"Yoshi" - 2005 Limited Build & Adventure Thread

SONICMASD

Adventurer
5/12/19: Onto the much simpler front diff 4.90 install:

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"First paint using 070 pinion shim and you can see that although the drive and the coast look okay, you can see that the Comet Tail on the pinion tooth is hugging the root inside the tooth real hard so I can add 003 or 004 to the pinion shim."

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And after said adjustment:

"Attached are two pictures of the Comet Tail on the pinion tooth and notice that both of the pictures show the tail swinging out of the root & much closer to the center of the tooth so that tells me don't touch it leave it alone it's good to go."

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With both diffs now finished, he continued to go above and beyond and repainted the housings so they look brand new!

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SONICMASD

Adventurer
So to sum everything up with the gear work - Zuk at Gear Installs LLC has a legendary status in the Toyota world and is known as the go-to-guy for gear work. And now, I can totally see why and certainly share those sentiments. The man is a differential savant and even though he is technically retired and just does a few diffs every week nowadays, if Dana or a locker manufacturer knew what was good for them they'd make him an offer he couldn't refuse to come join their team.

As a diehard Toyota guy, this was his first time working on a Mitsubishi. He was really surprised/impressed by how stout the Gen3's diffs are, especially for coming off of a fully independent suspension vehicle which as we all know are very weak and inferior ;-). He commented on how cool it was the our gears have solid collars right from the factory. He also mentioned that the finished rear diff was something like 89lbs if I remember correctly!

Now, I know what you're thinking - Will he work on my diffs? Answer: Maybe.

He has plenty of Toyota work since guys from all over the country ship him their third members to work on. Our extremely heavy, finger-endangering rear end gears are a concern but if you're a cool guy and make it easy for him then that will go a long way. You'll need to supply all the parts of course, but in addition to the gears, any seals or bearings you want replaced, you'll also probably need to supply him with some shim and washer kits depending on what he has left in stock from previous jobs (I donated the reminder of the sets I provided to him). Most of these can still be ordered from Mitsubishi but would increase the cost of the job by quite a bit. For some shims he's able to use his stock of Toyota ones or possibly reuse your existing shims but you'll need to clear all this with him first. If he agrees to work on your diffs, you can also purchase Harrop lockers through him as I did. If you're just needing the locker and having your own local shop handle the install, he recommends reaching out to Cruiser Brothers.

Front Diff
Pinion: MB185351, MB569391
Ring Gear: MB185375, MB241925

Rear Diff
Pinion Front: MB569391
Pinion Rear: MR179440
Drive Side: MR508116
Coast Side: MR344180

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SONICMASD

Adventurer
PartSouq, they didnt have all of them but I ordered 3 different ones and Zuk made the others work by reusing my existing shims ans using toyota shims that fit when needed.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
6/9/19: Got Yoshi back from Ernest with an expensive bill because he took care of a lot of stuff. Mostly, preventative 170,000 mile, "well, while we're there we might as well..." sort of stuff:

  • Valve Cover Gaskets - OEM
  • Spark Plugs, Wires, and Tube Seals, Coil On Plug Boots - Denso, Denso, Fel-Pro, NGK
  • Plenum Gaskets - OEM
  • Coolant Crossover Pipe O-rings - OEM
  • 1 Rear Cam Seal - OEM
  • Butterfly Valve Deleted
  • Motor Mounts - OEM
  • All Front Diff Bushings - OEM
  • 2 Rear (rearmost) Diff Bushings - OEM
  • Diffs Reinstalled with 4.90 Gears and Rear Harrop Locker with Valvoline Full Synthetic 75w90 Gear Oil (Gonna run this cheap stuff for 1,000 miles then dump it and put in AMSOIL Severe Gear).
  • Front CVs refreshed with new boots and grease - Beck & Arnley
  • 1 Rear Axle Flange replaced with updated OEM unit.

Ok, so if you read that maintenance laundry list that there might be some things you're wondering, like:

What's the deal with the Butterfly delete, Why only 1 rear cam seal, Why didn't you replace all 4 rear diff bushings, and why did you only replace 1 rear axle stub/companion flange? Good questions - let's go through them one at a time:

1. Butterfly Valves DELETED

During disassembly for spark plug and coolant crossover pipe o-ring replacement I inspected Yoshi's surge tank and unfortunately it wasn't in the best shape.

