Toyota Tacoma – What Are The Common Problems?

Toyota Tacoma: What Are The Common Problems?People love Toyotas for their reliability, and the Toyota Tacoma is no exception. It has a high payload capacity, and is very reliable and comfortable to drive, and has a good resale value. Just like any vehicle, it also comes with a set of typical problems.

That isn't to say that you're going to encounter them if you buy a Tacoma. Most of these trucks will work just fine, as long as they are well-maintained. However, if you're buying a used truck, it's worth knowing what recalls and typical issues have taken place over the place.

Of the problems that you are going to experience with the Toyota Tacoma, the engine is the most common source of issues, and then the suspension, and this is followed in third place by the electrics. As you move closer to the newer models these issues are less and less prevalent though. Most of the issues are easily solved and fairly inexpensive.

We are going to look more closely at how these issues break down, how common they are, and how likely you are to have to worry about them. Also, we are going to explore the reputation of the Toyota Tacoma, and what it is built on. All with the aim of helping you make a decision if you have been on the fence about buying a Tacoma.


The Toyota Tacoma has been in circulation since 1995, where it was classified as a compact pickup. From 2005 to present it has been classified as a mid-size pickup. In 2005 Motor Trend picked it as the truck of the year, and in 2015 to celebrate the Toyota pickup in Back To The Future a design was made called the Toyota Tacoma Concept, which is cool beyond belief.

Toyota Tacoma 1995-2004
Toyota Tacoma 2005-2011
Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 2011-2015
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 2011-2015
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 2015-2019
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 2019 - Present

Toyota And Recalls

Most recalls from any auto manufacturer are done in coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority, and they are in regards to an issue with your vehicle that could actually pose a threat of injury to you or your passengers, and the aim is to handle it before an accident occurs.

They are not issued lightly and you should respond to them.

What To Do

A lot of times when a recall is issued they will provide you with exact instructions. It is most often going to involve taking your vehicle to the dealer or a qualified mechanic, and getting them to either replace the part or perform a diagnostic on it to make sure whether you have the issue or not. It can help to take the notification along with you as it will handle any confusion that you may encounter. If you still have problems you can reach out to the manufacturer or the NHSTA directly.

What Is The Cost?

If the recall has been issued by the manufacturer or the NHSTA then the cost of any work or parts that need to be replaced is going to be covered by the manufacturer.

How Long Do I Have?

The NHSTA says that there is a time limit of 10 years from the date of purchase to replace parts, but it is unlikely you will have been driving OK for 10 years past the issue with your vehicle affected. The best thing to operate with is that by acting swiftly you will ensure that you, your passengers, and everyone else on the road is going to be safer.

How Is A Technical Service Bulletin Different From A Recall?

A technical bulletin is usually a non-essential repair that can be carried out. Or it is something that some owners are reporting, but there have not been enough numbers for it to qualify as a recall. It can off course be escalated to a recall, so it is important to be aware of it. A repair that is mentioned in a bulletin is usually going to be voluntary compliance, and therefore, unless it is covered under your warranty, or a special limited warranty that the manufacturers might issue, you are going to have to cover the cost.

Recent Recalls

Problem: Brake Performance can lengthen distance needed to stop vehicle increasing risk of crash.

Solution: Dealers will replace brake master cylinder.

Cost: Free

Models Affected: 2018-2019 Toyota Tacoma

Problem: Incorrect load carrying capacity modification labels

Solution: Toyota will provide owners with correct labels.

Cost: Free

Models Affected: 2017 Tacoma

Problem: Brake booster vacuum assembly may be machined incorrectly

Solution: Toyota will replace brake booster vacuum pump

Cost: Free

Models Affected: 2017 Tacoma

Problem: Driveline differential unit may seize.

Solution: Toyota will tighten fastening nuts or replace them and the gasket, and rear differential carrier assembly if necessary.

Cost: Free

Models Affected: Tacoma 2017

Common Problems

Here are some common Toyota Tacoma problems.

Problem: Lower ball joint recall due to premature wear from improper finishing

Solution: suspension ball joint replacement, wheel alignment

Cost: $398-$908

Models Affected: 1995-2007 (13 Models)

Problem: automatic transmission may not shift correctly

Solution: Correct throttle position sensor and/or replace shift solenoid.

Cost: $124-$188 (sensor adjustment) $15-$100 (solenoid replacement)

Models Affected: 1995-2015 (20 Models)

Problem: Amber front running lights may melt or crack their lens

Solution: Replace headlight assembly.

Cost: $50-70

Models Affected: 2006-2013 (7 models)

Problem: Check engine light comes on because of failed air flow sensor

Solution: Check engine light diagnosis & testing.

Cost: $88-111

Models Affected: 1996-2013 (12 Models)

Problem: Throttle position sensor out of alignment due to wear or carbon build up.

Solution: General diagnosis

Cost: $88-111

Models Affected: 1995-2015 (11 Models)

Problem: Vehicle will not crank over as starter fails at 100,000 to 125,000 miles.

Solution: Complete starter replacement including solenoid.

Cost: $356 - $495

Models Affected: 1995-2008

Problem: Crankshaft pulley bolt coming loose

Solution: Retorque pulley bolt after applying thread locker.

