Bed Stiffeners: Do You Need Them?

Truck Bed Stiffeners for 2nd Gen & 3rd Generation Toyota Tacoma

Add Structural Support To Your Bed, Tailgate, and Bedsides

If you find yourself off-roading, overlanding, or even hauling heavy loads, bed stiffeners are a must-have mod on any Tacoma. The bed is made out of composite material, and while it’s durable, it is still susceptible to cracking and flexing.

Installing a pair of stiffeners is the perfect mod for anyone running a camper shell, bed rack, rooftop tent, going fast over rough terrain, or even carrying heavy loads.

A cracked bed could lead to several issues down the road. And since the material is composite, you can throw a “bandaid” on it with resin, but there is no way to truly repair the crack without replacing the whole bed. Since stiffeners are relatively cost-friendly and easy to install, the majority of owners out there install them without thinking twice.

The more weight in the bed of your truck, the more likely your bed is to crack under stress. Now add a bumpy dirt road to the equation and speed, a cracked bed is inevitable.

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What Are They?

What are Truck Bed Stiffeners?

Truck bed stiffeners are sold in a pair of L-Shaped steel brackets that strengthen your bed, tailgate, and bedsides. Their purpose is to reinforce your bed which reinforces the tailgate frame to prevent flexing and cracking.

The L-shaped steel brackets help make the factory bed channels much stronger, which prevents excessive flexing and damage of the aluminum tailgate and/or composite material that the Tacoma bed is made of. Many stiffeners are laser cut out of steel which not only provides an accurate fit but a durable design that will withstand whatever you throw at it or mount to it.

Once installed, the truck will handle more lateral and torsional forces that would otherwise damage the bed, tailgate, and/or bedsides.

Not only do they prolong the life of your bed, but some companies integrate cool features like tie-down points.

Do You Need Them?

Truck Flexing Bed Frame - Bed Stiffeners on Toyota Tacoma

Why? To prevent splitting the composite or worse, pulling on the sheet metal, which can distort body lines. 

Our beds are made of brittle composite. The tailgate and bedsides are made of thin sheet metal.

Neither the bed nor the tailgate/bedsides are fully welded, gusseted, and reinforced to endure extreme flex. Whether you’re going fast or slow, off-roading tends to put stress on your cab, frame, and bedsides which flex, push, and pull on each other – ultimately causing stress.

Without reinforcement to the bedsides, your bed will experience much more stress than you might realize.

The cheap sheet metal on the tailgate can only handle so much before the twisting of the bed-on-frame platform will pull on the bedsides, ultimately splitting the composite, or worse, pulling on the sheet metal which can distort bedside and tail light body lines.

In order to prevent excessive flex and or cracking of the bed, this mod is a necessity for just about every owner out there.

Prevent Bed Cracking?

Why You need Bed Stiffeners on a Toyota Tacoma

Once the bed is cracked, not only is it bound to rattle, but more issues will arise as time goes on.

We’re talking fitment issues –  primarily with your tailgate, tailgate panels, possibly taillights, campers, camper shells, bed racks, and so much more. This is obviously a huge issue that could be avoided by reinforcing your bed.

One of the most common problems of cracked beds and shifting bedsides are fitment issues with your tailgate actually closing.


Total Chaos Bed Stiffeners

There are a ton of companies that make these.

As always, it never hurts to shop around and find the one that’s going to work best for you. Each company adds its own twist on their bed stiffeners so although they all may look the same, a lot of them are different from each other.

Total Chaos is one of the original bed stiffener manufacturers in the game. Total Chaos has been around for over 25+ years and they continue to innovate off-road suspension components and more.

Total Chaos

Total Chaos Bed Stiffeners Strapping Down Armor in Truck

Pictured: A long pallet of C4 Fabrication Rock Sliders, Hybrid Bumper, and Rear Bumper

Total Chaos killed it with their bed stiffeners. Their patented design allows for even more stability than those of their competitors. This is the only option that extends vertically while maintaining the contour of the bed.

Another unique feature of the Total Chaos option is that it maintains a low-profile design in the bed of your truck. This is nice for when you want to use your truck for… well, truck stuff. Since it’s so low profile, you’re able to throw storage boxes back there, a full-size air mattress, a long pallet of truck parts, and much more.


Total Chaos Bed Stiffener Features

Pictured: Full-size toolbox strapped to Total Chaos bed stiffeners

Total Chaos wanted to make sure that you got your money’s worth out of their stiffeners because they serve as tie-down points as well as a place to add other additional accessories you want to attach.

  • 3/16″ mild steel laser cut brackets use existing factory holes
  • Drilling is required for installation
  • Ideal for any Tacoma that wants to prevent bed flex
  • 6 eyelet tabs are designed to offer additional cargo strapping points + an additional flat tab

The horizontal-facing mount is perfect for reverse lights, chase lights, many types of antenna mods, CB antenna brackets, and so on. The added tie-downs are extremely useful as well, especially when it comes to securing big loads.

Above all else, this product is made to last. They are not only extremely useful to have in the bed of your truck, but they’re guaranteed to help preserve the life of your bed.

Final Thoughts

Total Chaos Tie Down Points on Tacoma

This is without a doubt one of the best preventive mods you can do. It’s crazy how much peace of mind a 30-minute install can give you. Not to mention all the additional tie-down points offered.

If you have a camper shell, bed rack, RTT, or any sort of constant weight in the bed of your truck, then you should consider a set. Especially if you often find yourself going down the road less traveled.

A cracked bed is no fun and may lead to more problems down the road. All the more reason to buy a fairly cheap mod that will prevent such problems. This is definitely one of those mods you will want to do before something happens that makes you wish you did it sooner.

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1 year ago

There is zero science to this claim.

1 year ago
Reply to  John

zero science to what claim?

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