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Best & Worst Years of Toyota Tacoma – Graphs & Owner Surveys

Shoppers looking for a used Toyota Tacoma will want to know that the best years for this truck are 2017-2021, followed by 2011-2015 and 2002. But not every Toyota Tacoma model year is a keeper. Avoid the 2016 Tacoma and editions from 2005-2010, 2003-2004, and 2001.

Toyota Tacoma riding on the 4x4 Offroad Trails in the mountains during a sunny summer morning.

For decades, one vehicle has dominated the mid-size pickup market, the stalwart Toyota Tacoma. During this time, competing trucks like the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado have attempted but failed to remove the king from the throne. Along the way, the Tacoma has developed a reputation for high resale value and durability.

However, looking at key data shows the Toyota Tacoma is far from perfect. Buying just any “Taco” could prove costly as some model years are downright terrible for reliability and repairs. Knowing which ones to consider streamlines the shopping process and reduces the headaches later. At the same time, this information can provide insight into the future if you already own a Toyota Tacoma.

The recommendations are based on reports from Toyota Tacomas with an installed FIXD sensor; these details help create a FIXD Reliability Score for each model year. In addition, a FIXD survey of Tacoma owners produces an Owner Reliability Score. Additional information is examined about ownership experiences, including repair costs, trouble areas, and reliability perceptions. 

The FIXD Reliability and Owner Reliability Scores are blended with public data about crash tests, resale value, and fuel economy to determine which Toyota Tacoma model years are assigned to either a “best” or “worst” list. 

Check out this overview chart of the results and keep reading for a detailed explanation. 

Best Years Why? Worst Years Why?

Excellent engine and owner ratings, lower annual upkeep expenses

>> See 2017-2021 Toyota Tacomas for sale


First year of 3rd generation, mediocre engine reliability ratings, and high likelihood of expensive repairs

>> See 2016 Toyota Tacomas for sale


High owner rankings, moderate upkeep costs, and low chance of expensive repairs

>> See 2011-2015 Toyota Tacomas for sale


First year of 2nd generation (2005), poor engine reliability ratings, and high chance of expensive repairs

>> See 2005-2010 Toyota Tacomas for sale


High owner ratings and minimal chance of transmission repairs

>> See 2002 Toyota Tacomas for sale

2001, 2003-2004

Subpar (or worse) engine reliability scores, low owner reliability score (2001), and high likelihood of expensive repairs

>> See 2001, 2003-2004 Toyota Tacomas for sale

Toyota Tacoma Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings & MPG Year by Year

The determining factors for a best or worst Toyota Tacoma model year include:

  • FIXD Reliability Score (for engine reliability)
  • Owner Reliability Score (survey-based)
  • NHTSA crash test rankings 
  • EPA-estimated fuel economy
  • Annual costs for maintenance and repairs as they relate to market value

The factors are explained below. 

If you’re in the market for a car, look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair vehicles. Don’t get stuck with a lemon; use our data to help you shop.

Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years

Toyota Tacoma Engine Reliability Score

The graph reflects two measures to determine engine reliability.

  • FIXD Reliability Score (green): Based on the number of check engine lights in Toyota Tacomas detected by a FIXD sensor.
  • Owner Reliability Score (gray): Perceptions about reliability as determined by surveyed Toyota Tacoma owners. Owners define how suitable their vehicles are for trips of varying lengths. For instance, a Tacoma that’s only drivable for short distances (like a point A to point B trip) receives the lowest score. On the other hand, a vehicle that’s believed to be ready for a cross-country journey gets the highest ranking. 

The FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score are based on a 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) scale; 5 is average.

The illustration reveals a significant difference between the two scores for most Toyota Tacoma model years; this is typical. This gap highlights hard data (the number of recorded check engine light incidents) against more subjective information (owner reliability perceptions). Simply put, owners of older vehicles realize that check engine lights are a fact of life. 

For example, surveyed owners of the 2002 Toyota Tacoma give their trucks a remarkable 9 (out of 10) for reliability, despite these vehicles having an average of 200,000 miles. That’s tremendous confidence, especially because the same truck has a low FIXD Reliability Score of 3. 

What’s also insightful about determining the Tacoma’s reliability is if both scores follow a similar path. So, if FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score are low, then chances are this is a Tacoma model year worth skipping. Look at the 2001 and 2006 model years for examples. 

