How to Lift a Toyota Tacoma

Updated on Aug 10, 2023

Could your Toyota Tacoma use an altitude adjustment? Whether you’re looking to boost your Taco’s ride height for aesthetic purposes or superior off-road performance, a quality lift kit is the most effective and reliable means of doing so. 

In this article, our experts cover everything you need to know about lifting your Tacoma, including the reasons to install a lift, the various lift types, and step-by-step instructions to tackle the job in your own driveway or garage!

Why Install a Lift Kit? 

There are several reasons for installing a lift kit, ranging from looks to tackling challenging off-road obstacles. 

Beginning with aesthetics, lift kits increase ground and fender clearances, allowing you to run oversized, aggressive tires for the rugged appearance every Tacoma owner craves! Most lifts also alleviate your Tacoma’s factory rake (i.e. when the rear sits considerably higher than the front) for a balanced, level stance. 

Bolstering off-road performance is the other common justification for installing a lift kit. While your Tacoma is relatively capable in stock form, a lift kit takes wheeling performance to the next level!

Additional fender clearance allows you to run oversized tires without binding or scrubbing; it also allows for more suspension travel before the tires contact body panels or inner fender liners. Improving your Tacoma’s ground clearance plays a similarly important role off-road, keeping the frame, drivetrain, and body panels further off the ground to prevent contact with obstacles and becoming high-centered on the trail. 

Types of Lift Kits

Now that we understand the reasons for lifting your Taco, let’s touch on the various types of lift kits on the market. There are three key lift types–body, leveling, and suspension–each utilizing different methods to achieve the same result: increased ride height. However, it’s important to note that, while a 3-inch suspension lift may look similar to a 3-inch leveling kit or 3-inch body lift, ride quality both on and off-road will differ significantly.

Body Lift Kits

Body lifts, like the Performance Accessories 3” Kit, utilize a series of composite spacers between your Tacoma’s body and frame mounts, resulting in a minor lift (usually 2–3 inches). While body lifts increase tire and body clearances, the height of your Tacoma’s frame and chassis components are unchanged–which has both up and downsides. 


  • Increased ride height

  • Improved tire clearances

  • Less expensive than the other lift styles

  • Retains factory suspension components and ride quality


  • Suspension travel remains the same

  • Frame and chassis clearances are retained

  • Generally limited to 2–3-inches

Leveling Kits

Leveling kits, like the Level-It Kit from Rancho, are engineered to lift only the front end of your Tacoma to eliminate the factory rake, thus producing a balanced, level stance. These kits utilize components like lift struts, coil spacers, and sway bar drops while retaining most of your Tacoma’s factory suspension, thus maintaining a factory-like ride. These kits typically max out around 2.5–3 inches to prevent a reverse rake (i.e. when the rear sits lower than the front). 


  • Increased ride height

  • Level stance

  • Relatively non-invasive

  • Less expensive than suspension lifts


  • Retains rear ride height

  • Generally limited to 2.5–3-inches

Suspension Lift Kits

Suspension lifts, like the Superlift 4.5” Kit, increase your Tacoma's ride height by modifying its suspension geometry. These kits utilize aftermarket suspension components like lift spindles, drop brackets, tubular upper control arms, lift blocks, and extended struts/dampers to increase your Tacoma’s ride height. Whereas the other lift styles tend to max out around three inches, suspension lifts can reach upwards of six, eight, or even higher!

Most suspension lifts are also geared towards increasing suspension travel and articulation, thus improving off-road prowess more than the other two styles. 


  • Offers drastic ride height increases

  • Significantly improves off-road performance


  • Typically the most expensive lift style on the list

  • Requires the most labor for installation

  • May negatively impact on-road driveability

Tools Necessary

We compile a list of the tools necessary to install a lift kit onto your Tacoma. While not all of these tools are used for each lift style, you shouldn't need anything else! 


These tools are must-haves, no matter the lift style. Without these in your toolbox, good luck! 

