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Which year models of used Toyota Tacomas are most reliable?

in Reliability

And which year models to avoid

Photo of Toyota Tacoma

Toyota introduced its pickup truck, the Tacoma, in 1995 and saw critical and commercial success. What started out as a compact pickup in its first generation became a midsize pickup in its second and third. 

The Toyota Tacoma will suit all your needs for an off-road journey, packed with a powerful engine and six-speed manual transmission. You don’t want your fun ruined by an unreliable year model, though, so CoPilot is here to make sure you pick the best used Tacoma year model for your needs.

Quick answer: Avoid Toyota Tacoma year models 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, and 2017

There have been a lot of issues reported with the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, and 2017 Toyota Tacoma year models and we recommend avoiding them. The 2006, 2007, and 2008 have big problems with the body and paint, as well as engine mishaps. 

The 2009 year model’s interior accessories tend to be faulty and malfunction often, along with a host of lights, body, and engine defects.

The 2011 Toyota Tacoma has widespread problems, with complaints being issued about nearly every piece of the truck in some form or fashion. While the 2012’s primary flaws are with the drivetrain and engine, the 2016 and 2017 models share similar malfunctions in addition to unreliable transmissions. 

These last two are some of the worst Toyota Tacomas you can buy because their transmissions have so many defects that the trucks could become a hazard to drive. However, the 2007’s extremely high repair costs make it just as inadvisable to buy.


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Which year models of Toyota Tacoma are safe to buy used? 

The Toyota Tacoma will give you an off-road experience you’ll never forget. That is, if you buy one of the many trusty year models in the pickup’s long history and avoid the faulty ones. We recommend the following Toyota Tacoma year models as safe to buy used without worry of hazardous defects. 

The most reliable year models of Tacoma:

  • 1995 Toyota Tacoma
  • 1996 Toyota Tacoma
  • 1997 Toyota Tacoma
  • 1998 Toyota Tacoma
  • 1999 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2000 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2001 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2002 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2003 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2004 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2005 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2010 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2013 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2014 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2015 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2018 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2019 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2020 Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacomas from 1995 to 2004 are extremely reliable with very few reported complaints. A majority of the issues that are reported about them are minor defects and don’t become a problem until after 100,000 miles on average. There’s a slight chance that a defect could appear in the first 50,000 miles of the truck’s life, but if so it will only cost around $500 to fix. 

The 2014, 2018, and 2019 Tacoma year models are still a safe bet, but a bit less reliable than the early models. Each of these have similar numbers of defects to those, but these defects appear much earlier. 

Issues like premature seat wear or a broken A/C unit have been reported under 40,000 miles, and the 2018 and 2019 models both have early problems with vibration. These should be easily fixable but they’re something to be aware of. The 2013 Toyota Tacoma has similar vibration and drivetrain problems but has more complaints, so it isn’t quite as sturdy. 

The 2005 year model has a decent number of complaints, but most have to do with paint chipping and peeling after 80,000 miles, so there isn’t much to worry about here. With the 2010 and 2015 year models, there is a small chance you might have some early engine or brakes problems, like squeaking or worn pressure plates, but the chances are low enough that it shouldn’t be an issue. 

All of these year models would be advisable to purchase, but the 2020 would be the safest overall because it has zero complaints. Either way, CoPilot recommends all of these Toyota Tacoma year models. 


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Which year models of Toyota Tacoma to avoid: 

When you’re looking for a Toyota Tacoma, you’re looking for adventure. You want a sturdy, powerful vehicle that can take you off-road without worrying about your safety. Most Toyota Tacoma year models will give you this, but some have deal-breaking flaws to be aware of. We don’t recommend purchasing these year models.  

The least reliable year models of Tacoma

  • 2006 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2007 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2008 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2009 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2011 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2012 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2017 Toyota Tacoma

The 2006, 2007, and 2008 Toyota Tacoma year models all have problems with their paint chipping and peeling, as well as some concerning transmission and engine failures. At an average of 100,000 miles, the 2006 model’s frame tends to rust or break completely, costing upwards of $3,500 to repair. 

The 2007 year model is one of the worst you can buy, with many reports of sticky accelerators, coats peeling, and much more, incurring costs of $5,000-10,000 in many cases. A 2008 or 2009 Toyota Tacoma, on the other hand, may have problems early on that are less expensive but potentially more dangerous, such as sudden acceleration and clutches slipping. 

2011 Tacomas suffer from many headlights issues (flickering, covers cracking, etc.) as well as a repetitive clicking sound. 2012 models have a plethora of engine defects and a heavy vibration while driving. In both models, issues appear around 30,000 miles. 

Even worse than these problems, the 2016 and 2017 year models have some worrisome safety concerns that definitely make them bad purchases. Both have dozens of reports of transmission flaws, and the 2016 has an infamously faulty engine. These trucks have been known to wander and fail to shift properly, especially in cold weather. We highly recommend steering clear of any of these year models, but the 2007, 2016, and 2017 models are particularly unsafe. 


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Toyota Tacoma problem counts by year

These are the most common problems reported by owners on platforms such as carproblems.com, carcomplaints.com and Car Talk Community. Many defects have been reported about the Toyota Tacoma, but the most prominent are transmission failures, paint chipping, and engine malfunctions.

The easiest way to find a reliable Toyota Tacoma in your area

You can easily find a reliable used Toyota Tacoma in your area with the free CoPIlot car shopping app. Just tell us what pickup truck you’re looking for and we’ll do the rest, giving you a personalized list of the best options near you by searching every dealership around.

Car dealerships use the same technology to buy and sell their inventory that we do to make recommendations, making CoPilot the easiest way to buy a used Toyota Tacoma.

Try CoPilot Compare, the search engine for nearly-new cars if you’re interested in newer, off-lease cars. We’ll only show you models that are 5 years or newer with low mileage, most with CPO availability, and break down how much you save buying used with the best nearly-new listings in your area.

Best of all, CoPilot only finds the best cars in your area - we don’t with dealerships, so there are no ‘promoted’ or ‘sponsored’ listings! Learn more about how CoPilot works on our About Us page.