When it comes to a great all-around midsize truck, the 2005-2015 Toyota Tacoma is one of the best. With tremendous aftermarket support, proven long-term reliability, and multiple cab configurations, the second-generation Tacoma has become a go-to truck for everyone from desert runners to weekend wheelers. Our 2008 Double Cab Tacoma has had its fair share of upgrades over the years, and as we find weak points, we seek to replace them with better parts.
While we are reluctant to call our Tacoma’s stock 8-inch rear axle a weak point, it’s fair to say that it could be improved. The low-pinion design is excellent for strength in a stock configuration, but when you add in taller tires and harsh wheeling environments, the shortcomings become more apparent. The fact that we continue to add weight in the form of bumpers and additional armor isn’t helping the 1/4-ton axle either.
Until recently there were not many rear axle options for the Tacoma. This was especially true if you wanted to keep the stock wheel bolt pattern and ABS. Thankfully, Dynatrac has produced a bolt-in axle actually designed for the builder on a budget. The Dynatrac Tacoma Axle Builder Kit uses one of Dynatrac’s ultrahigh-clearance high-pinion ProRock 60 differentials and fits it with the correct brackets to make it a bolt-in upgrade for the second-gen Tacoma.
The idea is for you to be able to reuse your stock drum brakes, ABS sensors, and current wheels. For the differential gears and locker, you have the choice of purchasing the axlehousing empty or paying a little more for Dynatrac to set it up for you. We picked up one of the bolt-in 60s for our Tacoma and spent a couple hours with our friends at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, swapping the ProRock 60 in place. While the installation went smoothly, the big news is that Dynatrac is actually going to give one of these axles away!
To find out how you can get your own Tacoma ProRock for free, visit https://www.dynatrac.com/4wheel/.
The Dynatrac Tacoma Axle Builder Kit ships exactly as you see it here. Other than needing a few friends to help pull it out of the crate, little to no prep is required to swap it under a 2005-2015 Tacoma. It is also worth noting that it’s all made in the USA.
The Tacoma ProRock 60 is a semifloat design, which allows you to retain the Tacoma’s six-bolt wheel pattern. The heat-treated 35-spline axleshafts are a major upgrade over the Tacoma’s stock 30-spline set and come with new bearings and tone rings already pressed on.
A significant feature that separates the Dynatrac axle conversion from others is the fact that you can bolt in your existing ABS sensors. This allows you to retain all of the truck’s stock safety braking controls and avoid any annoying dash lights.
We will be the first to admit that we don’t love the fact that our 2008 truck still uses drum brakes, but they work fine so long as you keep them out of the mud. Since our axle came with the backing plates installed, we only needed to transfer over the drum internals and drum itself.
To save time, we opted to have Dynatrac set up our 4.56 gears and ARB Air Locker at the Dynatrac factory. At 9.75 inches, the new ring gear is significantly larger than the original 8-inch. Since the nodular iron centersection is engineered for extreme ground clearance, Dynatrac created a proprietary oiling system to ensure that all of the bearings stay cool and lubed.
Despite the increase in the axletube wall thickness from the stock 0.200 inch to Dynatrac’s 0.3125, we were able to reuse our U-bolts. Note that our Tacoma was outfitted with a U-bolt flip kit, but the axle will work with the stock down-facing U-bolt configuration as well.
We found both the leaf-spring perches and shock mounts to be exactly where they needed to be. We are using an Old Man Emu by ARB Dakar leaf-spring pack, along with OME’s new BP-51 internal bypass shocks. The shock bracket extension is part of the OME kit. We did test the setup with our previous shock setup and found that the brackets worked fine with them as well.
The Tacoma’s brake and ABS lines will remain on the truck after you remove the old axle. Dynatrac includes factory-style tabs to allow you to route and attach the lines. Our old axle was setup with an ARB Air Locker, so we just need to attach the old line to the new port on the axle.
One often overlooked item during an axle swap is the axle breather placement. We didn’t want to risk polluting our new axle, so we routed our ARB Differential Breather Kit (PN 170112) into one of the side compartments in the Tacoma’s bed. Since this setup has a sealed breather and multiple ports, we can plumb our T-case to it as well.
Our ProRock 60 was literally a bolt-in affair—no cutting, welding, or surprises along the way. While Dynatrac builds the differential to accept the stock Tacoma rear driveshaft, we found we did need to have ours shorted about 1 1/2 inches.
On the Trail
At 127 inches, our Tacoma has a rather long two-piece rear driveshaft. Installing a ProRock 60 was confidence inspiring not only on the strength front but because the high-pinion differential tucks our driveline farther out of harm’s way. While the ProRock 60 does offer best-in-class clearance over other 60s on the market, we still scrape it on rocky trails. This is mostly due to our modest 34-inch-tall Nitto Trail Grapplers. Overall, we are extremely pleased with the setup and like the fact that the rear axle can grow as we continue to evolve our Tacoma.