If you're someone who frequently hauls material and travels with passengers, there's a solid chance you drive a Toyota Tacoma. This midsize pickup truck is a leader in its class, providing outstanding fuel economy compared to others in the same category.

This four-door pickup is ready for professional towing applications. It offers top-of-the-line cabin features, four-wheel drive and safety features to give you peace of mind behind the wheel — but no vehicle on the market is perfect. Keep your eyes peeled for the Toyota Tacoma problems below so you can be proactive with your DIY maintenance tasks and repairs.

Can I Depend on a Toyota Tacoma Pickup?

There's no question the Toyota Tacoma is a dependable truck. According to J.D. Power, the 2023 Tacoma is worthy of an 82/100 overall rating. The review site also mentions newer models are “great” in the reliability category. The pickup line received an 83/100 score for build quality.

The scores issued by this reviewer are based on responses by real Tacoma owners. If you're on the fence about purchasing one of these vehicles, it's hard to argue with the fact the Toyota Tacoma currently sits in the number two spot on J.D. Power's best midsize pickup list next to the Chevy Colorado.

The Top 5 Problems With Toyota Tacoma Trucks

All vehicles will call for repairs at some point. If you drive your Tacomas on off-road terrains, you can expect some parts relating to the suspension system to wear out quickly. Here are the Toyota Tacoma issues you're likely to see with first- (1995-2004), second- (2005-2015) and third-generation (2016-2023) vehicles.

1. Loose Lower Ball Joints

Vehicles feature ball joints to bridge the gap between the front wheels and the steering system. A common problem with early iterations of the Tacoma (1995-2007) is that these connection points loosen or rattle. This might sound minor, but it's a significant safety hazard. It's impossible to control your pickup truck when the lower ball joints separate from the front suspension system.

Toyota issued a recall for 2001-2004 Tacomas, covering the replacement costs of lower ball joints. It's a good idea to listen for strange sounds coming from your vehicle's suspension system over time. If you own a first- or second-gen Tacoma model not covered by the recall, consider updating the lower ball joint components yourself to stay safe on the road.

2. Weak Front Parking Light Lenses

Putting your Toyota Tacoma in park causes the front-end lights to illuminate. When you drive an early second-generation Tacoma, you might notice the front amber lenses on your vehicle crack. Toyota included bulbs on these pickups that reach temperatures too high for the stock lenses to handle.

Fixing this problem is easy, whatever your experience level. Remove the faulty front parking light lenses from your Tacoma and change them out for new ones. Purchasing replacement lenses from a source other than a dealership is an effective way to save money when completing the job on your own.

3. Unpredictable Transmission Shifts

Automatic Tacoma transmissions can be troublesome the longer you use them. Many times, vehicle owners find the transmission systems select the incorrect gears at various speeds. A temporary solution is to readjust the gear shifter to another position and then back to drive, but this is not always a practical workaround.

One repair to try is changing out the throttle position sensor below the hood. This piece can get covered in dirt and overheat to the point it stops working properly. You might also try upgrading your Tacoma's shift solenoid if the first suggestion doesn't improve anything. Unpredictable transmission shifts mostly occur when your pickup is beyond the 100,000-mile mark.

4. Faulty Mass Airflow Sensors

Check engine lights can take you by surprise, especially when they could indicate such a wide range of problems with your Toyota Tacoma. It's worth mentioning Tacoma pickups are notorious for faulty mass airflow sensors. When this part of your vehicle stops working, you'll see a check engine light glowing on the instrument panel.

Nonfunctioning mass airflow sensors cause your vehicle to waste fuel, lose power and stutter during acceleration. This sensor is responsible for telling your vehicle's engine how much air is necessary for internal fuel combustion, so swapping out the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sensor can resolve your check engine light problem.

All three Tacoma generations can experience mass airflow sensor issues, so be sure to run a diagnostics test the moment you get a warning on the dash.

5. Inconsistent Starters

The engine under the hood of a Toyota Tacoma is well-made, whatever generation you have. Nonetheless, your vehicle's engine is unable to run and burn fuel without a reliable starter.

Any time your Toyota Tacoma engine struggles to turn over while you're twisting the keys in the ignition, investigate whether the starter and its solenoid contacts are clean and functional. If not, it might be necessary to replace the starter assembly completely.

Tacoma models famous for starter troubles include the 1995-2001 and 2005-2008 vehicles. It's unlikely you'll see the OEM starter give out before passing 100,000 miles on the odometer. Replacing a Toyota Tacoma starter is fairly straightforward and can be done quickly using the right equipment.

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Whether your Toyota Tacoma repair calls for hard-to-find parts or something common like exterior lights, sensors or brakes, you can count on our team to provide the parts you need for each DIY project you complete. All items in our Toyota Tacoma parts catalog are paired with compatibility descriptions. Look through our Tacoma parts collection today and purchase from our site.