Step Tube Modification
and Hardware Needed:
Corded Drill (better, but cordless is doable)
10mm tap (1)
10mm bolt (5)
Crescent wrench (2)
Long Bolts (3)
Lock washers (3)
Self-tapping screws (4)
Tape measurer (1)
I am providing this write up for illustrative purposes
only. Perform at your own risk. Any mods (including this one) you perform
on your vehicle is your responsibility. Furthermore, commercial use of
this write up is prohibited---all images and text are property of 4Runners.org.
Linking or copying any portion of this write up may result in legal action.
buy sliders. If you don't get the tubes for free and cannot weld yourself,
the cost alone will buy you a decent set of sliders including the welding
I really like the Xterra step tubes. RandyM was the first and maybe the
only person I know who modified the Xterra step tubes to fit onto a 4Runner.
Randy simply tapped some holes into the frame and just bolted into it.
I didn't want to go that route and after several emails between us, I
was convinced that there was a better way to do this. My initial thought
was to create "arms" that could mount onto the existing stock
4Runner hangers. My efforts, however, were not successful as I could not
find a shop that would take on my project. Robinhood150 (Steve) was nice
enough to begin CAD'g a custom solution but by the time we traded a few
emails, I already decided that it might be too much trouble.
reverted back to Randy's solution with one modification: I wanted the
step tubes to stick out farther. I know a few Xterra and Pathfinder owners
who aren't happy because the tubes don't stick out far enough. Dirt and
mud tends to accumulate between the small gap between the step tubes and
the bottom of the cab. No big deal to me because I know to be careful,
but since I host clients every few weeks, it could get a few pant cuffs
remove the top plastic cover of the step tubes cut off exactly 5"
off each step tube. Mark it with masking tape and/or a Sharpie pen and
then cut it off with the hacksaw. One interesting note: the tubes are
extremely light and easy to cut because they are made of aluminum.
arms from the step tube and cut off the four 1/4" mounting plates
and the weld flash. Since I only had a hacksaw, it took some time cut
the mounting plates off. Here's a good tip: after you are done cutting
the plate and flash off an arm, take your Sharpie and mark the bottom
side of the arm "cradle" with its position (i.e. LF, LR, RF,
and RR). Here is a pic of one with the end cut off:
one with the flash clealy removed:
I went to the local metal shop with one of the mounting plates
I cut off and had them cut 1" aluminum blocks of the same size. I
then traced 2 holes in each block and began drilling with my cordless
drill (big mistake). I wish I had a drill press for this operation as
it took nearly 30 minutes for *each* hole. My neighbor had great pity
on me and loaned me his corded drill and tapping/drill oil. Here is a
pic of an unfinished block to show the width of the block:
a pic of the blocks with the holes cut into them. Labeled each block for
the welder. A good tip: Mark the position between the two holes. See LR?
That is where the welder will weld the arms. I did the other ones correctly.
frustrating search for a reputable aluminum welder, I finally found one
(only 1 of 3 within 10 miles of my place) and he welded the cut arms to
the aluminum blocks. He offset the arms by about 5/8" from the edge.
Here is a pic of the completed arms:
Arms Back onto Step Tubes
Due to the position of the front arms and bolt holes relative
to the front frame crossmember, the front arms (for both sides) needs
to be bolted towards the rear of the step tubes. I utilized 2 of the front
holes (2 out of 4) and used two self-tapping screws to secure the other
Things to Know about the Frame and the Gas Tank
The frame itself should be view in two dimensions. First, if you are under
the 4runner and looking up, the width of the frame varies from front to
back. The front part near the front cross member is thicker. Sorry, I
don't have the measurement but take a look and you'll see. Second, the
frame's height is consistent in height, but the top part of it is difficult
to utilize power tools because the lower part of the body prevents access
tank is located on the driver's side underneath the left passenger seat.
Since there is very little clearance between the inner wall of the frame
and the gas tank, there is really no way besides tapping a threaded hole
to secure the driver's side rear bolts.
on the Frame
Here's where my total lack of planning significantly lengthened
the time it took to finish the project. Since I had the blocks welded
vertically, the top holes are impossible to drill effectively because
the bottom part of the 4runner body overhangs in such a way that it is
impossible to drill it perpendicularly w/ a conventional drill. I went
to Home Depot to see if a right angle drill would work, but the minimum
clearance is 5 inches. Had I thought things out, it would have been better
to weld the blocks horizontally. Oh well.
the Passenger Side
This side is the easier of the two. Because the front mounting point on
the frame is thicker, you will need a longer bolt for the bottom front
hole. For the top hole, you will need a bit to drill a small pilot hole
on an upwards angle, and then drill another 11/32" hole to create
a hole for the 10mm tap. Here is a close up:
passenger side is just like the front passenger side. However, since the
frame is a little thinner, you will need shorter bolts (I believe it was
1/2" smaller). As explained above, you can drill the bottom hole
all the way through with no problem. You will have to drill and tap the
top hole just like you did for the front. Here's what it looks like with
the metric 10mm bolt up top and the standard bolt at the bottom:
the Driver's Side
This side was more difficult for one reason alone: the gas tank. The ability
to drill and fasten a bolt through both walls of the rear part of the
frame is prevented because the location of the tank. There is virtually
little clearance between the inner frame wall and the outside protective
cover of the tank:
will need to drill and tap both the top and bottom holes for the driver's
side rear. The front position is just like the passenger side.
and Learning Points
- This mod really isn't a mod that will save you *significant* money.
Luckily, I got the step tubes free. However when I was looking around,
I was quoted anywhere from $50 to $200. Aside from the step tube cost,
your most significant cost will probably be the welding. Good aluminum
welders are hard to find, but that might depend on the area you live in.
The bolts and other miscellaneous hardware will cost you about $20-$25
press, drill press, drill press! As I said above, I drilled the holes
with a regular drill. What a total waste of time. Along those lines, if
you have access to a metal cutting saw (NOT a sawzall), your cutting time
will be significantly reduced. I opted not to use a sawzall to cut off
the original mounting plates because I was concerned about losing too
much of the arm and making them too uneven.
- I was
initially worried that the threaded holes/bolts would deform and "give"
under daily use, but this thing is rock solid. If I were to do this again,
I might have used all standard bolt sizes instead of the metric bolts
for the tapped holes and standard for the long, bottom bolts. But given
I had the metric taps already, I didn't want to spend more money on another
- See if
your welder can weld the two self-tapping screws on the re-mounted front
arms. I attached 2 of the 4 holes with self-tapping screws but since the
metal is so thin, I have my long-term doubts that they will hold up.
some pics of the completed project on the next
or feedback? Email me and I'll try to get back to you. If this article
helped you save time, money or just made things more convenient for
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