  • Metric and Standard (SAE) wrench sets

  • Metric and Standard (SAE) socket sets

  • ½" drive ratchet w/ various extensions & swivels

  • Adjustable (crescent) wrench

  • ½" drive torque wrench 

  • Vice grip pliers

  • Channel-lock pliers

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • ½" breaker bar

  • Floor jack & jack stands


These items may be required, depending on the lift style and your vehicle's suspension.

  • Ball-joint separator tool

  • Coil spring compressors

  • C-clamps

  • Power drill and drill bits

  • Welder

  • Grinder and cut-off wheel 


Though not required, these items are an excellent addition to the tools listed above.

  • Metric and Standard (SAE) impact sockets

  • Battery-powered/pneumatic impact driver

  • Battery-powered/pneumatic ½" ratchet

Installing a Lift Kit (Step-by-Step) 

Now, let’s get into installing a lift on your Tacoma. While each install is different, these basic steps apply to most brands and kits. 


Before touching your Tacoma, there are some essential steps to prepare for the job. 

First, do your homework! After selecting your lift kit, browse the instruction manual for a glimpse into the labor involved. If possible, browse videos or forums for information on your particular kit; these are some of the best sources for installation tips and tricks! 

Additionally, take the time to prep your workspace. Straighten up your tools, locate everything required, and verify that it’s in proper working order; it’s best to find out if you have missing or damaged tools at this phase rather than mid-installation! 

Disconnect the Battery

Before commencing any work on your Tacoma, it’s best to disconnect the battery. Doing so can help to prevent damage to sensors or other sensitive electrical components while working. 

Elevate the Vehicle

Using your floor jack and jack stands (rated to your Tacoma’s weight), elevate your Tacoma. Use the instruction manual to determine the appropriate jacking points so as not to cause any damage to the chassis. Be sure to position the jack stands in a stable location that won’t interfere with your installation. 

Note: For leveling kits, you'll only need to raise the front end. On most body lifts, you can skip this step altogether. 

Remove the Wheels and Tires

During this step, remove the wheels and tires from whichever axle(s) you’ll be working on; this is one area where an impact driver comes in handy! Without an impact, we recommend breaking the torque on the lug nuts before raising your vehicle (¼–½ turn) to ease removal. 

Note: On leveling kits, you'll only be required to remove the front wheels. As with the previous step, you can also skip this step when installing a body lift.  


At this point, it’s time to begin the installation process! Follow the instructions to disassemble your Tacoma’s factory suspension. On leveling kits, this step typically involves removing the factory strut assemblies, sway bar, and potentially upper control arms. Body lifts will require the removal of the bumpers, steering linkage, and body mount hardware, while suspension lifts require total removal of the front and rear suspension, down to the front subframe and bare rear axle! 

Once you've removed all unnecessary components, you can continue with any required modifications. This step includes drilling for brackets, trimming, welding, and any necessary fabrication. 


Now for the fun part; it’s time to install all the shiny new components and hardware! Follow the instructions thoroughly, ensuring your new parts don't incur any scratches, abrasions, or unnecessary damage. Be sure to torque all fasteners to spec and use thread-locking compound where requested. 

Once the installation is complete, do a final torque check and bolt your wheels and tires back on! Then, lower your Tacoma back onto the ground and pat yourself on the back!

Have a Professional Alignment Performed 

All finished, right? Not exactly! At this point, it’s time to schedule a suspension alignment to ensure your Tacoma tracks straight and true with minimal tire wear. Even after installing a body lift, we recommend having an alignment performed to ensure the steering wheel is straight.

Retorque Your Suspension Components

During the initial break-in period, it’s common for hardware to loosen as components shift and settle. After approximately 3,000 to 5,000 miles, it’s essential to retorque all fasteners, ensuring the suspension is solid and safe to drive. 

Enjoy Your Taco’s New-Found Height!

Congratulations, you've just successfully installed a lift kit on your Tacoma! Enjoy your ride's rugged stance and superior off-road performance. 

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