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Spacers vs Bilstein.

Discussion in '5th Gen 4Runners (2010+)' started by 5thGen4Runner2015, May 22, 2017.

  1. May 22, 2017 at 5:44 AM
    #1
    5thGen4Runner2015

    5thGen4Runner2015 [OP] New Member

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    What are the pros and cons of installing spacers vs the Bilsteins everyone seems to have when it comes to leveling out the truck? This is my DD so I don't intend on doing any hardcore off roading. Just like to find some mud and trails to explore. Also, what's rake? Sorry I'm brand new to all this!
     
  2. May 22, 2017 at 6:11 AM
    #2
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    Rake is difference in height between front and back of the truck. There is approximately 1 - 1.5" difference; the back sits higher. This is to allow for some sag to the rear when towing, or hauling a heavy load. Leveling raises the front to a similar height as the back to make it more visually appealing.

    There are different top mount spacers in use but the basic idea is that the front coil is compressed slightly by the spacer, thus preloading it, thus raising the front of the truck. The Bilsteins actually employ a similar idea - the compression of the coil is from the bottom; but they work via preload compression as well.

    Generally, people complain that spacers provide a rough ride, and are otherwise inferior to a true suspension lift.

    The Bilsteins are popular simply because of their price, they are a decent shock for the money, but are still on the low end of suspension options.

    I've had spacers, Bilsteins, and a true full suspension lift. All have done what they were designed to do, and I've had no problems with any, nor any complaints with any. If all you're going to do is raise the truck for visual appearances, a spacer lift is more than adequate. If all you are looking to do is raise the truck and have a slightly better suspension than factory, the Bilsteins are more than adequate.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
  3. May 22, 2017 at 6:13 AM
    #3
    panzr15

    panzr15 New Member

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    Forward rake is the current stance of your truck, where the front is lower than the rear. Another, but less common option to consider, is grabbing a set of TRD Pro factory take offs. The Pros are leveled from the factory, and as Pro owners start to build beefier rigs, you should see some take offs become available
     
  4. May 22, 2017 at 9:38 AM
    #4
    5thGen4Runner2015

    5thGen4Runner2015 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks for that great explanation. So if I were going with the Bilsteins, this is what I'll need?

    Bilstein B8 5100 Series 4 Shocks Kit for 10-'15 Toyota 4Runner 4WD 0-2.5 Front& 0-2 Rear inch lift Ride Monotube replacement Gas Charged Shock absorbers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU20H8G/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_pmXizbYSXJA0E

    How easy is this to install for a seasoned mechanic? Or is it something I would want to bring to a custom shop who specializes in this stuff? Any other adjustments/alignment needed following installation?
     
  5. May 22, 2017 at 9:39 AM
    #5
    5thGen4Runner2015

    5thGen4Runner2015 [OP] New Member

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    Are TRD PRO owners often selling theirs? I did a search and wasn't able to find any. How much do they usually go for?
     
  6. May 22, 2017 at 10:16 AM
    #6
    panzr15

    panzr15 New Member

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    To be honest, I don't know the answer to either of those questions. I've seen enough Pro owners putting aftermarket lifts on that I figured it was a semi-regular occurrence
     
  7. May 22, 2017 at 11:47 AM
    #7
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    Yes, those are the correct items. That's exactly what I currently have. The fronts are a little shy of perfectly level at .85".

    The fronts are a PITA due to the need to compress the coil spring. I choose to leave that to a shop to do. The rears are easy to do yourself, just two bolts, really. Jack up each side (individually), unbolt the bottom bolt, unbolt the top bolt (holding the shaft to keep it from spinning), pull the assembly out and install the new shock. Bottom bolt gets retorqued to 72 ft lbs and the top smaller one is 22 ft lbs, IIRC. The top one you can 't really get a torque wrench on but close enough is good enough, I reckon.

    Incidentally here's the BEST explanation I've ever read about the differences between various spacers and the 5100s:

    http://www.bilsteinus.com/fileadmin/user_upload/user_upload_us/pdfs/Bil_LevShks_WebArticle.pdf

    And here is my current 4R with 5100s all around:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. May 22, 2017 at 12:53 PM
    #8
    5thGen4Runner2015

    5thGen4Runner2015 [OP] New Member

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    Thank you sir. Appreciate your time and experience. So for trails that are nothing crazy since it's my DD, you think I'll be ok with 1/2" spacers, giving me a 1" lift up front to level it out for now... and if and when I feel like upgrading, going with the 5100's?

