Best Tacoma Mods of 2021 – Complete Guide

Damaso
| Last Updated: March 13, 2021

Modifying your Tacoma may seem like a simple task. However, depending on the area you want to upgrade, choosing the right mods can become quite a challenge. Furthermore, choosing a poor quality or inappropriate mod can even put you at risk.

That has motivated us to write this guide, where we have grouped the most popular mods for the fabulous Toyota Tacoma.

Are you interested in improving the power or the 4x4 capabilities of your truck? This guide is for you.

Our Top Picks for Tacoma Mods

  • Minimized tear/chipping
  • Smooth in snow
  • Heavy-duty rubber
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  • For rough conditions
  • Sturdy housing
  • Signature light activation
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  • Best for the Money
  • Easy to install
  • Lifetime warranty
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Comparison of the Best Tacoma Mods

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Minimized tear and chipping at off-road driving
  • Allows smooth movement in deep snow
  • Highlighted by heavy-duty rubber offering enhanced stability
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  • Polycarbonate plastic lens for powerful light in rough conditions
  • Highlighted by a sturdy black housing
  • Includes signature light activation
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  • Best for the Money
  • Foldable cover that is easy to install
  • Includes a limited lifetime warranty
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  • Best Brake Pads For Toyota Tacoma
  • Strong pads for on and off-road use
  • Simple to clean from dust and mud
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  • Best Exhaust System For Toyota Tacoma
  • Reliable acoustic feedback for determining engine rpm
  • Beginner-friendly installation without fancy tools
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  • Best Shocks For Toyota Tacoma 4X4
  • Offers better control when driving high speed
  • Perfect for leveling out your vehicle on rough terrain
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  • Best Spark Plugs For Toyota Tacoma
  • Exceptional strength provided by iridium center
  • Offering fuel-efficient performance
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  • Best Tacoma Roof Rack
  • Variable capacity depending on the number of crossbars
  • Features a wind deflector for a noiseless experience
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How Do I Choose Mods for My Tacoma?

Choosing the right mods for your Tacoma has a lot to do with how you intend to use your truck. In that regard we advise you to take into account the following factors:

Quality

We know this seems obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of enthusiasts stranded in a remote location regretting not taking this factor more seriously. According to the rule of thumb, the farther your destination is, the more attention you should pay to the quality of the mods you buy.

Specific vs Generic

If all you want is to improve the appearance of your Tacoma then it may not be so important to buy generic mods, since the worst that can happen is to waste your money. However, when it comes to suspension systems or engine modifications, our recommendation is to only purchase mods designed specifically for the Tacoma.

Photo credit: carid.com

Safety

Safety is not necessarily linked to the quality of the product. Always prefer products that have a focus on the aspects that keep you safest. For example, tires with reinforced material, or lighting system with protection against short-circuits.

Technical Complexity

Some mods only require replacing one part with another, however, there is also the case of more complex mods such as changing the geometry of your Tacoma's suspension which warrants a deeper technical knowledge. If you are planning to make extensive modifications to your truck, our suggestion is to go to specialized Toyota workshops as they have the necessary experience to advise you on which mods offer the best results.

Review of the Best Tacoma Mods

Ready to explore the best mods for the Toyota Tacoma? Let's dive in!

BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 Radial Car Tire for Light Trucks, SUVs, and Crossovers, LT265/70R16/E 121/118S

PROS

  • Outstanding grip and control both in summer and winter
  • Enhanced tread design that extends onto the sidewall
  • Twice the sidewall rubber thickness than previous Baja Champion series
  • Unbeatable tire tread design both for on-road and off-road
  • 50,000 miles warranty

CONS

  • Due to their special all-terrain design, these tires tend to be a little noisier than stock ones
  • Although it is great that the tread is reinforced, this results in more weight for the entire suspension assembly

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyer reports regarding these tires are highly positive. The most praised aspects are the quality of the compound, the aesthetics (white letters), the pattern of the tread, and the off-road performance. In short, a total success in every way.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Talking about off-road tires without talking about BFGoodrich is almost impossible. For decades, BFGoodrich has set the standard for performance, reliability, and durability in off-road tires. The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires are proof of this.

