We’ve already established that the stock Toyota leaf springs offered on the Tacoma are designed in such a way that factory Tacoma leaf spring breakage is almost guaranteed. Fortunately, Tacoma pickup owners are blessed with a wide range of aftermarket spring choices which are not only built to a higher standard than Toyota factory replacements, but which are also often much cheaper than buying from the dealership.
Tacoma forums are packed with truck owners asking opinions on the best replacement leaf springs for their pickups. Some of the most popular names in off-road and on-road suspension have been mentioned as possible candidates for improving on fragile stock units. Let’s take a look at some of the main contenders.
Post last updated September 2013.
Old Man Emu
Old Man Emu (part of ARB) provides Tacoma rear leaf spring replacements. These springs – known as “Dakar” springs – are OEM replacement units that cost about $200 per side, and also offer a 2.75-inches of lift over stock. These springs also offer additional support for heavy loads, but as a result they don’t ride nearly as nice as the stock Tacoma springs they replace.
OME/ARB says that a leaf can be added to the pack to further increase the amount of lift about half an inch. Likewise, a leaf can be removed to reduce the height half an inch (as well as improve the ride).
Alcan offers replacement springs for 2005-and-up Tacomas which are designed to handle the kind of beating that off-road driving typically dishes out. The springs retail for about $600 a pair, come in an eight-leaf pack and provide up to 2-inches of lift compared to stock. This helps to keep the rear of the truck level while towing, and it can also give Tacoma owners a little additional room under the fender for fitting in more aggressive tires.
According to Johnny Kurz of Wheeler’s Off-Road, Alcan builds their springs specific for the left and right side, a tactic that’s intended to correct the “Taco lean” that many owners report. Says Kurz “Alcan’s design features a slightly taller spring on the driver side to counter the weight of the battery, fuel cell, and driver.”
Deaver is a well-known name in the desert racing world, and it’s no surprise that they also offer replacement leaf springs for the 2005+ Tacoma. Compared to the Alcan units, the Deaver springs provide a less aggressive lift (1.5-inches over stock, although 2-inch options are available), and come with a 10-leaf pack. They about the same as the Alcans in terms of price at ($600+ per set).
NOTE: It’s important to understand that the number of leafs included in a spring pack doesn’t necessarily dictate the strength or ride characteristics of the leaf…the Deaver pack has 10 leafs and the Alcan 8, but it would be a mistake to assume one rides better than the other based merely on that figure.
OEM Replacement Leafs
Buyers can also choose to buy a set of OEM replacement springs for the Tacoma. Currently, Olathe Toyota Parts Center sells them for about $450 per side. While that’s twice as much as after-market options, the OEM leafs will ride just like the leafs they replace. They’ll also match the stock ride height.
It’s hard for us to recommend buying OEM replacements, but they’re worth considering if ride quality is really important to you.
Deaver and OME both offer add-a-leaf sets which allow you to add an additional leaf spring to your current pre or post-TSB stock Toyota leafs. The idea behind these kits is that the additional leafs will take some of the stress off of the OEM units and reduce the chances that they will break. Add-a-leaf kits can also increase ride heiht.
Honestly, we feel that it is best to avoid this option and go for a complete replacement of each rear leaf pack in order to prevent any headaches down the road. You might save money in the short term by choosing to go down the add-a-leaf path, but should your stock springs give up the ghost anyway you will end up having to re-do the entire installation.
Does anyone have any first-hand experience that they would like to share regarding the replacement leaf spring sets that they chose for their own Tacoma?