Toyota Tacoma Years to Avoid (Read First)

The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling mid-size truck in the U.S thanks to its solid off-road capabilities, excellent reliability ratings, and high resale value.

However, If you’re interested in buying a used Tacoma (or any other car for that matter ) it’s important to do your research and understand which years are reliable and which years you should avoid.

In this article, we’ll tell you which Toyota Tacoma years to avoid, which years are the most reliable, and a list of the problems faced by each Tacoma model from the last 15 years.

Which Toyota Tacoma Years To Avoid: Quick Answer

According to our findings, Toyota Tacoma years to avoid are 2009, 2012, and 2016.

Aside from notorious suspension issues, the 2009 and 2012 Tacomas also suffer from potentially fatal problems where the truck is known to accelerate at its own will or suddenly lose power altogether due to secondary air injection system failure.

The 2016 Tacomas, on the other hand, exhibit the usual set of various problems associated with the redesign. Aside from the rear differential being prone to leaking, they’ve got problems with the engine and transmission. Also, their panels are so poorly built that they’ll leak water through the roof on a rainy day.

Related Article: Toyota Tacoma & Gas Mileage (Ultimate Guide)

Which Year Tacoma Is The Best?

The best Tacoma year has to be 2015. It has the fewest reported problems among the second and third-generation models and features high user rating scores across multiple platforms.

Since it was the last model year of the long-running second generation, most issues that had plagued the early models were a distant memory by then.

Furthermore, fewer than 8,000 units were affected by one of four recalls making the 2015 Toyota Tacoma one of the least recalled vehicles in history compared to the production volume.

You might also like: Why Are Toyota Tacomas So Expensive? (4 Reasons)

Do Toyota Tacomas Have A Lot Of Problems?

Toyota Tacomas don’t generally have a lot of problems. In true Toyota fashion, the Tacoma is considered a capable and reliable workhorse that’ll rarely let you down.

Although the sheer number of Toyota Tacoma problems listed below might seem like a contradiction to the above statement, that’s not the case.

With Tacoma’s popularity and production volume, there’s bound to be more user complaints if we’re looking at raw numbers. Percentage-wise, however, Tacoma is one of the vehicles with the fewest complaints in its class.

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Toyota Tacoma Problems by Year:

Here are some of the most common Toyota Tacoma problems over the years, according to the data gathered by carcomplaints.com and NHTSA.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • drivetrain vibration
  • faulty brake pedal master cylinder

Total complaints: NHTSA 45, car complaints 12.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • low-speed vibrations
  • jumpy transmission
  • faulty brake pedal master cylinder

Total complaints: NHTSA 143, car complaints 18.

2018 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • the fuel pump may fail
  • brake issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 139, car complaints 15.

2017 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • transmission not shifting properly
  • engine surging
  • engine stalling
  • rear differential may leak
  • brake assist vacuum pump may fail

Total complaints: NHTSA 171, car complaints 80.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • transmission hesitates and shifts rough
  • excessive engine noise and vibration
  • engine stalls while driving
  • rear differential may leak
  • water leaking in through the roof

Total complaints: NHTSA 263, car complaints 155.

2015 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • The steering wheel shakes violently upon braking
  • secondary air injection system prone to failing

Total complaints: NHTSA 71, car complaints 42.

2014 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • faulty airbag sensors
  • braking issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 73, car complaints 26.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • vibration when accelerating
  • suspension issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 108, car complaints 47.

2012 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • engine loses power due to secondary air injection system failure
  • vibration while driving
  • suspension issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 279, car complaints 69.

2011 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • daytime running lights melting lens covers

Total complaints: NHTSA 163, car complaints 61.

2010 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • faulty airbag sensors
  • unintended acceleration

Total complaints: NHTSA 293, car complaints 43.

2009 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • faulty airbag sensors
  • unintended acceleration
  • radio controls malfunction

Total complaints: NHTSA 475, car complaints 119.

2008 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • faulty airbag sensors
  • unintended acceleration
  • steering suddenly stiffens
  • the frame is prone to rust

Total complaints: NHTSA 386, car complaints 61.

2007 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • the frame is prone to rust
  • unintended acceleration
  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • steering suddenly stiffens

Total complaints: NHTSA 506, car complaints 83.

2006 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • the frame is prone to rust
  • paint flaking off
  • unintended acceleration
  • braking issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 751, car complaints 69.

2005 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • the frame is prone to rust
  • paint peeling
  • leaf spring prone to fracturing
  • the vehicle can lurch forward after a complete stop Total complaints: NHTSA 687, car complaints 45.