Its design includes a tougher and thicker sidewall rubber, an enhanced rubber formulation that reduces chip and tear, and a tread design focused on offering excellent maneuverability on all types of terrain. Apart from their eye-catching design, one of the features that we liked the most about these tires is their excellent performance both on snow/icy roads during the winter and on hot muddy roads during the summer.

Bottom Line 

If you are looking for a multipurpose set of tires for your Tacoma then the BF Goodrich T/A KO2 Radial 245/75R16 120S will not disappoint. These tires are great for any driver who needs incredible all-terrain reliability as well as phenomenal grip in both wet and dry conditions.

PROS

  • Exclusive Ice Cube 3D Projector technology that enables for a brighter, more consistent light beam
  • Built-In ultra-high quality Osram Oslon black flat LED chip
  • Sporty “black” housing that gives your Tacoma a more aggressive look
  • Quality polycarbonate plastic lens with anti-fog treatment
  • Compliant with SAE and DOT FMVSS108 regulations

CONS

  • Its premium features are not cheap, these headlights are expensive
  • You will have to add an extra $65 if you own a Tacoma TRD model

What Recent Buyers Report

The aspect that buyers of these AlphaRex headlights have highlighted the most is the intensity and brightness of the light they emit. This should come as no surprise, as the NOVA-Series headlights use quality Osram Oslon black flat LED chips.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

You might think that manufacturing a headlight is a simple task that only consists of placing quality bulbs in plastic housings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Designing and manufacturing quality headlights is a science. This has been demonstrated with the AlphaRex NOVA-Series headlights. Many manufacturers use Osram LEDs (albeit lower wattage) but very few take the time to develop a high precision optical element that produces a fluid and bright beam of light.

And that is precisely where the science of this business lies, a science that AphaRex masters to perfection with its exclusive Ice Cube 3D Projector technology. In our opinion, AlphaRex headlights provide one of the most powerful, sharp, and brightest beams currently available for your Tacoma, allowing you to drive at night with a much wider field of vision.

Bottom Line 

Proper lighting is a priority, whether you're driving your Tacoma in town or planning a 4x4 adventure. In this sense, the AlphaRex NOVA-Series headlights provide you with an amazing beam of light, which allows you to turn night into day. Hands down, one of the most important mods to consider for your Tacoma.

Lund Genesis Elite Tri-Fold, Soft Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover | 958186 | Fits 2016 - 2021 Toyota Tacoma 5' 1' Bed (60.5')

PROS

  • Premium twill-woven material that sits on top of the tri-fold bed cover
  • Easy folding via two clamps located on each side of the tailgate
  • Excellent seal to protect your cargo against weather conditions
  • Hassle-free installation, no drilling required
  • Made in the USA and backed up by a limited lifetime guarantee

CONS

  • Not as secure as a hard bed cover
  • Better suited for daily driving trucks than for off-road or heavy-duty usage

What Recent Buyers Report 

The vast majority of comments from buyers of this product focus on two aspects, the ease of installation and its very low price. None of these comments surprise us, since Lund has always been characterized as a leading brand in the auto accessories field, always innovating with high-quality products.

This particular tonneau cover, the Genesis Elite Tri-Fold, is one of the brand's bestsellers, and for good reason. Its price/value ratio has no competition.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

We've already mentioned the incredible value the Genesis Elite Tri-Fold soft truck cover offers, but that's just one of the reasons that make it worthy of being on this list. Its innovative design allows you to fold the cover and secure it in any of its three openings, giving it great versatility.

Moreover, its premium materials and "low profile" give the Tacoma a more modern and sporty appearance. When you combine all these advantages, what you get as a result is an ideal cover for daily use, light and very easy to use.

Bottom Line 

There are hundreds of models of tonneau covers to choose from. However, it is our vision that Lund's Genesis Elite Tri-Fold, Soft Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover offers you unsurpassed value along with tremendous versatility and quality. Without a doubt, being a truck cover such a necessary accessory for the Tacoma, these advantages are hard to ignore.

