Accessories & Gear / Lift Kits

The Ultimate Tacoma Lift Kit Guide

Leveling kits are a very popular accessory with truck owners, and the Tacoma is no exception. Yet despite the popularity of lift kits, there is an incredible amount of misinformation about lift kits. What follows is a good-faith attempt to explain the benefits and disadvantages of every basic lift-kit type.

Ultimate Lift Kit Guide

Welcome to the Internet’s ULTIMATE guide to lift kits – not just for Tacoma owners!

First, let’s address some basic lift-leveling kit concepts:

– Most lift or leveling kits do not increase ground clearance. On most kits, additional ground clearance comes from increased tire size only. Please note the emphasis on “most.”

– Almost all lift kits involve some sort of compromise. The trick is to make sure that compromise doesn’t impact your intended use.

– There are a lot of very smart people who have differing opinions on the long-term durability of various lift-leveling kit designs. While there is a lot of room for debate, one thing is clear: durability is directly related to use. Heavy off-road users have to be much more concerned with these questions than someone who occasionally drives down a dirt road on the way to a fishing spot.

– You always need an alignment after installing a lift or leveling kit.

All front-end lift kits over 1.5″ should also include a differential drop kit**. This will keep the CV joint angles as close to stock as possible during normal driving conditions. Some companies don’t include a diff. drop in their basic package – be sure to add one on.

** As noted by Chris in the comments below, there is a good reason NOT to install a differential drop kit. Dropping the differential reduces the ground clearance benefits of a lift kit, which means your differential (and a lot of other expensive parts) are that much closer to the trail. For Tacoma owners who don’t venture off-road often, or who don’t get too aggressive when they go off-road, a differential drop kit will save your CV joints in the long run. However, if you like to get serious off-road, CVs are cheaper to break than your differential, etc. SO, in that case, you may not want a differential drop kit.

– Whatever kit you buy, make sure it’s quality and backed by a warranty.

Different Types of Leveling and Lift Kits

Coil Suspension Diagram

Essentially, there are seven different types of front-end lift kits for the Tacoma:

  1. Above coil spacer lift kits (aka strut extension kits)
  2. In-coil spacer lift kits (aka “preload” kits)
  3. Combo kits that use both above and in-coil spacers (including adjustable shock spring seat kits such as the Bilstein 5100 leveling shock)
  4. Coilover kits that include new springs, and/or replacement springs
  5. Drop bracket kits
  6. Body lift kits
  7. Spindle lift kits
  8. Long travel kits and solid axle swaps

To lift the rear of the Tacoma, there are four different types of kits:

  1. Blocks
  2. Add-a-leafs
  3. New leaf packs
  4. New shackles (95-04.5 Tacomas only)

What follows is a good-faith attempt to describe each front and rear lift method in brief detail.

Tacoma Front End Lift Kit Methods

Above-coil Spacer Lift Kit Diagram

1. Above coil kits increase the length of the coil assembly, which in turn increases distance between the wheel hub and the upper control arm and raises the static ride height. Above coil kits are popular because:

  • they don’t require a spring compressor to install (a tool that most home mechanics don’t have) and
  • they’re usually the most inexpensive option

Unfortunately, despite their low cost and ease of install, above-coil kits can cause suspension damage at full down travel (aka full droop or full extension). This is because the increased length of the coil assembly isn’t 100% compatible with the stock suspension – ball joints, cv joints, cv axles, the sway bar, and the control arms should all be changed or lengthened if the coil length changes. Otherwise, they are all outside of factory design limits at full down-travel.

ToyTec (a lift kit and leveling kit manufacturer) has told us that they’e also seen some above-coil kits cause the spacer to come into contact with the upper control arm (UCA) at full droop, which is obviously a bad thing. This isn’t to say that every above-coil kit could damage the UCA, but it’s worth considering.

Also, anyone who has installed one of these kits will tell you that they can be hard to pry into place – a large pry-bar and/or a ratchet strap are usually required to get the new longer coil assembly to fit.

In-coil spacer lift kit diagram

2. In-coil spacer kits do not increase the length of the coil assembly to accomplish lift. Instead, they reduce the amount the factory coil can compress by “taking up space” in the coil pack. This is commonly (and incorrectly) referred to as spring “preload.”

We feel that “preload” isn’t a good term here, mostly because that suggests the springs will be stiffer after installing this type of kit. In fact, the spring will probably feel about the same (at least in most normal driving situations).

Because the spacer is “taking up space,” the length of the spring is reduced. This changes the spring rate of the coil and that in turn raises the truck…the spring is pushing harder in this semi-compressed or “preloaded” state.

In-coil spacer kits are well-liked because:

  • Provided you have access to a quality spring compressor (or a local shop that has one), in-coil spacer kits are very easy to install and do not require any prying like above-coil kits
  • They are usually very inexpensive

The downsides to this type of kit are reduced up-travel and, arguably, reduced ride quality. Since the spring isn’t technically being “loaded” (it’s just losing some length), ride quality isn’t effected by a suddenly stiffer spring. While it is true that reducing the amount of compression distance slightly changes the spring rate, the difference in ride is likely very small on most vehicles. Many people who have installed in-coil spacer kits have not noticed a decrease in ride quality.

However, the reduced up-travel is an issue with in-coil spacer kits. By reducing the up-travel, the truck is more likely to hit the bump-stops during hard use. Obviously, hitting the bump stops results in a severe jolt and – if done excessively – can have multiple negative ramifications.

Combo above-coil and in-coil spacer lift kit diagram

3. Combo kits use both an in-coil and above coil spacer to accomplish lift. By using both types of lift, these kits minimize the downsides of both designs while also gaining the benefits of both. In truth, most in-coil spacer kits – as well as adjustable “leveling shocks” like the Rancho quickLIFT or Bilstein 5100 – fit into the combo kit category.

Shock-based leveling kits offer quite a bit of value. They cost about the same amount as a quality above-coil or in-coil spacer, yet they also include new shocks. The main limitation of these kits is that they max out at about 2.5″ of lift.

Remember: Spacer lifts are the most popular type of front-end lift / leveling kit. Provided your truck doesn’t see much off-road use, it’s unlikely that any of the issues associated with spacer lift kits will ever cause you a problem.

A Note About Spacer Kit Sizes

Since the Tacoma doesn’t have a tremendous amount of rake, a very slight spacer kit is sufficient to level out the truck (only 1-2″ of front-end lift is needed to level a 95′ or newer Tacoma). Since most people are looking for a way to install larger tires on their trucks, pure leveling kits that raise the front end 2″ aren’t nearly as popular as 3″ spacer lift kits that raise both the front and rear of the truck.

4. Coilover kits and/or new coil springs are often said to be the best lift kit option available short of a long-travel kit. A new coilover kit (which typically includes a spring, shock with spring seat, and all-new mounting gear) can increase lift by using an adjustable ring that will decrease the amount of spring compression height.

Coilover kits are inherently better than spacer kits because they include a new coil spring that is designed for the specific application. The new coil spring is tuned to account for whatever lift the kit is designed to provide, which decreases the chances of suspension damage occurring during heavy off-road use compared to a spacer kit.

Tacoma with a bracket lift kit

5. Drop bracket lift kits are easy to visualize. Imagine adding a new section of frame to the bottom of your truck’s existing frame, and then mounting all your suspension parts to that new section and you’ve got it. The main advantage of a drop bracket kit is size – they’re a reasonably simple mechanism for grabbing 5-6″ of lift, an amount that is impossible to acquire using a spacer lift kit alone. They also preserve the factory ride.

The main disadvantages of drop-bracket kits are:

  • Cost – $2500 is not an uncommon figure for parts, not to mention labor
  • Challenging install (especially for the average home mechanic)
  • Higher center of gravity
  • They’re essentially irreversible

Despite these disadvantages, most of the “big” lifted trucks you see driving down the road are riding on a drop bracket lift kit. This is often because of economics.

