Here Are The Toyota Tacoma Years to Avoid and Specific Issues

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a used pickup truck that can handle any terrain? Look no further than the Toyota Tacoma.

This versatile and durable vehicle has earned a reputation for reliability and performance, but not all model years are created equal.

To avoid potential headaches down the road, it’s essential to know which Tacoma years to steer clear of.

In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons behind these recommendations, so you can make an informed decision when purchasing a used Tacoma.

By understanding the specific problems associated with these models, you can avoid a potential lemon and find the perfect used Tacoma for your needs.

From engine troubles to transmission issues and steering concerns, we’ll break down the common problems that plague these particular model years.

With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the used truck market and find a reliable Toyota Tacoma that can handle anything life throws your way.

Toyota Tacoma Years to Avoid

Years to Avoid

In this section, we’ll discuss the Toyota Tacoma years you should avoid and why, divided into First-Generation Tacoma and Second-Generation Tacoma.

First-Generation Tacoma

The first-generation Toyota Tacoma encompasses the years 1995-2004, but there are very few years with serious issues that deserve caution.

However, there are a couple of model years you should be aware of if you’re in the market for a first-generation Tacoma.

  • 1995-1997: In the initial years of Tacoma production, certain models may have experienced issues with their head gaskets. The affected trucks were primarily the 3.4L V6 engine models, and while it wasn’t a widespread problem, it’s something to be aware of when looking at these early Tacomas.

Second-Generation Tacoma

The second-generation Tacoma includes the model years 2005-2015. During this time, there were a few problematic years that deserve attention:

  • 2006: The 2006 Toyota Tacoma faced transmission problems and widespread frame rust issues. These problems may lead to costly repairs or even safety concerns, making it a year to avoid.
  • 2007: Another year to avoid is the 2007 Toyota Tacoma, which also suffered from transmission issues and frame rust problems, similar to the 2006 model.
  • 2008-2009: While not as problematic as the previous two years, be cautious when considering the 2008 and 2009 Tacoma models, as some experienced engine issues and a smaller number of frame rust complaints.
  • 2011-2012: Although not as faulty as the other model years mentioned, it’s advisable to be cautious with the 2011 and 2012 Toyota Tacomas, as some owners reported concerning engine noises and occasional frame rust issues.

By being attentive and cautious with the problematic model years mentioned above, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision when looking for a used model and buy a solid car among the rated Toyota Tacoma best years models.

Common Problems and Complaints

Transmission Issues

One common problem with Toyota Tacomas, particularly in the 2016 model, is transmission issues.

You may experience difficulties in shifting gears, delayed engagement, and a howling noise while driving. These issues can seriously affect your truck’s performance and may require costly repairs or replacements.

Engine Problems

Another area of concern is engine defects. Some Toyota Tacoma owners have experienced issues like slow acceleration, loss of power, engine hesitation, and misfires.

These problems can arise due to bad mass air flow (MAF) sensors or other faulty engine components.

In some cases, you might have to deal with serious problems like hydraulic brake failure, throttle control failure, and pump assembly failure.

Paint and Body Issues

While not as severe as transmission or engine problems, paint and body issues can affect the appearance and durability of your Tacoma.

Some owners have reported premature paint chipping, peeling, or fading, which can lead to potential future issues like rusting or corrosion.

Make sure to inspect the paint and body condition carefully when considering a used Tacoma.

Drivetrain and Suspension Issues

Drivetrain and suspension issues can also be problematic in certain Toyota Tacoma years. For example, the 2017 Tacoma has faced high bill repair items like drivetrain, transmission, engine, and steering.

To avoid costly repairs and maintenance, it’s essential to research specific model years’ common problems before finalizing your purchase.

Additionally, be cautious of potential frame rust issues that have impacted certain Toyota Tacoma models.

Recalls and Safety Concerns

We suggest that you consider every Tacoma recalls and safety concerns as both are very important to land a reliable and safe vehicle.

One notable recall for Toyota Tacomas was the sticky accelerator issue that affected models from 2001 to 2004.

In this case, the accelerator pedal could become stuck, leading to unintended acceleration and a potentially dangerous situation.

If you’re looking at a Tacoma from this time period, make sure to inquire about any unresolved recalls or repairs related to this particular issue.

Another common problem that led to a recall for Tacoma models was the lower ball joint issue.

This affected some models from 2004 to 2009 and was characterized by a clicking sound when turning or going over bumps.

The lower ball joints could wear prematurely and potentially cause a loss of steering control, posing a significant safety risk.

In addition to these specific recalls, there have been other safety concerns associated with certain Tacoma model years.

For example, the 2016 and 2017 models had several transmission flaws and raised severe safety concerns compared to the previous models. It’s recommended that you avoid these particular years at all costs.

