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Old 10-22-2022, 11:24 PM #1
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Towing | Re-Gear Needed. Thoughts?

So I recently made a decision to keep my 3rd gen instead of selling it and purchasing a Tacoma. My thought process is if I buy the taco, I'll be making $500 payments every month - where as if I put $500/mo into the 4Runner.. I could set this puppy up for what I need it to do - tow while still maintaining the ability to use it as a car camping rig. She's not my daily driver, I have a prius for that.

The goal: Setup my 4runner to tow a 3,000lb boat/trailer from Seattle, WA over the mountain passes over to Banks lake and other lakes in Eastern WA a few times a year.

Currently on stock gears, and after towing my boat up a 1.8mi/ 600ft elevation gain hill on HWY 410.. it was a struggle. I can't imagine towing it through the mountain passes where the hills are twice or three times as long!

Quick specs of the rig that might affect towing:
  • 33" tires on 16" rims
  • Aftermarket transmission cooler installed
  • New radiator/thermostat/water pump/timing belt installed 500mi ago
  • 230k on the original engine/transmission
  • 4WD, stock 4:10 gearing
  • Toytec 3" rear coils, bilstein 5100's front and rear, Wheeler's T1 3" lift front coils.
  • Steel plate bumper, winch, roof top tent, awning, camping gear +1 passenger

My question to you all: What is the best path to go forward on to make this more able to tow? Please let me know your thoughts on the following options.

Re-Gear: After my research, it looks like either 4.56 or 4.88. I am 4wd so a front and rear change would be in the cards. Rear is an e-locker, no plans to do a front locker.

Super Charger: Not a clue if this would be the route to go.

New JDM Engine: Perhaps my engine is worn out and needs a new 50kmi JDM engine from japan?

Any other options would be appreciated. Like I said, instead of $500/mo car payments - I'm going to sink those "payments" into my already paid off 98 4Runner. Or would I be better off getting a Tacoma/Tundra/F150? I really love how my 4Runner is setup and would love to be able to keep it. But I really need to do what makes the most sense.

Thank you,


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Old 10-22-2022, 11:58 PM #2
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TLDR; Regearing is the best bang for your buck solution for your towing needs. I’d go 4.88 at a minimum and really consider going 5.29 since you want to tow on 33’s and it’s not your daily.

If you have an elocker then you likely have 4.30 gears already so you won’t see much difference going to 4.56 gears. If your door jamb sticker says “A04A” then you have 4:30 gears but the most common gear ratio for V6/auto/elocker is 4:30. I would recommend 4.88 gears at a minimum and you might seriously consider going 5.29 gears since it’s not a daily driver and you will be towing on 33’s.

You engine is likely not the issue, but doing a compression test cold and hot will tell you a lot about your engine health.

I personally would avoid a supercharger. For my personal needs and driving style the power gains vs the supercharger cost and increased fuel price don’t make sense for me.
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Old 10-23-2022, 10:50 AM #3
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I would consider 5.29s if you have 33s. 4.88 would probably suffice but I doubt it would help as much as you'd like
Supercharger would probably help... if your engine and trans can handle it at this age. Which is a gamble depending on what mileage you're at and how well it's been maintained. Not to mention the price too, they're far from cheap these days; they tend to open a can of worms you didn't know you had, and are really only worth a damn once you start throwing in a 7th injector and whatnot... still cheaper than a new truck though.
Taking Steven's and hooking through Leavenworth instead of through Snoqualmie to Ellensburg would really, really help you too. Not nearly as steep (and the highway isn't 90% semi trucks going 10 under, so you'd honestly probably make it in the same amount of time)
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Old 10-23-2022, 10:50 AM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Luck View Post
TLDR; Regearing is the best bang for your buck solution for your towing needs. Iíd go 4.88 at a minimum and really consider going 5.29 since you want to tow on 33ís and itís not your daily.

If you have an elocker then you likely have 4.30 gears already so you wonít see much difference going to 4.56 gears. If your door jamb sticker says ďA04AĒ then you have 4:30 gears but the most common gear ratio for V6/auto/elocker is 4:30. I would recommend 4.88 gears at a minimum and you might seriously consider going 5.29 gears since itís not a daily driver and you will be towing on 33ís.

You engine is likely not the issue, but doing a compression test cold and hot will tell you a lot about your engine health.

I personally would avoid a supercharger. For my personal needs and driving style the power gains vs the supercharger cost and increased fuel price donít make sense for me.
I do have 4:10, I jacked up the rear end and did the tape/wheel rotation test to confirm.

