TRD Pro Tacoma - Suspension Mods

TRD Pro Tacoma - Suspension Mods

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I’m not much of a connoisseur of alcoholic beverages. I have various friends who can converse nonstop about craft beers, wines, whiskeys, and scotches. These conversations tend to happen around campfires—all while I’m sipping my Dr. Pepper. 

At the end of a typical year, I can reflect on the past 12 months and count on two hands the quantity of alcoholic beverages that reached my liver. Some of those instances occurred at the end of a stressful work week. I did so to take the “edge” off…to “soften” my stress level.

That’s exactly what I wanted to accomplish with my Tacoma suspension modifications:  take the edge off. Yes, I am aware Toyota worked with Fox Suspension to tune the shocks specifically for the TRD Pro Tacoma. I must be crazy for wanting to part with that suspension, right? In those rare off-camber scenarios where I don’t want a bouncy truck for fear of flopping over, the Fox suspension is ideal because there is no bounce. The truck is stable and manageable.

In the more common situations where I am driving swiftly over a rough trail, I want the suspension to absorb the rugged terrain. The Fox suspension was not ideal, as the whole truck shook and rattled over every bump, rock, and rut. The harshness of the ride was just too rigid for my comfort level.

On my 2007 4Runner, I ran the Radflo 2.5 front and rear suspension, and on my son’s 2007 FJ Cruiser, I ran the ToyTec Boss. Both set the bar for me on how suspensions should perform. After 16 months of Tacoma ownership, I was ready to identify a new suspension solution.

Tacoma TRD Pro Suspension Upgrades.- Toyota Trucks Magazine

On a multi-day expedition in Colorado, I followed a 5th gen 4Runner, driven by Hugo Huerta, up & down multiple unforgiving roads and watched with envy as Hugo’s aftermarket suspension absorbed encounters with every small boulder. I wanted what he had. Hugo worked for ToyTec Lifts and was more than happy to introduce me to what would soon become my next purchase:  Toytec Boss 2.5 Aluma Series Performance Suspension System with 2"-3" lift. This suspension would also help me achieve another objective:  lift the truck higher than the 1-inch OEM lift.

For options, I went with the reservoir for the front coilovers for better cooling. In the Texas heat down near the Mexico border, I tend to push the accelerator for spirited driving. Lifting the truck a few more inches does impact angles of various components. To compensate for these new angles, I chose the Front Differential Drop Kit, Driveshaft Carrier Bearing Drop Kit, and Solid Axle Degree Shims. ToyTec Lifts includes the sway bar relocation kit, but the OEM end links are pushed to their limit. Plus, they are a weak point.

Tacoma TRD Pro Suspension Upgrades.- Toyota Trucks Magazine

For upper control arms, I ordered Dirt King Boxed Bushing Upper Control Arms from another vendor. Durability with UCAs is important to me. I like the build quality and expect these to last for many years. I ordered a pair of All-Pro Offroad sway bar end links. At 5.5”, these resulted in a better angle for the sway bar, and the added strength from the more solid build means less worry on the trail.

For rear leaf, I went with the Progressive 3 Lead Add-a-Leaf-Pack. This resulted in about a 1-inch higher rear lift than the front. I am fine with this rake since I load the truck down with either a rooftop tent weighing in at 130-lbs, or attach an off-road trailer. When loads are even heavier, I add some air to the Firestone rear airbags. ToyTec Lifts also offers the Daystar Air Bag Cradles, which work nicely with the Firestone airbags.

After installation, I was eager to feel the difference. We headed to the nearest unmaintained dirt road where I hit over 50 mph while my buddy nervously grabbed the oh-crap handle. The new suspension performed exactly how I had hoped:  edgeless. Prior to getting the unpaved road, we could tell a difference when we crossed over arched intersections and the truck settled without the harshness to which we were accustomed.

A month after the install, I headed to New Mexico and then onto southern Utah for a week of off-road exploration and landscape photography. The trails that really tested the suspension were both in the Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area just outside of Kanab, UT. At the end of each trail is a hiking trail to Native American pictographs. The shorter trail, which took me to the South Fork Indian Canyon Pictographs trailhead, was a 4-mile roundtrip of narrow, curvy, and wavy sand with frequent bumps from have UTV use. The suspension absorbed the bumps and handled the frequent small off-camber hills.

The longer trail was a scenic high-elevation technical trail involving a 17-mile roundtrip. The terrain flexed my suspension in multiple ways. While the Hell Dive Canyon pictographs were not as impressive as the South Fork pictographs, the scenery along the bluff edge drive was spectacular. A half-dozen steep and uneven climbs caused the rear shocks to extend to their max. Only once did I need to engage the rear differential locker, as the tire didn’t have enough tread against the rock surface. As expected, the suspension performed superbly on both trails.

With my main objective of softening the driving experience accomplished, I can now embrace the wonderful side effect of sufficient lift for increasing the tire diameter to 33-inch and begin tire shopping. If you read my previous article on this truck build, I said I was done. I lied. I now have longer travel, increased lift, smoother absorption of rugged terrain, level under load, and a front reservoir to meet my off-road driving tendencies.

 

Tacoma TRD Pro Suspension Upgrades.- Toyota Trucks Magazine

Items ordered from ToyTec Lifts:

  • Toytec Boss 2.5 Front Aluma Series Remote Reservoir Coilovers (05+Tacoma)
  • Toytec Boss 2.5 Aluma Series Rear Shocks (05+Tacoma)
  • Solid Axle Degree Shims
  • DuroBumps Front Bump Stops
  • Toytec Front Differential Drop Kit
  • Daystar Air Bag Cradles
  • Toytec Driveshaft Carrier Bearing Drop Kit (05 & UP Tacoma)
  • Toytec Progressive 3 Leaf Add A Leaf Pack (Pair)
  • 7.5" U-Bolt Kit

Items ordered from other vendors:

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