We finally had the chance to install the Fabtech 6 inch lift.   After finding someone that wanted to install one on their truck and MANY calls to Fabtech trying to get one in stock and shipped to us it arrived.

We set up a date and got the lift installed with only minor problems in about 19-20 hours total.   This time included a few breaks for lunch and such, plus running to have the press work done and a few trips to the hardware store.

My overall first impressions of the kit:   The kit appears to be plenty strong and the quality of the parts seem good.   95% of the parts went together without much problem, but there were a few parts that did not want to line up, mainly the impact struts that connect the rear cross member to the transmission cross member.  I liked the much beefier and stronger new front knuckles, and the fact that they provided upper ball joints that you could add grease to.   Instead of a spacer in the steering linkage, Fabtech used a new longer slip joint to attach the steering shaft to the rack.

For the rear, Fabtech used a add-a-leaf and block combination instead of just a big block like some other kits come with.   A better yet solution may be a even smaller block and some new shackles.   The only problem in the rear is that the shocks limited wheel travel, but without requiring further fabrication they did the best that they could with what they had to work with.

I was disappointed that we had to make 2 trips to the hardware store and one search through my parts bins for missing nuts and bolts.  Although plugs for the ABS sensor holes were provided for non-ABS trucks the small bolts to hold them in place were not provided, warranting another rummage through my parts bins for the small bolts.  While you did get about 6 inches of lift from the kit, overall the front wheel travel was decreased.

The instructions that came with the kit were not good.   Fabtech should re-work the instructions with better descriptions, pictures, and re-order a few of the steps to prevent headaches.

For both the front and rear of the kit, Fabtech would have you add brackets and bend the factory brakes lines so that they will work with the kit.   This is not a good method, and I highly recommend that you purchase separate longer brake lines and do the job right.  

We will follow up on the kit after a few months and re-check the alignment and make sure that it is staying put.

All Pictures HERE.

For a copy of the instructions that were included with the lift click HERE.

Here are the contents of the 3 boxes.

Before you get started, I would suggest reading through the instructions to get an idea of what you will be doing.

I had a large Toyota banner that I had never been able to use before, so this seemed like the perfect way to let people coming over to wrench that this was the place.

During the install, I had plenty of chances to mess with Than:

Wow... this is messed up... You have done this before, right Pete?

Well... no, but I did stay at the Holiday in express last night!

This is the before shot of the truck.   Than had sold his factory tires and wheels so he had to borrow some others to get him to the install.   Because of this, the front tires were smaller and the truck was slightly nose down.   This will affect the before and after measurements.

When we started, here were the measurements:


Where you measure from on the frame is not that important. Try to find spots front and rear that you can easily find to measure again afterwards.   We are just looking to find out how many inches we gain.

The first step is to tear down the front end.

Raise and support the vehicle.   Remove the wheels, brake caliper, rotors and strut assembly and set aside for later.

Do not let the brake calipers hang!  Use a piece of wire or string and hang them so no pressure on the brake line.

The next step is to remove the factory knuckle.  Remove the large center nut (yellow arrow), then separate the upper ball joint from the upper control arm (red arrow) .   Remove the tie rod end from steering knuckle.   Remove the sway bar ends from the lower control arms (green arrow).

It is helpful to have various pullers to help with the tie rod end and the upper ball joint!

After the knuckle is removed, we set it side by side with the new Fabtech knuckle.   You can see that not only will the new knuckle help with the lift, but it is also much stronger than the factory unit.

At this point, this is about what your truck should look like.

The next step is to drain the front diff.

After the front diff is drained, you can pop the CV half shafts out.  If you don't drain the front diff, you will have a mess on your hands!   Even with it drained, you may see some dripping.
The next step is to remove the steering rack.   There is a nut and bolt on the passenger side to remove (yellow arrows) and then the C clamp will slip off.

On the drivers side there are two bolts that hold the rack in place (yellow arrows) that will need to be removed.   One is horizontal, the other is vertical.

