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Beginners' Guide To Lowering Your Tacoma

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By: T34418L31 (with minor editing by Jeff)

Front Suspension Options | Rear Suspension Options | Adjustable Suspension

Front Suspension Lowering Options

Drop Coils
All years of 2x4 non-prerunner Tacomas have a coil supension set up with the shock mounted through the coil and attached to the lower control arm and to upper shock mount. A common way to lower your truck is via drop coils. Drop coils can provide 1-3 inch drop depending on the brand and size of coil you choose. Although easy to install, the lower you go with springs, the worse your spring rate will become. There are a few companies out there that offer drop coils with a greater spring rate (i.e. Eibach). They offer drop coils for the Tacoma, ranging from .8-1.5 inch drop depending on what model Tacoma you have and are well-known for their performance. Chassis Tech also offers drop coils ranging from 1-3 inches. These are common for people who want to drop the front farther without flipping their ball joints. The only drawback from these coils is the fact that it will decrease your spring rate and cause some unwanted bounciness. Although it's not terribly noticable while running a good set of shocks, performance-wise you will feel the difference.
Pros: - Easy and fast to install
- Various sizes available (1-3 drop)
- Good choice if you want to drop only 1-2 inches
Cons: -Decrease in spring rate depending on coil used
-May cause premature shock wear if incorrect shock is used

Companies that make drop coils:
Eibach Springs
Chassis Tech
BellTech

Ball Joint Flip
The name is quite a mis-nomer. This modification does not really flip the balljoints, it simply relocates them to the top of the control arms. This is the one of the safest and easiest ways to drop the front a solid 3 inches. It is recommended that you use new grade 8 (or stronger) bolts to replace the stock pressed-in ones. The best part of the ball joiint flip is that it wont change your spring rate. Your factory springs and shocks can remain. However, if you are running worn or blown shocks, it is advised that you replace them with lowered shocks. Making a trip to the alignment shop is absolutely necessary after this suspension modification. Check the 2WD tech articles for more on performing your own quick alignment immediately after performing your flip.
Pros: - The cheapest way to drop 3
- Suspension retains much of factory ride
- Easy to perform with correct tools
- Coils do not need to be replaced
Cons: - Takes a few hours to perform
- Can be tricky for the un-experienced
- Alignment is necessary after this modification

Cutting/Heating Coils
Although this is the absolute cheapest (and oldest) methods of lowering a vehicle, it's not recommended. At all. Really, cutting and heating up the coils to shorten them is dangerous and can cause the coil to crack, break, or fall out of the suspension. It also decreases the spring rate and creates a lot of bounciness.
Pros: - Absolute least expensive method
Cons: - VERY dangerous
- May not provide expected results
- Will provide a harsh ride

Control Arms
Chassis Tech has made a few products to drop your Tacoma via control arms. These pre-fabbed control arms give you the desired drop without flipping the BJ. It simply raises the upper and lower BJ's to create the desired drop. Shocks and coils do not need to be changed unless you really need new coils or shocks.
Pros: - Stock components may remain
- Camber is not as much of an issue
- Good choice if you want to drop only 1-2 inches
Cons: - Slightly more expensive than simply flipping ball joints
- Stock coils must be removed and replaced

Companies that make control arms:
Chassis Tech
DJM Suspension

Coils AND Ball Joint Flip
If you combine drop coils and the ball joint flip, you can get a drop from 4-6 inches. Many people go this route to drop their Tacoma farther than 3 inches. However, it may decrease your spring rate depending on the brand/size coil. You will most likely need the DJM upper control arms to solve camber issues.
Pros: - 4-6 inch drop
- Replacing multiple parts may be expensive/time consuming
Cons: - 4-6 inch drop may be too low for static drop
- Possible rubbing issues

