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    Top 25 Mods & Accessories Under $300 For 3rd Gen Tacomas

    Top 25 Mods & Accessories Under $300 For 3rd Gen Tacomas

    If you own a Tacoma, you already know that you're part of a cult... A cult who loves to dump hundreds, even thousands of dollars into cool mods and accessories for their trucks. For many, our mods have to be planned out and budgeted financially, so I polled,, and several Facebook groups and pulled together this list of mods for those on a budget.

    These mods work with all 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 models.

    Pop & Lock Power Tailgate Lock ($97)

    This tailgate lock not only prevents thieves from stealing your tailgate, but when coupled with a tonneau cover, will protect your valuables as well. Originally designed for the Tundra, this pop & lock will work on your Tacoma and make it easy to lock with a push of button.

    TRD Pro Style Aftermarket Grille ($300)

    I've never met a Tacoma owner who doesn't want an aftermarket grille insert for their Tacoma. This is definitely one of the most popular mods we see, so rip out that old grille and mount up an aluminum, black powder-coated grille and give your Tacoma the facelift it deserves.

    Anytime Front Camera ($79.99)

    When you drive a truck, it's really hard to see what's in front of you on the ground. Adding a front camera helps when pulling into parking spaces or pulling into your garage to make sure you going in straight and not running anything over.

    Center Console Organizer Tray ($13.99)

    If you're like most Tacoma owners, you feel like your center console is a catch all for the crap you have laying around your truck. This tray allows the bottom of your console to be the catch all for your crap, while having a nice organized section for the things you use most.

    Gator Tri-Fold Tonneau Bed Cover ($259)

    As mentioned in the pop & lock section, if you don't have a tonneau cover, you're missing out. A tonneau will allow you to protect what's in your bed from the harshest weather conditions and when coupled with the tailgate lock, secure them as well.

    Cali Raised LED Side Projection Ditch Lights ($135.99)

    Ditch lights are something I've never really heard of or seen before, but they help off roaders get more light coverage, up to 120 degrees on each side of the vehicle.

    Scotchgard Fabric Protector Spray ($20.44)

    Scotchgard is a no brainer for anyone who has a car, truck, couches, or other fabric based furniture. Spray on 2-3 coats and watch the juice and soda roll right off your seats to your rubber floor mats.

    Vinyl Decal Tailgate Inserts ($14.99)

    One quick way to give your truck a facelift is by installing tailgate inserts into the embossed Tacoma logo on the bottom of your tailgate. There are so many different kinds, but I like the ones cut out of vinyl. They are cheap and easy to put on and can be swapped out for different colors in the blink of an eye.

    Redline Hood Struts/Lifts ($99.95)

    Why most cars and trucks don't come with automatic, gas spring based hood lifts is beyond me. I mean, it's 2018 people! These hood struts make it easy to prop open the hood of your Tacoma when you need to clean or work on your engine.

    Cali Raised Replacement LED Fog Light Pods ($139.9)

    If you hate your round, non LED fog lights, Cali Raised has the most affordable solution for you. Their LED fog light pods make it quick and easy to install a brighter, more powerful light at half the price of their competitors.

    Scosche Magnetic Phone Mount ($14.82)

    One of the best phone mounts I've come across is the Scosche mount. It's good looking and mounts just about anywhere to keep your phone front and center while you're out on a drive.

    Anytime Backup Camera ($59.99)

    Tacoma owners who tow a lot love the anytime backup camera. With a little wiring, you can activate your backup camera at anytime to check out your trailer, boat, or whatever you might be hauling.


    One of the basic mods you can make to any car or truck is adding tint. Tint not only helps keep your Tacoma cool in the summer, but helps keep the inside of your truck private to outside viewers.

    Matt Gecko Under Bed Rail LED Lights ($85 - $90)

    If you run any sort of a bed cover, you know it's very dark in the bed of your truck, day or night. These sweet bed rail lights provided by Matt Gecko give you the light you need to see anything and everything while your cover is down.