However, a low ranking for just one of these scores (FIXD Reliability or Owner Reliability) doesn’t guarantee placement on the worst years list. Other factors come into play, like expensive repair frequency, recalls, and safety data. We will cover these aspects later on. 

Review the Toyota Check Engine Light article to learn about the most common reasons for a check engine light to occur across Tacomas and other Toyotas. 

NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years

Toyota Tacoma NHTSA Safety Score

Safety is essential for all vehicles but, especially when it’s more than just you in the car. Over 28% of surveyed Tacoma owners report using their trucks for family transportation duties, underscoring the importance of driving a vehicle that performs well in National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests. 

For the most part, the Tacoma (the green line) holds its own against competing mid-sized trucks (the gray line). A few below-average model years (for example, 2001 and 2004) play into our recommendations against buying these Toyota Tacoma editions. 

Otherwise, the Tacoma scores a 4.0 (out of 5) or better in NHTSA testing (and a 4.2 overall average among all 21st-century versions). Consider it a “B” grade, a good result but not top-notch. Yet, as the gray line reveals, no other truck in this class achieved a 5. 

Keeping a focus on solid safety scores helps keep insurance costs low

If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:
North Carolina
New York

MPG – Over The Years

Toyota Tacoma Average MPG

A strong selling point for mid-sized pickups is better fuel economy than full-sized trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, or Toyota Tundra. Yet, don’t expect economy car-like results. The Tacoma is still a bulky truck that, at best, delivers 20 MPG. However, even older Tacomas (2001-2006) are EPA-rated for a decent 18 MPG. 

It’s helpful to know that the diagram reflects an average for each Tacoma model year and combines EPA results for the four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines. If fuel-sipping is a priority, look for a Tacoma with the smaller engine to get better fuel economy than these averages. 24% of surveyed owners use their Tacomas for traveling and commuting, so fuel economy is likely a priority for this group. 

The Tacoma keeps pace with the competition in the MPG department, with the three market leaders virtually mirroring each other in EPA testing.  

  Toyota Tacoma Ford Ranger Chevrolet Colorado
2006 18 MPG 18 MPG 18 MPG
2011 19 MPG 19 MPG 19 MPG
2020 20 MPG 21 MPG 20 MPG

Current Market Value of All Toyota Tacoma Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each

Toyota Tacoma Market Value vs Cost of Repairs

Resale value is negatively affected by excessive yearly repair and maintenance expenses, but that’s not the case with the Toyota Tacoma. With an average annual outlay of $528, the Tacoma is cheaper to maintain than the average mid-sized truck, according to RepairPal. In fact, with average yearly vehicle (all types) upkeep costing $652, the Tacoma is a relative bargain to own. 

A few Tacoma model years are more expensive to maintain. According to the surveys, owners of the 2002, 2004, and 2007 model years spent more than $700 in yearly upkeep. This is unsurprising given the age of these trucks. 

At the same time, certain Tacomas have substantially low repair and maintenance costs. In particular, owners paid $350 or less to maintain their 2011, 2018, 2020, and 2021 Tacomas. However, these costs likely don’t reflect replacing brake pads, tires, and other consumable parts. Something that happens with every car. 

Let’s see how annual upkeep expenses compare for each Toyota Tacoma generation.

Toyota Tacoma Generation Years Average Annual Upkeep
First 2002-2004* $689^
Second 2005-2015 $531
Third  2016-2023** $444
* The first generation entered production for the 1995 model year. 
^The 2001 Tacoma is excluded from the average due to limited data.
** 2023 is the final model year for the third-generation Toyota Tacoma

Predictably, the newer the Tacoma, the less expensive it is to own.

The chart shows a continuous rise in the Tacoma’s KBB market value and relatively consistent annual repair and maintenance costs (within the ranges we covered). This is exactly as it should be—the Tacoma’s resale value isn’t affected by upkeep expenses. 

The only thing out of order is a noticeable drop in market value for the 2020 model year. It’s attributable to the examples in the survey having an unusually high 85,000 miles, about double what a typical car of that age should have. 

When shopping for a used Toyota Tacoma, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!

