Trucks are best customized, if you own one, you know what I’m talking about. When customizing, there are so many options from appearance to function. While Tacoma’s are a killer truck straight from the factory, let's be real: we like our Tacos with a little height!
In my last post, we covered different grille options. In today’s post, we’re talking lifts. Regardless if you're lifting your Tacoma for looks or function, you’ve got options, but there are some things you might need to know before you start shopping around. Let's dive into some technical terms, and then some lift options so you can decide what's best for you and your truck.
Technical Info and Terminology
Coilover: A coilover is the front coil spring and shock assembly. The parts are one unit. A typical spring and shock suspension are two separate parts.
Shock: A shock is an oil or gas filled piston that's designed to compress and expand with suspension travel. They are designed to absorb impacts to give you a smoother or stiffer ride, depending on the type you choose. You can see these inside your springs.
Upper Control Arms: UCA are at the front of your independent front suspension (IFS). They are mainly responsible for the vertical alignment of the front spindles. They generally are not load-bearing.
Lower Control Arms: LCA are also part of the front IFS. These work together with your UCA, but these see most of the load-bearing.
Leaf Springs: These are one of the oldest suspension designs. Leaf springs are made of a number of strips of metal curved slightly upward and clamped together one above the other.
Add-A-Leaf: AALs are additional springs that are excessively arched to provide additional lift or support to the rear of some trucks.
Leaf Pack: these are a replacement set of leaf springs. They are generally designed to have a better spring rate. Leaf packs may also add lift or additional load capacity.
Now that we've covered the parts of the suspension, let's go over the aspects of alignment. It's important to make sure your alignment is correct. If it's not, you could have uneven and quick wear and tear on your tires and other components. ALWAYS make sure that you have your truck aligned after doing any suspension work, especially when adding a lift.
Caster: This is the angle that your front tires are tilted in relation to the steering axis.
Camber: The angle that your tires are in relation to the vertical axis when viewed from the front of the vehicle.
Toe: The angle at which your front tires turns in or out in relationship to each other.
Types of Lift Kits (Front)
We've got the suspension components covered, so let's get to the lift options for our trucks, what they are, and what they consist of. There are a few to consider for the front and rear. For the front, we have spacer lift kits, coil lift kits, and coilover lift kits. I’m also going to give you some of examples of popular brands for each type that are being used by other Taco drivers out there.
Spacer Lift Kits
Spacers (also known as leveling kits, leveling spacers, or spring blocks) are the most inexpensive method to give you a fixed amount of lift in your truck. They don't require any new suspension components or modification. They simply add “space” between your suspension and the body of the vehicle effectively giving you typically one to three inches of lift.
For an inexpensive option, Rough Country offers a two inch kit for the front suspension for only $70. They also give you the option to choose if you want your finish to be anodized red or bare aluminum.
Toytec makes multiple suspension components for our trucks to cover the spectrum of almost anything you could need. This is their two and a half inch spacer kit. At $140, they are relatively inexpensive, and they are designed to work with stock shocks.
If you want to go all the way to the max with a three inch leveling kit, Supreme Suspensions offers a kit that you can find on Extreme Terrain for just around $100. To make Henry Ford happy, they come in any color you want, as long as it’s black.
Coil and Coilover Lift Kits
The kits operate the same way, but keep in mind the differences we stated before. Coils are separate pistons and springs, and coilovers are one unit. Now, while spacers add space to the existing units, coils and coilovers replace the stock suspension entirely. You can get them in all different sizes and stiffnesses. It all depends on what you're looking for.
Coilovers are basically plug and play: remove the old, put in the new. Coilover lift kits are a bit more popular for the serious lifter. While they may cost more, they are already assembled and good to go. Some are also adjustable, depending on your needs.
Falcon shocks... our favorite lift option for a Tacoma. While I may be skipping ahead a bit since these guys cover the rear as well, Falcon Shocks are your best bet if you already have the springs that you want. They offer different kits depending on your needs such as if you are going to be towing and hauling, or tackling the great outdoors.
Coils are generally inexpensive as well like these taller springs from Toytec for $169.99. These springs alone will give you 2.5 inches of lift, but add the top plate spacers, and you can get a full 3 inches! Always be mindful when buying coils to make sure the shocks you have work with them.
These guys are known for suspensions components for all makes and models, so they know a thing or two about springs. These springs give you 2.5 inches of lift, but they say they must be used with their shocks. Regardless, you can pick them up for about $180.
Lifting your ride means you get to see a little more of the stuff under your truck. Why not show it off? Ironman 4x4 not only gives you a three inch lift, but the neon green color of these coils really stands out! These are about $225 for the set.
Fox Racing has bee in the business for a while, and for just over $1000, you can get their Fox 2.0 Performance Coil-Over. As mentioned, coilovers do cost more, but they are plug and play for easy installation and readiness. These are adjustable from factory height to two inches.