    AC Drain Mod (Less than $15 and ten minutes of your time)

    A lot of Tacoma owners don't realize that where their AC condensation drips out under the truck, hits the frame and causes rust. This handy little mod brought to you by the folks at Tacoma World needs to done this coming spring before you start using your AC again. Better safe than sorry.

    Floor Mat Anti-Slip Fastener Clips ($4.98)

    Who else hates that the passenger side and second cab mats slide all around? One easy fix is to superglue heavy duty velcro to them, which works some of the time. A better solution is installing these anti-slip fastener clips. They will hold your mats in place for as long as you own your truck.

    Meso Customs Minimalist Key Fob ($40)

    A simple, but cool mod offered by Meso Customs is a replacement key fob. It's very easy to take apart your current, black fob and put the guts into one of their color-matched, more rugged fobs.

    Hood Bulge Glare Blocker Sticker ($29.99)

    Many Tacoma owners complain that the bulge on their Sport model casts a wicked glare and makes it hard to see on a sunny day. The solution to this is the hood bulge glare blocker decal. It deadens the rays from the sun and makes it not reflective anymore.

    Cali Raised Behind Grille LED Light Bar ($269.99)

    Light bars are all the rage with serious off roaders. Even a lot of mall crawlers put light bars on their rigs. The Cali Raised behind grille light bar mounts right below your Tacoma grille and with a little wizardry, can be wired right to a push button to light it up... but please do so responsibly. You don't want to be one of those douches who blinds people on city roads.

    Tacoma Pros Raptor Light Kit ($79.99)

    Not sure why Tacoma owners want to make their trucks look like the Ford Raptor, but they do. On the top of the grille, the Raptor has three amber lights. This mod makes any Tacoma grille look like a Raptor when the sun goes down.

    OEM Bed Mat Short Bed / Long Bed ($115.43 - $121.40)

    A bed mat is pretty self explanitory, but for those who want to keep their stuff from rolling and sliding all around the bed of their truck, the OEM bed mat is the perfect solution. It's thick and kinda grippy and does the job right.

    N2 Designs Remote Start ($199)

    If you love your Tacoma to always be warm when you jump into it, installing a remote start kit is vital to your comfort. The N2 Designs is affordable and incredibly easy to install.

    Spidertrax Wheel Spacers ($91.91)

    For those who want their Tacoma's to have a wider, more aggressive stance, but can't afford new wheels, wheel spacers are for you. They allow you to keep your stock wheels, but give you a more beefed up look.

    LED Interior Lights ($14.99)

    These days, most of the world is powered by LEDs, so why Toyota didn't equip Tacomas with LEDs all the way around is beyond me. This mod is very easy to complete and gives you more of a daylight look to your lights.

    Premium Audio Upgrade - Tweeters / Front Speakers / Rear Speakers (Less than $250)

    Many Tacoma owners complain about their sound system and how their music just sounds awful. I don't necessarily agree, but for those who want an inexpensive way to upgrade your system, this upgrade is for you. Here's the install video

    Please keep in mind that prices fluctuate daily on Amazon/eBay and the prices represented above are accurate as the day of this posting.

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

    3rd Generation Toyota Tundra DIY Maintenance Reference Guide

    3rd Generation Toyota Tundra DIY Maintenance Reference Guide

    If you want to save some money, working on your Toyota Tundra yourself can be a good way to do it. On top of the extra cash in your pocket, you will start learning some very sought after skills that will be with you for a lifetime. This guide will give you some helpful tips and Tundra specs to help you get the job done.

    It is best to be sure about what you’re doing. Trying is a good way to learn, but it can also be a bad way to mess up your truck if you make a mistake. A mechanic may cost more, but they know what they are doing, and they generally warranty their work. If you decide to tackle the jobs yourself, here are some much-needed tools that you will use again and again.


