Toyota Tacoma Won’t Start Just Clicks – What Could Be Wrong?

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Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere, only to have your vehicle not start? While there are a good number of reasons why you aren’t able to get your engine running, you can actually identify many of them on your own. Some of them can even be remedied on the spot. If you are driving a Toyota Tacoma and you only get a clicking sound when you attempt to start it, we can help you troubleshoot. We researched the Toyota Tacoma to provide you with a definitive answer. 

There are five reasons why your Toyota Tacoma is clicking instead of starting the engine. Those reasons are:

  • Corroded battery cables
  • Faulty starter motor
  • Low battery voltage
  • Ground strap issue
  • Faulty power cable

Now that we know the causes of your Toyota Tacoma clicking instead of starting, we’ll take a closer look at each one. You might also be curious if the Toyota Tacoma has engine problems or how long a Toyota Tacoma will last you. Why won’t the car start after the battery is replaced? Does Toyota have any recalls for the Tacoma pickup truck? For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.

A huge and modified Toyota Tacoma trailing on a modified track, Toyota Tacoma Won't Start Just Clicks - What Could Be Wrong?

Examining the reasons why your Tacoma is clicking

Let’s take a closer look at these potential culprits and offer up some solutions.

Corroded battery cables

The battery will not be able to transmit all of the necessary power your vehicle needs to start if there is anything blocking the juice from leaving it. Pop open your hood and examine the battery terminals and cables.

If you notice a lot of corrosion on them, this is probably the reason why your Tacoma won’t start. Carefully disconnect the cables from the posts, and thoroughly clean the gunk off. Use gloves, a stiff brush, and an approved cleaner. 

Reconnect the battery and try to start your Tacoma. If this was the issue, it should fire right up. 

Faulty starter motor

A bad starter motor will also make some clicking sounds. This is a more serious issue, as it will require the starter to be replaced. It’s usually not an expensive fix, but it’s something that you’ll need the dealership or a mechanic to do.

However, a bad starter motor doesn’t mean that you are stranded. You can still start your Tacoma by bypassing the starter motor altogether. While doing so should never be a regular way to start any vehicle, it can come in handy during an emergency.

It Still Runs lists the steps you need to take to bypass the starter. If you have the tools handy and are moderately mechanically adept, this might be a temporary solution to your problem. Just be sure to get that starter replaced as soon as possible. 

Low battery voltage

This is the most common cause of clicking. If you have a weak or dead battery, there won’t be enough power to get the engine to turn over.

This problem can easily be solved by getting the battery jumped. Having a set of jumper cables in your vehicle is a must, especially if you have an older battery or if you have a habit of leaving your lights on by accident.

Ground strap issue

A ground cable runs from the engine to the body of the vehicle. If this ground is damaged, it can keep the engine from getting the power it needs to start.

Faulty power cable

There is a larger power cable that runs from the battery to the starter. While not the most common as the causes above, this cable should be examined. If rodents have chewed on it, it could be keeping your car from starting. 

Why won’t my car start after replacing the battery?

There can be several reasons why a battery replacement won’t solve your problem.

Assuming the battery is not faulty and is fully charged, the first possible cause would be if the battery was improperly connected. Double check this, and be certain that there aren’t any signs of corrosion on the battery cables.

If the battery is connected properly and the connectors are clean, then the problem could be the alternator or the starter. Either of these issues will require new parts and professional installation.

Earlier in this post, we mentioned that if it is the starter, you can bypass it and get your vehicle started. With the alternator, there isn’t a shortcut, unfortunately. 

Are there any recalls on a Toyota Tacoma?

Nearly every model vehicle has had a recall or two. With mass production, there are sure to be some faulty parts manufactured. Design flaws aren’t always obvious until well after the release of a vehicle.

But when there are known issues that impact the performance, safety, and convenience of a vehicle, a manufacturer will typically recall affected models so that the issues can be rectified.

The Tacoma is not an exception to this. At the time of this writing, this popular pickup truck has been recalled 51 times by Toyota.

The 2009 and 2010 model Tacoma were the years that were most impacted by recalls. In those two model years, the wiring for the heated seats and faulty airbags were the most prevalent issues. 

Other model years have had faulty master cylinders, defective running boards, crank position sensor malfunctions, and other issues.

For a complete list of Toyota Tacoma recalls by year, Car Complaints is a great source. They get information directly from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. 

Does Toyota have engine problems?

The vast majority of model years of  Toyota Tacoma have not had substantial engine issues. However, the 2016 and 2017 Tacomas are an exception.

The first of the third generation of Tacoma, the 2016 model, was plagued with engine malfunctions that ranged from the engine stalling to the engine making unexpected power surges. The 2017 models were reported to have similar issues. 

Compacting these engine problems were the transmission failures of the 2017 models. Both years were recalled by Toyota, however.

How long do Toyota Tacomas last?

All things taken into consideration, you can expect the Toyota Tacoma to last between 200,000 miles and 250,000 miles.

Of course, getting to this mileage milestone won’t happen if you mistreat your vehicle. Let’s look at some tried and true methods of getting the most road miles out of your Toyota Tacoma.

Keep a routine maintenance schedule

Of all things, adhering to a strict maintenance schedule is the most important in keeping any vehicle on the road.

Your factory recommended maintenance should be followed to the letter. While this encompasses many things, it is broken down visit by visit to your mechanic or dealership. The visits need to occur on or around different mileage intervals. 

The routine maintenance will include changing out fluid and filters like your oil/oil filter and your air and fuel filters.

It will also consist of a technician checking to see that certain parts of your vehicle are still capable of operating safely, like your suspension system and your timing belt or timing chain.

Failure to maintain your Tacoma will lead to parts wearing out prematurely. You’ll break down a LOT more if you don’t get routine maintenance done—not just with a Tacoma, but with any vehicle.

Regularly clean your Tacoma

Thoroughly washing your truck gets rid of debris and chemicals that might cause the body to corrode. This is especially true if you live near a coast or in a climate where road salt is applied in the winter to de-ice the roadways.

Do a complete job of washing the truck, especially the underside and the wheel wells.

On the interior, you can prolong the life and effectiveness of your filtration system if you keep it clean. Never smoke in your vehicle, as the smoke will damage the electrical system.

Drive it safely

Be aware of how you drive your Tacoma. Lots of stop-and-go driving, sudden braking, and quick accelerations will make moving parts wear quicker. So drive carefully and with a purpose so you can keep your brakes, tires, and suspension systems lasting as long as possible. 

In closing

The engine clicking in your Toyota Tacoma can have up to five causes, each of which can be remedied by you or a trusted mechanic.

This popular pickup truck has had some issues with a few model years in the past, but overall it has proven to be a pretty solid and reliable vehicle. Take care of it with routine maintenance, and yours could last up to 250,000 miles and beyond. Drive safe!

If you enjoyed reading this post on the Toyota Tacoma, be sure to check out these others:

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