Just like wearing a helmet and other gear while riding a motorcycle, it’s a good idea to protect your rig on the trails. In the months since our ’17 Tacoma left the dealership, we’ve added many things, including 35-inch tires, new wheels, and a pneumatic locker for the front differential. As the truck began to see more difficult trails, we were reminded of how its wheelbase, approach, and departure angles could still hold it back.
The ’17 Tacoma has a 127.4-inch wheelbase, roughly 2.5 feet more than a two-door Jeep Wrangler. While the long wheelbase is helpful in some off-road situations, it can make the rocker panels susceptible to damage when off-road. To keep the truck sliding across rocks and logs—and to make sure our doors would open afterward—we chose to install DeMello Offroad’s Bolt-On Sliders.
Even with the suspension lift and taller 35-inch tires, the factory plastic bumpers are still threatened when we drop off ledges and nose the truck into deep mudholes. We’re not afraid of a little body damage, but heavy-duty bumpers are designed to slide over and across obstacles where the factory plastic might not hold up. The Flat Top front bumper from DeMello Offroad and the T3 High-Clearance rear bumper from CBI Offroad Fab both add extra strength to the Tacoma’s ends to protect the body from thumps and bumps on the trails while helping to generate the high clearance we need.
Replacing the factory front bumper meant that the OE incandescent foglights would no longer fit. We solved this problem, and then some, with a pair of Baja Designs Squadron Sport LED lights mounted in the new bumper, and an additional pair of Baja Designs Squadron Racer Edition LED lights mounted on the truck’s A-pillars. We now have auxiliary lights down low to punch through dust and snow, as well as the option to illuminate areas to the side of the truck with the A-pillar lights.
Here are some of the highlights of the install.
Since installation, both bumpers and rock sliders have taken beatings from tight and rocky trails, protecting the Tacoma’s body panels. Our new combination of Baja Designs lights has also kept our nighttime trail activities well lit.
To start, we lined the DeMello Offroad Bolt-On Sliders up with the Tacoma’s framerails and accounted for all the included hardware.
We attached each slider to the framerail using four 1/2-inch Grade 8 bolts, washers, and nylon insert locknuts.
Moving on, we drilled four holes into the underside of the frame using a 1/2-inch bit. We used the four mounting holes on the sliders to guide our drill, covered the exposed metal with black silicon primer to prevent rust, then torqued the M10 bolts until the sliders were snug.
Before installing the Flat Top front bumper, we laid out all the parts.
We disconnected all the factory foglights and sensors behind the bumper and hung them safely out of the way. To prepare for our cuts and to protect the Tacoma’s paint, we covered the area with a thick layer of tape. DeMello Offroad gives detailed instructions showing specifically where to cut the front bumper and plastic fender flares. It never hurts to triple-check these measurements before putting your truck under the knife. A cut-off wheel and steady hands made quick work of the factory plastic.
With the old plastic bumper removed, we pulled out the plastic impact damper and unbolted the bash bar and factory towhooks.
Our Baja Designs Squadron Sport LED lights fit into the bumper’s foglight ports. We also attached the included amber lens to cut through snow and dust from down low.
With the lights mounted and wired to our interior switch panel, we fit the bumper to the Tacoma’s frame using the brackets and hardware DeMello Offroad supplied.
Before installing the rear bumper from CBI Offroad Fab, we unclipped the wiring for the factory license plate lights, removed all the plastic bumper parts and sensors, and unbolted the factory receiver hitch (the hitch wasn’t reused).
Following the detailed instructions from CBI Offroad Fab, we taped and cut the rear body panels to make space for the new bumper. Lining the trimmed edges with the included adhesive liner gave a cleaner look and helped fill any gap between the bumper and the body.
Using the Grade 8 hardware included in the installation kit, we affixed the T3 rear bumper to the frame, reattached the license plate lighting, and were ready to test out our new high-clearance armor.