Toyota Tacoma Years to Avoid [2023 Updated]


Toyota has consistently earned its reputation as a reliable manufacturer. A majority of Toyota’s vehicles seem reliable and budget-friendly. There is no doubt that the Toyota Tacoma is one of the best designs for a work truck, and its off-road capabilities are often underestimated. Despite some odd years, all of its models are successful today. However, it is good to know about the odd ones so that you can avoid them.

So, I have a guide about the worst and best years of the Toyota Tacoma, read the full article for a better understanding.

Back History of Toyota Tacoma

Since 1995, Toyota has manufactured the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. The compact pickup truck was built to replace the Hilux and to fill a gap in Toyota’s catalog. However, it has become a reliable mid-size truck after more than two decades of refinements and improvements. 

The name of this truck comes from the Indian word Salish for the mountain that provided water to their tribe, also known as Mount Rainier. This name was initially intended to suggest nature’s power, but now it suggests Tacoma, a city in Washington.

It has three generations that are given below.

  • First generation Toyota Tacoma: 1995-2004
  • Second generation Toyota Tacoma: 2005-2015
  • Third-generation Toyota Tacoma: 2016 – Present

Worst Years of Toyota Tacoma to Avoid

‌ Here are the years to avoid the Toyota Tacoma given below.

  • The 2005 – 2006 Toyota Tacoma 
  • The 2009 Toyota Tacoma 
  • The 2011 – 2012 Toyota Tacoma 
  • The 2016 Toyota Tacoma 
  • The 2017 Toyota Tacoma 

The 2005 – 2006 Toyota Tacoma

toyata tacoma 2005

Aside from being the first of the second generation, the 2005 model also suffered from frame issues, which led to rust and corrosion. A similar rust and corrosion problem also plagued the 2006 Toyota Tacoma. There was a tendency for the paint to peel off, resulting in corrosion on the chassis.

Toyota has issued many recalls to resolve these issues, so if you are buying a 2005 or 2006 model of this vehicle, then make sure your chosen truck has the necessary replacements and repairs. In addition, some owners reported having trouble with the automatic transmission. 

Recalls & Complaints:

The 2005 model has 10 and the 2006 model has 11 recalls. There’s no information about the number of complaints about the 2005 model although the 2006 model has 67 complaints.

Short owner review:

AJR Reviewed: There was a recall on these cars 2 years ago because of the rust issues. If you didn’t get it in for repairs within the 12 month window, you lost. 

RIRay Reviewed: It needed a new clutch at 67,000 and again at 108,000. New frame because the old one rotted 105,000. New air conditioner 125,000.

The 2009 Toyota Tacoma 

The 2009 model year is also included in the worst-year list of Tacoma. It has many problems, including wiring issues, air spaces inside the cabin, flimsy lighting, and starting issues in cold weather. It would have been improved if the interior had also been designed better. 

Due to the bad wiring, the radio is one of the most affected parts. Furthermore, air spaces may be problematic and potentially harmful in cold and sweltering weather. In spite of the fact that you can likely get an outstanding deal of a 2009 Toyota Tacoma, it’s still not worth it.

Recalls & Complaints:

The 2009 model has 14 recalls along with 117 complaints.

Short owner review:

Bob Reviewed: Purchased new. Have less than 7 1/2 years and under 69,000 miles. No heavy driving or loads; park in garage. Now paying $5000 + to replace universal, differential, and wheel bearings.

Ben Reviewed: 09 SR5 4×4 CC. The 09 with automatic transmission has design flaws which cause the vehicle to drop into low gear and race the engine. Not only dangerous but maddening. 

The 2011 – 2012 Toyota Tacoma

2011 Toyota Tacoma SR5

After an excellent 2010 model, people think that the company has understood and realized its erroneous actions. But all of their assumptions were wrong because the 2011 models also have a lot of issues. It was plagued by poor headlights that repeatedly cracked or melted.

Furthermore, the 2012 model also performs similarly to its previous model. This model has many engine issues, including the air injection pump going into limp mode and tripping the engine warning lights.

Additionally, it produces loud sounds and moves erratically. Aside from that, the drivetrain would vibrate while driving and tremble when accelerating. When moving, the chassis also whistled due to rust and mold. 