    1/2" spacers won't affect the ride too much?
     
  9. May 22, 2017 at 4:59 PM
    #9
    jbrandt

    jbrandt New Member

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    Even for a DD, I'd say get the 5100's. I don't intend to off road with my 4Runner, but I do want 5100's. The suspension is a bit soft and mushy for my taste, and there's a fair amount of brake dive, which the 5100's should help take care of, plus they're adjustable so I can level my ride. The only drawback to the 5100's is that you'd need a spring compressor to install them, but you can generally rent one for free from Auto Zone type place. The cost (usually $300-$400-ish)

    Coming from an off road perspective, I generally shy away from spacer/block lifts for *any* reason since they don't offer any sort of performance increase and in some cases actually decrease performance. But given their low cost, and easy installs, I can see their appeal for a pavement princess. With a 1/2" spacer, I can't imagine you'd even notice a difference in the ride, though.

    IIRC, I got my 5100's (all 4 corners) from DownSouthMotorSports for around $350 (but that was for an 04 Tacoma).
     
  10. May 22, 2017 at 5:44 PM
    #10
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    Spacers get knocked on these forums a lot because this is a more savvy group of end users... and let's be honest, there is a trend towards buying shit "just because" on these forums.

    Realistically, the spacer will be fine for you. I ran a 2.5" front / 1.5" rear Toytec spacer lift in my old 2014 4Runner for a year (before getting a Toytec BOSS suspension lift). I did some fairly aggressive off road, drove cross country twice, and never really felt like I was beating on the truck or that I was being beaten up by a harsh ride on or off road.

    Tons of people use spacers. I got into the habit of looking at people's setups at traffic lights or in parking lots or what not and very few people actually have a "quality" lift installed. Spacers are by far the most common type of lift I see.

    Having said that, though, the cost of 2 front Bilsteins is probably pretty close to the cost of a front spacer lift. You can do just the front ones if you want, if money is an issue. If you are doing the work yourself, so no labor cost, you might as well just drop the extra $50-$100 and get the Bilsteins now. I would also add that the Bilsteins, while good shocks, are hardly the gold standard of suspension products and I personally would not get spacers, then "upgrade" from spacers to Bilsteins. If you might want Bilsteins down the road, just get them now and call it "done".

    Don't forget that you will need an alignment after the install regardless of type of leveling product you select. If you plan on playing with lift options and maybe upgrading later, get the lifetime alignment that some places offer, it'll save you in the long run.

    Unrelated: the badge icon under your avatar... you a cop? I am, as well. Want to swap dept patches?
     
  11. May 22, 2017 at 5:58 PM
    #11
    5thGen4Runner2015

    5thGen4Runner2015 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks again! Well the reason why I'm considering spacers now is because another member on the forum asked if I wanted to buy his old spacers that are in good shape for $35. I figure since it's so cheap why not? I wasn't going to do a lift yet just bc of finances but for $35 I thought what the heck, why not... especially if it'll improve the look of my truck by leveling it out, especially with with new wheels and tires being installed this weekend. Your thoughts?

    And yes I am. Was a NJ State Trooper but went local for a better schedule for the growing (5 kids under 6 yrs old) family! Great decision. Where do you work?
     
  12. May 22, 2017 at 6:43 PM
    #12
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    Oh yeah, that's reasonable then. Can't go wrong for $35.

    I did just shy of 20 years in Ohio and now am a cop in coastal northern California. I'll PM ya.
     
    SKT_07 likes this.
  13. May 22, 2017 at 6:48 PM
    #13
    jbrandt

    jbrandt New Member

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    I disagree on the gold standard thing. In the $300-$400 price range, I would say 5100s absolutely are the gold standard for lifts (with performance gains).

    Look around any truck forum (especially toyota forums) and the 5100s are by far the most popular lift "kit" for those who want some sort of performance gain over stock. Even leaving them at stock height is a better option than the Cadillac springs that come on the non TRD 4runners.

    Are there better options out there? Of course. But you're going to pay a LOT more for them.

    For this given price point, I really don't think there is a better option where you get actual performance gains vs. a spacer lift where you get all the disadvantages of a lift (higher center of gravity, highet cv angles) and the only advantage is that you can fit bigger tires.

