Part Two: The Rolling Stock
To add visual muscle to the truck, we wanted a nice, shiny wheel that wasn't dainty-looking or so intricately designed that polishing would be a nightmare. Besides that, we needed a wheel that would provide the proper clearance for the brake calipers (an issue with the new Tacomas) and accept the factory tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Luckily for us, the Classic II from Mickey Thompson fits all of our criteria so we grabbed a 17x9 with 5 inches of backspacing. For tires, we went with the same source and picked up the Baja ATZ radial. The LT265/70R17 is a 32-inch-diameter tire with a load-range index of "E," so it will fit without rubbing and still be able to hold the truck.
1. To remove the TPMS sensors,...
1. To remove the TPMS sensors, the beads must be broken down on the factory wheels. Great care must be taken doing this because the sensors are made of plastic, and at a couple hundred bucks a pop it would be a costly mistake to break one.
2a. The M/T Classic IIs have...
2a. The M/T Classic IIs have the proper mounting surface to accept the sensors (2a & 2b). Thank goodness for that, because if we didn't install the sensors the idiot light on the dash would come on and annoy the hell out of us.
3. The same care must be taken...
3. The same care must be taken when the new tires are mounted as well. One overly aggressive move and the sensor will snap, rendering it useless.
4. The last step after mounting...
4. The last step after mounting the new rolling stock on the truck was to set all the tire pressures to the same number. Don't forget the spare, because there's a sensor in there as well.
Watch Yer Nuts!
When switching to aftermarket wheels, make sure to pick up the appropriate lug nut because sometimes the stock ones won't work. Like in our case, the stock nuts are a shank style while the new rims required nuts that are a conical style.
Part Three: The Steps
To add a little convenience and some extra flash, we also picked up a set of Smittybilt Sure Steps. Smittybilt has been perfecting these steps for over two years, and they feature a no-drill installation. The step pads are securely held on with five pins, and all the brackets are powdercoated. The company has two options on the steps: black powdercoat or polished stainless. We went with the stainless, again for some visual flash.
1. Making things very easy,...
1. Making things very easy, the Tacoma already has threaded holes in the floor, probably for the Toyota steps. Smittybilt uses these holes as well to mount the steps. Ryan loosely installed all of the hardware and tightened the brackets to the truck and then the bolts on the tubes.
2. As you can see, the Sure...
2. As you can see, the Sure Steps will help us get in the vehicle. The shiny stainless doesn't hurt in the style department either.
The Final Word
After everything was on and the truck was realigned, it was time for a little road test. We immediately noticed an improvement in ride quality, as the truck rode smoother on the even surfaces. Once the road got a little bumpy is when the new parts started to shine. The truck soaked up the harsh dips without bouncing all over the place, and it never felt unstable. All in all, this combo worked out great on the Tacoma, improving looks as well as performance.