6. Body lift kits are just what they sound like – a kit that lifts the body of the vehicle 1-4″ off the frame using a series of spacers (also known as “pucks”). The main disadvantage to a body lift kit is the install – most kits have 20+ spacers to install – and some can take the better part of two days to install. The main advantage of a body lift is that it can be installed alongside almost any other lift kit. SO, if you’re doing the math at home, adding a 3″ body lift to a truck with a 6″ drop bracket lift = 9 inches of lift!

If you’ve got time and not a lot of money, combining a 3″ body lift kit with a 3″ spacer lift kit is a low-cost alternative to a 6″ drop bracket kit. Another advantage is that adding a body lift kit to a spacer lift kit results in a lower center of gravity than a drop bracket kit, a nice benefit for anyone concerned about handling and/or rollovers.

7. Spindle lift kits are available for 2wd trucks (more info on these is coming).

If you see a very large lift kit – 9-12″ – this is often a 2wd truck with a spindle lift and one or more additional kits to achieve massive heights. While a lifted 2wd truck isn’t for everyone, it must be said that a) to each his own and b) 2wd trucks do just fine in some off-road racing situations…so you might not want to dismiss these types of trucks out of hand.

8. Long-travel kits are perhaps the very best suspension lift option available. Essentially, a long-travel kit is a new front suspension system. The critical components (upper and lower a-arms, uniball, coils, and shocks) are all replaced and/or upgraded. Some kits also include new axles, although Tacoma owners can modify Tundra CV axles to work with long-travel kits.

Once all these parts are installed, the Tacoma’s ride height is increased while the factory suspension travel and geometry are maintained. In fact, since most long-travel kits use better quality components than Toyota uses at the factory, a Tacoma with a long-travel kit will perform considerably better than a stock Tacoma in almost all situations.

Tacoma Long Travel Suspension

Toyota Tacoma with a Total Chaos Long Travel Suspension Kit. Click the image above for more info.

Long-travel kits are awesome in terms of performance, but they come with an awesome price tag too. Not only are the parts expensive (figure $2,000 minimum) but the labor involved is significant. It’s not uncommon to spend more money on installation than on the kit itself. Of course, if you have the tools, the time, and the know-how, labor is something you can provide yourself.

Most long-travel kits require body panel modification too. The Total Chaos 96000 kit, for example, requires Tacoma owners to install new fiberglass fenders. A set of fiberglass fenders installed and painted to match your truck will cost about $1,000 (less if you can do the fender install and light bodywork yourself). Long-travel kits are the best possible way to raise your truck’s ride height, but many people have spent over $5,000 to install one…which is why long-travel kits aren’t even 1/10th as popular as spacer kits.

Dana 44 Solid Axle

The Dana 44 solid axle is a popular starting point for Tacoma solid axle swaps

Finally, we come to solid axle swaps (SAS). These kits are major modifications that require quite a bit of explanation. The big picture is that solid axles are most popular in the rock-crawling community, where there strength, durability and simple maintenance and repair requirements are major assets. If this is your area of interest, check out popular rock crawling forums like Pirate 4×4 as well as rock-crawling threads on popular Tacoma forums. Solid-axle swaps usually involve considerable labor and a very high-level understanding of vehicle suspension design, so it might be a good idea to speak with some local 4×4 shops if you’re interested in a SAS for your Tacoma.

The Great Spacer Lift Kit Debate

Many off-road purists detest spacer lift kits and berate anyone who installs one, citing the fact that spacer lifts negatively impact both suspension geometry and travel. While the purists are correct – spacer lifts reduce travel and negatively impact geometry – these changes may or may not impact your particular use. The fact is that, for many Tacoma owners, spacer lifts are a perfectly acceptable option.

On the other hand, many spacer lift-kit manufacturers will attempt to gloss over the compromises inherent in using their product. While this behavior likely comes from a good place, there’s no denying that spacer lifts reduce suspension performance in many measurable ways. Spacer kits are not the best way to increase ride height in terms of suspension performance.

So, are spacer lift kits bad?

In a perfect world, no one would install a spacer lift to increase ride height. Instead, they would opt for a long travel kit with a new coilover, new upper and lower a-arms, new axles, tie-rod extenders, etc. Of course, these things cost money. A quality long-travel suspension kit that will increase ride height 3-4″ while retaining factory suspension performance costs in excess of $2,000. Installation costs can sometimes equal the cost of the kit, and then many long-travel kits require other modifications (new fenders, for example) that have a cost as well.

Which brings us back to spacer lifts. For significantly less money ($200-300 for parts, $200-300 for labor), a spacer lift can increase ride height 2-3″. While they do reduce the overall performance of the suspension system, many “average” truck owners never notice the difference.

Should you use a spacer lift kit? Hopefully the information in this article will help you make that decision.

Tacoma Rear End Lift Kit Methods

Rear Leaf Suspension Diagram

The standard leaf spring suspension is conceptually very simple – the spring pack mounts to the frame, and the axle attaches to the spring. However, don’t let the simplicity of the concept fool you – this suspension must resist axle wrap, allow the axle to articulate, and also carry your truck’s payload.

Block Suspension Lift Kit Diagram

Block lifts are just what they sound like – hunks of steel or (more commonly) aluminum that rest between the axle and the leaf spring. Along with a new set of u-bolts, a rear end block lift can be used to add 1-3″ of lift. Unfortunately, despite their low cost, block lifts are the least desirable of all rear-end lift methods because they increase axle wrap…which leads to a myriad of other problems including broken blocks, broken drive shafts, busted shocks, shackles, leaf springs, etc.

Having said all of this, a small block lift (1″) doesn’t appreciably increase axle wrap and associated risks, and many Tacoma owners have no problems with 2″ block lifts. Still, this is the most undesirable rear-end lift option. Anything else would be better.

NOTE: An after-market lift kit manufacturer who reviewed our guide (and who shall not be named) took issue with our assertion that blocks are undesirable. Their argument is that many new vehicles (like HD trucks) use blocks, and that they are therefore a perfectly reasonable lift option.

If we’re talking about blocks in the context of normal truck duties – towing, hauling, and light off-roading, than blocks are A-OK. If we’re talking about serious off-roading, than blocks are undesirable.

Add-a-leaf Suspension Lift Kit Diagram

Add-a-leafs are the next best rear end lift option. While not as good as new leaf spring packs, they offer many of the same benefits. They increase lift by increasing the rear leaf spring pack stiffness, but many people find that add-a-leafs deteriorate over time. Because you’re changing the stiffness of the spring, new shocks are recommended.

Additionally, a truck that has an add-a-leaf will almost certainly ride much rougher than a truck with a block lift or new spring pack…consider yourself warned.

New Leaf Pack Suspension Lift Kit Diagram

A new leaf spring pack is the best way to lift the rear-end of your Tacoma. Replacing the stock springs with stronger, stiffer after-market springs further enhances resistance to axle wrap as well as providing lift. Unfortunately, new leaf spring packs can be pricey – four to five times as much as an add-a-leaf kit. Also, just like an add-a-leaf, new shocks are needed here too.

Of course, like most of the components described, new leaf packs can dramatically change the way your truck rides and handles. If you were to install a new leaf pack designed for racing on your daily driver, you’re probably not going to enjoy driving nearly as much as you used to.

Shackle Suspension Lift Kit Diagram

Older Tacoma owners (95′ – 04.5′) can also use new shackles to gain suspension lift. This is a commonly accepted lift method that doesn’t change the existing spring stiffness, and provided the new shackles aren’t too long (2″ or less), you may be able to get away with using OEM shocks. Still, new leaf packs are the first choice.

