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Common Toyota Tacoma Failures: Reliability, Problems & More

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most popular compact trucks in the United States, although it is also popular in many countries. There’s no terrain it can’t traverse, and its features will keep you and your passengers safe and entertained on the road. In this post we will talk about the common failures of the Toyota Tacoma, so read until the end!

Although it is a reliable truck, it is not immune to wear and tear or free of problems. Whether you have your eye on getting a used Tacoma or just want to take better care of your existing one, knowing its recurring problems can help you maximize its entire life.

How good is the Toyota Tacoma?

The Toyota Tacoma has received average marks for reliability . It earned a score of 3.5 out of 5.0 in a Repair Pal study and placed last out of seven models tested in its category.

But despite its relatively low rating, the Tacoma’s cost of ownership is less than most trucks. This is because most of their problems are minor and do not require expensive repairs.

Model year 2013-2015 earned perfect reliability scores from Consumer Reports. However, overall reliability scores were lower for the 2016 and 2017 model years due to issues associated with a major redesign. CarComplaints.com reported that the 2016 Tacoma received the most complaints overall, while transmission problems have plagued the 2017 model.

Common failures of the Toyota Tacoma

Like any other truck, the Toyota Tacoma can develop problems as it racks up mileage. Here are some of the common Toyota Tacoma faults that owners have encountered over the years:

1- Problems with the lower kneecap

Premature wear of the lower ball joint in the Tacoma’s front suspension is one of the most common problems reported for this model.

Worn and loose ball joints make this truck more difficult to steer and reduce its ability to self-center. Drivers may also notice unusual noise coming from the front suspension . In the worst case, the entire lower ball joint can separate from the suspension, causing the driver to lose control of the truck.

Toyota has attributed the problem to a scratch that occurred on the surface of the spherical component of the lower ball joint during its manufacture. This issue affects trucks manufactured between 1995 and 2007. Toyota issued a recall for affected Tacomas manufactured from 2001 to 2004 and offered to replace the defective lower ball joints. Unfortunately, older vehicles are outside the coverage of this recall.

Check the NHTSA website to find out if the model year you have or want to buy has been included in a recall.

2- Faulty automatic transmission in Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma has known transmission problems, which affect trucks that have logged between 125,000 and 150,000 miles. These issues prevent the vehicle from shifting properly and have been reported among Tacoma vehicles built from 1995 through 2015.

Fortunately, you won’t have to completely overhaul the automatic transmission to fix this problem. The cause has been identified as a misadjusted throttle position sensor or a faulty shift solenoid . By adjusting the sensor and replacing the faulty solenoid, drivers have reported that their transmissions returned to normal.

3- Cracks in the amber lenses of the front parking light

Toyota Tacomas built from 2006 to 2011, as well as those made in 2013, have often developed cracks in the amber lenses of their front parking lamps. The material used in parking light lenses is unable to tolerate the heat produced by the bulbs.

Fortunately, fixing the problem is easy and only requires the cracked parking light lens to be replaced with a new one. Tacoma owners can save a lot on repair costs by purchasing aftermarket parts instead of ordering them from the dealer.

4- Failures in the MAF sensor

Tacomas built from 1996 to 2013 have had performance issues tied to a faulty Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor . In some cases, this sensor stops working properly due to excessive dirt. If the problem persists despite cleaning the unit, it’s probably time to install a new mass air flow sensor on your truck.

Drivers may not be aware of the problem until their check engine light comes on and an onboard diagnostic tool retrieves a MAF sensor error code. Faulty readings from this sensor can contribute to poor acceleration , rough idling, and poorer fuel economy. The truck may also emit black exhaust smoke and experience surges or hard starts.

5- Throttle position sensor problems

Toyota Tacomas built from 1995 to 1997, 1999 to 2000, 2002 to 2004, 2007 to 2008, and 2015 may experience problems related to a bad throttle position sensor . As mentioned above, a misadjusted throttle position sensor can interfere with automatic transmission operation.

These Toyota Tacoma throttle position sensor failures can be caused by a worn throttle body or carbon buildup on the sensor. If the throttle position sensor goes out of adjustment, it will advance the idle time considerably. This causes the engine to generate less power, use more fuel and produce more harmful emissions.

6- Boot failures

The Toyota Tacoma’s engine is usually reliable . If the engine won’t start, one of the possible culprits is a bad starter.

This issue affects 1995-1998, 2001, 2005-2006, and 2008 Tacoma models. The starter has been reported to fail between 100,000 and 125,000 miles.

Some truck owners have reported that replacing the starter solenoid contacts resolved a similar problem on their vehicle. However, others find it more practical to change the starter motor itself .

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