AOD Fabrication Steel Bed Stiffeners/Supports Mounted on 3rd Gen Tacoma – Step-By-Step Installation, Full Review & Overview
If you are researching bed stiffeners, then you are probably pretty far down the rabbit hole with Tacoma mods. You’ve educated yourself enough to figure out that it is one of those necessities. Let’s take a closer look though. What are bed stiffeners, and why do you need them?
Bed stiffeners are one of those essential mods that need to be done. If you regularly wheel off-road or are planning on adding excessive weight to the top of your bed, or you know you’ll be regularly hauling heavy loads, then you should really be considering a pair.
Bed support bars are solid steel brackets bent at a 90⁰ angle to form fit the bed of the truck and are designed to support and strengthen the bedside, so it doesn’t bow or give way under immense pressure and weight. This usually happens when you add heavy bed racks and rooftop tents on top of the bed.
Why AOD Fabrication?
There are a ton of different types of bed stiffeners on the market. Just about every aftermarket off-road fabrication company has its own design and price point. Some of them are close to $200!
AOD’s design is, in my opinion, one of the most solid options you can find. They have an affordable price point and a unique design. Regardless of the brand, every bed stiffener on the market requires you to drill through the bed frame and bolt them down.
AOD is one of the only companies on the market that adds an additional support bracket to the opposite side of the bed frame in the taillight housing. These increase the strength of the column quite a bit. I will break down the design in more detail as well as my overall thoughts on the product, but first, I want to cover the installation.
It’s worth noting that while I’m installing these supports on my 3rd Gen Tacoma (2016+), this product fits the 2nd Gen Tacoma (2005-2015) as well.
If you want to learn about other AOD products, we got you. We’ve covered the AOD Fabrication bed-mounted Molle Panels. Check that post out here. We’ve also got a post on the License Plate Covers. Read that article here.
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Step-By-Step Installation Guide
The complete install for both driver’s and passenger’s side bed stiffeners should take about 30-45 minutes with the proper tools.
You will be drilling eight holes total and then bolting the bed stiffeners down. Fairly simple.
Tools & Materials
Step 1. Assemble All Parts
Assemble all the parts required.
Straight out of the box will be the two-bed stiffeners, two backing plates, eight bolts, eight nuts, and eight lock washers.
Step 2. Remove Bed Bolts
Remove the two bolts shown in the image above using your Torx bit set.
Step 3. Remove Washers from D-Ring
With both bolts removed, take the D-Ring tie-down point and remove all of the washers from it.
Due to the thickness of the bed stiffener, if the washers are left on, the bolt won’t have enough thread exposed to reach the bed. The thickness of the bed stiffener will replace the washers.
Step 4. Bolt Down Base of Bed Stiffener
Align the holes on the bottom of the bed stiffener with the holes in the bed.
Reinstall the two bed bolts and tighten them completely.
Step 5. Remove Taillight
Remove the tail light from the bed by loosening the second and last bolt (in order from top to bottom). It should look like the image above.
With both bolts removed, grab ahold of the top and the bottom of the tail light and pull straight out. Two metal clips will pop out of place. Once the tail light is free, you can either let it hang on the side of the bed or unplug the wires and set the light aside. I chose to let the light hang as it won’t cause much stress on the wires, nor will it be in the way.
Step 6. Drill Holes in Bed
With the bed stiffener bolted down, it will be aligned flush with the bed frame. Use this as your guide to drill the four holes. You can either mark the holes, remove the bed stiffener, then drill the holes, or just leave the bed stiffener and drill through it.
I chose to leave the bed stiffener mounted and drill the holes through it. I drilled from top to bottom, and once I drilled the first hole, I placed the provided bolt in it to keep the bed stiffener stable while I drilled the other three.
Step 7. Bolt Down Backing Plate & Reinstall Tail Lights
With the bed stiffener holes drilled out and all the bolts in place, you can now bolt down the backing plate.
Starting from the bottom up, place the backing plate followed by the lock washer and lastly, the nut. Using an Allen wrench on the outside and a socket wrench to hold the nut, tighten fully. Simply repeat the process all the way up until each bolt is fully tightened.
The third bolt is covered by the metal bracket, so it’s a little harder to get to. The top bolt is curved, but the backing plate is straight. No worries though. Once you get the bottom three bolted, you can push the backing plate to form to the inside of the bed frame, and it will bend to line up with the top bolt. Once you tighten the top bolt completely, the backing plate will form flush with the bed frame.
Repeat the steps for the opposite side, reinstall your tail lights, and you’re done.
Overall, this is a solid product. The price point is great, and the design is one of a kind. I haven’t seen another bed stiffener on the market that adds an additional support bracket on the backside of the tail light housing.
Just holding AOD’s bed stiffener in my hand, I can tell its quality. It is CNC cut from 3/16″ mild steel. They come powder-coated textured black with full seam bending, meaning you get maximum strength out of it. These guys did an amazing job delivering this product.
I do about 95% of the product installs myself, and I am all about the ease of an install. This install is super simple and extremely quick.
This is one of those necessary products that is priced so well you can’t pass it up. AOD really killed this product design! If you are looking for a solid option for bed stiffeners, check them out!