Last Updated on June 13, 2023
Where to Start with 2nd and 3rd Gen Tacoma Front and Rear Suspension Lift Kits, Leveling Kits, and More
Ready to take your truck to the next level? Tired of living the stock truck life and ready to give your Tacoma a more aggressive look on and off-road?
When it comes to modifying your Tacoma, one of the first things that come to mind is a lift/leveling kit! Question is, which kit is right for you? If you’re looking for a more advanced breakdown on lift kits in detail, head over to TrailTacoma and check out their complete buyer’s guide on lift kits. It’s got just about every kit broken down in detail.
Whether you are looking to lift your truck for offroading purposes, Overlanding, or just purely for looks, there are quite a few options out there for you from appearance to functionality depending on what your wants or needs might be…
This blog post will cover most of the popular entry-level lift or leveling kits you can purchase for your Tacoma!
Some questions you may ask yourself are:
- What’s the biggest difference between a stock suspension and an upgraded one?
- What is the largest tire size I can fit on my Tacoma with a lift kit?
- What can be trimmed to make room for my tires?
- Which lift kit is right for my needs?
Running stock wheels/tires with any sort of lift kit on your Tacoma might not look too balanced! After figuring out what lift kit is right for you, I’d look into finding the right wheel and tire setup for you! Now let’s get to the good stuff!
Definition of Lift Kit Parts
If you’re going to be lifting your Tacoma, you should probably know the correct terminology and definitions of each component to better understand what kits and parts you would want/need for your Tacoma! Let’s jump right into it!
- Coilover: A Coilover is an abbreviation of “Coilover shock absorber”. This component is a front coil spring and shock assembly. Keep in mind those are two different parts that make up a Coilover.
- Shock: A shock is an absorber that is mainly used to dampen the bouncing motion of a vehicle directly after it encounters a bump. Typically these come oil or gas-filled depending on which setup you want!
- Upper Control Arms (UCAs): Upper control arms otherwise known as “A-Arms” connects the upper area of the front wheel to the lower control arm. Its sole purpose is to compress the weight that comes on to it and keep your wheel in place.
- Lower Control Arms (LCAs): Lower control arms work together with your upper control arms to keep your wheel in place as it goes over bumps.
- Leaf Spring: A leaf spring is a spring made of a certain amount of strips of metal that are curved upwards and clamped together to one another.
- Add-a-leaf: Add-a-leafs are similar to leaf springs as they add more leaf spring capacity to your vehicle and are a cheaper alternative than replacing your entire leaf springs.
- Leaf Pack: Leaf packs are generally used in order to replace the entire leaf spring on your vehicle with a heavier-duty leaf spring pack.
Lift Kits (Front)
Now that you have a better understanding of the components of a lift kit, we can finally dig into the different lift kits you can use to upgrade your front end! Front-end lift kits can be simple or complex depending on what your wants or needs might be…
Spacer Lift Kits
Spacer lift kits are probably one of the simplest and cheapest ways to lift/level your Tacoma!
They simply use a spacer block that fits above your stock Coilover that raises your Tacoma without any extra wheel articulation or travel. While a spacer lift may be the cheap route to go, it may not give you the desired ride and/or look that you are exactly looking for compared to some of the other options out there!
Remember, cheap isn’t always the best route to go, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive and simple way to lift your truck 1 to 3”, this lift is the perfect one for you!
Here are some options:
- Pro Comp Nitro 3″ Leveling Lift Kit: Check Price
- Supreme Suspensions 0.5″ Shim: Check Price
- Ekstrom Designs Shims: Check Price
Coilover Lift Kits
Coilover lift kits are similar to spacer lift kits, however, they replace your stock suspension with upgraded coil overs that allow for better off-road handling and overall ride quality. They range from any size you want from 3” to 4” to 6” and on! Keep in mind that coils and coil springs are put together to make a Coilover so if you have extra added weight to your front end such as a bumper, winch, etc, you may want to add heavier coil springs.
Here are some options:
- Eibach 2nd Gen Pro Truck Lift Kit (Stage 1): Check Price
- Eibach 3rd Gen Pro Truck Lift Kit (Stage 1): Check Price
- 2nd Gen Tacoma 5100 3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
- 3rd Gen Tacoma 5100 3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
- 3rd Gen Tacoma 6112/5160 Combo Lift Kit w/ Icon Add-A-Leaf: Check Price
- Bilstein B8 8112 Lift Kit: Check Price
Old Man Emu:
- 2nd Gen Tacoma Old Man Emu 2-3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
- 3rd Gen Tacoma Old Man Emu 2-3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
- OME BP-51s (2005+ Toyota Tacoma): Check Price
Diff drop lift kits are used as a larger spacer lift and a bracket that allows you to drop your differential to reduce excess wear on your Cv joints and axles and allows for better alignment. Some diff drops require you to cut a section of your cross member underneath your Tacoma to allow room for your driveline as well as add a reinforced cross member that bolts onto your existing cross member. Keep in mind that cutting your OEM cross member can weaken parts of your frame on your Tacoma so if you plan on using your truck for serious offroading, this kit may not be the right one for you! Most of these kits are used more so for appearance over best functionality, but can be used for both!