The Best Lift Kit Is…

In a perfect world, every 05+ Tacoma owner would choose new coilovers to gain about 1.5″ of lift because:

  • 1.5″ is enough to install a solid tire upgrade – nothing massive mind you, but definitely capable (learn more about tire sizes for lifted Tacomas)
  • Going with such a small amount of lift keeps most of the factory suspension geometry – your suspension will perform as it was designed to, yet your upgraded components will give you excellent performance
  • The handling and ride will not degrade – in fact, both handling and ride may improve if you purchase some new shocks to go along with your new coilover kit.
  • Mostly stock vehicles with only mild lifts complete the Baja 1000 every year…your Tacoma (most trucks, in fact) is quite capable in the stock configuration.

However, a lot of people aren’t satisfied with 1.5″ of lift. While some of these people are looking for better off-road performance (improved clearance, bigger tires), a lot of these people just want to go BIG. Whatever you buy, the most important thing is to match your intended use with your lift kit. Buying a spacer lift and then jumping your truck off sand dunes is going to cost you a lot of money, but buying a set of coilovers for your strictly pavement truck is a waste of money too.

Likewise, investing in all the finest lift kit components designed for racing is going to turn your mild-mannered pickup into a truck that rides so rough you’ll hate every pothole.

Like most things in life, there are a lot of arguments about the ‘best’ option…Read what you can, ask lots of questions, and take your time before buying.

Lift Kits and Your Factory Warranty

Many truck owners are understandably concerned about how a leveling kit or lift kit will effect their warranty. There are two answers to this question:

1. The law protects vehicle owners. The Magnusson-Moss act makes it illegal for an auto manufacturer or auto dealer to void a warranty just because a vehicle has been modified. The only way that a vehicle warranty can be effected is if the lift or leveling kit is the direct cause of a failure.

2. Some dealers are “cooler” about lift kits than others. Some Toyota dealers view themselves as the keepers of the sacred warranty flame, and they refuse to warranty anything unless a customer yells and screams. Other dealers, wise to the ways of the world, embrace owners who install lift kits and even install after-market lift kits themselves. If you can do your new vehicle service work at a dealer who sells brand-new lifted trucks, you’ll probably never have a warranty argument about your lift kit.

Resource: Learn more about your legal protections warranty rights.

Driveline Vibrations

Often times when Tacoma owners install a new lift kit that’s 3″ or greater in size, they find that their truck has some sort of vibration that it didn’t have before. This is because the geometry of the driveline has been changed. There are three common solutions to these problems described in detail in the following articles:

On popular forums, some Tacoma owners will guarantee that one of the items above will solve your vibration problem. But unless they’re running the same setup or they’ve gotten under your truck and taken a look at your specific geometry, they’re only guessing. The experts we’ve talked to – Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts and KLM Performance – say that every truck is a little different. So, you should try one solution at a time and/or you should work with a 4×4 shop to get a professional opinion.

It’s also worth noting that often times new wheels and tires are installed alongside a new lift kit. A poorly balanced wheel can mimic a driveline vibration, so it’s a good idea to verify wheel balance when diagnosing this problem.

Other Sources of Information


  • installed a 3″ leveling kit on 2009 tacoma now have a vibration at 20-30 mph. cannot find problem. know of any solutions?

    • Jason

      Chris – I would start with a wheel balance. Sometimes after-market tires and wheels are hard to balance…it could also be a wheel bearing, but I think that’s the less likely possibility.

      • Ben

        Nothing with the wheels had changed so why suspect the balance? It is more than likely the drive line angle. There are a few solutions; a carrier bearing drop or axle shims. Both of which are relatively cheap and easy to install in the driveway.

        • Jason

          Ben – Chris didn’t specify that the wheels were changed. As I’m sure you know, often times wheel and lift upgrades occur simultaneously. As I said, after-market wheels don’t always balance well.

          Your suggestions are good – thank you for commenting. Please be sure to keep everyone posted on TacomaWorld! 🙂

          • Ryan

            Order a 1 1/2 blck for the rear for a 96 f-150. trust me. take your add-a-leaf out or block or howver it is currantly lifted in the rear. throw the 96 f150 block in there and it corrects the driveline angle (problem of vibration)

    • what lift kit can i use without having vibration

      • Tim Esterdahl

        Not really a good answer for this. All the lifts will alter the drive line angles and cause some more modifications to reduce or eliminate vibration issues.


  • Jason

    Ryan – Cool tip – thank you.

  • gabe

    just bought a 11′ tacoma and want to put a 3′ lift any suggestions before i purchase to keep a smooth ride?

    • Blair.

      Don’t put the in coil spacers (The ride is horrible)…My front end is way to stiff and those little drops in the pavement pewwwwww …..Aweful.!
      Go with the top off the strut spacers then the spring has the same tension as stock or close….

      • Jason

        Blair – Did you replace the front shocks after installing the in-coil spacer? I’ve found that will improve the ride quite a bit.

    • Scott

      Bilstien 5100 leveling struts at 2.5″ of lift with 285 75 16r tires

  • Jason

    gabe – Don’t have a suggestion for a specific kit, but I will point you to the section where we suggest a more modest 1.5″ lift. It’s big enough to increase tire size but not so big that suspension geometry is significantly effected. That means the ride will stay factory smooth. Otherwise, any quality kit will do.

    BTW: A ToyTec 3″ lift with a set of old man emu springs and new shocks all around rides pretty nice based on a vehicle I drove recently.

  • Naylor

    I have an 03 Yota 4wd and I ride dirt bikes and ATV’s a lot. I go to the desert and Glamis and the beach so I want to be able to go to theses places and tear it up a bit, what kind of lift should I get? I’ve been looking and researching for about 6 months and still cant decide. any advice or opinions?

    • Jason

      Naylor – It sounds like your truck is getting it done without a lift kit, so whatever you buy doesn’t have to big. The nicest setup I’ve seen is a new set of OME coilovers that offered a very modest front-end lift (only about 1.5″). The truck wasn’t much bigger, but the extra height allowed for a more aggressive tire and the trucks handling, suspension travel, etc. was all essentially stock. Great way to get more performance without sacrificing any ability.

      • Naylor

        Awesome so to get bigger tires (32″) under my truck a Coilover System would be the way to go? I’ve been looking at a “0-3.5″ Dirt Logic Coilover System w/ Dirt Logic Shocks” by Fabtech with a Total Chaos Diff Drop. What do you think?

        • Jason

          I think that coilover kit sounds awesome, but I must point out that there’s more than one way to accomplish your goal. I must also say that I don’t have any experience with that particular part.

          However, generally speaking, I like new coil-over kits much more than I do spacer kits.

          Also, a diff drop is a must if your kit has more than 1.5″ of lift.

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  • Adam

    I have a 2008 Tacoma 4×4 manual. I read in the owners manual that it came with an off road package and it has some kind oslift stock on the truck but it isnt much, i just dont know what it is. Im looking to maybe get some kind of bigger lift kit, should i change it out with another suspension lift or just add on to it?

    • Ben

      I would suggest replacing the lift all together. It’s not a good idea to combine lifts especially if you are unaware of how much the original lift adds with regards to height.

    • Jason

      Adam – That makes two of us. I don’t know about a ‘stock’ lift kit on any 2008 Tacos. If you aren’t sure about whether or not your truck has a lift, any mechanic can probably tell you.

      Also, Ben’s advice is correct: Don’t combine lift kits. Replace it (if you have one in the first place). 🙂

  • AL

    The Tacoma is a great truck to drive and to be driven in. I had one a few years back and it never broke down and was powerful with the uphill areas.

  • Nicholas

    Hey all. I want my 97 Taco 4×4 to ride as comfortable as possible while adding 1.5 to 2 inches of lift all around. My current factory leafs are actually inverted so I’m thinking that’s good place to start..

    I DO have a 2.5″ Daystar “comfort ride” in-coil spacer with shackles kit that I’m debating on installing, but am not sure about.. should I get new leafs for the back and just install the front in-coil spacer?..


  • Jason

    Nicholas – The more lift you add, the more you effect the ride. That, combined with the fact that Daystar lift kits aren’t really known for quality, leads me to recommend something else.