Best Brake Pads for Toyota Tacoma:
Akebono ASP976 Disc Brake Pad Kit

Akebono-ASP976 Ultra Premium Front Brake Pads, GREY

PROS

  • Made for enthusiasts, ideal for spirited driving and serious off-road applications
  • Low dust production
  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Rotor-friendly which improves rotor life
  • Consistent pedal feel regardless of the driving conditions

CONS

  • Somewhat expensive when compared to “OE” ceramic pads
  • Not recommended for extremely cold climates

What Recent Buyers Report

Akebono brake pads are the kind of product that always gets great reviews. And for good reason. It is common among buyers comments such as "perfect fit" or "excellent bite", some simply claim that Akebono pads are the best they have ever installed.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Where to start. Akebono has been making brake pads for Toyota for decades. These particular brake pads belong to Akebono's Performance Ultra-Premium line, which is focused on providing maximum performance in applications that require superior stopping power. This is the case of Tacomas with high-performance engines or Tacomas specially modified for off-road applications.

One aspect to highlight about these pads is that in addition to offering extraordinary reliability in extreme applications, they also have premium features ideal for daily driving such as their low dust production and low noise levels. All in all, one of the best Tacoma brake pads currently available in the market.

Bottom Line 

When choosing brake pads for the Toyota Tacoma it is difficult to find a product that offers as many advantages as the Akebono ASP976. These incredible pads offer you all the benefits of ceramic friction materials (low dust, durability, quiet operation) but additionally, their exclusive formulation also offers you the bite and stopping power of semi-metallic brake pads.

 Without a doubt, a good set of pads regardless of the intended use of your Tacoma.

Best Exhaust System for Toyota Tacoma:
Borla 140680BC 2.5 in. S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust System

Borla 140680BC S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust System 2.5 in. Incl. Front Pipe Assy/Muffler Assy/Tailpipe Assy/Black 4 in. Single Round Rolled Angle-Cut Tip Truck Side Exit S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust System

PROS

  • Rounded angles for better flow of exhaust gases
  • Built using premium T-304 stainless steel
  • High-performance Cat-Back featuring low restriction design
  • Tuned for providing a distinctive exhaust sound
  • Made using big diameter 2.5” pipe for better performance

CONS

  • It’s a Borla, it has to be expensive
  • Since it has to comply with recent regulations, it’s not as loud as many would like

What Recent Buyers Report 

This particular product is very interesting, at least for those who like to read reviews. Although most buyers praise the quality, aesthetics, and ease of installation of this Borla Cat-Back system, there are also a good number of people disappointed with the sound of the product, or rather, with the lack of noise coming from this exhaust system.

Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with Borla, but rather with the most recent regulations that require lower noise levels.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Putting aside the frustration of not being able to enjoy a powerful engine roar, what strikes us most about this exhaust system is its astonishing quality. The finish on this Cat-Back system is nothing short of spectacular. While it is certainly designed to improve the power and torque of your Tacoma, the work Borla has done with the chrome finish is impressive.

Moreover, since it is 100% manufactured with high-quality stainless steel, this exhaust system is not only attractive but also highly resistant to the elements. So, if you are looking for a mod that combines aesthetics and performance then the Borla 140680BC 2.5 in. S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust System won't let you down.

Bottom Line 

We cannot deny that this particular mod has left an excellent impression on us. Whether you plan to use your Tacoma around town or on 4x4 adventures, having a quality exhaust system is an excellent investment. In particular, this mod gives you incredible protection against corrosion while adding a more sporty and unique look to your Tacoma.

Best Shocks For Toyota Tacoma 4X4:
Bilstein 24263108 Front Shock Absorber

Bilstein 24263108 Shock Absorber

PROS

  • Practical alternative to coil spring spacers thanks to its adjustable height design
  • Monotube technology to ensure the utmost performance and ride quality
  • Specifically tuned for the Toyota Tacoma
  • No modifications required since they use OEM upper mount
  • Made in the USA

CONS

  • Sold per unit, making them somewhat pricey
  • Their suspension travel may not suit everyone

What Recent Buyers Report

Finding quality Tacoma shock absorbers can be a difficult task. This is recognized by many buyers when reviewing the Bilstein shock absorbers as one of the best on the market.