Bring Eibach to the table again, but this time with their coilover kits. This specific one is for 2005-2015 models, but they have everything to fit whatever model you have, and with a lifetime warranty. Prices range from around $760 to $1000.
Types of Lift Kits (Rear)
For the rear of our trucks, we'll be talking about lift blocks, add-a-leafs, and leaf packs. Since we've talked about these in some way, shape, or form earlier in this post, we don't need to go into too much detail.
The principle of these are the same as spacers for the front. These are blocks that are placed under your rear leaf packs, on top of your axles. Kits generally include the lift blocks and longer U-bolts.
Blocks are cheap, but effective for up to three inches. These blocks from Tuff Country can be found for about $60. A quick search online will lead you to many offerings for around the same price.
If you want something a little lighter, Liftcraft makes aluminum blocks in 1, 1.5, 2, and 3 inch heights. Prices range from $40 to $60 depending on the amount of lift, but all blocks come with a lifetime warranty!
If you want to spend a little extra to get a little extra, Bilstein offer their 2 inch Readylift block kit for just over $140. It comes with everything you need for a complete installation so you can lift your mind at ease! That’s how that saying goes, right?
As mentioned, this type of lift consists of an additional leaf spring that has an increased arc. They add lift by increasing the curve of your rear stock spring pack. They also allow added load capacity for hauling.
There are a multitude of popular brands for add-a-leafs including the very popular Toytec, but I picked this one to show you just how inexpensive this option can be as well. 4 Wheel Parts is selling this pair for about $35.
Back at it again is ToyTech with their add-a-leaf which will get you 1.5 to 2 inches of lift at the rear of your Taco. You can grab these for about $90. These guys even got feature on MotorTrend for this specific product, so you know it has to be good.
Another popular, yet more expensive brand, is ICON with their 1.5 inch kit. While more expensive, it does come with everything that you need, including u-bolts, which other brands leave out to cut down on the cost to you. At just around $225, make sure it’s what you want!
Similar to replacing your coilovers up at the front, this is a replacement for your leaf springs in the back. Depending on what you get, these could increase your ride height, increase or decrease suspension travel, hauling capacity, and so on.
A full on leaf spring swap with leaf packs is going to be your most expensive route. This kit from All-Pro Off-Road goes for about $550. Sometimes it may be best to consider an option such as this to avoid mixing new parts with stock parts. This would be a completely new unit that gives you 3 inches of lift.
If you want 2 inches of lift and better hauling, Ironman has you covered, and gives you a little extra flair with some green accents. Hey... Colors are cool! The price is a bit higher at just over $600, but that can be expected with a full on replacement.
ARB comes in at just around $315, but they are sold individually, so don’t make the mistake of just getting one! They are made for heavy loads, and they will give you 2 to 2.75 inches of lift, depending on the year of your Tacoma. They do come with a five year warranty.
Types of Lift Kits (Body Lift)
The last type of lift I’d like to discuss needs its own section: a body lift. This lifts your truck exactly the way it sounds by lifting the body. Spacers are added to the mounting points where the body of your truck meets the frame.
While these are generally inexpensive, there is a lot more to all of this. You may want to get new bumper brackets to avoid such a gap between your bumper and body. You may also need things like steering and fuel line extensions. They are also not the most durable option.
This kit from Toytec will give you a 1 inch lift all around, and only for about $160. What’s even better is that you pair these with their 3 inch suspension kits for maximum lift! They let you know right off the bat though that you will have a gap between your rear bumper the rest of the vehicle.
This kit for around $322 will come with what you need to get 2 inches of lift without modifying the suspension. It includes all the hardware you needed, which has been treated for rust resistance. Like other kits of this type, it does take a bit of work to install!
Lifting your truck is a common practice. It looks good, and gives you more clearance. There are many options, and it all depends on what you want to do. If you just need to look good, a body lift, block, or spacer kit will do just fine. If you are serious about off-roading, then a full coilover and leaf pack kit are the best options.
Keep in mind that any time you alter one component on your truck, it will affect something else. Factory trucks are technically meant to be left stock. If you modify them, it’s best to know what you’re doing. It’s always best to get an alignment after changing out suspension parts. If you lift your truck, remember that non-lift parts such as upper and lower control arms may need to be changed as well.
Be safe, have fun, and lift ‘em up!
Spacers/Leveling - Courtesy of Rough Country
Coils - Courtesy of Toytec
Coilovers - Courtesy of the Fox Racing Amazon store
Lift Blocks - Courtesy of the Liftcraft Amazon Store
Add-A-Leaf - Courtesy of the ICON Amazon Store
Leaf Pack - Courtesy of All-Pro Off-RoadBody Lift - Courtesy of Suspension Connection
* Please note that some of these links are affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.