Lots of people love lifting their trucks and adding huge tires. It looks great, but it destroys much of its practicality, specifically when used as a daily driver or tow vehicle. We were interested in a conservative approach to making our truck unique and different from a typical stock vehicle.

We knew we wanted something more aggressive looking that wouldn’t interfere with towing ability or practicality. Unsure of the exact route to take, we called our friends at www.summitracing.com. After discussing the many options they have available, we ordered a set of Bilstein 5100 series shock absorbers that would serve a dual purpose for our install.

First, they would be an upgrade from the factory Bilstein shock package provided on the TRD-package Tundras. Second, and more important, they would provide us with up to 2.5 inches of lift on the front end of the truck. This would be accomplished by a slight redesigning of the front shock and spring perch to lift the vehicle 2.5 inches. The front kit also provides three different lift heights at the front. You could choose from .75, 1.5, or 2.5 inches of lift.

At the rear, Bilstein lengthened the shocks to compliment trucks with a slight lift. Summit Racing suggested the Pro Comp 1-inch lifting blocks, which are simple to install between the axle and leaf spring, providing 1 inch of rear lift, which levels out the truck nicely.

We also added a set of Toyo 325-60-18 Open Country A/T II all terrain-tires mounted to a set of 18 x 9 KMC XD Series Hoss wheels. Now, lets get on with the installation.

Rear Shocks

Your vehicle will need a proper alignment when you are finished installing four shocks. Have that performed right after the work is done and before driving any significant distance.

We chose to start at the rear of the truck because it was the easiest. We will be changing the rear shocks and installing the 1-inch lift blocks at the same time. On a scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being very advanced, I would rate this part of the build a 4.

Jack up the truck under the rear differential and support it at the rear frame rails with two heavy-duty jack stands. Once you get the truck up on stands, leave the jack in place because you will need to lower and raise the axle into position while installing the blocks and shocks. Work one side at a time after breaking loose the nuts in the next step.
Jack up the truck under the rear differential and support it at the rear frame rails with two heavy-duty jack stands. Once you get the truck up on stands, leave the jack in place because you will need to lower and raise the axle into position while installing the blocks and shocks. Work one side at a time after breaking loose the nuts in the next step.
Start by loosening all four nuts from the passenger and driver side U-bolts locating the spring to the axle. These may be rusty if your vehicle isn’t new, so use something to help you with the process. PB Blaster works well. While you are at it, break loose the nuts on the bottom of the rear shocks.
Start by loosening all four nuts from the passenger and driver side U-bolts locating the spring to the axle. These may be rusty if your vehicle isn’t new, so use something to help you with the process. PB Blaster works well. While you are at it, break loose the nuts on the bottom of the rear shocks.
Ensure you have the jack under the “pumpkin” of the rear axle to support it. Remove the upper nuts locating the rear shock on the passenger side first.
Ensure you have the jack under the “pumpkin” of the rear axle to support it. Remove the upper nuts locating the rear shock on the passenger side first.
You need two wrenches for the upper shock nut removal. You should also take note during this time of the nut-washer-bushing-vehicle-bushing-washer order used on the top of the shock to locate it to the vehicle.
You need two wrenches for the upper shock nut removal. You should also take note during this time of the nut-washer-bushing-vehicle-bushing-washer order used on the top of the shock to locate it to the vehicle.
Reinstall the top nuts on the new shocks in reverse order so they are hanging from their mounting points. Do this finger tight so you have some wiggle room to get things lined up. Before we finish installing the new rear shocks, we must install the lifting blocks. If you install the shocks right now, you wouldn’t be able to lower the axle away from the springs to install the lifting block between the two. Remove the nuts from the U-bolts you already loosened on the axle and spring. Replace them with the new U-bolts supplied in the Pro Comp lifting block kit. Then lower the jack so the axle drops enough away from the spring to slide the lifting block in between.
Reinstall the top nuts on the new shocks in reverse order so they are hanging from their mounting points. Do this finger tight so you have some wiggle room to get things lined up.
Before we finish installing the new rear shocks, we must install the lifting blocks. If you install the shocks right now, you wouldn’t be able to lower the axle away from the springs to install the lifting block between the two.
Remove the nuts from the U-bolts you already loosened on the axle and spring. Replace them with the new U-bolts supplied in the Pro Comp lifting block kit. Then lower the jack so the axle drops enough away from the spring to slide the lifting block in between.
Mount the lift block with the locating pin face down. Using the jack, raise the axle back up to meet the rear leaf spring to eliminate the gap you needed to slide the lift block in. Then install the U-bolts using the nuts supplied with the kit.
Mount the lift block with the locating pin face down. Using the jack, raise the axle back up to meet the rear leaf spring to eliminate the gap you needed to slide the lift block in. Then install the U-bolts using the nuts supplied with the kit.
Now finish installing the rear shocks by inserting the lower shock bolt and tightening up the nut and then tightening up the top nut as well. You still need two wrenches to tighten the top nut and bottom nut and bolt. Now move onto the driver side and use the same process to complete the rear shock and lifting block installation.
Now finish installing the rear shocks by inserting the lower shock bolt and tightening up the nut and then tightening up the top nut as well. You still need two wrenches to tighten the top nut and bottom nut and bolt. Now move onto the driver side and use the same process to complete the rear shock and lifting block installation.