Recalls & Complaints:

The 2011 model has 11 and the 2012 model has 10 recalls. There’s no information about the number of complaints about these models.

Short owner review:

Mongre Reviewed: I have now owned 4 Toyotas. Excluding a late 80s base model Tacoma, this is the worst vehicle I have ever owned. I will be slow to purchase a Toyota again.

Ruckerp Reviewed: My 2012 reg cab 4×4 gets very poor fuel mileage. And forget trying to pass another car. The building is very poor.

The 2016 Toyota Tacoma 

As of the 2016 model year, the Toyota Tacoma has been included in one of the worst years of its history. There are not one but multiple issues in it, including engine, transmission, motor issues, body difficulties, and low-pressure fuel pump issues. 

During cold weather, the transmission took longer to activate. Further, you may witness the engine’s roughness, and stall, causing the steering and floor to vibrate in this early 4000 miles. Additionally, the rubber mount causes the steering wheel to shake. A manual transmission may be a better option than an automatic transmission if you’re thinking about a 2016 Tacoma.

Recalls & Complaints:

The 2016 model has 5 recalls along with 161 complaints.

Short owner review:  

Srm Reviewed: Cannot wait to get rid of this 2016 Tacoma when the lease expires. What a dog. New updates – 1. Mileage dropped to 10 mpg when towing; 2. NAV screen goes black at least 1x per day and resets itself; and 3. Wind howling noise driver-side front window.

Toyota Junk Reviewed: Just vehicles. Cheaply made. Do a search and see form yourself. Try kia… they make great vehicles. 

The 2017 Toyota Tacoma 

The 2017 model is considered the worst year for Tacoma due to the low-reliability score. Its issues include engine and transmission issues. Just like its previous 2016 model, its transmission also irritates drivers by not shifting properly or getting stuck in one gear for an extended period.  

Transmission problems caused some people to push their trucks to accelerate, causing them to burn extra fuel. Furthermore, it will shake when slowing down, so it is also good to avoid this model. 

Recalls & Complaints:

The 2017 model has 5 recalls along with 68 complaints.

Short owner review:

Kelby N Reviewed: Not enough power in the engine. It has very poor gas mileage. It has only two speeds on the wipers; the air conditioner works well. Not a very comfortable ride. Cruise control at 70 causes the engine to downshift at any slight hill. Bluetooth will connect to two phones at the same time.

Bad Rear Differential Reviewed: On my second day of ownership, I noticed a howling/whining sound between 50-60 mph and a gas pedal vibration that was quite irritating.

Best Years of Toyota Tacoma Which You Can Buy

Here are The best years of this truck given below.

  • 1995 – 2004 Toyota Tacoma 
  • 2013 – 2015 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2018 – Present Toyota Tacoma
  • 1995 – 2004 Toyota Tacoma 

1995 – 2004 Toyota Tacoma

A revamp of the Hilux was planned for the Toyota Tacoma. As a result, the truck turned out to be a practical, comfortable, and safe vehicle. From 1995 to 2004, the first generation Tacoma was built using this design. Although the design was old, still people loved it due to its reliability and comfort.

This generation is only available in the manual transmission and hardly has an issue or complaints, so if you like vintage Trucks, this generation is for you.

Short Owner Review:

Aubery Reviewed: I now have over 300,000 miles on this SR5 4×4, and other than regular maintenance, the only problem was the starter. It still shines like new, the ABS works excellently, all electrical is working, and I know it will start every time I want to use it.

Mike Reviewed: Original and only owner. For 12 years of ownership, it has been as reliable as I could ask with normal maintenance. The engine is insane, still has get up and go. Have 196,000 miles, 85% highway miles.

2013 – 2015 Toyota Tacoma

The 2013 – 2015 model belongs to the second generation of this truck. There were no significant internal changes compared to the previous generation, but the aesthetics were much improved. The 2015 model of this generation is the most reliable.

The company offers two types of engines 2.7 L for medium-duty and 4.0 L for heavy-duty. It also has redesigned headlights, but the grills remain the same. Further, the second generation offers regular cabs, double cabs, and access cabs.

