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    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma LED Light Bars & Other Lights

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma LED Light Bars & Other Lights

    When driving around town or on the highway at night, headlights will do just fine, but if you’re doing any kind of driving off-road at night, LED light bars are a must. They will illuminate far more and in multiple directions. They are easy to install, can be inexpensive, and the options for size, intensity, and installation location are almost endless. Here is your guide for Toyota Tacoma LED light bars.

    What are Light Bars Used for?

    In short, light bars are used for extra illumination. While high-beams can offer better light in darkness, light bars allow for a more customizable line of sight in the dark from the different size and mounting abilities. Light bars are mainly for off-road use and most are generally not allowed to be used on public roads. So keep that in mind when you think about getting one.

    Light Bar Sizes

    Like many off-road upgrades, there are different options depending on what you need. The two most common “sizes” are double or single bars. A single row, as it sounds, has one horizontal row of LEDs, while a double has two. They both light up what they are pointing at, but go about it differently.

    Single Row: For the most part, a single row light bar is going to have a more focused beam of light. Think in terms of a spot light. Generally this is best if you want to light up a longer distance.

    Double Row: A double row light bar is best for more of a floodlight. If you want to light up a large area, a double could be better. This is just a basic principle, but things could change depending on which LEDs you use, the length of the row, placement, and so on.

    Types of Light Bar Beams

    While the size portion above talked about what types of beams the number of rows generally produces, there are specific beams of light that you can look for: spot, flood, and combo. What you should get depends on where you plan on using them, and what you plan on using them for.

    Spot Beam: Spot beams focus a narrow beam of light in a specific area. These are best for distance and a specific line of sight. If you are faced with long open roads without much vegetation, this could be an option for you. On a road like that, you could be going at faster speeds then you would be if you were in the woods. You will want a beam of light that can see obstacles in the road far before you reach them.

    Flood Beam: Flood beams spread out light over a wider and taller surface area, but not as far as a spot beam. Something like this would be better in thicker vegetation where you need to see more around you, and light can’t travel that far of a distance in that type of an environment anyway (with all the trees). If you use the lights on your truck to light up a work sight or something along those lines, this could be a better option too.

    Combo Beam: What if need both? Enter the combo light. This has the narrow throw of the spot beam, with a wide spread of a flood beam. This is generally accomplished with two light sources in the same fixture. Keep in mind that some combos may not shoot as far as a standalone spot fixture, but they are very versatile. Can you switch between modes on combo lights? Some bars allow that function, and that could make them the best between all three worlds.

    Standard Light Bar Mounting Options

    There are different ways to mount your light bars. Each has a different advantage or disadvantage. For this section, let’s assume that you want them to point forward and illuminate what’s in front of your Tacoma.

    Bumper Mounts: Bumper mounts are a popular option. They do a great job at illuminating what is directly in front of you, including the immediate road. They have a more flush and streamline look over other options, especially with our Tacos. The lower grill is practically designed at allow a bar to fit snuggly in the bumper with little to no protrusions. One bigger downfall could be that they could get damaged or misaligned if you are doing some serious off-roading or rock crawling where the front of your truck is subject to scraping against the environment.

    Roof Mounts: Roof mounts offer good function and style. If you want that off-roading look as well as serious illumination power, roof mounts are the way to go. While you may not be able to see directly in front of your front tires with the bar on the roof, you get a good line of sight, depending on the beam (spot, flood, or combo) that you choose.

    Behind The Grille Mounts: If you want a more subtle option, you can look into mounting a bar behind your grill. Most generations of the Tacoma have a large grill, so there is room for a bigger light bar. They keep the look of your truck more “professional”, as the lights are not as easily visible. The throw and intensity of the light are generally not heavily affected by the grill.

    Other Types of LED Lights

    Ditch Lights: LED ditch/pillar lights are options for those of you that want an even wider spread of light beyond what a flood beam on a bar can do. Ditch lights are mounted on or near the A pillars, and are generally pointed outward at a 45 degree angle. They add a wider range of light to help you see things like ditches, hence the name.

    Fog Lights: LED fog lights are good options as well. While Tacomas have good fog lights from the factory, it’s never a bad idea to upgrade to LEDs. Some companies offer complete kits that change the entire housing, and some offer just a new bulb. LEDs generally offer a brighter and longer lasting light over conventional incandescent bulbs.

    Bed Lights: So many people upgrade all the lighting up front, but trucks are designed to haul. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, you may need your bed illuminated. There are plenty of inexpensive bed lighting options as well. I covered this in a previous post about the top 25 inexpensive mods for Tacomas.