In case you're not familiar with the Butterfly Issue that plagues these 3.8L motors - basically it's a variable intake system that gives you short intake runners for more torque at low speeds and then open to convert to long runners for better cruising. But the assembly, known by Mitsu as the "surge tank" is problematic in many ways:

  1. The front o-ring seal goes bad over time and creates a vacuum leak.
  2. The rod holding the 6 butterfly valves in the plenum is supported by plastic bushings that wear out and allow play in the rod.
  3. This play / vibration eventually loosens the screws that are holding the butterfly valves on to the rod loose. The screws get ingested by the engine and usually don't result in any real damage since they are made of very soft metal but the big butterfly valves will definitely mess things up if they make it down all the way through the intake into the combustion chamber.
  4. The screws cannot be welded to the rod because then you'll probably melt the plastic bushings next to them. Replacement bushings cannot be purchased separately (there's a guy in Russia who makes replacement ones but no one in the USA to date has actually installed a set of his) so you have to buy the whole surge tank assembly from Mitsu which costs around $700.
As I had previously found out a few months back, the front o-ring had gone hard and brittle and was letting air through. I had planned on hopefully just replacing this o-ring, adding some loctite to the butterfly screws and calling it good but the internal plastic bushings inside the surge tank that hold up the rod in between each chamber were very loose and allowing a good amount of wobble in the rod. And even though I could still do my best to loctite the screws in to keep them from being ingested by the engine one day, I was worried that the bushings themselves would soon disintegrate and fall into the combustion chambers and they are made of a very very hard plastic that is actually probably harder than the soft metal the butterfly screws are made of.

Having already spent a pretty penny on this rig in just a few months I decided to opt out of the $700 replacement surge tank and simply delete the entire butterfly variable runner assembly entirely.

Here's a quick video that a fellow Monty owner made explaining the delete:

Here's the view from the engine bay of where the rod comes out and meets the actuator and was leaking (confirmed via smoke test but not bad enough yet to throw a CEL):

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Here's what the front bushing looks like with the sealing o-ring that was letting air through:

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The Surge Tank:

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Very worn busing:

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Not so bad bushing, though still had some play in it:

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Unlike in the video linked above, I decided to remove everything, rod and all because I didn't want the bushings getting eaten by the engine and I had the vacuum leak at the front o-ring/bushing to fix as well. So I removed the rod and all the bushings inside with the valves and screws. Most of my screws were tight, 3 were too tight that they stripped when trying to remove them and I had to use vice grips to get them out (they were all the ones closest to the either the first or last bushings), but a few of the screws towards the middle of the rod were only finger tight.

So that left me with a big hole about the size of a nickle at the front of the surge tank. After much searching and thinking of what to plug it with I found aluminum discs that are the exact size and thickness for the job. They fit into the hole perfectly and with some red high temp RTV + the factory bracket made for a great seal:

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On the back side, there is a brass cap, kind of like a mini freeze plug, that seals the last bushing in place. Just for some free extra insurance I jb welded another aluminum disc over this end:

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So here is a photo I found from another Monty owner of everything that was removed. The only difference is I still have the little white accumulator plastic jar and bracket on my manifold but the vac line from the solenoid that uses it and is next to it in the engine bay is capped off. No CELs as a result because the only thing that I know of that triggers a CEL with this assembly is a vacuum leak.

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So final thoughts on the butterfly delete - I read everything I could find on this topic and spoke with many of you that have done this and answers to the question of "How badly did it affect performance?" varied wildly. Most people said they couldn't even tell the difference pre and post delete. But then there were a few that said the difference was significant and a good amount said that it was minor.

Well, after all of this engine maintenance I can confidently say: The difference is definitely noticeable in low speed, high torque, getting off the line driving. I don't know how much torque was lost but there is definitely a loss of acceleration from a stop. Even with the new 4.90 gears I think the car is slower than before until about 30-40mph where it all equalizes and I guess the butterflies would have opened up anyways. Someone with a 6G75 in a Mitsu sedan had posted some math saying the loss of torque would be really significant, like 20% if I remember correctly, and now I wouldn't think he's that far off. Now, I don't think I lost 20% of my acceleration because the 4.90s are helping, so I'll guesstimate 10%. Another unusual thing is that the engine sounds louder in a hollow sort of way in 1st and 2nd gear when accelerating. It's hard to describe but it doesn't sound as grunty. Kind of like a lesser version of when you push on the gas but forget you're in neutral- "all that and you didn't even go anywhere".

