Solid Axle Swap: 1986-1995 4Runners

Axle 4runner 1985

Behold, a 1985 4Runner in all its glory.

In the history of SUVs, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a more reliable model than the Toyota 4Runner. Renowned for their rugged off road capabilities, some 4Runner owners have opted to perform a common swap to make them a little more capable on the dirt.

Find The OEM 4Runner Parts You Need Here

When it comes to 4Runners, the '85 model year is the crown jewel for off-road enthusiasts. This was the last year for the solid axle front end, and the first year for the fuel-injected 22RE engine. This duo provided a capable trail truck that was also fun to drive. But in 1986, North American 4Runners switched to an independent front suspension (IFS) with a Hi-Trac torsion bar.

Why does this matter? Well, a solid axle provides numerous advantages over the IFS, including:

  • Increased wheel travel and articulation, helping your tires stay in contact with the ground
  • Increased durability, particularly with oversized wheels and tires
  • More front differential options

These are just a few reasons why 4Runner solid axle swap kits are so popular in the off-road community.

Performing the Swap

Axle swap ifs

Step 1: IFS removal.

Kits like the ones from All-Pro Off-Road are good for 4Runners and pickups from 1986-1995. While the swap itself is straightforward, it does require the help of an experienced welder as every conversion point needs to be welded to the frame.

For those considering the swap, here's an brief overview of how it'd go:

  1. Remove the IFS. This involves taking off the:
    • Front Differential
    • Axles
    • A-arms
    • Idler arm
    • Tie rod
    • Drive shaft
    • Sway bar
    • Torsion bars
  2. Use a grinder to smooth out the frame. Be careful not to cut the frame rails.
  3. Mount the spring hangers. Fit the hanger under the front frame and flush it even. Be certain that the spring hanger is even. Then, weld it to the frame, constantly measuring to ensure it's centered.
  4. Install the shackle mounts. The rear shackle hanger is a tube that needs to be welded to the frame.
  5. Mount the leaf springs.
  6. Install the front axle. Depending on the package you bought, this may include using a flip kit.
  7. Install the hoops, shocks, and bump stops. Failure to properly install the bump stops will allow springs to go into a negative arch, ruining them. This also voids the warranty.
  8. Mount the steering stabilizer. Before attaching the stabilizer, center the wheels of the vehicle so they point straight ahead.
  9. Align the front end. Normal alignment produces apply.
  10. Mount your tires and wheels, then hit the trail!
Axle finished

The completed swap.

Of course, this is just a brief overview of the procedure and not intended to be an overall guide on how to install the solid axle. If this is something you're considering, feel free to call our customer service line and talk to one of our experts.

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Written by Jason Lancaster