2004 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • the frame is prone to rust
  • sudden acceleration while idling

Total complaints: NHTSA 389, car complaints 21.

2003 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • the frame is prone to rust
  • engine loses power while driving due to throttle body issues Total complaints: NHTSA 349, car complaints 15.

2002 Toyota Tacoma Problems

  • the frame is prone to rust
  • front disc brake vibration

Total complaints: NHTSA 346, car complaints 19.

Related Article: Toyota RAV4 Years To Avoid (Read This First)

What Is The Most Reliable Tacoma Year?

The most reliable Tacoma year is 2015, followed by 2013 and 2014. All have received some of the highest scores among actual users on Edmunds and, with the exception of 2014, a high 80+ rating from J.D. Power.

Another safe bet would be the late first-generation models like 2002, 2003, or 2004. Like it is the case with their second-generation counterparts, the problems that had been plaguing the preceding Tacoma models had largely been ironed out by then.

Finally, if you’re more interested in newer models, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma looks like it might have had most of the early third-generation issues sorted out by now. Note, however, that these models are still fresh and under warranty, so they haven’t exhibited any major issues yet.

To better understand our choices, it’s necessary to understand the PPMY index devised by Car Problems.

Their methodology takes the sales figures and model’s age into consideration, as well as the sheer number of complaints. After all, a car that’s been on the road for longer is typically more prone to breakdowns than the one that’s entered service only recently. Moreover, the higher the volume, the higher the potential for problems to arise.

The PPMY index practically represents the number of problems reported per thousand vehicles per year, including the sales figures and the number of years the model in question has been on the market. The lower the index, the higher the reliability of the vehicle.

  Model Year  Number of Problems  Sales Figures  Vehicle Age  PPMY Index
  2020  67  205,032  2  0.16
  2019  200  259,844  3  0.26
  2018  193  206,765  4  0.23
  2017  233  276,249  5  0.17
  2016  339  175,720  6  0.32
  2015  96  187,018  7  0.07
  2014  108  139,828  8  0.1
  2013  145  172,009  9  0.09
  2012  380  127,803  10  0.3
  2011  195  122,520  11  0.14
  2010  293  111,681  12  0.22
  2009  561  116,059  13  0.37
  2008  475  146,311  14  0.23
  2007  627  165,845  15  0.25
  2006  913  195,709  16  0.29
  2005  834  151,776  17  0.32
2004 496 159,348 18 0.17
2003 440 130,885 19 0.18
2002 412 162,322 20 0.13

The table clearly showcases that the lowest PPMY index, hence the highest reliability, is observed among the late second-generation models from 2013 through 2015.

Toyota Tacoma Reliability By Year:

Some Tacomas are more reliable than others. Here’s a year-by-year rundown of the Toyota Tacoma models. The data comes from Car Problems, J.D. Power, and Edmunds user reviews.

J.D. Power uses a scale from 1 to 100.

Edmunds user reviews use a scale from 1 to 5.

Car Problems methodology has already been explained.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.16

2019 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 3.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.26

2018 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds Rating: 3.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.23

2017 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 80
  • Edmunds Rating: 3.7
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.17

2016 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds Rating: 3.5
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.32

2015 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 81
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.07

2014 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.3
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.10

2013 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 82
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.09

2012 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 82
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.2
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.30

2011 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.5
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.14

2010 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.22

2009 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 81
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.1
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.37

2008 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 85
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.23

2007 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 83
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.25

2006 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.7
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.29

2005 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.8
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.32

2004 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.17

2003 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.18

2002 Toyota Tacoma Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: N/A
  • Edmunds Rating: 4.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.13

Final Thoughts – Tacoma Years Not To Buy

Buying a used Toyota Tacoma is a sound plan if you’re looking for a capable and reliable pickup truck that won’t break the bank and still has a lot to offer.

Although they aren’t overly expensive, Tacomas still retain their value like champs. You might be forced to spend more than you would on a corresponding truck from the competition, but you should also be able to get more if you decide to part with it sometime down the line.

Like it is the case with every vehicle ever produced, problems will arise given time. Buying a used vehicle is always a gamble, but you can improve the odds by sticking with the late first (2002-2004) or second-generation models (2013-2015) or opting for the latest models that are still under warranty. The latter, however, will be an expensive affair.

Going for 2009, 2012, and 2016 Tacomas and, to some degree, models around those years is inadvisable due to their well-documented problems.

Sources:

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