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    Resources

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    A common upgrade that Tacoma owners absolutely love to put on their trucks are rock sliders or side steps. Because of this, many Tacoma owners have the question... what’s the difference? The difference is HUGE, and which one you decide to go with really depends on your needs.

    In short, steps generally bolt to your body of the truck and provide easier access to getting into your truck. Sliders generally bolt to your frame and offer protection to the body panels of your truck when doing some serious off-roading. Let's dive in a bit deeper.

    STEPS

    Steps are just that: steps. If you've added a decent lift to your Tacoma and need a little extra help getting in, these give you that extra bump you need. There are plenty of options to choose from depending on your budget and needs. Here are some of those options:

    Single Hoop and Nerf Bars

    Hoop steps and Nerf bars may come as a single, or a double set attached to a tube. Single steps can be an affordable option (around $50), but you may have to drill to get the to fit properly. 

    A set that will fit for sure would be an OEM Predator Tube step.  I'm seeing a lot of dealerships installing these before selling the truck to the public. These are about $548 on Amazon. A cheaper aftermarket Nerf bar can also be had for around $180.

    Running Boards

    Running board are usually one long step that run from your front door to the back of your rear door. Running boards can have hoop steps like nerf bars. Some companies interchange the names, but there are different styles. An average price would be like these iBoard Tacoma running boards for around $220.

    Retractable

    Retractable running boards or side steps are very expensive, but add a very luxurious feel and style to your truck. These stay tucked flush against or under your truck until you’re ready to get in, then they will lower electronically. AMP Research makes a set for around $1500, and that is a typical price.

    ROCK SLIDERS

    As mentioned before, rock sliders bolt to your frame and are designed for protection. If you do some rock crawling or extreme off roading, you run the risk of the rock slamming into the bottom of your truck near the edges. If that happens, you can seriously damage your side panels, and it could even lead to your doors being misaligned. If you play hard, you need to have protection. 

    Note: Some rock sliders have steps, but if they do, they resemble running boards. Hoop and Nerf type steps would snag on rocks and potentially get you stuck.

    The average cost for rock sliders is going to be around $250 to $550 depending on brand and material. Remember that while they may look good, the are supposed to be able to take a beating so you don’t need to get body work done later. Here are a few that you might consider as you're doing your research:

    First, let's start with the Cali Raised rock sliders that we carry here at Empyre Offroad. These things are amazing. They are build extremely well and look so good installed on your Tacoma. The cost on these is $500 without any customization such as powder coating, the ability to bolt them on vs welding etc.

    Bay Area Metal Fabrication (BAMF) makes a set of sliders for around $450. A lot of people talk about these on the forums, so they must be really solid and do their job well.

    Another popular choice is from SOS Off Road Concepts. These are a little on the higher end at around $580, but people are happy with them. Both these and the ones from BAMF offer running board-style steps. 

    4x Innovations makes a cheaper solution at $245, but you do have to get them welded on. So unless you have a welder laying around your garage or a neighbor who welds, it could end up costing you a bit more. 

    As you can see, there are plenty of options out there, and this guide should help point you in the correct direction to help you understand the difference between sliders and steps, and what to get for your truck.

    Image Credits

    Single/Nerf “Predator” Step - Tacoma World user HardCase

    Running Boards - Aries Automotive

    Retractable - Truck Access Plus

    BAMF Sliders - Bay Area Metal Fab

    SOS Off Road Concepts Sliders - SOS Off Road

    4x Industries - TTORA user Scuba

    Cali Rasied Slider - Cali Raised

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

    Top 20 Mods & Accessories Under $300 For 3rd Gen Tundras

    Top 20 Mods & Accessories Under $300 For 3rd Gen Tundras

    For the last few years we've devoted all of our love to Tacomas here at Emypre Off Road, mostly, because that's what I currently own. However, I've had countless people reach out on forums, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms asking me to start writing about and selling Tundra products.

