From TW I have learned that I my truck suffers from "Axle Wrap". It's there from the moment our trucks roll off the assembly line, and gets progressively worse as our 3 leaf rear suspension (1st Gen) slowly deteriorates over time. Some on the forum say that I can temporarily solve this problem by greasing various points on the axle at every oil change, others have opted for the more permanent fix of rear suspension replacement. This ranges from the common AAL (Add-A-Leaf) to full out 5 leaf pack installation and a full set of coveted Blisten 5100's. My point is, I always find things I want to spend money on here on TW, but that does not mean that the money is instantly there to make the purchase.
I have read a few threads that mention this mod, and it has been randomly mentioned on other forums, but there has yet to be a complete write-up posted from what I can find. If you want to solve your Axle Wrap Woes but are still saving your hard earned pennies for a new suspension set-up then keep reading. What makes this a "mod" is the fact that you are not using the Leaf Spring Helpers as they are intended to be used, instead you are actually going to install them backwards. I know that instantly sounds like a bad idea, but the purpose of helpers is to "increase your load capacity by 1,500lbs" by acting as a support for your leafs when installed behind your rear axle. This act of installing them backwards means that we will be placing them in front of the rear axle. This does not provide the added support for increased load capacity, but it's new location will strengthen the tired and weak leaf springs. This added strength will not only provide an increase in traction, a more firm and sure footed ride, and much less body roll when cornering but it also effectively keeps axle wrap from occurring. These same actions seem to occur when a full suspension swap takes place, or an AAL is installed, but if you can stomach the fact that an "off brand" suspension component is being installed seemingly incorrectly on your truck, then you too can kiss your Axle Wrap Goodbye....at least until you have the money for all the upgrades you dream about for your baby.
This was performed on my 2003 Double Cab TRD Tacoma, it has 86K miles and has a completely stock suspension set-up. The mod will apply to other body styles and years, but the write up is specific for the 1st Gen owners.
All of the parts needed for this mod were purchased at Advance Auto but their cousins could be found at your local auto parts store. The main component for this write-up is the Leaf Spring Helpers which were $29.99. I chose to use 3M Rubberized Undercoating ($9.99) to hide the blinding metal finish of the helpers, but you could use a can of Duplicolor in flat black if you desire. If you already have all of the necessary tools, and a rattle can in your garage, then this mod will only cost you $29.99+ tax. I will also note that this is 100% reversible for those of you that fear the word "mod".
Ok, to recap, it's inexpensive, reversible and it fixes your Axle Wrap "thump".
What you will need to get started.
- One set of Dynachrome Leaf Spring Helpers (Part# 18921)
- One 1/2'' wrench or ratchet.
- One 3/4'' wrench or Deep Dish ratchet.
- One can of 3M Rubberized Undercoating (or equivalent).
- One can of your favorite barley based beverage (or equivalent).
Step #1 - Paint your Leaf Spring Helpers and let them dry according to the directions of your chosen application.NOTE* Do not paint the threads on the bolts, just thought I would mention that since it would make it near impossible to put this thing together. If you think you will be unsure of the end result once this project is completed, or afraid that you will find yourself in dire need of $30.00 in the near future, you may want to save this for the last step. You cannot return the "helpers" if they are painted.
Step #2 - Park your truck on a flat, level surface and set the emergency brake. You do not need to to place the truck on jack stands to complete this project. If you own them, feel free to bust them out, but for those of us with out them, just wear a shirt you don't mind getting dirty. Check out the area of the leaf springs that you are about to improve.
Step #3 - If you have chosen to paint you helpers at a later date, then skip to step #4. If you have painted your helpers, make sure they are dry and get your supplies together.
Step #4 - Place the helper under your leaf springs with the attached bracket facing up, and on the end furthest from your axle. Remember, you are not installing these according to the included instructions, you are installing these IN FRONT of your rear axle. Place the bolt through the bracket with the included nuts. Follow the included instructions (a black and white picture) which show you that one nut goes on the inside of the bracket and one on the outside of the bracket on the threaded end of the bolt. Tighten by hand to the point that this will support the weight of the helper. Keep in mind that this end of the helper only serves as a guide to keep the helper from swinging around, it is not for support. The larger, stronger U-Bolt is your main support device.
Step #5 - Place the U-Bolt mounting plate on top of your leaf springs, directly above the "dip" in the helper. Insert the U-Bolt into the mounting plate from the bottom, seated inside the "dip". The threaded end of the bolts will be facing up if done correctly. Place the washer on first, then tighten the nuts by hand. (That's what she said.)
Step #6 - Repeat steps #4 and #5 on the other side of your trucks leaf springs.
Step #7 - Once both helpers are tightened by hand, take time to make sure that they are each in the same location on the two separate leaf springs. Once you have verified that the helpers are seated in same locations, meaning that they are both spaced the same distance from the axle and the end of the leaf spring, tighten the remainder of the slack out of the nuts on the U-Bolts. When using hand tools it is hard to gauge the actual amount of torque being applied, but keep in mind that you do not ever want these coming off unless you remove them yourself. On the other end, with the built in bracket, you can still tighten with tools, but this section should be free to somewhat slide and adjust with the movement of the leaf springs. There have been reports that over-tightening this bracket to the point that it could not self adjust will result in failure of the bracket.
Step #8 - The Leaf Spring Helpers included two rivets that when used on during their "recommended" application help increase the load capacity. I have opted not to install the rivets for this reverse installation, but if anyone decides to add this step to their installation keep me updated on the result. At this point, without the rivets, you're done. Step back, and check out your finished product.
After completing this project I went out for a test drive. I instantly noticed that when I put the truck in reverse to back out of the garage, and then into drive when leaving the driveway that my truck did not "thump" or "thud" like I had become so accustomed too over the years. I hit the streets and before making it to the freeway I hit four red lights. The "thump" was still missing from every stop, and no where to be found when I took off again. Not only was the thump gone, but the truck just seemed to "take off" easier. I'm not a mechanic, or an engineer, but I have driven this truck everyday for the last 5 years. You know when something is different, and I could tell that the tires felt more "sticky". When I made it onto the freeway on-ramp I could instantly notice the decrease in body roll, the truck was planted on the pavement. At highway speeds the truck did not move around with the wind, and on the cloverleaf for the interchange I could easily maintain a steady apex in my turn with the decrease in body roll. The drive home was just plain fun, because the whole time that I'm thinking of all the things that are so much better, I realized that I had only given up $40 bucks and an hour in the garage!
Below are the pictures that are in order based on the above mentioned steps.