True North Fabrications Bolt-On Rock Sliders For 3rd Gen (2016+) Toyota Tacoma – Installation Guide, Review & Overview
When I first bought my Tacoma, the goal was to build a truck that could take me into some remote places, hit some gnarly obstacles and be able to set up camp after being on the trail.
After putzing around with some aesthetic mods and putting on my lift kit, wheels and tires, I took it for a couple of trips to test everything out. I immediately knew it was time to put some armor on and I wanted to start with rock sliders, which are arguably one of the most essential mods you can add for the trails. There’s a lot of options and even styles out there to consider, but in this post, we’ll be talking about the option from True North Fabrications.
True North Fabrications is fairly new to the consumer market, servicing major off-road enthusiast models like the Toyota Tacoma, FJ and Tundra, the Ford Bronco, and even some Lexus models.
True North takes its combined experience in off-road and parts fabricating to offer some thoughtfully designed, rugged off-road armor and accessories at an good price point.
In this post, I will outline a quick installation guide, and give you a solid review and overview of these rock sliders.
Let’s get right into it. Below, you can find these rock sliders directly on the True North website.
Find It Online
- True North Bolt-On Rock Sliders For 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
- True North Weld-On Rock Sliders For 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
Features & Specifications
As seen above… Freshly opened, no scratches or dings, fresh powder coat from True North.
Today’s focus will be on True North’s bolt-on rock sliders for the 3rd Gen Tacoma. Made in America using high quality steel my first impressions were – “These things are beefy.”
Shipping in at about 85lbs for the pair, these actually weigh less than some other leading brands. Though not a lot in the bigger picture, when you’re constantly adding mods and accessories onto your rig, every pound adds up quickly.
True North gives you the option to buy these rock sliders in raw (saving a good chunk of cash) or with the satin black powder coat (as pictured). Shipping is $100 to the lower 48, with free pick up in Sarasota, FL.
Take a look at these welds, very well done!
True North’s rock sliders are made using 2” X 2” 11-gauge square tubing for the base and mounted with a welded 1.75” outer diameter 11 gauge ERW tubing for the kick out. Mounting plates and gussets are made from 1/4″ steel.
When looking at these in detail you really appreciate the thoughtfulness of design that went into the sliders, they even tapered the front square tubing to prevent hang ups on rocks and other obstacles you might encounter on the trail. From the quality of welds to the ease of installation, I was really impressed with these and couldn’t wait to test them out on the trail.
Close-up of the tapered front end, really nice touch.
This install could be done with one person, but two is very helpful. In any case, lifting the rock slider to the body is easiest with a board on top of a floor jack, to guide the rock sliders into place while slowly adding bolts into place.
Before continue, I want to note that this installation is not really a step-by-step. There are multiple ways to approach an install like this, so outside of removing the factory running boards/steps, each section has highlights and outlines where all the hardware is placed and how the different mounting positions might look.
Remove OEM Steps
This was easy. Just use a 12mm socket to remove the 6 factory nuts and the steps come right off. They were so much lighter than I had expected (and had lots of dents and scratches….whoops).
Pretty useless. Looks better without them too!
Passenger’s Side Mounting – Removing Components
Towards the front of the frame, right behind the passenger’s front tire, you will need to remove some plastic covers.
Use a set pliers or multitool to wiggle out these covers, you’ll need access here to put a bolt through to attach to the longer stick nut.
Next up, slightly behind the plastic covers you’ll find a module full of wires.
Remove the module cover from the passenger side frame rail, you’ll need to pull it forward to get the sliders underneath the unit when mounting them.
As seen above, the cover has been removed, and the unit is loose. Just prop it out of the way and prep for mounting the slider.
Passenger’s Side – Mounting Rock Slider
Lets start with the front of the rock slider (first “leg”). This is after I bolted the sliders into position.
The top bolt is attached to a stick nut, more on that in a second. The bottom bolt is attached to a larger fabricated nut, that inserts into the crossmember. More on that soon.
Above, you can see the stick nut, this setup allows you to reach way into the frame rail to get the washer into position for the top bolt, seen in the last image.
Before you can slide the stick nut into the frame, remove the inner frame cover for easy access (seen above).
Slide the stick nut into the access hole, try to watch for it’s position in the hole for the rock slider mount, and carefully thread the bolt into the stick nut. It would be very helpful to have two people here, it takes a little bit of effort to get them to line up properly. I found making a couple bends in the stick portion helped keep easier control of the nut.