    LED Light Bar Colors

    While there are technically many colors of LEDs you can get, there are laws about what color lighting you are allowed to us on public roads. The safest two options would be white or amber. Basically it comes down to preference. Amber lights have the same patterns as white lights, but are not as bright due to the filtered light. Some LED bars and bulbs offer both options. Shop around and find what’s best for you! Keep in mind your federal and state laws before you get too carried away with other colors.

    Conclusion

    If you drive off-road at night, you might need extra lighting. There are tons of options depending on your needs. It all ends up coming down to what you want, where you will be using it, and how much you want to spend. Keep it lit. 

    Image Credits

    Roof Light Bar – PureTacoma

    Beams – Maintain Your Ride

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Tonneau & Bed Covers

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Tonneau & Bed Covers

    Regardless of how you use your Tacoma, trucks were made to carry things. Sometimes you want your stuff covered, or many you just like that sleek design of a covered bed. Either way, there are plenty of options to cover your Taco’s bed. Let’s take a look at some of them.

    TONNEAU COVERS

    These covers are one of the most common types of covers that you will find on a truck. A tonneau covers are either hard or soft covers designed to protect unoccupied areas of a car, or in our case, the bed of a pickup. There are quite a few types of tonneau covers.

    Snap

    The most basic cover that you can get is just one piece of material that fits to your bed, and snaps into place. These are great if you’re on a budget. While they generally are not the most durable, they get the job done. The can bed a flexible piece of material that you can fold in any way you like, or they have some type of firmer piece. Those limit how much you can open them, and they basically work best either on or off, not so much in between, but they offer more rigidity.

    Pros: inexpensive, easy to install

    Cons: lacking rigidity, generally not the easiest to take off/retract when needing full access to your bed

    Trifold

    This is going to be one of your cheaper options for tonneau covers. They are exactly what they sound like. They are a soft cover that lies over your bed, and to pull it back, it folds into three sections. You can generally pick these up for around $300 to $400. However, there are more expensive ones for closer $1000.

    Pros: Inexpensive (sometimes), easy to install, full bed access

    Cons: Sometimes inferior quality and fit (on less expensive ones), soft material may cause pooling water

    Gator makes a popular tri-fold. It’s basis, yet durable. The lightweight construction makes it easy to fold, but the large locking tabs keep it in place when you want it down. The price is on the lower end too, so it makes it more appealing too. Here is a link to the Gator Tri-Fold, but make sure to get the right size for your truck. BTW - this is what I have and it works great!

    Rolling/Revolving

    Rolling covers are a good option for a fast retracting option. Like tri-folds, they are easy to install, and are a cost effective option, though you can find more expensive versions. With the nature of whey are, they will be made out of soft material, which could be prone to wear tear. You can get higher prices ones that are made of aluminum, and that could prove to last longer.

    Pros: Easy to install, can be inexpensive, full bed access

    Cons: Prone to rips if soft 

    BAK Industries makes some good stuff. Their covers are durable and highly rated. While their Revolver X4 is a little on the high end when it comes to pricing, it is a good option to choose from if the want easy use and protection.

    Retractable

    These operate similarly as the rolling ones, but they roll/retract down. These are going to be on the higher priced side, and they take up a bit of bed space in the back. However, they are very fast and easy to retract. Electronic ones exist, and they make things easier, but keep in mind that the more moving and electronic parts you have, the more things can go wrong over time.

    Pros: East to retract

    Cons: Expensive, take up bad space

    Roll-N-Lock is one option of a durable and easy to use retractable cover. It locks well, and it made out of aluminum with vinyl to ensure durability. 

    SHELL COVERS

    These hard covers are deigned to give you rugged protection. They can also be color matched to your truck to give a nice sleek look. These can either fit flush to the top of your bed, or be raised to meet your roofline. These are generally made out of fiberglass don’t come off to easily. They are more “permanent” or long-term installations.

    Camper Shells/Caps

    These offer the largest covered area for your bed. They generally match up with your roofline, and are painted to match your truck. They come with windows, and are generally made out of fiberglass. They are great for keeping a large amount of stuff out of the elements. The biggest downside is that you can move cargo in and out through the tailgate. There is no access from the sides. These have a wide range of prices, but generally are on the higher end of the $300 to $1000.

