Review: All-Pro's Tacoma Suspension Kit
http://www.4x4wire.com/toyota/review/allpro_tacoma/ Short Cuts

| Toyota Section | Tech | Reviews | Maintenance | Minute Mods |

By: Mark Griese - 3/2005

All-Pro Off Road, a long time specialist in rock crawling Toyotas, has developed one of the best Tacoma suspension kits on the market. They have managed to increase suspension travel in the rear and the front, while providing up to 3" of lift. Both of these were accomplished using name brand and All-Pro custom components while keeping the package price lower than every other supplier offering similar features! The full kit includes practically every component you'll need to lift your truck and call it finished.

The full suspension kit.

The details...

Up front my kit featured adjustable height Bilstein shocks and Eibach 550 pound coils. These were replacing Sway-A-Way coilovers with 675 pound coils, so the softer ride was very much appreciated. Even though a 550 pound coil is a significant increase over the stock Toyota rating, it is still soft enough to provide excellent ride quality for a 3" lifted truck. It's interesting to note that while I have added a lot of weight to my truck in the form of skid plates, sliders, winch, etc., only one Eibach coil spring was able to hold up that extra weight. Within one week the other coil had unacceptable sag even when the adjustable shock was cranked all the way up. This may not have been an issue on a truck without all the added weight, but I was pleased to learn that All-Pro is now using coils that are custom made by Betts Spring Company. Betts has been making springs for over 130 years.

The kit also includes replacement upper a-arms that are custom made for All-Pro. These Chromoly units are TIG welded and feature a racing quality uniball joint that replaces the stock Tacoma ball joint. The benefit of these arms is instantly noticeable once you install them; I gained an additional 1" of suspension droop even while still using the SAW coilovers. This additional droop shows that the stock ball joint was needlessly limiting some suspension travel. Another 1" of droop was gained when I installed the Bilstein coilovers. I felt this was too much droop as the CV joint had a slight bind in it when the tire was rotated. All-Pro assured me this was acceptable since the binding only occurs when the tire is unloaded, so no resistance is on the joint. They also offer an upper coilover mount that reduces the droop by 3/4" so the joint does not bind. I decided to use the shorter mount.

The uniball upper a-arms and Bilstein coilovers. The a-arms and coilovers installed.

The upper arms are the most challenging part of installing the kit because the stock ball joint must be pressed out of the spindle, and the uniball 'slug' pressed in. The choices are: have the arms professionally installed; borrow a two jaw puller from the parts store; or try pounding out the ball joint with a hammer (not recommend as you may damage the spindle). If you choose to do this yourself, make sure the retaining clip is removed from the factory ball joint before beginning to press it out. The upper a-arms are shipped with the red urethane bushings installed, but they should be removed and lubricated with waterproof synthetic grease during assembly. Most shops that sell urethane components carry this grease.

The rear leaf packs, showing military wrapped ends. Note the leaf going from the center pin towards the front to help control axle wrap.

For the rear the kit included new lifted leaf springs, bushings, 10" travel Bilstein shocks, and a stainless steel extended length brake line. The rear springs are 8-leaf packs that feature a full military wrap and an additional anti wrap leaf in front with Teflon anti squeak pads throughout the leaf pack. These are also custom made for All-Pro by Betts Spring Company. While you may have never heard of Betts, this is my third set of aftermarket leafs, and I can tell you the quality of the Betts springs are as good as any I've seen. The leaf packs, shocks, and brake hose are made to fit in the stock mounts without any modifications to the truck. Just be sure the extra length of the brake hose does not rub against anything once it is installed. Applying urethane grease to the rear bushings will help keep them quiet also.

Notes:

The front lift will fit 1995-2004 Tacomas. The rear lift will fit 1998-2004 Tacomas because Toyota changed the length of the leaf springs in 1998. Contact All-Pro to inquire about what can be done for the rear of pre-1998 Tacomas. A spanner wrench is included for adjusting the lift height on the front coilovers, but this must be done with the front tires off the ground. Text only installation instructions are provided for the front, so please note the picture here because I have seen these arms installed upside down and flopped left and right on one truck. No instructions are provided for the rear since it is just removing and replacing the components.

This is the driver's side, make sure your install looks like this.

Summary

Overall, I believe the All-Pro suspension kit offers a distinct advantage over other suppliers because of its high quality and exceptional value. This kit is not only very complete; it enhances suspension travel for improved off road capability, while maintaining good ride quality for the street. By matching name brand components with custom made items engineered by All-Pro, this is a heavy duty lift kit able to tackle terrain ranging from your daily commute to rugged off road trails like the Rubicon. I highly recommend this kit over several other lifts I've looked at and/or tried.

Trail tested... on the Rubicon

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