Tough Dog Suspension

Step by step installation

Whilst Toyota's factory suspension has certainly improved over the years, it's still well behind the performance of a quality aftermarket system.

The harsh conditions and endless corrugations of outback Australia are infamous, and not the sort of terrain you want to tackle with standard suspension designed to spend most of its time on the blacktop.

Terrain aside, a suspension upgrade is really essential once you start adding weight to the vehicle with accessories or you plan for towing a caravan or camper. This is particularly so with IFS vehicles like the 200, with their typically nose-down disposition being made worse by the installation of a bullbar and winch.

Kit selection

When it came to choosing suspension for the 200, my first stop was always going to be Tough Dog. I've been using Tough Dog suspension on my 4WDs for over 20 years, and it has always provided excellent performance and durability. I have never had a Tough Dog component failure.

With the brand decided, the next step was making the decision on the spring rates and shock absorber type. Tough Dog provide three different spring rates for the front and rear, plus three different shock absorber types, being 41mm Foam cell (fixed rate), 40mm adjustable and 45mm adjustable.

I decided to go with the heaviest springs for the front, due to the factory dual battery system and my imminent plans to fit a steel bullbar and winch. At the rear I've chosen the lightest springs, which are suitable for variable loads of up to 300kg. At this stage there is no constant additional load at the rear to warrant selecting the mid-range or heavy-duty springs, which are designed for constant 300kg and 500kg loads respectively. I will be adding a set of Helper airbags later in the build to keep the vehicle level while laden.

When it came to the shocks, I decided on the 40mm adjustables on the recommendation of John from Tough Dog Suspension. I'm a huge fan of the adjustable shocks, due to the simple ability to vary the dampening depending on the load and terrain. However, having a mild lift of 20-40mm and no huge load in the rear, there was no need to go for the larger 45mm bore versions.

Update: I have now fitted a set of Airbag Man Heavy Duty airbags and air control kit. Step-by-step installation guide/video here.

Update: I have now replaced the front upper control arms with a pair of Superpro adjustable arms, which have greatly improved the handling/stability of the vehicle, eliminated uneven tyre wear and allowed for correct wheel alignment. Step-by-step installation guide/video here.




IMPORTANT

The "Installation" section should not be taken as instructions.  It is simply a documenting of the procedure I followed for my own installation. No warranty is provided as to the accuracy of the information, and/or whether it applies in your situation or to your vehicle. If you're not qualified and/or don't have the correct equipment, get the suspension fitted professionally.

  • There are potentially lethal dangers involved during the installation from falling vehicles or components and/or component or equipment failures.
  • Assembled front struts are under loads exceeding 300kg. Failure of the strut or disassembly of the strut without the correct tools can cause severe injury or death.
  • There are potentially lethal dangers resulting from failure due to improper installation.
  • There is the potential for expensive vehicle and/or suspension damage from improper installation.

If you undertake your own suspension installation, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Equipment required 

  • Assorted spanners and sockets
  • torque wrench (Min 60-203Nm range)
  • Thread locking fluid (eg Loctite 243 or 263)

ebay-unit-1024X160

Installation

Click images to enlarge

Preparation

Step 1: As my vehicle is fitted with KDSS, the first step was to remove the protective cover from the KDSS shutter control valve (located mid-vehicle on the left side, on the inside of the chassis rail), then loosen both hex screws 3 full turns (no more), to deactivate the KDSS system.

Step 2: I measured the height from the bottom of each rim up to the guard, then noted the measurements on the supplied sheet from Tough Dog Suspension.



Front Suspension

Step 1: Jack up the front of the vehicle and support it on chassis stands with the rear wheels chocked, and removed the front wheels. Place the wheels under the chassis on each side as an additional safety precaution.

Step 2: Remove the steering rod ends from the steering knuckles using a ball joint removal tool.

Step 3: Remove the bolts connecting the sway bar to the lower suspension arms. 

Step 4: Loosen the nuts retaining the upper ball joints, leaving about half the nut on the end of the thread, then give the tops of the steering knuckles a tap to allow them to drop down onto the nut. I did not remove the upper ball joints completely, to prevent the risk of damage to the CVs. 

Step 5: Remove the 4 nuts holding the top of each strut and the single bolt holding the bottom of each strut. 

Step 6: Remove the complete strut assemblies (bottom first) by gently levering them from the lower suspension arms. It's important to monitor the hydraulic brake lines and the ABS sensor wires to ensure they aren't placed under any load during this process.

Step 7: Install the new strut assemblies (top first), again levering carefully as required to get them into place.

Step 8: Tighten the 4 nuts on the top of each strut, and replace the lower bolts without tightening the nuts.

Step 9: I tightened the upper ball joints and installed new securing pins. 

Step 10: Re-attach the sway bar linkages, using Loctite 243 or 263 to ensure they don't come loose.

Step 11: Re-attach the steering arms to the steering knuckles and install new split pins.

Step 12: Replace the front wheels and lower the vehicle to the ground. 

Step 13. Wait a couple of minutes for the KDSS system to equalise, then tighten the lower strut bolts. As with the sway bar linkages, again use Loctite 243 or 263 to ensure they don't come loose.




Rear Suspension

Step 1: Raise the rear of the vehicle then support it on chassis stands with the front wheels chocked, and removed the rear wheels. Place the rear wheels under the chassis as an additional safety precaution.

Step 2: Using a jack under the diff, raise the rear axle slightly to take the load off the shock absorbers.

Step 3: Remove the sway bar linkages on both sides.

Step 4: Remove the bolts securing the bottom of the shock absorbers to the rear axle, and remove the shocks from the bottom mounts.

Step 5: Lower the axle until the springs are no longer under load, ensuring that the brake lines (near the centre of the axle) do not become strained. If required, you can remove the brake line bracket from the diff housing for some additional drop.

Step 6: Remove both standard rear springs and their captive bump stop cones, bottom first.

Step 7: Undo the top shock mounts to remove the rear shock absorbers, and install the new ones. (Removing the standard shocks requires a 22mm ring spanner, and installing the Tough Dog shocks requires 1x 24mm ring spanner and 1x thin 24mm open end spanner.)

Step 8: Fit the bump stop cones to the new springs, then install the assemblies, top first. (The springs are marked Left and Right hand)

Step 9: Raise the rear axle with the jack and re-attached the sway bar linkages, handbrake cable retainers and the bottom bolts on the shock absorbers. Use Loctite 243 or 263 to ensure they don't come loose.

Step 10: Refit the rear wheels, remove the chassis stands and lowered the vehicle back on to the ground.




Finishing

Step 1: Re-check all nuts, bolts and wheelnuts for tightness, and all retaining pins to ensure they are in place.

Step 2: With the vehicle back on the ground and having settled for several minutes, give it a solid bounce front and rear to stabilise the suspension.

Step 3: Measure the height from the bottom of each rim up to the guard, then note the measurements on the supplied sheet from Tough Dog Suspension.

Step 4: Tighten both KDSS shutter control valves, then replace the protective cover.

Step 5: After travelling a couple of hundred kilometres, recheck all nuts, bolts and pins, and take the vehicle for a wheel alignment.

ebay-generic-unit-180X160

Correcting a KDSS lean

In the weeks following the installation, my 200 developed a slight but noticeable lean to the right hand (driver's) side. After several unsuccessful attempts at re-balancing the KDSS system, I rang Tough Dog Suspension for some advice. The solution turned out to be simple and effective.

I have created a dedicated page (including a video) showing the simple steps to correcting a KDSS lean.

Comments / Q&A