A Comprehensive Guide to Upgrading Leaf Springs for Your Tacoma

Icon Vehicle Dynamics RXT Aftermarket Leaf Spring Lift Kit for 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma

Enhance Your Tacoma’s Performance with Upgraded Leaf Springs

If you’re a Tacoma owner, you understand that the OEM suspension system may not be able to handle the weight and gear we load onto our trucks. The rear end sag is especially noticeable after repeated use. The main cause of this problem is the undersized leaf springs. By upgrading your leaf packs, you can improve your truck’s off-road performance and ensure it remains stable even with heavy loads.

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Understanding Leaf Springs

Ironman 4x4 America Foam Cell Pro Stage 2 Leaf Pack for 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma

Leaf springs are rectangular steel strips stacked on top of each other. They form an integral part of the rear suspension system in your Tacoma. Unlike shocks and springs that absorb and support the entire weight of the rear end, leaf springs distribute the weight across the length of the steel strips. Each individual “leaf” within the leaf pack relieves the weight off the shock, enabling it to absorb bumps and uneven surfaces more effectively.

Do You Need Upgraded Leaf Springs?

ARB OME (Old Man Emu) Heavy Leaf Springs Installed on White 3rd Gen Tacoma Overland Build with Camper

If you frequently carry heavy loads or tow trailers, upgrading to aftermarket leaf springs is essential. These springs provide additional support and prevent your OEM springs from wearing out prematurely. Even if your Tacoma only sags a little, the constant weight in the bed will exacerbate the issue over time. Moreover, if you are planning to lift your truck, upgraded leaf springs are a must. They not only provide lift but also enhance your truck’s overall performance.

How Much Lift Can You Expect?

Icon RXT Multi-Rate Leaf Spring on Lifted Quicksand 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma TRD Off-Road

The amount of lift you get from your leaf spring package depends on its weight rating or capacity. Generally, an add-a-leaf kit will give you around 1.5″ of lift with factory loads. Aftermarket leaf packs, when chosen correctly based on weight capacity, can provide between 2-3.5″ of lift. Some manufacturers offer multiple capacity options, allowing you to choose the best setup for your truck. However, it’s important to note that the actual lift may vary slightly from the manufacturer’s specifications, as it can change once the springs settle.

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Add-A-Leaf Vs. Full Leaf Packs

Fabtech AAL Add-A-Leaf Installed on Lifted 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma

When considering leaf spring upgrades, you have two options: add-a-leaf kits or full leaf packs. Add-a-leaf kits are cheaper but offer less support and usually provide less lift compared to complete leaf packs.

Complete Leaf Pack

Upgrading to a complete leaf pack involves replacing the entire leaf spring assembly. This option is ideal if you need significant lift (over 1.5″) or intend to carry heavy loads regularly. While more expensive, it’s worth considering if your current leaf springs have been on your truck for an extended period.

Add-A-Leaf

An add-a-leaf kit adds an extra leaf or slab of steel to your existing leaf pack. This solution provides additional rear-end support but offers less lift compared to a complete leaf pack. If you only carry a minimal amount of weight or tow occasionally, an add-a-leaf kit is a cost-effective option. However, if your OEM leaf springs are worn and saggy, an add-a-leaf kit may only serve as a temporary fix until you replace the entire pack.

Benefits of Upgraded Leaf Springs

ARB OME Lift Kit Installed on 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma - Benefits of Aftermarket Leaf Springs

Upgrading to aftermarket leaf springs for your Tacoma offers several benefits:

1. Load Capacity: Upgraded leaf packs allow you to support more weight in the bed, making it easier to carry items like rooftop tents, camper shells, or heavy camping gear. While leaf springs are not the only factor in determining payload capacity, they play a significant role in preventing rear-end sag when approaching your vehicle’s weight limit.

2. Increased Lift: Upgrading leaf springs provides additional lift, allowing you to retain the stock ride height while preventing sag. Many manufacturers offer different options that specify the lift amount you can expect after installation. Heavier-duty leaf springs are recommended for those looking to lift their trucks.