Important Features Timeline

Toyota Tacoma Timeline of Important Features

1995: Debut of the Toyota Tacoma (1st generation)

1996: Off-Road Package optional for 4WD regular cab models

1997: Front-end updates on base model mirror the larger T100 truck

1998: TRD Off-Road Package is optional with extended cab models

1999: PreRunner edition available with a regular cab configuration

2000: Base models get upgraded fabrics and improved gears

2001: Refreshed exterior; Double Cab configuration available

2002: Moonroof available with Pre-Runner and S-Runner trims

2003: ABD standard on all models

2004: All models get upgraded brakes; vehicle stability control optional on V6 models

2005: First year of the 2nd-generation Toyota Tacoma

2006: A tire pressure monitor is standard on all Tacomas

2007: Upgraded front seats; revised dashboard

2008: No major changes

2009: Traction and standard control standard; numerous airbags added to all trims

2010: No major changes

2011: A/C is standard; automatic transmission available with four-cylinder engine

2012: Refreshed interior and exterior

2013: Limited Package becomes an available option

2014: SR Appearance Package is added to the options list

2015: Regular cab is dropped; extended cab and crew cab continue

2016: The 3rd-generation Toyota Tacoma debuts

2017: TRD Pro trim returns to the Tacoma lineup

2018: Driver aids standard; 5-speed manual gearbox dropped from the four-cylinder engine

2019: TRD Pro trim gets more off-road equipment

2020: Apple CarPlay/Android Auto available; power driver’s seat gets improvements

2021: Trail and Nightshade special editions join the lineup

Best Years of the Toyota Tacoma

2021 Red Toyota Tacoma display.

Worthy Toyota Tacoma model years are determined by carefully looking at FIXD Reliability Scores, Owner Reliability Scores, NHTSA crash test rankings, and EPA-estimated fuel economy. Supplemental data that also gets reviewed includes common diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and NHTSA recall information.

2017-2021 Toyota Tacoma

2020 Toyota Tacoma display.

FIXD Reliability Score: 7-10/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9-10/10

KBB Value: $17,819-$28,118

Fuel Economy: 20 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $327-$607

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 86%-100%

Safety Rating: 4.0-4.4/5

There’s a lot to like about the 2017-2021 Toyota Tacoma. High FIXD Reliability Scores (the 2018 ranks a 7, and other years are 8 or better) and strong Owner Reliability Scores (9 or 10) are some of the highlights. Meanwhile, an average fuel economy rating of 20 MPG makes these model years the most efficient of all Tacomas. NHTSA crash test scores are respectable (4.0 or better out of 5), with the 2020-2021 editions getting the best results (4.4) of any third-generation model year. 

This group of Tacomas doesn’t escape recalls, which are part of the ownership experience with many modern vehicles. But at least the frequency is modest compared to some earlier model years. There are five recalls for 2017 and three for 2018. The 2019 Tacoma has four, and the 2020 model year has just one recall. There are no recalls for the 2021 Tacoma.

Knowing that even newer vehicles can be hit with expensive repairs is important. About 12% of surveyed owners with a 2019 Tacoma spent $500 or more to repair the engine, as did 8% of those with a 2021 Tacoma. 

Transmission issues were less of a problem but still present in this grouping. 7% of owners with a 2017 Tacoma got hit with high costs to fix the gearbox. Meanwhile, 4% of people with a 2019 edition faced the same expenses.  

Engine and transmission repairs shouldn’t happen in newer vehicles. These occurrences show that a glowing reputation can be tarnished. It’s uncertain if this is due to workmanship issues or just because trucks are often “used and abused.”. 

One advantage to having a more recent vehicle is low upkeep expenses. This is undoubtedly the case with the 2017-2021 Tacoma model years. On average, it costs $420 for these trucks’ annual upkeep, a figure well below the $515 average for all 21st-century Tacomas. 

DTC codes are present in this group of Tacomas, but code clusters (the same code appearing a hundred or more times) just involve the 2019 model year. 

P0303 is one of the culprits. It indicates an engine misfire, a potentially severe problem.  Repairs could be cheap, like new spark plugs (cost: $58-$167) or replacement ignition coils (cost: $51-$173). However, other fixes can be expensive outside of warranty coverage. For instance, a new variable camshaft timing solenoid can run $1,016 to $1,531.