Short Owner review:

Subarudavis Reviewed: I purchased this vehicle about a month ago and really enjoy it. The 4.0L v6 isnt going to win any races, but gets you moving at a good pace and will last forever. 

Cisrab Reviewed: I have owned jeeps, wranglers, and Cherokees. This Tacoma, with the TRD off-road package, supercharger, and Baja suspension, is a much better vehicle then the jeeps.

2018 – Present Toyota Tacoma

The third generation of this truck starts from the 2016 models. There have been significant changes to the third-generation design, which now resembles a contemporary vehicle. It Features slender headlights and precise contours with a streamlined appearance.

The third generation is available in manual and automatic transmission, so users can choose according to their preferences. The 2019 Toyota Tacoma is the most popular vehicle in the present generation. Regarding owner satisfaction and reliability, the model received a near-perfect score.

Furthermore, there are almost no complaints about the 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 Toyota Tacoma, making them the safest overall.

Short Owner reviews:

Kaise M Reviewed: I don’t understand why people give poor ratings on this truck. It’s a truck, not a sedan. It’s not built for speed; it’s built to get you from A to B and extra for off-roading if that’s your thing. I’ve had several Tacoma since 1995. I’ve loved every single one of them.

TONY TONA Reviewed: From the moment I test-drove the Tacoma, I was sold. It’s so quiet/smooth / and very comfortable. I drive normally, so I get a consistent 24-27 mpg. 

Common Problems

Here are some common problems with this truck given below.

Toyota Tacoma Transmission Problems

Some Tacoma drivers have experienced a faulty automatic transmission. It is possible for your truck to have shifting problems when experiencing these issues. This issue usually occurs after 150k miles, so there’s no need to hesitate if you are below that number. 

Luckily, if you encounter this issue, the faulty transmission can be easily fixed, so you won’t have to replace the automatic transmission to resolve it. Fortunately, Toyota fixed this issue, so nowadays, it’s a problem that only applies to Tacoma built before 2015.

The Amber Front Parking Light Lens 

You may face the amber front parking light lens melting and cracking issue. This happens due to the front light that melts or breaks the plastic lens in front of it. 

Despite the possibility that this problem can affect any model, reported cases are primarily found in second-generation Tacoma. According to the research of Car Complaints, you may encounter this issue in your truck from 23000 to 30000 miles. There’s only one thing that you can do to fix this issue is to replace the lens.

Premature Ball Joint Wear

This truck’s second most common issue is premature wear on the lower ball joint. You may encounter this issue in the front suspension resulting in challenging to handle and reducing the car’s self-centering ability. There are some cases where worn and loose ball joints can separate from the suspension, causing the vehicle to lose control.

Faulty Starter

A faulty starter issue is also one of the common issues in this truck. It is common for an engine that is not starting to make grinding noises, take several tries to start, or even not turn over at all. You can fix this problem by replacing the starter, which is less expensive than repairing an engine.

Failed Airflow Sensor

An Airflow sensor determines the amount of air required by the engine for combustion. And after the measurement, this information is used to burn the appropriate amount of fuel. A faulty mass airflow sensor will result in an engine that cannot determine when and how much fuel to burn, thus resulting in fuel combustion imbalances.

If your truck is not giving enough power or has increased gas consumption, your Tacoma may have this problem. You may see a check engine light on the dash as well.


Toyota is a well-known and reputed name in the automobile industry, but it does not mean; they are infallible. Similar to our guide about Corolla Years to Avoid, some models of the Tacoma series are also good to avoid. So if you are looking for an excellent reliable model of this truck, consider the 1995 – 2004, 2013 – 2015, and 2018 – Present models. And if you do not want to break the bank, avoid 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016 model years.


Here are some frequently asked questions, and their answers are below.

Which year Toyota Tacoma is best?

The 2015 model of the Toyota Tacoma is the best of all.

What is the top model Tacoma?

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is the top trim level for the 2023 model year. Fully equipped for off-road adventures, this pickup truck boasts all the components you need.

How long do Tacoma engines last?

Tacoma can last up to 300,000 miles with routine maintenance and regular care.

Is Toyota Tacoma a reliable Car?

Yes, Toyota Tacoma is a reliable truck with a reliability score of 3.5 out of 5 by Repairpal and a Consumer Reports score of 74. 

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