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3. Improved Ride Quality: Aftermarket leaf springs can significantly improve ride comfort, especially if you experience excessive body roll in your Tacoma. The stiffer and tighter suspension provided by upgraded leaf springs reduces sketchiness and delivers a more controlled and enjoyable ride, especially when carrying heavy loads.

4. Enhanced Towing Capacity: When towing a trailer, leaf springs provide vital support to prevent the rear end of your Tacoma from sagging. By better supporting the weight, upgraded leaf springs improve ride quality while towing, making it a more comfortable experience.

Downsides to Consider

Icon Vehicle Dynamics Add-A-Leaf Leaf Spring Upgrades for 3rd Gen Tacoma - How to Add Lift and Increase Towing Capacity on your Tacoma

While upgrading leaf springs offers significant advantages, there are a few downsides to consider:

  • Cost: Upgrading your leaf system can be expensive, with prices ranging from $600 to $1000+. It’s important to determine if you truly need the upgrade before investing in it. If your current suspension system meets your requirements, upgrading may not be necessary.

  • Alignment and Geometry Changes: Altering your truck’s ride height can cause alignment issues and changes in component geometry. If you plan on adding significant lift (over 2″), additional components like driveshaft spacers and brake line extensions may be required to maintain proper alignment and prevent issues such as vibrations.

Top Leaf Systems for Tacoma

Ironman 4x4 Foam Cell Pro Stage 2 Lift Kit for 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma Overland Build

Here are some of the top leaf spring options available on the market for your Tacoma. Each manufacturer offers different lift amounts and load ratings, so make sure to thoroughly review the product descriptions before making your decision. Please note that load capacities may vary between options for long and short beds.

  1. All-Pro Off-Road: All-Pro provides both add-a-leaf kits and complete leaf spring upgrades. Their leaf springs offer high load capacities and come in various options to suit different setups.

  2. Icon RXT: Icon offers an add-a-leaf kit and their Multi-Rate RXT Leaf Springs. The RXT leaf springs come with adjustable spring rates, allowing you to customize their performance based on your specific needs.

  3. ARB OME: ARB’s Old Man Emu Leaf Springs enhance ride quality, provide additional lift, and offer excellent weight support. They are available for 2nd and 3rd Gen Tacomas.

  4. Ironman 4×4: Ironman 4×4 offers a rear leaf spring kit, providing medium and heavy load options. Their leaf springs are shot-peened for strength and come with all the necessary hardware for installation.

  5. Deaver: Deaver’s Progressive Series rear springs feature a flexible progressive leaf stack and military-wrapped spring eyes. They offer different options based on the load weight you consistently haul in your truck bed.

  6. 4WP Factory: 4WP Factory’s add-a-leaf kit adds approximately 1.5″ of lift to your Tacoma. It’s an affordable option for basic suspension upgrades.

  7. Dobinsons: Dobinsons’ leaf springs are constructed from high-quality spring steel and offer various weight capacity options to meet your specific needs.

  8. Rough Country: Rough Country’s Rear Leaf Springs provide 3.5″ of lift and enhance overall ride quality. They offer a budget-friendly option for full leaf spring replacement.

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Final Thoughts

Ironman 4x4 Foam Cell Pro Lift Kit on Silver Sky Metallic 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma with Rigd Tire Swingout

Upgrading to heavier-duty leaf springs for your Tacoma can significantly enhance your truck’s performance, whether you’re tackling off-road adventures or carrying heavy loads. Remember to choose the right weight capacity and lift option based on your specific requirements. It’s essential to strike a balance between the additional lift and support you need without compromising ride quality. Additionally, keep in mind that significant lift changes may require additional components to maintain proper alignment and prevent issues. With the plethora of options available, you can find the perfect leaf spring upgrade to meet your needs and take your Tacoma to the next level of performance.