    Engine Oil (0W-20 Synthetic oil - Toyota part # 00279-0WQTE-01)

    1. Check with the engine warm, over 5 minutes after shutting off the engine
    2. Tip: Leave the dipstick out while waiting 5 minutes to allow the oil in the dipstick tube to drain back down. It makes it easier to read.
    3. With a fresh filter, the engine has a capacity of 8.5 quarts

    Coolant (Toyota SLLC - Toyota part # 00272-SLLC2, 50/50 pre-diluted, Canada is 55/45)

    • Between LOW and FULL lines with the engine cold

    Brake Fluid (FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3 or SAE J1703)

    • Between MIN and MAX (should be near or at max with fresh pads)

    Power Steering Fluid (Automatic transmission fluid DEXRON® II or III)

    • Between min and max (cold and hot lines provided)
    • Cold - Not driven in the last 5 hours (50-85 degrees Fahrenheit fluid temp)
    • Hot - Driven 50 MPH for 20 minutes (140-175 degrees Fahrenheit fluid temp)

    Automatic Transmission Fluid (Toyota Part Number 00289-ATFWS)


    • Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles or 6 months.
    • Front to back or back to front on each side
    • Lug nut torque:
      Steel wheel: 154 ft·lbf (209 N·m, 21.3 kgf·m)
      Aluminum wheel: 97 ft·lbf (131 N·m, 13.4 kgf·m)
    • Retighten the wheel nuts within 100 miles (160 km) of driving


    Toyota recommends using synthetic oil, so replace it every 10,000 miles or 12 months. Severe use and excessive idling might be every 5,000 miles or 6 months.

    Torque specs:

    • Oil pan drain plug - 30 lb-ft (14mm)
    • Oil filter cap - 216 lb-in/18 lb-ft (TOY640 with 15/16" or 24mm socket)
    • Oil filter drain plug - 120 lb-in/10 lb-ft (3/8" square drive)
    • Skid plate - 21 lb-ft (5 12mm bolts, and 3 10mm fasteners)


    • Oil - 8.5 qts 0W-20 Synthetic Oil - Toyota part # 00279-0WQTE-01
    • Oil pan drain plug gasket - Toyota part # 90430-12031
    • Oil filter element kit - Toyota part # 04152-YZZA4

    Special tools:


    1. Requires removing skid(s) for access.
    2. The oil filter has a permanent housing. The oil filter element kit includes a new filter cartridge, two new gaskets, and the temporary oil filter drain pipe.
    3. The hose for the oil filter drain pipe (if used) should be 5/8” ID (15 mm). You can find it at your local hardware store’s plumbing section for around one dollar.
    4. Proper torque of the oil filter cap and oil filter drain plug should help prevent the cap from coming off before the drain plug on the next change, which can be a lot cleaner.
    5. When you remove the filter drain plug, give it a little impact. If you're too smooth, the plug and housing will try and move together.

    Here's a great video on how to do change the oil.


    Toyota recommends doing this at every major service interval as well as after driving through flooded roads. However, with 2018 and newer models, that doesn’t make much of it user-serviceable, and Toyota does not suggest doing it yourself.


    Torque spec:

    • 74 lb-ft


    You should do this every 20,000 miles or 24 months.



    You can find how to do this in your manual or you can watch this video:


    This should be done every 20,000 miles or 24 months.


    • Filter - Toyota part # 17801-0P010, but like the cabin air filter, I'd highly suggest this K&N filter.


    Easy job, but ensure there are no holes or rips in the new filter and make sure the airbox where the filter will be going is clean. Double-check that you have a good seal so no air can get in around the filter.

    You can check out this video if you need some help!


    You should visually inspect them every 5,000 miles or 6 months and measure them every 30,000 miles or 36 months.

    Torque specs:

    • Brake caliper mounting bolts - 73 lb-ft 


    • Rotors - Toyota part # 435120C020
    • Pads - Toyota part # 0446502440


    You should visually inspect them every 5,000 miles or 6 months and measure them every 30,000 miles or 36 months.

    Brake caliper mounting bolts - 70 lb-ft 


    • Rotors - Toyota part # 424310C011
    • Pads - Toyota part # 0446602340


    Inspect your rear diff every 15,000 miles or 18 months. If severe, replace the oil every 15,000 miles or 18 months.