Once the bolts are loose or off, just let the rack sit where it is, we will deal with it in a minute.

Remove the sway bar.   The sway bar is held in place with two bolts on each side.  The bolts are in pockets that are really fun to get to.

Once the sway bar is loose, remove it and set it aside for later.

Disconnect the front drive line from the differential.   Once it is loose tie it up and out of the way.

Here is another shot of the two rack bolts on the drivers side (yellow arrows) again.

You will need to remove the large "nut" that is the rear mount for the front differential.   The nut is inside a pocket of the rear cross member in the hole shown by the green arrow.   It will require a 12mm allen key.

Remove all electrical, vacuum and breather connections to the front differential.   There is one small bracket that holds the breather that is on top and uses a 10mm bolt that is hard to see, so check good!

Once all connections are loose, remove the two front mounting bolts and lift the front differential out of the truck.   Take care not to break the small plastic breather nipple on the add housing!

Remove the steering coupler from the rack.

Take the rack out of its stock position and tie it up and out of the way.   You do not need to remove any fluid lines.

Here you can see the rack tied up and out of the way.

Remove the 4 bolts (2 on each side) that hold the lower control arms in place.   Be careful to put all the alignment cam hardware back the same way it came apart.   I would suggest putting it back into the arms so you know where it all goes.

Here the lower control arms are off the truck.   We have placed the alignment hardware back into the arms for later re-assembly.

This is what the truck looks like at this point.  

 It is now time to start installing the lift!

According to the Fabtech instructions, this puts us just finishing with step 14.

At this time we decided to go ahead and have the press work done.   It was a Friday and the show was going to be closed Sat-Mon so we wanted to get it out of the way.

I would suggest that you go to your local Toyota dealer and ask where they have their press work done.   This will ensure that you have a shop that has done these before and is familiar with how it works.

The shop first presses the hubs out of the old knuckle and bearings.   This process ruins the bearings.

Quite a bit of pressure is required to press the hub out.   While it will vary from vehicle to vehicle, it took about 18 tons to press this hub out.   When it moved, it did so with a bang.

The oil seal is installed on the new Fabtech knuckle.

Fabtech supplied the two outer seals, but one of ours was damaged during shipping.   This is a Toyota item that most parts stores will not carry.

The hub is now pressed into the new Fabtech knuckle.   When the hub is pressed in, it takes quite a bit less pressure.   The person running the press can watch the pressure gauge, and if it starts to go up much this is an indication that things are not all lined up.
After the hub has been pressed in, the rear retaining ring it tapped back into place.   Because this truck was a non-ABS rig, a blank ring was used.   With an ABS rig, the only difference is that this blank ring would have been a slotted tone ring.

Now it was time to mark and cut the rear cross member!

The instructions call for cutting the rear cross member 1.5 inches from the cam pocket towards the center, making sure that you don't cut into the cam pocket itself.

Don't worry, there will be pictures in a minute!

Than get ready to make the first cut.
Cutting the second cut, almost done.
The rear cross member removed.
Here you can see the first two cuts complete.

This picture gives you a better idea of what they are talking about.   They want 1.5 inches from the edge of the cam pocket (green line).

Next in step 15 they want you to measure up 2 inched into the pocket and cut diagonally.  In this photo, we have made a black line to show about where this cut will be.

Making the diagonal cut.
Once the first cuts were made, we did a test fit with the rear cross member.  Once the cross member was bolted (hand tight) in place we let the rack down and did a test fit to see if we had clearance for everything.

When we did the test fit, things were not cut far enough back, so off goes the cross member and some more cutting and grinding was in order.

It took 3 test fits before everything was clearing correctly.

When all the learning was done, the edges were cleaned up and smoothed out.
The bare metal was primed and painted to prevent any rust.
At this time, the rear cross member was installed.

Here is a shot of the drivers side after all the trimming was done.   

In step 18 (for V-6 models) they want you to loosen the pressure line fitting and rotate it and then re-tighten it.   Doing as they asked would have made us have to do more trimming so we left it the way it was.