I didn't really have much of a choice to do the delete as I was kind of in between a rock and hard place as far as decisions go: loose rod/worn bushings/vac leak vs $700 fix on an already expensive build that I haven't really even gotten to enjoy yet.

My plan is to run it as is and then buy a new surge tank either when the build is farther along and needing fewer mods or when more engine work is being done (like maybe during timing belt job at 190k.
 
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Inyo_man

Explorer
What was the rear diff. bushing replacement like?

How did you remove the worn bushings...pressed out, cut and hammered?
The motor mounts and front diff. bushings are a bit-of-a project, especially the front diff. bushings...the difference was noticeable, at least in my rig.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
What was the rear diff. bushing replacement like?

How did you remove the worn bushings...pressed out, cut and hammered?
The motor mounts and front diff. bushings are a bit-of-a project, especially the front diff. bushings...the difference was noticeable, at least in my rig.
I decided to only have the 2 rear most rear diff bushings replaced because they were in worse shape than the front ones on the aluminum support wing and because (mostly this reason), Mitsu still sells replacement bushings for the rear but not for the front. For the front ones, you have to buy the entire aluminum bracket and it's super expensive.

I did consider buying the Siberian Bushings for the forward rear diff bushings but I've never found anyone that has tried them before and didn't want to be the guinea pig on that one because getting that bracket out is a pain. You need to either drop the fuel tank a bit or cut the bolt in half. And if they didn't fit perfectly or if you need to align them diagonally or whatever, I didn't want my vehicle being down any longer since I was moving 150 miles away less than 2 weeks after getting the car back from the mechanic and couldn't hold up the show any longer. Ernest did gift me an extra forward rear diff mount bracket with the bushings already pressed out so I'll buy the Siberians in the future one day and see how it goes when I have time to experiment with it at my leisure.

As for getting the rearmost bushings out of the rear diff, Ernest did the work and went with this method:
He did mention that it was a pain in the butt and took longer than he expected.

I did not go with the hard nolathane bushings in the video because the ride isn't as smooth with those hard ones even though they do last forever. Also, I figured that the original ones are good for around 150-200k of asphalt driving so if I even get 20k of offroad miles out of them I'll be more than happy.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
Ok, onto my other 2 questions that I'm assuming everyone asked themselves but probably didn't:

Why only 1 rear cam seal? - Because the other one has some sort of electronic plug harness by it or on it or something and Ernest said that that harness was on there really tight and he didn't want to risk breaking it for a seal that wasn't even leaking so he thought it was best to leave well enough alone.

Why did you only replace 1 rear axle stub/companion flange?

Ok, here's the deal - Gen3s have a known defect when it comes to the rear diff's stub axles AKA companion flanges. The circlip that holds the axle shafts inside the diff was made a tiny bit too small and can pop out, allowing your rear diff fluid to leak out which can be really bad obviously and ruin your rear diff if you don't catch it in time. With all of this expensive diff work (4.90s and Harrop E Locker) being done, there was no way I was going to chance this happening to me especially when the flanges were already out so there was no extra labor cost. It seems like some Gen3s have this issue right away early in life even on pavement while others with the same parts never experience it even with lots of offroading. Mine has 170k and still had the original flanges and circlips in place so I guess I got a good one, either way, it's getting updated. Mitsu realized the defect after a few years and made the circlip a little bigger: 2mm vs 2.3mm. Some people just buy the replacement circlips and install them on their old flanges but the 100% correct fix is getting new flanges because Mitsu made the groove in the flange bigger to accommodate the larger circlip. Note - if your Gen3 was made after October 2005 then you don't have to worry about it because Mitsu had updated the assembly line with the new parts by that point. Unfortunately, my 2005 was made in February :-(


One more thing, early Gen3s cannot accept the new updated axle flanges because the CVs and flanges are different sizes to the updated part. Quickest way to tell if you can use the fixed flanges is to measure the outer diamter of your rear CV shafts - 32mm and you're good to go, 34mm and you have the old flanges and CVs and cannot upgrade to the new flanges. You're best bet is to probably just buy the bigger circlips and try reinstalling them on your existing flanges.