    If you only have $80-$150 to spend on your truck, sure, get some spacers. Actually, if that's all you have to spend on mods, just buy more gas.

    So yeah, I am one of those people who bag on spacers. But I'm also one of those "function" over "form" people. If I'm going to do something to my truck (heck, even the wife's corolla), I want it to do something besides just looking the part. Convenience, performance, comfort, etc...

    If you purely just want the look, then spacers are for you. But I've seen more than one guy who regrets those nifty spacers he just bought because he thought they'd "do" more.
     
  14. May 22, 2017 at 9:17 PM
    #14
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    Don't misunderstand me. My current 2017 Runner has 5100s. I opted for them because I know they are decent and a good value. They met my needs of leveling the front and providing a better ride for the type of terrain I operate in. They are, however, not top quality and really aren't designed for harsh off road use. Refer to numerous reports of failure available on TW and T4R.org.

    I would advocate them over spacers but realistically, spacers are still a perfectly acceptable alternative, and one that many people use. This is especially true if the truck is a daily driver and won't see much more than a gravel road. In the case of OP, if he wants a front level and can accomplish that with $35 for some used spacers, doing the labor himself; I see no reason not to do that.
     
  15. May 22, 2017 at 9:59 PM
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    jbrandt

    jbrandt New Member

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    I guess I just have a moral objection with doing anything to my suspension "on the cheap".

    I do agree with with nearly the entirety of what you've said: spacers are cheap and billys are the better way to go.

    I just part ways with the "sure, why not" attitude to a set of used $35 spacers. I would just advocate that the money would be better spent elsewhere, like gas, or beer.
     
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  16. Jun 2, 2017 at 3:52 PM
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    KruzSR5

    KruzSR5 New Member

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  17. Jun 2, 2017 at 6:36 PM
    #17
    fajitas21

    fajitas21 New Member

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    What did you end up doing OP? I wheel with a guy who uses lift blocks and spacers with a spindle lift for 6" and he beats the absolute hell out it. They will do more than you'd expect.

    That said, I went OME 884 + 5100 Adjustable up front and SAW 2" + 5100 rear on the 4Runner and love the sportier feel. Less body roll, handles bumps better. For low speed off roading it's good. I wouldn't baja with them, but then again, I don't baja, so...

    However, for $35 you'll figure out how some suspension components work, learn a bit, sweat a bit, and see what it will look like when you get the full suspension lift on.
     
  18. Jun 2, 2017 at 6:41 PM
    #18
    5thGen4Runner2015

    5thGen4Runner2015 [OP] New Member

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    I ended up buying the spacers for $35 but haven't put them on yet. When I installed the new wheels and tires at the shop my mechanic didn't have time to install the spacers and since then I haven't had time to go back. So while I wait, I'm still contemplating spacers or 5100s. Thanks for all of your knowledge, input, and experience!
     
  19. Jun 4, 2017 at 4:26 PM
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    soflot4run

    soflot4run New Member

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    Question.. im planning to do the .85 level with the 5100s...did you have any issues with alignment regarding the caster specs??

    Were your specs closer to factory settings or did you have them adjust it as close to 4 as possible?
     
  20. Jun 4, 2017 at 4:47 PM
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    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    No issues, specs were close to factory settings.
     
  21. Jun 19, 2017 at 7:26 AM
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    Webfoots

    Webfoots New Member

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    So, what does it cost to have the 5100's installed up front? It looks like more than what I would want to do.
     
  22. Jun 19, 2017 at 7:46 AM
    #22
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    It's 1.5 hours labor, plus an alignment.
     
  23. Jun 19, 2017 at 5:20 PM
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    jbrandt

    jbrandt New Member

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    I would consider doing it yourself. If you've turned a wrench before, it's not that hard. Plus, you can rent the spring compressor tool you need for free from most auto parts stores (Auto Zone).

    Look up more detailed instructions, and go for it!
     
  24. Jun 19, 2017 at 5:24 PM
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    brochacho

    brochacho New Member

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  25. Jun 20, 2017 at 10:48 AM
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    jbrandt

    jbrandt New Member

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    Seeing as how a spring compressor rental is (usually) free, I'd say either method is a wash.

    If you only have one jack (and no friends), I'd say go for the compressor method... :)
     

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