Trail-Gear Hardening Products for the Toyota Tacoma
In addition to the Trail-Gear solid front axle swap kits that we discussed in a previous post, Trail-Gear Inc. also manufactures a number of products designed to “harden” the Toyota Tacoma. While the Tacoma is a reasonably tough truck, like any commercially-produced vehicle it does have its weak points that over time reveal themselves after heavy off-road use.
I once again spoke with Matt at Trail-Gear about some of the hardening options that they produce for the Tacoma. Some of their most popular “ruggedizing” items include front and rear frame reinforcement plates and a rear frame box kit (both of which can be found here). The reinforcement plates are specifically targeted at the 95-04 Tacoma c-channel frames, which had a tendency to warp and crack while pulling tough duty (a problem that Toyota fixed on the 05 and up Tacoma). The plates install alongside the frame rail and add support and strength that helps the steel resist torsional stress. The frame box kit is also meant for the 95-04 trucks, and comes with both plates and tubing that fully box in the Tacoma’s frame.
I asked Matt how Trail-Gear had decided to target these specific areas of the frame for hardening. He told me that the products were developed as the result of a combination of customer feedback and first hand experience from punishing the Tacoma during rock climbs and trail runs. Trail-Gear also offers a number of other strengthening products for the Toyota Tacoma, including chromoly rear axle shafts and “Bomb Proof” motor mounts, each of which are intended to absorb severe duty punishment off-road.
Matt also said that when Trail-Gear did its very first Tacoma build, they noticed that the pickup’s frame had already begun to develop a wave in the steel between the cab and the bed, and that the rear frame rails were already tweaked – even though the truck they were working on had never been off-road. Combined with the fact that the second and third generation Tacomas had gained a reputation for developing stress cracks in the frame in competition, engineering the hardening options was a no-brainer.
Matt told me that while the box kit and reinforcement plates do add a little bit of weight to the Tacoma, the additional strength is well worth it as it keeps the vehicle’s frame protected over the long term. He also revealed that the Tacoma frames don’t always come straight right from the factory – he has personally encountered trucks where the frame rails were offset on either side by as much as a quarter inch, which can have a significant effect on alignment.
With frame problems a known commodity on certain generations of the Tacoma, if you are an off-road enthusiast looking to get as much life as possible out of your rig it makes sense to consider installing Trail-Gear’s frame hardening products. Not only do they offer increased protection against breakage out on the rock pile, but they can also help to prevent wheel hop and axle wrap in all driving situations by keeping the frame straight and true.
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Filed Under: Toyota Tacoma Accessories