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General information about the various mods available to 4x4 vehicles covering pros and cons to assist in the decision of "Is this the right mod?"


Replacing Alternator Brushes

By: Adam Fertig. 10/2003

If you have a early model Toyota 4Runner or pickup (same parts work for 3vze and 5vze) and the charge and brake lights on the dash light up at the same time, there is a good chance that your alternator will soon need replacement. This is exactly what happened to me. The brake light first came on for a day or two. I checked all of the brake components and could find no problems. Then all of the sudden the charge light and brake light lit up at the same time. This was puzzling since the battery read 13 volts while running. After a few days I encountered a major problem. On my way home from work, the CD player quit working, and my dash lights went dim. I looked at the volt meter in the dash, which was at the half way point. I began to put the turn signal on to get into the other lane, and the voltage dropped below half. Next the motor cut out, and the headlights went dim. This was a sure sign of a bad alternator. Had the battery been the culprit, the problem would not have been likely surface while the vehicle was running.


Fortunately there is a low cost alternative to a new alternator. All that is likely to be needed is a new set of alternator brushes for $10-$20! You can find these brushes at most major auto parts stores, or directly from the dealer using part number 27370-35060. The part from Toyota is a complete brush set, including the bracket that holds the brushes. The parts store piece consists of only the two metal brushes, with a long wire attached to each. The brushes have copper leads attached to them that runs though the middle of a spring, and then goes out the back of the brush holder, and is soldered in place. The Toyota part requires no soldering, as it is a drop in unit. The parts store piece requires removing the old brushes, routing the copper wire though the spring and out the back of the holder, and soldering it back into place. Save yourself the trouble and order the Toyota part as soon as your charge light comes on. Retail is $23 for the genuine Toyota part and $9 for the parts store piece.

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Starter Contact Repair

By: Adam Fertig. February, 2003.

A few months ago I began having starter problems with my 1988 Toyota 4Runner and occasionally I would only hear a "click" coming from the engine bay when the ignition key was turned. Usually it would do this once or twice and then start. The problem began to get worse, sometimes taking 15-20 clicks before it would start, but it always started. One day it would not start at all, and I was fairly confident the problem was with the starter contacts. A "starter repair kit" from the dealer provided the replacement parts needed. So now all that was left to do is pull the starter and replace the worn out starter contacts."

Tools needed for repair:

  • Ratchet
  • 12mm, 14mm, 17mm, and 8mm sockets.
  • Flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers.
  • Long ratchet extension. The one that's about a foot and a half long.
The process:

Before getting started, for safety reasons you should disconnect the positive battery terminal.

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Changing drive belts on a 3vze V6 engine

My belts were in very poor condition, so I decided to replace them. Shockingly, I found out that the previous owner had put the A/C belt on inside out, with the V-groove facing outwards, instead of inwards riding on the pulley. What a moron! But it has worked OK since I bought it over 2 years ago. The other 2 belts were cracked and frayed.

Tools needed for repair:

* 14mm, 12mm, and 10mm wrenches

* Pry bar

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John Stewart

Replace the hook

It always seems to be in the way and no convenient place to snug it out of the way.  Enter the next generation of decorations for the end of winch cable.

Factor 55 has designed a line of strong and light recovery products for the the off road market based on exacting aerospace and defense industry standards.  Their ProLink series, of 6000 series aluminum, eliminates the traditional winch hook in favor of a safer and stronger screw pin shackle D-Ring.

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John Stewart

They will let you down...


A timeless ritual for every 4-wheeler when leaving pavement is a brief stop to lower tire pressure for traction advantage and reduced tire spin. Over the years, many products have come along that promise to make it easier and quicker to achieve the desired tire air pressure.

The removal of valve stems (and frequent loss of said valve stem) gave way to hoses that could be clamped onto the valve and deflate two tires are once while keeping a balanced tire pressure.

Having tried all methods, I was a little skeptical when I tried the Staun Tyre Delators. Made in Australia, the deflators screw onto the valve stem and begin letting air out. And, they do know when to quit letting air out -- provided you adjust them.

The deflators are adjustable (from 6-30 psi).From the package, they are pre-set to 18 psi.Set up is easy and should be done prior to your first use.

Step one is to set one tire to your desired off-road tire pressure.The deflator has a knurled lock ring.Loosen that ring.Screw the deflator onto the valve stem and adjust the cap until the deflator pops open.Remove the deflator and tighten the knurled locking ring.

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