MotoIQ Project Toyota Tundra

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.

MotoIQ Project Nissan Pathfinder
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.

broken down nissan titan
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.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 5:54 AM
TRD supercharger =). 504hp 550lb. You clearly need it.
b drecksage
b drecksagelink
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 8:42 AM
I'm not into trucks at all, but i found this interesting...thanks
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 4:53 PM
Funny, my father has a pretty much stock 2004 Nissan Titan with 140k on the odometer and has towed a 5th wheel RV all over Texas during the summer in 100F weather for years and has never had any issues with overheating.

He is buying a bigger RV so he is buying a new F350 SD but the Titan is a great truck, too bad they don't make a 3/4 ton. The Tundra is a great truck from what I have heard though too so I'm sure you can't go wrong.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 5:00 PM
Texas is flat! Try going up the Baker grade in 100 degree heat in a Titan towing something.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 6:40 PM
Yeah I guess. We have gone down to Florida and to New Mexico without issue but the New Mexico trip was in cold weather.
Chris "Shaggy" Allenlink
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:00 PM
The Baker Grade is Harsh 200ft below sealevel to what? 4000FT in 15mi.. My Titanic would overheat too and with my Trailer I got 4MPG.. Now with the Dodge I can hold 75mph up the Baker Grade with 12000-14000LB load .. God Bless the 1000LB/TQ the Tranny... Not so much.. My 48RE Gearbox is about gone :( Anyone know a good Bullet Proof Trans Builder.. I am looking at the $5.6K ATS gearbox or converting to the G56 Manual.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:06 AM
Not to mention the Titan's exploding ring gears, overheating diffs and trannies and warping brakes. Its a great engine wrapped in a truck with underated parts.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:08 AM
Not to mention the time your Dodge beat Khiem's EVO!!! And you had a bunch of stuff in the bed and 4 big people and one kid inside!
Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:48 AM
Its nice to see you guys putting so much emphasis on safe towing. Its often overlooked. You should do an article about trailer maintenance while your at it. Neglected trailers lead to alot of accidents.

I have to say though... I would have liked to see an oil burner...
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, January 14, 2010 7:53 AM
Well for oil burners, I didn't know what to do. I like the F250SD a lot but the newer 6 liter engine sucks compared to the 7.2 older motor. We had both, the old truck when modded was a lot faster and got much better fuel economy. The late model F250 gets crappy mileage, I can never get better than 14 mpg out of it. The Tundra gets better mileage and is much faster.

The Dodge has the awesome EVO beating Cummings but I don't like the rest of the truck. The Silverado has the great Allison tranny but I don't know too much about the engine.

So I ended up buying the Tundra.
Thursday, January 14, 2010 10:10 AM
Wow, never heard of any issues with the Titan and I know two other Titan owners aside from my dad (albeit they don't tow anything) and neither have had any issues. My dads Titan does have air bags in the rear and aside from a flow master exhaust and intake, its stock.

The Ford 6.0 is lame, and has many issues, stay away from it. But they have addressed that problem. Comparing Diesel's to Gas trucks is dumb. I agree the GM's are the best looking IMO and the tranny is great but they have had some engines that are less than desirable. I believe Dodge's rule the towing world.

The Tundra is a great truck with no real downsides that i can see other than I would like to see a 3/4 ton version. San Antonio built, might I add :)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, January 14, 2010 10:24 AM
The Titan has a great engine but the rest of the truck sucks for anything other light towing. The Dana 44 rear end is not up to the task. The brakes fade and warp although Nissan did go a long ways to sort of fixing this issue by the THIRD year of production after trying many micky mouse fixes. The suspension lacks travel.

When it first came out the Titan was pretty good compared to its other half ton competitors but Nissan fudged on the tow rating. I don't think it should be anywhere close to 9000 lbs.

I have friends who's diffs glowed red hot before failing and who's brakes warp every time they tow. I have been stranded on the side of the road in a Titan which overheated towing a load of around 6000 lbs.

I know guys with Tundras that tow big enclosed race trailers loaded to 12,000 lbs across country with no problems!
Friday, January 15, 2010 1:11 PM
I can definitely see where you're coming from Mike. Either way, it looks like you came out of it with a great truck. Ive never driven a Tundra personally, but it seems impressive from how you describe it, and I really love the looks.

Diesels can be more trouble then they're worth sometimes...
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 1:09 PM
This tow vehicle stuff is really interesting, even though i'm not a truck person either. i am, however, stuck with an old tow vehicle for my daily driver...
and i have also heard the ford 6.0 is weaksauce. my parents got a new F250 with the new diesel and don't have any horror stories yet, but 30k miles in the not-so-hilly wisconsin countryside isn't a good test. 650lb-ft sure is enough, though. almost.
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