One Year Review of Nitro Gear 5.29s on my 3rd Gen Tacoma
This article is for anyone who is on the fence about upgrading their gears. I am here to give you a real-world review of the topic.
Third gen owners are far too familiar with the lack of power, and terrible shifting points the Tacoma comes with from the factory. To combat this, Nitro Gear has come out with a new gear set to completely change the way the Tacoma drives. Having Nitro 5.29s for a year now, I will give you a full breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Upgrading your gears is something to consider, especially if you have lifted your truck, added extra weight and installed larger tires.
Find Them Online:
- 3rd Gen Tacoma Nitro Gear Package: Check Price
Shortcomings of the OEM Gear Ratio
3rd Gen Tacoma Factory Gearing?
A 3rd generation Tacoma V6 Automatic Transmission comes from the factory with a gear ratio of 3.909, and the manual transmission comes with a 4.30 gear ratio.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with the gears but some might disagree. Some owners replace their stock gearing on stock tires with 4.88s. However, if you are modifying your truck, you will quickly understand why it will need more power. The stock gearing is not the end of the world if you do not mind driving in third or fourth gear all the time. Truthfully, having two overdrive gears, kind of sucks. It causes the truck to want to ride around in third and fourth gear constantly.
As Tacoma drivers, we know the truck just feels very sluggish and extremely underpowered with larger tires. I am sure most of you have noticed the quick gear drop, and a sudden increase in RPMs followed by some power when you stomp on the gas pedal. When you join the 35-inch and larger club, the feeling is so prominent that you just cannot ignore it anymore.
After adding larger tires and wheels, most people proceed to add bumpers in the front and rear, a bed rack and a roof rack. We also know our overland community loves the rooftop tents, and those are not light or aerodynamic by any means. So needless to say, the weight adds up FAST causing even more load on drivetrain.
Who Makes the Best 5.29 Gears?
Of course, I am going to be a little biased because I have them, but Nitro Gear was the first to market with a set of the 5.29s for the third generation Tacoma.
You might be asking yourself, “Why should I choose them?” Well, they have been in the business for more than ten years now.
Nitro Gear was launched back in 2006 and quickly became a popular company with a great reputation. They do their best to create forward-thinking, one of a kind, top-notch products for the axle and differential field.
They are known for using the best quality materials, focusing on dependability and are always growing to accommodate the needs of their customers. Nitro Gear promises better machining, materials, lapping and an effective heat-treating process. They strive to create strong, durable and quiet parts.
Each time they design a new product, it is put through a series of multi-point inspections. If possible, Nitro Gear likes to install their products in-house to make sure the best fitment and easier setup.
If you need more convincing, ask the community online and I am sure you will hear nothing but good things.
What made me choose 5.29’s over 4.88’s?
At the time, I was running a 6 inch Rough Country lift, 37-inch tires, and 20-inch wheels, which are pictured above. So, to say that I needed a regear was an understatement.
I was tired of the 11 miles per gallon that I was getting. I just felt like I had to push the gas pedal to the floor to get the truck moving at all.
At first, I was pretty nervous about jumping to 5.29s. After hours of researching crowded and jumbled up forums with plenty “he said, she said” banter, I decided to just call up East Coast Gear Supply and see what they had to say. ECGS recommended doing the 5.29s with the 37-inch tires. I was a little weary because of how high the RPMs would be on the highway.
After they were installed, I can say in all honesty, it is WAY less bad than people make it out to be. With the 35s, at 70mph, my RPMs sit around the low 2000s, not bad at all! There was a fairly decent increase in MPG too. From my initial 11 MPG, I jumped up to around 14/16, depending on the situation. If you do that math, that pays for itself faster than you might think.
If you are thinking that upgrading your gears is only for those running 35s and above, think again! Nitro Gears recommends doing a regear “right out of the box.” You can even search throughout the Facebook groups, and the cluttered forums, to see that 5.29s are the right choice, especially for those of us who run 33-inch tires and above.
The last reason that made me go with the 5.29s over 4.88s was seeing people with 4.88s say they wish that 5.29s were available when they did their regear. Countless people throughout the internet have regretted doing 4.88s as opposed to the 5.29s. From everyone I spoke with who had installed 4.88s, all of them wished they had made the jump into 5.29s instead.
What are the downsides?
Now we all know you cannot have a perfect product. There has to be a negative aspect right? Two things stand out here as potential drawbacks.
The first one is cost. The gears themselves range anywhere from $1,100 to almost $1,400. If you pair that with labor you could be looking at spending almost $3,000.
The second issue is the break-in period. It is a very long one, especially if your truck is a daily driver. On the initial run of your truck getting new gears in, you are only supposed to drive for about 15-20 minutes, no more than 50 miles. Once you hit that time limit, you are supposed to wait 20-25 minutes before driving again. This is to let the differential cool down completely. Driving shorter distances only applies to the first 2-3 times you drive with your new gears. After that, just take it easy for the rest of the break-in period.