Similarly, codes P11EE and P219E are also known to occur in the 2019 Tacoma. These indicate a problem with the air-fuel mix entering the engine. Remedies can involve cleaning dirty fuel injectors or fixing an exhaust system leak (cost: $100-$200). Pricier repairs may require new fuel injectors (cost: $1,500-$1,900) or replacing the fuel pump (cost: $1,300-$1,700).

Those looking for a used 2017-2021 Toyota Tacoma can expect to pay $20,000 to $50,000, depending on condition, mileage, model year, and equipment. These are retail prices. The cited KBB market value represents private-party transactions. 

Used Tacoma shoppers will also find examples sold through Toyota’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program. Buyers get a year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection and seven years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. For some, the extra peace of mind is worth the additional cost of a CPO vehicle. 

While all the Tacoma model years in this group are worthwhile as used trucks, we particularly like the 2018 and 2020 for zero reports of expensive engine and transmission repairs.

About the 2022-2023 Toyota Tacoma: Little reliability data exists yet about these newer Tacomas. So, recommendations are not possible at this point.  Although the all-new, fourth-generation 2024 Toyota Tacoma has been announced, reliability statistics about the automaker’s newest truck will take years to accumulate. 

2011-2015 Toyota Tacoma

2015 Toyota Tacoma pick up truck in a parking lot

FIXD Reliability Score: 5-7/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9-10/10

KBB Value: $10,295-$17,329

Fuel Economy: 19 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $333-$632

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 86%-100%

Safety Rating: 4.0-4.4/5

The second-generation Toyota Tacoma starts roughly with poor reliability. That’s why the 2005-2010 model years are on the worst list. But things turnaround, beginning with the 2011 Tacoma. 

Standout characteristics include high Owner Reliability Scores (9-10 out of 10) and average or above-average FIXD Reliability Scores (5-7 out of 10). When both these benchmarks are high, the vehicle is usually worth buying. Other factors prove this. 

Most notably, there are almost no owner reports of expensive engine or transmission repairs. 12% of 2014 Tacoma owners said they paid $500 or more to repair the engine. Otherwise, there are no other reports of pricey engine or transmission servicing for these Toyota Tacomas. 

97% of owners reported spending $500 or more for service on their 2011-2015 Tacomas in the past year. But, these funds likely went to maintenance matters (brake pads, tires, etc.) more than fixing a major system. Just 4.6% of owners encountered a major repair with the air conditioning, and 2.6% experienced an expensive-to-fix issue with the fuel system. 

These pickups have an average of 104,000 miles, and many are at least a decade old. Toyota’s reliability shines here. 

And despite this mileage and age, these Tacomas cost an average of $545 to maintain per year. That’s almost identical to the $528 average for all Tacomas built in this century. 

Although these Toyotas are generally dependable, they have their share of DTC codes. P1604 is among the most common and refers to a “Startability Malfunction.” Fortunately, it’s a low-severity problem often fixed with a new fuel filter (cost: $5-$182) or filling up with high-quality gasoline. In some cases, a replacement car battery is necessary (cost: $150-$450)

Two other codes, P0441 and P0455, are known to occur in 2011-2015 Tacomas. These problems are related to the evaporative emission control (EVAP) system (part of the pollution control system). They are not that unusual for a vehicle with some age and miles. Sometimes the fixes for these issues are basic, like tightening the gas cap or getting a new one (cost: $20-$60). Other repairs could require replacing a valve or an EVAP line (cost: $150-$200). A new EVAP charcoal canister will set you back $200 to $600 in a worst-case scenario. 

With an average fuel-economy rating of 19 MPG, these trucks aren’t gas mileage champs but at least don’t need to be refueled as often as larger pickups. 

While safety should always be a consideration with a vehicle purchase, it’s especially vital for those who rely on their Tacomas as people haulers. 27% of owners report transporting family with their 2011-2015 Toyota Tacomas. 

The 2011-2012 model years received a 4.0 (out of 5) in NHTSA testing, but things improved in subsequent years, including the 2013 Tacoma getting a 4.4.

Nine recalls may seem high for the 2011 Tacoma, but that is a significant decline from previous second-generation years. In fact, the 2009-2010 model years (covered below) are the most recalled Tacomas of the 21st century. 

Recalls continue to drop, with the 2012 having seven recalls and the 2013 Tacoma being recalled six times. The 2014 and 2015 were recalled four times each.

