10 Things Every Toyota Tacoma Owner Should Know

The Toyota Tacoma is a reliable pickup truck celebrated for its off-road capabilities, durability, and resale value. Whether you're hitting the trails or driving through the city, there’s always something to learn about your Tacoma.

We’ve put together a list of essential tips and need-to-know information to help you get the most out of your truck.

This guide covers everything from maintenance and common issues to hidden features and optimization tips so that you can enjoy every mile in your Tacoma.

Toyota Tacoma display at a dealership. Toyota offers the Tacoma in SR, SR5, TRD, Limited, Trail SE, and TRD Pro models.

1. Hidden Storage & Convenience Features

Your Tacoma has many clever storage features you might have missed. Let's start with the hidden compartment on the driver's side dash. Open the driver's door and look for a small, round cutout. 

This removable cover isn't just for ">storage - it's got a fun secret. The front has Morse code reading "accessory ready," and the back features a QR code.

Scan it with your phone to access a special website with owner benefits, discounts, and accessories.

Don't overlook the space under the rear seats. Lift them to reveal a handy storage area perfect for tools or emergency supplies. There's also storage behind the rear headrests, which is ideal for smaller items you want to keep out of sight.

Check out the storage box on the right side of the truck bed. This lockable compartment is great for securing valuable tools or gear that you don't want sliding around in the bed.

Also, remember the 120V power outlet in the bed—it's perfect for powering tools on job sites or charging devices while camping.

A used, white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck for sale at a dealership on a sunny winter day, How To Lock A Tacoma Tailgate

2. Mastering Technology and Infotainment 

Your Tacoma's infotainment system has changed over time. Newer models use Toyota's Audio Multimedia system instead of the older Entune platform. Take time to learn your truck's infotainment features.

Did you know that you can set a personal image as your screen saver? To do this, turn off the screen in the Setup menu, then follow the custom setup process in your manual.

There's a hidden 12V power supply in the armrest. It has a special channel to neatly route power cords to the front of the cabin.

If your Tacoma has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, learn to use them. They bring your phone's interface to your truck's display.

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Some newer Tacomas have a 3D Multi-Terrain Monitor, which lets you check for obstacles around your truck. The 14-inch touchscreen allows you to switch between front, rear, and side camera views.

Certain models come with a 10-speaker JBL Premium Audio system, including a removable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker that you can take with you when you leave the truck.

Some Tacomas have a 12.3-inch digital display behind the steering wheel. This screen can be customized to show safety features, navigation, audio controls, off-road features, and towing functions.

3. Essential Maintenance Tips

While you're likely familiar with routine oil changes and tire rotations, here are some key maintenance points that Tacoma owners often overlook:

  1. Differential Breather: Check and clean the differential breather regularly, especially if you go off-roading or drive through water. A clogged breather can lead to water contamination in your differential.
  2. Fuel Injector Cleaning: Consider a fuel injector cleaning service every 30,000 miles. This can improve fuel economy and engine performance, particularly in older models.
  3. Battery Terminal Corrosion: Inspect your battery terminals for corrosion every few months. A mixture of baking soda and water can effectively clean them, ensuring reliable starts.
  4. Tailgate Mechanism: Lubricate the tailgate mechanism annually. This simple step prevents sticking and ensures smooth operation, especially in dusty or salty environments.
  5. Brake Fluid Moisture Content: Have your brake fluid's moisture content checked annually. High moisture levels can lead to reduced braking performance and component corrosion.

Remember, preventive care is always more cost-effective than repairs.

Close up battery terminals corrode dirty damaged problem, Old battery corrosion deteriorate leaking with blue acid powder. Service work by professional technicians concept.

4. Common Issues and Quick Fixes 

While Tacomas are renowned for their reliability, they're not without their quirks. One common issue some owners face is rough transmission shifting, particularly in models from earlier years.

If you're experiencing this, a simple software update from your dealer might solve the problem. 

Frame rust is another concern, especially if you live in an area where road salt is heavily used. Make it a habit to inspect your frame regularly, and consider applying a rust-protective coating if needed. 

A less serious but common false alarm is the check engine light coming on due to a loose gas cap. Before you panic, always check and tighten your gas cap first. If the light persists, then it's time to seek professional diagnostics.

Blinking Orange Check Engine Control Light on a Vehicle Dashboard. Engine Systems Failure. Automotive Theme.

Transmission issues may arise as high-mileage Tacomas, particularly those built before 2015, approach the 150,000-mile mark.

While this sounds daunting, it often doesn't require a full transmission replacement. If you're nearing this milestone, it's worth having your transmission checked as a preventative measure.

Lastly, pay attention to your starter. If your engine isn't turning over, it might not be an engine problem at all but rather a faulty starter. Listen for grinding noises when starting or if it takes several tries to get the engine going. 

5. Fuel Efficiency and Performance 

While your Tacoma is built for capability, there are ways to boost its efficiency and performance. Start with the basics: regularly check and maintain proper tire pressure.

Consider adding a bed cover. It's not just for looks – a tonneau cover can improve your truck's aerodynamics, potentially boosting fuel efficiency, especially on highway drives.

Black truck bed tonneau cover.

Don't overlook your air filter. A clean air filter ensures your engine breathes easily, improving both performance and fuel economy. Check it regularly and replace it as needed.

