Common Tacoma Problems and Solutions

Toyota Tacoma is one of the most popular mid-size pickup trucks. You will see old and modern Tacomas on the road, as they were made to last.

Toyota manufactured the Tacoma with off-road capabilities and a comfortable interior design. Along with safety and entertainment features, Tacoma can rival most modern trucks.

Tacoma is a reliable truck that can fulfill most user needs. However, there are some problems with the truck, and you should know about them before purchasing any old or new Tacoma.

Toyota Tacoma Problems | 15 Problems and Solutions

Toyota Tacoma has some common problems, including engine, transmission, ECM, throttle position sensor, leveling kit, 4WD, air conditioner, automatic transmission, door latch, rear differential, air flow sensor, manual transmission, brake, blind spot monitor, and cruise control problems. Let’s briefly discuss the problems:

Problem 1: Toyota Tacoma Engine Problems

Toyota Tacoma Engine Problems

The engine is the main component of a vehicle. If the engine doesn’t work properly, the vehicle will not either.

Second and third-generation Toyota Tacomas are mostly affected by the problem.

Engine problems include vibration, excessive noise, rough start, surging, accelerating issues, etc.

You may face engine problems after several thousand miles.

These issues are caused by dirty or insufficient engine oil, mass air flow sensor, faulty timing chain, old spark plugs, etc.

Engine issues are serious, and minor problems can cause major issues, like damaging the engine permanently.

So, you should look out for bad symptoms and check your truck regularly.

If you suspect engine issues, take your Tacoma to a nearby dealership or an experienced mechanic.

Solution

There are numerous potential causes of engine problems, which can be tricky.

Generally, the problem is with engine oil, and you can resolve it easily.

Engine oils cost around $6 to a few hundred bucks per liter.

Noise and vibration should be resolved after replacing engine oils.

You may need to change the spark plugs if necessary. Spark plugs cost around $20 to $100.

Replacing the spark plugs will solve the misfiring issues.

Timing chain replacement will cost around $70 to $250, depending on the quality.

Engine problems are costly, and you may be charged up to $1000 for labor costs.

Problem 2: Toyota Tacoma Transmission Problems

Toyota Tacoma Transmission Problems

Transmissions are another important component of a vehicle.

If the transmission doesn’t work properly, there will be huge issues.

First and second generations of Tacomas had the most transmission issues.

Tacoma trucks have both automatic and manual transmissions.

Every Tacoma model doesn’t include manual transmission.

The following Tacoma models have manual transmissions:

  • Tacoma TRD Sport
  • Tacoma TRD Off-Road
  • Tacoma TRD Pro

However, manual transmission may vary with the model years, and most model years have automatic transmission.

The most common transmission problems are not shifting properly, delayed shifting, transmission slipping, noisy transmission, intense vibration, unintended shifting, clutch pedal failure, torque converter failure, sudden power loss, and transmission failure.

These problems may vary with manual and automatic transmissions in a Toyota Tacoma.

Let’s discuss them.

Problem 3: Tacoma Manual Transmission Problems

Tacoma Manual Transmission Problems

Tacoma’s second and third-generation trucks faced manual transmission issues.

User reports indicate the 6-speed manual transmission has problems shifting between the 5th and 6th gear positions.

Sometimes the gear slipped, and they faced clutch jamming issues.

These are the most common problems with third-generation Toyota Tacoma transmissions.

Some users reported that they faced intense vibration, clutch failure, clunking noise, and sudden power loss.

Mainly, second-generation Tacomas have these issues.

These issues can occur after 100,000 miles or later.

Manual transmission vehicles are more fun to drive as the driver has full control.

But manual transmission issues hamper the driving experience.

Transmission issues are serious and should not be taken lightly.

Solution

Toyota Tacoma transmission noise and vibration issues occur mainly due to insufficient and dirty transmission fluid.

Sometimes non-aligned gears can cause problems.

You may need to flush and refill the transmission fluid, which will cost you around $150.

Transmission fluid costs around $12 per liter.

Clutch pedals can be jammed for faulty clutch pedal bushing. You can change it for $50–$60.

Sometimes the clunking noise may come from the non-aligned gears in the transmission.

In this case, you will have to rebuild the transmission to solve the issue.

Rebuilding a transmission will cost you around $500–$600.

Transmission repairs are costly, and minor issues can harm your transmission if you don’t pay attention.

So you should not ignore any issues and check up on your truck regularly for any problems.