New Flange Part Number (includes the new circlip): 3715A083 *both sides use the same part, there is no dedicated right and left.
New Circlip Part Number: MR410469


Further reading: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/gen-3-companion-flange-fell-out-a-must-read-for-gen-3-owners.135556/?fbclid=IwAR1cZtU4rX9Y1On8JJrU7mllfihZyCYs_IFXxLojT43b-vGf0VhclfQJPYk


Enough talk, here's some pics:

Old flange vs New updated flange:

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You can clearly see how much bigger the circlip is on the new part and even though the photo doesn't show it, the groove to accomodate the bigger clip is also easily identifiable with the naked eye.

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So, I dropped off my shiny new flanges at Ernests feeling pretty accomplished but that feeling wasn't too last. As I said above, my 2005 with the orignal "defective" flanges and clips had 170k on them and didn't leak a drop so I clearly got a good tight fit. Well, seems that Harrop must have designed their rear Pajero locker by using the carrier of a pre October 2005 Pajero because the groove that the splined circlip area of the flange goes into inside the diff would not accept the upgraded part.

Ernest managed to get one side in with a lot of banging but the other side was a no go and just messed up the splines and clip on the new flange:

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So in the end, I ended up with one new flange and one old one and Ernest swears that they are never popping out! So just a heads up for any of you that choose to buy the Harrop unit, there's no need to buy the updated flanges IMO.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
6/9/19: After I got Yoshi back from the mechanic I went ahead and took care of an easy fix - Inner Tie Rod boots. Both of them had tears in the original boots:

Passenger side had a small hole:
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Driver side was completely ripped in half:
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Upon removing the torn boots, it looks like the only negative side effect is that apparently Monteros can make milk chocolate:

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I'm planning on doing a full IFS rebuild in about 10k from now so I opted to just clean out the chocolate and but on new OEM boots. The inner tie rods were still firm with zero play and the steering rack wasn't leaking so I called it good.

There was this thicker looking grey grease behind the ITR joint towards the steering rack, is this normal or bad?

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I hate cv boot crimpers, they're a pain to use in such a tight location too. So I thought about putting the new boots on with zip ties but decided to go with radiator hose worm drive clamps instead.

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The only thing that went unexpectedly was that I got a little lazy with the 3lb sledge hammer when separating a tie rod end and missed the knuckle and broke my abs sensor wire plug. It's on my list of things to get from the next junkyard donor I come across but I could see that the wires inside where not damaged so I just JB welded the hard plastic housing/plug end back together :)

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All done:

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SONICMASD

Adventurer
3/30/19: A few months ago when I sold my 2003 Montero I had to remove one main piece of equipment on it and keep it for my new 2005 build. I would have liked to keep that 2003 build intact for the new owner (less wrenching for me too) but this piece of equpment was just too rare to give up. I'm referring to the original U-haul trailer hitches that are now discontinued and quite hard to find. In my opinion, they are the best fitting, lowest profile hitches for the Gen3 ever made, even better than the OEM ones (that are also now discontinued).



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I removed it from my 2003 and replaced it with the 2005's OEM recovery points. But before mounting the trailer hitch on Yoshi I decided to refinish it a bit because it was looking a little rough:

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I hit it with a wire wheel to get as much of the surface rust and peeling paint off as I could and then gave it a couple coats of Rust Reformer and then 2 coats of regular Semi Gloss Black.


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6/24/19:

I installed this Curt 4-pin trailer wiring harness because I was moving and needed to hook up a small utility trailer. Later on when I buy a camper, I'll upgrade this to a 7-pin set up so I have trailer brakes. This Curt harness is plug and play, taps right into the wiring harnesses in each tail light so install is super quick and easy.

As you can see, things could not be closer to the body. It takes away as little departure angle as possible while providing a nice piece of armor that protects your rear bumper and undercarriage from scraping up against rocks when coming down off obstacles.

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SONICMASD

Adventurer
8/20/19: UPDATE - WHILE I STILL THINK A HIGH CLEARANCE MUFFLER IS A GOOD IDEA, YOU WILL NEED A HEATSHIELD (SEE UPDATE ON PAGE 6), BEST TO INSTALL IT WHEN THE MUFFLER IS OUT.


6/21/19:
Quick and easy mod, took Yoshi over to Scottsdale Muffler and had them replace the giant round OEM muffler with a high clearance one. It's just a cheap oval unit, same as I had done on my 2003 a few months back, and while I would have liked to go with a performance muffler I didn't want any increase in noise because I can't stand to add to that already insanely loud Gen3 cabin. Maybe after I sound deaden the entire vehicle and when my exhaust manifolds crack one day, that will be the time to upgrade to headers, bigger exhaust piping throughtout and a performance muffler. But for now, a small bit of pipe work to get this new muffler up closer to the body makes a world of difference.

