Project Toyota Tundra Part One, TRD Suspension and Brakes
By Mike Kojima
We are not truck people at MotoIQ. However, if you are into high performance cars, bikes or racing you need something to tow them around and haul around your gear and spares. This makes a good truck an essential part of the racer lifestyle. Even though to us, a truck is more of a work tool than something to covet, we still end up tuning and tweaking them because the life of a racecar tow truck is a hard one. Towing a race car and hauling crew, tools, spares and gear is nearly as hard on the trucks components as racing. More than doubling a vehicle's gross vehicle weight when under towing conditions really puts a huge strain on a truck's powertrain, suspension and brakes. Not to mention work trucks are usually not as meticulously and lovingly maintained as a racecar.
Until recently, the MotoIQ garage held several tow vehicles. We have our WD21 Project Pathfinder, a 1995 Ford F150, a Nissan Titan and a late model 4-liter Pathfinder. What we really needed was something more like a real work truck. Our F150 was pretty anemic, its 4.6 liter Modular motor lacked power and torque, the suspension sagged under the tongue weight of a trailer and it handled really poorly in general–even worse when towing or with a load in the bed. The brakes also sucked with a load.
|Although Project Pathfinder tows decently, its still performs its job about as well as a mid 90's half-ton truck, which is not up to modern standards.|
Although Project Pathfinder was adequate for towing, its SUV body was not the best for loading up with gear, parts and tools. Its short wheelbase and brakes always let us know that it was not designed to tow much more than its original 3,000 lb tow capacity. Although it towed better than the F150, it still was not quite up to snuff.
Our late model Pathfinder had a wonderful VQ40DE engine with plenty of power and torque, a nice interior, good ride and handling. However, the plushly suspended rear sagged under the weight of a trailer and we did not like slinging our dirty tools and fuel jugs into its nice interior. The worst thing about the new Pathfinder was its horrible brakes. They warped and juddered every time we tried to tow something and the warranty (and free replacement brakes) was about to expire.
Our Titan towed nicely but we felt like it was a victim of Ghosn's cost cutting. It had a nasty tendency to overheat the engine and drivetrain which delayed a couple of trips when we had to pull over and let things cool. This tendency did not give us a feeling of confidence either. The Titan also had a bad habit of warping its brakes but an upgrade with better warranty parts seemed to stop that. The Titan's rep of nuking differentials also was a source of worry.
|Although it is pretty powerful, our Titan has overheated several times, leaving us stranded while towing in inhospitable places.|
Since we are all about worry free towing, we decided to look into getting a new full size truck. Over the years we have used about every truck on the market including the Dodge Ram and Ford F250 SD (which was our current favorite truck). Dan Gardner, owner of our Project Scion racecar was awfully impressed with the Tundra he received on long-term loan from Toyota and recommended we give one a try.