    Torque specs:

    • Rear diff drain plug - 36 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")
    • Rear diff fill plug - 36 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")
    • Front diff drain plug - 48 lb-ft (10mm hex)
    • Front diff fill plug - 29 lb-ft (10mm hex)


    • Toyota Genuine Differential gear oil LT 75W-85 GL-5 or equivalent - Toyota part # 08885-02506
    • Front - 2.2 qts; Rear - 3.8-4.9 qts (varies with model)
    • Rear drain plug gasket - Toyota part # 12157-10010
    • Rear fill plug gasket - Toyota part # 12157-10010
    • Front drain plug gasket - Toyota part # 90430-24003
    • Front fill plug gasket - Toyota part # 12157-10010


    1. Perform while your vehicle is level
    2. Ensure you can remove the fill plug before draining
    3. Proper level should be within 5 mm of the bottom of the fill plug opening
    4. Re-check the level after driving
    5. Save the new fill plug washer until the final check
    6. You will need to remove the skid plate and may need a bottle pump for front
    7. Gasket kit for transfer and differential
    Here is a good video on how to replace the differential fluid in your third-generation Tundra


      Inspect your transfer case every 30,000 miles or 36 months. If severe, replace the oil every 30,000 miles or 36 months.

      Torque specs:

      • Drain plug - 26 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")
      • Fill plug - 26 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")


      • 2 qts SAE 75W Toyota Genuine Transfer gear oil LF or equivalent - Toyota part # 08885-81080
      • Drain plug gasket - Toyota part # 90430-A0003
      • Fill plug gasket - Toyota part # 90430-A0003


      1. Ensure you can remove the fill plug before draining
      2. After filling, leave the plug out and let sit for about five minutes and recheck. Add more fluid if necessary.
      3. Rear Diff and Transfer Case Gasket Kit


      Visually inspect the oil every 30,000 miles or 36 months. If it’s severe, replace it every 60,000 miles or 72 months.

      Torque specs:

      • Drain plug - 180 lb-in/15 lb-ft (14mm)
      • Overflow plug - 180 lb-in/15 lb-ft (5mm hex)
      • Fill plug - 29 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")


      • Toyota ATF WS fluid - Toyota part # 00289-ATFWS
      • Drain plug gasket - Toyota part # 35178-30010
      • Overflow plug gasket - Toyota part # 35178-30010
      • Fill plug gasket - Toyota part # 90301-15004

      Special tools:

      • Toyota SST 09843-18040 (basically, you just need a wire to jumper two OBD ports)
      • Bottle pump (to use for filling)


      The quantity of fluid will depend on what you do. Per the TIS repair manual, it directs three drain/refill/circulates for a replacement, so it will probably be somewhere between 10-12 quarts.


      Inspect the coolant every 15,000 miles or 18 months. You should replace it at 100,000 miles or 120 months, and then every 50,000 miles or 60 months thereafter.


      • 4-12.6 qts Toyota SLLC - Toyota part # 00272-SLLC2 (50/50 pre-diluted, Canada is 55/45). The quantity depends on the model. Consult your manual.


      Be careful. There is a special sequence to fill the system and remove all the voids without damaging or overheating anything.

      Maintenance is an important part of owning a vehicle. Doing it yourself can be rewarding and save you a lot of money. However, mistakes can cost you quite a bit. Be careful, take your time, and get learning!

      Image Credit

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

      10 Awesome Toyota Tundra Interior Upgrades

      10 Awesome Toyota Tundra Interior Upgrades

      We talk about the Tacoma a lot, and for good reason. It’s an amazing little truck. Well, if you need something bigger, if you need a V8, and you want it all from a reliable and proven company, the Tacoma’s bigger brother, the Toyota Tundra, is a fantastic option.

      While not as big as the Tacoma’s, there is still a vast aftermarket for this truck. Vehicle customization is something I very much support because you get the build the vehicle you want, and it separates you from everyone else. While the interior of the Tundra is great from the factory, there is plenty of customizing you can do to make it even better!

