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Keeping Loads Under Control: Tacoma Leveling Kits

Keeping Loads Under Control: Tacoma Leveling Kits

Toyota Tacoma trucks will live many different lifestyles. Each owner will have his or her Tacoma take on very different roles. Regardless of what anyone wants to do with their Tacoma, we can all agree that raked or sagged suspension is something we all would like to avoid. When the suspension is loaded or raked, many things suffer, including the ride quality, towing capabilities, and tire clearance. One solution is a leveling kit. But not all leveling kits are the same, and each type will work to correct different issues.

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Tacoma's that see construction sites and have heavy loads to contend with may not need a full suspension lift kit, but a leveling kit can still be a good idea. Heavier loads give the front tires a harder time in keeping adequate contact with the road, but a leveling kit will alleviate this risk and keep you in full control or your Tacoma.

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What are Leveling Kits?

Leveling kits are designed to level the suspension of a vehicle. From the factory, Tacoma trucks arrive with a rake. This means the front end sags lower than the rear. This is due to the load put on the front end due to the engine’s location. Alternatively, during towing and hauling situations, the rear end squats. Leveling equipment is available for either scenario, but they work in very different ways.

Suspension Leveling Kit

Suspension leveling kits are designed to raise the front end of the truck to level it with the rear of the truck. This does make the truck much more appealing but also allows the owner to fit larger tires underneath their Tacoma.

With that said, increasing distance from the front end and the ground can have negative impacts while hauling a heavy load. If you are looking for a cure for the squat of a truck when under stress, you will need to look to the rear with a load leveling kit.

Load Leveling Kits

When weight is applied to the rear of the truck, the rear suspension will squat. There are two contributors to this occurrence: weight of cargo in the bed of the truck or weight being applied to the trailer tongue

When the rear of the suspension is pushed to the ground, leverage will pull the front end upward. Drivability is impacted as the steering capabilities are reduced with less pressure applied to the ground by the front suspension. Load leveling kits work to keep the rear level with the front, keeping the truck safe while working.

Suspension Leveling Standards

Suspension leveling kits come in many different shapes and sizes for all types of truck applications. With a Tacoma, you will see the use of spacers installed on the front shocks and they may also use shocks to help with the task or to simply do the leveling by themselves. 

Spacers: Spacers are the most common devices used to level the front end of a Tacoma. In the kits you can purchase, you’ll find that they are designed to level the front end in inch increments. The distance the front end is lifted is due to the size of the spacer installed to the top of the front struts. A 1-inch spacer will lift the front of the truck by 1 inch, and a 2.5-inch spacer by 2.5 inches. In a Tacoma, to get the best results owners should look toward a 2-inch leveling kit. 

Shocks: Some manufacturers will include replacement shocks or simply use shocks to level Tacoma trucks. The struts in the kits intended for the front end will usually have the spacers built into them. With the increased distance between the front end and the ground, stiffer shocks are highly recommended. This will help keep the front tires in contact with the ground at all times. Some manufacturers recognize this and include proper shocks for the job in their kits.

Impact: Ride Quality

Whenever the suspension is altered, ride quality will change. Regardless if it’s an effort to support weight or correct stance issues, the vehicle will perform differently as it moves down the road with either kit installed. 

Suspension Leveling Kit: With a proper alignment and supportive suspension, leveling kits will have little impact on the way a Tacoma performs. With increased distance from the ground, body roll may increase and steering can suffer just a little. Though, with stiff components and wider tires, the truck should retain most of its drivability. 

Load Leveling Kit: Load leveling kits will explore the use of different devices. With added strength in the rear end, the truck will drive much stiffer. Some devices will permanently impact the rear end, while others will raise, or stiffen, the rear end on command. 

Spring Helpers: Spring helpers are devices that are permanently mounted to the rear springs of the Tacoma. With these devices installed, the ride quality is indefinitely impacted and you will always feel a stiffer ride quality. 

Air Bags: Air bags are devices that can raise or lower the rear of the truck on command. If the suspension is loaded to a squat, the bellows can be filled with compressed air until the rear sits level again. With this type, ride quality will not be impacted if it isn’t needed to be.


Leaving Kits for Tacomas: Installation Thoughts

Installing leveling kits varies from front to rear. This is because rear suspension is different than the front on Tacomas. Either kit requires very little other than basic hand tools but will implore very different procedures. 

Suspension Leveling Kit: Suspension leveling systems will require the front shocks to be removed in order to install the pucks on top. The vehicle will need to be lifted and the wheels will need to be removed. The process should take about 2 hours, and can easily be done with basic tools in a home shop. 

Load Leveling Kit: These kits very when it comes to what devices are used to tackle the task at hand. Each device will have a different procedure of installation but generally speaking the difficulty of the procedures rarely pushes the job to span across more than a two-hour timeline. With that said, it’s best to lift the vehicle off the ground and remove the wheels for ease of installation. Anything more than basic tools will rarely be required.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro