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Old 10-20-2020, 12:00 PM #1
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3rd Gen 4runner Roof Reinforcement

As most of us know and come to find, the roof of the 3rd gen 4runner is paper thin, and inherently weak. It gets the job done for light duty use, like clamshell rooftop tents, camping gear, and other lighter things on a day to day basis. I for one have had countless soft shell tents on my truck with my Sherpa Equipment Co. Matterhorn rack over the last 4-5 years. I've beat the crap out of this truck in the process and the roof has withstood the test of time for sure.

9A0A0475

FLEM9193

But, with a recent upgrade to a 180+ pound hard shell it was time to address the thin roof to prevent any future issues. Beau from Living Overland posted a short thread a long time ago that gave me inspiration.
Reinforcing the Roof

So, off with the rack and the roof tracks. Time to get to work.

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The first thing I did was clean everything after stripping the roof track, I then pulled my headliner. This is really easy, just takes some patience as there are loads of plastic clips and body panels you have to remove.
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I then picked up some 3/16" flat stock to brace my roof tracks with. I also found that my stock hardware for the roof tracks was worse for wear, so I decided to drill out the capture nuts under the roof and upsize to 1/4-20 bolts with nylocks underneath. This size is barely larger than the original m6 but much stronger.

I measured out my 3/16" and started drilling holes.
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These squeeze/slide in under the rooftracks and I bolted them in with the new hardware. I also made sure to silicone the bolts so I don't get any water intrusion.

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For a $30 piece of mind upgrade I am actually really happy with the results, there is no longer any noticeable deflection until you are pulling hard at the rear of the roof track. Before, you could get any point of the roof track to deflect. You could also easily add more material and extra bracing to make it bullet proof underneath, but this is simply and adds tons of strength.

Definitely worth trying out especially with a hard-shell tent setup similar to mine.

If your roof tracks are in bad shape I would recommend taking this mod as a opportunity to upgrade your tracks to either Thule, Yakima or similar as they seem to be of higher quality than what comes factory on these trucks. I opted to continue to run my stock one as it is in great shape.

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9A0A4205

I hope this helps anyone looking to reinforce their roof, I would also love to see what you do to yours if different to continue to share some cool ideas. The heavy and comfy tent craze is only growing in popularity and if you drive your 4runner like a racecar like I do, this is much needed in addition to any rack system.
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Old 10-20-2020, 01:00 PM #2
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Thanks for the insight, the photos. This will be useful for future projects!
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Old 10-20-2020, 05:24 PM #3
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Thanks for posting this @Flemster . I will also be doing this soon....
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Old 10-21-2020, 12:39 PM #4
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Any thoughts on extending the factory rails farther forward? That might spread the load, and in conjunction with the rack side rails really help things too.

Might be pretty difficult with the sunroof in the way...

(I kept all the rail parts from my parts truck, just in case this would work in the future)

-Charlie
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