The 2011-2015 Toyota Tacoma represents a sweet spot for used truck buyers. These relatively modern vehicles offer proven reliability and can be purchased for $15,000 to $25,000. 

2002 Toyota Tacoma

FIXD Reliability Score: 3/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9/10

KBB Value: $5,031

Fuel Economy: 18 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $875

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 86%

Safety Rating: 3.3/5

Truthfully, it’s hard to get excited about recommending a two-decade-old truck, but if you’ve only got $10,000 to spend on a Tacoma, it’s the one to buy. Its low FIXD Reliability Score (3 out 10) might be a stumbling block, but this is offset by a surprisingly high Owner Reliability Score of 9. That’s impressive for a well-used, 20-year-old truck with an average of 200,000 miles. 

Equally notable is the low instance of expensive engine or transmission repairs. 12% of surveyed owners reported spending $500 or more during the past year to fix the engine. That’s a low number and one more associated with a newer Tacoma. Also persuasive is that 31% of owners use their 2002 Tacomas for “lots of driving,” like commuting and traveling. 

But with good news comes the less-than-good news. The 2002 Tacoma is expensive to maintain, with an average of $875 in yearly costs, but that’s to be expected with an aging vehicle. A less-than-stellar NHTSA crash-test score of 3.3 (out of 5) is also another negative. However, choosing an older Tacoma with better safety ratings comes at the risk of greater unreliability. 

DTC codes are expected with an older vehicle, and the 2002 Toyota Tacoma is no exception. P0440 is the most common error code in these trucks; it indicates a malfunction with the EVAP. And as mentioned earlier, repairs can involve replacing the gas cap or getting a new EVAP line or control valve. Similar servicing also involves P0446 (EVAP vent control circuit malfunction). 

Code P0420 is another common error message associated with the 2002 Tacoma. It indicates a malfunctioning catalytic converter, usually corrected with a replacement costing $1,538 to $2,041. 

The 2002 Tacoma is subject to five recalls, with only one (covering a fuel leak) being of significant consequence. The average Tacoma has 6.5 recalls, so at least the 2002 edition is better than most of its counterparts. 

The Worst Years of the Toyota Tacoma 

2009 Toyota Tacoma parked at the city street

Toyota devotees may find it hard to believe that the automaker can make a bad vehicle. Yet, the data shows some Toyota Tacoma model years are best left in someone else’s driveway. Low FIXD Reliability and Owner Reliability Scores bear this out, as well as a review of repair history, recalls, and other aspects.

2016 Toyota Tacoma

FIXD Reliability Score: 6/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9/10

KBB Value: $18,314

Fuel Economy: 20 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $563

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 86%

Safety Rating: 4.0/5

By default, we recommend staying away from the first year of an all-new model. And that’s the case with the 2016 Toyota Tacoma, the first year of the third generation. Debut-year bugs and gremlins can take many months or more to work out. Why take the chance?

The surrounding model years (2015 and 2017) have stronger FIXD Reliability Scores (7 for the 2015 and 9 for the 2017 Tacoma), compared to the mediocre 6 for the 2016 Tacoma. But what’s particularly troubling is that 12% of owners spent more than $500 to fix the engine or transmission. That’s an unusually high amount for a newer vehicle, especially one with an average of 81,000 miles. In other words, this is too new a Tacoma with typical mileage to encounter drivetrain problems.

At least the 2016 model year has only four recalls, well below average for a 21st-century Tacoma. 

Frequent DTC error codes with the 2016 Tacoma are mostly related to the EVAP system. We’ve already covered P0441 and P0455. P0456 also joins the check engine light party and indicates an EVAP leak. 

Need another reason to pass on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma? For not much more money, you can buy a 2017 or 2018 edition with a more robust reliability record. 

2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma

2005 Pickup truck Toyota Tacoma in the city street.

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-6/10

Owner Reliability Score: 6-9/10

KBB Value: $6,421-$10,934

Fuel Economy: 18-19 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $375-$833

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 70%-100%

Safety Rating: 4.6-5.0/5

The 2005 model year signals the launch of the second-generation Toyota Tacoma and those troublesome first-year teething pains with it. These issues are reflected in a FIXD Reliability Score of 1, that’s as low as it gets and an indicator of many check engine lights. These rankings rise to as high as 6 in subsequent years but drop to 1 with the 2010 Tacoma. 