The OEM unit is like 9" tall and this one is only 4.25".
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Before & After side by side, you couldn't even see the rear drive shaft before. The lower control arm perches are another great reference point for just how big of a difference this makes:

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Now to be clear, the muffler is not the lowest point of the vehicle in this location - the Fuel Tank actually hangs down a tiny bit lower than the stock muffler. But not all obstacles are as wide as your vehicle and it's always a good thing to tuck up whatever you can; and now I know that I have way more clearance on my driver side when choosing how to best pass over something. Eventually, I'll be having a giant custom skid plate made that covers the entire fuel tank and rear carbon fiber drive shaft so then I'll have that protected properly too.
 
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SONICMASD

Adventurer
4/24/19:

I was thinking about what to do with the OEM wheels - keep them and get some wheel spacers to widen the track, get new wheels, or get used Toyota wheels. After much deliberation and weighing the pros and cons, and costs, I decided to go with used Toyota wheels again like I did on my previous Gen3. But this time, instead of the 4runner snowflake wheels, I went with the 4Runner TRD Off Road wheels. They're just like the Trail Edition wheels but with a two tone - polish aluminum and painted black finish. I decided to go with these wheels for 2 main reasons:

1. They are the only 7.5" wide 17" wheel Toyota makes, which is the recommended minimum width for the 285/70R17 tires I'm going to run. I know you can get away with a 7" wide wheel and did that on my last Gen3 but this time I wanted to do it within BFG specs.

2. They are built for offroading, not just looks.

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The main downside to them is that they are a couple pounds heavier than the 17x7 snowflake wheels which is never a good thing when it comes to unsprung weight.

A fellow silver Gen3 owner in SoCal posted up photos of his rig with these wheels and that helped convince me as well:

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I found a set of 2018 take offs on Offer Up and snatched them up. And then I thought - what about the spare tire? Toyota cheaps out and puts the spare tire on a plain steel rim soooo I ended up buying another set of 4 barely used wheels, and then selling the remaining 3 individually to other Yota guys wanting matching spare rims for looks but also to be able to do 5 wheel tire rotations to get 20% longer tire life. I've never done 5 wheel tire rotations before but am down to give it a try. Yes, you'll extend the life of your tires by using the spare but you'll always have 1 tire with slightly more tread than the others. But if you do your rotations every 3-5,000 miles then it shouldn't be more than 1-2/32nds.

Ok, so after much scheming I finally had 5 wheels but all that polished aluminum was just a little too blingy for me. Luckily, someone else must have thought the same thing and I found some black vinyl decals to cover up a good portion of the bare metal on the spokes:

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The decals were not that cheap and in retrospect, probably a total waste of time. The material is a lot thinner than I thought it would be and it'll probably get scratched up/ripped up really soon from wheeling.

I pried the Toyota emblems off the centercaps and ordered domed epoxy stickers off ebay (from Thailand, for some reason Thailand is like the domed sticker capital of the world) to complete the disguise.

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The wheels sat in the garage for a couple months as all of the maintenance and upgrades were underway which tortured me a little since I was excited to see how they would look on the rig.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
6/9/19: In preparation for the new 33s, I decided to try a simple modification that I heard about on the MMUSA FB group that allows the Gen3 rear spare tire carrier to fit a 33 inch tire. In stock configuration, 32 is the biggest that will fit I believe. Basically, you just unbolt the spare tire mount and flip it upside down, then reinstall. Sounds simple enough.

#1 - The mount is held on my 4 bolts that go into captured nuts and 2 captured bolts that go into 2 nuts. To get to these 2 nuts, you need to remove the rear interior door panel:

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#2 - Then take off the 4 bolts from the outside and off it comes:

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#3 - Cut off / remove the 2 captured bolts. I used an angle grinder to cut the bolts flush and then drilled the remainder out.

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#4 - Reinstall upside down. You'll want to go to the hardware store and get 2 bolts to take the place of the 2 captured bolts that you just cut off. I haven't gotten to this point yet (foreshadowing) and the mount is still being held up by just 4 bolts and the interior trim panel is hanging out in my garage.


