Sedole's Gen 3 - the Iron Hog

sedole

Member


Long time lurker, finally decided to make a thread here on expo. This is my second Montero. My first was a Gen 1 LWB:




The gen 1 was one hell of a truck and I dearly miss it, but I wanted something a little more comfortable for long road trips and more power for driving up the mountains to go skiing. Originally I had my sights set on a Gen 2.5, but the little voice in the back of my head just kept on bringing up the Gen 3. The more and more I thought about it, the more the Gen 3 started to appeal to me..So now I had my sights set on a 2003+ limited, preferably in black.

Anyways, I ended up selling my Gen 1 for $4,000. Immediately afterwards I got on my phone and got on craigslist. Lo and behold, there's a 2003 Gen 3, black, 20th ae for sale just an hours drive away! Asking $3,500. Messaged the guy, got to talking, and things weren't looking too good. The guy wouldn't be available to meet until the following day (when I would be busy), and he also had 2 more people coming the morning of said day. Well, I couldn't just let this Montero slip through my fingers, so I messaged back and said "yo, I've got $3,500 cash in hand and I'll come buy it right now if you can meet tonight as long as what you've told me matches what I see in person." Fast forward a couple hours and I'm now the owner of a Gen 3! 8)

So here's the deets: Basically a 2 owner truck (guy I bought it from bought it from his neighbor January of this year and didn't do much). 167k miles, timing belt/water pump done at 100k. New radiator, hoses, thermostat done late Jan. Runs/drives great.
Registered until Feb 2020 and already passed CA smog. Problems: valve covers leak a little oil. No actual records of service (other than oil change). Sunroof works but falls off its track. Driver seat torn. A couple switches don't work. Vibrates on the freeway above 80mph. Brakes work, but feel a little off. Other than that, this is a solid truck!








Impressions: The Gen 3 is huuuuugely different than my Gen 1, but it still retains the tank-like feel. It's much more modern for sure, yet it still feels familiar. In comparison to my Gen 1, the Gen 3 feels like a sports car. Power is fantastic, I can fly around corners, suspension is more supple, and the interior is much much nicer.

Plans: This won't be some crazy build, just some subtle mods to enhance the looks and performance of the truck. Lift, wheels and tires, steel bumper, skids, ditch the aftermarket A/V and replace with modern headunit, catch up all the maintenance, clean up/fix the minor interior bits, and enjoy! Can't wait to get this off road!


The extra $500 in my pocket was just itching to be spent, so I went out and got some new (to me) wheels and tires! Toyota 4runner SR5 wheels and Falken Wildpeak AT3W in 265/70/r17. Going to paint the wheels black and get them mounted. I don't trust the wheels currently on the truck.



I also decided to ditch the factory spare tire cover as it was cracked and the paint was peeling and just looked rough.

Wheels are painted and mounted!! If anyones curious, these model of Toyota wheels are 17x7" and 15mm offset. (not pictured: hubcentric adapters to fit the mitsu 67.1mm to toyota 106mm. Removed the side steps and trimmed the front bumper at the same time.






Picked up a factory front skid from the LKQ yard for $15. Was hoping to score the grill too, but it had already been taken.



Also started to deep clean the interior. Vacuumed all the carpets, thoroughly cleaned all the plastics, and cleaned and conditioned the leather. Still need to shampoo the carpet and headliner. Also deleted the 3rd row.



If anyone's curious, the 3rd row weighs 51 lbs and the side steps including all the hardware weigh 42 lbs.


Next stop: Miyaki Motorsports for timing belt, water pump, pulleys, spark plugs, valve covers, cam seals, etc.!
 
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sedole

Member
Being at 168k miles and not having any concrete evidence of service, I decided to get my maintenance up to snuff.

My experience at Miyaki with Ryan was superb. No complaints. Called on Wednesday afternoon, dropped off Friday morning, and had the truck back in my hands by lunch time Monday. He even kept all the old parts to show me when I came to pick it up. Pricier than doing the work myself of course, but saved me a ton of time and honestly, I thought his price was pretty affordable. Out the door for just under a grand.







Back at home I changed the oil, air filter, and tried to cure my weak heater by running some thermocure. Thermocure got out a ton of crap and helped a wee bit, but not enough, so a new heater core is on the way.





I also learned that the seats do this!! My ski bum game is about to be elevated so much! ;D



Next up, a modern headunit with apple carplay and android auto to replace the very dated existing system. Subwoofer and backup camera to come.



Yanked out the old and was greeted by this mess...