Owner Reliability Scores are mostly higher (up to a 9), but curiously, the 2008 Tacoma gets a 6, which matches its FIXD Reliability Score. Both these numbers align, so it’s a safe bet this model year is mediocre, at best. 

But an elevated number of expensive engine repairs is especially worrisome about this Tacoma grouping. Among the 2005-2010 Tacomas, 12% of owners spent at least $500 to fix the engine. And it gets worse with particular model years. 21% of owners with a 2007 Tacoma paid $500 or more on engine servicing. It’s 16% for those with a 2008 edition. 

About one in ten owners spent big bucks to repair a Tacoma engine from the 2005-2009 model years. Those aren’t great odds. 

And to add insult to injury, the 2005-2010 model years are the most recalled Toyota Tacomas ever. The 2005 and 2007 Tacoma have 10 recalls each, while the 2006 and 2008 models have 11 recalls each. It’s even worse for the 2009 and 2010; these versions have 13 recalls each.

Familiar DTC codes (P0420, P0441, and P0455, to name a few) are no strangers to the Tacoma models from 2005-2010. But owners may also encounter P0430, a malfunctioning catalytic converter, which typically requires a pricey replacement. 

P0300 is also common among this group of Tacomas. Like P0303, this code signals a potentially severe engine misfire. With luck, repairs for P0300 are simple, such as getting new spark plug wires, replacing ignition coils, or fixing a vacuum leak. However, costs can quickly rise if new fuel injectors or a new fuel pump is required. 

The only things going for the 2005-2010 Tacomas are reasonable fuel economy (18-19 MPG) and commendable NHTSA crash test scores (4.6-4.7 for most years and 5.0 for the 2005 model year). However, these features will be of little comfort if you deal with breakdowns and expensive repair bills. 

2001, 2003-2004 Toyota Tacoma

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-6/10

Owner Reliability Score: 6-9/10

KBB Value: $6,421-$10,934

Fuel Economy: 18-19 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $375-$833

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 70%-100%

Safety Rating: 4.6-5.0/5

These Tacomas were probably great trucks at some point, but age and usage take their toll (the 2002 model year did make our best list). Low FIXD Reliability Scores (2-4 out of 10) set the stage for trucks at the bottom of our worst years list. 

And while the 2003 and 2004 Toyota Tacomas get high Owner Reliability Scores (8 and 10, respectively), the 2001 model is the lowest-ranked model according to the survey. And as we’ve mentioned earlier, when the FIXD Reliability and Owner Reliability Scores match (or come close), it’s a strong indicator of a vehicle’s dependability (or lack thereof). A below-average FIXD Reliability Score of 4, measured against a subpar Owner Reliability Score of 3, means crossing the 2001 Tacoma off your shopping list is advisable. And a 3.3 ranking in crash tests doesn’t help either. 

Meanwhile, the 2003 Tacoma gets a disapproving eye because of a near-bottom FIXD Reliability Score of 2 and an elevated chance of expensive drivetrain work. Within the past year, 8% of owners spent at least $500 to fix the engine of their 2003 Tacoma, and 13% shelled out a similar amount for transmission work.  

Yet, it’s even worse for the 2004 Tacoma. Over 20% of owners paid $500 or more for engine repairs. Those one-in-five odds are unsettling. In addition, average yearly upkeep costs of $714 make this the third-most expensive Tacoma to maintain. A NHTSA crash test score of 3.5 is also discouraging. 

Like other Tacomas, the 2001 and 2003-2004 model years are filled with DTC error codes. P0420, a malfunctioning catalytic converter, is common. To be fair, these systems don’t last forever, and things like poor maintenance and cheap gas can accelerate a catalytic converter’s decline. Regardless, code P0420 is an issue with these older Tacomas. Codes P0441, a faulty EVAP system, and P0300, an engine misfire, are well-documented among the 2001 and 2003-2004 Toyota Tacoma. 

There are other error codes to be aware of too. Repairs for P0171, an incorrect air-fuel mix, require fixing a vacuum or exhaust leak (cost: $100-$200) or cleaning or replacing the mass airflow (MAF) sensor (cost: $100-$300). Still, a new air-fuel sensor or oxygen sensor might be necessary (cost: $200-$300). A faulty fuel pump could also be to blame. 