For a more substantial improvement, look into a Tacoma tuner. This can optimize your engine's performance and fuel efficiency, often providing better results than individual modifications.

Speaking of mods, be wary of performance modifications that claim to drastically improve fuel economy. Many can actually decrease efficiency or void your warranty. Always research thoroughly before making any changes.

Lastly, consider using fuel additives designed for your Tacoma. Quality additives can help clean your fuel system, potentially improving efficiency and performance over time.

For more fuel efficiency hacks, check out our comprehensive guide to maximizing your Tacoma's MPG.

6. Maximizing Off-Road Capabilities 

Your Tacoma is built for adventure. When off-roading, adjust your tire pressure for better traction on rough terrain. Familiarize yourself with the Multi-Terrain Select system to optimize performance for different surfaces. 

The Crawl Control feature can be a big help in tough conditions, managing acceleration and braking automatically. The new engine provides strong low-end torque, making steep climbs easier.

If you need better approach angles, you can remove the front air dam with a single tool, though this may affect fuel efficiency. 

Your Tacoma might have coil or leaf springs, each offering different ride qualities on and off-road. The TRD Off-Road trim comes ready for rugged terrain with proper tires and no lower air dam. 

Travel concept with big 4x4 car against sunset and mountains. Closeup photo of offroad wheelTravel concept with big 4x4 car against sunset and mountains. Closeup photo of offroad wheel

Some models even offer a special kinetic seat to help stabilize you during off-road driving. Whatever features your Tacoma has, make the most of them while always prioritizing safety and respecting the environment.

7. Towing, Hauling, and Cargo Management 

Your Tacoma is built for adventure, but knowing how to use its features properly can enhance your towing and hauling experience. Always stay within your truck's towing capacity, which can be up to 6,800 pounds, depending on your model. 

When towing, use the Trailer Sway Control feature for improved stability. For better performance, consider an engine tune to improve throttle response and shift points. Install a brake controller for better trailer brake management. 

Trailer towing hitch

When approaching steep inclines, manually downshift gears for better climbing power. Distribute weight evenly in the truck bed and use tie-downs to secure your cargo.

Lastly, invest in the right equipment, such as proper straps and ramps for loading vehicles. With these tips, you'll be able to make the most of your Tacoma's capabilities while ensuring safe and efficient towing and hauling.

8. Safety Features & Security

Familiarize yourself with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, standard on all 2024 Tacoma models. This advanced suite includes enhanced features like a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. 

New additions like Lane-Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, and Proactive Driving Assist further optimize safety. The system's improved sensors offer better detection capability, making your Tacoma even more adept at avoiding potential hazards. 

Don't forget to use Automatic High Beams for better visibility at night. While these features significantly enhance your driving safety, always stay alert and engaged behind the wheel. 

For additional security, especially if you store valuable equipment in your truck, consider adding an aftermarket alarm system.

9. Customizing Your Tacoma - Accessories & Modifications 

Once you've driven your Tacoma off the lot, the real fun begins with personalizing your truck to suit your needs and style.

Start with suspension upgrades like lift kits to increase ground clearance for better off-road capability. Upgraded shocks and struts can also improve ride quality on rough terrain.

shock absorber strut with coil spring, suspension system

For performance enhancements, consider installing cold air intakes to boost engine performance and cat-back exhaust systems for better sound and increased horsepower.

Performance tuners can help you optimize engine parameters for the best performance.

Improve your visibility with LED headlights and taillights, and add off-road light bars for nighttime adventures. Protective gear is also essential. Skid plates protect the undercarriage from damage, while rock sliders guard against rocks and debris.

Convenience accessories can make a big difference. Bed extenders and organizers maximize cargo space, and roof racks are perfect for transporting larger items like kayaks or bikes.

If you tow frequently, consider trailer brake controllers for better safety and control and heavy-duty hitch receivers to increase towing capacity.

Lastly, consider appearance modifications. Custom grilles and bumpers can give your Tacoma a unique look, and decals or wraps let you personalize your truck with custom graphics.

10. Manuals, Warranty, and Resources 

Your Tacoma comes with a comprehensive warranty package that's crucial to understand. The basic coverage lasts for 3 years/36,000 miles, while the powertrain warranty extends to 5 years/60,000 miles. 

Familiarize yourself with specific coverages like the corrosion perforation warranty (5 years/unlimited miles) and the emissions control warranty (varies by component). Don't forget about ToyotaCare, which covers regular maintenance and roadside assistance for 2 years/25,000 miles. 

Your owner's manual is invaluable - it explains features, maintenance schedules, and troubleshooting tips. Digital versions are available on Toyota's website for quick reference. For used Tacomas, check if it's a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, which comes with additional warranty benefits. 

Consider joining Tacoma owner forums for real-world advice. Lastly, as your warranty nears expiration, research extended warranty options to keep your Tacoma protected long-term.

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In our detailed warranty guide, learn more about your warranty coverage and how to maximize it.

Making the Most of Your Toyota Tacoma

By using these tips and features, you can get the most out of your Toyota Tacoma. Regular maintenance and smart driving habits will keep your truck running smoothly. 

Knowing how to fix common issues can save you time and hassle. Using hidden features and customizing your Tacoma can make it better suited to your needs. 

Understanding safety features and optimizing off-road capabilities will enhance your driving experience. Follow these tips to keep your Tacoma reliable, efficient, and enjoyable for years to come.

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