    Well, 2019 is the year for us to get into that market, so here's the first post of many to come. As you well know, Toyota Tundra trucks are just as popular as Tacomas and like their little brother, Tundra owners love to mod out their trucks. Here is a great list of Toyota Tundra modifications and accessories you can buy and install to give you truck a little flair and personalization. Most of these mods and ideas come from the pros on forums and Facebook groups, some of which are my dear friends. If your Tundra is a 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 or 2019, this post is for you!

    So, let's dive right in...

    Grille (Under $300)

    It’s the first thing everyone sees, so why have a factory one like everyone else? I don’t make ones for Tundras yet, but there are dozens of options out there. Find one that fits your style. A quick search on CARiD show some of the many to choose from.

    Cali Raised LED Side Projection Ditch Lights (About $115)

    Ditch lights are a great way to help you turn day into night for that serious off roading, or just driving down the driveway of your ranch at night. There are multiple options you can select, but a basic kit is around $115.

    Cali Raised Replacement LED Fog Light Pods ($120) 

    The factory fog lights are garbage compared to the substantially brighter, more durable, and longer lasting LED options that Cali offers. More subtle than ditch lights, these LEDs will make certain you see what’s in front of you.

    Cali Raised Lower Bumper LED Light ($270) 

    If you simply need more light, this stealthy bar is perfect. It gives a sleek factory look when you don’t need it, and light-up-the-night performance when you do with a choice of spot or combo beam options.

    Vinyl Tailgate Inserts ($15)

    For very little, you can make your Tundra pop by adding some colored vinyl inserts to the letters on your tailgate. I offer a lifetime warranty on mine. 

    Pop & Lock Power Tailgate Lock ($94)

    Forget about remembering to use your key to lock your tailgate. Match this with a tonneau cover, and your cargo is safe or accessible with just the press of a button.

    Spidertrax Wheel Spacers ($130)

    When size matters on a budget, these spacers give an excellent and cost effective way to widen your ride. The extra width gives an impressive stance over the factory setup, but you get to keep your factory wheels.

    OEM Bed Mat ($100) 

    Bed mats are an easy way to keep your stuff from rolling around. There are plenty of options, but you can’t go wrong with OEM for something like this.

    Gator Tri Fold Tonneau ($219)

    I have covered all the basics about different types of covers for your trucks, and here is one that I recommend. It’s inexpensive, effective, and looks good. What more could you want?

    Husky Floor Liners ($179)

    Keep your feet planted and the mess off your carpet with quality mats. Husky offers multiple options depending on your budget and style.

    Deck Rail System ($208)

    These are a lifesaver if you use your bed frequently for different utilities. It’s the perfect companion for storage assistance and accessory mounting.

    Black-Out Badges ($140)

    If you don’t want decals, these solid emblems will replace your factory ones with a set of sleek black ones. If you like dark, these are for you.

    Rear Sway Bar ($233) 

    Visual stuff is great, but performance is better. Enhance your factory handling characteristics with an easy to install sway bar to help beef things up.

    Escort Passport 8500X50 ($129)

    Trucks a great off road, but a top speed of around 110 mils per hour can get you into trouble. This is a highly reviewed average detector. It may give you some false readings, but it's better than breaking the bank. Be safe.

    Door Sill Protectors ($34)

    You want to protect your truck inside and out, and these help prevent scuffs and scraps that happen daily. Of course, you’ll remember what you’re driving, because “TUNDRA” is molded into each one!

    Door Sill Protector Decals ($11)

    If you find the letters in your door sills are hard to read, these will give it an extra pop. Match your paint, or get a color that compliments your exterior.

    Center Console Organizer ($29)

    I don’t remember how half the stuff in my console got there, but with one of these, I’ll at least be able to keep it all organized. You’ll be shocked at the world of difference this simple tray makes.

    Under Seat Storage ($225)

    If your console isn’t enough, make use of the storage room under your seat with these compartments. It’s a great place to hide what you don’t want wandering eyes to see.