    Pros: large amount of surface area, excellent security from the elements, color matched

    Cons: only one point of access, not quick to remove, generally more expensive

    Flush Shells/Hard Tonneau

    While the camper ones meet your roofline, these sit flush, or right above your bed. They can be color matched to your truck, and they really add a sleek and complete look to the back of your truck. While they are durable, they aren’t the most practical if you toss a lot of stuff in your bed. While they generally hinge open to allow more access, then most practical point of entry is the tailgate. These are around the same price as the camper shells, but can cost a little less.

    Pros: durable, color match

    Cons: limited access 

    THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

    Now, there are outliers to everything. For example, there are covers that really stand out from the rest. Peragon makes a retractable cover that is not only quick to retract, but quick to remove completely should you need the full bed. There are some rolling covers that are soft material, and some that are aluminum. There are expensive versions of each cover listed, and some that are expensive.

    It all depends on your budget, and what you want out of it. Do you want t show vehicle, or do you need an off-roading beast? Perhaps you need both. This is a guide I put together for you from one Tacoma owner to another, but it’s just a guide. Find what works for you!

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.

    Image Credits:

    Tri Fold – Courtesy of Gator

    Snap – Courtesy of Tonneau Cover World

    Rolling – Courtesy of CJ Pony Parts

    Retractable – Courtesy of Suspension Connection

    Camper Shell – Courtesy of Tom’s Camper Land

    Flush Shell – Courtesy of Tom’s Camper Land

    How To Change The Oil On A 3rd Generation Tacoma

    How To Change The Oil On A 3rd Generation Tacoma

    For anyone who's owned a vehicle, you've probably learned by now that it’s generally cheaper and easier to perform routine maintenance yourself, than taking it to the dealer or the local Jiffy Lube. This includes a long list of things, especially, changing your engine oil.

    Changing your oil is one of the most common DIY vehicle owning experiences. One thing I learned after I blew through my 25,000 miles is that changing the oil on a third generation Tacoma is a little different than other vehicles i've owned in the past, and there are a couple things you need to be aware of. Let's dive in!

    Here’s what you'll need to get the job done:

    • Oil (0W20, 6.2 US quarts with oil cooler, 6.1 US quarts with out oil cooler)
    • Oil filter (with gaskets and o-rings)
    • Ratchet and 14mm socket
    • Torque wench (for best results)
    • Oil filter wrench
    • Oil filter cap drain tool (generally comes with your filter)
    • Oil pan (for catching the draining oil)

    After you have what you need, get started by removing your skid plate. This is needed to access your oil filter. After that’s off, put your drain pan under your drain plug. Loosen your plug, and be prepared to move your pan to catch the oil. After the oil is drained, put the drain plug back in with a new gasket. Torque it down to 40 Nm / 30 ft/lbs.

    Now it’s time to remove the filter housing, and replace the filter. The housing is plastic, and many owners choose to replace the stock plastic one with an aftermarket aluminum one. The aluminum one is more durable and will last longer. While the skid plate will protect it while the truck is moving, it could be damaged during oil changes. You can get an aluminum one here.

    First, remove the drain plug from the oil filter cap. This will expose where you screw in your drain tool. Once you thread it in, oil will drain. You don’t need to drain this oil before removing the housing, but it will make the process cleaner, as oil will start to flow in all directions one you start to loosen the housing.

    Next, take your wrench and place it over the housing. You may need to use a breaker bar to remove it from the engine if it has been over-tightened. Once removed, remove and discard the old o-ring and oil filter. It’s best to clean the cap and threads to avoid dirt building up. Install your new o-rings and filter. Thread the cap/housing back into place by hand. Tighten the housing down with the wrench to 25 Nm / 18 ft/lbs. Thread the housing drain plug back in with a new (and lightly oiled) o-ring, and torque it down to 13 Nm / 10 ft/lbs.

    After that, add new oil. You will use 6.2 US quarts of 0W20 if you have the oil cooler, and 6.1 US quarts with out oil cooler. Start your engine and check for leaks. Check the oil level with your dipstick, and top off if needed. After you’re done, replace the skid plate, and you’re good to go.

    Changing your oil on your truck may have a few more steps over a conventional one-piece disposable filter, but it’s still pretty straightforward. In the event you are more of a visual learner, here is a good video that covers everything from start to finish. Remember that oil is the life of engines, so keep your Taco running well, and treat her right.

     

    * Please note the following:

    This guide is accurate for all the following third gen models: 2016, 2017 and 2018.

    Some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.