Cost: $88-$111

Models Affected: 1995-1997, 2001 (4 Models)

Problem: Burned valves and engine performance issues.

Solution: Remove cylinder and rebuild

Cost: $2,614 - $3,223

Models Affected: 1995-2005 (10 Models) with 2.7L I4 engine.

Problem: Idle air control motors get carboned up at 100,000 miles.

Solution: Check Engine Light Diagnosis & Testing

Cost: $88 - $111

Models Affected: 1995-2010 (8 Models)

Problem: Engine coolant temperature sensor fault leading to engine stalling.

Solution: Replace engine coolant temperature sensor

Cost: $142-$188

Models Affected: 1995-1998 (4 Models)

Problem: Exhaust Gas Regulation System restricted by carbon after 100,000 - 125,000 miles

Solution: Clean out EGR passages and EGR temperature sensor

Cost: $363-$537

Models Affected: 1995-1999 (5 Models)

Problem: On vehicles with a manual transmission, worn shift bushings cause transmission to pop out of gear, especially when coasting down in 1st or 2nd gear.

Solution: Replace shift linkage bushings.

Cost: $340-$373

Models Affected: 1995-1998, 2002 (5 Models)

The Good News

If you look at the site Truedelta they are a great source for judging the overall reliability of your vehicle. They don’t have their usual charts for demonstrating the lemon odds of your Toyota Tacoma, but the data they do provide is still helpful in seeing what a sensible choice your Toyota Tacoma has been.

So, of the problems that you are likely to suffer from with your Tacoma, the Engine comes in the highest at 27%, followed by suspension at 22%. The next most significant problem is Electrical and AC at 19% and transmission at 14%. Brakes, body and trim, and other problems are all under 10% each.

The majority of repairs you are looking at are going to be under a $100, with these repairs accounting for 36% of those surveyed by the site. Repairs costing between $100 to $499, claim the next largest percentage at 35%. Between $500 and a $1000 is at 15%, and a $1000 to $2500 is 11%. This is a pretty good indication that most of what is going wrong is not major.

How does that split between the generations of Tacoma? Well, the second generation takes the lion’s share at a whopping 53% of those problems. Next up is the first generation at 22%. Trucks made between 2012 and 2015 account for 12% of problems. Those from 2016 to now only make up 7% of the number. Now, while older trucks are obviously going to develop more problems over time, if those later years were spiking instead of getting better you would have some cause for concern. As it is the Toyota Tacoma has been considered reliable from those early generation onwards.

Is It Expensive To Insure A Toyota Tacoma?

You are looking at an average cost of $142 a month to insure a Toyota Tacoma, or $1,704 a year, outside of mitigating circumstances which may lower or increase it.

According to some sources they actually rank as the cheapest truck in their class to insure - just another reason why they are a great buy, and also indicative of the fact that they are safe and reliable, and not prone to that many problems.

How Well Do Toyota Tacomas Hold Their Resale Value?

Toyota tacoma

Toyotas are somewhat renowned for holding their resale value better than a lot of their competitors. This usually comes from a combination of having a good reputation, being a quality vehicle, being reliable, and also being very reasonable price wise.

If you check out Kelley Blue Book you will see that the 2019 Toyota Tacoma won the 2019 Best Resale Value Award for the Mid-Size Pickup class. They also mention on there that the Tacoma has earned a trophy every single year since they first started handing out this award, so that is something to bear in mind.

If you bought a Toyota Tacoma in 2007 you can still expect to get somewhere around 40% of what you paid for it at resale, which is pretty amazing.


If you are buying a Toyota Tacoma most of the research indicates that you are going to be very happy. You aren’t going to have to worry about carrying out too many repairs, and when you do they aren’t going to be overly expensive.

Toyota are on top of it when it comes to any faults that are in their vehicles, and compared to some other manufacturers they have a very low number of recalls. The errors present in the earlier generations do not seem to carry through from model to model, as you see with some other vehicles.

They are very affordable, and with the standard model for the 2020 Toyota Tacoma coming in at around $26,050, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to get a great mid-size pickup. Add to that the low cost of insuring the vehicle, and the fact that it is going to hold its resale value very well, and you are going to get a lot from your Tacoma.

It has an mpg of up to 20 in the city and 23 on the highway, which is not the best by any means, but is still a very respectable amount. It has a payload of 1,120 to 1,620 lbs, and can tow 6800 lbs which compares well with its competitors.

There are many reasons why Toyota have a good reputation for being reliable, and it is not hard to see how this would lead to them holding their value and being a popular choice for as long as they have.

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  1. Hi, thanks for sharing this post. There’s only one doubt in my mind, with all of these engine problems. Are all these be covered by the insurance or the Toyota dealers itself for free? Thank you for the help!

    • Thanks for the comment! Most (if not all) car manufacturers have some kind of factory powertrain warranty on newer vehicles. These warranties typically last through a certain period of time or through a certain amount of miles, whichever comes first. Depending on the dealership and the particular vehicle, extended warranty options might be available for purchase as well. If a component of the drivetrain (i.e. the engine) has issues while the vehicle is covered under a powertrain warranty, it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to fix the problem at their expense. We highly recommend reading through a vehicle’s warranty to better understand what is covered and the conditions.

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