Tuff Country 3 Inch lift kit for 2005+ Tacoma

With the new 2005+ Tacoma came a new lift.  While this lift is very similar to their lift for the older 95.5 - 2004 Tacoma , there are enough differences in the vehicles that they needed a new design.   

The Tuff Country lift was easy to install, and the instructions that came with the kit were good.   The total installation took about 3-4 hours and for the most part can be done with simple hand tools.   

View the installation instructions HERE.

The before picture!   Take a good look, its the last time you will see it like this!

The contents of the kit.

The first step is to raise and support the front of the vehicle with jackstands.   Remove the front wheels.

On the new Tacoma, there are all sorts of things in the way when if comes to removing the strut assembly.   Not only is the steering in the way, but also the swaybar.

The first step was to remove the swaybar.   Remove the ends from the knuckle on both sides.

Next remove the mount (with rubber bushings) from the frame so you can move it forward and completely out of the way.  We did not remove the front scrape plate, but let the sway bar hang on it as far forward as it would go.

With the sway bar off, you have two choices:

1) You can remove the tie rod end from the knuckle so the strut assembly comes right out or....

2) You can wiggle and twist the strut out with the tie rod end on.

In two cases we have been able to successfully remove the strut by screwing the spring part out past the tie rod.   It is not a perfect solution, but it beat removing the tie rod end!

In this case, we removed the tie rod end and with it out of the way removed the strut assembly with ease.  To remove the strut, remove the large bolt at the bottom, and three smaller nuts around the outside top of the strut.

*** WARNING ***
DO NOT remove the larger center nut on top of the strut.   Doing so will release the pressure on the spring and can cause serious injury! Click HERE to see a better shot of the top of the strut.   ONLY remove the nuts that the green arrows point to! The red nut should not be removed!

With the three nuts from the top and the bottom bolt off, the strut will come right out.

With the strut out, you will need to compress the spring enough to get the preload spacer in place.   This is by far the hardest and most dangerous part of the lift.  

Most shops have wall mount units that can do this for you for a small fee if you do not have the tools or are not comfortable doing it yourself.  

As of today, I have had 3 of these spring compressors explode while I was doing these... and I do mean explode!  Do not remove the top nut until you have to, as if the compressors fail it may keep the spring from coming completely loose.

Note how the screw of the spring compressor is not quite straight any more..... lots of pressure here!   While you are compressing the springs, stay clear of the top of the strut and do not lean over the spring compressor.   If the compressor breaks, it will shoot off (both up and down) with quite some force.

You will need to evenly compress the strut until you can fit the spacer block in between the spring and top plate.Here you can see that we are checking to see if we need to compress more or not.  

 In this case, we are far enough compressed that we will be able to fit the spacer in.

At this time, we will loosen and remove the center nut and top plate.This is one part of the install that I treat with a great deal of respect and awareness.   If the spring compressors failed with the center nut and top plate off, lets just say it could be a very bad thing.   I handle things gently and carefully at this point!

Remove the top plate.

The rubber silencer will not be used again.

Remove the studs from the top plate by gently tapping them out with a hammer.

Install the new longer studs into the top plate.

The top plate and spacer will be stacked together on top of the strut / spring as shown.   Note that there are depressions in the spacer for the heads of the bolts that go through the top plate.

The spacer and top plate are installed back onto the strut and coil assembly just as they came apart.   The spring compressors are removed slowly and evenly.Once that is all done, repeat for the other side!

With the struts done, they are installed back on the truck.   What is hard to see here is that there is a spacer ring that goes between the top of the strut and the upper seat.   That is why you need the longer studs for the top.   In this case, the spacer is black and hard to see.

The next part of the kit was a diff drop for the front diff.   To install it, you simply remove the two long bolts that hold the front diff to the frame and install these spacers between the mounts and frame.  

 We decided to not install the diff drop at this time.

Now on to the rear of the lift.

For the rear, blocks, longer U-bolts and new shocks are used. Here you can see the stock u-bolts and bump stop on top of the spring pack.

Raise and support the rear of the truck with a jack under the center of the differential.  Support the truck on jack stands by a point on the frame. Keep the jack under the axle at this time. Remove the rear shocks from both sides.   

With the shocks off, you can allow the axle to drop more so you can install the spacers. Remove the u-bolts from both sides of the axle.

With the u-bolts off, slowly drop the jack so that the axle will fall away from the leaf spring slightly.In this picture, the axle has been lowered away from the leaf spring.   Note the centering pin on the leaf that fits into a corresponding hole on the axle's leaf spring pad. With the axle lowered such as this, you can insert the blocks one side at a time.   Take note of the blocks, there is a taper in the block.   The smaller (thinner end) of the block should face the front of the truck. The block has a centering pin on one side, and a hole for the centering pin from the leaf spring on the other.

With the block in place, raise the jack until the leafs, block and axle are all together.   You have have to move things around a bit to get the centering pins in place.  

 Install the bump stop on top of the leaf spring and install the new u-bolts.

I would recommend that you install one block at a time.   I normally take both sides apart and put them back together one at a time.

Install the bottom plates and new nuts that came with the u-bolts.  Tighten them up but don't worry about torqueing them yet.

Here is a shot with everything in place. Repeat for the other side of the truck.

Once the block are finished on both sides, torque the u-bolts down to the specs in the instructions. Raise the rear axle some so that the new rear shocks can be installed.   

The rear shocks are the limiting factor, as the springs can flex quite a bit more than the shocks will allow.   This is true both stock and with the lift.   If you want to experiment with longer shocks, make sure that all wiring and brake lines are long enough or you can have problems!

Install the brake line bracket spacer (green arrow).  Simply remove the factory bolt that holds the brake bracket to the axle, and install the spacer and new longer bolt.

One thing that we noticed, is that the new shock body's are larger than stock.   While this is a good thing, as these shocks will perform better, they are also very close to the mounts on the rear axle.   We will keep an eye on them to see if any problems develop.

With the rear end all together, go back and torque all bolts to spec as shown in the instructions. Normally it is a good idea to then go back over the entire lift and make sure everything is done correctly and torqued properly.

Below are the before and after picture of the truck with stock tires / wheels.   You can see a big gain, especially in the front.

Here is a shot of the truck with black steel wheels and 33X12.50-15 Goodyear MTR's.... not a bad looking combo!


Since we installed this kit, Tuff Country has dropped the rear blocks in favor of an add-a-leaf. The installation is very similar, the difference being that you add the new leaf to your leaf pack instead of putting the blocks in.

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