02-24-2012, 08:39 AM
so how many people have replaced their idler arm, and gone with the metal bushings. I have quite a lot of feedback these days, but no "visible" play in the box or the arm.
I understand the trick is to buy a generic/autozone replacement (thicker arm) and install the aftermarket bushings?
02-24-2012, 10:22 AM
There won't be visible play unless the nylon is actually broken, but another indicator of this would be that you can inspect the idler from the bottom side as you'll most likely be flipped greasy side up in a ditch. What happens is the nylon distorts and you get a lot of steering play, much like the FJ40 cone pivot deal. If it gets bad enough the idler shaft itself starts getting uneven wear, which even with bronze bushings might never really be smooth again, thus the starting with a brand new part. If your rod ends and Pitman are solid (probably) and you have a dead spot in the middle where the wheel wiggles, the idler is probably worn out.
Have you taken the idler off yet? When you do you'll know what everyone is talking about when you twist the arm. Even after replacing the bushings it will probably have a notch in it from the wear or having bent a little when the nylon wore or flexed. I never went the route of bronze bushings, I bought a Total Chaos arm years ago before the bronze replacements started showing up. Also back then they didn't cost $500. Now I'd probably just do the OE replacement bushing route.
The typical aftermarket replacement part isn't any different than what came stock. It's only possible to break the OE part by jumping or/and crawling with 33"+ tires unless there's a flaw in the casting. This is IMVHO why the cheap replacements are thicker, to compensate for more casting variance, there usually no difference in the shaft that rides inside the bushings.
BTW, be sure to ask for the arm from a 1992-1995 4Runner, this is due to what's referred to as a 2nd generation arm. The 1986-1988 arms are different than the 1989-1995. They are functionally the same, but the construction changed. By asking for the late 4Runner you will definitely get the newer design, sometimes listings for 1989-1991 can get an old part number that points to the 1st gen or maybe even a 2WD idler arm.
I'd stick with the mothership on this and get a part made in Japan by Aisin or Sankei/555. If you can get the Beck-Arnley, they are often re-boxed Sankei parts but not always. For this you'll have the best luck for stocked parts at IPW on Kalamath, looking for '555', 'Aisin', 'ASCO', 'Japan' in the casting or/and on the box. Downside is that I couldn't tell you if anyone is making bronze bushings for the OE arms. I'd expect someone does and machining them would not be complex.
Now there is a special case for aftermarket, it's the FA-5040. This has a larger diameter shaft and is what Frank@SDORI supports with his bushings. These arm are /not/ interchangeable with factory parts. So if you want an off-the-shelf solution, look for the FA-5040 (Autozone, Checker, IPW should all have it under their house brand or McQuay-Norris) and get SDORI's bushings (through SDORI or Roger Brown). Be careful to inspect the part because FA-5040 is just a part number for a 4Wd idler and what part actually gets stuffed into the box could be different. The only way to know for sure is to measure the shaft, it's something like 25 mils thicker than stock.
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