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Used Toyota Tacoma

Avoid the Top 5 Most Expensive Repairs

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Published on 12/18/2016

Summary

  • Learn what the most expensive repairs for used Toyota Tacomas are, so you can keep them at bay.
  • When Tacoma shopping or selling you can check that these conditions are not imminent.
  • Tips and warning signs for investigating each of these repairs.

Introduction

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most searched for Toyota models in the U.S., over the last twelve years.

For current Tacoma owners, you can use this list to be proactive in preventing these repairs. For buyers and sellers, this list will help to focus your evaluation of the health of the prospective Tacoma. For the non-mechanically savvy this can be an overwhelming task (read: 100 point evaluation checklists and countless instructional videos).

Our bare bones advice is the following – check into as many of those details as you can, but absolutely make sure the following 5 major repairs are NOT needed on your Tacoma[1].

The Heavy Hitters

Using data from carinorder.com, we have compiled a list of the most expensive repair estimates for Toyota Tacomas, based on the amount of labor necessary[2]. These have been further sub-divided by year and engine type.

We have also included common warning signs for these repairs, which one can use as a starting point for detection. Or you can specifically ask your mechanic how he or she checked on these during their checkup[3].

Click on a box below to open/close the desired section:

1995-2004 Toyota Tacoma, 4-Cylinder
Used Toyota Tacoma: Graph #1
Figure 1: Top 5 Most Expensive Repairs for 1995-2004 Toyota Tacomas, 4-Cylinder (Total Cost Shown)

Below are some common warning signs for these repairs:

Timing Chain

  • Noises (rattling, whirring, or whining) coming from the engine, especially when idling
  • Rough idling
  • Engine misfiring
  • Poor engine operation (sluggish or low power)
  • Fear the car which has not had regular oil changes

Cylinder Head Gasket

  • White smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, after the car has fully warmed up (running for about 5 minutes)
  • White milky oil when you check the engine oil level via the dipstick
  • Engine coolant leaking from under the vehicle
  • An engine that overheats during operation

Oil Pan

  • Engine oil level drops faster than normal
  • Leaking oil seen around the edges of the pan or at the drain plug
  • Small puddles of oil found on the ground, below the engine
  • Damage to the oil pan – visible damage or extensive rusting

Clutch

  • Burning smell
  • Soft or “spongy” clutch
  • Difficulty or grinding while shifting gears
  • Clutch pedal that seems to stick to the floor

Knock Sensor

  • Check engine light on
  • Poor acceleration, especially at highway speeds
  • Engine misfires on starting
  • Thumping or clunking noises coming from the engine

2005-2015 Toyota Tacoma, 4-Cylinder
Used Toyota Tacoma: Graph #2
Figure 2: Top 5 Most Expensive Repairs for 2005-2015 Toyota Tacomas, 4-Cylinder (Total Cost Shown)

Below are some common warning signs for these repairs:

Cylinder Head Gasket

  • White smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, after the car has fully warmed up (running for about 5 minutes)
  • White milky oil when you check the engine oil level via the dipstick
  • Engine coolant leaking from under the vehicle
  • An engine that overheats during operation

Oil Pan

  • Engine oil level drops faster than normal
  • Leaking oil seen around the edges of the pan or at the drain plug
  • Small puddles of oil found on the ground, below the engine
  • Damage to the oil pan – visible damage or extensive rusting

Heater Core

  • Lack of heat when using the climate controls
  • Sweet smell coming from vents, due to leaking coolant
  • Windows covered with condensation
  • Low coolant levels

Timing Chain

  • Noises (rattling, whirring, or whining) coming from the engine, especially when idling
  • Rough idling
  • Engine misfiring
  • Poor engine operation (sluggish or low power)
  • Fear the car which has not had regular oil changes

Clutch

  • Burning smell
  • Soft or “spongy” clutch
  • Difficulty or grinding while shifting gears
  • Clutch pedal that seems to stick to the floor

1995-2004 Toyota Tacoma, 6-Cylinder
Used Toyota Tacoma: Graph #3
Figure 3: Top 5 Most Expensive Repairs for 1995-2004 Toyota Tacomas, 6-Cylinder (Total Cost Shown)

Below are some common warning signs for these repairs:

Cylinder Head Gasket

  • White smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, after the car has fully warmed up (running for about 5 minutes)
  • White milky oil when you check the engine oil level via the dipstick
  • Engine coolant leaking from under the vehicle
  • An engine that overheats during operation

Oil Pump

  • Engine oil warning light is on (indicating low oil pressure)
  • Unusual noise or clatter coming from the engine during operation
  • Elevated engine temperature (keep an eye on the temperature gauge)
  • Be wary of a car which has not had regular oil changes (always ask for those service records!)

Water Pump

  • Leaking coolant which will pool under the engine
  • Low coolant levels
  • Engine that overheats
  • Squealing, whining, or buzzing from drive belt

Timing Belt

  • Difficulty for the engine to start up
  • Rough idling
  • Engine misfires
  • Poor engine operation (sluggish or low power)
  • Noises coming from the engine (ticking, rattling, whirring, or whining)

Crankshaft Position Sensor

  • Check engine light on
  • Engine intermittently stalling
  • Difficulty for the engine to start up
  • Lag when accelerating
  • Strong engine vibrations

2005-2015 Toyota Tacoma, 6-Cylinder
Used Toyota Tacoma: Graph #4
Figure 4: Top 5 Most Expensive Repairs for 2005-2015 Toyota Tacomas, 6-Cylinder (Total Cost Shown)

Below are some common warning signs for these repairs:

Knock Sensor

  • Check engine light on
  • Poor acceleration, especially at highway speeds
  • Engine misfires on starting
  • Thumping or clunking noises coming from the engine

Cylinder Head Gasket

  • White smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, after the car has fully warmed up (running for about 5 minutes)
  • White milky oil when you check the engine oil level via the dipstick
  • Engine coolant leaking from under the vehicle
  • An engine that overheats during operation

Timing Chain

  • Noises (rattling, whirring, or whining) coming from the engine, especially when idling
  • Rough idling
  • Engine misfiring
  • Poor engine operation (sluggish or low power)
  • Fear the car which has not had regular oil changes

Oil Pump

  • Engine oil warning light is on (indicating low oil pressure)
  • Unusual noise or clatter coming from the engine during operation
  • Elevated engine temperature (keep an eye on the temperature gauge)
  • Be wary of a car which has not had regular oil changes (always ask for those service records!)

Oil Pan

  • Engine oil level drops faster than normal
  • Leaking oil seen around the edges of the pan or at the drain plug
  • Small puddles of oil found on the ground, below the engine
  • Damage to the oil pan – visible damage or extensive rusting

Conclusion

We have shown you what the five most expensive repairs for Toyota Tacomas are, as well as some warning signs for detecting them. Making certain that these areas are not in jeopardy should be a top priority for Tacoma owners and prospective owners alike.


If you have any questions or comments about this article, please see our contact page for numerous ways to get in touch with us.

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Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that we are not recommending you only check on these five repairs. Taking a test drive is always a necessity when buying a used car. If you are not car savvy or mechanically inclined to evaluate the health of the car, bring it to an independent mechanic for a thorough check. The small cost of that checkup can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars if it prevents you from buying a used car with serious mechanical problems.
  2. All data used in this article comes from the carinorder.com repair estimate database. The total repair cost is what is shown in all Figures– since that is a combination of labor and part cost, this value can fluctuate over time.
  3. The list of common signs for these repairs is not exhaustive. More detailed resources can be found on the Internet, for each of these repairs.