Tacoma Update: OBDII Reader, Interior LEDs and Pop & Lock Installation

Well, my extended Christmas gift season will be winding to a conclusion here in the next week or so as I’m just about done “tweaking” the Tacoma.  Seriously, I sometimes think on-line shopping is so addicting since you get to “buy yourself a gift” and then enjoy the anticipation factor of “waiting for it to arrive” vs. just buying it at the store and taking it home.  It’s the delayed gratification and anticipation coupled with receiving a sealed box and tearing into it that seems to trigger the endorphins, at least for me. But, I digress…

UltraGauge Blue: 1st up this week was getting the UltraGauge Blue On Board Diagnostics (OBDII) reader that arrived last Saturday paired with my Android smart phone, creating some beta-test screens for fuel economy, short trips, road trips and misc. gauges and beginning the fuel calibration process by topping off the tank. Current fuel mileage in my screen shots looks pretty awful since it was such a short trip back to the house in stop & go traffic after fueling. I think this model will work well for me, in that I really don’t want / need the display up all the time. My primary need is being able to pull codes. Beyond that, it’s just nice to have more insight into fuel consumption, etc., as the truck currently says it’s out of gas when there’s 3.5 gallons left in the tank; really?


At noon on Monday, the mail arrived and along with it was a Pop & Lock tailgate lock, some LED Interior light bulbs and a salvage headlight I’ll be using to trial-run the lens removal for a “black headlight modification (aka, BHLM), basically painting over the interior chromed plastic trim with a satin black color to ‘black-out’ the headlight bezel.

On the LED’s, I’d already changed out the Map Lights with some pretty good bulbs so it was just the Dome & Vanity lights that I was most interested in. However, the tag lights were pretty decent so I installed those. But, definitely a major improvement on the interior lighting.

Next up was the Pop & Lock installation.

Note: On our ’06 Tundra the A.R.E. shell’s frameless door’s lower lip overlapped the tailgate enough to act as a locking mechanism for the tailgate. However, no so with the Tacoma’s stylized tailgate: a good tug on the tailgate and it would pull out from under the frameless door’s lip. Since Toyota chose not to tie-in the tailgate lock to the rest of the truck’s electric locking system, I was compelled to get the turn-key Pop & Lock electric tailgate locking mechanism.

My install was initially quite easy since we just had the A.R.E. Z-Series shell installed with the keyless lock option. That meant I already had a pair of electric lock wires running to the left-rear taillight cavity that I could slave the Pop & Lock solenoid wires to: no need to crawl the length of the truck! I took a little extra time to clean-up the looms as there were a lot of wires floating around from the shell install; I like my looms neat and tidy.

By the end of Monday afternoon both the shell and tailgate had keyless locks integrated into the truck’s locking system. The only thing I still needed to do is to put a few Constrained Layer Damper (CLD) tiles on the inner skin of the tailgate to dampen the lock actuator vibrations / noise a bit… not exactly a subtle locking action. I’d read they were loud but, wow: it’s loud.  On the bright side, installing the CLD tiles in the tailgate would give me a little practice and experience in working with the Noico CLD material before I begin to apply to the interior of the cab.

With our colder weather the ambient temperature of the garage dropping to 52°F, I pulled-out my kerosene heater and fired-it up which quickly brought the garage temperatures into the mid-60’s: nice.  With a warmer garage and the CLD material warmed-up to 78°F in the house, I was all set to go.  Turns out, cutting and applying the CLD material is a very easy thing to do and takes very little time.  The prep time — cleaning the surface before applying the material — takes longer than applying the CLD tiles.  Anyway, I used about 3 square feet of the material to provide something close to 25% coverage, which is what the folks who seem to know the most about this stuff, recommend.  The net effect after putting everything back together was, the latch now made a nice and solid “thunk” so I was happy with that.  However, one thing I noticed after buttoning-up the tailgate was that the black handle assembly didn’t look plumb to the tailgate.  I decided to defer addressing that until the next day; I’d had enough truck time on Tuesday.

Tweaking the Tailgate & Rewiring the Locks

Wednesday morning I headed out to the garage to adjust the position of the handle in the tailgate after noticing the handle assembly didn’t look plumb to the tailgate after adding the Pop & Lock.  I wrongly assumed the handle assembly was indexed such that when you tighten the two bolts that attach it to the tailgate it would be square and plumb.

As mentioned, when I initially did the Pop & Lock installation I thought I had a time-saver in that I’d be able to simply tap the Pop & Lock’s wiring into the A.R.E. shell’s lock wiring harness.  However, after installing the Pop & Lock it finally dawned on me the folks at Custom Camper wired the camper shell’s electric door latch to the driver’s door lock instead of the passenger door locks.  What that meant was, every time I unlocked the truck I was also unlocking the rear door and tailgate.  Had the locks been wired to the passenger door locks, the back door and tailgate locks would only unlock when I had a reason to unlock those. It’s a minor detail, but being wired to the driver’s door lock meant the rear door and tailgate electric locks would be cycling twice as often as they needed to, subjecting them to a lot of excess wear and tear.  The same was true of having the trucks locks programmed to automatically lock whenever the transmission was taken out of or put into park, so I also made a point of turning off that feature.

Anyway, I knew that in order to change the locks from operating in sync with the driver’s door to the passenger’s doors I’d need to move the tie-in of the wiring from the left-front kick-panel to the right-side kick panel.  As I went about chasing down the wiring installed by Custom Campers I quickly realized the Custom Camper folks only did a fair job of running the wiring.

My initial fix to make things right was to tidy up their installation as best as I could. For example, they had the power lead running to the battery through the firewall and I removed four extraneous wires as well as the plastic loom that was haphazardly pulled around and compromised a wire harness boot in the firewall.  As for the switch wiring, I made a set of jumper wires and ran those under the carpet in the front wheel wells to connect the existing wires on the left / driver’s side of the truck to the passenger side of the truck’s wiring kick panel where the wiring should have gone in the 1st place.  I removed all of the now extraneous wire taps from the driver’s side wires and sealed those harnesses back up with electrical tape,  never to see the light of day again!  So, at least by the end of the day Tuesday, the shell’s door and tailgate were now only unlocking when I unlocked the passenger doors.

When I headed out to adjust the handle in the tailgate on Wednesday morning I really didn’t intend to completely re-wire the rear camper shell door lock and tailgate locks, but that’s what I ended up doing. Again, as I discovered Tuesday, when the A.R.E. shell was fitted to the truck last week the wiring was not done as cleanly as I would have liked for a high-end shell installation. So, I spent the better part of the late morning and early afternoon on my back and under the truck installing a spare wiring harness properly and professionally such that it looks right at home with the rest of the wiring running along the frame of the truck.  I poked the wires through a very small slit in a rubber wire bundle gasket under the passenger seat and the along the sill to the right-hand kick panel where I tied it into the passenger door lock wires. At the back-end of the truck I soldered a Y-junction into the new harness that now feeds power to the A.R.E. keyless lock: works like a charm. With the right side wiring fixed, I pulled the A.R.E. 4-wire harness out of the left side, sealed up the access holes they’d opened in the cab to run wiring and ran a new power line along the left frame rail and into the engine compartment then up to the battery. Everything is now nice and tidy / factory-looking, so I’m a happy camper. Now I just need to buy some chassis plugs to replace the two that went missing during the A.R.E. shell installation.

So, what’s left to do?  Well, for one… get rid of the rear axle noise. That’s the biggest challenge facing me at the moment.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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