Andy's Taco build thread

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Keystone Cruisers
Jun 9, 2003
Lancaster, PA
I am picking up a new project this weekend. It is a 96 Tacoma, standard cab 4 cylinder truck with 273,000 miles!

The truck is amazing for the mileage, and I picked it up for a song.

The kicker was the frame. I have no idea how it is so pristine, but it is completely rust free! The truck itself is rust free - that factored heavily into my decision. I hate rust - you just can't get rid of it.

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Plans for now:

Winch mount front bumper
255/85 R16 tires on newer Taco wheels
2.5" OME lift
Dual cases
Rear locker
Etc, TBD

Lots of parts ordered, to be continued.....
You may look into 63" Chevy springs for the rear. It's a common swap. Since that year taco had the short springs and you'll probably find yourself moving the rear hangers anyway.
Man, that is clean! I love it!
What state did it come out of?
I know toyota had a frame recall on the tacoma's. My buddy got a brand new frame for his '03, maybe why it looks so clean.
I know toyota had a frame recall on the tacoma's. My buddy got a brand new frame for his '03, maybe why it looks so clean.
In the origonal recall 95.5-2000 were bought back for 1.5x kbb retail value and crushed. 01-04 got the frame swaps. The recall has since been expanded to include the 05+ tacos to get frames.

All the older tacos that are still on the road are surviving on the original frame. That's why they are so hard to find.
I sold a Bultaco parts bike to a guy about seven years ago. He was on his way to pick it up when the rear diff in his Tacoma started to make scary noises. He barely made it to my place. For the last few miles he was creeping along at about five miles per hour. He had just installed a new Toyota third member the day before, and was so pissed with his truck, that he gave it to me. YES, gave it to me. I gave him the bike and a ride to the truck rental place in return. Turns out that there was hardly any gear oil in the diff. I sold it to one of the guys that worked for me for the value of the bike. He put a junkyard rear in it, drove it, and loved it. When he went to get it inspected some months later, they failed it. Yup, for a rusty frame. There were spots were you could just push a screwdriver blade right through the frame. He took it to the dealer and they bought it back for X amount, I forget the figure. But he ended up MAKING money on the truck.
This is the only Tacoma story I have...
I drove mine for 5 years for free. And I stripped the front diff rear e locker axle rear shocks both bumpers tail lights air box fender flares front drive shafts cv shafts locking hubs. Radio
I'm sure I missed something but I put the wheels and tires off the 4runner on it and they hit the calipers as they went around. I had it towed to the dealership that way.
I don't understand it but the regular cab 4x4 Taomca's from 95.5 till the end of 99 didn't have the same rust issue at least from what came into our dealer
When I was back at the dealer a few techs and writers had that package and the frames were fine, one tech even tired to get his frame to rust (I didn't talk to him much after that plan) but it just would not rust.

I have the factory service manual for a 2000 Tacoma, as ell as 1997, 1999, and 2002 4Runners, if you need any info for your future work just give me a heads up!
Ripped the interior out today and pressure washed the carpet and seats. PO was a smoker - seems like every Toyota I buy is this way.

Need to find some nice tan/oak seats. After 280k miles, these are not the best.

Truck is amazingly unmolested, and there really is no rust anywhere. Even the exhaust shrouds are rust free!

Call me optimistic, but I am going to try flushing the coolant system tomorrow.
First mod is complete! I think it was determined a while back at this is worth at least a few HP.


Spent a lot of time cleaning the interior. Smells a little better, but it is usually a few months until the smoke smell goes away.

Flushed the radiator a few times, not convinced I have a head gasket problem just yet. Coolant is just really nasty brown. Going to start with a new radiator, thermostat, water pump and hoses and a bottle of Toyota red.

Took it on a few errands. The truck weighs so little that the 2.7 really makes it fly!
The benefit of those steering wheel covers is that you should have a pretty decent factory wheel underneath. I was happy the PO of my 40 put one one way back when. Took a bit to clean off the years of hand grime that worked it's way under but my 40's wheel is pristine.

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