We addressed the bad, here is the good!
When I start up the truck and put it in gear, it rolls without me having to give it some gas first. That was a pleasant surprise the first time I got in the truck after I had the job done. Pulling out of the parking lot, I instantly knew the truck had a little more get up and go.
Now fast forward to going through all of the break-in procedure, a year later. I have taken the Tacoma on road trips with me from Georgia to Tennessee. The truck could not drive any better! It handles the inclines and hills with ease. There is no rough downshifting on the slightest hill and there is no lag in power on the trails where it is needed the most.
I would recommend this mod to anyone that has been debating it. 12/10! If you are on the east coast, I am sure there are plenty of shops to go to, but I chose East Coast Gear Supply. The entire staff was extremely knowledgeable and I even had my vehicle back to me the very same day that I dropped it off.
This is one of those mods that just needs to be done. It is a must-have! Let us be honest, I could talk all day long about how great the truck is now and most people would eventually get bored and just stop reading.
If you want to hear direct from the best, check out the video below!
I hope this article has been helpful. Let us know!
I weigh 8,000lbs with 285 70s and the gears made all the difference in the world. It was sluggish on stock tires, gear hunted, always felt labored. I lifted and put 33s on and of course it got worse and I knew that. I had the camper installed at the same time the gears went in, broke in over 500 miles and this thing is a completely different truck. It easily cruises quiet on the highway, rolling hills are not even perceptible and 7% grades, it just runs down to 4th and pulls them like they are flat at 70mph.… Read more »
what are thoughts on combining Magneson super charger with 5.29 gearing upgrade
Would you recommend a regear on stock tires? Will regearing void my warranty?
Hey Nick, I’m lifting my truck with 6inch suspension kit this coming weekend with 35s, do you think I’ll need to regear my 21 Tacoma v6 2wd? If I’m just using it for daily driving? Thanks
I have a 2018 Tacoma TRD off road looking to do a regear . How can I determine if I have a 8” or a 8.75” ?
What is the maximum speed the Tacoma can achieve for the 5.29 gearing?
Hi, is this tacoma a standard gear and manual 4 wheel drive, or automatic?
Great read! I’m putting a 6 inch Rough Country lift on this weekend as well as the 5.29 Nitro Gears on my 2016 SR5 Tacoma. I’m debating between 35s and 37s (currently have 285/75 R16 Toyo M/T). I’m fine with a little cutting and banging but wanted to hear from you how much cutting you had to do since we will have a similar setup. I have 1.25” wheel spacers as well if needed as well as a shackle flip kit for the back.
Sounds like you’ll have a great set up. I had 37’s prior to my 35’s and can tell you that it will rub if you do not do a body mount relocation, pinch weld, and a hefty amount of trimming of the front fender plastic. That also applies to running 35’s as well. Even then be prepared for it to rub some haha. I recommend running the wheel spacers either way so that you can create a little more room in that wheel well. Let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be glad to help.
Thanks for the input and intel. I’m going to do an aggressive cab mount chop, pinch weld fold and fender trimming and test fit the 37s. If its not meant to be then I’ll still be plenty happy with the 35s. Work in progress so far. New rear leafs and shocks are in. Got the pumpkin out and swapping gears.
Wheel offset will play a big role in how much the tires rub. The more -offset your wheels are and the wider your wheels and tires are the more it will rub
Nitro Gears ETA 1 year. My orders has been on the books for 7 months
can you regear a 4×2 2.7L 3rd gen? the 2.7 wasnt ideally what i was looking for but the deal for the truck was too good too pass up. im stuck between keeping and modifying the truck or just trading it in for a v8. if i could get any advice on adding to the truck that would be much appreciated.
What will happen if I change my gears from 3.90 to 5.29 in my 2003 Toyota 4 runner will I get better mpg, more torque etc what will it do
I have an 03 double cab TRD, 1.75” lift, automatic, Snugtop, 4.56 gears (down from 4.10), ARB front bull bar, M8000, sliders, Yakima rack and basket, running 235/85x16s ( approximately 31.75” dia). I get 17-18 mpg on the highways in Colorado. The lower gears do noticeably better in the mountains.
Mine is set up for fishing and hunting. It has gotten me in and out of some fairly knarly locations. Since I am usually by myself, I don’t want, nor do I need, to go taller.
I need your help.. I have a Toyota Tacoma 2018 4×4 3.5 L,automatic transmission .. Replace the original tires with an LT285/70R17. It consumes a lot of gasoline and the RPM is very high. What Gear can I use to spend less gas and that my RPM is not high
I have 2021 with Stock 17s wheels. I added a camper, RTT , 2 inch lifts, front and rear racks system and camping gears. Will this regear help me in power and mpg increase.
It will definitely help with some power on the lower end! MPG gains are on a case by case basis but with the truck not working as hard to move the weight, most people see a gain.
Nick, what kind of roof rack is that on your blue Tacoma?
