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    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.

    The Ultimate Tacoma Tire & Wheel Guide

    The Ultimate Tacoma Tire & Wheel Guide

    Wheels and tires are the best way to customize any vehicle, and our Tacomas are no exception. Whether you intend to do some serious off-roading, or just cruise down the highway, there are options for you. There are some things to know before diving in.

    Stock Tacoma Tire Sizes

    Between 1995 and 2018, Toyota did have varying sizes of the wheels and tires for the Tacomas. Even one model year may have different sizes depending on the model you get: base model, PreRunner, etc. If you’ve got stock wheels, it’s best to check your manual to see what the factory tires are supposed to be. That doesn’t mean different sized tires can’t fit, and it doesn’t mean you can’t change your wheels. That’s where customization comes in.

    Tacoma Lug Patterns

    Your lug pattern is also something to consider if you plan on changing the wheels. You are most likely going to have a five or six lug pattern. Which one you have depends on the model, but you can also always take a glance at yours or check your manual. In most cases, a 4x4 or PreRunner is going to have a six lug pattern (5.5 inch or 137.7mm medium offset), and the rest will have the five lug pattern (4.5 inch or 114.3 high positive offset).

    Regardless if you want traction or looks, a bigger tire on our trucks is good way to go. From the factory, we have room for a larger tire, but how big can we go? There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your big tires.

    Speedometer Calibration

    Your speedometer and odometer will be affected. Both are calibrated by the factory to work with factory wheel and tire sized. Your speed is calculated by the number of rotations your wheels are making. If you pick bigger tires, you are increasing the circumference around the tire, so the distance around it is longer.

    Here’s an example. Your 2017 TRD Pro has stock tires that are 265/70R16, but you put 265/60R18s on instead. Your speedometer will read 50 MPH, but you’re actually going 49.86 MPH. That’s not a big difference, but if you drive it frequently and plan to keep it for a while, your odometer will show a false reading. You can reprogram your truck for new wheel sizes to avoid this issue.

    Powerloss

    A more noticeable issue with larger tires is a loss of power. When you increase the diameter of your wheel, you effectively decrease your rear axle ratio. This will cause a reduction of torque upon acceleration.

    Lift Kits & Spacers

    Keep in mind that you can only increase your tire and wheel size by so much until you need to lift your truck, get new wheels, or start trimming. Just remember the “3% Rule”. Basically you can increase your tire height or width by 3% before having to change your ride height or wheels. In numbers, this is about 1 inch of height, and about .3 inches of width.

    If you lift your Tacoma, you can get away with bigger tires. A good way to remember how big of a tire you can have is to think one inch: one inch of lift can allow one inch more height in your tires. This does not apply to the width of the tires. Width depends on the back spacing of your wheels.

    Legal Note: If your wheels and tires are wide enough to where they extend beyond the body of your truck, you may have to buy fender flares to cover the excess protrusion. Some states in the US require wheels to be covered. Check with your state laws to be on the safe side.

    *There are not many viable options for stock wheels with a three inch lift. A common width for tires on a Tacoma with a three in lift is 285mm, so the tires sizes are based around that. We are going to skip the 15” wheels for obvious reasons.

    When it comes to buying tires and rims, there are plenty of options to choose from. It all depends on your budget, where you are planning on driving, and personal taste. What looks good to you may not look good to someone else. To help you out however, let’s take a look at some popular options. I will focus more on the size of wheel and tire, and not so much on the style of the wheels themselves. Again, that comes down to personal preference.

    BFGoodrich KO2's

    For people with 16” wheels, a common choice on the forums are the 265/75 R16 KO2s by BFGoodrich. You can generally get them for around $150 to $180 each. Reviews on TireRack rate them at around nine out of ten. Tacoma users say they have some great snow traction and they have a long life to them. For the biggest sized tire you can get with no lift on a 16” wheel and best all terrain performance, it looks like it’s hard to beat.

    General Grabber AT2's

    For about $150 each, Taco drivers on 17” wheels tend to like General Grabber AT2 265/70 R17. They are aggressive looking, and seem to perform well on and off road, and have a long life. If you’re looking for the max tire size on a 17” wheel without lifting your truck, this could be the choice for you.

    Cooper Discoverers

    At the same size as the Grabbers, Cooper’s Discoverer is a common option as well. Though not as rushed after as the other, it still gets decent reviews, and at less than $150 each, they are a pretty good deal. For day to day driving, it's an all around good tire.

