View Full Version : question re 3" lift on 1st gen Tundra

12-13-2011, 03:59 AM
I just found a 2006 Tundra with 60k miles. Original owner, looks beautiful. But... it has a 3"lift. I don't know anything about these things, prefer stock, so am wondering what this lift might mean for performance, stability on mild off-road, mpg. I am buying the truck for a FWC pop-up camper.

The owner describes it like this in an email:
"It is a 3" suspension lift sold by Fat Bob's Garage. It is a very simple lift to install and remove. I put it in myself (I was a mechanic for 8 years) without a lift and using hand tools in about 2 hours total. There are spacers attached to the top of the front struts and spacer blocks between the rear axle and leaf spring. It would take about 2 hours to remove. However, you should really see the truck before writing off the lift. It is a very mild lift, and is actually more of a leveling kit. The truck looks much better with it installed and it handles and drives just the same.

What do you all think?

Buy it and leave as is, or remove?
Or walk and keep looking for another truck?

12-13-2011, 04:24 AM
A spacer lift would not deter me at all from buying the truck. The advice he is telling you sounds like a pretty good assessment. Sounds like it could be a gem

12-13-2011, 06:55 AM
If its clean then go for it. One place to look is at the front CV boots, check to see if they are ripped and throwing grease. If they are, you can mention that and hopefully get a better price. Also the upper ball-joint boots are another place to check for rips and such. Nice thing about it being a spacer lift is that its easy to remove forever, and what I would do.

12-13-2011, 12:59 PM
Agree with the above. Could be a great purchase.

I do not and have not owned a Tundra but have linstalled lifts on several Tacomas and older pickups. Small 2-3 inch suspension lifts are very common place and usually dont cause too much havoc on the truck's suspension or driveline, actually the opposite is usually true in that you may notice a great improvement in handling and capability - most stock suspensions are complete crap.

There are quite a few members here running between a 2 and 3 inch lift. It is important to note that Toyota dealers are actually selling lifted veicles now out of their new car lots - you can get a new Tacoma with several different lift options installed by the dealer - the do offer a spacer kit for the new Tacomas and will install it for you (not sure about thenew Tundras as I have not seen them for sale liifted new on the lot). It is very common practice. that said, spacers simply just re-use the same stock crappy stock suspension parts and space it out to add lift - you really can do better than spacers for a pretty low budget and replace the front struts and rear shocks. If you buy the truck you may want to look into replacing the strut spacer with a Billy 5100 strut setup and the rear block withe a wheelers progressive rate AAL and billy 5100 (or any similar combo of better parts). Generally, spacers provide added height for bigger tires but are seemingly almost frowned upon as a cheap way of getting some lift with no performance benefit aside from higher ride height. If you do lift it, slap some 285/70/17s on there

Front strut spacers look like a hockey puck and are made from either steel, alluminum, or some poly based rubber material. You may check with the owner and see what the spacers are made from, avoid the rubber ones they bulge out and crack over time and eventually fail. Lifting the front causes the front suspension to operate at the bottom of the working range and can cause premature wear on the upper control arm ball joint, can cuase premature wear on the cv joint and boot, can cause premature wear on the steering rack and associated linkage. It is unlikely that is will cause catastrophic failure, it typically just causes these items to wear faster due to the higher operational angles.

Rear blocks are pretty standard and commonly used even in vehicles sold by car manufacturers off the lot as new cars. The problem with adding block spacers after the fact is they can agitate axle wrap and cause premature wear of the rear Univeral Joint. Whenever you step on the gas, the torque is tranferred to the axles and then the wheels. The block causes the axle to be lower than the the original spring seat and adds a lever effect to the torque transfer from the axle to the wheels and causes the leaf springs to wrap and the differential yoke to surge/rotate upwards adding stress to the rear driveshaft universal joint. there are easy sollutions for this such as an anti-wrap add-a-leaf, spring clamps, torque bars, etc.

If you are putting a pop-top camper on the back you may also want to look into airbags regardless of what truck you get and regardless of if it has a lift. Airbags will improve your ride fully loaded on a trip and are a HUGE safety improvement.

Regardless of if the truck is lifted with spacers or a spring lift, it will drive differently and will lower the MPG's (slightly - vehicle dependent and more related to the size tire you add and how much weight you push - the camper on the back is likely to eat more MPGs than tires or a lift). With more suspension travel you may notice it in the cornering although this varies depending on what lift setup you used.

If the truck is clean probably not an issue. Check CV joints for wear. Check upper control arm balljoint for wear. Ask for allignment record and check caster and camber. On the rear look at the driveline angle and if they used blocks check for axle wrap on rakeoff. Drive the truck carefully and deliberately with the windows down and feel for any vibes at different speeds. Drive it with the windows up at high speeds and feel for vibes at different speeds. Check tires for uneven wear. If it has new tires ask why (I am always suspicious of vehicles for sale with new tires as it could cover up a tire wear problem). Check brake lines to see if they are long enough at full travel/articulation.