Front Shocks

I am going to explain a “trick” way of installing your new front shocks without the use of a spring compressor because I didn’t have one large enough for the springs on the Tundra. Feel free to use this same method. It’s effective and safe for completing the job in a timely fashion. You will be using the jack on the lower control arm to extend and compress the spring so everything goes together smoothly.

On the road, the new Bilstein shocks feel firmer than the stock shocks without being harsh or annoying. They’re a fantastic addition to the vehicle, considering they also provided the subtle lift we were looking for.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very advanced, I would rate this portion of the build a 6, because it’s a fairly complicated process, but can be completed with patience and thinking things through. Just stick to the very specific order or you will experience problems with this part of the install.

Jack up the front end up and support the frame rails with jack stands. Place the jack stands under an area that can support the load. Wiggle the vehicle to test stability.
Jack up the front end up and support the frame rails with jack stands. Place the jack stands under an area that can support the load. Wiggle the vehicle to test stability.
Locate the upper shock bolts locating the spring/shock assembly in the vehicle.
Locate the upper shock bolts locating the spring/shock assembly in the vehicle.
Break loose the center shock bolt using an Allen tool at the center of the shock shaft and an open end wrench on the nut. You want to be sure that you can break this loose. If you can’t, the steps that follow are pointless because you can’t complete the installation.
Break loose the center shock bolt using an Allen tool at the center of the shock shaft and an open end wrench on the nut. You want to be sure that you can break this loose. If you can’t, the steps that follow are pointless because you can’t complete the installation.
Remove the front sway bar end-link bolt from the lower control arm.
Remove the front sway bar end-link bolt from the lower control arm.
Move to the two inner pivot bolts for the lower control arm. You will find eccentric cam bolts used for aligning the suspension. You should use a marker to put a mark on these so you can set them back there when you finish. This will just be a rough estimate because the alignment will need to be reset when you finish the install.
Move to the two inner pivot bolts for the lower control arm. You will find eccentric cam bolts used for aligning the suspension. You should use a marker to put a mark on these so you can set them back there when you finish. This will just be a rough estimate because the alignment will need to be reset when you finish the install.
This is where you make your marks. With your marks made, loosen these two nuts/bolts, but do not remove them. This will allow you the extra movement required of the lower control arm to replace the shock/spring assembly.
This is where you make your marks. With your marks made, loosen these two nuts/bolts, but do not remove them. This will allow you the extra movement required of the lower control arm to replace the shock/spring assembly.
Break loose the two bolts attaching the ball joint to the spindle. Do not touch the center nut on the actual ball joint itself. Just the two bolts on the ball joint mount.
Break loose the two bolts attaching the ball joint to the spindle. Do not touch the center nut on the actual ball joint itself. Just the two bolts on the ball joint mount.
Now place the jack under the lower control arm and jack it up slightly so the jack is tight under the control arm. Remove the ball-joint-attachment bolts and slowly lower the lower control arm until it falls enough that the jack is no longer holding it up. This is how far the shock will extend before the spring starts to decompress in the next step. You just want to see for yourself how far this actually is so you have this in your mind. Jack up the lower control arm to remove pressure from the shock assembly. Break loose the lower shock bolt and then move to the upper shock bolt, which you already broke loose earlier. Slowly remove the upper shock nut until it’s free. Slowly lower the jack and you’ll notice the top of the shock rod lowering through the upper spring hat as the spring decompresses. Once the spring is fully extended, you can remove the lower shock bolt and pull the shock/spring out of the mounting location. Be patient and think this part through, because it can be a pain getting it out and back in, and you don’t want to hurt the brake line or sensor near the shock. Pay attention to the order of the washers and bushings again at the top of the shock. It should be nut, washer, bushing, vehicle, bushing, washer from top to bottom.
Now place the jack under the lower control arm and jack it up slightly so the jack is tight under the control arm. Remove the ball-joint-attachment bolts and slowly lower the lower control arm until it falls enough that the jack is no longer holding it up. This is how far the shock will extend before the spring starts to decompress in the next step. You just want to see for yourself how far this actually is so you have this in your mind.
Jack up the lower control arm to remove pressure from the shock assembly. Break loose the lower shock bolt and then move to the upper shock bolt, which you already broke loose earlier. Slowly remove the upper shock nut until it’s free.
Slowly lower the jack and you’ll notice the top of the shock rod lowering through the upper spring hat as the spring decompresses. Once the spring is fully extended, you can remove the lower shock bolt and pull the shock/spring out of the mounting location. Be patient and think this part through, because it can be a pain getting it out and back in, and you don’t want to hurt the brake line or sensor near the shock. Pay attention to the order of the washers and bushings again at the top of the shock. It should be nut, washer, bushing, vehicle, bushing, washer from top to bottom.
Assemble the new shock and place the spring on the new perch. If you want the full 2.5 inches of lift the front shocks are capable of, you’ll want to install the c-clip in the top groove. It comes from the factory in the lowest position, so just work it up to the top groove.
Assemble the new shock and place the spring on the new perch. If you want the full 2.5 inches of lift the front shocks are capable of, you’ll want to install the c-clip in the top groove. It comes from the factory in the lowest position, so just work it up to the top groove.
Slide the new spring perch over the upper part of the shock, taking note of the correct orientation. Next comes the boot, zip tie on the boot, then the washer and bushing from the previous step.
Slide the new spring perch over the upper part of the shock, taking note of the correct orientation. Next comes the boot, zip tie on the boot, then the washer and bushing from the previous step.
Slide the spring over the shock and reinstall it in vehicle following these same directions in the opposite order. Make sure you guide the top of the shock rod through the hole in upper spring hat as you raise the lower control arm using the jack while the spring compresses. This is critical.
Slide the spring over the shock and reinstall it in vehicle following these same directions in the opposite order. Make sure you guide the top of the shock rod through the hole in upper spring hat as you raise the lower control arm using the jack while the spring compresses. This is critical.
Once you get the upper shock rod up through the hole, make sure you get the bushing, washer, then nut on there and tighten it up. The rest of the installation follows the procedure in reverse order.
Once you get the upper shock rod up through the hole, make sure you get the bushing, washer, then nut on there and tighten it up. The rest of the installation follows the procedure in reverse order.

