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Suspension/shock advice for 2nd gen Tacoma 6' bed with 8' camper


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#1 WillTheThri11

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 04:13 PM

Hi all,

 

Been looking through suspension threads, mostly on tacomaworld.com and trying to find more here on WTW, but not finding much.  Since my question is specific to my truck with FWC, i think it's best to ask here.

 

What are people running for shocks and overall suspension setups on 2nd or 3rd gen tacomas with 6' bed.

 

I have an 8' ranger II and the CG is behind the axle by about a foot.  I haven't weighed it yet, but it's the full camper with fridge/heater/stove/sink so it's probably close to 1000lbs dry and I think I have about 1500lbs payload so i'm right near the max with my girlfriend, 2 dogs and a bit of food/water.

 

I've put firestone bags with daystar cradles under the rear and it made a huge difference.  I had the Bilstein 5100s on the front, but I noticed uneven tire wear so I think it's time to take care of this once and for all.  I'm hoping for a buy once cry once kind of install which has me looking at rebuildable shocks/coil overs.  Accutune Offroad is looking really appealing since they build the shock custom for your setup at no extra charge (guessing this is built into their price though or just that they probably rarely if ever have sales).  Anyway, they recommend going to a Fox remote Reservoir Tundra shock in the rear with compression adjusters that they've custom made to fit Tacomas.  This would be to handle all the extra weight of the camper.  Of course these are incredibly pricey (~$400/shock i think).  They also recommend going to a 2.5 in shock up front specifically for  the Tacoma due to weight i believe.  I asked them about the ARB BP-51 and they highly recommend against an internal bypass for on-road performance (but didn't really say why)  They also weren't super familiar with the product and don't offer it as an option.

 

I read of one person with the remote reservoir Kings that seemed pretty happy with them on here.  Wondering if anyone else is running those or the rebuildable Bilsteins and what people think.

 

I'm also looking at front coilovers (0-3" lift) to "buy/cry once" as a total solution.

 

Anybody have remote reservoirs with adjusters and actually use the adjusters?  Are they night and day kind of performance or just a gadget that provides a marginal improvement?  Are rebuildable shocks worth it or is it better to just replace shocks potentially more often due to the extra weight and rough terrain?

 

Many thanks in advance for the advice!


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#2 Kolockum

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 04:33 PM

I just installed a Old Man Emu (OME) suspension pack on my '17 Tacoma and absolutely love it. I ordered the heavy kit with the stiff shocks but in hind sight I would probably have gotten heavy rear leaf pack and medium front coils. I haven't put a bunch of miles on the kit and have not done anything major off road yet. I will see how it does over the next month but I think I may remove one of the overload springs as I don't think I am heavy enough to need it.

 

The other thing I rarely hear mentioned outside of technical forums is the replacement of the driver side clam-shell needle bearing. When you add a bit of lift the needle bearing can not support the additional side load and will quickly fail, some guys (including me) had vibrations from the needle bearing immediately after installing the lift. This has been a known issue in Toyota's front ends for a long time but they haven't done much about it. There is a service bulletin for replacement but a lot of guys seem to have issues with the replacement since it is almost the same design as the issue.  Anyways I went with the flow on Tacoma World and replaced it with a bushing from East Coast Gear Supply


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#3 WillTheThri11

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 05:13 PM

Thanks, I have seen the ECGS bushing replacement and will likely do that too.  I have the 5100s at 1.75in i think and haven't had problems.  I do have a vibration sometimes, but from what I recall reading, it was unlikely to be that bearing.  I think it's better to do it anyway though.

 

Which OME setup did you get?  BP-51 or the Nitrochargers?


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#4 Adventurer

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 05:32 PM

Ok...coupla things to consider.  This isn't specific to a Tundra, but just a Suspension 101 I guess.

 

Shocks do not carry weight, they provide damping (how it "bounces").  Springs carry the weight.

 

I would purchase springs made to carry the additional weight, depending on how often you carry the camper and regular shocks made for that application.

 

Shocks are filled with fluid and the fluid heats up depending on the (off)road conditions.  The more the shock works the more it heats up.  This causes things to happen that reduce it's effectiveness (the oil foams, blah, blah).  So, they created remote reservoir shocks because essentially it's another can that holds additional oil.  It's like having a shock with an extra amount of oil.  Anyway, unless you are running off road at high speed, you probably don't need remote reservoir shocks.  They are really cool, but have little real benefit for a truck with a  camper in most conditions.  You probably will never, or very seldom overheat your shocks.

