When fitting bigger tires to a Tacoma, it’s important to note that not all trucks are built exactly the same, and not all 35-inch tires are created equally. This article is designed to be a guide and identify what the possibilities are and what could be required to make 35-inch tires fit on a Tacoma.
Fitting 35” tires to a 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma requires a minimum 3-inch lift.
You need to make sure you are committed to fitting 35-inch tires since there is a lot involved to make them function 100%. Also, remember, that it can become very expensive and that there are only a few scenarios that cannot be tackled successfully with 33-inch tires, so make sure you are going to get the full benefit of fitting 35’s before you commit.
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Fitting 35″ Tires on 3rd Gen Tacoma – What You Need To Know
If you want to do the fitment properly, then there are a few suspension components that will need to be upgraded when fitting 35s. You will require a lift, negative offset rims and you’ll need to do some modifications, which we’ll get into more detail later.
On the rear, it’s a straightforward fit with no clearance issues. You can get full tuck on the rear without any hassles. You can trim the wheel arch for improved clearance, however, you will lose your wheel arch liners. Since the rear is a straightforward process you can fit a small Tacoma 1” Rear-only lift kit (05-20) to improve the stance and raise the rear just slightly.
Also, you need to remember the front wheels don’t only move left and right when turning, but there’s also some forward and backward movement. This is why you get scrubbing at full lock when turning and why it’s necessary to do CMCs and trimming of the pinch weld. You can resolve some of these issues with a decent Tacoma 2” front leveling kit (05-20) which will improve clearance nicely.
Pinch Weld Mod
So one of the first things you’ll need to do is the pinch weld modification to get the wheels to clear properly.
This is done by removing all the plastic trim and exposing the thin metal plate that protrudes. Because the metal is arched, many Tacoma owners cut thin slits and bend the pinch weld inwards towards the wheel arch. You can bend it either way and then hammer the weld flat, however, if you bend it outwards you can use that thin metal strip as a flange to secure the plastic fender liner back onto.
CMC (Cab Mount Chop)
So fitting 35s on a Tacoma with a 2.5”-3” lift kit requires some minor modifications to the cab mount or body mount, to allow it to clear fully on complete wheel lock. This will be your main point of contention, and you will need to assess and trim as much as necessary to ensure the tire doesn’t scrub against the body mount and get damaged. Obviously, the wider and taller the tires the more contact it will make with the cab mount when at full lock.
You will need to get dirty with a grinder and cut away some meat that is protruding from the actual cab mount. A blank-off plate needs to be welded back in to prevent dirt and debris from entering. You also need to make sure you grind off any sharp excess welds and seal the weld up nicely with paint to ensure it doesn’t start rusting/corroding.
It’s not an advanced or complex job, however, if you’re not experienced with a grinder and welding machine, then it would probably be safer to pay an engineering shop to do it for you. It is highly recommended to use a Toyota-specific custom shop rather than a general off-road place to do the job.
Your other option is to purchase an aftermarket Body Mounting relocation kit.
Aftermarket Body Mount Relocation Brackets
This relocation kit safely moves the body mount completely behind the firewall. This is a simple solution that allows you to fit up to 35-inch tires without causing hassles with rubbing, grinding, and welding of the factory body mounts. They are strong CNC-cut brackets that are formed from 1/4″ Thick steel and ready for harsh off-road conditions.
UCA (Upper Control Arm) Clearance
One of the most important factors to consider when fitting 35s is the clearance from the Upper Control Arms. It’s important to have sufficient clearance to prevent the tire from scrubbing when articulating and when at full lock. To cure this issue, caused by the width of 35-inch tires, you can opt for a 4” wheel spacer to move the tire outward as well as fitting an adjustable aftermarket UCA that allows you to add more clearance away from the front tire. There is a crown nut on the adjustable UCA that allows you to set the caster angle more forward or back for improved clearance.
Your other option is to replace the rim with a more negative offset rim, which has the same effect. Here anything wider than a 4-inch spacer with a -12 offset rim could cause other knock-on issues. Caster adjustment can also play a massive role here, so make sure you use a reputable tire shop that has experience fitting 35s, specifically on Tacoma’s.
35-Inch Spare Wheel
With 33” tires, it touches slightly on the hanger bracket and it’s very close to the exhaust heat shield. You could try deflating the tire for a more snug fit. So, fitting 35s is definitely NOT going to be possible and you’ll need to relocate your spare wheel since there isn’t enough clearance from the exhaust, hanger brackets, and chassis, especially on the driver side. Here you can opt for an aftermarket rear-wheel swing arm or relocate and secure the spare tire to the truck bed somehow.
Fender Liner Trim
The front tire touches slightly on the front bottom of the fender liner. So these two pieces of protruding plastic can easily be trimmed away or removed completely. It will leave a gaping hole, however, this won’t detract from the aesthetics of the truck in any way. Alternatively, if you fit an aftermarket front bumper then that will take care of the front clearance issue.
For this job, you will need a decent heat gun and Dremel Cutting tool. If you don’t already own one then I would recommend you check out this Top-Selling Infrared Thermo gun on Amazon with almost 17000 good ratings. Also, for trimming fender liners I recommend investing in this Dremel Variable Speed Cutting Tool (Amazon) It will give you better control than an aggressive grinder leaving your trimming looking a lot more professional and neat.
Trimming the fender liner will depend entirely on where your tires are rubbing, so make sure you only trim away where they are making contact since the liner is there to protect the intake from the elements dirt, and debris. If you are hesitant to cut away the plastic off the front portion of the fender liner, your other option is to remove the screws securing the fender liner to the bumper and force the whole liner as far forward as possible, then reinsert the screw to secure it in place.
Re-Gearing To Accommodate The 35s
With bigger, heavier tires come heavier rolling mass and higher unsprung weight. This has a negative effect on both your fuel consumption (MPG) as well as your Tacoma’s gear ratios. Bigger, heavier wheels combined with aftermarket steel bumpers, winches, and other heavy off-road and camping accessories all add to the overall weight/mass of the vehicle. This will be felt more on pull-off where the engine and transmission need to work harder just to get off the line and keep the momentum going.
The factory standard gear ratios of your differentials will result in your truck feeling slower on-road and more sluggish off-road. The only way to minimize this effect is to modify the 4×4 Tacoma’s front and rear diff gear ratios. The stock gears are quite long and rather poorly set up in standard form, so you will need to bump it up to 529. This is the ideal ratio to get the gearing and RPM back, or as close to the feeling as the factory setup again.
Tacoma’s are fantastic trucks and to improve the off-road capability, and overall aesthetics can be achieved by fitting bigger tires. You don’t have to go 35s to get better off-road performance, and 33s will do just fine off-road. Bigger, however, isn’t always better in all cases and you need to take a few things into consideration, such as:
- Fender Clearance
- Cutting away any wheel well plastic guards
- Trimming Cab mounts
- Offset of your Factory rims
- Spare wheel relocation
- UCA (Upper Control Arm) clearance
- Fuel Consumption
Once you have the answers to these and you know what your intended purpose for your tire upgrade is, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision. 35-inch tires are pretty expensive and not something you want to be changing too often so make sure your tire and wheel size choice is exactly what you will be using the truck/ute for.