To recap, here are the main recalls and safety concerns to be aware of when looking for a Toyota Tacoma:

  • Sticky accelerators in 2001-2004 models
  • Lower ball joint issues causing clicking sounds in 2004-2009 models
  • Transmission flaws in 2016 and 2017 models

By keeping these safety concerns and recalls in mind, you can better evaluate the reliability of different Toyota Tacoma models and make a well-informed decision when purchasing one.

Off-Road and Performance

One of the notable Tacoma years to avoid is the 2001 to 2004 models. These trucks experienced a few problems, such as faulty air flow meters.

A bad mass air flow (MAF) could result in slow acceleration, loss of power, engine hesitation, misfires, and poor exhaust emission. These issues could diminish your truck’s off-road performance and overall reliability.

Additionally, it’s recommended to steer clear of the 2006 to 2009 and 2011 to 2012 Tacoma models.

Consumer Reports advises against these years due to their reliability concerns. Owning a truck with reliability issues could lead to expensive repairs and decreased performance in off-road situations.

Your off-roading adventures rely heavily on the durability and performance of your truck. By avoiding the aforementioned Tacoma years, you’ll have a better chance at finding the perfect off-road companion.

Ultimately, your choice should reflect the confidence you have in your truck’s ability to take on various obstacles and terrains.

Comparing Tacoma Generations

This section will help you compare the various Tacoma generations, focusing on aspects like the access cab, double cab, and durability.

First Generation (1995-2004)

The first-generation Tacoma is a compact pickup truck that gained popularity for its durability and performance.

These models are known for their simple yet sturdy design. If you’re looking for an access cab, the first-generation Tacoma introduced this extended cab option, allowing more space for passengers and storage.

Second Generation (2005-2015)

The second-generation Tacoma saw the transition from a compact pickup to a midsize one. The access cab and double cab configurations were further improved, providing more comfort and versatility.

This generation, however, experienced a few issues, with some years to avoid, such as the 2006, 2007, and 2009 models.

Despite these issues, the second-generation Tacoma maintains its reputation for being durable and reliable.

Third Generation (2016-Present)

The third-generation Tacoma offers a more refined experience while maintaining its rugged capabilities. The access cab and double cab options remain available, with enhanced features and technology.

With each new model year, the Tacoma continues to evolve and improve in areas such as performance, comfort, and safety.

The 2018, 2019, and 2020 models are particularly noteworthy, as they are highly reliable and appreciated by their owners. However, you might want to avoid the 2016 and 2017 models, as they have a few reported issues.

Toyota Tacoma Competitors

When looking for a mid-size pickup truck, you might want to consider some of the strong competitors in the segment besides Tacoma.

Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is a resilient competitor to the Toyota Tacoma, with a potent turbocharged four-cylinder engine offering impressive power and torque.

The Ranger also boasts a comfortable ride and a user-friendly infotainment system.

However, like the Toyota Tacoma, the Ford Ranger’s cabin can feel somewhat cramped in comparison to other competitors in the segment. Additionally, some owners have reported issues with Ranger’s transmission.

Nissan Frontier

Nissan Frontier has been a staple in the midsize truck segment for years, with a well-known rugged and durable reputation.

With powerful V6 engine, it provides a towing capacity that rivals the Tacoma.

On the downside, the Frontier has dated technology and lacks some of the more modern amenities found in other trucks. The Nissan Frontier has also faced some issues with corrosion, particularly in earlier models.

Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator is a unique alternative to the Toyota Tacoma, as it combines the off-road prowess of the Jeep Wrangler with the utility of a midsize pickup.

The Gladiator features an excellent off-road capability and a removable roof and doors. However, the Gladiator’s pricing is on the higher side, and its standard towing capacity is lower than that of Tacoma, as well some Jeep Gladiator Problems are to be avoided.

Also, the Gladiator’s ride quality on the pavement might not be as comfortable compared to others in the segment.

GMC Canyon

The GMC Canyon, a close relative to the Chevrolet Colorado, offers a comfortable ride and a choice of three different engines, including a fuel-efficient turbodiesel. Read comprehensive Chevy Colorado best years to own.

Though it has a well-appointed interior, the GMC Canyon has some reports of poor reliability compared to Tacoma. Furthermore, the base engine feels underpowered when towing or carrying heavier loads.

Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline distinguishes itself from the other midsize trucks with its unibody construction, smoother ride, and car-like handling.

The Ridgeline’s tech features and comfortable seating make it an excellent daily driver. However, it lacks the ruggedness and off-road capabilities found in the Tacoma.

Additionally, the Ridgeline offers only one engine option with lower payload and towing capacities compared to Tacoma’s range.


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