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    Resources — Tacoma Grilles

    Which Grille Is Right For Your 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma?

    Which Grille Is Right For Your 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma?

    If you’re reading this, I assume that you own a 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 Toyota Tacoma and are hoping to upgrade your stock grille either right now or in the near future. Although the stock grilles are progressively getting better looking, I think I can speak for most Tacoma owners by saying that the grille should be one of the very first things upgraded to give your Tacoma a new, fresh look!

    When creating this post, I wanted to build something to help all Tacoma owners find the right grille that fits their style. Even though we sell several grilles here at Empyre Off-Road, it was important to me to provide several different options and look at the pros and cons of each grille. At the end of the day, there are certain people who will buy from me and those that will not. This is life and business... although, I really do hope you buy from me :)

    To start out the post, I'm going to feature the three grilles that we sell here at Empyre Off-Road. For the grilles not sold here, I've made sure to highlight the brand and one of their grille models that I think is pretty cool. Keep in mind that most of these companies sell several different models, so don't get scared off by the high price tags just yet. So if you're looking for a Toyota Tacoma aftermarket grille, let's jump in!

    Empyre Off-Road

    The Empyre Off-Road grille is a minimalist option if you're looking to keep the cost low and quality high. Our customers really love that this grille is made out of aluminum. Two huge benefits to aluminum are that the material is extremely lightweight (the entire unit weighs just under 7 pounds) and that it doesn't rust. Even if the powder coating gets scratched or chipped, with a little touch-up paint, it will look good as new.

    Customers also love that this grille includes a removable stainless steel backer that makes the "TACOMA" text pop and stand out on the road. Many customers even paint this plate to color match their truck, which makes it even more personalized than other options on the market.

    Model: Tacoma Grille Insert 

  • 2016 - 2017 Tacoma Grille
  • 2018 - 2020 TSS Tacoma Grille
  • 2018 - 2020 TSS Toyota Emblem Grille
  •  

    Non-TSS Price: $280

    TSS Price: $300

    Pros: Solid construction, will not rust, TSS option, inexpensive. We offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you don't love it, you can return it for a full refund.

    Cons: One design

    Faux TRD Pro Grille

    The Faux TRD Pro Grille, which we sell here at Empyre Off-Road is another great option for Tacoma enthusiasts. The manufacturer spent a ton of time perfecting this grille and is a step above any of the Chinese knock-offs you can find on eBay. This grille gives you the look of an expensive TRD Pro Tacoma without having to spend the big bucks.

    Price: $129 - $220 (depending on options)

    Pros: Made out of high-quality ABS plastic and works with the TSS sensor

    Cons: No customization

    Tacoma Raptor Style Grille

    The Tacoma Raptor Style Grille, which we sell here at Empyre Off-Road, might be one of the coolest looking grilles on the market. This grille takes the mesh raptor grille that you can find on eBay and other websites and gives it a facelift by adding in paint matched lettering.

    Price: $400

    Pros: Made out of high-quality industrial injection plastic and works with the TSS sensor

    Cons: It's a little on the expensive side for a plastic grille. 

    300 Industries

    300 Industries covers the gambit of selection and price range. You have forty-nine options to choose from, and prices that range from $400 to $1,050. The level of customization drops as the price goes down, but with that amount to choose from, you’re bound to find something you like, but at a price.

    Make: 300 Industries

    Model: X-Lite

    Price: $1,050

    Pros: Highly Unique, lights up

    Cons: Expensive, no customization 

    Custom Car Grills

    The guys at Custom Car Grills also have a few options to choose from, but some of their more popular models would be their mesh grille and their mesh grill with letters. Both are pretty plain but in a stylish way. If you decide to go with the “TACOMA” or “TOYOTA” lettering, you'll get a nice subtle black finish layered on with aggressive lettering.

    Make: Custom Car Grills

    Model: Mesh

    Price: $279

    Pros: Subtle look, inexpensive

    Cons: Few options

    Grillcraft

    Grillcraft makes one of the most minimalist grilles on the market, which isn't a bad thing at all. If you are looking for something subtle and different, the MX model could be the one. It is a simple black mesh. No Toyota or Tacoma logo of any kind.

    The MX is a nice, clean way to dress up your truck.

    Make: Grillcraft

    Model: MX

    Price: $287

    Pros: Subtle look, inexpensive, lifetime warranty

    Cons: No options, company branded

    Bullet Proof Fabricating

    BPF is one of few grille manufacturers who provide an aluminum option. This grille is a nice lightweight option, and the design is a great improvement over what comes stock on 3rd gens. I would say it's a marriage of a bezel, mesh, and logo that go well together.

    The one thing that I don't love about this grille is that you have to pay extra to remove their company logo in lieu of the Toyota logo.

    Make: Bullet Proof Fabricating

    Model: BPF

    Price: $370

    Pros: Good triple look design, lightweight, free shipping

    Cons: Extra cost for “TOYOTA”, brand name too prevalent

    Bay Area Metal Fabrication

    Last but not least is a company called Bay Area Metal Fabrication. The folks at BAMF offer two different types of grilles, the Eco Insert ($284) and the hugely popular Recessed grille ($600). 

    I absolutely love the recessed grille as it gives the Tacoma an extremely aggressive look. Both options also allow you to order a color matched backplate that slides behind the “TOYOTA” or “TACOMA” logo.