Any idea what 5.29's would put me at RPM wise if at 65mph?
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Old 10-23-2022, 12:59 PM #5
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Seeing you listed a transmission cooler I am assuming a auto transmission, but a e-locker with 4:10 gears makes me ask , manual or auto ?
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Old 10-23-2022, 03:25 PM #6
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Originally Posted by Devbot View Post
I would consider 5.29s if you have 33s. 4.88 would probably suffice but I doubt it would help as much as you'd like
Supercharger would probably help... if your engine and trans can handle it at this age. Which is a gamble depending on what mileage you're at and how well it's been maintained. Not to mention the price too, they're far from cheap these days; they tend to open a can of worms you didn't know you had, and are really only worth a damn once you start throwing in a 7th injector and whatnot... still cheaper than a new truck though.
Taking Steven's and hooking through Leavenworth instead of through Snoqualmie to Ellensburg would really, really help you too. Not nearly as steep (and the highway isn't 90% semi trucks going 10 under, so you'd honestly probably make it in the same amount of time)
I definitely don't want to open up a can of worms, so it looks like this is a vote for 5.29 gearing. And thanks for the tip on the route, good call.
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Old 10-23-2022, 03:27 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hounddogman View Post
Seeing you listed a transmission cooler I am assuming a auto transmission, but a e-locker with 4:10 gears makes me ask , manual or auto ?
Automatic transmission. I'm going to look on the door jamb to see what that says about the gearing. As I mentioned, I jacked it up and rotated the tire/counted spins and had my dad under counting driveshaft rotation ect. So I feel pretty certain about the 4.10 ratio.
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Old 10-23-2022, 09:17 PM #8
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Originally Posted by bryanbgw View Post
I do have 4:10, I jacked up the rear end and did the tape/wheel rotation test to confirm.

Any idea what 5.29's would put me at RPM wise if at 65mph?
Best way to check is with the axle code on the door jamb. A03A is 4.10 and A04A is 4.30.

5.29 is about 25% more rpm’s compared to what you currently have. So 65 mph would be about 2500 rpm in 4th with the torque converter locked. 3500 rpm in 3rd with OD off.
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Old 10-23-2022, 09:33 PM #9
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Iím on 32ís also with 4.10 gears and have done a bit of towing. Good idea doing the gears. I havenít and the 4runner has held up to the work, but it really doesnít have much power getting going. (Terribly slow off the line.) Iíve done 2 cross country trips with a trailer heavier than yours and plenty more around town and the gears would definitely be nice, especially if it isnít a daily driver.

I would encourage you to include in your budget some from of sway control and possibly a weight distribution hitch. Once I added that to mine, the difference was amazing. You mentioned that it is a boat trailer that youíre towing. If it has surge brakes instead of electric, you lose the ability to apply the brakes to correct trailer sway, in the event it occurs. Even if you donít get the full distribution hitch, HF sells a sway control device with a weld on tab to add to a regular hitch. Worth the money in my opinion.

And for the record, I fully support keeping the 4runner over a new Tacoma.

Also, for consideration, if airbags are possible with your lift springs, they have really helped me with tongue weight (stock springs on mine) and can be aired down to not interfere with off road.
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Old 10-24-2022, 04:29 PM #10
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Only towing a few times a year? Suck it up with the big rigs in the slow lane... Also, make sure you have instrumentation to make sure temps are in check (engine and trans).

Though with 4.10's and 33" tires, you are down on torque to the wheels by ~8% from where it it was stock. If you maybe wanted gears anyway, now is your chance/excuse.

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Old 10-25-2022, 01:45 PM #11
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I just re-geared my diffs to 4.88s and I'm on 33" tires. That combo is perfect.
If you go 5.29s, you're going to be revving pretty high at highway speeds. I guess it depends how fast you like to drive. Now, if you were planning on going with bigger tires in the future, like 35s, 5.29 gears would definitely be the smart decision. If you're going to stay with 33" tires, I would run 4.88 gears.

I know you said you're running an external trans cooler, but how big? The one you're currently running might be insufficient for the weight you'll be towing. If you're not monitoring your trans temp in some fashion, scan gauge, ultra gauge, or phone app like Torque Pro, I highly recommend you do. It's not only your engine that will be working harder but it will be your trans as well. You will want to closely monitor your trans and engine temps when you're towing, especially when you're traveling in hot ambient temps and climbing extended grades. There will be times that it might be prudent to pull off the side of the road and give your engine and trans a break to cool down.

Unless your engine is giving you issues, I wouldn't drop money on a JDM engine. JDM engines are a total crap shoot anyway. You don't know the mileage. You're just assuming they are telling you the truth, and that's a big assumption for your hard earned money.

I've made a video of installing a supercharger but I'm not someone who thinks they are the smartest thing to put on your rig. My thinking is this. There has to be a price you're going to pay for that additional horsepower and torque you're getting out of your engine. The price I think people could pay is lowering the life expectancy of their engine.

Like @phattyduck already noted, just be prepared to drive slower and take more time to get where you're going. No big deal. Just monitor your engine and trans temps and don't burn one or both of them up.

That's my two and half cents on this subject.
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Old 10-25-2022, 03:27 PM #12
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What kind of 33Ē tires and what load rating are they?

