First off, a big thanks to all who have ever contributed to this site. The amount of corporate knowledge is vast and overwhelming. Iíve been actively reading posts on the site for the past 2 years but didnít join until recently. Basically every question I ever had about my Taco had already been answered, so I never needed to post anything until recently. This post covers my build. It doesnít cover any new ground, but just details the parts and process of building up my 2004 4X4 Double Cab TRD. Hopefully someone will read this and pull some useful information out of it for their own build.
Back in 1999 I bought the first compact crew cab that was available in the U.S., a Nissan Frontier. It was a great truck but I had truck envy a year later when Toyota debuted their double cab. I eventually sold the Frontier and downsized to Civics for the better part of a decade while I changed careers and money was tight (and I cared about things like gas mileage). I knew one day that Iíd be back in a 4-door pick-up, and that it would probably be a first generation Tacoma. As my wife says, ďGuys should drive Trucks.Ē I couldnít disappoint her, now could I?
My last experience with a Toyota was my 1986 X-Cab 4X4. It was gutless, but I beat on that thing and it never complained. Talk about an indestructible truck! I eventually sold it to help fund the Frontier.
Back to the present Ė I spent 4 months looking for a low mileage Tacoma. The search was nationwide and I eventually found one in Sacramento, CA. It had 52,000k miles on it when I picked it up at the dealer in 2011. The frame rust issue has always been a concern since it spent 5 years in Jersey, but itís been given a clean bill of health (so far).
Upgrades were far and few between during the first year, but the stock CD player had to go immediately.
Polk DB6501 Component System
Jensen 400.2 amp
Pioneer 12Ē shallow mount sub in enclosure
RAAMmat/Ensolite in all doors, kicker panels and behind passenger seat
Clifford paging alarm system
The forums were indispensable for installation hints and dash tear down. I found a sub enclosure that fit nicely behind the rear seat, though itís the minimum cu ft. required for the sub. The RAAMmat/Ensolite was install was quite a task, but the reduction in road noise was noticeable. When I get motivated again Iíll probably do the floor.
Over the next year the mods were sparse. I added a shell from Craigslist and did the deckplate mod for S&Gís
It was time to replace the stock coilover and shocks this year.
The housings were literally falling (rusting) off the rear shocks from its time in Jersey, so instead of just buying new shock I decided it was time to go big.
Icon Front coilovers and rear shocks
Icon rear shocks
ProComp Baja style wheels with new lug nuts
BF Goodrich A/T 285/75/16
AFE air filter
Rear brake line extension
Front diff drop
A good friend (and mechanic) spent 6 hours installing everything while I assisted. A few of the top bolts of the old coilovers were frozen and had to be cut off with the grinder. The new coilovers went on without incident. They came set up for 2 inches of lift and we gave them an additional 6-8 turns to get another ĺ of an inch, just below the maximum recommended exposed thread of 2 1/8 inches.
We did the diff drop kit next. Iím not sure how much of a difference this really made, but at $30, it was a no-brainer while we were installing everything else. The kit also included spacers for the rear plate of the front skid plate. We had to enlarge the rearmost holes of the rear plate to get the bolts to line up. I ordered new CV boot clamps this week and will be installing them shortly to resemble something close to the ďCV Boot ModĒ found on this site.
Next up was the Icon AAL which advertises 1.5Ē of lift. I got closer to 1Ē, most likely due to the weight of the shell on the back of the truck. The AAL is actually 3 leafs that replace the stock overload leaf. A couple of the old U-bolts were rusted on pretty good and had to be cut off with the grinder. Installation was pretty straight forward and we put the rear shocks on at the same time.
We installed the rear BPV (purchased from Toytec) at the same time, based upon other Tacoma drivers input of the rear brakes disappearing after the lift. We gave the bracket a bit of a dog-leg bend to get it to fit correctly. In hindsight I would have purchased the bracket made by forum member JLee as itís shape doesnít appear to require any bending and the bolt hole options for different size lifts is more extensive. The rear brake line extension was added at the same time. This was recommended for more aggressive off-roading, which doesnít apply to me at this point, but who knows what the future holds.
After a trip to the alignment bay we were done. The rack and pinion bolts were frozen and had to be torched for 5 minutes before they could be moved.
When all was said and done, I added 2.5Ē of lift in the front and 1Ē in back. I went from 265/70 to 285/75 tires. I initially didnít have any rubbing issues. The next weekend my 1.5Ē spacers arrived and I decided to give back a bit of the lift we added with the 6-8 turns on the coilovers.
They were adjusted back down to the preset height and thatís when the rubbing started. I had already done the pinch weld mod in anticipation of the lift, but I was still getting a bit of interference on the rear end of the fender flare and corner of the front bumper. I decided to crank the front end back up to minimize the fender trimming. While adjusting the second coilover, one end of the Icon spanner wrench snapped off.
After a trip to the hardware store for the purchase of a 1Ē X 10Ē anodized pipe (breaker bar), I was back in business and completed lifting the front end. With the aid of a Dremel tool and a hammer, I was able to trim and bend things out of the way.
Handling has improved immensely. The truck corners with much more confidence and very little roll. Hitting the bumps, the truck rebounds and stabilizes immediately.
If I had to do it over again, I probably would have passed on the wheel spacers to avoid cutting and bending things up front since Iím the kind of guy thatís always worrying about resale value, but this is the dream truck so I have no intention of selling.
Itís at about 75k miles now. Next up is spark plug and wire replacement and a Seafoam treatment.