Do not tighten this nut, because the rock slider needs to have enough movement to allow for the next step. Just make sure you have good contact with the threads.
Moving on to the lower bolt. Here, you will need to pull the slider away from the frame a bit and then feed the above seen nut/washer combo into the crossmember.
The key here is to lightly hold it in place from a different hole (on the front of the crossmember) to prevent it from shifting, while you feed a bolt through the hole in the angled part of the mount for the slider.
Moving to the second “leg”, we can see the module that was originally removed. The rock slider mounts behind the unit, and you reattach the module using factory hardware.
Make your way towards the rear of the slider, to the third “leg”. Here you can see this mounting point uses three nuts, bolts, and washers. The top two holes already exist in the frame, but the bottom one will need to be drilled.
It’s best to get all your nuts installed and tightened down, then mark all the holes and drill them with the sliders firmly attached. Since we exposed raw metal, it’s optional, but I sprayed some fluid film into the holes while I was down there to prevent rust.
Finally on the furthest mounting point (fourth “leg”), we can see two nuts, bolts, and washers. Again, the top one is a factory hole, and the bottom one will need to be drilled out.
That’s it! Pretty straightforward install on the passenger’s side.
Driver’s Side – Removing Components
On the driver’s side, you will also need to remove the plastic cap towards the front of the frame. Additionally, there is a steel bracket (seen above) that holds the wire harness next to it. It will also need to be partially removed.
In the shot above, we already removed the plastic and disconnected the bracket for the harness. If you’re wondering what the handing module is under the frame, ignore it. We did not need to disconnect that part, but you do need to remove the right most nut to allow the bolt sticking through to pass through the slider mount. More info on this later.
Driver’s Side – Mounting Rock Slider
Starting with the first “leg” – just like the passenger’s side, you’ll need to mount the first two bolts seen above. You’ll remove the frame cover, push the stick nut it, catch the threads, and then proceed to the lower bolt. Again, pretty much the same as the opposite side.
Making your way to the second “leg” of the slider, you will need to reposition the bracket to line up with the factory mounting point. I ended up using the factory bolt here with enough room to make good contact with the frame and slider.
The bottom hole will need to be drilled out. Like the other side, get all your existing bolts through existing holes and then drill the extras.
Moving on to the third “leg”. You can see here how the factory module does not move, but you need to feed the bolt through the mounting plate and replace the original nut.
Then on the bottom, you will need drill another hole.
Now, the fourth and final “leg”. The top bolt utilizes the factory holes and the bottom will be the final hole that you need to drill. This brings the total here to three holes that need drilling on the driver’s side, compared to only two on the passengers.
Note: While it is recommended that you drill the bottom holes in your frame, it is really only in situations where you plan to really bang up your sliders. It helps to reinforce the whole system, but again, if you are not going to beat on them you could potentially forgo this step.
Rock sliders add a level of protection that is, without question, a necessity on an offroad rig. I have to admit, this should have been one of my first mods, I absolutely destroyed my OEM steps on my first trip out. The ability to confidently slide over rocks, ruts, stumps, or whatever else sticking out of the trail is a life saver and makes for a much more enjoyable experience on the trail.
After installing them I really appreciated the look it gave the truck, it even makes the lift look bigger and adds a bit of clearance where the carbon steel OEM “nerf bars” used to be. Not to mention finally removes all the chrome giving it a much more rugged offroad vibe. We took these out on the trails in Colorado putting the kickouts and the underframe protection to the test. These passed with flying colors and saved my rear end a couple times.
True North has put out a really solid product here. Made in America, easy to install, robust and reliable these sliders are an excellent choice at the price point and have all the features and options you could ask for in an off-road slider. True North offers armor for a number of Toyota trucks and even has a weld-on option for those looking to go the extra mile.
Bottom line? I’m stoked and ready to put these to work! Can’t wait to see what True North comes out with next.
Terrible in terms of the driver or passengers having to use them to get in the cab. I added Smittybilt nerf bars with steps to my Toyota truck and they protected the sides of the truck and provided a safe step as well.
Calson, these are certainly not “bars” or “steps” of any kind. The intention behind these is for rocker panel/body protection when dragging your truck through some bigger rocks/trees. Is there some compromise when it comes to getting in and out of the truck? For sure – but the same happens with other mods like lift kits, etc. The purpose is to protect against major damage, etc. While those nerf bars definitely work great as a step, you can’t really compare them in terms of protection. In a direct comparison, the steps offer much less serious protection, and due to their… Read more »