The Toyota 4Runner is one of the most popular SUV options on the market. It comes with X-REAS (X-Relative Absorber System), an exceptional sports enhancement suspension found on several Toyota 4Runner models.
Although the Toyota 4Runner suspension works well, it might sometimes malfunction. In this post, we’ll look the common problems with the Toyota 4Runner suspension and how to go about them.
Toyota 4Runner Suspension Problems
1. Sagging Suspension
An obvious sign that there is a problem with your Toyota 4Runner’s suspension is when it sags. The front suspension of a Toyota 4Runner uses MacPherson struts in order to combine the shock absorber with a conventional coil spring.
Remember that shock absorbers do not necessarily support a vehicle’s entire weight. But hundreds of millions of vehicles are misdiagnosed yearly as having bad shocks when the suspension starts sagging or leans to one side.
The coil springs that come with a Toyota 4Runner usually last the vehicle’s entire lifespan. But they are not immune to fatigue from heavy use such as transporting heavy payloads, off-road driving, and towing.
More so, a damaged spring pocket or strut tower can severely alter the position of your vehicle’s suspension, causing your SUV to lean.
A sagging suspension causes other underlying problems if left unattended for a long time, such as steering and alignment issues, abnormal tire wear, etc.
The first thing to do is check your tires to ensure they are all properly inflated at the ideal air pressure.
Then measure the ride height at every corner of your SUV and compare the measurements to the specifications listed in the owner or service manual.
The fuel tank and positioning of the battery can cause a few Toyota trucks to sit a bit lower on the driver’s side.
But in general, the ride height of your Toyota 4Runner should not vary more than ¼ inch to ½ inch from side to side.
Next, examine the rear coil springs and front strut springs for breakage or damage. As the shock absorber is part of the front end strut assembly, a broken mount or collapsed shock body can also cause sagging.
Get them checked out and replace them if damaged and broken irreparably.
2. Bouncing Suspension
The primary role of shock absorbers is to dampen the overall motion of a vehicle’s suspension as it works efficiently up and down via its range of travel.
Unfortunately, shock absorbers can fail due to several reasons, and this causes a vehicle’s suspension to continuously bounce up and down as it travels over irregular roads. In addition, defective shock absorbers can unfavorably affect the handling of your SUV.
When your Toyota 4Runner suspension bounces unnecessarily, consider checking the overall condition of your vehicle’s shock absorbers.
A visual inspection is all that is necessary to determine the condition of the shocks. Look out for signs of leaking fluid when examining the shock body.
It is usual for shock absorbers to have a light coating of oil. But pooling fluid is a distinct sign of a damaged shocked seal which requires the complete replacement of the shocks.
You should also check the lower and upper shock mounts as it is common for the shock body to fatigue and get damaged.
Test each shock by bouncing every corner of your SUV with a firm push. If your shock is healthy, your suspension will compress and rebound quickly to its standard ride height.
On the other hand, if the shock is faulty, it will be unable to control the springs’ motion, and your SUV will keep bouncing. So you may have to replace it with a new one.
3. Poor Ride Quality
Difficult steering, as well as yet-to-diagnose suspension issues, can result in poor ride quality. This is because each worn-out component can cause or contribute to ride quality.
When shock absorbers are worn out, they lose their ability to adequately control the overall motion of the Toyota 4Runner’s suspension. This causes your SUV to bound down the road.
A distinct area where most ride quality issues develop or arise is those rubber issues that connect most of the suspension components.
Rubber bushings are used in this section due to their flexibility. They also offer adequate cushion for most of the suspension components.
They also possess the unique ability to absorb road noises and vibrations that would have been transferred straight away via the chassis and into the cabin.
Damaged or worn-out bushings often allow metal-to-metal contact between the suspension components, creating a lot of noise and jarring rides if left unattended.
The ball joints tying the upper and lower control arms to the steering knuckle may also affect ride quality negatively.
When ball joints wear out, the ball bounces around within the socket, especially when traveling over rough roads or irregularities, leading to popping noises (binding) as well as steering wheel shimmy.
In addition, a bent wheel or defective tire can cause your steering wheel to vibrate abruptly. It can also increase suspension component wear and suspension jounce.
You can start by inspecting your Toyota 4Runner’s tires by lifting each corner of your SUV off the ground using a floor jack.
Next, spin the wheels; it is relatively easy to see a bent wheel or out-of-round tire when it’s spinning.
Also, the high point of a tire lightly skims the ground, whereas the rest of the tire has ground clearance. Finally, you can change the defective tire or tires.
You should also check the condition of your Toyota 4Runner’s shocks, struts, as well as springs. Examine their rubber bushings, including the bushing on the anti-roll bars and control arms.
Get a professional to inspect the ball joints for torn boots. They can also be tested physically by lifting the brake rotor/hub up and down.
If the ball joint is bad, it will pop out of the socket when the hub moves up and down. In an ideal case, the ball joints should be so tight that there is no free play.
4. Extreme Body Roll
The Toyota 4Runner is expected to stay relatively steady when cornering or maneuvering around bends.
The vehicle maker has even positioned a sway bar (anti-roll bar) for the front suspension and a trac bar (Panhard bar) in order to boost cornering stability and minimize body roll.
However, the sway bar positioned at the front suspension can suffer several issues that allow extra body sway.
The idea behind placing the anti-roll bar in that position is to enable it to work as a torsion spring. This will keep either side of the suspension in line with one another when going over road irregularities or making turns.
But the anti-roll bar can be detached from either end of the suspension due to excessive wear at the attachment point. When this happens, you will experience excessive body roll when in motion.
Upon experiencing excessive body roll, the first thing is to examine the sway bar bushings and mounts attached to the chassis. Worn bushings or a broken mount can cause extra slop in the roll bar. Therefore, ensure you replace them immediately.
Check the end link that attaches the sway bar to either side of the suspension. This end link is highly susceptible to damage, especially if you love the off-road use of your Toyota 4Runner. Confirm the condition of the end-link bushing and see if the end-links are bent or broken.
Finally, examine the Panhard bar bushings/heim joints and mounts at the rear of the SUV.
Make the necessary replacements if the bushings or heim joints are defective. Ensure the Panhard bar is tight enough to prevent the vehicle’s rear axle from wandering.
Can You Drive a Toyota 4Runner with a Bad Suspension?
Driving your Toyota 4Runner with a damaged or broken suspension system is just like running with a broken leg. Your SUV will feel unstable and unbalanced, which may cause you to suddenly lose control of your vehicle or worse.
Your Toyota 4Runner’s suspension system smooths out bumps in the road and traction by keeping those wheels on the ground to a feasible extent. But over time, a few suspension components could wear out or even break completely.
The worn or damaged component will require fixing or complete replacement before your SUV can be driven safely.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Toyota 4Runner Suspension?
According to RepairPal, the average cost of replacing a Toyota 4Runner suspension strut or shock ranges from $567 to $771. Inspecting a Toyota 4Runner suspension costs between $70 and $89. Labor costs range from $203 to $256, while components are priced from $364 to $514.
Bear in mind that these price ranges do not factor in fees and taxes. In addition, they do not include or consider the specific Toyota 4Runner model year or unique location. Related repairs may also be required.
Moreover, the price range is primarily based on the age and number of your Toyota 4Runner on the road.
The Toyota 4Runner remains one of the most powerful and popular SUVs today. However, it has a few suspension problems. The most common issues have been highlighted above.
Follow the proffered solutions if you experience suspension problems with your Toyota 4Runner. You may also seek the assistance of a professional auto mechanic to handle repairs beyond your experience or DIY skills.