Upsizing A Trail Taco With Better Suspension Ingredients
People go off-road for a number of reasons. While most do it for pure wheeling enjoyment, some do it so they can access other outdoor sports, hobbies, and pastimes. Over the years our friend’s ’98 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 has served as a hunting rig, backwoods explorer, surfboard hauler, and all-around trusty pickup. With 160K on the clock and well over a decade of good use, he has finally decided to give the truck a little more off-road prowess.
Like most dual-purpose rigs, the 2.7L Taco needs to be able to maintain good highway manners and stay relatively low slung for practical purposes of hauling. After doing a bit of research, the decision was made to equip the pickup with a 3-inch Skyjacker Suspension lift. The subtle and budget-friendly 3-inch lift offers plenty of room for larger 32-inch-tall tires and will give the truck a great stance that fits both the on- and off-highway needs.
To oversee the Taco’s transition we stopped by the 4Wheel Parts store in Raleigh, North Carolina. The guys at the Raleigh shop are wheeling enthusiast just like us and know what it takes to get the job done right. In just under a day’s time the 4Wheel Parts crew had the Taco lifted, aligned, and ready for the trail. In the end, the mild upgrades proved to be just the boost this Taco needed.
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With the suspension install wrapped up the Toyota was tossed onto the 4Wheel Parts alignment machine. The Tacoma’s independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering took a bit of tweaking to get just right (years of rust and lack of service didn’t help). Don’t be surprised to find that your old Taco needs new rack bushings and/or inner tie rods, as these are common wear points.
Good With the Pros
The Tacoma received a fresh pair of shoes in the form of 32x11.50 Goodyear MTRs. Mounted on 15x8 Pro Comp 8069 wheels, the truck now has a wider stance, a more stylish appearance, and no scrubbing issues at all. The MTR’s tread stagger gives the truck great grip in a variety of terrains, without compromising on-road manners. And since the Pro Comp aluminum wheel is extremely lightweight, the fresh setup didn’t seem to zap away much power.