Buying a high mileage Toyota Tacoma

This article discusses how a high mileage Toyota Tacoma stacks up as a used truck/Ute option, and what common issues you need to look out for. Buying any used car is a risky affair no matter what the dealership or service books tell you. You just never know, until you know. However, certain makes and models tend to hold up much better than others and give way fewer problems even when the mileage is over 150K + miles.

When purchasing a second hand vehicle there’s always two trains of thought.

  1. Lower price and decent overall condition, irrespective of the mileage
  2. Paying a higher price for a lower Mileage vehicle.

But what if you’re on a tight budget and prepared to settle for something with slightly higher mileage, provided it has a good reputation for reliability. Enter the Tacoma!

This article will cover how the Toyota Tacoma fairs at different stages of its life, as well as, some of the common issues you can expect?

Buying a Tacoma with 100K Miles

Both the 4.0 V6 and the 2.7 4 banger Tacoma are built Toyota tough and if maintained and not grossly abused, shouldn’t give you problems with mileage. The transmission is also quite solid up to 200K miles on these trucks.

Many people tend to think that buying a used truck/Ute with 90K miles on the clock with all its original components, could be a more risky purchase than the same vehicle with 150K on the clock, and all its hanging components already replaced.

Wear and tear components are but not limited to:

  1. Starters
  2. Alternators
  3. Clutch kits
  4. Battery
  5. AC Compressor
  6. Etc.

Sometimes less, isn’t always more, according to some.

So what are some of the culprits you need to look out for as the Tacoma builds up to 100K and over?

One common theme that runs among Tacoma owners is RUST! FRAME ROT!

The issue of frame rot and body rust is probably of more concern than the mileage on these trucks. Obviously, depending on where you live, some will be more prone to rust than others if you live closer to the coastline where the salt air attacks the metal quicker. In-land vehicles tend to rust a lot slower.

Plugs are another item you want to replace from anything over 30-40K miles on these trucks.

There are many real-life examples of people who, after searching long and hard found exactly what they were looking for and purchased a Tacoma with close to 100K miles on. Many have driven them well into 250K miles with little to no hassle at all.

Generally speaking, most people consider 90K miles on a vehicle to be high, however the Tacoma can run well into 200K miles without major issues.

More common issues reported on these Tacoma’s are paint chips on the hood and roof. As well as driveline vibrations reported often by owners. The manual also has a clutch and pedal issue on both the 2.7 and V6 models.

When purchasing a used Tacoma with close to 100K miles:

  1. Frame Rot/Body Rust
  2. Plugs after 30-40K miles
  3. Paint chips
  4. Driveline vibration
  5. Clutch pedal issues on manual transmissions

Generally, if the maintenance schedule has been kept and there are records of all work carried out, that’s enough to sort of overlook the higher mileage on these Tacoma’s. The Body rust and Frame Rot will cost you allot more to repair and can be easily identified with a thorough inspection.

What about a Tacoma with 150K+ miles? Still low risk or are there more serious concerns?

Buying a Tacoma with 150K Miles

People don’t seem to mind high mileage Tacoma’s. Compared to their competition, they hold their value much better and is probably one of the lowest risk used trucks to buy.

Below is some real-world feedback from Tacoma owners:  

I bought mine with 120k on the clock and didn’t think twice about it. My very first Tacoma had 318k when sold.

Wow! Now that kind of mileage is nothing to scoff at, yet the owner says he didn’t think twice before buying.

Here is another example of an owner’s experience:

My 2012 with 150k vs my friends 2015 with 30k is virtually identical would put money down, that you would think mine has less miles if we went over each of them. EVERYTHING underneath looks immaculate. No rust, No leaks. Nothing! I could not believe this truck had 120k when I bought it. It’s all in how well they’re taken care of.

Seems like 150K miles on a Tacoma is chicken feed! These trucks are clearly built to last. No rust, No water leaks, No oil leaks, everything immaculate? Wow!

Irrespective of how immaculate the truck may look to you, it’s always a good practice to have it inspected professionally.

It’s not all good news though, and there are few issues that will start creeping up the closer you get to 200K miles.