    Tyger Nerf Bars ($289)

    Jump into your Tundra in style with these textured side step rails that not only give you a leg up on your friend’s trucks, but they help protect the underside when you’re rock crawling. 

    Pioneer Stereo Upgrade With Apple Car Play ($290)

    In a previous post, I covered all types of stereo options. A good one for your Tundra is this Pioneer unit with almost every app and option you can think of, including Apple CarPlay.

    Your truck, your style. There are tons of inexpensive options to make your truck stand out from purely cosmetic, to function and performance as well. You don’t need to break the bank to stand apart, and these are some great ways for you to get started.

    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 Tacoma DIY Maintenance Reference Guide

    3rd Generation Toyota Tacoma DIY Maintenance Reference Guide

    It’s always fun and generally cheaper to do work on your truck yourself. Sometimes you may know how to do the job, but need some vehicle specific details and quick tips. That’s where this guide comes in.

    Keep in mind that if you are not completely confident or sure about what you are doing, you could always cause some extreme damage to your Tacoma. It’s best to take your truck to a mechanic in those situations, but if you want to tinker, here's some helpful information and here's three tools that will come in handy for almost all of the maintenance you will be doing:

    Inspecting and Adjusting Fluid Levels

    Engine Oil (0W-20 ILSAC GF-5 oil - Toyota part # 00279-0WQTE-01)

    1. Check with the engine warm, over 5 minutes after shutting off 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. Per manual, it’s 1.6 quarts from the low mark to the full mark. Don’t overfill your oil!

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

    1. Between LOW and FULL lines with the engine cold

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

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

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

    1. Between min and max (cold and hot lines provided)
    2. Cold - Not driven in the last 5 hours (50-85 degrees Fahrenheit fluid temp)
    3. Hot - Driven 50 MPH for 20 minutes (140-175 degrees Fahrenheit fluid temp)
    Clutch Fluid (FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3 or SAE J1703)

    Rotating Tires

    • Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles or 6 months.
    • Front to back or back to front on each side
    • Lug nut torque - 83 lb-ft (21mm)
    • Check torque after about 1000 miles after rotating

    Replacing Engine Oil and Filter

    If you want a complete guide, we have one on how to change the oil on a third generation Toyota Tacoma.

    Assuming you are using synthetic oil, replace it every 10,000 miles or 12 months. Severe use 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)
    • No. 1 engine under cover sub-assembly - 22 lb-ft (12mm)
    • No. 2 engine under cover sub-assembly (off-roads) - 22 lb-ft (12mm)

    Parts:

    • Oil - 6.1-6.2 qts 0W-20 ILSAC GF-5 oil - Toyota part # 00279-0WQTE-01
    • Oil pan drain plug gasket - Toyota part # 90430-12031
    • Oil filter element kit - Toyota part # 04152-YZZA1

    Special tools:

    Tips:

    1. Requires removing skid(s) for access.
    2. The oil filter has a permanent housing. The oil filter element kit includes 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 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.

    Lubricate Propeller Shaft 

    You should do this every 15,000 miles or 18 months. If it’s severe, it should be every 5,000 miles or 6 months.

    Parts:

    Special tools:

    Tips:

    1. Spiders should be greased until fresh grease purges from all four seals. They should purge somewhat evenly. If they don’t, there may be a problem.
    2. I would not attempt to lube the center support bearing. I suspect it is sealed and is meant never to be self-serviced.
    3. Only four-wheels-drives have zerk fittings. You won't find any on a two-wheel-drives.

    Re-Torque Propeller Shaft Bolts

    You should do this every 15,000 miles or 18 months. If severe, try every 5,000 miles or 6 months.

