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Fifth-Gen 4Runner Must-Have Parts: KC Lights And ARB Compressor
BY Christian Reyes //
April 14, 2022
Photography: Darrien Craven
  • Pit+Paddock and CSF are teaming up to build a 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro geared for overlanding and off-road adventures.
  • The third week of installs is complete, which consisted of KC HiLites off-road lighting, an ARB air compressor, and RCI skid plates.
  • The final stage of the build will debut at Pit+Paddock’s Cars+Coffee: Overland Edition event to be held at CSF’s Rancho Cucamonga headquarters on May 1.

We’re more than halfway through our six-week journey towards turning this brand-new Lime Rush 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro into a bona fide overland and off-road-ready rig. In case you missed it, we’ve been hard at work over the last couple of weeks installing high-quality parts such as an Airaid intake and Pedal Commander, followed by a CSF radiator, MBRP exhaust, and Westin front bumper in our last update. This week, we’re onto the last few items before the big items go on, tackling KC lights, ARB compressor, and RCI skid plates.

KC HiLites

One of the joys of off-roading is getting away from civilization. However, this can be a bit of a challenge to a vehicle that’s generally intended for urban roads. You know exactly how pitch black conditions can get if you’ve ever been in the woods or desert at night. You need to step up your light game to see where you’re going clearly. This goes for our 2022 4Runner TRD Pro as well. Despite our rig already coming equipped from the factory with LED head- and fog lights, the overall light output is still subpar when taken off the public road. To address this, we hit up our friends at KC HiLiTES, who’ve been around for over 50 years specializing in off-road night racing. The lighting solution they put together for us should cover all our bases and ensure we have the most visibility possible.

The first piece is a C40 40-inch C-Series LED light bar that will mount to the roof of the 4Runner just above the windshield. Rated at 21,600 lumens and a beam distance of 3,471 ft, we have zero doubts we’ll have any issues seeing what’s far ahead of us.

Because of the mounting height and position of the 40-inch bar, the area directly in front of the truck will be lacking. Here is where our second light bar fills in the gap and gives us the heads up for those last-minute obstacles. There will also be potential times when we won’t run the top bar, so having a high output front bar will be a real lifesaver. For example, in rainy or extremely dusty conditions, the top light bar makes it harder to see because the light beams pass directly over/in front of the windshield. The lower bar will mount within the Westin front bumper we installed in the last article.

KC was also kind enough to send us a set of its prototype Flex Era 3 pocket fog lights. OEM fog lights are notoriously weak and almost feel like more of a styling upgrade than a practical system. These KC units are a direct swap and are an amazing balance of both form and function. The triple LED bulbs look awesome, but the amount of light they produce is astonishing. It will help us see those small areas that light bars won’t be able to illuminate as effectively.

The Flex Era 3 ditch lights are exactly what they sound like. They are mounted right in front of the windshield on both sides and angled outwards to illuminate the sides of a trail. This helps us keep track of ditches, cliffs, or other obstacles that we want to steer clear of. These ditch lights also match the styling of our fogs and give a nice consistent look to the whole lighting scheme.

To complete our lighting package, we installed a set of KC Cyclone V2 LED rock lights. These are mounted to the underside of the 4Runner to light up the ground. While this may sound like an underglow setup out of The Fast & The Furious, it’s actually a very practical upgrade when off-roading. As you drive through obstacles or over extremely uneven terrain, these lower lights help you see if you’re going to bottom out or get stuck.

You can’t wire all these to OEM light switches (with ease at least), so we picked up a Switch-Pros SP9100 switch panel power system. This will allow us to have perfect control over all our new lighting from a convenient location.

We were quite impressed with how easily all the KC lights installed. The fog lights used the OEM mounting points, so those went in without a fuss. The ditch and rock lights were also pretty painless to install, with clear instructions for both. Wiring took some time to run cleanly, but it’s quite straightforward overall.

The light bars presented a bit of a challenge, though. The Gobi rack advertises that it will fit a 40-inch light bar; however, we found out that’s not completely accurate. We had to fabricate some custom brackets to make it fit correctly. The bumper light bar also presented an unplanned issue. Our original plan was to use a dual-row 20-inch bar from KC; however, after receiving it, we realized that it wouldn’t fit our bumper. We plan to source a new single row option before the 4Runner is unveiled next month.

ARB Air Compressor

Now, you may be wondering why we would install an air compressor on a brand-new 4Runner. While generally considered common knowledge, it may not be widely known that a common practice in off-roading is to lower your tire pressure to increase your contact patch and traction. Once you’re done with your adventure and want to hop back onto the road, you ideally want to pump those tires back up to a normal psi. An onboard compressor makes this quick and easy.

For the ARB on-board compressor, we found a nice spot in the engine bay right behind the Airaid intake for a nice tucked-away feel. The brackets that came with the kit made mounting relatively simple. However, we did have to make some minor modifications to make it easier to bolt onto the mounts.

After a quick test, we can tell this will be much faster than waiting on one of those cigarette lighter-powered compressors to air up your tires.

RCI Skid Plates

As much as we’d like to think of our trucks as rugged beasts, there are still plenty of fragile parts that need extra protection. The underbody has a lot of exposed components that, once damaged, could be incredibly costly to repair or replace. The off-road landscape presents countless instances where your underbody might catch or strike a rock. Skid plates cover the exposed components under the vehicle, such as your oil pan.

RCI manufactures many high-quality off-road products, and its skid plates are no exception. We decided to go with its entire set of transmission, transfer case, and TRD integration engine skid plates for complete coverage. Each skid plate is made from quarter-inch 5052 aluminum with a black powder coat finish. Now there is plenty of debate between aluminum and steel skid plates. When it comes down to it, though, if you’re not planning on doing a ton of crazy crawling and sliding your truck over rocks, the aluminum version will hold up just fine.

We are happy to report that these bad boys bolted on without a fuss. We were most excited that the engine skid plate integrated with the factory TRD plate. We were also quite surprised by their weight, though. Even though the aluminum option is lighter than steel, they are still quite burly, and we have no doubts they will hold up just fine for those occasional “oops” moments.





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