THE DMAX 4WD BUILD UP

A few months back, we replaced our 80 Series Land Cruiser with a 2016 Isuzu Dmax. The Dmax has big shoes to fill; the Land Cruiser was a tough tourer that went just about anywhere you pointed it. It did it with a sense of flair that I will miss, but there are a few things I won’t miss, and its all a compromise one way or another.

No matter what I do to the Dmax, it will never be as capable as the 80 Series, and I’m going to have to accept that. Instead, I’ll focus on building it into a 4WD that does as much of what we want from it as possible. I don’t believe there’s such thing as the perfect 4WD; you have to compromise in one way or another for everything, but you can strive to get it as close to your requirements as possible.

What’s the focus of the build going to be on?

Cost

At the time I sold our Land Cruiser, it had about $28,000 of modifications fitted to it. Whilst some of that was done when I bought the vehicle, I’m not going down that path again. The Dmax is pretty much bone stock, and I will be extremely selective of what I do to the vehicle. If it doesn’t provide great value for money, I’m not going to do it.

Weight

The Dmax has a higher payload than our Land Cruiser did, which in theory means you can carry more weight. The issue with dual cab utes though, is a lot of the space is behind the rear axle, which means your chances of bending the chassis are massively increased.

I am extremely concious of keeping the weight to as little as possible on the Dmax, with anything heavy in front or over the axle and as low to the ground as possible.

Functionality

Having a 4WD that is functional is hugely important. If it doesn’t do what you need it to, then what are you achieving? Everything I do to the Dmax will be for a purpose; to make it more comfortable and functional.

Reliability

Being 27 years old with nearly 400,000km on the clock, our Land Cruiser did give us a little bit of grief. The Dmax is pretty much new; I get to break the engine in, and ensure it has a good life in terms of servicing from day dot.

I’m not planning on any engine modifications, and will keep things as stock as possible under the engine bay. There will be a few modifications done to improve reliability, like an aftermarket fuel filtration system, catch can, bash plates and OBD scanner.

Planned modifications:

Secondary Fuel Filter (purchased a Fuel manager 30 micron kit which goes before the factory Isuzu OEM filter)

Catch Can (purchased and installed a HPD catch can, which you can read about here – Isuzu Dmax HPD Catch Can)

Winch compatable Bull Bar (purchased an AFN bull bar, which is pretty much installed)

Winch (Purchased a Runva XP11 premium winch, installed, but not wired up)

Aluminium Gull Wing Canopy (Picked up a second hand Bull Motor body canopy, which you can read about here – 4WD Aluminium Canopy)

Differential and transmission breathers (Not yet purchased; will climb under the vehicle and find out what I need shortly!)

UHF and antenna (Purchased an ICOM IC450 UHF and RFI CD5000 Antenna, not yet installed)

Snorkel (Not yet purchased; will be getting a Safari unit)

OBD Scanner (Purchased an Ultra gauge, which I love)

Rated recovery points (in built in the Bull bar, and will use a hitch receiver on the rear)

Bash plates (With a low hanging vehicle and some vulnerable bits, the Dmax will be getting a full set of Bash plates. Brand yet to be decided, but it needs to fit into the AFN bull bar)

Deep cycle battery and DCDC charger (Purchased a 150aH Bosch deep cycle battery and Projecta IDC25 DCDC battery charger)

Solar panel (Replacing the 120W panel with a 200W unit from Low Energy Developments)

Tyres (Getting 265/75/16 tyres tomorrow. I spent many hours researching, and settled on the Toyo Open country AT2’s)

30mm lift kit with correctly rated springs (30mm is the maximum I can legally lift the Dmax with the above tyres, and the springs will suit the weight of the vehicle)

Oates plastic drawers (Purchased 6 of these to mount in the canopy. They are light, fairly durable, cheap and easy to move around)

Evakool 55L fridge (previously used in the Land cruiser. Will need to buy/make a fridge slide)

I’m sure there’s probably a few other things I’ve missed, but that’s the base mod plan, and it has to be done before we head north in May!