    Torque specs:

    • U-joint bolts - 65 lb-ft (14mm/17mm)
    • Center support bearing - 27 lb-ft (Be careful with this. If it was loose, it may need realignment)

    Tips:

    1. You will need a 14mm and 17mm box ends or flarenuts for the u-joint flanges. Sockets will not fit.
    2. The flanges at the transfer case have a 17mm bolt head with a 14mm nut.
    3. Flanges at the diffs have a 14mm bolt with a 14mm nut.
    4. I recommend a box-end or flarenut crowfoot on your torque wrench, but don't forget to lower your torque setting due to the longer torque arm. Here's a calculator on how to do that: http://www.cncexpo.com/TorqueAdapter.aspx
    5. You will have to remove the heat shield at rear of the transfer case (12mm)

    Re-Torque Leaf Spring U-bolts

    Torque spec:

    • 52 lb-ft (19mm)

    Replace Cabin Air Filter

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

    Parts:

    • Filter - Toyota part # 88508-01010

    Tips:

    1. If you don't know how to do this, you can find it in your owner’s manual.

    Replace Engine Air Filter

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

    Parts:

    • Filter - Toyota part # 17801-0P100

    Tips:

    1. This is an easy job, but you don't want to mess it up. Make sure there are no holes or tears in your new filter. Make sure everything is clean before you open up the box and remove filter. Also, make sure you have a good mating/seal around entire edge of the filter. Gaps could let dirt in past your filter and into your engine.

    Front Brakes

    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 - 91 lb-ft 

    Service Specs:

    • Pad min thickness: 1.0 mm
    • Rotor min thickness: 26.0 mm
    • Max rotor runout: 0.05 mm

    Parts:

    • Rotors - Toyota part # 43512-04052
    • Pads - Toyota part # 04465-04090

    Tips:

    1. Measure the runout 10 mm from outer edge of the rotor; the rotor should be installed with all six lug nuts torqued to 83 lb-ft when you’re checking.
    2. If the runout is beyond the maximum limit, check the bearing play and axle hub runout is normal before replacing the rotors.
    3. If the rotor is stuck on the hub, use an M8-1.25 bolt in the holes on the rotors to break it free.
    4. Install new rotors in a position with the least amount of runout.

    Rear Brakes

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

    Service specs:

    • Drum max diameter - 10.08 in
    • Shoe min thickness - 1.0 mm

    Replace Differential Oil

    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)
    • No. 2 engine under cover assembly - 22 lb-ft (12mm)

    Parts:

    • Toyota Genuine Differential gear oil LT 75W-85 GL-5 or equivalent - Toyota part # 08885-02506
    • Front - 1.6 qts; Rear - 3.1-4.2 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


    Tips:

    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 bottom of 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
    8. Here is a good guide on how to replace your differential fluid in a 3rd generation Tacoma

    Replace Transfer Case Oil

    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 - 27 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")
    • Fill plug - 27 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")

    Parts:

    • 1.1 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

    Tips:

    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

    Manual Transmission Oil

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

    Torque specs:

    • Drain plug - 27 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")
    • Fill plug - 27 lb-ft (24mm or 15/16")

    Parts:

    • Toyota Genuine Manual Transmission Gear Oil GL-3 (GL-4) or equivalent, SAE 75W-90
    • 4 cyl - 2.3 qts, 6 cyl - 2.6 qts
    • Drain plug gasket
    • Fill plug gasket

    Tips:

    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 bottom of fill plug opening
    4. Here is a good article on how to replace the manual transmission oil in a 3rd generation Tacoma

    Replace Automatic Transmission Fluid 

    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")

    Parts:

    • 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)

    Tips:

    1. Here is a good reference article
    2. 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.

    Replace Engine Coolant

    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.

    Parts:

    • 9.1-11.1 qts Toyota SLLC - Toyota part # 00272-SLLC2 (50/50 pre-diluted, Canada is 55/45). The quantity depends on the model. Consult your manual.

    Tips:

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

    Working on your truck can be a satisfying feeling. Sometimes things can be easy, and sometimes they are not. It is always best to take your truck to a mechanic in the event you are unsure of what you are doing. One wrong mistake could cost you thousands to repair. However, if you do know what you are doing, hopefully these numbers and tips help you with the most important aspect of vehicle ownership: maintenance.

