Image credit: Original work - Photoshop filter Leer Flip
There is a huge variety of camper shells and tops on both the new and used market today. While a good amount of these shells will technically fit your truck, only a few will fit your vehicle correctly. Every company and model of truck differs slightly in bed size, the taper of the bed, the angle of the cab to bed as well as the overall ceiling height. Fitting a truck topper exactly requires patience if you are buying used as the models you need may not be readily available.
There are some upsides and quite a few pitfalls to going down the used route when buying a camper shell for your Tundra, but to help you out we have compiled the best tips and tricks as well as relevant resources to help you in your hunt.
Obviously, damage is the first thing to look out for. A broken shell isn't going to be netting you much of a deal. It may still be cheaper to get the replacement part, but it is often not worth the pain. Something as simple as a window seal repair can be in the hundreds of dollars.
Even If you are able to find a compatible shell with minimal wear and tear, don’t jump the gun. Ensure the shell is able to form a proper seal with your vehicle and there are not any warping or bends that were not noticeable at first.
Paint isn’t cheap either. Consider color and repainting costs as well if you are planning on matching the top to your vehicle. If you drive around in a rare color, this expense may be unavoidable,
In 1993 the T-100 mid-sized truck was introduced. This becomes what we call the Tundra. For our purposes, we need to know that the first five years (‘93-’98) came in both short-bed extended cab as well as long-bed standard cab.
In ‘99 until 2006, the Tundra had extended cab and crew cab trucks -which had slightly different beds from one another.
The 2007-2013 Tundra models got beefed up in size and were given a more full range of cab sizes to choose from.
In 2014 the Tundra changed the standard bed sizes in the models of Trucks. So keep this cutoff date in mind as well.
These general model changes will need to be considered along with your cab size, bed size and bed style. The exact same name and size might mean something different a decade later.
I recommend you start on the Leer What Fits My Truck site we linked earlier in this post to get an idea of the exact specifications you will need to know to begin to find the correct products. The sites walk you right through the stages.
The internet is going to be your main asset in your search of course. You are probably already pretty familiar with sites like Craigslist. This is an excellent place to start, but expect to spend upwards of a few months looking for something just right. If you are needing a specific color, and it is a rare one, expect the search to take even longer. Make sure to use the save search and notification features. The fact that you can use “Shell” "Topper” and “Cap” interchangeably also makes this search extra hard via keywords. You will have to check for all three.
Social media is another way to network and find what you need. Go onto Toyota forums and ask questions. People can often be accommodating. Just be clear about what you need. Facebook groups for Tundra owners will always have one or two people with an encyclopedia-like knowledge of where certain parts can be sourced. Use these people to your advantage.
It is possible to find tops and shells that were not made for your vehicle. Many of these will work with varying degrees of success but is not recommended for a large variety of reasons.
Image credit: TacomaWorld.com Forums
Notice the classic size mismatch on the shell here.
Sometimes you will just have to make do with what you can get through. I know many people who have gone with a semi-compatible shell to hold them over while they waited to find the perfect match. If your search has gone out without bearing fruit, you may have to settle for a while.