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Skyjacker’s Softride 3″ Suspension for 2005+ Toyota Tacoma’s

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift

 Adding a lift kit to any rig that sees moderate – or more – off-road use is almost always a necessity. A properly lifted vehicle will give you the added ground clearance needed for the body and the chassis, it will allow you to run bigger, more aggressive tires, and it allows for greater axle articulation. This was the essence of my “needs” when I talked to our buddies at 4X4REVIEW.COM. After we talked about the type and frequency of off-roading I do, the tire size I wanted to run and what I wanted it to “feel” like on and off road, Rick Webster identified the make and model of lift I would need. He suggested the all-new 3″ Platinum series Skyjacker Softride® suspension system. An easy-to-install suspension system that would satisfy all of my on and off road needs and provide a stable and firm, yet supple ride. With Skyjacker’s assistance, he also suggested a new set of rear leaf springs and Skyjackers 7000 series nitrogen-charged shocks to help soak up the bumps.




Skyjacker Suspension System Installation – 2005 Toyota Tacoma
Time: 5 Hours
Tools Needed: ratchet/sockets, wrenches, spring compressor, impact gun, jack/jack stands/vehicle lift, and other misc. hand tools

After I received the goods from Skyjacker, I took the time to read the directions several times prior to the install, and inventoried all of the parts. I also washed my truck thoroughly to make it easier and cleaner to work on. Since this a new vehicle, we didn’t have to deal with rusted-in-place nuts and bolts, and while it probably wasn’t necessary, I did pre-lube all of them just to be safe.

As soon as the lift was ordered, I called my friends at Eastern Truck and Accessories and they were happy to lend a hand for the installation. The day of installation, and as usual, I was greeted by the helpful and knowledgeable staff, and introduced to our mechanic for the day, Mitch Cernecarl. A retired Navy Seabee with 25 years of mechanical experience and certified by ASE in both automotive and heavy duty trucks, Mitch is an expert in just about any modification you can make to a vehicle.



Front Installation

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift We started installation by placing the rig on the lift and used a paint pen to strike a line vertically down the front coil-over shocks, starting at the top and down to the spring plate. We did this because on some vehicles, the top spring isolator is not flat and must be installed in its original position to allow for proper alignment.

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift Skyjacker Tacoma Lift It was now time to start disassembly. We removed the sway bar and then moved to the tie rod. After the tie-rod retaining nut is removed, you will need to strike it on the cast knuckle to break it free. We then removed the lock pin from the bolt on the upper control arm (this type of pin is reusable so be sure to put it in a safe place). After breaking the bolt loose, we left it in place to secure the spindle and lower control arm. To relieve pressure on the coil-over shock, we removed the bottom bolt from the strut tower and then broke the upper control arm free. By leaving that bolt in, the whole assembly stayed in place. We then unbolted the upper coil-over bolts and the whole assembly was then removed.

Disassembly and assembly of the coil-over shocks should always be done by a professional with the right tools. “There is a lot of pressure built into these types of coil-over shocks, and someone could be injured if not done properly” Skyjacker Tacoma Lift said Mitch. So even if you are installing this kit in your driveway or garage, talk to a local shop to see if they can help out. With the coil-over properly installed into the compressor, we compressed the unit, removed the top nut and slid the OE strut out of the spring. Next we removed the OE washers and bushing and set them aside.

Install the OE steel washer and Skyjacker polyurethane bushing onto the new Skyjacker strut. Remove the OE rubber bushing from the coil-over hat, and install the Skyjacker strut into the spring assembly. We then installed the poly bushing included in the kit followed by the factory washer on top. When tightening the bolt, the strut body may spin (not unlike during disassembly). A couple short, quick turns of the wrench will usually get the bolt to catch and then you will be able to tighten it completely. Slowly release the spring compressor and voila!, a reassembled, lifted Skyjacker strut unit.

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift Skyjacker Tacoma Lift While the directions recommend that you install the coil-over strut from the bottom first, we struggled with this approach and deviated by installing it from the top, which proved to be much easier. We then loosely installed the three top bolts and then, with a little effort, got the bottom into position on the lower control arm. We repeated the steps for the opposite side and then began the task of reassembling the front end. During the installation, you will want to put the bolts in only hand-tight, then go back and torque all of them to specification.

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift Skyjacker Tacoma Lift Eastern Truck and Accessories takes the time to mark each bolt with a paint pen, which shows that the bolts have been tightened and torqued to spec, something most shops are too lazy to do. Per instructions and the advice of Mitch, we’ll come back to have the bolts re-torqued after 100 – 200 miles of driving. Here are the final shots of the front installation. The picture on the left shows the front suspension completely installed, and the picture on the right shows the lift with the tire installed.



Rear Installation

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift The installation of the Skyjacker rear leaf springs is pretty straightforward. We put adjustable jack stands underneath the rear axle to hold it in place during disassembly. Be sure to note the position and direction of the factory springs prior to removal as it’s easy to turn the springs backwards and orient your axle improperly.

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift Skyjacker Tacoma Lift After the axle was secured and spring orientation was mentally noted, we unbolted the e-brake cable from the spring guide and then loosened the u-bolts on both sides. Both rear shocks were then removed and the front spring thru-bolt was loosened. We then removed the top thru-bolt from the front and rear shackles and removed the factory springs. (Note: you’ll need to lower or remove the spare tire to get the bolt out on the driver side.)

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift With the factory springs on the ground, we put the OE shackles onto the new Skyjacker springs and punched out the pre-threaded holes on the spring wraps, which will be used for the e-brake cable later. We then installed the new leaf springs, shackle thru-bolts (only hand-tight for now), attached the emergency brake cables, and the u-bolts, torqued to 95 lb-ft.

Skyjacker Tacoma Lift Skyjacker Tacoma Lift It was now time to install the new Skyjacker 7000 shocks for the rear. Skyjacker provides a special set of lower bushings for the Taco’s, but we found it necessary to shave off one end of the ridge to get it to install properly. We then greased the bushings and installed the shocks. The tires were reinstalled and the truck lowered to the ground. Now we tighten the rear spring shackles to spec, and doing this on the ground helps eliminate the chance of any binding. Be sure not to over tighten the bolts as this will cause the shackles to bind and reduce articulation. Prior to us rolling out of the shop, Eastern Truck and Accessories has a second mechanic check all of the bolts for proper torque and overall installation just to be safe – again, something that most other shops don’t do.



Skyjacker Tacoma Lift I’ve been driving my newly lifted Taco for over a month now and I’m thrilled with the quality of the suspension system. On the road, and even with larger tires, the truck’s handling and cornering is improved and the rear suspension isn’t as stiff as I was afraid it would be. The truck also tracks well with no shimmies or wobbles.

Off road, the suspension is flexible enough to give it added suspension articulation, but not so soft that it becomes unstable. There are no binding or squeaks as often happens with new systems. Overall, I’m very happy with the entire Skyjacker suspension system.

Skyjacker Suspension Systems
212 Stevenson Street
West Monroe, LA 71292
Phone: (318) 388-0816
Fax: (318) 388-2608
Web: www.skyjacker.com
Eastern Truck & Accessories
6320 E. Virginia Beach Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23502
Phone: (757) 461-2600
Fax: (757) 461-6540
Email: eta.sales@verizon.net
Web: www.etaoffroad.com

About Rick Webster

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