Ok, so I go to reinstall it and it looks good but then I put the tire on it and realize that the mount is all caddywhompus. The mount sits much closer to the body on the driver side and has a big gap on the passenger side.

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This can easily be fixed with a few washers on the driver's side but the reason I haven't buttoned up this mod by putting the interior trim panel back on is because having the mount upside down makes it impossible for me to get the spare tire back on without some added inginuity. Serously, I tried many times and my scrawny ass couldn't manhandle the Load E 31.5" tire to get it mounted back up because you no longer have the hook to set the wheel on while you install the lugbolts.

I found a solution, though kind of a PITA one. I fed a long skinny bolt through the new 12 o'clock hole in the mount and used it as a hook to hold up the wheel but it takes a lot more effort since now you have to aim for 1 lugnut hole rather than the entire center section of the wheel. After a long time, I finally got it.

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I went to bed sore and tired but wasn't ready to give this mod a final grade yet until seeing the 33 on there. Part of me wondered, would it even fit 33s? Although there was now definitely more room at the bottom above the rear bumper, there was almost no room left in between the 31.5" Cooper ATP and the rear window wiper arm:

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SONICMASD

Adventurer
6/13/19:

With the lift, diff bushing, cv refresh, spare tire mount, etc. now completed; I took Yoshi over to PepBoys to get the following done:

  • Load E 31.5" Nitto Terra Grapplers changed to Load C 33" BFG KO2s
  • OEM Wheels changed to Toyota TRD Offroad 17x7.5 Wheels with hubcentric wheel spacers and Toyota wheel locks.
  • New VDO Redi TMPS Sensors since all my existing TPMS sensors are kaput. Toasty didn't want to deal with it when he owned the truck and just put a boot over the light bulb haha :)
  • Lifetime Alignment

Buckle up for a story:

I dropped the car off around 10am and got a call at 3pm saying it was done (eeeek, good thing I didn't wait for it). So I get there and I get some good news and some bad news. The good news is that they got the wheels and tires mounted and balanced and alignment done. The bad news is that they couldn't get the TPMS sensors to work with their Snap-On TPMS tool and also that the truck has a shimy at speed which they think is just par for the course with 33s or possibly from a worn steering column.

I had already replaced 2 out of the 5 tpms sensors a few months back at Discount Tire and their TPMS scanners couldn't communicate with the Mitsu computer either. I know Mitsu has it's own MUTT protocol that only the dealer can read but Continental says their universal VDO Redi Sensors fix that and allow other popular scanner brands to be able to program them. Now in fairness, the scanner that Discount Tire uses and the Snap-On one are not listed by VDO as scan tools that will work with these universal sensors so I don't blame them for that and wasn't expecting them to work. The thing is PepBoys said they had a ATEQ TPMS scanner, which is on the list of approved VDO redi sensor scanners, but it was lost when I had my appointment so they told me to just swing by a different PepBoys and they'd do it for me. No biggie. They also said the wheel locks wouldn't fit on these new wheels which doesn't make sense to me since they are genuine Toyota ones that Toyota says fits all 4runner wheels but I'll investigate that one later. Again, no biggie.

The bigger issue is when I drove the car home and it was pulling hard to the right and had an aggressive shake in the steering wheel above 60mph. I didn't buy their reasoning of it's just the nature of 33s because I've had a Gen3 before with 33s and it didn't have this horrible vibration. And I didn't buy the argument that it was my steering system because the vibration and pull to the right didn't exist with the 31.5" Nittos they just took off.

So at this point I'm suspecting 3 possible things: 1. Bad Alignment 2. Bad Wheel Balancing 3. The brand new spare that I just had put onto the driver's side front position is 2/32nds taller than the other 3 tires (5 wheel tire rotation) and that could be causing problems.

Oh well, no time to worry about it now. I was moving to Flagstaff in 5 days and had a ton to do. I was planning on taking my other 2 vehicles up on the first trip and then coming back to get Yoshi a week later so these problems would have to wait.

6/24/19: Back in town after the move up the hill and out of the valley of the sun, I set up an appointment at a different PepBoys because I wanted them to not only check PepBoys #1's tire balancing and alignment job because of the vibrations and pull but also because I needed the TPMS sensors reset and they had an ATEQ scanner that VDO says would work on Monteros with their universal sensors.

