2009 Toyota Tacoma: Total Chaos, Long Travel, and King Shocks [Video Update]

2009, toyota, tacoma, crew, total chaos, off-road, project, john's 4x4, boulder
2009 Toyota Tacoma

The current version of the Toyota Tacoma pickup has dominated the midsize pickup segment, and it is becoming more and more desirable in the off-road world as the availability and cost of used models makes it more obtainable for many. The current 2005-2015 body trucks remain very similar year to year, with only minor changes.

This truck came to John’s 4×4 with an existing 3” lift kit, and 285/75-16 all-terrain tires. The owner has been getting into more challenging terrain with his work in extreme rock climbing and adventure photography and wanted to improve his ride and capability.


Total Chaos Fabrication has been building bolt-on, nearly bomb-proof, race suspension components for over 16 years. Naturally, Total Chaos long travel arms were at the top of the wish list. The 2+” Toyota Tacoma kit, as you might guess, increases the track width 2” per side with a new extended Upper Control Arm using Total Chaos’ famed uniball joint for maximum travel and longevity. The Lower Control is a beefy fully-boxed unit formed of 4130 Chromoly and also incorporates a uniball (rather than a standard ball joint). This front-end kit is a no-compromise package, resulting in 3”-4” of lift, 11.5” of usable wheel travel, 4” increase in track width, and ability to mount a 33” tire (the truck now has 35’s… read on).


In the rear, the stock springs gave way for a new long-travel spring pack built by Deaver Spring. The pack uses ten thin leaves and the extra length allows it to be used in a spring-under configuration. We opted for the one inch lift spring to stay low in the rear. By mounting the springs below the axle we gained nearly four inches of up-travel, and total rear wheel travel increased nearly the same 4”! These springs deliver amazing ride quality, on road and off. It’s a big improvement over stock!

To keep everything well dampened, King shocks were used front and rear. Using true custom valving and incorporating internal floating piston technology, these nitrogen charged shocks are truly amazing! Thankfully, King and Total Chaos know exactly how to set these up for most applications taking the work out of the process of “customized” shock tuning. We also enlisted King’s 2.0 rear bump stops to slow things down nicely at full compression.


Fitting 33” (or equivalent size tires) would have been easy, but the choice was for a road less traveled. The 35” Goodyear MTR’s and removed a lot of unnecessary metal out of the fenders. Total Chaos shared insight into trimming the body mount horns coming of the frame at the rear of the front wheel openings. After the suspension was mounted, we laced a tire on and test cycled the suspension without the shocks to come up with the needed clearance. Thanks be to the big hammer and the body saw, there is just a slight bit of rub on the upper inner front fender at full stuff full lock, but otherwise no issues with the 35” tires.

In the end, this Tacoma has a totally new attitude! Off-road performance at high speeds is incredible! Wheel travel in tight technical crawling is nearly double that of stock, and road manners are still excellent.

Toyota has a good platform in the Tacoma, and for the off-road enthusiast, Total Chaos, King, and Deaver can add a lot of capability.