Article from 4wdingAustralia

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Comments 16

  1. We have just purchased a new D Max and added very little to it. We did do the GVM upgrade which you dont mention on your vehicle.. Do you cover that with the Lift kit ??

  2. Changing the suspension which alters the factory height (a “lift”) WILL result in an automatic rejection of any warranty claim by ISUZU UTE AUSTRALIA in Brisbane, on such a simple thing as the CV boot retaining clip failing, never mind any other transmission/steering components. I pointed out that the boot will flex a far greater distance just in steering but to no avail and the IUA Dealership charged me $670 to reattach the left CV boot. Dispite an ongoing issue with these CV boots in factory standard MUX, ISUZU UTE AUSTRALIA will reject ALL Warranty claims if your vehicle “is lifted”. My vehicle had an OME suspension upgrade, engineered and professional fitted by the manufacturers technicians but IUA has now a blanket rejection policy on claims relating to professionally modified vehicles.

    1. Hey Louise,

      I have already had to deal with IUA to replace my turbo. I am somewhat familiar with how they work, and regularly see similar posts on Facebook.

      As far as the law is considered, they have to prove that the modifications done contributed to the wear and tear or damage.

      It’s a bit ridiculous really, as there’s no way you can load a 4WD up as you would for travelling with their standard gear; so what are you supposed to do?

      1. You either do as most of us do and modify the vehicle, or suck it up and buy a suitable vehicle in the first place. The reason most of us modify, is because there’s NO suitable vehicle made.

      1. I’d get one again. They are the pick of the bunch at the moment in terms of reliability and simplicity.

        IUA are no different to any other manufacturer; they will decline where they can, but they can’t go against the law. As for my comment about being loaded up with standard gear, that’s the same across the board too.

        I believe the new Mazda will have an Isuzu motor, so that will be fantastic.

  3. I have been looking at a D-Max and quite like the engine. I raised the idea of using an extra fuel filter and water watch unit and the service manager from the dealer I was at, said it would not void warranty. However when I mentioned suspension changes they got cagey.
    I had the impression that replacing suspension to maintain factory heights was ok a lift probably not. But as mentioned they have to prove it caused an issue. Unfortunately in this country it tends to be the buyer that has to prove it does not cause affect things.

    1. I believe as long as it is a pre filter, and larger than the factory one (which is 5 micron I think), you are fine.

      Not sure about the suspension; the factory setup is fine but not suitable to carry the loads that most people touring would have.

      I’m not sure if you can get heavier suspension without changing the height. OME only offer the 30mm lift.

      That’s a pretty insignificant lift; I can understand them whinging about 2 or 3 inch lifts as they change your CV angle substantially

  4. We have a 2015 Dmax, and I have done a full upgrade. We are Hoping to leave S.A in the first week of May. If you would like to catch up on the road some time I would be more than happy to have a beer, chat and compare our trucks around a camp fire.
    I had a GQ RX Patrol. I have done a bit off road with it, I recon the DMax is really great 4×4 for the money.
    Lest catch up

  5. Yes. I have a 2015 dmax space cab with Ali canopy. Standard suspension was shit. Did an upgrade with TJM medium duty springs. Should have gone heavy duty Ironman. Have now added airbags to rear.
    Why can’t they just put good suspension on a the start. It’s such a waste to be dumping original suspension even when it’s brand new. Great car though. Mine is now up by 50 mm and I couldn’t be happier. Rides better. Handles better and is therefore safer and with much improved ground clearance. Heading up that way in May ourselves towing a Kimberley Karavan. Sounds like it’s going to be crouded

  6. Hi Aaron. Sorry I have just read your message. We didn’t get to the Kimberley’s. We go on the servanna way to Mataranka. We went home via Alice springs to Adelaide. Our truck was great and handled everything we put in front of it. Old coach road to Lora and Cape York. What a trip. Still like to catch up some time. Happy travels mate.

  7. I am in middle of purchasing a MUX which is brand new. It is ARB equipped already. Yes with OME also. Dealer had said Isuzu has approved of ARB and Pedders and wont void warranty. Yes in writing.

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