    Nitto Terra Grappler G2's

    A final option, while closer to the $200 mark, is the Nitto Terra Grappler G2 (there's are what I have). They are an aggressive looking all terrain with good reviews. The Nittos are popular on a number of off-roading sites, which should give you confidence in them being able to conquer most terrains.

    There are tons of options. It all depends on budget and taste. If you can lift your truck, you have more options. If you can get new wheels, you have more options. As long as you keep in mind the speedometer and odometer changes, as well as potential rubbing issues if you go too big, then you'll be fine. People love to add mods to their Tacoma trucks, so make your truck yours!

    Image Credits:

    BFGoodrich KO2 – User Mauiboi84 on Tacoma World

    General Grabber AT2 – User Mtbkrguy on Tacoma World

    Cooper Discoverer – User Maticuno on Tacoma World

    Nitto Terra Grappler G2 – User texastaco11 on Tacoma World

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

    The Ultimate Tacoma Lift Kit Guide

    The Ultimate Tacoma Lift Kit Guide

    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.

    Alignment

    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 coilcover lift kits.

    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.

    You should know that if you do any serious off roading, a spacer lift is probably not the best option for you. Because spacers compress the shock, you could cause the ball joint to break if you hit a big rock or dip. Trust me, this has happened to several friends of mine, so be careful!

    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.

    Here are some popular options for each to consider for your truck:

    Toytec Spacer Kit

    Toytec makes multiple suspension components for our trucks. This is their three inch spacer kit. At $169.99, they are relatively inexpensive, and they are designed to work with stock shocks.

    ReadyLift Leveling Kit

    This company also makes plenty of lift options. This kit costs slightly more at $239.95. Price and features depend on your situation and what you're looking for. 

    Toytec Front OEM Lift Coils

    Coils are generally inexpensive as well like these taller springs from Toytec for $169.99. Always be mindful when buying coils to make sure the shocks you have work with them.

    ICON Coilover Kit

    At over $1200, these kits are your most expensive. This particular kit from ICON offers adjustable ride height. This is a benefit of getting a complete coilover kit: more options.

    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.

    Lift Blocks: The principle of these is 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.

    Add-A-Leafs: 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.

    Leaf Packs: 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.

    Here are some popular options for each to consider for your truck:

    Tuff Country Block Kit

    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.

    Pro Comp Add-A-Leaf

    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.

    Toytec Add-A-Leaf

    I figured I would throw this one in too. It’s a little bit extra at around $85, but it’s one of the more popular options out there for the Toyota Tacoma.

    All-Pro Leaf Pack

    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.

    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, like this kit from Toytec for $180, there is more to it. 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.

    To wrap up, 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!

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

    Vent Ring Vinyl Decal Installation Instructions

    Installing your Tacoma decals isn't extremely difficult, you just need to have a bit of time and some patience.

    Plan on spending between 30-45 minutes and follow the steps below.

    Clean Area

    Take a second and make sure that the area where you will be installing the decals is clean. I like to use rubbing alcohol, a paper towel, and a Q-tip to make sure that there is no dirt, dust or other particles where I will be working. Make sure to let the area dry before installing the decals.

    Create A Soapy Water Solution

    In a small bowl, squirt a pump of hand or dish soap and mix with water. This will be used to apply the decals and make positioning easier.

    Apply Soapy Water Solution To Area

    Take your fingers and dip them in the soapy solution and rub all over the area where you will be installing the decals. Make sure it is good and wet.

    Remove Decals From Backing

    Take some tape, any type will work, but masking tape works the best and touch the corner of the decal and lift up. 

    *** YOU DO NOT WANT TO TRY AND PEEL WITH YOUR FINGERS OR TWEEZERS. IT WILL PEEL THE BACKING AND RUIN THE DECAL ***

    Dip Decals In Soapy Water Solution

    Once the decal is removed, dip the entire thing in the soapy solution. Make sure you know which side is the sticky side.

    Position Decals

    Now that everything is wet, align the edge of the decal with the edge of the chrome ring, ensuring that there is no chrome visible around the edges of the vent ring. The soapy solution will allow you to slide the decal around and position it exactly where you want it. Do not press firmly or the soapy solution will push out and it will stick.

    Push Out Soapy Water Solution

    Once positioned exactly where you want it, hold one area with your finger and take a paper towel and start wiping the area opposite of your finger. This will push the solution out and begin the curing process. Switch sides with your finger and push the solution out of the other side.

    Let Cure For 24-48 Hours

    Please note that you'll want to wait 24-48 hours before trying to touch them again. Yes, they will be sticky and probably won't move, but it's best to wait until they are completely dry.

    If you have any questions about the installation process, please contact us.