Like P0441 and P0455, code P0446, a faulty EVAP system, has a history with this Tacoma grouping. Besides fixing or replacing the gas cap, repairs typically involve a new EVAP line or a new valve. 

At least recalls aren’t overwhelming for these Toyotas. The 2001 Tacoma has six recalls, while the 2003 and 2004 model years have five recalls each. 


What years of the Toyota Tacoma have engine and/or transmission problems?

Expensive engine repairs will likely happen with a 2004, 2007, or 2008 Toyota Tacoma. Meanwhile, the 2003 and 2016 model years have the greatest chance of needing pricey transmission work. 

What is considered high mileage for a Toyota Tacoma?

High mileage is nothing unusual for a Toyota Tacoma. However, it can be challenging to determine when that label applies to these trucks. Let’s look at the study’s different generations of Tacomas and identify average mileage. 

Toyota Tacoma Generation Years Average Mileage
First 2001-2004* 183,198^
Second 2005-2015 126,279
Third  2016-2023 65,849
* The first generation entered production for the 1995 model year.

 Clearly, the Toyota Tacoma is capable of achieving high mileage. For instance, the 2001 model year, despite being on our worst years list, has an average mileage of 225,000. At the same time, the 2002 Tacomas (on our best years list) have an average of 200,000 miles. These are outstanding results. 

Relying on this data, we’ll average the figures for the first two generations to create a combined average of about 155,000 miles. So, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll peg the Toyota Tacoma’s high-mileage threshold at 150,000 miles. 

However, getting to this point and even crossing the 200,000-mile mark depends on several factors, including gentle driving, diligent maintenance, and some luck (no accidents). A poorly maintained Tacoma driven roughly may not earn its high-mileage stripes or require expensive repairs. 

Further, a truck stretched to its limits may also face longevity challenges. 27% of surveyed Tacoma owners depend on their trucks for hauling and towing, and another 14% rely on their Toyota for outdoor/off-road use. 

In other words, a well-used 100,000-mile Tacoma may be less ready for the road ahead than a 150,000-mile example that’s never seen a trailer or a trail.

The best way to determine if a Toyota Tacoma has seen better days or is ready for more adventures is to have a professional mechanic inspect any vehicle under consideration. 

The 2011-2015 Tacomas on our best list should be well-suited to hit the 150,000-mile mark and even further. If your goal is to buy a used Toyota and have it last 100,000 miles or more, check out the 2017-2021 model years.

What other vehicles should I consider?

The Tundra is the only other pickup in Toyota’s lineup. So, it’s the one to choose if you need something larger and more capable than the Tacoma. If you don’t need a truck, the company offers numerous SUVs, including the Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Highlander, and Toyota RAV4. 

Alternative mid-sized pickups include the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, and Nissan Frontier. 

What owners of the Toyota Tacoma like to use their car for:

Frequent Use Categories: How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)
Family Vehicle ***
Hauling/Towing ***
Lots of Driving (travel/long commute) ***
Outdoor/Off-Road **
Office on Wheels *
Sport/Fast Driving *
Luxurious Driving *

A Note About Data and Information Sources

This article has many details about Toyota Tacoma reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.

  • FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App

The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing. 

This is an objective score.

  • Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data results from surveying Toyota Tacoma owners who use FIXD

The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from the owners of the Toyota Tacoma.  

This is a subjective score.

To determine the Owner Reliability Score, we ask each car owner:

How reliable would you say your Toyota Tacoma is?

a. Just point A to point B driving

b. A Daily Commuter

c. Good for a 100-mile road trip

c. Good for a 500-mile road trip

d. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem

From here, we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:

a. = 2

b. = 4

c. = 6

d. = 8

e. = 10

Keep in mind owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is. 

One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.

Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Toyota Tacoma, and Ford Expedition.

Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others. 

It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars. 

Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores; people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data. 

We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.

  • KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Toyota Tacoma with typical mileage for that respective model year.
  • Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
  • Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Toyota Tacoma owners
  • Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.


  1. Toyota Tacoma model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates). Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
  2. Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
  3. Toyota Used Car Certification Information. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://www.toyotacertified.com/certification
David Goldberg

Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

David Goldberg

David Goldberg

Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.

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