      Since you will hear me mention it a lot, check out 10 Awesome Toyota Tacoma Interior Upgrades!

      TRD Shift Knob

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is one of my favorite mods. It’s one of the first things that you see and touch when you get in your truck. Throwing in a TRD knob gives a touch of elegance, at least in the off-road sense. While not as flashy as the Tacoma one, the styling is pretty sweet.  You can find it on Amazon for about $85.

      Clazzio Seat Covers

      These are perfect on the bigger brother as well! Stock seats can get worn out. Also, if you buy your truck used, you don’t get much say in what options you get. Maybe it’s not the color you want, or maybe your seats are... CLOTH! 

      Clazzio can help you change that. They have almost an endless amount of material options, color options (including body, insert, and stitch color), and they will fit whatever size cab you have. Prices for a regular cab are around $250-$700 depending on options. You can find them here!

      Floor Mats/Liners

      If you truly plan to use your Tundra for some serious work duty, or you play in the mud a lot, you need to ditch the factory floor mats for something more rugged. Husky and WeatherTech both make excellent products including mud flaps and bed liners as well. You can find some Husky ones here, and WeatherTech ones here.

      Under Seat Storage

      If you want a little extra storage that looks factory and is out of sight, ESP Truck Accessories makes a kit with three plastic bins that mount under the rear seats of your CrewMax. While you do have to cut some material out of your truck, the end result is a really useful storage area. You can find the unit here.

      Console Organizer

      While we’re talking about storage and organization, MX Auto Accessories makes a center console organizer that really helps master organization. The pockets are deep enough to hold most of what you would need to, there is a special phone section, and the rubber base inserts keep everything in place. It’s hard to beat at $25!

      Door Sill Decals

      The door sills on the Tundra are pretty boring, but you can easily dress them up and make them pop with some decals! For $15, you can find 8 paint matched colors that are easy to stick into place. 

      Custom Steering Wheel

      This is a pretty pricey upgrade, but you can be sure that you will have something different compared to other people. Vivid Racing offers custom race-inspired steering wheels for Tundras. While it will set you back about $800, everything is completely custom and made to order: shape, material, size, and so on. 

      Painting and Vinyl Black Out

      While there is not a specific product for this, if you want to get a little crafty, you can give your interior a blackedout look (getting rid of the chrome) with some paint or vinyl.  In a previous post, I talk about a lot of options and ways to do this on Tacomas. While there may not be as many kits and precut parts for Tundras, you can do a lot on your own!

      Interior and Bed 110v Outlets with USB

      This one involves cutting, hacking, wiring, and creativity, but if you add it all together, you get something very cool! WARNING: I would strongly advise that you don’t mess around with electrical systems in your truck unless you know what you’re doing. It could lead to many problems.

      That out of the way, user AlmightyCrash on the Tundras forum posted a short writeup about how he took a cheap power inverter and turned it into a permanent installation on his truck! Take a look, and see if this is something you might want to do for yourself! Outlet writeup.

      LED Lighting

      Interior lighting can change the whole feel of your truck. LED lights are brighter and last longer, and with a few lights, you can change the whole look of your interior for less than $50. I love any interior lights sold by Diode Dynamics. Here are some links:

      Stereo And Sound System

      There are so many options here. Every brand makes something that will fit directly or with some vanity. Getting too deep into this would take a few posts on its own. The thing about audio is that there are so many variables: how much do you want to spend, how many speakers do you want, how much low or high frequencies do you want to hear, how loud do you want it, do you want to cut into panels and drill holes? Once you know the answer to all that, you can start mixing and matching equipment.

      There are so many things you can do that didn’t make this list. For what did make the list, there are so many more choices out there. Find what works for you and your budget and get customizing! 

