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Tacoma Traction: 4.88 Gears And An ARB Air Locker For Our 2017 Toyota Tacoma

Tacoma Traction

Jered KorfhagePhotographer, WriterEvan GagePhotographer

Sure, the lift, wheels, and larger tires made our ’17 Tacoma look sharp and increased off-road dexterity, but once we got the truck out on the trails, it was no surprise when we realized that the truck would benefit from new axle gears and a front locking differential.

The ARB Air Locker was the solution to our frontend traction problems. The pneumatic locker is activated by an in-cab switch and uses compressed air to lock the differential, making sure that when activated, the front wheels spin at the same speed. Not only does this keep the Tacoma moving when traction is less than favorable, but the air compressor gives us the ability to reinflate our tires after a day of wheeling at lower pressures.

The larger 35-inch tires also meant the factory 4.30:1 axle gear ratio was no longer packing the punch we needed to crawl at slow speeds. The goal of regearing the axles on a rig that also sees the highway is twofold. You want a deep enough gear to provide the low-end torque necessary to spin larger tires at slow speeds while still maintaining a reasonable engine rpm on the highway. Right in the middle of the torque-to-reasonable-highway-rpm spectrum lies the 4.88:1 gear ratio. This gear combo from Nitro Gear & Axle also increased our crawl ratio from 39.8:1 to 45.2:1.

We headed to Rebel Off Road in Laguna Hills, California, to dig into our differentials and give our Tacoma the torque and traction it needed. Read on for some of the highlights of the install.

To power the Air Locker, we began the process of nestling the ARB air compressor into the space under the Tacoma’s hood. We began by laying out all our parts, disconnecting the battery, removing the factory airbox, and mounting the compressor to the included tray using existing bolts in the body.