Week 5: fifth round of installs – (Episode 5: part 2)
April 28th, 2022
Our build is in the eleventh hour as we wrap things up on the CSF TRD. This week we got the Power Stop Brakes, Titan 7 Wheels, Nitto Tires, and Rock Sliders installed just in time for the May 1st Debut. RPM Garage handed the brakes wheels and tires while the 4Runner was in the shop for the suspension install from last week.
Brakes tend to be one of the most overlooked upgrades on almost any performance vehicle. While many people might not think of off-roading as being hard on braking systems, they’d be sadly mistaken. On top of needing to control your speed going down hills steep off-road, we must keep in mind how much highway driving is done to get to off-roading locations. Because we have added weight between all of our accessories and upgrades, the 4Runner is a lot heavier than stock. Throw on some oversized tires and we’re looking at a lot more work for the brakes.
While the 4Runner’s factory brakes aren’t bad by any means, there is still room for improvement before we go for a full big brake kit. First thing to remember is that factory rotors and pads are typically designed for a balance between stopping power, durability, and cost effectiveness. While it may seem counter intuitive, most companies will not normally use the best possible parts on any system in the car. It is just too expensive to produce that way. For that reason we decided that our first brake upgrades should be a high quality rotor and pads system to give us a little more stopping power. For this, we consulted our friends over at PowerStop brakes and they recommended their Z36 Truck & Tow Brake Kit.
POWERSTOP Z36 TRUCK & TOW BRAKE UPGRADE KIT
PowerStop’s Z36 Brake Kit comes with everything we’ll need to upgrade our factory system. Drilled and Slotted rotors help keep the brake pads clean and maintain proper contact for consistent braking performance and provide a little extra cooling capacity from the added surface area. In addition, the Zinc plating protects the rotors from corrosion and rust. Paired with a set of Carbon-Fiber Ceramic brake pads we both improve stopping power, reduce fade, and cut our brake dust levels down a little bit. PowerStop also includes new stainless steel hardware (shims & clips) to help protect our entire braking system from corrosion.
Installation was completely painless according to RPM. Since there are no major modifications to be made, it is pretty much just a simple parts swap. The bedding in procedure is also fairly straightforward as well. Ideally you can find a clear open road for it, but it can pretty much be done anywhere as long as there isn’t too much traffic.
Wheels & Tires
Now for the upgrade that we’ve all been waiting for. Well, maybe not, but it’s definitely one of the most exciting upgrades both aesthetically and in terms of performance.
Titan 7 t-AK1
For our wheels we selected Titan 7’s new off-road wheels, the T-AK1 (stands for All Terrain attacK) in Machine Black. Their forged construction means these wheels are as light and strong as possible so we won’t be worrying about cracking wheels on harsh terrain. These wheels also feature bead seat knurling which helps keep the tires from slipping around the wheels causing balance issues. This is important offroad as you tend to exert a lot of torque on the wheels & tires while climbing or descending steep obstacles (like rocks).
When it came to picking out tires there was only one real choice for me. I love Nitto, and Nitto tires are pretty much synonymous with off-roading. All I needed was to pick which model to go with. While the factory equipped Terra Grapplers are fantastic, I wanted something a little more versatile off-road than their well known all-terrain. I ended up settling on the Nitto Ridge Grappler, which is a hybrid mud-terrain and all-terrain tire that will keep us running in almost any condition. Although we could have gone with something a little more extreme, we will still be daily driving the 4Runner and mud-terrain tires are notoriously loud and uncomfortable on the road. The Ridge Grapplers blend all the necessary elements we are looking for to tackle our off-road adventures confidently while still not giving us a headache while commuting.
The team at RPM Off-Road Garage said the mount and balance process presented no issues. We checked ahead of time with Icon suspension to make sure there would be no clearance issues with the 17×8.5 et -8 wheels and 35×12.5 R17 tires. As we discussed during the suspension installation, the tires did present some fitment challenges when it came to the body work. However, those bumper viper cuts and body mount chop did the trick and we had good clearance from lock to lock throughout the suspension travel range.
We finally got back our custom rock sliders from the fabricator (who happens to be my Girlfriend’s stepfather) last week. As you can see, they offer a more unique look than most of the options on the market and feel incredibly solid. Rock sliders’ function is pretty self explanatory. They bolt onto the frame and allow the center of your rig to slide over rocks instead of getting stuck and damaging the body. Extra protection when off-roading is never a bad idea and we are taking every precaution to mitigate potential damage to our 4Runner. In addition, they also act as side steps to help us get in and out easily.
Installation was quick and easy. We actually installed these before taking the truck to the RPM and I can definitely say it’s not hard to do. Fabrication was done for perfect fitment and everything was spot on. The real test will come when we hit the trails, but I’m confident they’ll hold up great.