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Old 12-25-2022, 06:48 PM #1
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Frame difference between 96-98 and 99-02 - Blue Ox Tow bar

TLDR. Bought a RV with a blue ox tow bar setup. I've got a 96, but the tow plates are for a 99 and newer. But will it actually fit?


Other than the fat lip, whats the difference on the frame (specifically the front) of a 96 and a 99. These things are $500 and a special order. I'm tempted to get a tow dolly for the same money but I'd love to flat tow my 96 with a 5 speed.

BX3736 Toyota 4-Runner (4WD) Baseplate - Blue Ox | Towing Accessories
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Old 12-25-2022, 08:20 PM #2
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The only frame difference besides the obvious 4wd and 2wd crossmembers.. is the front bumper. The 99 to 2002 front bumper is fat lipped because of the crush zones that were added in. I can take a photo of a 2002 fat lip bumper in the morning. 1996 thru 1998 are just small plates with a bolt on plate at the end of the frame. The bumpers are majorly different.

3rd Gen Toyota 4-Runner 1996-2002 - autorust.com

They sadly don't have that frame bracket listed. :-(

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Old 12-26-2022, 04:31 PM #3
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You can see it's only a bumper. The frames are identical.

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Old 12-26-2022, 06:09 PM #4
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You are awesome. I think I can make this work.
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Old 12-26-2022, 06:41 PM #5
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There you go.. If the bolts go into the tow hooks go. You would be fine.

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Old 12-27-2022, 09:56 AM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wardriver View Post
TLDR. Bought a RV with a blue ox tow bar setup. I've got a 96, but the tow plates are for a 99 and newer. But will it actually fit?





Other than the fat lip, whats the difference on the frame (specifically the front) of a 96 and a 99. These things are $500 and a special order. I'm tempted to get a tow dolly for the same money but I'd love to flat tow my 96 with a 5 speed.



BX3736 Toyota 4-Runner (4WD) Baseplate - Blue Ox | Towing Accessories
The instructions are specifically for 99-02, curiously enough

It appears the bar bolts onto the 2-hole tie down/recovery hook bolts in the bottom of the frame - which should be common on 96-02

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Old 12-27-2022, 10:32 AM #7
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If they use those 4 bolts for the tow hook and tie down at the front of the frame. I don't see why it wouldn't work. Granted you may have to adjust the ball a little lower if it rubs your bumper.

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Old 12-27-2022, 03:00 PM #8
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You'll be missing a bolt location that the tow bar uses, based on what it shows in the instructions. The crush can mounting locations at the front of the frame on the '99-'02 4Runners has a wide 4-bold flange, the '96-'98 has a small face plate and a single weld-nut.

Here is a '99+ frame front:


You can make out the front here from my parts truck for a '96-'98 frame:


It'll bolt on, but you'll be short 1 bolt location and it might be too low and forward for your liking.

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Old 12-27-2022, 05:01 PM #9
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You might be able to still buy those plate ends for the frame. I bought a few sets in the past for the older style frame ends a few years ago.

I know those plates aren't very thick. So not sure why they want to bolt to them for anything. :/


I am pretty sure the OP can fabricate something to reuse that tow kit.. even if it just slice those plates off and weld the bigger ones on.
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Old 12-28-2022, 10:23 AM #10
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You might be able to still buy those plate ends for the frame. I bought a few sets in the past for the older style frame ends a few years ago.

I know those plates aren't very thick. So not sure why they want to bolt to them for anything. :/


I am pretty sure the OP can fabricate something to reuse that tow kit.. even if it just slice those plates off and weld the bigger ones on.
I would call the mfgr first and see what they recommend before modifying the vehicle

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Old 12-28-2022, 10:50 AM #11
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I would call the mfgr first and see what they recommend before modifying the vehicle

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Good idea. However, where is your sense of adventure?

He figure it out what's best for him.

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Old 12-28-2022, 10:51 AM #12
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That's what we did with my wife's '96 when installing the 4X Innovations bumper. The early style frame only had 1 (2?) small bolts on the end of the frame per side, the bumper also used those tow hook bolts underneath, but clearly was not getting much strength from those two small bolts. Since I was putting a bumper on my 99 at the same time, I took the crash bar off the '99 and used the mounting plates from it. Cut the end plates off her frame, cut the mounting plates off the crash bar, and welded them to the end of her frame. Now 3 large bolts on each side, gotta be stronger.
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Old 12-28-2022, 11:02 AM #13
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I personally, would not tow off those front plates. They are very thin. I replaced those when they rot off. I would only tow off the tow hook bolts and I personally would put a front hitch to tow. Basically build a hitch like the rear for the front and that's how I would tow via the front but that is me.

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Old 12-28-2022, 01:32 PM #14
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I personally, would not tow off those front plates. They are very thin. I replaced those when they rot off. I would only tow off the tow hook bolts and I personally would put a front hitch to tow. Basically build a hitch like the rear for the front and that's how I would tow via the front but that is me.

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They are literally called tie down hooks, but not even the tow truck drivers will use them to tie down the truck

I replaced my front tie downs with shackle mounts from Overland Custom Designs



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Old 12-28-2022, 01:45 PM #15
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I personally, would not tow off those front plates. They are very thin. I replaced those when they rot off.
Not only thin, but not much weld material. They are good to hold a crush can, not to tow with.

If you are going to pull off the front of the frame (recovery, not just flat towing), you'll want something real there:



My front bumper uses the two tie down bolts, a through bolt near the front of the frame (vertical), the added front hole shown above, AND an extra hole in the frame behind the radiator on a bar that sticks back there from the bumper mount bracket...

Here's a pic that shows it all, minus the front bolt that wasn't installed yet:



-Charlie
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