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LAST UPDATED:  March 16, 2021

Toyota Tacoma Reliability

Everyone loves the Taco.

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PUBLISHED ON March 16, 2021

Toyota

Ah, the mighty Toyota Tacoma. It’s a pickup truck with very devoted owners who see themselves as going against the grain by wishing to experience the great outdoors. A person who wants ruggedness AND Toyota reliability. Luckily for them, and you, that’s usually what they get.

Toyota reliability is legendary. Everyone and their grandmothers know that if you get a Toyota, it’s going to last like the Energizer Bunny. And given the Tacoma’s success, that reliable ethos has been put to the test in ways the Tacoma’s engineers likely couldn’t have imagined. That includes everything from rock crawling, high-speed desert driving, and even lowered and boosted for performance.

What, then, is the consensus about the Tacoma’s reliability? Does it follow the Toyota way of reliability over everything? Or does it deviate from the norm and create headache upon headache for its owners? The Drive’s editors went through the forums and consumer data to help you make the best possible purchase when considering a Toyota Tacoma.

Time to dive in.

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What Makes a Reliable Brand?

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability

Short answer: you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Toyota Tacoma Specs

Vehicle Type: Light-duty pickup truck

Doors: 2-4

Engine options: 2.7-liter 4-cylinder, 3.5-liter V6

Total internal combustion range: 450 miles

Is The Toyota Tacoma Reliable?

As detailed above, reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we can’t make a definitive statement that the Toyota Tacoma is reliable or unreliable.

To better assess its reliability, however, we’ve assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the Tacoma’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

The Tacoma’s NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the Tacoma’s issues throughout the years.

2021

Recall: NA

Complaints: 4

2020

Recall: Fuel Pump May Fail

Complaints: 31

2019

Recall: Fuel Pump May Fail, Non-Permanent Text on Load Capacity Label, Brake Master Cylinder Seal may be Damaged

Complaints: 126

2018

Recall: Fuel Pump May Fail, Brake Master Cylinder Seal may be Damaged

Complaints: 125

2017

Recall: Brake Assist Vacuum Pump may Fail, Fuel Pump May Fail, Incorrect Load Information on Label/FMVSS 110, Crank Position Sensor Malfunction may cause Stall, Rear Differential may Leak

Complaints: 153

Tacoma NHTSA Investigation

Per the NHTSA, “The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is expanding the investigation to include the equipment supplier and vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) using this unit. The investigation focuses on ACUs manufactured by TRW, now ZF-TRW (ZF) , the Tier-one supplier to Hyundai and Kia and the other affected OEMs. The ACU senses a vehicle crash to determine whether air bag deployment is required, and if so, deploys the appropriate air bags and other supplemental restraints. ZF supplied subject ACUs to six OEMs: FCA, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Toyota.”

Common Toyota Tacoma Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all Tacoma models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic Tacoma offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

2017 Model Year: Transmission Problems

Repair Costs: NA

Customer Complaint:

“Bought truck with 32600 miles transmission would slip between 30 and 55 MPH, did not notice problem on test drive. Took back to dealer (Dick Dyer in Col. SC) was told I needed a software update they installed the latest update, it helped some. Noticed it more when the truck was cold,

“I have to drive 2 miles on a curved road to get to the main highway always notice it them.

Was Back for routine check up told them then was still having problems with transmission, they did not find any problem but that Toyota was always working on new software up grades.

“This problem is not catastrophic, but if I would have noticed on test drive would not have bought truck, really has give me a bad taste for Toyota. Do I have to just live with the problem?” 

2007 Model Year: Accelerator Sticking

Repair Costs: $6,450, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“Truck was in parking slot and all of a sudden it jumped the concrete barrier and struck the deli and broke the glass and did some damage to the building. Toyota's reason was that it had been inspected on 6/25/2012 and accelerator operated properly and returned to idle position as designed.This was second time this occurred after being recalled.”

2007 Model Year: Clear Coat Peel

Repair Costs: $3,800, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“My 2007 Toyota Tacoma with 7,000 original miles is really looking like crap! Clear-coat in many many areas is starting to crack. My truck is show room new except THAT. I take excellent care of my truck.

Toyota says it's a defect, yet, because it's out of warranty they wont fix it. I got an estimate for $3800 to repaint! This is crazy. I understand that this clear-coat the industries are using is industry problem, why do they bother using clear-coat to begin with, if it peals and they know it will peal after the warranty!”

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.”

2021: 78/100

2020: 78/100

2019: 80/100

FAQs About the Toyota Tacoma

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is The Tacoma Expensive To Maintain?

A: That depends on how you treat it, how the previous owner treated it, and if you’ve followed the Tacoma’s regularly scheduled maintenance. Have you attempted to traverse all of Moab in a stock, unlifted Tacoma and do so on the regular? If so, you might find fixing it can get expensive. 

Q: Is a Tacoma High Maintenance?

A: Not generally, no, but there is a regularly scheduled maintenance flow you need to follow.

Q: How Many Miles Does a Tacoma Last?

A: According to Consumer Reports, new cars are all designed to exceed 8 years or about 200,000 miles. However, individual mileage may vary based on, as stated above, how you treat your car. And given the Tacoma’s legendary longevity, it’ll likely be quite a bit more. 

Q: Are Repairs Expensive on the Tacoma?

A: As with all repairs, it depends on the part affected. If it’s deep within the engine, it could be quite expensive. If it’s a loose body panel, likely not. 

Video

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

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