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Toyota Tacoma (2004 and earlier)

moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
edited August 2014 in Toyota
Added this discussion as I did not see a general Tacoma discussion. Purchasing a 2003 Tacoma 4x4 Extended Cab with TRD, SR5 Color Key, automatic, sunroof, bucket seats, etc.. Was wondering if there was any tips or potential problems I should be aware of on the Tacoma. What type of mileage should I expect on the highway?


  • smgillessmgilles Posts: 252
    I have 2001 Tacoma 4x4 extended cab TRD, SR5, automatic as well. Of the 28,000 miles I have owned it the only problems I have encountered are a dash rattle behind the passenger air bag and the rubber gaskets between the fender flares and fenders coming loose. The flares have been fixed on the 2002's and up but I don't know about the dash rattle. (Hopefully you don't inherit this genetic trait of Tacomas)

    Gas mileage..? Prior to the supercharger I would get 18 in town and 22 on the interstate with a best of 26 on a trip to Yellowstone and back, but I was lucky to break 60mph. I think you can plan on getting between 19-21 for the most part.

    If you have other questions just ask.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    I have a 2002 Xtracab, V6 manual, SR5 color key (silver, looks awesome!) TRD truck. Bought it 10 month ago, have 20K on it, not a single problem.

    There are some people who have dash rattle, but there are posts describing how to fix it. Other than that, there's a guy around named tbunder1 who'll tell you that Tacoma has underpowered engine, fender flares are falling off, water leaks inside the cab, Tacoma has pencil-thin A-arms, etc. Of course, he compiled all those problems over about 1.5 years of hanging out here and just says they are present in all Tacomas. So don't pay any attention to him.

    Gas milage: I usually get 17-18mpg in the city, and it's mostly short trips, little or no highway driving in the city. I also have a lead foot and use it quite often. On the highway, I've gotten 20mpg doing 75, usually it's about 19 at 80.
  • I have a 02 xcab 4x4 with the 2.7L. I have had no problems with the truck other than that typical dash rattle (which the dealer fixed). As far as gas mileage, I usually get anywhere from 21 in the city and up to 24 on the hiway. I have also put replaced all the fluids with Red Line syhtnetics, and that may answer for the increased mileage.
  • I have a 98 TRD Tacoma 5 spd. The clutch pedal squeaks intermittantly, and that is all. In 154,000 miles, just routine maintenance. In my incredibly anal way, I have recorded the mileage from day one and it has never been less that 18 (towing) and never been more than 22. I am pissed if I get less than 20 just piddling around and ususally find a low tire as the culprit, since I drive around on the farm a lot and seem to be a magnet for nails and stuff. GREAT TRUCK!!! Get one today.
  • I have a 1986 Toyota truck. The thing is the best piece of machinery I have ever purchased. However, I was thinking about buying a new 2003 Tacoma. What I want to know is Toyota still making quality trucks? Is the Tacoma worth the price? Should I consider something else? I'm a female and am a little behind in what's out there now. Thanks.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    I have a deposit on a 2003 Tacoma. I've been researching the Tacoma and it's competitors the hard way. I purchased a Nissan Frontier in 1998 because I saved money compared to Tacoma. It was an overweight underpowered pig lacking the quality and refinement of a Toyota but it was probably better than a Ranger, S10 or Dakota. Maybe not. I then purchased a 2002 S10 Crew Cab because it had all the features I wanted and was over $5000 less than the Tacoma. It had electrical problems, paint problems, got 15 mpg city or hwy and the overall truck was a big disappointment. I now have a deposit on a 2003 Tacoma and expect to take delivery the second week of November. There are no rebates and no 0% financing on the truck like there are with it's competitors. Why? I think it is because it is a better truck and needs no help to sell it. I've learned my lesson, you get what you pay for.
  • I have an 02 DC silver TRD Tacoma that I absolutely love. I have about 20k on it in about 11 months. The only problem I have had is the dash rattle, and the foam trick fixed me up. I have made a couple of longer trips with it, and am more then satisfied with the ride (keep in mind it is a truck). As to mileage, I have been getting 17-18 in town, and 22-24 on the open highway. I live in TN so I see lots of hills to climb.

    I did the research before I bought it, and have not regretted it since. It was not the cheapest, but I have no doubt, it is the best. If you want cheap, check out the Nissans and Fords.
  • eb12eb12 Posts: 16
    I have a 02 Reg Cab (5sp) since 1/02. I have also own a 95 T100 and a base 93 truck. 14k miles with no problems, Heater and AC works great, I average 25 MPG, Hope to replace OEM tires soon.
    This truck is great, No regrets.
    I believe you get what you pay for, worth the extra money.
  • Would a 99 4cylinder prerunner extended cab TRD be able to pull a ski boat up Big Bear, CA?
  • mocha4mocha4 Posts: 4
    Guys, if you are reading this I just wanted to say that I have owned my tacoma for 4 years and other than the regular maintenance, I have had a lot of fun with this vehicle. I put on about 300 km a week on this puppy and she is the mostly reliable vehicle that I have had in the long run. I paid $23,000 for this vehicle and I just finished paying her off. I do my own oil changes. I have spent about $1500 (CDN) on maintenance in the last 4 years. This includes tires and shocks. Eventhough I paid more up front I am seeing the rewards now. I average 23 mpg and do 80% highway driving with this vehicle. I hoped toyota has fixed that seatbelt problem. I have 135,000 km on this vehicle and expect to make it to 250,000 km
  • But I would love some input. I have a son that will be driving in 3 years. I want to be able to hand down to him a PAID for 3-4 year old vehicle. Unfortunately, I have not won the lottery.....yet. I currently have a '00 Maxima SE, and had 2 previous Max's before, now you see the cause for my name. BUT, I don't want to hand down this type of "car" to a new young driver, especially when the speedometer goes to 160, not that I want to know if the car will go that fast, probably NOT, I just don't want him to think he can be racing this car. So, I am thinking of selling the Max, and getting a '03 Tacoma 2wd, 4dr, V6, I have always loved the looks of those trucks, but I would really like to hand down this truck to him in 3-4 years, then I can think about "me" again.

