It would be hard for a vehicle manufacturer to have a car model they’ve sold as long and consistently as the Tacoma without at least a few models that are a bit of a problem. While we’ll talk a lot about the Toyota Tacoma years to avoid in this article, it is worth noting that Tacoma has had an overall consistent performance for a long time.
That’s excellent news since pickup trucks, in particular, need to be consistent and offer high durability since most truck drivers use them more heavily than other vehicles.
As long as you don’t buy one of the Toyota Tacoma years to avoid, it should serve you well. Let’s dive into the models worth getting vs. the models you should avoid.
Which Toyota Tacoma Years You Should Avoid
It would be best if you avoided a few different years regarding Toyota Tacoma. Fortunately, there aren’t as many as you might expect from a vehicle model that has been in almost constant production since 1995.
That list might seem long, but you should also consider that between 2006 and 2009, several of those models are reasonably consistent. The problem is that, since those models are all close together, even fewer complaints can signal a persistent issue with the vehicle.
Thankfully, after 2017 Tacoma seems to have gotten back to its roots and is performing much more consistently for new owners.
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Common Toyota Tacoma Issues
Knowing that a model year has more problems than average doesn’t always tell you whether or not it’s a good fit for you. It’s also important to know what the problem is and how serious it can be before you decide you want to buy a new Tacoma.
Here are some of the most common problems in the Toyota Tacoma years to avoid.
Not Shifting Correctly
One of the biggest problems of Tacomas is its tendency not to shift correctly. That can cause serious problems when you’re on the road, especially if the Tacoma goes into reverse or suddenly has much more power than you expected.
This problem was a particular issue with the 2016 and 2017 models but seemed to have been fixed in more recent releases.
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A sticky accelerator can be a big problem, especially if you often drive in highway traffic or on roads where unplanned acceleration can be an issue. Since that’s pretty much all roads, this problem is one of the more severe we’ve encountered.
Thankfully the accelerator issue was primarily fixed quite a while ago and was most serious only with the 2007 model. That means that if you’re considering a more recent or older Tacoma, it’s probably not something you need to worry about.
Clear Coat Peeling And Cracking
Paint issues are usually more cosmetic than function, and that’s true with this common Tacoma problem. Thankfully peeling paint doesn’t typically impact the vehicle’s operation, though you might want to get it repainted if you encounter this issue.
The interesting part of this problem is that the clear coat tends to crack or peel. That means the color may be intact underneath, disguising any possible issues with the body panel under the paint.
That can be where this issue becomes a functional problem instead of just a cosmetic one. The paint can disguise rust and other problems that should be treated sooner rather than later, which can cause more issues if you want to get your Tacoma repainted later.
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Excessive Driving Vibration
Driving vibration might not seem severe, but it can be in some situations. Several models of Tacoma have some problems with driving vibration, and in some cases, the vibration can be severe enough to make it harder to control the vehicle.
But the prominent problem people have with excessive vibration is that it can contribute to driver fatigue, especially if you have to drive long distances or keep driving for long periods.
Issues With Lower Ball Joint
Several owners and forum users have complained about the Toyota Tacoma’s premature lower ball joint wear. According to many users, the common symptoms of this issue include uneven front tire wear, harsh cabin vibrations, loose steering feel, and irregular rattling noises. In the worst-case scenario, the Tacoma’s lower ball joint can disconnect from the suspension, which may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
This particular issue affected Tacoma models from 1995 to 2007 and was later determined to be a manufacturing issue with the lower ball joint. Toyota had to recall Tacoma models built from 2001 to 2004.
Faulty Air Flow Meter
Another common issue with the Toyota Tacoma is its faulty mass air flow or MAF. With a bad MAF, your Toyota Tacoma will experience issues like slow acceleration, loss of power, engine hesitation and misfires, poor exhaust emission, etc. In the case of Tacoma, the MAF system is prone to dirt accumulation on the sensor. If the problem persists after cleaning, you likely need to get a new sensor. Tacomas built from 1996 to 2013 are especially prone to a faulty MAF.
Which Toyota Tacoma Models Are Worth A Buy
Now that we’ve talked about which Toyota Tacoma models you should avoid, let’s take a closer look at the Tacomas that are worth buying and tend to perform better than average.
Here are some of the older models that are worth buying:
These models might not have the MPG ratings or conveniences of a modern vehicle, but they’re reliable and consistent models for drivers of all types. They’re an excellent option if you’re looking for a truck you can work on and maintain for yourself.
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Here are some of the more recent models that are worth getting:
These models have more modern conveniences, are usually more fuel-efficient, and may come with a few other advantages that the older models don’t offer. That can be good to keep in mind if you’re looking for more convenience in your pickup, especially if you don’t want to do the maintenance work yourself.
The Best Toyota Tacoma Models To Buy Used
Buying a used vehicle is always a tricky proposition. It would help if you always looked for a car with solid maintenance records that hasn’t had any significant accidents or other reasons; it would be in less than ideal working condition. But some used vehicles just perform better than others, and here are some of the Tacomas you should consider if you’re looking for a used vehicle.
The first-gen Tacoma model years 1994-2005 are all solid options for people who don’t mind doing a little home maintenance. These trucks are incredibly durable and hard-working, so they’re still a valid option for consumers today.
The 2010 and 2008 models of the second-generation Tacoma are both reasonable options. The second-generation Tacoma has a few more issues than other models on average. Still, these two have good performance ratings and fewer problem reports than other models around the same time.
Of the most recent models of Tacoma, the 2018 and 2019 models are both performing well as used vehicles and are a good choice if you’re looking for modern design and more convenient features.
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