TRD Pro Grille For The 3rd Gen (16-23) Tacoma: TSS (Toyota Safety Sense) Compatible – Full Installation and Review
One of the easiest, and most popular modifications to start with on the 3rd Gen Tacoma, is upgrading the front grille. The TRD Pro model Tacomas come with a retro-style Toyota logo and a much more aggressive design.
Some mods can cost an arm and a leg, and this is definitely not one of them. OEM Trd Pro grilles cost around $400. That is a lot of money to shell out for some plastic. The replica grilles, which get the job done just as well, can be found for under $150.
Not only can you give your truck the TRD Pro look, but with the Raptor light kit, you can add a set of sleek LED marker lights. We’ll be covering the installation process for the Raptor light kit in a separate article.
This article will serve as a detailed guide to swapping in your TRD Pro Grille, or really any grille for that matter. The general process will be the same.
When I first got my Tacoma, I did find one thing confusing. When I saw that everyone was running a Pro grille, I thought you had to purchase the entire grille. This is not the case. The Pro grille is an insert that is a direct swap for the OEM version. Just wanted to clear that up.
Certain 2018+ models have Toyota Safety Sense. This system has a sensor in the front grille. If you have the sensor, you’ll have to purchase a new garnish along with your new grille. This will help to relocate your TSS sensor to your new grille.
Find It Online
- 3rd Gen
- 2nd Gen
To begin, you’ll have to make sure you have the proper tools.
- Phillip’s Head Screwdriver
- 10 mm Socket/Wrench
- Cutting Pliers (for TSS sensor install)
Let’s get started!
TRD Pro Grille Install
As far as installs go, the grille itself is relatively easy, even for a beginner. It only requires basic tools.
When I say basic, I mean it. You can get away with doing the entire install with one Phillips head and one flathead screwdriver. Certain newer models may require a 10mm socket and rachet, but again, that’s all you’ll need.
This particular install was done on a 2020 Tacoma Off-Road with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), but the process is essentially the same for all other trims, minus relocating the OEM TSS sensor to your new grille. This portion is mainly for 2018+ Tacomas.
Above, you can see the grille kit along with the Raptor light kit. Again, see this article for that particular how-to.
- TRD Pro Grille
- Gray Toyota Letter Plate (w/ screws)
- OEM Style TSS Sensor Garnish (w/ metal retaining clips)
Let’s get into it!
Step 1. Assemble Pro Grille
If your Toyota lettering plaque does not already come installed in the grille, you’ll have to assemble it. This part is very simple, the letter place sits within a designated slot.
4 small, silver screws hold it in the grille insert. You can see them at the perimeter of the letter plate. Place the letter plate in its proper orientation, and screw it down. Don’t overtighten, these screws are tapped into plastic and can easily strip the plastic threads in the grille insert.
If you don’t have TSS, you don’t need to worry about this step.
If you do, you’ll need to remove the filler piece that comes with the grille. It is held in by 2 tabs and 2 metal fittings with teeth that grab onto the garnish and help to hold it in place.
These metal fitting are tough to remove, so I used a small set of cutting pliers to remove them. The garnish came right out, and I replaced it with the OEM style TSS garnish. The garnish comes with two new metal fittings to help hold in in place the same way the filler piece sat in the grille.
If you noticed, between the tabs and metal fittings, there are two U-shaped channels. These channels receive the circular nuts from your original grille if you’re transplanting your TSS sensor. More on that soon.
From the front of the grille, the new installed garnish will look like it does above.
Keep the protective plastic on until the grille is completely installed, to avoid unnecessary scratches. The Pro grille is now ready for install.
Step 2. Remove OEM Grille Bolts and Clips
The grille on the 3rd Gen Tacoma is held in place with two bolts and two clips. That’s it! Well, there are some pressure fittings at the bottom of the grille, but those are easy to pry apart. More on that portion soon.
All 4 of these bolts and clips are located along the top of the grille. The two bolts connect the grille to the body cross-member and the two clips in the far corners, closer to the grille itself.