      Image Credits

      Seat Covers - Courtesy of Tundras user “xtyfighterx”

      Seat Storage - Courtesy of ESP Truck Accessories

      Door Sill - Us! Empyre Off Road

      Console Organizer - Courtesy of MX Auto Accessories

      Steering Wheel - Courtesy of Tundras user “hypa”

      Black Out - Courtesy of Tunrdas user “JoshuaA”

      110v Outlets - Courtesy of Tundras user “AlmightyCrash”

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

      The Ultimate Guide To Blacking Out Your Toyota Tacoma

      The Ultimate Guide To Blacking Out Your Toyota Tacoma

      The Toyota Tacoma is known for being easily customizable. From a vast amount of combinations and options from the factory, the almost limitless amount of aftermarket add-ons, there is almost nothing you can’t do. Sometimes you might want to get a little creative. Henry Ford said that you can have the Model T in any color you want, as long as it’s black. Let’s face it: black looks good. Here is how you can black out your Tacoma, or as the cool kids call it the "Tacoma chrome delete".

      To get the obvious out of the way, you don’t actually need your truck to be painted black to “blackout” your Tacoma. Blacking out could mean a certain part or all parts that are not painted the color of your truck’s body.


      Blackout "Limo" Window Tint

      One of the most common first moves is window tint. Window tint is cheap and easy to have installed, and it’s one of the most common modifications on any vehicle. Not only does tint add to the sleekness of your ride, but it also provides security from wandering eyes and the sun! Keep in mind that some states in the US and other countries may have some very strict laws regarding certain tint percentages. Check your local laws before spending the money!

      Smoked Headlights, Taillights, and Third Brake Light

      Bright red taillights and chrome headlights can really take away from the look of the Tacoma. “Smoked” is a great way to change that. Generally the term “blacked out” is not used for headlights and taillights since you legally can’t do that (I’ll cover that in a second). With all modern vehicles designed to have interchangeable and easily replaceable parts, you can buy already smoked taillights ($150-$300) and headlights (around $350) that replace the old ones completely!

      If you want a cheaper approach, you can tint the factory ones yourself. There is film/vinyl available for around $60 that simply sticks over the plastic, spray coatings for around $20, and tinted plastic covers for around $40-$80 that go over the factory lens.

      Using film can be tricky and takes a lot of extra time, but it can save you money. Here is a video of it being installed by an average tinkerer:

      Personally, I would advise a complete swap for a pre-tinted unit for multiple reasons. One, it will last longer. Film will shrink over time, especially if you live in a very hot a sunny environment like Florida. Incandescent bulbs also throw off a lot of heat. Thin film and spray coatings will also crack and potentially start flaking off depending on the quality and thickness. It’s a major pain to get off when it starts doing that.

      Another reason is light brightness, which leads to legalities. Smoked headlights and taillights/brake lights look cool, but they are lights for a reason. They are to help you see the road, and help other drivers see you! In the US, we have the Department of Transportation (DOT). They decide what is legal and what is not. Pre-tinted units are generally DOT approved. Doing something yourself, it may not be. New units also generally have LED lighting which is brighter than incandescent bulbs.

      Blackout Door Emblems

      The TACOMA badge on the side of our doors is sharp and really looks good, but blacking it out can make it look better against any paint color! You can find blacked out emblems to replace your factory ones for around $35. You can buy them here. If you want to be a little more creative, you can get a can of black Plasti Dip for around $6 and spray them down (easier than you think).

      You can also do what I did and go for vinyl replacements decals. For $17.99, you can really give your truck a clean look. The TACOMA badge sticks out, but these replace them giving your door a clean and painted on look. 

      Blackout Tailgate TACOMA

      The ever present TACOMA name on the back of the tailgate looks really good, but it’s the factory color. If you really want to make it pop, black it out! If your truck isn’t black, it’s an instant stand out. For about $20-$40, you can get raised inserts that stick into the factory indents. While they look great, they do offer extra places for dirt and crud to get stuck, so if your truck isn’t a mud runner, for $13 you can use some vinyl lettering inserts for a clean, sleek, and easy to maintain look. 

      Blackout Wheels

      Wheels are one of the easiest ways to instantly stand out, but also can be the most expensive on this list. The three main ways to do it are Plasti Dip (or similar spray), vinyl overlays, or new wheels. 