Wheels and Tires

We turned to the folks at Toyo Tires, who suggested the new Open Country A/T II. We use the truck primarily for towing, but we still wanted the option of going off road. The new tire from Toyo has an aggressive tread design, while still providing a quiet ride on the road and amazing on- and off-road traction. Couple that with Toyo’s No Regrets® 45-day, 500-mile trial offer and its industry-leading 65,000 mile warranty, this tire simply can’t be beat — and sales have been brisk since its release.

After putting around 8,000 miles on the tires, I can report that they are the most impressive all terrain tire I’ve ever driven on. The traction and handling these tires produce are simply amazing, from snow and sand, to rain and mud, and anything in between.

Out with the old and in with the new.
Out with the old and in with the new.
We upsized our tires from the factory 275/65/18 to an impressive 325/60/18. This tire is a staggering 1.3 inches wider and 1.2 inches taller, thus requiring wider aftermarket wheels. After much research, we chose a set of 18 x 9 KMC XD Series Hoss wheels with a +30 mm offset, which allowed us to bolt the new set right onto the truck with no additional modifications.
We upsized our tires from the factory 275/65/18 to an impressive 325/60/18. This tire is a staggering 1.3 inches wider and 1.2 inches taller, thus requiring wider aftermarket wheels. After much research, we chose a set of 18 x 9 KMC XD Series Hoss wheels with a +30 mm offset, which allowed us to bolt the new set right onto the truck with no additional modifications.
DSC_6653
The new look is an amazing transformation from a stock Tundra to what we see now.
The new look is an amazing transformation from a stock Tundra to what we see now.

Tools needed:

  • Large breaker bar
  • Torque wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • Floor jack
  • Pair of jack stands
  • 12 mm socket and open ended wrench
  • 14 mm socket and open ended wrench
  • 19 mm socket and open ended wrench
  • 22 mm or 7/8-inch socket wrench
  • 24 mm or 15/16-inch socket wrench
  • Small crescent wrench

 

Torque Specs:

  • Two 22mm lower control arm bolts at ball joint connection. 221 ft./ lbs.
  • 22 mm lower shock nut. 144 ft./ lbs.
  • 19mm front sway bar lower bolt. 89 ft./ lbs.
  • Lower control arm eccentric cam bolts. 100 ft./ lbs.
  • Lug nuts for alloy wheels. 97 ft./ lbs. or 154 ft./ lbs. for steel wheels.
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Image courtesy of Jeremy Croiset