Step 21:

We removed the factory steering shaft coupler and installed the new Fabtech supplied longer one.

At this point I decided to change out the factory strut springs to the new Fabtech struts.

To do this you need to have spring compressors.   This is a step that if you have not done it before I would recommend that you take it to a shop and have it done.   You can be seriously injured if you don't do things exactly right!

The spring needs to be compressed so that the top plate (green arrow) is loose and can be removed safely.   

The larger nut in the center (red arrow) is what holds the top plate on.   If this nut is removed and there is still pressure on the spring, it will explode apart and you will be injured!

The three smaller nuts (yellow arrows) are what hold the strut onto the vehicle.

With the top plate off, you can transfer the spring to the new Fabtech strut.   This is where I found out that the Fabtech strut is shorter than the factory strut.   The spring needs to be compressed about another 1.5 inches shorter than it took to remove it from the factory strut.

Although its not the greatest picture, you can see the length difference between the factory strut left and Fabtech strut right.

What does this mean to you?   With the Fabtech strut you will loose some wheel travel.

Here is a side by side shot of a factory strut and the assembled Fabtech strut.

Because the Fabtech strut is shorter, you will loose some wheel travel.   It will also increase the stiffness of the front end some.

During this strut assembly process, I had a spring compressor snap.   If I had only had 2 compressors in use, this could have been really bad.   I normally use 4 so it was not a big de al.... this time.
Here the rack is loosely bolted in place.   We later found out that it would have to be moved to complete steps.
A shot showing the small sleeve spacer on the drivers side between the rack and the new rear cross member  The sleeve did not slip easily over the rack, but instead had to be compressed into place as the bolt was tightened.
The new steering shaft extension is attached to the rack.
Protective sleeves are added to the power steering lines to help protect them from abrasion.
The new front diff mounts are attached to the front diff.
The front diff is lifted into place and held with a floor jack while the front cross member is installed.
The front cross member is installed.
Just install the front cross member bolts hand tight at this point.
Once the front cross member is in place, the front diff mounts are attached.

The lower control arms are installed.

This is where we found out that to install the bolts that the rack had to be moved out of the way.

Here you can see that the rack will interfere with the long lower control arm bolts.
We were worried about the impact strut bolts interfering with the rack so we installed the drivers side to check.

With the lower control arms back into place, we noticed that the bump stops were not even.   The front bump stop hits and the rear has some room still.

Because the bump stops are of different heights, we had a easy fix.

We swapped them front to rear.   This made them both more even when they hit the stops and should give a slight bit of increased travel.
The sway bar drop brackets were installed.
Next we installed the rest of the impact struts.
One individual working with us seemed to live on Red Bull... I don't know how many cans he drank, but it was a lot!
To install the rear mounts for the impact struts, you need to drill through an existing hole in the transmission cross member.
Once the hole was drilled, the cross member can be supported with a jack and the impact strut mounts installed.   I would suggest that you do one side at a time.

We did a rough fit and found that the bolt that holds the impact strut to the mount (yellow arrow) was going to be off by quite a bit.   Instead of installing the mount then fighting with the bolt, we did things a little differently.

We installed the mount loosely, then installed the bolt.   With everything in place, we tightened things up a little on each bolt at a time.   This brought things into line and saved up a big fight.

Next the new strut assembly's were installed.

I install the tops first hand tight then install the bottoms and torque everything down.

When you get to the bottom, if it is not lined up, don't worry.

You can use a long bar, in this case a long socket extension, and rotate things so they line up.
The tie rod end is installed hand tight.
The CV half shaft seals were re-used, but we cleaned the mud and gunk off of them first.
The half shaft is re-installed.
The end of the half shaft is also cleaned up.

The new knuckle is installed.   I install the upper ball joint into the upper control arm hand tight then install the 4 lower bolts.

The lower bolts are given a shot of lock tight and torqued to 43 ft-pounds per the Fabtech instructions.