Almost unanimously all the reviews speak of the incredible ride quality provided by these shocks, how easy is the installation, and how remarkable is their performance both on-road and off-road.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Bilstein is a widely recognized brand in the automotive industry, however, it is not the only one, there are many other premium shock absorber manufacturers. So what made us choose these specifically?

Well, first of all, we have its adjustable ride height ability. This feature gives them the advantage of offering better ground clearance than similar products.

Second, the incredible reliability they offer. Bilstein's monotube design ensures consistent, fade-free performance in all conditions.

Last but not least, these shocks use Tacoma's stock front coil springs and OEM upper mount, which greatly facilitates their installation.

Bottom Line 

Bilstein 24263108 shocks offer many unique advantages that make them ideal for multipurpose applications. Their height-adjustable design allows them to be calibrated for city usage (standard height) or off-road applications (increased height for better ground clearance). Additionally, its direct-fit construction makes them ideal for DIYs who love to install their own modifications.

Best Spark Plugs For Toyota Tacoma:
Denso 4704 IKH20TT Iridium TT Spark Plug

Denso (4704) IKH20TT Iridium TT Spark Plug, (Pack of 1)

PROS

  • Manufactured using Denso’s 360-degree laser welding process
  • Iridium Twin-Tip which ensures a better spark
  • World’s smallest Iridium center electrode which minimizes spark interference and maximizes ignitability
  • Ultra-durable construction, offering a lifetime over 100,000 miles
  • Copper-glass seal bonds center electrode and insulator for a gas-tight seal

CONS

  • Quite expensive for most Tacoma owners
  • Offer similar durability to Platinum Spark Plugs

What Recent Buyers Report

The vast majority of reviews of Denso 4704 IKH20TT Iridium TT spark plugs talk about how they provide smoother idle, better gas mileage, and faster acceleration. However, some reviewers also pointed out that these spark plugs are not gapped, so be careful to double-check their calibration before installing them in your Tacoma. Not doing so could cause many issues including misfires and even spark plug damage.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

There is no doubt that Iridium is the new Platinum. While this material is still exotic (and expensive) it provides better conductivity characteristics which in turn translates into higher engine power and lower fuel consumption.

Now, keep in mind that these are next-generation spark plugs, and as such are intended for quality gasoline. Using them within the city offers many advantages, but they are not necessarily a good option for other applications. This is an important consideration for off-road adventurers since if you use fuel high in impurities this could significantly decrease the useful life of these spark plugs.

Bottom Line 

The Denso 4704 IKH20TT Iridium TT spark plugs represent an ideal mod for daily driving and/or high-performance applications. Its cutting-edge design allows them to increase the power and torque of the engine as well as considerably improve combustion efficiency and therefore reduce gasoline consumption.

Best Tacoma Roof Rack:
Prinsu Cab Rack

PROS

  • Powder-coated for enhanced durability
  • Fully modular and adjustable
  • Perfect fit thanks to its cutting-edge manufacturing process
  • Rugged construction using quality 5052 aluminum
  • Includes a wind deflector to reduce noise levels

CONS

  • Only comes in black

What Recent Buyers Report 

Prinsu is one of the most respected off-road accessory brands among 4x4 enthusiasts. For this reason, we are not surprised that all the comments on this product are so positive. The quality, ease of installation, and extreme versatility that this cab rack offers are really hard to beat.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

If you use your Tacoma to get from home to work you may never need a mod like this. Nonetheless, if you are the type of person who enjoys Overlanding then this accessory is a must-have. In general, roof-racks aim to increase the available cargo space. In this sense, the Prinsu Cab Rack stands out from other similar products thanks to its design focused on offering the utmost flexibility.

Each of the six rails can be adjusted to create all kinds of configurations. Moreover, crossbars offer numerous tie-down points that ensure cargo security but also enables adding tool mounts or even light bars if necessary. This level of versatility is one of the advantages that makes this product so unique and useful.

Bottom Line

If you are an off-road enthusiast who needs a quality roof mount that offers multiple configurations then the Prinsu Cab Rack could be the solution you have been looking for. The design of this mod combines durability and versatility which is invaluable during any adventure away from home.