      While an easy to use $6 can a Plasti Dip is enticing, you’ll need more than one can, and eventually, it may start to crack or peel off depending on how and where you drive, and where you live. For $55, you can use vinyl decals on your wheels. The ones linked are cut to fit, and while a little more time is needed to install them, they look good and last long.

      For the longest-lasting, yet most expensive option, new wheels are easy to find and install if you have the cash. For around $200 each (without tires), you can retain a factory blacked out look by getting some new TRD Pro Wheels. Don’t be afraid to look online for used wheels. They can be far cheaper, but make sure you inspect them first!

      Black Out Grille Emblem and Grille

      The grille is the first thing many people will see on your truck, so it’s worth making it stand out! Much like headlights and taillights, the best ways to do this would be replace, spray with Plasti Dip, or cover with vinyl. Plasti Dip on the emblem can look great, but on bigger parts (like wheels and the grille), it can start to look “cheap.” That being said, it’s a super fast and inexpensive option!

      Replacement grilles can be found everywhere! The Tacoma Grilles on Emypre Off Road are some of the best if I do say so myself! For around $200-$350, you can transform the look of your truck.


      Blackout A/C Vent Rings

      Chrome looks good, but it’s not everyone’s thing. If you’re here, you like black. Two easy options would be replacement vent rings that you can get for around $30, or vinyl vent ring decals for $13.

      Blackout Door Handles

      If your door handles are not already back, it might be time to change that. You can go the expensive and labor-intensive route and replace the whole handle assembly. While not the cheapest at around $60 each, it will be the most durable. I mention durability because the other common methods as seen so far on this post would be paint/Plasti Dip or vinyl.

      While those options are cheap and easy, this is a part that you and your passengers will be handling (pun intended) a lot. Plasti Dip will degrade very quickly being touched frequently, and vinyl will start to peel and break down as well.

      Blackout Steering Wheel Emblem

      If you don’t like chrome, you won’t like the Toyota badge shoved in your face on the steering wheel every time you drive. While you can spray it down with Plasi Dip and peel off the excess, you can also do it “professionally” by following this guide on Tacoma World. There are pictures on the later pages. It can be a pain, and you have to be careful, but if you’re up for the task, it makes a big difference!

      Blackout Interior Trim

      There are a few other bits and pieces on the interior of our trucks that are chrome: shifter trim, start button trim, cup holder bezel... Meso Customs offers a kit that will replace all of those pieces for $50! You can go the Plasti Dip route as well, but keep in mind about what I said: interior pieces get touched a lot, and that will degrade Plasti Dip quickly.

      Blackout Climate Control Rings

      The last bit would be your climate control rings. Meso Customs again come to the rescue, and for $30, that chrome will be gone! 


      The black out look is popular and looks good. The best part is that there are so many different cost options to get the look you want. Just make sure to follow all of your local and federal laws, and have at it!

      Image Credits

      Front - Courtesy of Tacoma World user “slowlane”

      Taillight - Courtesy of i1Motor

      Door and Wheels - Courtesy of Tacoma World user “Nightscape”

      No Exterior Chrome - Courtesy of Tacoma World user “20tacoma17”

      Interior - Courtesy of Meso Customs

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

      The History of The 1st Generation Tacoma

      The History of The 1st Generation Tacoma

      It should be clear by now that I am a huge fan of the Toyota Tacoma. It is one of America’s best selling vehicles, and for good reason. It’s great on-road, off-road, towing, hauling, and whatever else you can throw at it. We have covered the overall history of this truck before, as well as the third and second generations, but where did the Tacoma start? Here is a look at the start of one of America’s best selling mid-sized trucks.

      In 1968, Toyota rolled out the Toyota Hilux. It was a small pickup truck with a small 1.5L inline-four making a small 76 horsepower matched with a four-speed manual transmission, and it couldn’t pull much. This sounds laughable by today’s standards, but that was pretty average for small trucks at the time, especially imports. This, in America, became known as the Toyota Truck.

      It was a good and reliable truck. Decade after decade, it got facelifts, more engine options, better suspension upgrades, more power, and so on. It remained true to its form though: it was a basic pickup.