If you have a 2019+ there is a chance that the bolts might not have a Phillip’s head. When I installed this grille on my 2017, I was able to do so without a 10mm socket. In this case, on a 2020, We had to remove the bolts with a rachet and 10mm socket.
Above, you can see the holes where the bolt and clip on the right side of the grille were removed.
If you have TSS, there is a sensor located in your grille. Before you continue removing the grille, undo all of the plastic connectors that keep the TSS sensor harness from flying around. You can actually see two of the brown and white connectors in the image above. You’ll disconnect the actual sensor from the harness after you pop the grille off, it’s much easier that way.
Once you’ve removed the TSS connectors, you can pry out the whole grille.
As I mentioned, the grille is only mounted to the truck with two bolts and two clips. The rest of the grille, on the bottom, is held in with pressure fittings, which are easy to pop out with a light pull.
Grab the corner of your grille and pry it from one corner at a time. With a little bit of force, it will pop right out. Do this on both sides and the grill should be free.
If you have TSS, be careful. You still need to unhook the sensor before you can remove the grille completely.
Grab the two harnesses and disconnect them. The grille is now ready to be removed.
Step 3. Remove TSS Sensor
If you don’t have a TSS sensor, you can skip to Step 5.
Once you have the grille out of the truck, it’s best to lay it on a soft surface like a blanket, so you don’t damage it. I placed this one on the grass.
You can see how the TSS sensor sits inside of the grille. This may slightly vary between various grille models, some are mounted behind the Toyota logo, some below. But they all mount to the grille in the same manner.
Grab your Phillips screwdriver and unscrew the two outermost screws.
The sensor can be removed once that is done. If you haven’t finished removing the wiring harness from the remainder of the grille, do so now. You can see one of these connectors directly off of the sensor wiring in the image above.
Here, you can see the removed sensor. The bolts that were unscrewed with the screwdriver sit in a circular nut you see above. These nuts, along with the screws, need to be reused in your new grille.
Above, you can see one of those nuts removed, and the other one still in the sensor housing.
Step 4. Transplant TSS Sensor into Pro Grille
Install the circular nuts you removed in the last step. There is an identical channel in the garnish you prepped earlier.
Place the TSS in the orientation seen above, and tighten down the 2 bolts that attach it to the grille.
Step 5. Remove OEM Grille Insert
The stock grille insert is held in with a bunch of screws and tabs. Originally, I didn’t see the screws and tried to remove the grille insert without unscrewing the small black screws. I couldn’t figure out why the insert wouldn’t separate until I noticed this.
Above, you can see some of the black screws that help hold the grille in place. You will need to unscrew and remove all of them before you attempt to remove the tabs and the entire insert itself.
I made the mistake of unscrewing all of the little black screws. If you look carefully, only the innermost screws hold the grill insert in. You won’t need to hold onto these. You won’t reuse them with the replica TRD Pro grille. The grille is only mounted with pressure tabs.
In the image above, you can see the tabs I was referencing.
You will have to pop the locking tab inward and prevent it from popping back in with light pressure.
Once you can do so with a few tabs, they will stop trying to pop back in, and eventually, you’ll get the insert out.
You’ll be left with only the grille surround, this is where you’ll clip in your new replica grille.
Step 6. Install Replica Pro Grille Insert
The insert is seated in much the same way the stock insert was.
Again, the only difference is, there are no screws to replace. The grille is only held in place with the tabs on the backside. This is technically a weakness in the design, but I have had zero issues, and I’ve never heard of any grille ever falling out. Push the grille in until you hear and see all of the tabs click into place. Give it a light push from the back to see if any of these tabs are still loose.
You can see the harness on the bottom for the TSS sensor.
Step 7. Reinstall Grille
No picture is needed. Simply do the removal steps in reverse.
A little bit of pressure will help to seat the fittings on the bottom of the grille.
How easy was that? Pretty much anyone can knock this install out in their driveway with very basic tools.
The finished product really changes the front end of your Tacoma and is sure to turn heads. There is a reason that this particular modification is so popular.
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself one of these bad boys ASAP! You won’t regret it.
You can pick up most of these products from our good friends over at Yotaverse.com.