necessarily. I go through trucks pretty quick, so I never know how long they will be around. I'd like to enjoy it fully outfitted as long as possible, so a 4 month wait on parts isn't appealing to me. This truck could be here a few months or a few years. I never know until I'm "done" with the build.
 

CPC

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Welcome congrats and sounds like a great build.

Forewarning, $10k is going to be tight for everything you have listed there. You could end up spending 60% of that in just steel (rear bumper $2500, front bumper $1250, sliders $750 and roof rack $1250). Timing is good though w/ Black Friday (OPOR sliders are already on sale at MetalTech) and If you're patient you might be able to get some finds in the classified section.

Not sure what part of town you're in but when you need tech/service help definitely give @duggy a call. They are great. Did a full baseline of my truck there before purchasing. Highly recommend.

Thanks for the referral to a good shop. If I run into something that stumps me I will definitely reach out to them.
My advice is wait until the end on the rear bumper, it's expensive, With light off-roading you don't need the tire carrier, and it's a pain to swing out every time you want to load up dogs, luggage, etc. Keep the AHC, flush the AHC fluid, and maybe replace the rear springs, both cheap.

Then you have more money for the other stuff.
Good suggestion. A swingout tire carrier might be more of a pain than it's worth. However, the rear bumper has a small crinkle in it thanks to a pole that jumped out at my mother-in-law in a parking lot. It's not a huge deal, but matching front and back would be nice. Maybe I'll just do the tire swing, and not a jerry can swing. Only one thing to mess with to load the dogs. I think you are right though, save the rear bumper to the end of the build to see where the budget ends up.
 

CPC

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I'm running 275/70/18 with no lift. I do have the Slee AHC override switch but in all honesty I rarely use it.

Jim
Do you have a pic of your set up? Running the factory wheels, or aftermarket?
 
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Thanks for the referral to a good shop. If I run into something that stumps me I will definitely reach out to them.

Good suggestion. A swingout tire carrier might be more of a pain than it's worth. However, the rear bumper has a small crinkle in it thanks to a pole that jumped out at my mother-in-law in a parking lot. It's not a huge deal, but matching front and back would be nice. Maybe I'll just do the tire swing, and not a jerry can swing. Only one thing to mess with to load the dogs. I think you are right though, save the rear bumper to the end of the build to see where the budget ends up.

You have to be careful on the size of tire for spare underneath. When I went to 33'' i was worried it wouldn't fit so did the tire carrier on the back...and b/c it looks cool. Yea opening them is a pain but it's not a DD so I was willing to accept it
 

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