If theyíre E Rated, youíll free up some ponies by moving to a load C. Might mean a wheel change depending on how you go about it. It really surprised me how much more zippy my third gen is after using the appropriate casing for a tire.

Iím with Tim and Phattyduck here. Suck it up in the slow lane. Even if you do go spend the money to regear and what not, itís still not going to be a super great tow rig. Just lock it in second, turn on your hazards and go for it. For no more than it sounds like youíre going to be towing, thatís probably going to be your best bet.
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Old 10-26-2022, 07:51 PM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdspen View Post
Iím on 32ís also with 4.10 gears and have done a bit of towing. Good idea doing the gears. I havenít and the 4runner has held up to the work, but it really doesnít have much power getting going. (Terribly slow off the line.) Iíve done 2 cross country trips with a trailer heavier than yours and plenty more around town and the gears would definitely be nice, especially if it isnít a daily driver.

I would encourage you to include in your budget some from of sway control and possibly a weight distribution hitch. Once I added that to mine, the difference was amazing. You mentioned that it is a boat trailer that youíre towing. If it has surge brakes instead of electric, you lose the ability to apply the brakes to correct trailer sway, in the event it occurs. Even if you donít get the full distribution hitch, HF sells a sway control device with a weld on tab to add to a regular hitch. Worth the money in my opinion.

And for the record, I fully support keeping the 4runner over a new Tacoma.

Also, for consideration, if airbags are possible with your lift springs, they have really helped me with tongue weight (stock springs on mine) and can be aired down to not interfere with off road.
So the trailer i'm towing is from an old 1981 glasply - aka it has no trailer brakes. I pulled it from Comano Island to Tacoma no issues so i'm thinking it shouldn't be an issue. And YES for the air bags, i'll definitely have to put those on the rig to help with the sag that occurs.
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Old 10-26-2022, 07:55 PM #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbtim View Post
I just re-geared my diffs to 4.88s and I'm on 33" tires. That combo is perfect.
If you go 5.29s, you're going to be revving pretty high at highway speeds. I guess it depends how fast you like to drive. Now, if you were planning on going with bigger tires in the future, like 35s, 5.29 gears would definitely be the smart decision. If you're going to stay with 33" tires, I would run 4.88 gears.

I know you said you're running an external trans cooler, but how big? The one you're currently running might be insufficient for the weight you'll be towing. If you're not monitoring your trans temp in some fashion, scan gauge, ultra gauge, or phone app like Torque Pro, I highly recommend you do. It's not only your engine that will be working harder but it will be your trans as well. You will want to closely monitor your trans and engine temps when you're towing, especially when you're traveling in hot ambient temps and climbing extended grades. There will be times that it might be prudent to pull off the side of the road and give your engine and trans a break to cool down.

Unless your engine is giving you issues, I wouldn't drop money on a JDM engine. JDM engines are a total crap shoot anyway. You don't know the mileage. You're just assuming they are telling you the truth, and that's a big assumption for your hard earned money.

I've made a video of installing a supercharger but I'm not someone who thinks they are the smartest thing to put on your rig. My thinking is this. There has to be a price you're going to pay for that additional horsepower and torque you're getting out of your engine. The price I think people could pay is lowering the life expectancy of their engine.

Like @phattyduck already noted, just be prepared to drive slower and take more time to get where you're going. No big deal. Just monitor your engine and trans temps and don't burn one or both of them up.

That's my two and half cents on this subject.
So I would like to buy a scan gauge but my 1998 doesn't monitor trans temp so according to Timmy the Toolman i will need to splice in a temp sensor then route it to a gauge installed somehwere in the cab. Pain in the ass but I agree it should be worth it to have that data. And wow didn't know about those JDM engines. I'll start with the gearing (thinking 4.88's as of now) then see where that gets me.

I spoke to Just Diferentials in Cashmere, WA and they reccomended 4.88 for my needs. They're the experts so i'm leaning towards that..
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Old 10-26-2022, 07:56 PM #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romeo1 View Post
What kind of 33Ē tires and what load rating are they?

If theyíre E Rated, youíll free up some ponies by moving to a load C. Might mean a wheel change depending on how you go about it. It really surprised me how much more zippy my third gen is after using the appropriate casing for a tire.

Iím with Tim and Phattyduck here. Suck it up in the slow lane. Even if you do go spend the money to regear and what not, itís still not going to be a super great tow rig. Just lock it in second, turn on your hazards and go for it. For no more than it sounds like youíre going to be towing, thatís probably going to be your best bet.
Not too sure about the load rating but i'll have to run out and check. I JUST purchased all new falked wild peak at3's so perhaps in a few years i will contemplate the load C.

And yep - slow lane is what everyone seems to be suggesting. I'm going to re-gear to 4.88 and add a trans temp gauge and go from there - thanks for the advice!
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