Behind this I also found the brains of the aftermarket alarm system. The previous owner knew it had one but had no idea what it could do or what brand it was. Did some digging online and learned I've got some snazzy features including remote start (that actually works)!!



Anyways, after a few beers, more googling, and lots of multimetering, I got rid of all the old unnecessary wiring and made a new clean harness for my unit, a Pioneer MVH-1400NEX. Deleted the signal for the power antenna motor too since it's broken and annoying.





This unit is great. I have no complaints at all.


Bought some Thule bars, threw on the ski racks and some skis and headed skiing! Drove a bit over 2,000 miles in 6 days, first to and from Lake Tahoe, then in search of some pow to and from Southern Utah. Truck never skipped a beat and made easy work of the snowy roads we encountered. With an average speed of around 75 each trip, I did 15mpg average to and from Tahoe with the 5 skis on the rack. To and from Utah with an empty rack I did 16mpg average. Highest mpg from both trips was 21.5mpg on a 150 mile tank. This thing just eats up miles like it's nothing. The truck seems happiest cruising at 67~68 mph and would likely net better fuel econ here too, but alas, my foot is made of lead. My only wishes after this trip are for better shocks/springs, a better brake feel, and a working heater.



 

sedole

Member
Now that we're up to speed, here's what I've been working on recently:

Backup camera because they're just super neato. Might add a forward facing camera too at some point.




Little bit of blackness:



Little bit of explorin:



More audio goodies:



Just a note, this is a completely worthless place to put your subwoofer, don't waste your time. I ripped it back out after like an hour and just put a small box in the third row storage space.



And now...the big project I've been working on the last few weeks!



EBay JK full width bumpers are a cheap skeleton to build off of. I did the same for my Gen 1. While I do like the looks of the ARB, they are pretty pricey and since they are one of the very limited options for aftermarket bumpers, everyone has one.. Building my own allowed me to also keep the bumper close to the body for better approach angles and give my truck a more unique factor. It's also much cheaper to build.

First off, mounting situation...My truck has been in at least one minor front end collision before which munched the factory "frame horns" so that threw my idea of mimicking the way an ARB bumper mounts.... So chopy chop and sparky spark here we go!





I've since added a crossbar between the frame horns for skid plate mounting.

Looking at these pictures again has me thinking...I’ll probably go back in and fully box the frame horn extensions. Maybe a gusset or two as well, now that I know how the nut/bolt access situation is like.




Getting these mount plates drilled and lined up proper was a real pain..so was getting decent body lines..










She ain't perfect, but I'm pretty happy. One of these days I'll flap disc the front a bit more to get rid of the transition line..

Now the million dollar question....is it strong? Well, I'm an amateur. I did my best to weld it proper and not be lazy (clean metal, beveled surfaces, etc), but would I winch off it or recover from the bumper eyelets? No. However, I have no intentions to add a winch, and when I need a tug I'm happy to use the factory points. That being said, it's sure as hell strong enough to offer more protection for the front end and look pretty darn cool at that. So, mission accomplished for me!

Another benefit of using a JK bumper is that I had many options for bolt on fogs! I chose these amber LED ones and wired them to the factory fog light harness.
 
Last edited:

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sedole

Member
Here's how I mounted up the factory skid:



I retained the two rear factory mounting points and made new ones for the front.

Also, my solution to the now lack of windshield washer reservoir: a cheap $10 universal from eBay. It's small, about 1.5L max. Ideally I'd like more capacity so I can fill it and forget it, but it'll do.

 

mbialick

Member
Being at 168k miles and not having any concrete evidence of service, I decided to get my maintenance up to snuff.

My experience at Miyaki with Ryan was superb. No complaints. Called on Wednesday afternoon, dropped off Friday morning, and had the truck back in my hands by lunch time Monday. He even kept all the old parts to show me when I came to pick it up. Pricier than doing the work myself of course, but saved me a ton of time and honestly, I thought his price was pretty affordable. Out the door for just under a grand.







Back at home I changed the oil, air filter, and tried to cure my weak heater by running some thermocure. Thermocure got out a ton of crap and helped a wee bit, but not enough, so a new heater core is on the way.





I also learned that the seats do this!! My ski bum game is about to be elevated so much! ;D



Next up, a modern headunit with apple carplay and android auto to replace the very dated existing system. Subwoofer and backup camera to come.



Yanked out the old and was greeted by this mess...



Behind this I also found the brains of the aftermarket alarm system. The previous owner knew it had one but had no idea what it could do or what brand it was. Did some digging online and learned I've got some snazzy features including remote start (that actually works)!!