 

So, long story short, you would be well served by Old Man Emu (OME) springs and shocks.  They are some of the highest quality; although, they are not the coolest.  OME just makes high quality components and doesn't market them to the big lift bro-dozer crowd.  They only build stock to about 2.5" lift systems (well, they have a few taller systems, but it's not their thing).

 

ETA:  also, shocks that are adjustable are only minimally adjustable.  Some people find it worth it though.  Shocks have a life of approximately 50k miles; however, that depends on how much off road driving you do.  Rebuildable shocks may be worth it.  People rebuild their motorcycle forks/shocks all the time.  I would say though that I wouldn't buy rebuildable shocks because I'd buy $75 - $125 shocks and just replace them every 50k miles or so.


Edited by Adventurer, 23 January 2020 - 09:51 PM.

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#5 rando

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 05:57 PM

I hate to say this, but you may be putting lipstick on a pig here.  I would guess your camper loaded is at LEAST 1000lb, and probably a fair bit more, and then you need to add in the weight or people and gear in the cab - it adds up fast.    The main issue is being overloaded and having the COG being significantly behind the rear axle.  It is unlikely this will ever handle very well in this configuration, regardless of shocks.  The money would be better spent on either an 8' bed truck or a shorter camper. 

 

However, back to the suspension set up - springs are much more important than shocks in this situation.   What springs are you running for the extra load? 

 

I have a 2016 Tacoma with a Fleet Flatbed and have had OK luck with OME BP-51s, I have the Dakar heavy springs in the back (with the add a leaf) and heavy coils in the front.   I also have airbags in the back, but really only use these for minor adjustments and never run more than 25psi in these, and usually about 15psi.    With the front coil overs set to the lowest setting I still have some rake, and am within 1" of stock height.   Given the loading, you want to avoid any extra lift, it will negatively impact handling and exacerbate your COG problems. 

 

I adjusted the shocks initially and they all ended up with near the max rebound and compression damping.   I have not played with them in some years.   I have had one leak so far and it was replaced under warranty.    I have measured the temperature of the shocks after an hour of washboard at high speed and the shocks were a few degrees above ambient, but the reservoirs were hardly above ambient - so I am not convinced the reservoirs do much.    If I were to do it again, I would probably go with the normal OMEs as they appear to be more reliable.   I would certainly avoid the Kings, Icons and other performance shocks (performance is not really the goal with 1500 lbs of load) as they are even less reliable and require frequent rebuilds even with 'normal' loads. 

 

Overall I am happy with my setup and like being small and nimble, but I can definitely tell that I am heavy and drive accordingly. 


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#6 WillTheThri11

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 06:45 PM

I hate to say this, but you may be putting lipstick on a pig here.  I would guess your camper loaded is at LEAST 1000lb, and probably a fair bit more, and then you need to add in the weight or people and gear in the cab - it adds up fast.    The main issue is being overloaded and having the COG being significantly behind the rear axle.  It is unlikely this will ever handle very well in this configuration, regardless of shocks.  The money would be better spent on either an 8' bed truck or a shorter camper. 

 

This may be true and if there was a 6.5' FWC that I could trade even for, I'd certainly consider it (probably jump at it actually).  As far as handling goes, i drove it from Colorado to Los Angeles on totally stock suspension and was amazed how well it handled with just bucking over bumps being the problem.  With the airbags, I hardly even notice it although I've still driven very modestly and haven't had to perform any evasive maneuvers yet.

 

However, back to the suspension set up - springs are much more important than shocks in this situation.   What springs are you running for the extra load? 

 

I have the stock Tacoma springs (TSB replacement) with Firestone airbags and Daystar cradles in the rear. and stock TRD shocks (Bilstein 4600) with ~90k mi.  I have stock springs up front and Bilstein 5100s with 40k mi.

 

I have a 2016 Tacoma with a Fleet Flatbed and have had OK luck with OME BP-51s, I have the Dakar heavy springs in the back (with the add a leaf) and heavy coils in the front.   I also have airbags in the back, but really only use these for minor adjustments and never run more than 25psi in these, and usually about 15psi.    With the front coil overs set to the lowest setting I still have some rake, and am within 1" of stock height.   Given the loading, you want to avoid any extra lift, it will negatively impact handling and exacerbate your COG problems. 

