Sonoran Steel Fabrication is now making replacement lower rear links for the Toyota FJ Cruiser.   Now the first question you may have is why do I need these?   Read on, I am going to show you exactly why.

Click HERE for the instructions that came with the links.

Here are two links side by side.   The one on the right is a stock 4-Runner link, the tube on the left is what the replacement links are made from.   The 4-Runner links are the same wall tubing as the FJ, they are just a bit smaller diameter overall.

Besides the obvious difference in wall thickness (the stock links are 1/8" wall while the new ones are 1/4" wall), the factory link is also a seamed tube, meaning you can see the seam where the metal was rolled and welded together to form the tube.   While this is cheaper to make, it is also not as strong.  

The new tubes are DOM (Drawn over Mandrel) tubes that are much, much stronger.

So why do you need these links?   Look at the picture of an FJ Cruisers suspension on the Rubicon Trail in Northern California and you see why!   This was during the TTORA Rubicon Run in July of 2006.   The lower link was smashed on the rocks and ended up bending and eventually breaking in half.   All of this damage happened during this one trip, it was the vehicles first off road run, and it had about 4000 miles on the odometer.

So now that you know why you want these, lets get on with the installation.

Block the front tires and raise the rear of the vehicle from the rear differential (the center of the axle).   Use jack stands just to the front of the link chassis mounts on both sides to support the frame.   Lower the jack just enough to have the frame contact the jack stands.

Remove the parking brake cable brackets from both of the factory links.

Loosen the bolts at both ends of the lower links but do not remove the bolts at this time.

 

The links are removed and installed one side at a time.   This is a two person job, but it can be done in just a few minutes per side.

One person will SLOWLY lower the jack while the other tries to wiggle the bolt at one end of a link out.  At some point while the axle drops, the bolt will slide right out.   When you hit this point, stop lowering the jack.   You can now remove the bolts from both ends of the factory link and remove it.

Here you can see the old link and the new link end side by side.

The new link uses Rubicon Express Super Flex Joints at both ends.   The factory ends have a simple rubber bushing.

Another shot of the link ends.   Notice that the Rubicon Express Super Flex Joints can pivot freely.   This will help the rear end flex some.
Everything about these links is beefier, even the bracket that mounts the parking brake cable.

The new links use a spacer that is also used to make the hole smaller for the new bolt. The new bolt is smaller, so the small flange will keep the joint centered correctly in the larger factory hole.   

These spacers are held in place while the link is put into the bracket.   It can be a bid tricky, but you will have it in no time at all!

Install the new link ends.  Here you can see one end completely together.  Note the spacers on both sides of the new joint.
The bolts at both ends of the new link are installed.
The parking brake bracket is bolted onto the new link.

Once both ends are together, the bolts are torqued to 55 ft. lbs..

This is repeated for the second link, that's all there is to it!

Total install time was just under 1 hour.

Down the road a bit we will follow up and see how these are holding up on the trail.
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8-19-06