Week 2: Second round of installs – (Episode 3)
April 5, 2022
Our second week of installs was definitely more intense. With that May 1st deadline fast approaching, we were definitely feeling the pressure. We have made some solid headway installing our CSF Radiator, Westin Front Bumper & Bull Bar, and Superwinch Winch this week.
First order of business for the day was to get our CSF All-Aluminum Heavy-Duty Radiator installed. Off-roading can put a tremendous amount of strain on your engine, and that means more heat generated. Typically a vehicle under a similar amount of engine stress will be moving at relatively higher speeds which helps your radiator cope with the additional heat. However, when off-roading you are moving at a much slower pace most of the time. The result is a lot less air moving through the radiator, so the extra cooling capacity is extremely important.
When you are adding power to a vehicle, it’s important to upgrade your cooling as well. Obviously the Intake and Exhaust aren’t inherently generating a lot of extra power and heat. However, everything gets compounded under heavy engine stress so it’s better to more coolant than not enough. The radiator upgrade also helps prepare our cooling system for future power mods such as a supercharger (wink).
The CSF Radiator has a 42mm thick 2-row core vs the OEM 22mm 1-row core. Comparatively, that’s almost double the size and cooling capacity of the OEM unit. Furthermore, the Aluminum side tanks provide extra durability compared to the OEM plastic tanks. We also include a higher pressure (1.4 Bar) CSF radiator cap. In addition to looking cool, it raises the boiling point of our coolant which keeps the system from boiling over under high heat.
Overall the installation was an absolute breeze. The CSF radiator is designed to bolt in the exact same way as the OEM unit so it’s a simple swap. The OEM radiator can simply be lifted out of the engine bay from the top and the new unit dropped in. The most time consuming part of the installation is draining and refilling the coolant. Fun side note, the Toyota Dealership actually warned us that the OEM Radiator was a weak spot and typically one of the first things to fail on 4Runners. Given that, this upgrade should be at the top of the list for anyone with a 4Runner.
There are countless reasons why people upgrade their exhaust system. Generally it is for the improved exhaust note and power gains from a more free flowing system. However, in the off-road world another big benefit comes from improved ground clearance. Vehicle manufacturers don’t typically design their SUVs with serious off-roading in mind. As a result, aftermarket exhaust companies like MBRP have stepped up and designed systems that are ideal for such activities.
For this build we decided on their Pro Series High-Clearance Turn Down Cat-Back Exhaust for a number of reasons. Firstly, the 304 Stainless Steel construction gives us extra corrosion resistance. This will protect the system from all the extra mud and grime we’ll be kicking up on it. Secondly, the High-Clearance design will help protect what’s normally the most exposed sections of the exhaust. The turn down tail pipe tucks the exhaust tip higher up under the rear of the 4Runner, and the muffler is much smaller than the OEM unit resulting in extra clearance in the middle of the truck. The free flowing muffler and 2.5 inch diameter piping (vs the stock 2.25 inch system) should give us a nice bump in performance. Also, the improved airflow on this side will compliment our Airaid Intake we installed last week.
Having previous experience with MBRP Exhausts, Christian was quite happy to add them to his build list. Installation for this exhaust was a breeze and the system went in without a hitch. After some quick test drives, Christian said he is extremely happy with the exhaust note. There is definitely a noticeable increase in sound but it’s not overbearing and the 4Runner now has a nice rumble at lower RPMs.
WESTiN Pro Series Front Bumper + Round Bull Bar
In the sports car world, front bumpers are usually just changed for aesthetic purposes and generally don’t offer any practical benefits. However, in the off-road world they are all about function over form. Christian decided to go with the WESTiN Pro Series bumper mainly for the functional features, but the retention of the factory bumper look was a definite plus. Off-road bumpers bolt directly to the truck’s frame. As a result, the bumper strengthens the entire vehicle while making it possible to mount accessories like a Winch (up to 12,000 lbs in this case). Additional features include a 20 inch LED light bar cutout, corrosion resistant coating, and even has provisions for factory parking sensors. Also, the optional bull bar adds a little extra grill protection and rugged styling.
We’d love to sugar coat this, but this was definitely one of the harder installations of the batch. While not terribly complicated, it is quite labor intensive. One major challenge of the install was cutting the factory bumper. This was definitely a stressful procedure, but once you make that first cut you know there’s no going back. Once the new bumper is bolted on in place of the factory crash bar, you can really get a feel for how solid it is. After that it’s just a matter of fitting the chopped up bumper around the WESTiN unit.
While this is a very functional modification, we still can’t get over how cool it looks. Compared to stock, the Pro Series bumper really gives the 4Runner an extra menacing and rugged look and we have no doubt it will put up with all the abuse we plan to put it through.
People may tell you that you can off-road without a winch, but you probably shouldn’t. A winch is a very important tool to have when you’re off the beaten path and get yourself stuck. For this build we selected the SuperWinch SX10SR. Rated at 10,000 lbs, this 5.5 horsepower unit is more than enough to haul the 4Runner out of any ditch or ravine it might get stuck in.
If you are shopping for your own winch, then you want to make sure it has a few key features that our SuperWinch has. For instance it should be waterproof, dust proof, and be compatible with a 12V DC power supply (the voltage and current type of an automobile). Safety is always something to consider when purchasing any upgrade for your truck. For that reason we decided to go with the synthetic cable version little extra safety in case it ever snaps. Additionally weight savings over a steel cable are a nice plus.
Superwinch is actually part of WESTiN so the front bumper was perfectly designed for this winch. The bolt-on process was super easy and painless, and wiring it up is also fairly straight forward. While we haven’t had a chance to really test it out, but we kind of hoping to put that off as long as possible.