I decide to wait at PepBoys for this service since I'm thinking it should only take an hour, maybe two, to check the alignment and tire balancing and program the sensors. Wrong. 3 hours later, the tech comes out and shows me my passenger side lower control arm camber adjustment bolt. He points out that the threads are completely stripped and that the nut was just barely hanging on there. My heart instantly sinks because I'm used to working on Monteros and know that the odds of being able to find another one of those parts same day is very slim and I had to finish my move to Flagstaff with this Montero, towing a trailer, the next morning. He explains that this solves the issue of why my truck was all over the place as this camber bolt was not tight at all and also lets me know that none of the tires were balanced properly.

So I make some calls to a few of you to try and find this camber bolt but no luck. None of the dealers in Phoenix have the camber bolt and so it will have to be shipped in which doesn't help me much.

The manager of PepBoys #2 is pissed, he says that PepBoys #1 clearly went crazy with the impact gun and destroyed the bolt, that he's now tied up a tech for over 3 hours working on their mistake, will have to pay for a new OEM camber bolt, nut, and washer + shipping, and even worse that mine was the 2nd car brought into his location that day to correct problems from the PepBoys #1. So he called over there and gave them a what for.

We brainstorm and can only come up with 2 viable options: A - delay the rest of my move and put my life on hold for another 3 days for the part to arrive. B - weld that nut back on so I can make the drive but the car won't be in alignment and the camber bolt will be able to rotate freely, possibly causing some unusual steering wheel behavior.

I opt for option B - weld that nut on so I can get the hell out of Phoenix in late June. They didn't attempt the TPMS reset with all the other crap going on, 4 hours later I was out of there:

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PS - Always check out a shop's work before you leave their premises. When checking out this weld, I noticed they didn't unclip my new steering rack boots when they did the alignment. Luckily they were all brand new and had no problem twisting but if they were older I'm sure they would have torn right apart.


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6/25/19: I had to move the rest of my stuff which didn't fit in the 26' moving truck last week up to Flagstaff using my small 8' enclosed utility trailer. The trailer only weighs 1,000lbs empty but I had it packed to the gills and estimate it weighed around 2,500 lbs max. I hooked it up to the Montero which had a noticeable clunk in the front end from the janky camber bolt.

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The trailer was sitting a little nose high. Normally, I'd probably not worry about it but with the trailer being fully loaded, the steering in the vehicle not at 100%, and the trip taking me up perhaps the most treacherous stretch of interstate in the country I figured I should play it safe. So I went to Harbor Freight and bought an adjustable hitch to help bring the trailer back down to level.

Problem is, I hadn't loaded the back of the Montero yet when I made this decision. I totally forgot that I had a ton of stuff to put back there. Ok, maybe not a ton, but at least 1/4 ton. Seriously, I estimate that I put around 500lbs of gear in there, 80lbs of it was the winch that I hadn't been able to install in the bumper yet.

So I load up the Montero the next day with all this gear, hook up the trailer on the new adjustable hitch and even in it's highest position it was now a little nose low. I figured it was better to be nose low than high to avoid trailer sway but thinking back on it that was the wrong decision. I should have remembered that I didn't have my gear in the back of the montero on the first test and had I tried it with my standard hitch the trailer would have probably been close to level.

Now, don't freak out because the picture makes it look worse than it was, kinda. The front looks waaaay higher than the rear because the front springs are oversized for the amount of weight up there since the winch and bigger battery are not installed yet. Even with an empty truck, the front sat up higher because of this.

I know the dangers of towing hitch heavy and unbalanced and like I said, I should have stuck with my original hitch, but the good news is that I was well under towing capacity at 2500lbs, and probably still under the max tongue weight of 500lbs. Yoshi cruised up from 1,200 feet to 7,000 feet without issue. I kept it slow on the big hill climbs at around 55mph and even on the downhills I kept it at 65ish. I even had to do 1 hour of dirt road driving because the I-17 was closed for an accident (as it is every weekend) near Camp Verde so I took Cherry Road around the closure. Kind of harrowing to tow this trailer over and down a mountain on a narrow dirt cliff road but I kept it around 5-15mph and made it without any real drama. Truck handled great on the asphalt even with the nose up, the dirt road was the only white knuckled part. Also, I noted that I could have gone faster up the big hills which was encouraging since I'll be buying a 2,800lb camper next year (3500 when loaded). Up the big hills I was going 55mph at 4500 RPM and I felt that if I had dropped it down into 3rd it would have gone 65-70 no problem but I didn't want to put that kind of strain on the car on this trip.

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