My FJ cruiser is 11 years old- going on 12. Which I think is kind of awesome as I was a “new car whore” for many years. I like that it’s not new and well worn in. Plus I have really low miles (only 81k). And heck- I just love the thing.
Even with the low miles, age was taking its toll and some maintenance was necessary. Not cheap maintenance.
The last service visit they noticed issues with my shocks. One of the front ones was leaking and kind of blown. And the rears weren’t looking great. And the big, off-road tires I had were kind of leaking and wearing unevenly. So it was time for Moose to go under the knife.
Now, to add a degree of difficulty, a lot of my vehicle isn’t stock. There’s a lift kit on the truck and there are aftermarket rims. Also, I had a “plan” I wanted to start implementing.
My idea: eventually I want to get a flat rack and roof top tent. Then I want to take a road trip west and hit some national parks and camp. Eventually toddle off to Palm Springs. Joshua Tree. Things like that. BUT— my vehicle was pretty tall with the lift kit. And adding several inches of tent package to the roof would make parking it in my parking garage (or most garages) tricky or nigh on impossible.
So I asked for the unthinkable— to “un”lift my truck. And put in normal sized tires.
Whaaaa? *Redneck Gasp*
It makes sense for a lot of reasons. I don’t off-road, I commute. And my truck was sort of handling like shit with the current setup. The center of gravity was really high; it felt unstable. Loose. Jittery. There was lots of road noise. And a host of other issues.
So now that it was time to do shocks, I asked the tech to remove the lift, get new tires on, and align the thing.
Easier said than done.
Remember those aftermarket rims? Well they’re 18s or some such and wider than stock. Which then creates issues fitting tires to the truck so you don’t get rub while turning. And I really didn’t want to add new rims to the grand total. Since I need 5 of them and right now with part shortages, they are pricey.
So there was the whole tire issue. Which was supposedly resolved on Saturday so they everything would be in and ready to go on Tuesday. Well, that turned out to be false. nothing was ready on Tuesday.
So they put me in that sweet, sweet minivan.
Then yesterday as they started digging into the vehicle there were rust issues. And the rear shocks were problematic. As was the lift removal with the springs. Anyway. I got a phone call mid day telling me my FJ would be ready to be picked up at 5. So I left work early and was at the dealer at 5. Only my truck wasn’t quite ready yet. They were still doing the tires. It’ll be done in 30 minutes.
So I waited. At 6 pm I checked in with them. Now They we’re fighting alignment issues. Evidently the control arm bushings are worn and it was creating a massive alignment challenge for the tech.
At 7 the vehicle was finally done. But it took them another 10 minutes to find it and bring it around so I could leave. After wasting 2 hours sitting, when had I but known I could have gone to the gym and then done my errands and then picked up my truck. Or picked it up today instead. Jesus.
The bad news? I’ll probably need to replace control arms and get another alignment— sooner rather than later.
The meh news? I’m not wild about the tire choice. I know I was limited, but I was so used to the big butch tire look, that these look puny. And aesthetically slightly off. I can live with it, it just fails to please my eye.
The good news? Holy shit does the vehicle drive and ride better! Like a new fucking car. No shudder. No jitter when braking. Rides smoothly. Feels in control- not like I’m constantly fighting to steer. The lower center of gravity makes it feel more stable on the highway. And I don’t have to use the nerf bars to hop in anymore!
I still have plenty of ground clearance. No tire/wheel rub. And it steers so much better.
Next step? A Baja flat roof rack for the top. Maybe next spring.