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Putting Your Tacoma on Clouds: Air Ride Suspension Systems

Putting Your Tacoma on Clouds: Air Ride Suspension Systems

Comfort and style usually aren’t blended together. Lift kits are a great way to improve the poster of your Tacoma while increasing tire clearance. They generally don’t offer much in the way of comfort. The suspension usually stiffens up because performance standards require it to be that way for optimal off-road performance. On the street, the stiffer ride can be a major pain in the lower back. Air ride suspension lift systems are perfect for the guys who want the look of a lifted truck without having to sacrifice a few discs.

Shop Tacoma Air Ride Systems

Air suspension kits are a jack of all trades, handling off-roading, show-stopping, and daily driving. Outfitting your Tacoma with such a suspension will not only enhance its off-road prowess, but provide a comfortable day-to-day ride on the street.

Tacoma Air Ride >>

What is Air Ride?

Air ride systems are something of space age technology. These units use air pressure to help raise and lower a truck on command. Unlike traditional shocks and struts, pneumatic pressure is used to raise and lower lift height. This means that the driver can control the vehicle’s ride height as needed. The fact that the truck is riding on air pressure means that these suspension systems offer a much more comfortable ride. They still rely on some spacer and relocation brackets but are designed to keep the steering in alignment as the ride height changes. 

Cloud 9 Performance: With a softer suspension system, some performance will suffer. Turning will contribute to a bit more body roll because the suspension can compress a bit easier. These kits are by no means inferior for daily performance and light off-road use though. The air pressure is still used to raise and lower the truck which means it will still be stiff enough to take on obstacles. These kits are more comfort oriented than most others though and should be purchased with this in mind.

Why Your Tacoma Needs Air Ride

Your Tacoma needs air ride because you spend more time driving it on the street that you do on the trail. This is nothing to be ashamed of. There are plenty of obstacles on the street that an air ride system will simply handle better than an off-road kit will. They offer supreme comfort in terms of a lift kit. 

No other lift on the market will be as comfortable to drive daily as an air ride will. They also allow you to adjust ride height. When trying to tuck into tight spaces with low overhangs this feature will help you out. 

For weekend warriors, they can drive around the street with the truck all the way down and raise it up when they’re ready to crawl. The lower suspension is much softer and the raised suspension will be stiffer, so it will also perform as desired. The drawbacks of these kits are the high price and the fact that they aren’t cut out for heavy abuse off-road. 


  • Adjustable ride height
  • Comfort on command
  • Performance on demand


  • High cost
  • Less than ideal for hardcore applications

The Right Off-Road Choice?

The air ride kits are not the best choice for those who plan on beating the snot out of their Tacoma on the trail. These kits are best used for light duty off-roading. If you intend on rock crawling and thrashing you will want to consider a kit that is dedicated to the task. If you intend on taking it easy on your truck while still heading over to your favorite lightweight trails, this is the kit for you. Sure, the comfort of an air ride kit is nice to have, but beating on it ruthlessly even if it’s only occasionally is a great way to destroy the system.


How to Install

Installation of an air ride system is hardly any different than that of a standard lift. Spacers will still be used to ride on top of the shocks to provide a minimum lift height. With taller lift kits relocation brackets will also need to be installed. 
For the air ride shocks, ride height sensors and the control system will need to be mounted in place. Professional help is recommended but this is something someone with a moderate level of experience can take on in their garage.

Compliment your Air Ride

Air ride systems may provide adjustable ride height but should still be complimented with at least a couple of mods to make sure one can take full advantage of the system.

Tires: Lift height being adjusted only goes so far in terms of actual ground clearance. Tires are what dictate the distance between the axle and the ground. With small tires making the truck go up and down still won’t increase this distance. To get the maximum results, you will want to add bigger wheels and tires to the package. This will also improve the appearance of your Tacoma greatly.

Step Bars: Raising the cabin will make it harder to get in and out of. With larger tires and the minimum lift height of an air ride kit combined, this can make things very difficult. Nerf bars and running boards may be purchased for the sole purpose of making it easier to get in and out of the truck. For the best results, you will want to consider drop steps.

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