    Also, in terms of the rear, blocks will give you the best ride, and as long as you don’t do any serious off-roading, they’re a perfectly good choice.

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  • Chris

    This really well thought out, objective information. Thanks for providing this valuable resource. My only suggestion would be to re-think the diff drop thing. A cursory search of some of the Tacoma forums reveals that a diff drop can be detrimental to ground clearance and, under the right circumstances, can be catastrophically damaging to the diff, engine oil pan and other low lying drive train components. Granted, this may only be an issue for hard core off roaders, but still… Is it really worth all that potential damage just to save a CV boot?

    • Jason

      Chris – You bet – and thanks for the compliment! I have taken your suggestion about the diff-drop to heart and updated the article accordingly. Thank you, and feel free to make any other suggestions too. You’re welcome to email me direct too –

  • Dan

    I apologize if I missed something in the other replies, but does anyone have the in-coil spacers on a newer Tacoma? I can seem to find any. I want to combine the in-coil and the above coil spacers. Also, do the above coil spacers preload the springs and cause them to sag prematurely?

    • Jason

      Dan – First, most kits out there work for 1994-2011 Tacomas. For 2012, I don’t know of any kits on the market just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ToyTec had a 2012 kit ready to go right now.

      As for combining spacer kits, it’s a big no-no UNLESS you’re combining a body kit with a single suspension kit, i.e. a 3″ in-coil kit plus a 3″ body lift kit is OK and gets you 6″ of lift. Of course, when it’s all said and done, it’s not the easiest way to get 6″ of lift.

      To your last question, spacer kits don’t preload springs. They just reduce spring travel. As to sag, spring manufacturers swear up and down that it’s impossible for springs to sag. While I doubt this claim somewhat, I do not believe a coil spacer kit will have any negative long-term impact on your coils. It’s the ride and CV joints that will be effected.

  • Dan

    Thanks Jason. I appreciate the feedback. I have all kinds of questions and I’ll understand if you don’t have time to address them. If I go with a 3″ above coil kit, what about front brake lines, do they need to be longer? The rubber boots on the ball joints and tie rod ends tend to degrade faster from the extreme angles from the lift. Have you ever heard of anyone installing polyurethane replacement boots? (dumb question, I know) With the lift and the differential drop, does the front drive shaft need to be lengthened? Won’t the bump stops prevent the front suspension components from being damaged when the suspension is fully extended? Thanks again.

    • Jason

      Dan – In order…

      1. No – the brake lines are long enough to accomodate factory travel, and since all the above or in coil kits just reposition your truck at a different point in the range of factory travel, the lines are plenty long enough. If you go with a 6″ lift, however…
      2. No, it’s never come up. I don’t think it’s a dumb question, however. Hopefully someone smarter than me is reading and can weigh in. 🙂
      3. No, for the same reason that the brake lines don’t need to be lengthened on an above or in-coil kit. However, when you go bigger, a lot of guys put Tundra axles shafts in their Tacos.
      4. Usually, but bump stops aren’t enough in the truck really hits hard. The argument is that the factory suspension has enough travel to protect the truck, and if you start monkeying with it, you lose protection. However, in the “real” world where most truck owners don’t ever push their trucks to the limit (and I count myself among the group that doesn’t go too far), it’s a non-issue.

      Keep firing! I like to help. 🙂

      • Dan

        Great information. Thanks again Jason. OK, I’ll fire off a few more questions.I’ve decided to try a coil over kit that keeps the factory A-arms. Is there anything else I need to take into consideration for reliability? For the rear axle, I plan on just using 2″ lift blocks. Does the rear drive shaft need to be lengthened? Will the e-brake cable need to be lengthened? And will shock extensions work the same way extended shocks would?


        • Jason

          Dan – The coil-over kits are the best outside of a big time long-travel kit or SAS. As for the rear, the reliability of block isn’t too high. They increase axle wrap off-road and can result in broken leaf springs. If you have the budget, I’d recommend a new set of rear leafs or at least a set of helper springs. As for shock extensions, I’d recommend new shocks instead. Finally, there’s enough slack in the e-brake cable that you should be just fine.

          • Dan

            Thanks Jason. If I go with the Toytech coil-over ultimate lift kit for the newer Tacomas, how well will the stock upper control arms work with the kit? Will the stock ball joints be at an extreme angle? or will I also need to buy different control arms?

          • Jason

            Dan – The stock upper a-arms are fine, and since it includes the diff drop kit, the ball joint angles will be within an acceptable range.

            To be honest, there’s quite a bit of debate about the long-term impact of a lift kit on stock ball joints, with some saying that these kits prematurely wear out ball joints no matter what you do and others saying that there’s no scientific proof to support this assertion (just a bunch of anecdotes). I would say that, so long as you know about the possibility, it’s not much to get concerned about.

            Nice kit, btw. I’m sure you’ll love it.

      • blue7

        The brakes on the Tacoma are used for different purposes. I think that the truck has enough suspension to last for a long time. I would suggest that you send the truck in and have somebody repair it before it is too late. This is what I would do because it helps people get a better understanding of what is working on the car and what is not working on the car.

  • christian timo

    Wassup, first time on this site. I have a 98 tacoma 4×4 that i want to put a 3″ lift [and possibly a 1-2″ bodylift] but also want it to be able to be good for off-roading and some rock climbing (not to extreme). Im aware of the solid axle swap, but do you guys think the 3″ lift will be good? i dont offoroad or rock climb too often. mostly just mess around and take my truck wherever i can thats not turf, and up to the snow.

    • Jason

      Christian – For most people most of the time, the 3″ coil-type lift kit is going to be good enough. If you get really aggressive off-road – or if you bang the suspension quite a bit – the coil-type kits will result in a lot of wear and tear and prematurely break down your truck’s suspension. The coil lifts are OK for most users though, especially considering that very few of us are banging around on Jeep trails.

  • coy

    I have a 2009 offroad package. 33″ tires with i believe 4 inch life. heavy bumper in front and my tires are destroying my frame when i turn. do to the fact i blew my left shock.. i think thats the probalem. I need some ideas to fixing this problem. add 2 inch life. stronger offroad suspension?? any ideas and help would be great thanks.

    • Jason

      coy – Lots of different possibilities, but my best guess is that you probably want to take it a little easier on your pickup. Definitely want to get it looked at by a shop too.

  • joe

    I have a 2010 tacoma and im getting the warn trans4mer.I know that puts some weight on the front end. I want my front and rear to be leveled. Any suggetions?

    • Jason

      Joe – New front springs from OME would help reduce the “droop” you might see when you add a heavy winch and/or steel bumper to the front of your Tacoma. Just make sure the new springs are stiffer (heavier in terms of spring rate).

  • Steve

    Jason, Excellent article, great information! I have a 99′ 4×4. I’ll admit, it’s snow and mud, no rock climbing, and I would never “need” additional clearance. However, I like the look, and don’t want a body lift. What I don’t want is any deterioration in handling, I drive it like a sports car. Your suggestion?

    • Jason

      Steve – Thank you very much. My suggestion would be either a small spacer leveling kit (I think 1.5″ would allow you to run 33’s, which look great) OR a small body lift, which will give you the same ability but have a bit less impact on suspension.

  • Jon

    Hi Jason,

    I have a 09′ Tacoma and the stock suspension seems to be getting weaker so I thought I would replace it. I’m wanting to do just a small lift (1.5″) and also upgraded wheel and tire package for a better look. I don’t take the truck off road often as it is used mainly for a daily driver, but when I take my quad out I usually have to go somewhere off the path.. Do you have a suggestion for a simple lift kit that includes everything I need?


    • Jason

      Jon – I’m not sure that a small lift or leveling kit will strengthen your suspension…I’m thinking that you might need shocks or something. Not sure what you mean when you say it seems to be getting weaker.

      For a simple lift kit, I recommend ToyTec, Low Range Off Road, and/or Bilstein 5100 adjustable shocks. None of these are going to increase suspension travel, but they’re definitely going to eliminate the rake and allow you to wear some bigger tires.

    • Joshua

      Jason i have a 09 DC Sport LB and i feel the same way. Mine just isnt as comfortable anymore and its only got 68k miles. My dealer says its normal but i miss the ride it had. Do shocks go out after 68k?

  • Jess

    I just bought a 2009 tacoma and wanted to lift it and as meand my friend were looking at the leaf springs I realized my lead springs are under the axel and that I need a spring over axel kit to lift the rear end. Do you have any suggestions on where to look for one or if this is the best way to lift the rear?

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  • matt

    Hey y’all. Very good thread here. I have a 2012 Tacoma and I’m gona put a simple rough country 3inch lift. I know I can run a32″ tire fine with that but if I’m not banging my truck around and always road driving do u think I can fit 33mud grapplers? I just love the look of them and that good Ol loud hum lol. Any help will be appreciated. I don’t wana cut or trim anything, I already took the mud flaps off

  • riley

    I am wanting to level my 07 taco and am looking at a 2.5in daystar poly spacer kit. Wondering if i may also need to raise the rear? Also, how much extra wear on the cv boots can i expect? Are there any other leveling kits u would recommend?

    • Jason

      riley – No one can predict CV wear accurately, it’s just going to depend on how you use the truck. As for raising the rear, I think a 2.5″ front-end lift will require a 1″ rear lift to make things look right, but it varies from truck to truck. Finally, as far as Daystar poly kits are concerned, I’m not a fan – I’ve seen more than a few photos of the polyurethane spacers being destroyed with heavy use. Considering a kit from ToyTec or Low Range Off-Road is about the same amount of money, I’d go with one of them (only there are plenty of other companies that make these kits out of steel or machined aluminium).

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  • jesse hollowell

    hey i have a 1999toyota tacoma with a rev tek in coil spacer lift im not sure if its a levelling kit or what my friend say its levelling but i dont know it has blocks in rear i want to fit 33 12.5 tires comfortably under my truck i currently have 32 11.5 and they are close to rubbing and i wont do a body lift any suggestions?

    • Jason

      jesse – A 2″ lift kit should give you enough to fit 33″ tall tires, but 12.5″ wide tires are a completely different matter. That width won’t fit on a lot of trucks without heavy modification. As to what you have now, it sounds like you need to get under the truck or find someone to look at it for you.

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  • Bob

    Hi All,

    I have a 1999 Tacoma Ext Cab, 2.7 4 Cyl. 4X4 5-Speed Manual, I use as a work truck, and I am Constantly over loading, and I Broke the Leaf springs on Both sides. so I went to the local spring shop & they gave me the 3 options
    1) add a Leaf,
    2) replace with SO Leaf Spring Pack(SO– I think means the one recomended for the Truck by the MFR) leaf Spring Pack,
    3) Get New Heavier Duty leaf spring Pack ( which Had Thicker Leaf Springs) and this is the one I Chose, because I wanted to be able to haul Heaver Loads, and I replaced the shocks at the same time with the SO-Monroe Sensa Track Shocks(37114 R & L) and now my Truck is way up in the back at the top of the Bumper at 32-inches above the Ground and at the Bottom of the Bumper at about 26-inches above the ground. the Cost was $700 installed, Including all the above stated work. I provided the Shocks, which were ment for the normal SO-Leaf Spring Pack.
    I guess my 1ST) Questions is:
    Now the rear of my Truck is way up in the back, at the top of the Bumper it is, 32-inches above the Ground and at the Bottom of the Bumper at about 26-inches above the ground.
    is this Bumper Hight Street Leagal. I Know once I put a Heavy Load in the bed it will come down to normal but I was wondering.
    2nd) Question is two Parts:
    2a) I Measured from the top of the tire to the Bottom of the Wheel well in the Rear and it was 10-Inches and in the front it was 7-Inches so,,,is this considered a 3-Inch lift in the Rear.
    2b) And if so I was thinking of Lifting the Front of the truck Aproximatly the same or 2 1/2-inches in the front so it doesn’t look so Jacked up in the Rear of the truck. I just wanted to raise the front of the truck to level it out with the back of the truck, but carring heavy loads I need the lift kit to be strong enough up front and it seems that the ( Combo Spacer Kit ) is the most optimal for my situation, regarding Price & function and I’m in the $200 to $350 dollar Range for the Kit. Of course that was before I read here about Suspention Geometry & Travle , CV joint Angle now I don’t know what to think??? I was Thinking of the Rancho,,,PS, is the Rancho any Good.
    Thoughs’ were the easy Questions.

    I was talking to the Mechcanic at Pep Boys that was doing an Allinement on my Tacoma after putting on inner tie-rod ends later that same Day that I had the New HD Leaf Spring Pack installed and he said that The Shock that I had just replaced earler that day at the Spring Shop were not log enough and where not the proper lengh for the new Springs ( This is My Fault,,But I have No Clue about any of this stuff) and were Extended way past their Travel Range( You can see the piston shaft about an inch above the the Bottom of the Shock Piston Housing) and they Should Be replaced and the Mechanic said That the suspention Geometry & travle seemed off & the CV joint angle seemed out of wack & he said thats why it feels like it was Bouncing a little while Driving, I thought It was Because of the new Beefed Up Springs in the Rear, but now after Reading all the Pros & cons about raising the Front End of the truck I don’t Know if its worth it, it Just my work truck.
    Question 3)
    Does raising the front end 2 1/2-inches with a ( Combo Spacer Kit )requier a differential drop kit to get the CV joint Angel back to and/or as close to stock as posible ?and is any other work required to get the front end suspention back to stock to compensate for the Suspention Geometry & Travle. And who do you go to, to find out if the angle of the CV is to steep and/or what it is going to take to get the CV joint angle back to stock or close enough. the Kit MFR?
    Thanks For Your help

  • Jason


    1. Not sure if the bumper will come down when you put a load in. It seems likely, but I don’t know how much the springs can hold, and that will determine how much they compress.

    2a and 2b. My advice is to see what happens under load before doing any lift. If you’re always hauling stuff around, you don’t want the front of the truck to be higher than the back during those heavy use times.

    I also don’t think that the spacer kits are “strong” so much as they are cheap. They don’t weaken your truck substantially, but they definitely don’t strengthen it. If you’re hauling enough weight to break leaf springs, I don’t think a lift kit is a good idea.

    3. You’re not required to get a diff drop kit, but it’s a good idea. You might also look at shims, carrier bearing drop kits, and after-market drive shafts if your lift results in a vibration:

  • Bob

    HI Jason,
    Thank you for your Reply, it was Very Helpful.
    1) I didn’t know that lifting the rear of the truck with a new HD leaf spring pack would change the geometry of the drive train befoe I did it. So I was wondering if their is away to find out what the factor Specs. are. that way I would know what to do to get the Drive Train back to factory specs?
    2)And would the back of my my truck be considered a three inch lift in the rear?
    Thanks Again

    • Jason

      Bob – Unfortunately, the only way to get the driveline back to normal is to play with a few different solutions until you find one that works…that’s straight from the experts we interviewed.

      As for #2, I don’t think it’s a full three inches, mostly because the rear end of a brand new truck is about an inch higher than the front…and on some trucks it can be as much as 2 inches. You can try a smaller leveling kit (1.5″) and see what happens, but like I said if you’re hauling all the time it might make sense to load it up first.

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  • Riley

    Jason, I am planning on intalling 1in rear lift blocks to my 07 tacoma. Will i need new shocks and what downfalls can I expect by doing this type of lift?

    • Jason

      Riley – 1″ blocks aren’t too big, so unless you’re doing some major rock crawling (and I can’t imagine you’d do that in a mostly stock truck), I’d say you’ll have no issues. As the article says, the biggest problem with blocks is that they increase axle wrap.

