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1990 4Runner DD, lump of cash, where to start?

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Old 03-13-2013, 12:22 PM   #1
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1990 4Runner DD, lump of cash, where to start?

First time poster/long time creeper.

I've got a 1990 4Runner, 4x4 w/ 31's. 243k w/ auto trans. It's my DD and has been for going on two years. It's also my first 4x4. 100% unmolested with no wire hacking, thank goodness.

Recently decided I'd keep it and turn it into a vehicle I can take my GF and I out with for journeys around the NW and camping. Also needs to be able to tow two quads and camping gear. Oh, and still needs to stay my DD, so a V8 swap is out of the question. Just machined the rotors and put new pads on last week.

I've got $1500 as of today to start with, and I'm thinking of saving another $300 and in two weeks grabthe Hi-Po 3.0 from Oregon Engine Service. I've also got a 5-speed w/ t-case I picked up for dirt for a manual conversion.

I've seen countless "Should I do XXX swap" and "should i rebuild or get a reman motor?", and this isn't that post. I'm starting with a completely stock vehicle and trying to pan out an uncluttered and clear build with a budget. And keeping in mind it's not only used/going to be used for camping/trails/driving hundreds of miles for trips/towing, but also needs to be a reliable daily as well.

New to 4x4 but not to wrenching/wiring. Have space to work on it, but being as it's my daily I can't have it sitting parted out for a week+ on end. I don't really have buddies who are into the whole 4x4 scene so I'm hoping for some input from the yota community.

As of right now I'm thinking I'll do that swap, (unless another route is somehow cheaper, not waiting 1+ plus to save 5k for something better when this motor is on it's last leg), then send out the 5 speed for a Marlin built 5-speed, then move onto the suspension, (keeping the front IFS), and getting some meatier 33's and regearing what I need to.

Thoughts/input for a new guy on what I've said or any advice from you seasoned folk? If you're around the Portland/Vancouver or OR/WA I'd love to be able to talk to someone who knows what they're doing around here.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:12 PM   #2
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I think you're on the right track with the 5 speed swap, but maybe not the 33's if you're going to tow. I'm not sure you can do suspension, 33's, and regear for $1,500.

I'm in Beaverton for a few more days right now, if you wanted to check out my rig for ideas, or advice. PM me if you want.

It'd be a good idea to start by posting some more specs here, like your diff gear ratio currently in the rig. If you're lucky enough to have 4.88 stock, then the 5 spd swap should take care of your gearing needs for 33's, so it depends on current specs and condition.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:25 AM   #3
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His most likely has a axle code of G294 (4.10) go to a scrap yard and find a 92to95 with a code of G144 (4.88) pull the rear third and the front differential - swap these into your 4Runner. Also look for IFS manual hubs, not needed but nice to have!

For axle codes look at the drivers b-pillar and you will most likely see G294 (on yours, at the wreckers you will want to look for G144)
Codes are as follows - these codes can end in 2 as well (4=4pinion turbo or v6, 2=2pinion 4cyl) The "G"= 8" Rear axle.
G294 = 4.10:1
G284 = 4.30:1
G254 = 4.56:1
G144 = 4.88:1

As for the engine, if it is on its way out then by all means replace it if the price/time frame works for you.

As for lift - Ball joint spacers and Cruiser coils/panhard drop bracket - relatively cheap (also pinch weld trim/pounding)will get you the clearance for 33's. 33x10.5's will fit pretty much stock, but are hard to find. The lift is where the manual hubs really come in. This set up is about as cheap/reliable as you can get for a lift. This is exactly what I am doing to my 90 4Runner.

Then do the 5speed swap and bobs your uncle...

If you have any questions about anything I have posted, feel free to ask!

Hopes this helps...

Last edited by 91 4Runner; 03-19-2013 at 03:29 AM.
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Old 03-19-2013, 04:53 AM   #4
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i'm thinking if you have an automatic with a v6, you have 4:88's right now. If that's the case, you might be ok with those gears and 33's if you do the 5 speed swap. I like my 33x10.50's, as keeping the tires as light as possible on these trucks is pretty important. If you do the Marlin tranny, that will eat up a lot of your budget too.....just some thoughts i picked up on.
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:46 AM   #5
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4.88's didn't start until 1992 - he will have 4.10
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 91 4Runner View Post
4.88's didn't start until 1992 - he will have 4.10
ah, good catch.
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:10 AM   #7
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Do a bit of reading on that motor, it doesn't seem especially popular... I was seriously considering it it myself but the research I did really put me off and pushed me towards a swap. YMMV, of course. If it runs alright I'd start with the lift and take care of all the steering and suspension components (bushings, balljoints, tie rode ends...) while I was in there before addressing the lack of power.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:12 PM   #8
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first thing is to make your truck reliable
then 5sp conversion and then engine
then gears and tires
then lockers
then armor
then comfort

unless you have other reliable transportation and don't mind tearing the truck down all at once.

you could always go the 3.4L route instead of replacing the 3.0 with a 3.0

figure out how much weight the loaded trailer will be, and how much you can legally tow with your VIN truck. Just because you upgrade the engine does not mean you can legally tow something with more mass.

just my opinion. Don't tear into a truck that you cant drive in the meantime. This is how we go overbudget or sell projects.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:55 PM   #9
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Red face

Well first off welcome!!

I see this alot when people try and make projects out of a DD your doing every thing under lots of pressure .One snapped bolt or unforeseen failed parts can cause all kinds of interesting adventures.

Mr Murphy and his daughters will be your constant companions and thoughts of a budget will be gone in a heart beat because of trying to get things done so your not walking to work.

Then you run into the other issue unless your girl friend is involved pulling wrenches as well . Your not spending enough time with her in her eyes.

Find another vehicle you can build as time and money permit allowing it to be fun and relaxing .

Last edited by wyoming9; 03-20-2013 at 10:56 PM. Reason: spelling failure
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