Looks like a Prinsu
I have 33s on my tacoma and will be adding more weight soon with rock sliders. My truck is brand new, can I wait until it has around 50k miles and then think about re-gearing? Is this much added weight hard on the truck with factory gears?
Any helpful inputs are appreciated!
You can definitely wait if you would like! No harm will be done, but your gas mileage and power will for sure suffer.
What lift is on that blue Tacoma?
Alex, it is a 6 inch King Lift. It had an Rough Country spacer lift but I retrofitted some of the parts out for coilovers.
What are your thoughts about 5.29’s with a manual transmission, 2021 on 35’s
The only guy I know that had a manual transmission and 35’s ended up moving to 37’s with his 5.29 gears absolutely loved it. I can’t speak on any personal experience. I do know a lot of guys opt for 4.88 with a manual transmission though.
Hey Nick – thanks for the great write-up. Do you have any idea if the re-gearing hurt factory warranties? At stock I can definitely feel the poor shifting on my 2021 double-cab long bed 4×4 but it isn’t horrible. I’m assuming they’ve improved the shift points a bit – but we still downshift at what should be an easy climb for this engine. I don’t plan to upsize from stock right now but I do plan to tow a camper with it and possibly add some bumpers/armor to it which will add some weight.
As far as warranties go, I would call your local dealer and double check on that. I’m not sure which components they would want to remove from your warranty if they opted to do so. You would have a much better time towing and moving that armor if you do plan on regearing, even with stock size tires.
can you place 5.29 gears on a stock tacoma? i plan on running a heavy front bumper and 35’s in the near future but would it be ok to install gears and leave stock until I could afford the tires and lift? thanks
Alex, you can absolutely put them on a stock Tacoma. Nitro Gears actually did it and they highly recommend it.
I have not been able to find the answer to this anywhere myself and I believe I already know the answer based on what I’ve read and this article. I drive a long bed on 33s, I have sliders, light bed rack, tonneau cover and occasionally throw on a rtt. Long beds are also slower and a bit heavier. Would 5.29 be the right option for me? I don’t plan on running a bigger tire tire but considering the extra weight, I would assume so?
Considering that Nitro has placed 5.29s in a stock Tacoma, due to the undergearing from the factory, I wouldn’t hesitate to throw 5.29s in a build like yours. Like most of us, you’ll likely move into 34s after time goes on. Definitely important to give you back acceleration, power and MPGs. For a better answer, I would hit up Nitro directly. They are usually very helpful.
So I have not been able to find an answer to my question.
I frequently camp with my travel trailer which is roughly 4500-5000 pounds and all my tools in the bed of the truck as well.
I’ve got a 3” lift with 33” inch tires.
Will towing in 4th be a nightmare? Is it also recommended to not use OD towing?
I don’t mind towing it, but I’m curious if I should regear and if it will benefit the towing aspect at all.
Great write up. Thank you!
If you’re going to be towing, especially at steeper grades and at elevation, 5.29s would be a great choice. Nitro is great about talking with customers as well, reach out to them directly!
Great write up. Love your wheel and tire configuration. Is there a bit disadvantage off-roading with thinner tires vs bigger tires?
Pete, yes there is a slight disadvantage with more wheel less tire. You get a bit of a stiffer ride due to there being less rubber to soak up those bumps.
Off topic, but curious what the wheel and tire specs are.
Thanks for the review – I have a bone stock 2016 w/ OME – soon to have slightly larger than stock tires but really not much. Aside from that, I am primarily using the truck for more farm truck like activities with the occasional road trip or ride to the trailhead (east Tennessee). Curious if it’s going to lead to screaming HWY rpms… thoughts?
In my opinion with what you described, 4.88s could suffice for your usage. I would just keep your future build in mind when ordering gears though. Wouldn’t want to go 4.88s and wished you had gone 5.29s after adding tires, armor, etc.
Great read! Just bought a 2020 and threw on a 3” leveling system and 33’s. Placed an order last week for a C4 hybrid bumper.. Calling my local shop to have the 5.29’s orderd and installed as soon as they can.
Many thanks for tossing the info into the ether.
Nick thanks man, impressive write-up. Learned a ton here and after reading I think I should be adding gears to my tacoma on 33s. I am running the 285/75R16 so basically 33″ tires. Which gears you think would be best for my setup, the 4.88s or the 4.56? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again, this just put everything on TW to shame. lol.
Dylan, I would suggest doing 5.29’s even with your 285s. The reasoning behind it is if you ever plan to move up to 35’s or if you add ANY form of extra weight to the truck, you will want that extra low end power. But if you are dead set on keeping a vehicle close to stock with no armor and not planning to go above 285s, 4.88s should suffice.
Thank you for the great info. I read ur whole article, I researched on forums. Also even contacted nitro gear them self, nice to see that they’re local to me, kinda couple hundred away lol. But great information vs searching the right answers on the forums when the information is all here.
Thanks! Glad I could help brotha, any questions please ask!