Rear Suspension Lowering Options
There are many options for lowering the rear of your Tacoma and even several different combinations. Listed below are some common options available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Blocks
Lowering blocks are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to lower the rear of a truck. A block of metal is inserted between (above) the leaf springs and the rear axle, causing the axle to be higher - causing the truck to be lower. There are some scary stories floating around the Internet about people who have used alumnium lowering blocks only to have them crack and break, causing damage/injury. Most reputable companies now make their blocks from steel. Some people have stated that the ride is rougher, and some have stated that it is the same. Blocks range in size from 1-5 inches. You will most likely need longer u bolts and you may also want to install lowered rear shocks.
Pros: - Cheapest way to lower the rear
- Your choice of 1-5 inches of lowering
- Very easy install
Cons: - Be careful of cheaply-made blocks
- Bottom mounting plate may cause ground clearance issues - Arguably a slightly harsher ride

Companies that make blocks:
Chassis Tech
BellTech
DJM Suspension

Drop Leaf Springs
This method of dropping gives you the option of 1-3 inches of drop. The overall stiffness of the leaves are more accepted for performance driving. You do not need to use blocks if you are not going to be lowering more than 3 inches. The shock mount raises up so using stock shocks may be a little rough due to the shock bottoming out. Install is slightly harder because leaf springs must be completely removed. So far, Chassis Tech is the only known company that makes steel drop leaves for the Tacoma.
Pros: - No need for blocks unless 3 or more drop is needed
- Stiffer for better handling
- Shock plate does not hang as low
Cons: - Some may not like the stiffer ride
- Reduces load capacity
- Requires new rear shocks

Companies that make Drop Leaf Springs:
Chassis Tech

De-arched Leaf Springs
Some people have gone the route of de-arching their leaf springs. This is done at a reputable spring shop and can give you a desired drop. The way they de-arch them is by heating them up and flatening them. When the leaves are flatened, it can give you a 5-inch drop while not using any blocks. All leaves remain, but load capacity is dimished severly. Many feel this is the best way to drop the rear while retaining good ride quality.
Pros: - Gives a 5 inch drop without using blocks
- Stiffer for better handling
Cons: - Severely reduces load capacity
- Requires new rear shocks
- Requires frame C-notch

Leaf Spring Removal
3 inches of drop in the rear can be aquired by simply removing the middle leaf from the leaf pack. This is done by spreading out the clamps and removing the center bolt and sliding the leaf out. This is the cheapest way to lower the rear 3 inches. Although load capacity is decreased, the fact that this costs almost nothing is a good reason to do it.
Pros: - Costs practically nothing to perform
Cons: - Severely reduces load capacity
- May provide softer ride
- Requires new rear shocks

Adjustable Suspension
Adjustable suspension systems are the most complicated way to lower your truck. They provide huge amounts of travel and can be configured to ride very well. These types of suspension systems are becoming more and more popular.

Air Suspension
Air suspension systems are probably the most popular suspension modification being performed by hardcore mini-truckers right now. Pressurized air is used to inflate air shocks or air bags to articulate the suspension components. Air compressors, gauges, and tanks are commonly used to operate the air delivery system. When configured/installed properly, they provide a comfortable ride and incredible adjustability. However, these systems are usually not for the casual enthusiast. Air suspension systems sometimes require frame modification, replacement of leaf springs with a 3- or 4- link suspension, and much more. A problematic system may cause many headaches and reliability problems.
Pros: - Cool factor
- Good ride quality
- Adjustability can be priceless
Cons: - Relatively expensive
- Relatively difficult to install
- Usually less reliable than static drops

Hydraulic Suspension
Hydraulic suspension systems have been around since the old days of lowriders. Pressurized hydraulic fluid is passed from tank(s) into hydraulic cylinders to articulate the suspension components. These systems are usually not for the casual enthusiast - frame and other modifications may be necessary. A problematic system may cause many headaches and reliability problems. Clean-ups from a leaky hydraulic component may be messy.
Pros: - Cool factor
- Good ride quality
- Adjustability can be priceless
Cons: - Relatively expensive
- Relatively difficult to install
- Usually less reliable than static drops




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