The front end is coming back together!
The front diff skid is installed.   There are two bolts that hold it, the rear one is shown here (yellow arrow).
The front bolt (yellow arrow) goes up from underneath.
All connectors to the front diff are re-connected. (yellow arrows)

The sway bar can be re-installed and connected to the lower control arms again (yellow arrow).

The upper and lower ball joints can be tightened.  

If the truck has ABS, you can install the ABS sensor into the hole (red arrow).   If not, a plug is supplied to close the hole.

For our kit, they did not include the small bolts to hold the ABS plugs into place.

The rotors and calipers were re-installed.

The Fabtech instructions would have you relocate the brake line brackets and keep the factory front brake lines.   We are not going there!

If you have enough money to lift your truck, spend the extra $75 on extended brake lines.   The brakes are not a place to cheap out!

The large outer nut that holds the CV half shaft is installed and torqued (green arrow).

The new front brake lines are installed.

All the bolts in the front end are torqued down and double checked.   There are a lot of bolts that we left loose, so now is the time to go back and make sure they are all tight!

If you follow the kit instructions, you would not have tightened all the bolts down as they have you leave them loose but never say to go back and tighten them!

The front wheels are installed.

Here is what it looks like at this point.

Now its time for the rear.

Raise and support the rear.  Remove the wheels and set them aside.

Remove and discard the old shocks.

For the rear, I suggest doing one side at a time.

Using a jack, support the axle so that there is not any weight on the rear leaf springs either upward or downward (a neutral position.)

Remove the factory U-bolts, then loosen and remove the center bolt for the leaf springs.  Once they are apart, SLOWLY lower the rear axle until you have room to insert the add-a-leaf.

I left the parking brake cable on at first to help steady the axle.   It is not under much pressure and can still be easily removed.

To insert the new add-a-leaf I now had to disconnect the parking brake cable.

Insert the add-a-leaf and the new longer center bolt for the leaf springs.   Use the jack to slightly raise the axle until you can get the nut started on the new center bolt.

Tighten the new center bolt down until the leaf pack is all back together again.
Cut off the excess length of the new center bolt.   You only need 1-2 threads showing above the nut.
Locate the new blocks.   You will notice that there is a front and rear to the blocks.   The narrower side goes to the front, this will help to slightly rotate the rear axle to help prevent any driveline vibrations.

Slowley lower the rear axle until you can insert the new block.   The centering pin on the block will go into the pad on the axle, and the head of the leaf spring bolt will go into the hole on the block.

Install the new U-bolts.

Install the brake proportioning valve extension bracket.

Flip the parking brake cable.

Flipping the parking brake cable.

For more info on this step, click HERE.

Reattach the parking brake cables under the leaf springs.

Again Fabtech's instructions called for you to use brackets and bent the brake lines to use the stock rear hose.   Again, we are not going there!

Install the new longer rear brake line!

Install the new rear shocks.

Install the wheels.

Check over both the front and rear for any loose bolts or anything else that you may have missed.

Bleed the brakes, you just installed new brake lines so there is a ton of air in there!

The after height measurements of the truck:

LF: 21.75 Gain of 7.75
RF 22 Gain of 7.75
LR: 21.5 Gain of 5.5
RR: 22 Gain of 5.75

Keep in mind that the front wheels were smaller than the rear when we started.   I think that the actual front gain was in the area of 5.5 inches.

Go to the alignment shop!

The before and after alignment numbers.

We will follow up in a few months and see if the alignment is staying put.

Go out and test out the new lift!
We headed out to the ranch and took it for a quick spin.

Some flex shots.

In the rear, the shocks are a major limiting factor.   While the 33x12.50-15 tires did not rub, there was room to play with.

Another shot of the rear flex.
A front and rear flex shot.   The front flex is actually decreased by the Fabtech lift.   There may be a number of ways to slightly increase it, and we will look into them at a later date.
Back to the Tacoma Page
Back to the Home Page