    Images Credits:

    Oil Filter Housing – Tundra Solutions user Jowett Engineering

    Exploded Filter Diagram – Posted by Tacoma World user tubesock

    Top 20 Mods & Accessories Under $200 For 2nd Gen Tacomas

    Top 20 Mods & Accessories Under $200 For 2nd Gen Tacomas

    If you own a 2nd gen Tacoma, chances are you’ve done something to modify it to make it truly unique. This could be something free, or it could have cost you thousands or dollars.

    After scouring the Internet and the Tacoma forums, I’ve put together a list of the top twenty mods under $200 for your second generation Toyota Tacoma build out.

    Hood Struts ($130)

    While it may seem like a no brainer, many manufacturers these days don’t make their cars or trucks with hood struts. Perhaps it’s to save money, or perhaps ensure longevity, but let’s face it: hood struts are cool. They assist in opening your hood, and give you more room when you need to work with that prop not being a thing of the past. You can get them cheaper, but this is a good kit from Redline Tuning that many people are happy with.

    Blacked-Out and LED Tail Lights ($180)

    A great way to give your truck a mean look is to black out the taillights. While you could use a spray can, going the extra mile with a replacement kit is the best way. Incandescent bulbs might not shine as well through the tint, so why not bring your truck up to modern specs with LED lights while you’re at it? This will be to taste, but the kit here is a nice aggressive look, and will give you a good starting point.

    LED Interior Package ($25)

    Incandescent bulbs are classic, but LED bulbs are much brighter. For cheap, you can replace your map, dome, vanity, license plate, and reverse lights in this one kit. This is one of the best 2nd gen interior mods available.

    Tint

    While tint may be a little more expensive, it has two functions: it looks good, and keeps your truck cool on those hot summer days. Look around for a place by you that does it. It’s best to find a place that offers some type of warranty on their work in the event the tint starts to bubble. Check your local laws to see how dark your tint can legally be.

    Painting or “Dipping” Chrome Parts (About $15)

    Chrome looks good, but when you want that blacked out look, you can get expensive replacement parts, or you could get a couple cans of black spray paint, or Plasti Dip. This route may not be the most durable, but it will give you quick custom results that you can touch up any time. The benefit to using Plasti Dip is that you can peel it off if you ever get bored with it, or want to sell your truck. (But, why would you ever sell your truck?)

    12V Plug in the Bed (About $15)

    This one does involve some tools, skill, and elbow grease, but if you want some extra power to your bed, then adding a 12V plug might be a great option. While the 110V plug is great, many things we get for our vehicles come with 12V plugs. This guide will show you the cheapest way to add the socket to your bed, should you need it.

    Bed Extender ($50)

    For a fraction of the cost of a new pre-made one, you can extend your bed with some wood, paint, screws, and a couple extra pieces. You can make a really good looking and effective piece of hardware. I would not suggest leaving it on 24-7 if you don’t need to. Even if you get treated wood, it may warp during extreme weather over time.

    LED Bed Lights ($60)

    Lighting is probably one of the most noticeable, effective, and cheapest modifications you can do to any vehicle, as I’ve shown on a few mods already. Your bed is no exception. While this may be more expensive than putting fog or driving lights in the side pockets by the cab, this method looks great, is very bright, and will give your trucks a very nice custom and unique look. 

    Projector Headlights ($160)

    You can’t leave your headlight stock after getting those smoked LED taillights. Projector headlights are what you find on high-end cars and trucks. Smoked ones will give you that mean look, but with the power of the light behind them, you won’t have to worry about visibility issues. This is just one of the options out there.

    Tailgate Backup Camera ($102)

    Back-up cameras are almost becoming standard on newer vehicles. While you can get aftermarket ones that mount on your license plate, those look cheap and might not give you the best view. This kit emulates the camera on the new Tacos, but at a fraction of the cost. It’s something to look into to give you the feel of a newer truck, and to assist with seeing what’s behind you. You will need to get a display of some sort.

    Bed Mat ($110)

    If you want to keep your stuff from sliding around, you need a bed mat. It’s also a great way to protect your bed, which would cost much more to replace if it gets damaged. OEM is the way to go!

    Securing Your Bet Mat (Pretty Much Free)

    Your bed mat won’t move much when it’s installed, but if you want a little peace of mind, three parts you probably have lying around will secure it to your bed.

    All-Weather Floor Mats ($150)

    Good floor mats are a wise investment. All-weather ones are perfect if you intend on using your truck like a truck. You can find cheaper versions, but they generally don’t last.

    Brush Guard ($178)

    These are a great way to add style and protection to your truck. The aggressive look says, “Get out of my way.” If you are into off-roading, it’s a great way to protect parts like your bumper, grill, and radiator from getting too damaged. There are a few options. This is just one. 