Anyways, after a few beers, more googling, and lots of multimetering, I got rid of all the old unnecessary wiring and made a new clean harness for my unit, a Pioneer MVH-1400NEX. Deleted the signal for the power antenna motor too since it's broken and annoying.





This unit is great. I have no complaints at all.


Bought some Thule bars, threw on the ski racks and some skis and headed skiing! Drove a bit over 2,000 miles in 6 days, first to and from Lake Tahoe, then in search of some pow to and from Southern Utah. Truck never skipped a beat and made easy work of the snowy roads we encountered. With an average speed of around 75 each trip, I did 15mpg average to and from Tahoe with the 5 skis on the rack. To and from Utah with an empty rack I did 16mpg average. Highest mpg from both trips was 21.5mpg on a 150 mile tank. This thing just eats up miles like it's nothing. The truck seems happiest cruising at 67~68 mph and would likely net better fuel econ here too, but alas, my foot is made of lead. My only wishes after this trip are for better shocks/springs, a better brake feel, and a working heater.



how do you fold the passenger seat and middle seats down flat like that?
 

sedole

Member
how do you fold the passenger seat and middle seats down flat like that?
Yeah pretty similar to that video ^

As far as I can tell, the third row doesn't integrate so it needs to be stowed or removed to fold the middle row. The middle row just reclines all the way using the levers on the seat bottom sides. The driver and passenger seats need to be slid all the way forward, headrests removed, and then can be reclined all the way back.
 

mbialick

Member
Yeah pretty similar to that video ^

As far as I can tell, the third row doesn't integrate so it needs to be stowed or removed to fold the middle row. The middle row just reclines all the way using the levers on the seat bottom sides. The driver and passenger seats need to be slid all the way forward, headrests removed, and then can be reclined all the way back.
got it! I didn't know the passenger seat would fold down that far! very cool i thought this was only on Gen 2s
 

AZPAJERO

Observer
ha.......yep.....saw it. Not huge fan of the color (I'd immediately paint the cladding black to match) or the wheels (c'mon now), but low mileage and '03 so my interest is piqued. I need to get organized and get a listing of the wife's CRV up :rolleyes:

there was a super low mileage blue '03 limited that sold in just a couple days few weeks ago.

secret about these might be getting out.............
 

sedole

Member
Well, the Montero survived a trip down to Baja with no issues other than completely killing my stock suspension off road. It didn't even bat an eye idling for 3 hours in 90 degree heat and traffic with A/C full blast while waiting to cross the border. This was the only pic I took which was at our airbnb...I'm bad about taking pictures of things in the moment. 🤷‍♂️



My stock suspension already had 170k miles on it and looks to have never been changed so I knew it was on its last legs. Even still, it handled pretty well while I was hauling major ass on some of the trails we took. Compared to my Gen 1, the Gen 3 feels like a rally car with its IFS/IRS setup. It also seamlessly transitioned to the one big hillclimb we did, and conquered it with aplomb. My friend in his open diff lifted bronco took a few attempts to get up, but the Montero just slowly and surely crawled right on up...this traction control is pretty trick! On the other hand, I was getting a bit annoyed at the TC limiting my power when in sand..(and cutting in when I was hooning).

Anyways, once I got home I decided it was finally time to install the Bilstein 4600s I've had sitting in my garage for the last few months. I also have OME MD springs for the front and was waiting to buy to rears to install at the same time, but they desperately needed to go in. The rears will have to wait.

You've all seen the install a million times, so I won't bore you with the details but I will give one tip: you can get the front struts in and out -easily- without removing the upper control arm. It's like those brain teaser puzzles where you try to take the pieces apart...makes you go crazy, but once you figure it out you realize it's so simple. I'll try my best to explain:

This brake line bracket gets in your way...bend it to the front of the car 3mm. That's all the clearance you need. It won't hurt anything if you're gentle. I used a mallet, you could also grab it with some channel locks and pull. It's EZ.



Unbolt your swaybar endlink so you have maximum droop:



Now at this point you'll have to use your imagination since I didn't have enough hands to demonstrate and take pictures. First, the caliper assembly is heavy and wants to rotate the hub downwards, causing the CV axle to approach the lower shock mounting point. Grab the caliper and rotate the whole hub assembly towards the front of the car. Don't lift it upwards, just rotate it. I then use my knee and my chest to keep the hub assembly in place. From here, push upwards on the upper control arm with one hand, and with the other, angle the shock into the upper control arm, then up into place.

