If you’re going to lift your Tacoma why use spacers and lose suspension travel when Ironman 4x4 gives you the option for a full lift without reduction in travel. If rock crawling and stretching your truck’s legs aren’t your style of wheeling, then preloaded coils won’t bother you. Living in the Rockies we seem to be surrounded by “rocks” so every bit of travel we can get helps.
Another question to decide upon before lifting your truck: are you going to do the install or are you going to have the pros do it for you? This will not be the easiest install you have done for sure if you do it yourself. If you have a shop install it, you will have to either have to find a dealer of Ironman 4x4 or find a shop that will let you buy the kit yourself. You can do it yourself if you have specific tools such as a coil compressor and a pneumatic impact wrench. And of course a few mechanically inclined friends.
Before you get started there are a few questions to answer to make sure you get the parts that you need. Here’s what Ironman sent over for us:
• Nitro gas or Foam Cell shocks
• Performance or Constant Load coils
• 5-10-15 mm trim packers
• Nitro Gas or Foam Cell shocks
• Rear Leaf Springs
Once you make these choices you order them online. One thing to note is when you order leaf springs they will show up palletized. So make sure you give them a delivery address where they can be unloaded by a fork lift.
Now, for the install!
We were very fortunate to have friends that have a shop for us to use for this install. Pete from Bach Crawlers here in Monument (near Colorado Springs) walked us through the install to make sure we didn’t forget anything. We decided Shane (from FJC Magazine and our publisher) and Matt (from FunTreks Guidebooks) would take on the challenge of the front suspension while I took on the leaf springs and shocks in the rear.
The first place to start with any lift install is disassembly. It’s important to remember what comes off (and in what order), so that the new parts go on in the right order. I do have to say at this point – If you don’t have a spring compressor have a professional shop do the install! Shane and Matt worked well as a team!
The front install went pretty well, but did take quite a bit of time, not to mention elbow grease. It’s necessary to remove the front sway bar before working on the three bolts that hold the coilover assembly in. If you remove the lower ball joint bolts things will be a little easier, but the truck will require an alignment after the install. Once everything is unbolted (including the lower shock bolt) the coilover should come out pretty easily.
This is where a spring compressor comes in very handy. A wall mounted compressor is best (and safest), but a bolt-down type is what we used. It’s important to take your time and work safely when compressing the spring, even though the compressor is high-strength steel, there is a ton of pressure on the components and we have heard of accidents happening.
After you get the original coilover apart, replace the shock and coil with the new components, reassemble, and gently loosen the coil compressor to allow the new spring to properly seat. Be careful to make sure your shock is aligned with the top three bolts the same way it was when you removed the assembly, otherwise you’ll have to re-compress and adjust it before you can re-install the coilover. Reverse removal steps to re-install the coils, and bolt everything back into place. The front lift will take 2-3 hours with a table-top compressor, or 1-2 hours with a wall mounted version.
I will admit changing out the rear suspension is a lot easier than the front. In the rear, once the rims are off you unbolt the shocks and the leaf springs. Make sure you have support stands for the axle or it will drop on the floor. The most difficult part is getting the old bushings out. The bolts are just long enough to make life difficult. Using a floor jack and stands will make your life a lot easier when installing the new kit.
Six bolts and the new leaf is in. Repeat the process for the other side, then on to the shocks. There is a great trick for getting the old shocks off . . . Saws all!!! Cut the top bolt off and out they come.
All in all the suspension installation is pretty straight forward and I think the truck looks pretty darn good! A huge thank you to Eli (Ironman 4X4), Matt (FunTreks Guidebooks), Shane (our publisher and photographer), and Bach Crawlers! We’ll have an update on how the components perform both on and off road in a future issue.
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