If I were you and the truck was clean, I would negotiate a price with the seller to get the price lowered to take off the spacers/blocks and have the following added:

**Weblinks added below are for reference only and not intended to endorse or otherwise promote these businesses - no affiliation just know they sell the product.

My brother has an 04' Tundra and we have settled on the following upgrade after lots of debate.


Billstein 5100s - http://www.toyteclifts.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=136&Itemid=72

Sway bar bushing kit (http://www.wheelersoffroad.com/tundraswaykit.htm )


5100s (http://www.wheelersoffroad.com/tundraadjbils.htm or http://www.toyteclifts.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=136&Itemid=72 )

Progressive Rate Add-a-Leaf and U-bolt kit (http://www.wheelersoffroad.com/tundraaal.htm )

Probably need four (4) of these as well for the Add-a-Leaf setup:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=leaf+spring+clamps&gs_upl=3183l4758l0l10265l12l9l0l2l2l1l328l1654l0.6 .2.1l10l0&biw=1280&bih=822&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=15556130927957864300&sa=X&ei=RPDYTs6lIKOUiQLBy9HYCQ&ved=0CFIQ8wIwAA#

Rear leaf airbags (http://www.wheelersoffroad.com/tundraairlift.htm)

12-13-2011, 03:18 PM
wow, this is all great info, thanks everyone

The owner has agreed to take it to a shop of my choice to get checked out. I don't live in the area (San Francisco) so I need to find a shop. I have found what looks like a real good indi shop and there is also a Toyota dealership nearby. My instinct is to take it to the indi shop. My experience with dealerships is they will put the kid that's right out of school doing inspections, oil/lubes, etc.

12-13-2011, 07:42 PM
Are you looking at the Grey access cab here in SF Area on craigslist? If it is that one, it looks clean!

12-14-2011, 12:37 AM
The one I'm looking at is on AutoTrader, but it may be the same one

12-14-2011, 11:23 PM
I drive an 04 and if its clean and well maintained, I would not be turned off by the lift at all. If you plan on mild off roading, it would be a pretty good start to see what you really want to do with it down the road. Considering of course the specific maintenance issues mentioned above.

I love mine. :thumbup:

12-15-2011, 01:56 AM
wow, this is all great info, thanks everyone

The owner has agreed to take it to a shop of my choice to get checked out. I don't live in the area (San Francisco) so I need to find a shop. I have found what looks like a real good indi shop and there is also a Toyota dealership nearby. My instinct is to take it to the indi shop. My experience with dealerships is they will put the kid that's right out of school doing inspections, oil/lubes, etc.
Sounds like a good seller and a nice truck.
Have it checked out, esp. the CV's, diff bearings, etc at the front and vibrations, etc at the rear.

A "spacer lift" is the least desirable type of lift. They're cheap and that's often why people do them as opposed to a bona fide spring lift.

Camburg Off Road had this spiel about coil over top spacers :

We get asked this question all the time. “Why are most spacer lifts be bad”? Well spacer lifts can cause a few problems and cost you big dollars to fix. First there are a few different kinds of spacer lifts, there is the kind that just bolts on the top of the existing shock that spaces it down to give lift. The problem that can come from running this kind of spacer is the shock will now be allowed to droop to far downward causing binding and damage to ball joints, 44 axle cv’s, and steering joints. The other issue you might have is since the shock is now just pushed down when you bottom out the suspension on or off-road instead of hitting the bumpstops you will just bottom out the shock. This can lead to some hefty damage.

I think this truck probably has "top spacers" at the front, there are also "pre-load" spacers which are even worse, IMO.

As stated previously, rear blocks can magnify axle-wrap.

Personally I would not run a rig with a 3" spacer lift. I would buy one if it checked out, but I would get rid of the spacers.

12-15-2011, 08:40 PM
Is what you are looking at 4WD or 2WD? If 4WD, the lift is a bit much. 2.5" is max without compromising CV boots and ball joints/boots. Diff drop spacer will help with the CV boots, but, not the ball joints. Also, with the type of spacer that fits on top of the shock/spring assembly, owners like myself have had issues with the upper part of the spindle hitting the spring at full extension. If it's the spacers that fit inside the assembly, you really only need to worry about the CV boots and get a diff drop kit. For the rear, the higher the block, the more axle wrap. You can easily resolve axle wrap with a kit from BudBuilt.com

A better option, would be to swap out the front suspension with some bilstein 5100's. Remove the rear blocks, swap out the shocks for 5100's and for help with weight, install some airbags.

Otherwise, the truck should be a solid buy!

12-15-2011, 10:37 PM
If you like the truck and it checks out okay you have a couple of options remove the lift which will cost almost nothing or look into the proper lift which might cost $600+. I would not put band-aids on it to fix stuff I find that sooner or later they always fall off.