Keep in mind that these are not all of the spacer, Coilover, and diff drop lift kits out there for your Tacoma! These are some of the more popular kits that Tacoma owners use depending on the appearance and functionality they want for their truck!
Lift Kits (Rear)
Now let’s talk about that rear end! Since you have a general idea of what front lift kit you may want for your Tacoma, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect rear lift for you!
Lift blocks are a simpler and less expensive route to go when lifting the rear of your truck. They are simply a 1”, 2”, 4”, and beyond block that fit on top of your axles and underneath your existing leaf pack along with longer U-bolts to connect the parts all together. Think of this lift as the same as a front spacer kit, just for the rear!
Add-a-leaf kits are added to your existing leaf pack to help increase the load capacity your Tacoma can handle! These kits can also add a rear lift of anywhere from 1 to 3 inches depending on the height you desire. These kits help with the extra added weight to your rear end such as a rear bumper, rooftop tent, etc.
Leaf packs replace your existing/stock leaf springs with an entirely new leaf pack system. The benefits of this system are more/extended rear travel, higher load capacity, and/or overall better ride quality when on and off-road. Think of this pack as replacing your coilovers, but for the rear! This kit helps with extra weight added to the rear as well!
Body Lift Kits
A little different from a suspension lift or spacer lift, body lifts are exactly what they sound like!
A spacer mounts to your body and onto your frame and is used to lift the body of your vehicle a certain amount of inches depending on what your wants or needs are. These lift kits lean more to the inexpensive side but aren’t as durable and/or dependable as suspension lift. Most people use these kinds of lifts to help get better clearance for bigger tires.
Keep in mind, that if you have aftermarket bumpers, you will have to get custom brackets to lift your bumpers and match them with the rest of your body to avoid that ugly gap!
Lift Kits Continued
Now that you have a general idea of what front, rear, or body lift kit may be right for your Tacoma, let’s jump into a few more complex parts you may want/need to upgrade when lifting your truck! Keep in mind that lifting your Tacoma may mean you need to upgrade your Upper control arms, Lower Control Arms, Brake lines, Cv Axles, Drivelines, and Steering lines.
While diff drop lift kits are supposed to work with the regular suspension components in the front, other lift kits may need to upgrade some or all of these parts depending on the lift you decide to go with!
Long Travel kits require you to replace multiple components such as the ones mentioned above especially components such as your upper and lower control arms which would give you that super aggressive stance!
Note: Keep in mind that you will also most likely need to replace other components to line up with your new lift kit!
Extended brake lines and steering lines are one of those must-have components needed when lifting your truck! Upper and Lower control arms will also make for a better ride and easier for your local shop to get that perfect alignment for you! Most guys that I talk to run stock lower control arms with upgraded upper control arms and are very satisfied with the outcome. You may also want/need to get extended CV axles to help put less strain on your front axle/differential. An upgraded Driveline is a must-have when it comes to lifting your Tacoma as well!
Honestly, it will come down to what your wants/needs are for the end goal of lifting your truck may be. If you are not mechanically inclined or don’t know what parts you may want/need when it comes to lifting your truck, please talk to a professional to plan out the best options for you!
Which lift kit is right for you?
If you spend most of your driving time on the pavement, a simple body lift or spacer lift might be the perfect setup for you! While this option is on the cheaper side, it accomplishes the overall look that you would want to bring your truck to the next level.
If you spend some time on the road and offroad, you may want to look into a complete suspension lift along with a leaf pack or add-a-leaf in the rear to bring you that more aggressive look, allow for larger tires, and a much more pleasant ride when offroading.
If most of your time consists of offroading, you may want to look into those more expensive brands of suspension lifts such as King, Icon, or Fox or also look into upgrading your upper and lower control arms to long travel, triple bypasses, extended travel shocks and what not. In other words, you’re looking to go have some FUN! Enjoy it!
All in all, it all comes down to the amount of money you want to spend on lifting your Tacoma!
Hopefully, this article gave you a better understanding and helped make your decision a lot easier. Now, what are you waiting for? Go lift your truck and have some fun!
Since I covered most of the basic components and parts you will need/want to lift your Tacoma, you can finally make a decision on which lift kit best suits you! Keep in mind that you will want to do more research and/or look at reviews on certain lifts. There are so many brands/companies that have these items to fit your needs!