As I head into year five with my favorite mechanical buddy, I am proud to announce that I have officially achieved my goal of bringing this site’s textual content and photos up to the FJ’s current status. I’ve scoured through nearly all of our photographs and can now confirm that I’ve completed documentation on all of the major modifications. There are still a few minor modifications, however, that have remained in hiding thus far. The main reason I have not yet addressed these items is that no one single mod was worthy of an entire article. But rather than just skip these upgrades entirely, I’ve decided to compile them all together into a single mini-mod article. Although a few of the below-mentioned items fall into the pricier category, most of these upgrades are either do-it-yourself type mods and/or modifications that fall into the quick and cheap category. In the end, whether your mods are major or minor in nature, it is the combination of the alterations that makes each person’s vehicle their own. So without further delay, here are a few of mine. Continue Reading →
This article is actually part three in a series involving electrical upgrades to your FJ Cruiser. For those interested in adding a second battery to your FJ Cruiser, I suggest checking out part one, which details the installation of a Dirty Parts dual battery system. The second part provides detailed instructions and photos on how to add an auxiliary fuse panel to your FJ. The current article makes up part three in the series, and will cover the addition of 12-volt outlets to your FJ. In its stock configuration, the FJ Cruiser only provides its passengers with a single 12v outlet. The addition of more outlets gives passengers the ability to plug in extra accessories such as phones and portable media devices.
I spent more than a reasonable amount of time researching and experimenting in order to determine the best location for aftermarket outlets. It sounds a little strange I suppose, but any mod that requires drilling or otherwise modifying the FJ’s stock configuration, normally leaves me to pause a bit. For those keeping up with my previous articles, you’ll note that I prefer to keep modifications as close to stock, in appearance, as possible. It’s about blending in and avoiding the “sore thumb” syndrome. Luckily, there were quite a few folks who paved the road before me, so I was able to view photos of outlets installed in a variety of different locations within the FJ before I began my own 12v installation. When all was said and done, I came up with a perfect outlet location for my needs – the rear vertical face of the center console. Continue Reading →
For those of you who have been following my progress, I was now at the stage where I needed to equip the FJ Cruiser with some better accessories, accessories specifically designed with off-roading and recovery in mind. I’ve been looking forward to this post for awhile now, since it symbolizes the first step in preparing the FJ for a true off-road experience. This was actually one of the more exciting times during the FJ’s build-up because I was able to research and purchase multiple items in a very short period of time. I don’t necessarily recommend this approach, as the price tags add up quite quickly. But because of the rather shortened time frame, I decided that Christmas would be coming a little early that year.
I should also point out that I spend a great deal more time researching a piece of equipment than I typically spend installing it. The only reason I say this is to keep readers informed and aware that I’m not simply making arbitrary purchases. I tend to take my time performing extensive product comparisons, using a combination of 3rd-party reviews and customer feedback, before I make a final decision. It’s not an absolute guarantee, but it does help me avoid some of the more obviously bad products. This is yet another area where I rely heavily on the FJ Cruiser Forums for consultation. With more than 30,000 members and 80,000 threads, these forums provide some very useful insight from actual FJ and FJ-product owners. This particular post is the first of several that will detail most of the equipment I purchased prior to our first trip to Rausch Creek Off-Road Park. Continue Reading →
Having been used to Ford’s line-up over the previous years, I became accustomed to selecting from a virtual smorgasbord of options, when it came to factory features. The FJ Cruiser was my first official Toyota purchase so I was somewhat surprised to discover that many of the luxury options I had ordered with previous vehicles, were simply not available with the FJ. Dual zone climate control, sunroof, leather seating, and other similar options were simply not offered. In Toyota’s defense, however, the FJ Cruiser’s MSRP sits between 20K and 30K, roughly half of what it would have cost me to upgrade to a new Ford diesel pickup. So I was more than willing to forgo a few of the more luxurious items, temporarily at least. Even without the luxury items, I still drove off the dealer lot with a nicely loaded Titanium Silver model. And now that I finally had my expeditionary platform of choice, it was time to begin the mods.
In the past, my first customization/modification would typically consist of new tires and wheels. The FJ Cruiser was one of the first vehicles to ever produce a stock wheel design that I actually liked. Enough so, that I decided not to replace the wheels until something better came along. As of this writing, I have yet to find a wheel I like better. The tires were a different story entirely, however. Having lived in Maryland for the last twelve years, the winters here provide both snow and ice a-plenty. It’s nothing like our northern counterparts, but it’s enough that without some aggressive all-terrain or mud-terrain tires, you’re more likely to be left sitting where you stand, so to speak. Almost all of my previous Ford trucks had run BFGoodrich AT K/O tires, and with very good luck I might add. The BFG ATs are comprised of a fairly hard rubber compound making them last for easily 60K miles. Many who have run them in the past have reported numbers nearing 100K in terms of mileage gained out of a single set. They also do remarkably well in the snow. Suffice it to say, I’ve been very happy with them in the past and was now in the market for a new set of five of these tires in the FJ’s stock size of 265/70R17. Continue Reading →
As promised, I’ve compiled quite a few additional videos covering some of the many great features available on the FJ Cruiser platform. Most of the videos are short but they do provide a good visual demonstration in addition to describing each feature. Not all of the options featured in the videos are available in the base level configuration; some require one or more upgrade packages. But each of the upgrade packages offers a number of additional options that may also be of interest to a potential buyer. For more details on upgrade packages, simply contact your local Toyota dealership. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to fill you on the details. Without further ado, the video links I promised can be found below. Continue Reading →