      As for shocks, I like the idea of upgrading shocks on every truck on the road, as the OEM shocks are usually pretty bad. However, you don’t *NEED* to do shocks if you’re only adding an inch in the back.


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  • steve

    whats the best way for a 3″ lift?

    • Jason

      steve – Like it says in the article, the best way to go is a 1.5″ lift via a small spacer kit or — even better — a new coil kit. If you’ve got to go with 3″, there are a lot of options and a lot of opinions. Mine is to go with 1.5″. 🙂

  • Adamm bar

    Biggest tire size for an 09 tacoma with a 2.5 in leveling kit

  • john

    2009 tacoma reg. cab 2.7, anyone know of 1.5″-2.0″ lfted coils that will work with adjustable bilstien 5100’s don’t want to preload springs if i can avoid it

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    • john


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  • Marc

    I guys,

    i’m a new owner of a 2009 tacoma crewcab and i want to ride it with a set of 33×10.5-16 tire. Have you any suggestion for a good suspension lift kit ?

    -lift in inch
    – type of suspension lift kit : above coil, in coil etc…

    I read the nice guide but i don’t want to make the bad choice and spend money for nothing and loosing ride quality…

    I just want some advise. Thx you !

    And sorry for my bad english…

  • Colt

    I just traded my old Jeep for a 12 taco, used to work at 4WD, so used to most lifts on Jeeps, wanting to know whats a few good lifts to run 33’s on while not killing the wallet. Body lift and slavers fortay, looking straight suspension. ~Thanks

  • Jedidiah

    I am buying an ’06 Tacoma and I would like to put a 3in on it but I have no idea what to put on it. I’m not gonna go off-roading a lot and when I do it won’t be intense. I just want it to look a bigger. Any suggestions?

    • Tim Esterdahl


      By a Tundra instead? LOL. A 3in lift would make it seem bigger without going overboard.


  • Matt

    07 taco dbl cab 2wd. Was thinking of putting a 3in spacer in the front and 2in nylon blocks in the back. I’ve heard mixed things about the nylon blocks. This is my daily driver ( every once in a while i’ll take on a hill/ speedbumps). Now… would that lift and level my truck or would i have the “palatka lean” going on? I think i’m set on getting a spacer lift and really want the 2in blocks in the back, what would be best for the front? Thanks!

  • geo craig

    I have a 09 Tacoma with 9″ wide rims, with a 4.5 back spacing, I have a 3″ leveling kit, I would like to put 305-70-16 how much more lift do I need?

  • Josh

    I have a 2013 Tacoma TRD OR and would like to lift it 3inches.
    The dilemma I’m having is choosing a suspension lift. And what brand.

    I am interested in adding 32inch tires. I also love the ride quality so I don’t wan to loose the ride. I am also undecided between a block or leaf? Whats better? To narrow down my question I’m basically interested in a nice lift that will keep same ride quality. I’ve also heard of the 5100s. Came across this site and figured I’d ask for some advice!

  • Ed

    Hi y’all
    I’ve got an ’01 yota v6 standard trans and I’m lookin to make it look more aggressive. I’m set on getting a new leaf pack for the rear with new shocks and adjustable bilstien 5100s for the front with a new coil. This should get me a 2-2.5″ lift. My question is would it be a good idea to put additional spacers for the front and shackles for the rear to achieve 3-4″ of lift. Or would it be better to just add a 1-2″ body lift. I’m planning on keeping the truck, so I want to lift the truck with as little to no extra strain on the driveline. Also I’m using it mostly for street driving, towing stuff occasionally and very little off roading. Comments? Suggestions?

  • Sylvain

    Just need a little bit of recommendation for Taco user out there.

    I have a 2012 TRD Tacoma Crew cab, no leveling kit. Tire size is 265/65R17.

    I want to upgrade to 285/70R17 Toyo OC M/T.

    I do need a lift kit, right? But what do guys recommnend for a lift, not too expensive and still great road handling. Just need a little bit extra clearance so I don’t plow the road with the skid plate at work.



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  • MoE

    Hey, i have a 2008 tacoma trd off road 4×4 sr5 and i have installed a Rough Country 3 Inch levelling kit installed and i have a shimmy in the wheel….ive gotten it alligned twice and all tires ballanced 3 tires and yet i still have a shimmey can anybody help me…

  • Chris

    Looking to upgrade my 96 Tacoma. It currently has old fabtech 3″ coilovers on the front and add a leaf in the back. Truck is old and rides rough. I’m original owner and want to re-do the lift for a better ride. Im on 33 12.50 15’s BFG AT’s. Any recommendations? My buddy and I are gonna do the install. Im thinking about going a little higher.

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  • Ray Doc

    HELP! I have a 08 taco 6cyl stick 4×4 4door 5 ft bed and I broke a leaf spring. I want to lift the truck 3’and get more towing capacity when needed and eventually get bigger tires. so, just new leaf packs? shocks also? air ride? can i do back now and front in future? I only ride snow and beach sand, nothing rough. I can build a house from scratch, but dont know where to start w my truck! any guidance from you pros would be appreciated, thanks RayDoc

  • Steve c

    Hey I wanna do a 3″ lift, and was wondering what the best lift is for that and what’s the biggest tire I can get with full range of steering?i have a 2006 4 door 2wd with 18″ rims.

  • Erin

    Would these lifts work at all for Jeep Cherokees?!

    • Tim Esterdahl

      I would guess maybe. Probably best to check with a Jeep Cherokee off-road specialist.


  • Adamm Barc

    what 16×8 after market wheels will clear the brake calipers on my second generation tacoma? It is a 2009 4 door, 4×4

  • Zach P

    I have a 2000 toyota tacoma, 4WD, i want to get a lift for it. Ive done some looking around, i may get some spacers for the front shocks and then a block for the rear. all together 3 inches of lift! Any suggestions of anything better???

  • Marcus

    You all seem to be well educateed and experienced with tacoma lift kits so please in form me. i have purchased a rough country 3″ above coil spacer lift for my 2010 tacoma and right now i have a 1.5″ leveling kit on it, and my Upper Control arm is nearly rubbing my tire. will this be an issue if i install the 3″ lift.

    • Tim Esterdahl

      It will likely help during normal driving to go from a 1.5″ to a 3″, but your tires could contact the UCA at full droop or full compression.

      Still, unless you’re running 37″ tires, you should be OK. Lots of guys run 33’s or 35’s without a problem.


  • Junior

    This article is amazing! I have learned so much. although people are very knowledgeable, no ones seems to say much about the 2013 models. I am new to the truck world and very excited to learn. I recently purchased a 2013 Tacoma trd sport and want to do a 3″ lift. don’t do much off-roading other than the occasional camping trip. don’t want to spend on something I will never use. Just looks, really. My biggest concern is liability and ride comfort. I was thinking of doing top mounted spacers with a block on the rear because apparently the stock suspension that is on the sport is decent as is. am I making the right decision? any help is greatly appreciated. thanks!

    • Tim Esterdahl


      Not sure what you mean by liability, however, ride comfort will be impacted by anything you do. You are just going to have a bumper ride no matter what you do. There are different shocks and items you can try to negate the poor ride issue, yet it is just always going to be a part of truck. A lift kit really changes the dynamics of the truck and thus will always cause a ride issue.


      • Junior

        Thanks for your input Tim. I actually meant how reliable will the modifications be.. as in, if I modify the ride height will other components wear out significantly faster like joints etc. As far as lifting it for looks (bet a lot of truck dudes hate me for being a poser hehe) do you think top mounted spacers with blocks on the rear is a good choice? I was looking at revtek’s leveling kit. Or is there one that you recommend?

        • Jason

          Junior – There’s a lot of debate about the long-term effect of lift kits on CV joints, but if you a) go with a 2″ lift or b) invest in a differential drop kit (which is really affordable), the angles will be within tech specs.