Problem 4: Toyota Tacoma Automatic Transmission Shifting Problems

Toyota Tacoma Automatic Transmission Shifting Problems

Most Tacoma first and second-generation trucks have automatic transmission shifting problems.

Users reported that the transmission shifts into the wrong gear on its own when the truck is driven for a long time.

Most of the time, drivers need to readjust the lever before shifting again.

Shifting problems can delay the driver’s reaction and eventually cause accidents.

The main reasons are the misplaced throttle position sensor, worn-out solenoid, etc.

Automatic transmission shifting problems may occur after 150,000 miles.

Toyota resolved the issue in the 3rd generation Tacoma pickups.

Solution

You may need to realign the throttle position sensor and replace the worn-out solenoid packs.

According to quality, solenoid packs will cost you around $60–$250.

Checking and servicing the transmission at the right time will help you avoid the issues.

However, shifting solenoids wear out over time.

Solenoid packs aren’t that costly, and replacing them will prevent transmission damage.

Problem 5: Toyota Tacoma ECM Problems

Toyota Tacoma ECM Problems

The engine control module is the brain of a vehicle.

Your Tacoma won’t be able to function without the ECM.

Sometimes ECM is also called ECU or PCM.

The ECM collects data from different sensors and controls the entire drivetrain.

ECM has all the data on different parts of your vehicle so that you can diagnose and pinpoint the issue.

Faulty ECM can cause a lot of issues, like failed self-diagnostic cycles, rough engine running, poor performance, poor shifting, and starting failure.

ECM failure shows some significant symptoms, which you should look out for:

  • Check engine light will turn on and flash.
  • Engine will stall and fail to start.
  • Fuel consumption will become excessive.
  • Rough engine running and misfiring.
  • Electronic equipment failure.
  • Ignition, fuel pump, air pump failure, etc.

If you face any symptoms, immediately take your truck to a nearby mechanic shop.

Solution

ECM failure is very rare and can be tricky to deal with.

If you find issues with the ECM, you will need to repair it.

The repair cost is around $150 to $200.

Electronic components are not easy to repair, and you may need to replace the ECM for full functionality.

Replacing the ECM will cost you around $1200 to $1500.

Problem 6: Toyota Tacoma Throttle Position Sensor Problems

Toyota Tacoma Throttle Position Sensor Problems

The throttle position sensor controls the airflow and fuel supply to the engine.

When you accelerate, the throttle position sensor detects the position of the accelerator and sends data to the ECM.

The ECM then opens the air intake and lets mass air flow into the engine.

Again, it sends a signal to the fuel pump and lets the right amount of oil flow into the engine.

More acceleration means more air-fuel mixture, which means more speed.

That’s how we get acceleration in our vehicles.

The throttle position sensor also controls the gear shifting.

If the sensor stops working, the gears will not shift.

That means you will not get any power, and the vehicle won’t start at all.

If the throttle position sensor doesn’t work properly, your truck will show some symptoms:

  • Check engine light turns on.
  • Engine stalls and misfires.
  • Engine performs poorly.
  • There is a lack of power.
  • The transmission isn’t shifting properly.

You should look out for the symptoms of throttle position sensor problems.

If you encounter any issues, contact an expert mechanic immediately.

Solution

If you face any symptoms related to the throttle position sensor, you should check the component and clean it.

If cleaning doesn’t work, you must replace the sensor, which costs around $30 to $150, depending on the quality.

The labor cost would be around $100.

Changing a throttle position sensor is very easy. It will take around 5 to 10 minutes to do that.

You must reset the minimum idle speed and clear the error codes.

You should also check for updates when you install a new throttle position sensor.

Problem 7: Tacoma Leveling Kit Problems

Tacoma Leveling Kit Problems

Leveling kit is a simple modification to lift up your vehicle.

Installing leveling kits, you can drive in off-road terrain without damaging any undercarriage components.

Leveling kit includes a set of spacers, lift blocks, and extended U-bolts that lift your vehicle.

You can lift your vehicle using suspension kits, but leveling kits are cheaper, less time-consuming, and easier to install.

However, there are some good and bad sides to using leveling kits, and you must research thoroughly before installing them in your Tacoma.

The common problems you may face using leveling kits are:

  • Unusual riding experience
  • Faster wear and tear on the transmission
  • Inaccurate sensor readings
  • Bad fuel economy
  • The warranty will be void

Solution

As you can see, there are some problems with the leveling kit.

