Toyota Tacoma Problems

Are you familiar with Toyota Tacoma problems?

The Toyota Tacoma is a best-selling truck in its category for a reason and a good one at that. First, it’s long-standing reputation for durability that has been built over the years and a ‘jack of all drive‘ capability.

But that’s not all, the Tacoma can be uniquely customized thanks to a ton of aftermarket products available.

The Tacoma is one of Toyota’s best deals. It not only outsells the Tundra and 4-runner, but it is also the best-selling truck in the midsize truck segment.

The Toyota Tacoma has been manufactured by Japanese manufacturers since 1995 and has been leading in sales among compact and mid-size trucks since 2008.

And it’s no surprise because it offers a wide variety ranging from a basic work truck to rock-crushing off-roaders, and quasi-luxury models. The Tacoma even won Motor Trend Truck of the year in 2005.

But even with a durable vehicle like the Tacoma, you are bound to encounter some problems. In this article, we are going to look at a few problems you may encounter if you own a Toyota Tacoma and the solution as the case may be.

Toyota Tacoma Problems


Most common Toyota Tacoma problems include starter issues, faulty airflow meter problems, throttle position sensor problems, and sticky accelerator. Other more serious problems are rusting and automatic transmission malfunctions at higher mileages.

  1. Lower Ball Joint Issues

This is the most common Toyota Tacoma problem and has led to the recall of 2001-2004 models. This fault was due to some models experiencing premature wear in the front suspension which was due to improper finishing during manufacturing.[1]

Worn ball joints create difficulty in steering the vehicle and reduce its ability to self-center. The Tacoma may then drift from left to right while driving.

This is quite dangerous, so avoid driving at all when it occurs. This issue may also cause you to hear some rattling noises from the front suspension. [2]

In the worst-case scenario, the entire lower ball joint can separate from the suspension creating difficulties in stopping and can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

This issue was traced back to damage inflicted on the lower ball joint’s ball component in trucks manufactured from 1995 to 2007. Because of this, Toyota issued a recall for the affected Tacomas built from 2001 to 2004 and even offered to replace the faulty ball bearings.

If you’re using any of the affected models, inspect the ball joints regularly because if your ball joints fail, your truck fails.

  1. Automatic Transmission Malfunctions at Higher Mileages

It’s obvious that as a car gets older, it becomes worn and the Tacoma is no exception. As Tacoma owners rack up higher mileage, transmission problems may occur which causes the transmission to suddenly shift into the wrong gear.

In most cases, the driver will have to readjust the lever before it shifts correctly. This malfunction can cause a delay in movement and can lead to an accident.

Automatic transmission problems in Tacoma are often due to a displaced throttle position sensor or a faulty shift solenoid.

This problem affects trucks that have racked up anywhere from 125 000-150 000 miles. It is most common with first and second-generation Tacomas. That is vehicles built between 1995 to 2015, although the 2016 Tacomas has transmission delays of its own. [3] [4]

But, no need to panic! You won’t need to completely overhaul the automatic transmission to fix this problem since the cause has been identified as either a faulty shift solenoid or an incorrectly adjusted throttle position.

If the problem is due to a misaligned throttle position sensor, it will have to be readjusted or reset. If the fault persists, consider replacing the shift solenoids. Your Mechanic can identify the solenoid that needs replacement but in rare cases, all the solenoids will have to be replaced.

Related: Toyota Aygo Automatic Gearbox Problems

  1. Parking Lights Melting

Owners of Tacoma built from 2006 to 2011 and also in 2013 have complained of cracks in the amber lenses of their front parking lights. This is because the material used in the parking light lenses are unable to withstand the heat produced by the light bulbs.

According to Car Problems, some drivers had melted/cracked lenses anywhere from 23 000-30 000 miles. Some drivers didn’t experience the problem until 60 000 miles while others had their lens cracking at 80 000 miles.  [5]

But not to worry, fixing the problem is a walk in the park and may only require replacing the burned or cracked lens with a new one. But the best solution to the problem is to replace the entire amber light assembly. Or, you could always look for an aftermarket LED replacement.

  1. Faulty AirFlow Meter

The airflow meter is a major component in the combustion process of the engine. It measures the amount of air that is needed by the engine to combust the fuel at any given time. A faulty air flow sensor will cause an imbalance in the fuel combustion process.

Tacomas built from 1996 to 2013 have had issues that can be traced back to a faulty mass airflow (MAF) sensor.Faulty sensor readings may lead to poor acceleration, rough idling, and reduced fuel economy. The Tacoma may also emit black exhaust smoke and surge hard when started. [6]

In some vehicles, this sensor can malfunction due to the accumulation of dirt on it. But if after cleaning the sensor the problem persists, you may need to replace the sensor unit.

This problem usually goes unnoticed until the check engine light comes on and the onboard diagnostic scan tool detects a MAF sensor error code.

  1. Throttle Position Sensor Problems

The throttle position sensor is a component that reports the position of the gas pedal to the computer in your car (Engine Control Unit).

The engine control unit then determines the position of the throttle plate and also calculates the quantity of air flow to the engine and the amount of fuel to be injected for the required ratio of air-fuel mixture.

This throttle problem affects quite a wide range of Tacomas from 1995 to 1997, 1999 to 2000, 2002 to 2004, 2007 to 2008, and 2015. This throttle sensor malfunction can affect the efficiency of the automatic transmission.

This malfunction may be caused by a worn-out throttle body or by carbon build-up on the sensor. [7]

This malfunction may advance idle time considerably, cause the engine to generate less power, waste more fuel, and even produce more harmful emissions.

  1. Bad Starter

The Toyota Tacoma engine is quite reliable but even the most reliable still comes up short sometimes. This problem affects Tacomas made from 1995 to 1998, 2001, 2005, 2006, and 2008.

Once again, with higher mileages of 100 000 to 125 000 miles, the truck is more prone to having a failed starter. Some owners have resolved the problem by replacing the starter solenoid contacts.

  1. Sticky Accelerator

This can be a bummer especially if you often drive in highway traffic or on particular roads where an unplanned acceleration will be an issue.

Unfortunately, unplanned acceleration will be a problem on almost all roads. Fortunately, this problem was resolved a while ago and was only critical with the 2007 model.

  1. Rust/Corrosion

This was one of the biggest problems in the first-generation Toyota Tacoma. While rust will eventually build up in any vehicle with a steel frame or even aluminum; it appeared quite quickly in the Tacoma.

Read Next: Toyota Sienta Problems


It would be impossible for a manufacturer to create a vehicle that has been sold as long as a Toyota Tacoma without a few glitches.

While we’ve talked about the major Toyota Tacoma problems and the years to avoid in this article. It is worth noting that this vehicle has had an overall consistent performance for a long time.

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