    Lift Kit/Lift Block ($154)

    I go into pretty extreme detail in a previous post about lifting your Tacoma. Some options are effective, yet pretty inexpensive. Lift blocks, spacers, and leveling kits can be found for under $200. As long as you are not doing any serious off-roading, they look great, and are effective for some extra ground clearance.

    Heated Mirrors (About $35)

    This involves a bit of elbow grease, but for a few bucks and some of your time, you can create something usually only found on luxury vehicles. It’s a helpful and unique feature that will have people asking about how you did it.

    Painting or Plasti Dipping Your Wheels (About $15)

    Wheels are a great way to express your style, but they can get rather expensive. Painting them is a cheap way to get the look you want, with only spending a few bucks and a little bit of your time. Just remember to take your time. If you rush, it can turn out looking quite bad. You can always touch them up if they chip, and best part about Plasti Dip is that if you don’t like it, just peel it off!

    Custom Lug Nuts (About $30)

    I don’t have a link for this one because there are so many options, even though most people tend to overlook this. For generally around thirty bucks, you can get chrome ones, black chrome ones, matte black, different styles, and so on. Like the ideas for the grill and wheels, you can also paint or Plasti Dip your stock ones. Just keep in mind that if you do that, it’s chipping the instant an impact wrench hits it.

    Blinking Side Markers (About $5)

    With a couple bucks and little splicing, you can add a unique feature and turn your side markers into turn signals even when they are off. Not only is it different, but it’s a great safety feature too.

    Center Console Light (About $10)

    Again, lighting is super simple and effective. Adding lights to your center console gives a touch of luxury to your truck.

    Not all mods and aftermarket performance parts have to be expensive. Many of these are super cheap, and just take a little bit of your time. Take a look at your truck, and think about what you can do. While money may be the limit sometimes, it mostly just comes down to your imagination and creativity, so I hope this post has given you some good ideas. Now, get out there and mod your Tacoma!

    * Please note the following:

    These mods should fit the following models: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, & 2015. Please verify with the seller that this is the case before ordering.

    Prices fluctuate daily on Amazon/eBay and the prices represented above are accurate as the day of this posting.

     Some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.

    5 Tips to Make Your Old, Dumb Tacoma Feel New and Smart

    5 Tips to Make Your Old, Dumb Tacoma Feel New and Smart

    Most truck owners would be glad to tell you all the many reasons, from off-roading to customizations, why owning a truck is the best — but high-tech gadgets and gizmos are not usually high on the list.

    But if your Tacoma is older than a 2016, or otherwise didn’t come equipped with newer smart car tech, don’t worry: There are plenty of techy gadgets that can upgrade your truck and your driving experience without costing you an arm and a leg (or requiring you to trade in your beloved vehicle).

    Here are 5 gadgets to smarten up your Toyota Tacoma: 

    1. ZUS Smart Car Charger ($39.99)

      If your car doesn’t come standard with a USB charger for your devices, fear not: Cigarette-lighter chargers are faster and smarter than ever. The ZUS Qualcomm Quick Charge can charge two USB devices at maximum speed, faster than typical car chargers.  Bonus: With the ZUS app, you can find where you parked your car, set timers for parking meters, monitor your car battery, and track your mileage.

      Follow these tips for using a car phone charger to keep your phone and car batteries healthy.

    2. Smart Vehicle Health Monitor ($59.99)  

      No one likes taking the truck into the shop and blowing cold, hard cash just to check an engine light. But with a car health monitor, you can interpret engine light codes right on your smartphone and stay knowledgeable about the overall health and functionality of your vehicle.

    3. Garmin Heads-up Display Navigation ($149.99)

      Looking at the navigation on your phone while driving is dangerous — plain and simple. But new heads-up tech puts a transparent navigation screen in your line of sight while driving, so you can follow directions without taking your eyes off the road.

    4. Viper Smart Start ($195.00)

      If you have an older car or truck, you probably don’t have a way to start it up remotely — which means warming it up on a cold, winter morning is a hassle at best. Now, you can use an app on your smartphone to remote-start your vehicle from the warmth and comfort of your house.

    5. ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor ($119.99)  

      No one wants to experience a tire blowing out on a highway. To keep you and your loved ones safe (and save you some money and hassle), use your smartphone and a handy app to keep track of your tire air pressure and health. The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor comes with the first-ever slow leak detector, so you’ll be alerted before your tire problems become dangerous.

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.