You may not notice much difference in height with leveling kits.

Moreover, it can damage your Tacoma, and you will face other problems.

However, if you intend to install a leveling kit anyway, you should use good components.

Problem 8: Toyota Tacoma 4-Wheel Drive Problems

Toyota Tacoma 4 Wheel Drive Problems

Toyota Tacoma has an excellent four-wheel drive system, which enables off-road capabilities.

But the Tacoma four-wheel drive system is not without problems.

The most common Tacoma 4-wheel drive problems are:

  • Faulty solenoid
  • Bad transfer case motor
  • Worn-out gears
  • Faulty 4WD actuator
  • Low and dirty case fluid
  • Damaged wheel locker

However, you can solve all the problems and fix the 4WD of your Tacoma.

Solution

First, you should check the case fluid.

You may need to refill the case fluid as it lubricates the gears. If the fluid is dirty, you should flush it.

Then you should open the floor casing and check the casing motor, solenoid, gears, actuator, and locker.

It is situated in the middle of the truck underneath.

Make sure to clean the case box and faulty parts. It will cost you $150–$200 to replace the transfer case motor and actuator.

Transfer gear will cost you around $150 to replace.

You must clean the components and lubricate them before installing them.

Problem 9: Toyota Tacoma Air Conditioner Problems

Toyota Tacoma Air Conditioner Problems

Air conditioning is another important part of modern vehicles.

A dirty cabin air filter, faulty electric system, refrigerant leak, dirty evaporator, clogged condenser, faulty blower, faulty blend door actuator, and defective compressor can cause Tacoma air conditioner problems.

Most of the time, the problem is with the level of the refrigerants.

So you start with the refrigerant levels and check the whole air conditioning system for problems.

You may face air conditioner problems at 20,000 miles or later.

Take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic shop, as the AC problems are tricky to fix and may reappear again.

Solution

You should change your air filter every 10,000 to 20,000 miles.

In the case of a dirty or clogged condenser, you should clean it properly.

If it doesn’t work, replace the condenser, which costs around $100 to $150.

You should check for other problems with an experienced mechanic.

Electrical, refrigerant, and other issues would cost you a few hundred bucks, and you can’t do it on your own.

Expertise is necessary for those problems.

Problem 10: Toyota Tacoma Door Latch Problems

Toyota Tacoma Door Latch Problems

Tacoma users reported that the driving cab doors show locking problems.

Sometimes the door won’t lock, causing sudden doors to open while driving.

Some users reported that the door lock wouldn’t work or open.

The problem is most likely caused by the door latch mechanism.

It is a small tool that is responsible for the door lock feature.

Most of the users faced the problem at higher mileage.

So you shouldn’t worry about the problem if you are a new user or have lower mileage.

Solution

The best solution is to replace the door latch, which costs around $50.

You should take your vehicle to a nearby mechanical shop, and they should fix the problem without any issues.

Problem 11: Toyota Tacoma Rear Differential Problems

Toyota Tacoma Rear Differential Problems

The rear differential is a very important part of a vehicle because it connects the rear wheel with the transmission.

Every 2WD, 4WD, or AWD vehicle has a rear differential. Several problems can happen to the rear differential.

Some Tacoma users reported that the rear differential started making chirping noises, and suddenly there was a loud sound.

They found the rear differential housing nearly destroyed.

Differentials are made of gears, so they would collide with each other if not maintained properly.

The main cause is the lower differential fluid. Differential fluid lubricates the gears and pinions so that they can work swiftly.

Dirty fluid can also cause transmission problems.

Users said they were unaware of the problem, meaning they didn’t check the fluid level over time.

Most of the problems occurred at 60,000 miles or later.

Differential issues are critical issues as they can lead to accidents.

You must not take the problems lightly and contact a nearby mechanic if you find any relevant issues.

Solution

You should check your truck’s rear differential fluid on a routine basis.

Differential fluid should be changed every 40,000–60,000 miles.

Differential fluid will cost you around $10–$20 per liter.

Lower differential fluid can cause hasty wear and tear in the differential gears.

You should check the gears for any issues.

Sometimes the differential needs to be rebuilt, costing around $400–$800.

Depending on the situation, you may also need to replace the whole rear differential or some parts of it.

Differential parts will cost you around $250 to $750.

The whole differential will cost you around $2,000–$3,000.

