Reader Question: Three Trucks – Three Questions?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Greg asks: I’ve got a 2004 4Runner with more than 215,000 miles on it. Good condition, runs well (although I have very little mechanical skill to really tell). It has a V8 which is rare and the biggest reason why I’ve kept it. I want to turn it into an overlanding vehicle. I know the first thing that has to go is that ridiculous stock suspension they put on the 4Runners back then. What’s the best way to go about this? How do I find someone in my area who does these whom I can trust? I have little mechanical skill, although a lot of interest.

My second question is regarding a 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro. Love the truck. Hate the nannyness.  It’s absurd. Beeps at me for all kinds of reasons, most ridiculous of which is when I leave the sunroof open and turn the truck off.  Is there any way to reprogram the safety features, hack them or something like that to get rid of the beeping and make it a truck?

Third question: My brother is looking to buy a new heavy duty truck for his construction company. He’s thinking about a diesel engine. My dad had a Chevy Silverado 2500 back in the early 2000s that was a dream for many, many miles. My brother’s reservation is the current political climate and them legislating the diesel engines to “go away” with eventually limiting diesel fuel at gas stations. Any thoughts on this? And generally recommendations for a heavy duty trucks these days?

My reply: With regard to the off-road upgrades… Toyota offers a whole lineup of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) off-road components such as shocks/springs/skid plates and air snorkels/exhaust systems and these have the “no brainer” upside of being factory-engineered to fit and work properly, in concert. I’d probably start there and then modify the front/rear clips as necessary to increase angle of approach/departure, swap on some A/T or M/S knobbies on steel 16/17-inch wheels. You might also want to consider HD cooling for the engine/transmission. Minimally, make sure the factory systems are in peak operating order.

As far as the install: Obviously, a dealer can handle this – but I’d ask around and try to find a shop in your area that specializes in off-road modding and consult them. Dealers can be ok but they may not have the same level of expertise with such specialty stuff  nor the same interest in getting it done right.

With regard to the e-Nannys: It is not (yet) illegal to deactivate most of these and I sure would. Some can be turned off by selecting Off in the “settings” menu (this can be a pain to find, but it’s usually there) or a software change; or simply find and disconnect the buzzer. I find that very satisfying!

On the last: I think the determining criteria here is – does your brother intend to do a lot of (heavy) towing with the truck? If yes, then the diesel may make functional sense. On the other hand, the gas V8s now available tow almost as much as the diesels used to and they do not add thousands of dollars to the price of the truck nor an extra 30-50- cents per gallon for diesel fuel at each fill up, nor do they need DEF. Modern diesels have become so complicated they can cost more to maintain and operate than a gas engine – and even their (former) longevity advantage isn’t what it was was because of that – and because  gas engines now also last 200,000-plus miles with reasonable care.

If his usual towing/hauling needs are not more than 8,000 pounds or so, the gas V8 will probably get the job done and cost him a great deal less – and with less hassle, sadly.

Hope this helps!

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