Volant Closed Box Cold Air Intake Kit With Ram Air Scoop 2016-2018 Toyota Tacoma 3.5L

PROS

  • Rugged construction made to last even in the most demanding off-roading environments
  • Include a high-performance air filter element
  • Premium-grade silicone hoses to ensure air-tight connections
  • Custom design, exclusive to the Toyota Tacoma
  • Made in the USA and backed by a Lifetime Warranty

CONS

  • The included MaxFlow 5 oiled air filter is awesome for spirited driving but terrible for dusty terrains since it could get clogged very quickly

What Recent Buyers Report 

The Volant Closed Box Cold Air Intake Kit With Ram Air Scoop is a product aimed at enthusiasts. So the huge amount of positive feedback on this product is no surprise. The most frequent comments refer to its high quality, its high-performance filter element, or its ease of installation. In short, you can't go wrong choosing this kit.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

We must admit that we are fans of mods that improve the performance of the Tacoma. In this regard, it's hard to beat the ease with which the Volant Closed Box Cold Air Intake Kit With Ram Air Scoop increases the power of the Tacoma. Just by installing this kit, they claim you can gain an extra 5-10 hp of power. If you are looking to increase the horsepower and torque of your truck as well as improve fuel consumption then this mod is ideal for you.

Bottom Line

This mod is undoubtedly aimed at drivers who enjoy speed and high performance much more than traveling through muddy roads or dusty deserts. If that's your case then you will enjoy this Cold Air kit. In a few minutes, you can increase the performance of your Tacoma, without the need to reprograming the ECU or making additional modifications. Hands down, one of the cheaper ways to increase the performance of your beloved truck.

Clazzio 212012blkk Black Leather Front and Rear Row Seat Cover for Toyota Tacoma Double Cab, 1 Pack

PROS

  • Quality Nappa leather seat covers that fit perfectly on your Tacoma
  • Feature 15-millimeter thick memory foam for added comfort
  • Quick and easy installation, no modifications required
  • Uses the same thread specially designed for airbag deployment
  • 3-year warranty

CONS

  • Quite pricey when compared to other seat covers
  • Not recommended for off-road usage

What Recent Buyers Report 

While it is true that many buyers agree that Clazzio Seat Covers are expensive, it is also true that everyone thinks that they are worth every penny. Another very common comment among people who have purchased these seat covers is how good they look on the Tacoma.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This is the kind of mod that can be considered an excellent long-term investment. This is because installing this type of high-quality seat cover protects the original upholstery, but also increases the resale value of your Tacoma by providing a luxurious interior.

This is especially true when choosing brands like Clazzio that are true artisans, specialists in manufacturing upholstery of unrivaled quality. So if you are looking to improve the comfort and appearance of the interior of your Tacoma this mod should be on your list of priorities.

Bottom Line

If you use your Tacoma as a daily driving vehicle, then this mod is for you. Clazzio's 212012BLKK Black Leather Front & Rear Rows Seat Covers help protect your truck upholstery from stains and damage from continued use of your vehicle. Moreover, the high quality of these seat covers gives your interior a more refined and unique look.

Dos and Don’ts of Vehicle Modifications 

When modifying your Tacoma there are a few tips to keep in mind that can save you a lot of time, frustration, and money. Below we make a brief summary of them.

Dos

Here are what you can do:

  • Before making any modifications, be brutally honest about how you intend to use your Tacoma. That is if you know in advance that 99% of the time you will be driving in the city or highway then avoid investing in a kit that lifts your suspension 5". It may look cool, but it will bring you a lot of inconveniences in the short term, starting with stability issues at high speeds.

  • Always prefer products that guarantee quality and reliability, especially if you are going to carry out modifications focused on off-roading. Think that when you are in the middle of nowhere you only have your truck to get to your destination, skimping on the price can be expensive and even dangerous.

  • When installing a new mod do several "field tests" before embarking on a real adventure. Even the best products can fail and they should do so in a controlled environment rather than in a place that puts you at risk.