    * 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 Tacoma Interior Mod & Upgrade Ideas

    10 Awesome Toyota Tacoma Interior Mod & Upgrade Ideas

    If you've spent time on our site or in the forums, you know that there are so many different ways to customize your Toyota Tacoma. A lot of the popular mods happen to the exterior of your truck... obviously, t exterior is what everyone will see, but the interior is where you spend more of your time. In this post, I want to highlight ten, awesome Tacoma interior mods / accessories that you can quickly, and in most cases, affordably make to your truck.

    TRD Pro Shift Knob

    If you have an automatic Tacoma, one of my favorite interior mods is the TRD Pro shift knob. The shift knob is the first and last thing you touch when driving, so stand out from the crowd and get something unique. It’s fast and east to remove the stock one, and there are plenty of after market options. You can buy it here.

    Clazzio Leather Seat Covers

    Seat covers not only help protect your seats, but they add a unique style. You can go the cheap route and get some basic ones that simply slip over your seat. While they protect the factory material from dirt, they generally are not form fitting and that baggy appearance is not attractive. Clazzio Leather Seat Covers makes custom fitted seat cover in a wide array of colors and materials. They offer a great warranty and they are made to not interfere with your side airbags. You can buy them here.

    Husky Floor Mats/Liners

    The factory floor mats that come with your Tacoma are okay and get the job done most of the time, but you really want something durable and comfortable. A lot of aftermarket options are either one or the other. Husky Liners is the best of both worlds with a soft, yet durable material the fits perfectly in your truck. Husky also offers a selection of mud flaps and bed liners as well. You can buy them here.

    Floor Mat Fasteners

    As you know, the stock floor mats aren't secured to the floor, except for the drivers side. If your mats end up everywhere, a good upgrade would be the Eagle Klaw Floor Mat Fastener. This simple device requires no modifications to your truck, but keeps your mat secure. Better grip isn’t only for convenience, but safety too. You don’t want your mat sliding under your pedals. You can buy them here.

    Interior LED Lights 

    LED lighting is the way to go: they last longer, are brighter, and give a modern look and feel to your ride. For around $40, you can upgrade not only your map and vanity mirror lights, but also your license plate and the rear middle light. The swaps are easy to do, and you’ll probably never have to buy bulbs again.

    Here's a good thread on Tacoma World that will tell you what you need.

    AC Vent Decals

    Some people like chrome, some people don’t. If you have a 2016 – 2019 Tacoma, you are stuck with a chrome ring around your AC vents. Our matte black Tacoma AC vent decals offer a sleek, blacked-out look. You can buy them here.

    Door Sill Decals

    Our Tacoma door sill decals take the boring black lettering in your sills and make them pop with a color of your choice. The kit comes with decals for all four doors. You can buy them here.

    Glove Box Decals

    That same problem will be on your glove box, so we give you the ability to have your lettering pop with our Tacoma glove box inserts as well. Since they can be a little tricky to install, we give you two sets in the kit. These are all great inexpensive upgrades to your interior. You can buy them here.

    A/C Current Plug

    This next one requires as little bit of work, but is probably one of the most helpful upgrades. If you want an A/C current plug in your truck, Tacoma World offers a great article about how to do it. With a couple cuts and a little bit of wiring, you can not only have an outlet at the rear of your center console, but you can have it run in 400w mode consistently instead of switching to 100w when you shift out of park.

    Stereo & Sound System

    Aside from your seat and steering wheel, probably the most commonly used part of your interior is the radio. In a previous post, I covered the best ways you can upgrade your stereo for under $300. I encourage you to check that out here: Upgrading your Toyota Tacoma stereo for under $300.

    All in all, there are so many things you can do to upgrade your interior. It all comes down to your style and budget. 

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

    Image Credits:

    Shift Knob - Elmore Toyota TRD Parts

    Husky Mats – Auto Accessories Garage

    Clazzio

    Eagle Klaw

    Outlet – Tacoma World user “djembefola”

    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