          Additionally, to improve the ride you can replace the OEM shocks with a shock designed for trucks with a slight lift. To be honest, almost any quality after-market shock is better than an OEM shock (OEM shocks are cheap), so that’s probably a good upgrade to make with a lift or without one.

          Still, you don’t have to do it all at once…a lift kit this year, new shocks next year, etc.

          To sum up: Don’t worry about the ride or wear-and-tear. If you use your vehicle in a “normal” manner, which is to say light off-roading, occasional hauling and towing, you’ll be fine.

          • Junior

            Sweet, thanks Jason! I appreciate you sharing that sweet knowledge. I feel much more confident in the direction I am going. It’s like my old man always told me.. “there is no such thing as a difficult decision, it is simply not having enough information” and you and Tim have proved him right.

          • Jason

            Thank you for your kind words.

  • Will

    Hi I have a ’10 Tacoma trd sport and looking to get a BDS 4″ lift… BDS is a top of the line brand with life time guarantee… but I’m hearing thru the grapevine that lifts kill your major components via tie rods and ball joints etc… I have read above and understand there is no real proven evidence of damage from lift kits… i want to believe if you get a premium kit there wouldn’t be any worries but I I’ll have to see… any suggestions on tire size that would look great, this is my every day ride so i’m not looking to go too crazy…

  • Cory

    So after reading this, I really just want a slight tire size upgrade, a 1.5″ lift seems fine with me. any suggestions on a 1.5″ lift kit? Do i need both front and back? and what would you guys consider a “quality” kit? Really informative site btw, thanks for it.

    • Cory

      For a 2012 Tacoma

    • Jason

      Cory – OME (Old Man Emu) offers a complete 2″ lift kit for the 05+ Tacoma that’s awesome. Includes new springs and shocks all the way around ($1200 or so). However, if that’s not in the budget, ToyTec has a reasonably affordable front coil-over kit that’s height adjustable for half that price.

      Of course, there’s also just a ToyTec or Low Range Off Road spacer kit. $150 (or less ) for just enough lift to level out the truck and mount some bigger tires. You’ll get better performance without mucking up the factory suspension too much.

  • Elvis

    hello all, i just got a toyota tacoma 2008 with double cabin. i notice that my tacoma is higher that other tacomas i see around. any suggestions on how i can reduce its ground clearance without any side effects?

    • Tim Esterdahl


      The easiest way is to buy smaller tires. You might also take it to a dealer and see if a lift kit has been installed. Unfortunately, once a lift kit is installed, you can’t go back stock.


  • Ron Geur

    Re the statement above, “In a perfect world, every 05+ Tacoma owner would choose new coilovers to gain about 1.5″ of lift”, I’m assuming that this perfect world recommendation also includes a new leaf spring pack, correct?

    • Jason Lancaster

      Ron – Not necessarily. 1.5″ of lift is enough to get a new set of tires on the front end and level out the truck. If you’re doing some serious off-roading, than a new leaf pack is a great idea…but if you’re trying to create a truck that needs to both be capable off-road AND be comfortable to drive day-to-day, a new leaf pack might move you in the wrong direction.

      Basically, it depends…new leaf packs can be awesome, but a lot of the options on the market make your truck ride like a milk wagon.

      • Ron Geur

        Jason, thanks for your response. My understanding was that if I put new shocks on the front as part of the coilover kit that I should replace the rears with the same brand? If true I guess that I could do that without adding a new leaf pack?

        • Jason Lancaster

          Right – You don’t necessarily need a new leaf pack, but new shocks are never a bad idea. The OEM shocks are generally very cheap on most vehicles.

          What kind of coilover setup did you go with?

  • Ron Geur

    Thinking about the Icon stage 1 kit for now, any comments? I know that you recommended the Old Man Emu setup but I can’t find a local dealer. Since I’m going with a dealer install, I wanted to have easy access for warranty issues if necessary.

    BTW, your Ultimate Guide above is truly that, the most lucid review of the topic I have come across. Thanks again for posting.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Thanks! I spent days on this guide, and a pretty penny on the illustrations too…I’m always grateful when I hear that work was appreciated! 🙂

      I’ve got no problems with Icon’s kits…they make excellent stuff.

  • Brian

    Just bought a 2013 4WD Base Taco and want to lift. I’m new to this thing and all of this info has given me a confusing headache. I am not an off roader, but would love to have a more aggressive stance. Some mechanics try to sell me on leveling kits w/rear blocks, while others try to sell me on the full lift kits. Please help. I don’t need a huge lift, but something moderate that will stand out against other stock Taco trucks. Please also tell me what tire size I could move up to; again, nothing huge, simply aggressive.

  • Brian

    Oh yeah, please also let me know if I will need the diff drop or new control arms. If I need new control arms, than this mod will not happen. Too expensive.

  • Ryan

    Hey Guys, I’m new to the taco game and recently purchased a 2012 4×4 taco and I would like to add a lift for the purpose of making it look a little tougher and adding slightly larger off-road tires. I’ve read tons of these forums and based on my budget and my needs I believe replacing my shocks with 4 bilstein 5100s is the best bet…? I’m not interested in anything over 3 inches because I want to avoid any problems or additional work/parts that are required for anything over 3in. I’m a little confused though, will just the shocks increase my height if adjusted, or will I need additional parts? I’m new to this and I found a local guy who will install it but I have to supply the kit/parts. Just looking for a little clarification and/or advice. Thanks Guys!

  • Ryan

    Hey man sounds like I am in the exact same boat as you except I have a 2012, if you hear anything back let me know! Thanks man

  • Adam

    Yup, that’s all you need

    You don’t even need the bilsteins in the rear to add lift
    You can even use your stock coils for the new 5100s
    I have the same things and love
    Even threw on 285s without major trimming=

  • RYan

    So if I put them on the front at it highest setting won’t the back then sit slightly lower? Forgive my ignorance, I am less than novice.

  • Adam

    no worries man! and yes it will

    bilstein 5100s in the rear do not give any lift, they are just a better and stonger shock to have vs the stock ones
    So do you need to replace them? Not really but its always a good idea.
    if you set the bilsteins to the highest setting, you will receive 2.5 inches of lift (making the font end sit up a little higher than the back)
    to get 33 inch tires on your tacoma, you need at least 2.5 inches of lift
    so you can go to the highest notch if you want bigger tires and accept the little lean you will have or you can buy a block for the rear to lift the rear an inch up, making the truck level

    if you do not care about bigger tires, go to the third highest level up on the strut and you will have a perfectly level truck with stock tires
    i am running the bilsteins at 2.5 without a block and kinda like the lean
    i also have 33 inch tires and only did minor trimming

  • Rob

    Bought a 2013 2WD Tacoma TRD last year. While I was at the Toyota dealership getting a routine oil change and tire rotation, I decided to buy a Front 3″/Rear 1.5″ lift kit that will be installed by the dealer. Will the difference in inches front to back make my truck look uneven (bed heavy)?


  • Rob

    Sorry forgot, it’s an above coil kit.

  • James


    I have a 2013 Tacoma…Putting an OME 3″ full suspension lift kit on…Want to put Dick Cepek Gun Metal 7 wheels and T/A KO 285/70/17 tires on….My question is about the wheel size and offset…Was thinking of 0 offset and 5″ backspace with 17×9″ wheel…I don’t want the wheel/tire sticking out far….Does this sound like the correct wheel/tire size??? Hope I made sense to you….Thank you for your thoughts…

  • Joe

    hi… I’ve got ’98 Tacoma w/ a 6″ lift kit (don’t know the brand) …it has two shocks on each side…(front) … one inside a coil spring… the other looks like a shock, but mounts with a plate and bolts (top and bottom) … I need to replace that part…
    what is that shock like part called? Can’t find anything online that looks like it….
    any help would be much appreciated…….. thanks … joe

  • Adam

    its called a strut

  • Justin

    I’m looking to get a Tacoma as my first truck. Is it worth upgrading to the TRD off-road model if I am just gonna lift the truck .