  • Making modifications and installing your mods yourself is very rewarding. However, we recommend that any major modifications, such as changes to the suspension, engine, or electrical system be supervised (or preferably performed) by a qualified technician. Remember that safety should always come first.

Photo credit:  toyota.ca

Don'ts

Avoid doing below:

  • Avoid as much as possible buying accessories that require modifying your Tacoma (drilling, welding, cutting parts, etc). In most cases, this is a red flag indicating that it is a "generic" product and may not be suitable for the weight and specifications of your truck.

  • Don't install a mod that requires other previous mods, without doing those mods first. For example, don't raise your suspension 6" without addressing the other drivetrain components' needs for this.

Types of Mods For a Tacoma

When it comes to mods for the Tacoma, we can group them into four main categories:

Aesthetic Mods

This category includes all the types of mods that have something to do with the aesthetic of your Tacoma, such as fenders, grilles, seat covers, side steps, tonneau covers, floor liners, interior lighting, sound systems, and more.

Performance Mods

As might be expected, this category includes mods that improve the power and torque of the Tacoma, such as cold air systems, turbochargers, spark plugs, brake pads, superchargers, ECU reprogramming kits, exhaust systems, mufflers, low restriction air filters, and more.

Photo credit: toyota.com

Off-Road Mods

This is possibly one of the largest categories of all, as it includes some mods that improve ground clearance and 4x4 capabilities such as everything related to suspension (shock absorbers, skid plates, air pumps, suspension spacers, leaf springs, coil springs, upper control arms, suspension lift kits, etc), tires, wheels, recovery equipment (winches, ropes, jacks, etc), and many, many other 4x4 accessories.

Use-Specific Mods

This category includes an extensive range of accessories such as camping gear, lighting (LED bars, spotlights, headlights, LED bulbs, etc.), truck caps, roof racks, organizers, etc.

Conclusion 

The Tacoma is hands down one of the most exciting vehicles on the market. Few pickup trucks have such a variety of aftermarket accessories available. In this article, we have reviewed what we consider to be the most important mods both for owners who only use their Tacoma in the city and for those passionate about off-road adventures.

In the same way, we have explored the types of mods, their applications, and the most important recommendations before starting to modify your truck. We hope this information will help you improve the performance and off-road capabilities of the already amazing Toyota Tacoma.

Photo credit: gsbenterprises.com

People Also Ask

Not sure how to start modifying your beautiful Tacoma? No problem. In this section, we give you some helpful suggestions.

Can You Put a Turbo in a Tacoma?

Yes, it is perfectly possible to install a turbocharger in a Toyota Tacoma. Although being an off-road-oriented vehicle the most common is to install a supercharger, there are a wide variety of turbocharger kits available for both the V6-equipped Tacoma (2GR-FKS and 1GR-FE engines) and the four-cylinder Tacoma with the 2TR-FE engine. 

Which Mods to Start With For a Tacoma?

Assuming that you are going to use your Tacoma as a multipurpose vehicle (daily driver + off-road adventures) our recommendation would be to start with a cutting-edge lighting system such as the AlphaRex NOVA Series outlined in this guide as it gives you the immediate benefit of greater safety when driving at night, both on and off the road.

Another alternative to improve your safety would be to install quality brake pads as the Akebono ASP976 reviewed in this article. From that point on, you could choose to start enhancing your Tacoma's off-road capabilities by installing BFGoodrich Terrain T/A KO2 tires and Blistein shocks or improve engine power by installing Volant's Cold Air system and Borla exhaust. Aesthetic mods are always welcome at any time as they help improve both the appearance and functionality of your Tacoma.

Damaso

Damaso has been in the automotive world since he was 14 years old and his father decided to bought an auto repair shop. Years later, his passion for electronics, computers, and automotive mechanics motivated him to graduate in Mechanical Engineering and venture into the sales of automotive equipment. For years Damaso worked as a technical advisor assisting car dealerships, tire shops, and even the plants of Toyota and Mitsubishi that operate in his country. He has over 25 years of experience reporting on topics ranging from DIY jobs, technological analysis, automotive news, and more. He is a wealth of information and a valued member of our team.