Total Chaos Fabrcation

Ultimate Guide to 1996-2004 1st Gen Toyota Tacoma

1st gen tacoma 1996-2004 before and after


Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma Off Road Lift Kits and Accessories

The 1996-2004 1st Gen Tacoma is still one of the most well regarded vehicles to this day. Just look at the prices for one of these Tacoma trucks in good condition. The 1996-2004 Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma offers the simplicity and reliability to make an excellent platform for daily driving, overlanding, desert racing, and everything in between. 


Why install TOTAL CHAOS suspension?  Reliable and dependable off road equipment matters. Performance suspension upgrades add lift and reliability, and performance shocks have more precise valving and spring rates than factory shocks. When you combine the two, you add comfort and reliability when rock crawling through boulders, overland exploring with the family, pre-running through the desert or carving it up in the sand dunes. TOTAL CHAOS Gen 1 Tacoma lift kit packages improve ride quality on and off road.


stock width first gen tacoma off road performance suspension


There are many reasons you might want to add performance suspension upgrades as your lift kit to your Toyota Tacoma. Here are just a few:

More wheel travel. TOTAL CHAOS upper control arms (UCA’s) and long travel kits are designed to provide the maximum wheel travel when paired with aftermarket specific extended length coil-over shocks. More wheel travel allows your tires to remain in contact with the terrain flowing over obstacles more easily – added wheel travel helps control the vehicle at high speed, and at low speed during technical rock crawling.

Improved ride quality. Urethane bushings pivot freely on upper and lower control arms and do not deflect like a rubber bushing. This deflection can cause more body roll or a sloppy steering feel when driving on and off road. Urethane pivot bushings tighten the steering response for better overall handling and control when driving on and off road.

Increased ground clearance. Performance lit kits are one of the best upgrades you can make for your Gen 1 Tacoma to go off road. They also allow you to fit larger tires, up to a 285/70R17 or 33-inch tall tire, with no rubbing. Added ground clearance will allow you crawl over obstacles on the trail. To achieve optimum performance, tires must be mounted on wheels with the appropriate backspacing. Bigger tires provide more ground clearance and make bumps effectively smaller when you encounter them. 


1996-2004 1st gen tacoma stock length upper and lower control arms


Go off-road in your Gen 1 Tacoma. The Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma was designed as a utilitarian truck but it is full of off-road potential for desert prerunning, overlanding, desert racing, rock crawling, or all of the above. Upgrading your suspension with more than just a lift kit will transform your Tacoma from a rough riding pickup into a capable off-roader that can soak up any terrain without crashing into the bump stops off road. You can expect improved handing, more ground clearance and better trail performance when you add TOTAL CHAOS suspension components to your lifted Toyota Tacoma. We are the Toyota experts for truck and SUV performance with decades of hands on experience and knowledge.


Suspension Packages – Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma Lifts Kits To Install Larger Tires

TOTAL CHAOS suspension packages allow you to lift your 1996-2004 Toyota Tacoma 2.5-4 inches and turn it into a truly capable off-road vehicle built on comfort and reliability.

The mid travel lift kit options offer 2-3-inches of lift and include stock length replacement upper control arms and stock length replacement lower control arms for your front suspension – a 2.5-inch diameter shock upgrade is also added that will allow you to install up to 33” tires.  


    1996-2004 tacoma frond end suspension lift performance off road shocks and uniball UCA   1996-2004 toyota tacoma performance uniball upper control arms   1996-2004 toyota tacoma stock width boxed lower control arms


TOTAL CHAOS also manufacturers a bolt-on 3.5-inch wider long travel kit for off-road trail performance. The kit provides 3-4-inches of lift and features dual shock tabs on the lower control arms to maximize dampening control with dual shock capability. This suspension system includes 3.5” longer upper and lower control arms, limit straps, extended tie-rods & brake lines, and all mounting hardware. 3.5” extended axles (to retain 4WD) and TC custom length long travel shocks must be installed with this long travel suspension package. We have collaborated with KING, RadFlo, FOX, and ADS Shocks to develop custom length 2.5-inch long travel shocks for this specific performance suspension system.


+3.5" long travel kit with king shocks for 1996-2004 tacoma 4x4


TOAL CHAOS offers several weld-on accessories to make your Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma an extremely reliable and dependable rig for the trails. Weld-on spindle gussets, lower control arm cam tab gussets, and steering rack bushings are just a few of the accessory upgrades that we offer to provide added protection and durability. One of the best upgrades for the 1st Gen Tacoma is our lower uniball conversions. Due to their design, factory lower ball joint failure on 1996-2004 Tacomas can be catastrophic (see image below). Our lower uniball conversion solves this problem and is compatible with either OEM Toyota lower control arms or TOTAL CHAOS lower control arms (stock length and long travel). Two versions are available based on your steering setup – factory tie-rods or TOTAL CHAOS heim steering conversion. 


    1st gen tacoma 3rd gen 4runner lower ball joint failure damage example    1996-2004 toyota tacoma lower uniball conversion with factory tie rod steering   1996-2004 toyota tacoma lower uniball conversion compatible with heim steering


TOTAL CHAOS has passion for performance.

At TOTAL CHAOS we personally test our products in the harshest of conditions. Our vehicles are being driven every day whether to and from work or to and from the trail. We are passionate off roaders and manufacture dependable suspension upgrades that are designed to make your vehicle handle better on and off road. We are a privately owned small business who cares about our customers. All of our products are hand crafted in our manufacturing facility in Corona, California, just as they have been for the past 25 years. And you can be confident that TOTAL CHAOS will be around for the next 25 years providing the level of technical support and customer service we have become famous for.


long travel suspension 1st gen tacoma prerunner off road desert performance



Contact us today!

Feel free to contact us with any questions that you might have regarding building your lifted Tacoma. At TOTAL CHAOS, an actual person answers the phone, and we just happen to own several Tacoma’s of our own. We offer the highest quality components and our parts are hand crafted in Corona, California. Quality counts.


Warning WARNING: This product can expose you to a chemical or chemicals such as Talc, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm. For more information go to


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