  • Blair

    I have sway away coilovers..

  • robert

    It may be too late to ask this question considering the article was written in ’11 but I’ve got a problem.
    I put an OME kit with coil overs, leaf packs and add a leaf’s onto my ’02 tacoma. This work’s great really but I’ve got some serious rake. The front suspension is lifted about 1.5-2″ and the rear more like 3-4″ so I’ve got a serious rake. On top of that the front seems to be MUCH less stiff than the rear even though i bought ‘nitro-chargers’ and “heavy-duty” springs for each. So, i need to raise the front 1.5-2″ and increase stiffness. Everything in the article seems to say that in this situation I’d be best to go with say a 1.5″ in-coil spacer kit BUT combined with a diff drop? I’m a bit confused. it seems I’d get the stiffness I want combined with the added height out front but I would be combining two lift kits and reducing the effectiveness / engineered design of my Old Man Emu Kit.
    I’m at a loss.. am I missing something? What would you suggest?

    • Jason Lancaster

      Robert – Combining lift kits is rarely a good idea (depends), but combining a diff drop kit is never a problem. In fact, diff drops are frequently combined with spacer kits.

      However, what if you pulled the add-a-leafs off the rear? That levels you out, and I don’t think it hurts your ground clearance at all to do so. The differential is still going to be the lowest part of yoru truck.

  • Gordon Williams

    Hi Jason,

    I just purchased a 2014 Tacoma Sport 4WD. I came from an 05 Wrangler Rubicon with a 4″ Teraflex lift with 35’s. I want to keep the Tacoma suspension as stock as possible with a minor wheel tire upgrade. I guessing a leveling kit is all I need. I thought 5100’s would be the answer but I seeing some problems of late. What are your suggestions? Cost is just a minor issue.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Gordon – I haven’t heard about 5100 problems…looking around the web right now for some consensus, I’m not finding any specific issues.

      Are you referencing a particular problem with them?

  • Gordon Williams


    Someone just suggested King OEM replacements to get a 2″ bolt on lift.
    Your thoughts?

    Thank you.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Gordon – I like King brand products, but I haven’t checked these out.

  • Gordon

    Hi Jason,

    I can’t find the link any longer. It was several posts discussing the 5100’s breaking, all in the last 6 months.

  • Gordon

    I’ve decided to go with the King OEM’s. More expensive but the least invasive, improved ride quality, no warranty issues, 2″ of bolt on lift. I’ll probably have them installed at my first service and I’ll let you how they feel.
    Thank you

    • Tim Esterdahl

      Please, let us know!

    • Jason Lancaster

      Cool – looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • Scott

    I recently purchased a 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4 x 4 and am very new to all of this lift business. My work occasionally takes me into the rough country however 90%+ of the driving is on the freeway. I do need some lift for that backcountry rough road. I was thinking about a toytech coil-over 3 inch lift kit with a full set of rear springs and new shocks. What shock should I use?. Do you think this would be the best application for my truck? Is 3″ too much? Reliability and ride are a major consideration.
    Thanks, Scott

  • Joshua

    I have been considering the king oems. Do you have a 4×4 or prerunner and how is the ride? I have a prerunner and dont want more than 1″ of lift.

  • Gordon

    I haven’t gotten them yet. I spoke to the Toyota dealer and King shocks directly (they are just a few miles from my home). The OEM’s are supposed to be better ride and 1-2 inches of leveling and just replace the current stock shocks. I have a 4×4 Sport. I will add them when I go in for service next month and post.

  • Mark Gross


    Thanks for all of the great information! I have kept my 2011 long bed TRD 6 cyl 4x in cabo for the last year. I brought it back to Las Vegas to upgrade slightly. I use it on bumpy Baja dirt roads and drive on some remote beaches. I would like a little extra clearance, retain a decent road ride best I can, and better traction in sand….
    What lift would you recomend- dont need to look BIG just want results. Price is not huge concern
    Thanks- Mark

  • Gordon Williams

    Got the King OffRoad standard OEM’s installed yesterday. Great leveling option! Bolt on, no modification, dealer installed with no warranty issues. The truck looks great and I can’t tell any difference from the stock ride, if anything it’s better. The only difference in the truck is when I’m in it I can tell I’m sitting higher. More expensive than 5100’s, but I’m quite happy!

    • Tim Esterdahl


      Great! Glad it works for you.


  • Danny Morrissey

    I own a 2004 Tacoma srs v6 xcab and was wondering how much it would cost to have a 4 inch lift added on to it.

  • Mitch


    Thank you for this article, as I was trying to determine what lift kit to get originally on my 2012 DBLB 4×4 TRD Sport. I decided to go with the 3″ ToyTec combo spacer lift due to my limited off-roading at this time (camping, and hauling a pop-up camper), and this article helped put my mind at ease after hearing horror stories about spacer lifts.

    My question is this, in probably 2 years, I will actually get a OME lift or ICON and get the entire kit, but for now, I have 40K miles on my shocks and struts, and I want to make sure I should not invest in some new shocks/struts, as I think I can wait until 80K when I get the other set up, but wanted an opinion on it.

    Thanks again for a great article!

  • Oldbilwaulke

    I have a 2010 Taco TRD 4×4. I talked to a guy who has done lots of work on his Taco similar to mine, and we came up with this build, but after reading this, do I really need all of this?? After reading this article (very informative) I would like some more opinions from professionals before I spend an arm and a leg!

    -OME 2005 + Tacoma heavy suspension. Kit includes two front springs, two struts (sport), rear leaf springs, rear shocks, u-bolts and drive shaft fit kit.
    -Light racing UCAs
    -(2) 1/4″ Top-Plate coil spacers
    (to achieve a full 2.5″ lift)
    -Carrier-Bearing Drop
    The OME lift comes with shims for the CB, but others have installed a CB-Drop if they experience bad driveline vibrations

    I really wanted to do this build, and needed the beefed up suspension b/c at first I wanted a new heavy duty front/back bumper. The more I think about it, this is my every day driver (not far from home to work), and I use it on my farm to get around hunting/fishing. After thinking about it, I dont think i need that build to suit myself and pocket book. ALL I want is my truck to look a little more aggressive then other tacos around, basically whatever it takes to up to a 285 tire size with a comfortable ride. After reading about the terrible ride and possible vibrations after a complete lift, is there another option out there I can go with to make 285s fit my truck and keep a comfortable ride? I dont want to sell myself short on what I do, so some professional help would be greatly appreciated!


  • David

    If I put the 3″ toytec lift on my 13 Tacoma trd 4wd can I run 33×10.50 with no problems

  • Jackson Robinson

    I want to put a 3 inch leveling kit in thr front of my 2004 tacoma prerunner and a 2 inch leveling kit in the back. Do. Have to worry about anything tearing up?

  • hey i was wondering if anybody knew what klind of truck rack that is in that one picture in this post. thanks.

  • Martin

    I put a 2 inch leveling kit on my 2012 Tacoma, what would be the biggest size tire I can get without it rubbing?

  • Brady Horton

    I just bought an 06 taco with 4.5 spindle lift with 4 in blocks in the back. I think I’m experiencing axel wrap but I’m not sure. the truck clunks from what sounds like the rear when i first start moving and when i brake. I really hear it when I’m accelerating or decelerating from 1st to 2nd gear of vice versa. My question is if this sounds like axel wrap? and also if it is, what kind of lift can i put in the back to replace the blocks and still get 3-4 inches of lift? i really don’t want a cali style truck. thanks so much

    • Tim Esterdahl


      Clunks heard/felt at low speeds are often u-joints and/or something to do with the driveshaft. We’d suggest looking in that direction…a truck with 4″ blocks in the back probably needs some re-jiggering of the driveline (which isn’t designed to accommodate a 4″ lift).