Luckily she had all the tools that I needed to complete the job in Austin without having to buy another set. Besides, I keep my heavy duty vehicle jack and stands in my garage where I like to perform my work. This way I have adequate lighting day or night, along with the ability to close my garage door for security in case I decide to take a break.
I actually tackled the rear shocks first as they arrived before the other parts. These were pretty simple and although I removed the rear tires, I discovered that it was unnecessary and could probably have been serviced without even a jack. This blog entry will serve to remind me in the future when I eventually replace these ones.
The front shocks came in a couple weeks later and I decided to replace the brake pads as they were starting to squeal. So with the front wheels off, which is necessary I set to work changing out the shock. I discovered that the front shocks could be removed without using a spring compressor tool. I was a little worried that I'd have to deal with dangerous compressed truck springs; however, thanks to Toyota's ingenious design, I was able to to remove the shocks with a little of my own ingenuity. The first obstacle was breaking the top nut loose from the shock itself. I had to use an oil filter wrench to hold the top of the shock in place while I squeezed the ratchet in the other direction. The bottom bolts were easy to loosen and remove the shock however; replacing the new shock was another story. The new shocks were much firmer than the worn out old ones and as a result were too difficult for me to compress with my hands. I had to use the hydraulic jack (plus a small round rock) to compress the shock into place so that I could fasten the mounting bolts.
Once the new shocks were in, I simply replaced the old pads with Wagner Thermoquiet brake pads. This way whenever they wear down, I simply exchange them out at any Oreilly's Auto parts for free. I used a crow bar and an old pad to compress the brake caliper which allowed me to install the "fatter" newer pads. I noticed that the pads were wearing at different rates on either side of the rotor which might have been the reason for the brake squeal. After bleeding the brake lines and purging any air, the brake pedal feels much smoother and stops the truck with assertiveness and silence.
I also noticed that while the front shocks were definitely in better shape than the bouncy rear, replacing the front shocks has made a noticeable difference in the truck's handling and even nose diving when braking. My truck now drives like it must have when it first came off the line, I have better knowledge of my vehicle, and I saved close to $500 bucks for a few hours of my time.