But you can always avoid higher maintenance costs and any critical situation with regular checkups and maintenance.

Problem 12: Tacoma Mass Air Flow Sensor Problems

Tacoma Mass Air Flow Sensor Problems

The mass airflow sensor is an important component of the engine.

Combustion is a controlled process where the engine needs different amounts of air every time.

The mass airflow sensor calculates the airflow and sends the data to the control computer, which supplies the correct amount of fuel to burn.

Tacoma users reported that a faulty mass air filter triggers the check engine light.

A faulty mass air flow sensor causes an imbalance in the engine combustion process.

The issue primarily affected first- and second-generation Tacomas, which span the 1996 to 2013 model years.

Mass airflow sensor problems can cause excessive fuel consumption, misfiring, shaking, and thick black exhaust smoke.

Solution

You should look after any symptoms or abnormalities in your engine.

Inspect your truck immediately if you see thick black smoke coming out of the engine.

Most of the time, the check engine light comes on for mass air flow sensor problems.

You can easily clean the mass air flow sensor, as it is not complicated.

If you are not confident enough, contact a professional mechanic for maintenance.

Sometimes the problem doesn’t resolve after cleaning the sensor, and you may need to change it.

Mass airflow sensor costs around $35–$150, depending on quality.

Problem 13: Tacoma Brake Problems

Tacoma Brake Problems

Brakes are one of the most important components of a vehicle.

The Tacoma braking system includes a four-piston fixed caliper with an 11-inch large drum brake in the rear.

Tacoma’s braking system is powerful enough for the vehicle, but some issues showed up with the brake.

Extreme weather conditions where the ground contains sand, salt, and snow can cause brake issues.

Extreme off-roading is another cause of premature brake failure.

Solution

Yearly maintenance and regular car washing can prolong the brake system’s life.

Users with manual transmissions didn’t face much of the issue as they maintained their trucks occasionally.

But most of the automatic transmission users faced the problem.

You may need to replace the brakes, which will cost around $75 to $120 per brake.

Toyota recalled the Tacoma to fix the issues, so you should not worry about the brake issues.

Problem 14: Tacoma Blind Spot Monitor Problems

Tacoma Blind Spot Monitor Problems

Tacoma blind spot monitor is a device that makes you aware of your surroundings, which the driver cannot observe.

The device includes sensors in the rearview mirror and rear bumper, which send a signal to the ECM to warn you.

Tacoma blind spot monitor problems include faulty sensors, defective visual indicators, failure to access the blind spot monitor system, etc.

Most problems occur due to dirt around the mirror and rear bumper, faulty connections, damaged wires, faulty buttons, etc.

Solution

Cleaning the rearview mirror and rear bumper should solve the problem.

Loose connectors and wires can cause the issue. So check them out before drawing any conclusions.

You may need to replace the sensors if the problems are with them.

An expert mechanic would easily replace them for you.

But the parts are quite expensive, so be sure before replacing the sensors.

The blind spot sensors cost around $300–$1200, according to their quality.

Problem 15: Toyota Tacoma Cruise Control Problems

Toyota Tacoma Cruise Control Problems

Cruise control is a feature that automatically controls your Tacoma truck’s speed.

The computer takes over the vehicle’s throttle to maintain a constant speed, which provides better mileage and saves fuel.

Tacoma cruise control problems include failure of the control module, faulty throttle actuators, sensors, electric connection issues, and faulty buttons.

Solution

Repairing the cruise control is a costly process. There are many sensors and components that may need to be replaced.

Name of the component

Price

Throttle position sensor

$30–$150

Vehicle speed sensor

$20–$50

Wheel speed sensor

$20–$40

Cruise control actuator

$1800–$2000

Cruise control switch

$15–$100

Cruise control module

$350–$500

The given price list is approximate and doesn’t include labor costs.

Normally, the labor cost would be around a few hundred bucks, though it depends on your location and maintenance time.

Final Thoughts

Toyota Tacoma is reliable and one of the best-selling vehicles in the US.

However, there are some problems with the truck, and I have discussed them thoroughly so that you get to know more about your vehicle.

I have also discussed the solution to each problem.

But these common problems are not present in every Tacoma, and you may not even face some of them.

If you are up to purchasing a new Tacoma, look out for the problems.

If you are already a user, maintain your vehicle properly so you don’t face any major issues.

I hope you now know about the most common Toyota Tacoma problems and how to solve them.

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