 

When you say "OK luck" what are you referring too?  I sense a compromise here.  I'm running my airbags at 35-40psi I think.  Bigger bumps still seem to buck a bit which i think shocks should help with.

 

I adjusted the shocks initially and they all ended up with near the max rebound and compression damping.   I have not played with them in some years.   I have had one leak so far and it was replaced under warranty.    I have measured the temperature of the shocks after an hour of washboard at high speed and the shocks were a few degrees above ambient, but the reservoirs were hardly above ambient - so I am not convinced the reservoirs do much.    If I were to do it again, I would probably go with the normal OMEs as they appear to be more reliable.   I would certainly avoid the Kings, Icons and other performance shocks (performance is not really the goal with 1500 lbs of load) as they are even less reliable and require frequent rebuilds even with 'normal' loads. 

 

Overall I am happy with my setup and like being small and nimble, but I can definitely tell that I am heavy and drive accordingly. 

  Sorry, couldn't figure out how to "multiquote" a single post so i responded in bold above.


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#7 Kolockum

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 07:32 PM


Thanks, I have seen the ECGS bushing replacement and will likely do that too.  I have the 5100s at 1.75in i think and haven't had problems.  I do have a vibration sometimes, but from what I recall reading, it was unlikely to be that bearing.  I think it's better to do it anyway though.

 

Which OME setup did you get?  BP-51 or the Nitrochargers?

If the vibration goes away when you are in 4x4 then it is the needle bearing.

 

I went with the Nitro-chargers. I am of a similar thought to most on here that the leaf springs & Coils are most important. My issues with air bags is it makes my truck hop when I hit wash board. Never had anything like it before. But that is where good shocks come into the picture. 

 

My previous truck was a '02 Dodge Dakota. I never got the suspension set up correctly and ended up rebuilding the front end every ~40k. Also never handled right. Granted I spend a considerable time on dirt roads and wasn't the slowest driver on gravel. Anyways that is why I took the time and spent the money to get my Tacoma set up properly. 


Edited by Kolockum, 23 January 2020 - 07:33 PM.

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"the nut behind the wheel is the most important one." John D


#8 rando

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:17 PM

When you say "OK luck" what are you referring too?  I sense a compromise here.  I'm running my airbags at 35-40psi I think.  Bigger bumps still seem to buck a bit which i think shocks should help with.

 

  Sorry, couldn't figure out how to "multiquote" a single post so i responded in bold above.

 

Not necessarily a compromise, but I am just not convinced the expensive remote reservoir adjustable shocks were worth it.   Even though the OME BP-51s are supposed to be more on the longevity side than the performance side, I have had one go out at < 20k miles.   The remote reservoirs don't do much, and I have honestly only ever adjusted them once and it didn't make a huge difference.   I have definitely come to realize they are more about the marketing/bling than anything else, and I am a bit embarrassed that I fell for it.  

 

On the other hand, the right springs for the load makes a night and day difference.  I borrowed a friends Tacoma/Fleet before buying mine, which was set up with airbags, and while they got rid of the sag, the ride was pretty off - hitting bumps at speed was a interesting experience to say the least.   Driving the empty flatbed with the heavy OME setup before installing the camper was also a teeth rattling experience.  However with the right springs for the heavy load, the ride itself is pretty good.    But no suspension setup can over come the basic physics of a heavy truck - it will never feel like an unloaded truck. 

 

My advice based on my experience would be to keep looking for the 6.5' camper, and in the meantime spend most of the money to upgrade your springs (either heavy load springs, or better yet a custom leaf pack dialed for your load) and stick with some mid-range shocks (bilsteins, nitrochargers etc) and forget the bling. 


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#9 rando

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:18 PM

PS  I have also not had any vibration or needle bearing issues - but I was careful to keep the height close to stock, so driveline/cv angles didn't really change. 


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#10 WillTheThri11

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:05 PM

Wow, wishing I asked the question earlier about suspension (before I did airbags).  I feel like washboard is the thing to tune for since it slows you down the most when it comes to suspension.

 

I went with the airbags 1) beacuse the TSB leaves were basically brand new (poor reasoning, probably should've just pulled them off and re-sold or chucked 'em 2) for the ability to adjust for loaded/unloaded.  Haven't been off road yet since the airbags but now you've got me really worried about the bucking coming back.


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