     

    Make: Bay Area Metal Fabrication

    Model: Recessed

    Price: $600

    Pros: Good design, customizable

    Cons: High priced

    So, there you have it. I hope that this post has been helpful and has given you a few other options to consider when looking to replace your stock grille. Please let us know if you have any questions.

    What To Do If Your Grille Chips?

    As we initially mentioned on the grille installation page, if you’re hit with a flying object while driving or off roading your powder coating will chip just like paint chips. So, the question is, what should you do if you start to see chips on your grille insert?

    The Touch Up Process

    1. The very first thing you should do is clean the grille thoroughly with warm soapy water.
    2. Next, if you spot any rusting, use a cotton swab dipped in CLR or equivalent to dissolve and remove the rust. Repeat the process until the swab is completely clean. Once clean, wipe with rubbing alcohol.
    3. Apply touch up material. Make sure to use enough to fully fill the divot.

    Touch Up Material Options

    Depending on the type of grille you purchased from us (Wrinkle Black or Smooth Black) there are several different types of material you can use to touch up your Tacoma grille.

    1. Touch up paint – You can stop by Walmart and buy regular black touch up paint. Or you can buy a touch up pen from Automotive Touchup.
    2. Plastidip – You can stop any hardware store, or Walmart and pick up a can of plastidip and use it to touch up your grille. What we’ve found to be the easiest is to spray it on a piece of paper and dip a cotton swab in it and cover the chip.
    3. Bed liner (for the textured grilles) – You can stop by any automotive store, or Walmart and pick up a can of spray on bed liner. Same process as above, spray it on a piece of paper and dip a cotton swab in it and cover the chip.

    Painting Your Grille Backplate

    One of the most common questions we’ve been receiving as as of late is if we sell our grille with a color matched backplate. Unfortunately, we don’t. Our mission was to produce a grille that we could sell to budget conscious Tacoma owners for under $300. Color matching backplates would cause our prices to increase by more than just a few bucks, thus increasing the price for you… which again, doesn’t align with our mission.

    This doesn’t mean you’re SOL and can’t get a color matched backplate, you’re just going to have to put in a little sweat equity to get it that way. Color match painting your backplate is easy as long as you do it before the initial install. If you wait to do it at a later point in time, you’ll have to pull the entire grille piece from your truck again and pull it off.

    Color Matching Your Grille Backplate

    We’ve heard from a few people who’ve purchased grilles that they just went down to the local Home Depot, got some spray paint that was a “close enough” match and painted them that way. We guess this works if you don’t have a cool color like quicksand, inferno, or blazing blue. If you’re looking for a true color match, you should check out Automotive Touchup. You can buy spray paint from them that is color matched to the exact paint code of your truck. We buy all of my touch up paint pens from them and they are awesome!

    Here’s a really awesome shot of one of our Tacoma grilles with a quicksand backplate.

    3rd Gen (2016-2017) Grille Installation Instructions

    BEFORE INSTALLING YOUR GRILLE, PLEASE MAKE NOTE THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO OVER TIGHTEN ANY OF THE BOLTS. IF YOU DO, YOU WILL SCRAPE THE POWDER COATING AND INCREASE THE CHANCES THAT YOUR GRILLE WILL RUST.

    Here are the instructions for installing your new grille insert.

    Tools Needed

    • Flat head screw driver
    • Phillips screw driver (or drill bit)
    • Rachet
    • 1/4 inch socket
    • Drill
    • 1/4 inch drill bit
    • Small pair of pliers
    • Dirty rag
    • Soft blanket

    Step 1

    Remove the entire grille and outer surround from the truck by removing the two bolts (top two arrows) with a phillips tip screw driver or drill bit and the two push pins (bottom two arrows) with a flat head screw driver. With the two push pins, just pry up the little round tab and pull it out.

    Step 2

    Grab the top of the grille and start gently wiggling. Once it starts to break free, grab the front and pull straight out.

    Step 3

    Once the grille has been removed from the truck, lay down a soft blanket (or cardboard if you’re me) and remove these eight screws.

    Step 4

    Once the screws are out, you need to start popping out the insert and bezel. To do this, you must apply light pressure to the clips while you pull on the outer bezel piece and grille from the front. These tabs will snap off very easily, so be careful. Make sure to get them all!

    Step 5

    You will have to drill out 8 of the holes with a quarter inch drill bit. Don't worry, this doesn't affect the ability to remount your stock grille if you choose. Drill out the marked holes below and the final two screws go into two of the horizontal slats in the bottom of the grille.

    Step 6

    Attach the brushed stainless steel back plate to the grille using four of the included locking nuts. You may need to pull the laser paper if yours came with it. That will be the side you want facing out.

    Step 7

    Attach the grille following these steps:

    • Start with the top center hole
    • Insert the bolt
    • Grab the bolt head with a rag and a pair of pliers (to keep the powder coating from chipping off)
    • Use the ratchet and 1/4 socket to tighten the bolt from the back of the grille (don’t tighten all the way)
    • Go around the remaining 9 holes following these same steps
    • Once all bolts are in and lightly tightened, finish tightening all of the locking nuts

    Please note, powder coat will chip like paint. This grille is made out of steel and will rust if the powder coating is chipped or scratched. If you notice any chips or scratches, please make sure to touch it up with touch up paint as soon as possible.