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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bought a 1996 Tacoma lowered 3". Jittery bumpy ride. My question: is this due to the lowering or did the first gen Tacomas just have a hard ride. As an old geezer, I would prefer a nice smooth ride and just do not favor lowered vehicles.
 

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Look under it and see what shocks and how it was lowered. Blocks in the back? Shorter springs in the front? If it looks like this is the case and the shocks are original then here lies the problem of poor calving for a lowered stance. Lowered vehicles will ride ‘rougher’ than their regular height counterparts.
 

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Mambeau / Admin
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The first thing to consider is how familiar you are with riding in small pickups. Overall, small pickups - especially when not loaded down - ride rougher and more 'bouncy' than similar-sized passenger cars.

Having said that ...

Any lowering strategy will affect the firmness and springiness of the ride. The degree to which the ride is affected varies depending on exactly how the lowering was done.

Similarly, the prospects for smoothing out the ride depend on how the truck was lowered.

So ... Like Brake Weight indicated, the first thing that needs to be done is to determine exactly how the truck was modified to sit 3" lower.

The most common strategy for a circa 3" drop would be a ball joint flip in the front and blocks in the rear.

However, there are other ways it could have been done.

Finally ... Un-doing the drop and going back to stock height can be more versus less hassle depending on how the drop was done in the first place.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks. The previous owner was kind enough to fully document his mods. For the front he did a ball joint flip. He bought a DJM suspension Tacoma Drop Kit. For the rear, he simply reversed the set up with blocks to lower it. My previous truck was a Dodge Ram 50; a rebadged Mighty Max. It rode a lot smoother. I am also having trouble finding tires in 14" size. If the truck was higher, I could go to 15" with much better selection. Neither mechanic I use wants to reverse the set up claiming it is a lot of work. I want a good ride not a sexy lower look. My tire installer said he might even have trouble putting the truck on his tire lift with it being lowered. Not sure I buy that.
 

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That truck is not near too low for a lift. I’ve got a VDub with the subframe about 2” off the pavement and I was able to get it on the lift for wheels and another place for an alignment. Took three places to find one that’d align it. Nobody wanted to drive it onto the lift. Once I got the front tires up there they took it the rest of the way.


As for the suspension it sounds like basically stock geometry, just lower. What shocks?
 

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Mambeau / Admin
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Thanks for the additional details ...

As far as I know, you'd need OEM A-arms, and possibly replacement splined bolts to undo the DJM ball joint flip in the front. These were the only items mentioned in the single response I got to this question back in 2006:

https://www.customtacos.com/forum/54-1995-5-2004/77819-what-parts-etc-needed-undo-b-j-flip.html

I'm not sure about the rear, because I'm not sure what's meant by the previous owner 'reversing the setup'. This gives me pause because it might refer to doing what we call the 'S-Dad Mod' (transplanting 6-lug 4X4 / PreRunner rear leafs into a 5-lug 2WD) to obtain part of the desired drop. In the off chance there was an S-Dad Mod in the mix, you'd need to get a pair of 5-lug leaf sets.

It's common to remove one or more leaf(s), but this isn't always done for a 3" drop.
 

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Mambeau / Admin
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The 5 luggers were spring under axle stock?
Yep.

On 6-luggers the leafs sit over the axle. This is why the 6-lug leafs are relatively flatter and used to get a mild drop using the 'S-Dad Mod'.
 

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Couple things to note as a fellow owner of a bone stock 1996 Tacoma RWD. I'm also a geezer and find the ride in my truck relatively comfortable. It rides very similarly to an average passenger car, in fact. I haven't touched the suspension other than replacing the front shocks with OEM replacement quality parts.

The second thing worth asking is are you sure it's a 1996? Mine has sealed beams and yours has the 1997 and later style flush style headlights. Search for pics of 1996 Tacomas and you'll see what I mean. Mine also has the large old school TOYOTA in the middle of the tailgate. I believe 1997 and later had the small Toyota logo on the tailgate.
 

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Mambeau / Admin
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... The second thing worth asking is are you sure it's a 1996? Mine has sealed beams and yours has the 1997 and later style flush style headlights. Search for pics of 1996 Tacomas and you'll see what I mean. Mine also has the large old school TOYOTA in the middle of the tailgate. I believe 1997 and later had the small Toyota logo on the tailgate.
The 1997 model year continued to use the large 'TOYOTA' decal on the tailgate, but the decal colors changed.

I'm not sure if there were differences among models or trim levels with regard to which decals were available.

The re-designed headlights (and grille) appeared on 2WD models in the 1997 model year. They appeared on the 4WD models in the 1998 model year.

Some folks prefer one grille / headlight / bumper style over another, and they transplant different years' components to get the look they like. Some transplants only require swapping a few parts; others require swapping out the entire front clip.

Keneye's Taco was lowered, so it's possible the prior owner extended his taste for customization to the grille / headlights, too. I don't know one way or the other ... All I'm saying is that someone who'd customize the height may well have customized other things as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Had a run in with a deer. Fenders are from a 2000 Taco. I suspect it is the same with the other grill parts. Title says 1996. Thanks,
Ken
 

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Mambeau / Admin
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Had a run in with a deer. Fenders are from a 2000 Taco. I suspect it is the same with the other grill parts. Title says 1996. Thanks,
Ken
Sounds like the previous owner took the opportunity to do a 1998 - 2000 front clip swap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The young man put on a different exhaust, breather, front end. It had holes but was missing the external cab visor. That I would have liked. Too pricey for me to add now. He gave me the original fenders, the complete exhaust which looks new, spare new clutch, and a spare tire in alloy rim. $1900. So I can't complain. 129k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
No low profile tires. 14". But I prefer it being stock, so I have better selection of 15" tires.
 

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The young man put on a different exhaust, breather, front end. It had holes but was missing the external cab visor. That I would have liked. Too pricey for me to add now. He gave me the original fenders, the complete exhaust which looks new, spare new clutch, and a spare tire in alloy rim. $1900. So I can't complain. 129k miles.
That's a steal around these parts, well done! I also own a 96 and it has always had a rough ride, long before I modified it. I seem to recall people saying that ball joint flips ride poorly as well, so you may have a compound problem. As for wheels, I have 17" wheels with beefy tires and am lowered, so you should be able to find 15 or 16 inch wheels that can work. Also, you really should abandon those mechanics, they sound like they don't know anything.
 

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Bought a 1996 Tacoma lowered 3". Jittery bumpy ride. My question: is this due to the lowering or did the first gen Tacomas just have a hard ride. As an old geezer, I would prefer a nice smooth ride and just do not favor lowered vehicles.
I've got a 1999 Tacoma 5 lug standard cab with a 3/4 drop on it with belltech shocks on all 4 corners and I'm over 50 with back issues and it's not all that bad .....you get the right set up its definitely an improvement, you lose that big happy tail wiggle and it becomes a whole different truck .....wish I'd done it sooner
 
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