The first time was hard. Lots of cursing and I scratched my strut a lot in the process which was about 20 minutes.. The second time I didn't scratch the strut at all and had it in in about 1 minute. The third time, no scratches, in and out in 10 seconds. Seriously, it's that easy. ---Wait Sean, 3 times? There are only 2 front struts, ya dingus! ... Don't worry, I'll explain that later!---



Bolt it all up, and that's all it takes!



No scratches! (But don't ask to see the other side 😬) The coils did take on some scuffs from wrestling with the spring compressors though...




Rears were EZ PZ.



Kid you not, I compressed these at install time and when I came out to the garage the next morning, they hadn't budged!



Soo, why did I install the front 3 times? Well it has to do with the circlips on the 4600s. I found very limited info on if they are intended to be moved with heavier duty springs (compared to stock). Bilstein refers to them as a leveling system and I thought I read somewhere long ago that they are supposed to fix the sag of adding a steel bumper. Anyways, I installed one side using the lowest setting and was a bit disappointed. I got about 1.625" lift from where it was currently sitting, but seeing as I was sagging from stock height about .75" already, I ended up with not a lot of net lift... So, reluctantly I went back in and moved that side to the higher setting for a lift of 2.5". Closer to 1.5" above stock height. I know some people have had questions on this, so in my case, it seems moving the circlip to the higher position yields about 7/8" more lift using medium duty OME springs.

Stock --> lower setting --> higher setting.





Since I'm broke, I'll just have to rock the "pre-runner-esque" look for a while.

Quick baby-flex!


 

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sedole

Member
Next up, literally the easiest mod I have ever done! Literally 5 minutes. Cabin air filter. Shoutout SONICMASD for setting it up on the facebook!

Immediately I noticed that the airflow slowed down a little, which is a given since I just added a filter, but I also noticed some better smelling air. The air also maybe feels a little colder? I'm happy, it's definitely worthwhile. If you haven't done it yet, DO IT!



Changed the oil again. And, if anyone's curious, I've been keeping track of my gas mileage since I bought the truck:



I'm interested to see how the lift will affect it. I know the bumper has dropped me down a little bit already.



Remember when I was disappointed at putting a sub in the factory location? Well, I was lazy and just left it there, unhooked. I utilized another box I had just laying around. I finally decided to go in and get it out. I also took the time to add a little block off plate in its place. While I was in there, I started laying down some noico that I had left over from my Gen 1. I could've covered more surface area, buuuut this is good enough for me. I have noticed a small difference already.



 

mbialick

Member
Now that we're up to speed, here's what I've been working on recently:

Backup camera because they're just super neato. Might add a forward facing camera too at some point.




Little bit of blackness:



Little bit of explorin:



More audio goodies:



Just a note, this is a completely worthless place to put your subwoofer, don't waste your time. I ripped it back out after like an hour and just put a small box in the third row storage space.



And now...the big project I've been working on the last few weeks!



EBay JK full width bumpers are a cheap skeleton to build off of. I did the same for my Gen 1. While I do like the looks of the ARB, they are pretty pricey and since they are one of the very limited options for aftermarket bumpers, everyone has one.. Building my own allowed me to also keep the bumper close to the body for better approach angles and give my truck a more unique factor. It's also much cheaper to build.

First off, mounting situation...My truck has been in at least one minor front end collision before which munched the factory "frame horns" so that threw my idea of mimicking the way an ARB bumper mounts.... So chopy chop and sparky spark here we go!





I've since added a crossbar between the frame horns for skid plate mounting.

Looking at these pictures again has me thinking...I’ll probably go back in and fully box the frame horn extensions. Maybe a gusset or two as well, now that I know how the nut/bolt access situation is like.




Getting these mount plates drilled and lined up proper was a real pain..so was getting decent body lines..










She ain't perfect, but I'm pretty happy. One of these days I'll flap disc the front a bit more to get rid of the transition line..

Now the million dollar question....is it strong? Well, I'm an amateur. I did my best to weld it proper and not be lazy (clean metal, beveled surfaces, etc), but would I winch off it or recover from the bumper eyelets? No. However, I have no intentions to add a winch, and when I need a tug I'm happy to use the factory points. That being said, it's sure as hell strong enough to offer more protection for the front end and look pretty darn cool at that. So, mission accomplished for me!

Another benefit of using a JK bumper is that I had many options for bolt on fogs! I chose these amber LED ones and wired them to the factory fog light harness.
I just read about the height adjustment on the Bilsteins! I was told on another thread they were not adjustable. I have the light duty front springs took the car off the jack's and it was too low, I ordered a 6mm spacer (raises car 12mm) now I just read this. Now i'm wondering if I do one or the other. I have the medium duty springs in the rear.
 
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