      In the early 1990s, Toyota noticed that the North American market started to demand more from what it drove. Market trends had been shifting away from trucks being only for work, to work and daily drivers. Some people also just wanted a truck as a daily driver and nothing else. Seeing this, Toyota figured it would make the most sense to ditch the Hilux (in North America), and start with something new. In February of 1995, this new creation called the Toyota Tacoma graced the public.

      Toyota wanted to focus and capitalize on this market. Designers and engineers had to design something that mastered handling, driving comfort, and safety over utilitarian nature, but still, be useful off-road and for being a truck. Toyota wanted to come up with a name that suggests what they wanted this truck to have: strength and power all around, in any setting. They settled on “Tacoma,” which is the Salish Indian word for the mountain that provided water to their tribe. The mountain name was later changed to Mount Rainier.

      Development of the idea started in 1989, and the design work started in 1990 at Calty Design Research in California. The design was from Kevin Hunter who has been with Calty since 1982, and still designs the Tacoma to this day.

      When released, there were three engine options: a 2.4L and 2.7L four-cylinder, and a 3.4L V6. They got 26, 20, and 21 MPG respectively, and 142, 150, and 190 horsepower respectively. Four-speed automatics and five-speed manuals were available, depending on the model, two or four-wheel drive, and cab size. Extended cab models featured a 6-foot bed while crew cab models received a 5 foot 5-inch long bed.

      Public reception was initially well-received. By this point, Toyota had well beyond made a name for itself in the US market. It was a household name, and “Tacoma” was on its way to becoming one as well.

      As the years went on, stylistic changes seemed to start off few and far between (the biggest facelifts being in 1997 and 2000). Toyota was focusing more on constantly improving and developing enhanced performance and safety features, and they did so very well.

      A big mechanical change came in 1996 where the spark system changed to coil-on-plug design. The second biggest mechanical change came in 1997 when longer rear leaf springs were added. Both helped the truck tremendously in their own ways.

      In 1998, Toyota offered the TRD Off-Road package on select models. Today, TRD is synonymous with performance. In 1998, it allowed the Tacomas to bolster a locking differential, and an aftermarket TRD supercharger could be added to the 3.4L V6. That brought the horsepower up to 254. This was quite impressive for a V6 engine in the late 90s.

      The PreRunner model was also released that year. An upgrade from the base model, but a two-wheel-drive version of the four-wheel-drive model. You could add the TRD Off-Road Package to it as well. At this point, packages, options, and all-around “giving the customer the ability to get what they want” was really starting to take root, which is what the Tacoma is known for today.

      In the year 2000, the S-Runner trim package was released. This included different shocks, bigger wheels, and a manual transmission.

      Bonus History: The S-Runner sales tailed off rather quickly, and the truck was redesigned and rebranded as the X-Runner. Remember that this was when sports trucks like the F-150 Lightning were all the rage. While they were enjoyed by some, the buying masses disagreed. The only “version” of these trucks left now would be the TRD Sport, which focuses most on daily driving, but still leaves the Tacoma an actual truck.

      One major downside to this generation (1995 to 2000) was poor rustproofing. This led to a recall of about 800,000 trucks in 2008. Some frames were so bad that they had to be replaced. Later, about 150,000 models from 2001 to 2004 were recalled due to spare tires detaching from the vehicle.

      All in all, sales were very good for the first generation, mainly with young buyers. At the end of the generation run, sales surpassed the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota, but the Ford Ranger was still ahead in the compact truck class.

      In 2000, work began on the second generation of Tacoma, which came out in 2004. This gave the first generation of Tacoma a fantastic nine-year run. These trucks can still be found on the roads and in the wilderness today, they paved the way (and rock crawled the way) to the stellar fit, finish, and performance that we know and love today with the Toyota Tacoma.

      Image Credits

      Generation 1.1 - Courtesy of Consumer Guide Automotive

      Generation 1.2 - Courtesy of AutoBlog

      Generation 1.3 - Courtesy of AutoBlog