Monday, September 05, 2016

Car Mods

After a few off road adventures, I decided to get a lift kit installed to gain a bit more ground clearance and improved approach/departure angles.  I had Slee Off Road install a lift kit and more.  I made the 16 hour drive to Slee Off Road in Golden, CO.  I was born and raised in Denver, so I've driven this route many times.  The team at Slee really impressed me.  They patiently answered all my questions and convinced me that they could easily do the install in one day.  They were ready to start when I arrived and finished the job with time to spare.  I also picked up their battery tray upgrade kit, so I can later change out the OEM Panasonic battery for a much better AGM one from Odyssey.  

Since I was in the neighborhood, I walked down the block to Spyderco to get my 20 year old knife tuned up (free).  I have an old Delica model with a plastic clip that they no longer make.  The staff was very friendly and they have a large showroom with all their knives on display for sale (at a discount).  It took a lot of self-control to not buy another knife.

Here are the mods I've made to the LC so far:
  • Lift Kit: Slee Off Road 2" with Upper Control Arms
  • Rock Sliders: Slee Off Road
  • 33" Tires: Cooper Discoverer A/T3 275/70R18
  • Removed 3rd Row Seats
  • Fitted carpet in cargo area to cover 3rd row seat mounting points
It can no longer be confused with a Highlander or a Sequoia.  I haven't yet decided on a nickname for the car.  I'm considering: Canyonero, Land Crusher, and Land Barge.

The 275/70R18 tires are the largest I could find that would still fit into the spare tire well up underneath the rear of the truck.  The Cooper Discoverer A/T3 doesn't look very aggressive (translation: not very cool), but they have very little road noise on the highway and they were the top pick in Expedition Portal's off-road tire test a few years back.

The sliders are very helpful for getting in and out of the car.  They're a bit wider than the OEM side steps and that helps a lot.


As I do with all my cars, I've tested the OEM jack to see how hard or annoying it is to use.  Surprisingly, it's not so bad.  It looks like a standard bottle jack, but it's not.  This jack has a telescoping mechanical screw drive that raises/lowers very slowly as you turn the handle.  It also has a very long stroke.

The LC has an independent front suspension and a solid axle rear.  This means it's easy to jack up the rear, requiring only an inch or so of lift to free the tire from a hard floor.  Toyota instructs owners to jack the front tires by placing the jack under the frame, and this results in a huge jack height required to accommodate the suspension droop.  I also tested jacking the front under the lower control arms.  That works fine.

I've learned a ton from the very active LC group on the IH8MUD forum.

My next mission is to find a way to carry a second spare tire.  And to buy an extra wheel.  My options for carrying it are: (a) buy a Hitchgate Solo from Wilco Offroad (and also buy a license plate relocation kit), or (b) building a shelf in the cargo area and stashing the spare under that.  I'm leaning toward option (b) because it's cheaper and more fun.  I've begun designing a shelf that sits atop steel posts that are bolted to the cargo floor using the unused 3rd row seat bolts.

Future mods include: replacing the OEM battery with a modern AGM (probably Odyssey), maybe installing an air compressor, maybe installing LED off-road lights, maybe mounting an awning to the roof rack rails.

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