Potential 150-200K mile issues:

  1. Frame Rot
  2. Leaky Steering rack
  3. Sticky/Faulty Rear locker motor
  4. Rusty E-Brake cable
  5. Paintwork starting to fade

Still no major dramas and all can be sorted out relatively inexpensively.

Buying a Tacoma with 200K Miles

First thing you want to do is ask for all maintenance and repair records. If any additional work has been done you need to know about it before you commit.

At this stage all the oils should have been replaced.

Oils to be replaced by 200K miles are:

  1. Transmission oil
  2. Diff oil
  3. Brake fluid
  4. Power steering fluid

These should all have been done at the correct intervals and you want records to prove the internals have all been well looked after.  At least on paper, that is. If you want to investigate deeper, take down the VIN number and go to your nearest Toyota dealer where they can track all repairs and additional work that has been carried out.

You will want to do a thorough inspection to make sure there are no water and oil leaks. All electronic sensors should be inspected.  

Items that should have been taken care of include but not limited to:

  1. Timing belt change
  2. Water pump
  3. Transmission oil.

Still at 200K miles the Tacoma is still a pretty decent buy and one that comes with minimal risk.

What about 250K miles?

Buying a Tacoma with 250K Miles

Once you reach the 250K mile mark on a Tacoma there are a few essential items you want to have checked out and possibly replaced if they haven’t been already.

  1. Original Clutch will probably needs replacement
  2. Tie Rod ends
  3. Fuel pump
  4. Timing chains and tensioners
  5. Radiator
  6. Seats will most likely need repairs here and there.
  7. Inspect Ball joints

2nd gen Tacoma 200,000 mile service

At this mileage, depending how hard the Tacoma’s life was up until now, the following components needs to be inspected and changed if necessary:

Components to be checked and replaced at 200K miles are:

  • 1. Clutch kit
  • 2. Switches and sensors
  • 3. Vacuum hoses
  • 4. Test Alternator
  • 5. Check battery status
  • 6. Listen for lazy starter
  • 7. Check and repair AC components where needed
  • 8. Inspect Ball Joints
  • 9. All Diff oils to be tested and replaced if necessary
  • 10. Transfer Case oil
  • 11. Transmission oil
  • 12. Auto Transmission oil to be flushed
  • 13. Check Power Steering fluid
  • 14. Full Timing Belt service including all seals and pulleys and tensioners.
  • 15. Water Pump
  • 16. Inspect and replace Radiator, Thermo, and coolant if needed
  • 17. A full service including all filters
  • 18. Clean the Throttle Body and MAF Sensor.

 Resources

Tacoma Repair Manual (06-18)

Tacoma 4WD Repair Manual (05-15)

Tacoma Transfer Case and Diff Service Gaskets

Tacoma Blower Assembly

Tacoma Clutch Kit

Synthetic Oil

USA Standard Master Overhaul Kit for Toyota T100 & Tacoma Rear Differential without Factory Locker – ZKT100

G2 Wheel Bearing Kit – 30-9056

TeraFlex Falcon Sport Towith Haul Shock Absorber Leveling System – 08-04-32-400-002

Conclusion

When purchasing a used vehicle it’s always a gamble, however the Tacoma is built in true Toyota durability fashion and a much lower risk than the competition. What could also help is registering for a CARFAX account to assist with repairs etc.  Make a note of the VIN and do a thorough investigation about the Tacoma’s life up until now.

Look for tell-tale signs of extensive repairs such as the paint on the factory bolts for signs of being wrenched on etc. Check the condition of the frame for off-road abuse and rust. Get a general feel of the type of usage the truck has been through i.e. mall crawling, towing, mainly city or highway miles, off-roading, commercial work or construction.

Mileage on a Tacoma shouldn’t be your first point of call since if looked after and maintained properly will rack up plenty miles with little drama. Its Rust, lack of maintenance, abuse and accident damage that should be your main concern when buying a high mileage Tacoma.

Jade C.

4-Wheel drives and off-road driving techniques has been my passion for over 20 years. Here we strive to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, information about the functionality, common faults and latest technology built into most 4 Wheel Drives.

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