    Any input on a Tacoma for a 16 year old, there are no safety test results on the '03 here at Edmunds.
  • There are two different websites that might be helpful to you. The first is the NHTSA (National highway safety trafic administration) website. This has all of the government crash test ratings on vehicles. The other is the IIHS (insurance institute for highway safety) website. This is an independent rating organization that uses some more severe testing for new vehicles.

    On both organizations' tests, the Tacoma does better than any other compact pickup, however there is a "but" in that statement.

    Pickups, and compact pickups more particularly do not have the same type of safety measures built into them as cars and/or they do not have them to the same standards as cars do. For example, while the tacoma does have steel door beams, they do not have the same standards as cars do. Similarly for crumple zones. While the Tacoma does have them built into the design, it is limited in effectiveness by the ladder frame that the truck is built onto. Some of these drawbacks are mitigated by the fact that you are in a larger (more massive) vehicle than most of those on the road, so are less likely to be injured in a crash with another vehicle and that you have a better view and perspective on things going on around you.

    So going back to what I started with, the Tacoma does have the highest safety ratings of any compact pickup in the marketplace today, but if you're looking for passive safety built into a vehicle in the event of a crash, a car will have much more designed into the vehicle.

    Hope this helps and if I just confused the issue, feel free to re-post for a clarification.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    All you have to do is this:
    1. Buy a 2003 4WD Tacoma.
    2. Lift it 6".
    3. Put 33x12.5R15 tires on it and leave the gearing stock.
    Your kid will not be able to chirp the tires from the start even if it was raining, forget about racing, a VW Rabbit could take him on then :)

    Stock V6 Tacos are powerful, and with the 8yo engine, you can bet that they work fine. If you want to go down a more reliable route, get one with 2.7L I4: those engines are bulletproof. There is a guy on our TTORA boards who just hit 327K miles and was complaining that his engine was having a problem with rings. Imagine that.

    The only thing you would need to worry about with trucks is the kid going offroading, but if he gets into a good group he'll be fine and make a lot of friends (as well as learn how to drive properly).

    Safety-wise: It depends on what sites you look at. and are two main ones, first one is government organization and second one is insurance institute. You really have to combine both results together to see the entire picture.
    I feel my Tacoma is safe for me. I drive like a maniac sometimes and it feels rock solid (I've test-driven Isuzu Rodeo, that thing sways left and right, nose-dives everytime you hit brakes, etc)
    regardless of many things I do. While it's not a car, it's safe enough.

    Another thing to think about: this is the last year of this generation of Tacoma. 2004 models will be redesigned with a bigger (hopefully) engine. What you may want to do is wait until next year when 2004s are introduced. Then, if you like 2004s, wait 6 month and buy one, or buy a 2003 real cheap.
  • Very helpful info there, you two. I am awaiting quotes from 3 different Toyota dealers here in South Mississippi. However, I am still undecided of what I want to do. But I do know, I have ALWAYS liked the looks of those Tacoma's. Safety is a major concern for my son (our only child), and you know kids, they want to "show out" their vehicles, I just hope he does it intelligently.

    Thank you so much.
  • I bought a used 2001 Tacoma Pre-Runner w/ the 4 cyl. engine and std. cab recently for my son who just turned 16. He loves it! I love it too because he can't carry too many kids in it or go too fast. I can't believe how good it handles. I like driving it much better than my own 2001 Ford F-150 Supercrew. I've had 2 other Toyota pickups myself ('77 and '84). Never a single problem (except for totaling the 1st one). BTW, my dad just flew to Mississippi today to move his 96 yr. old mother from her home in Como (near Memphis) into a nursing home.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    any law regarding the carrying of passengers in the bed of the truck. My state its illegal for anyone under the age of 12 to be riding in the back. Not that it really matters cause there is no age preference in an accident. Which leads to my point. Say after a football game the kids decide on going out for a burger. Do you think a couple of them would think it cool to ride in the back of a truck? How effective is peer pressure in a situation like this? Just food for thought.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    riding in the back still beats sitting around in a low rocketship that offers nearly zero protection to the driver at high speeds. Don't hear much about "kids killed while riding in the back of the truck".
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    One kid probably died while riding in the back of a truck and made it dangerous to ride back there. I remember when I was a kid that is where I rode all the time.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    scorpio and lariat1, would you allow your kids to ride in that back of a truck knowing that in an accident, odds are someone will go airborne? And I'm not talking parking lot fender bender.

    Secondly, would you allow other kids in the back knowing if there was an accident and someone was injured that because they were riding in the back, the injuries may be more substantial leaving you open to a lawsuit above and beyond your insurance coverage?

    I'm just curious cause just recently I witness four kids riding in the back of a Nissan. Three were by my guess around 12-14. However, there was one that looked like 4-5 years old that was running back and forth in the bed when the truck made a left turn. Kid lost his balance but was caught by one of the other kids. I had to wonder what the driver of the truck was thinking...or was he thinking at all?

    For some it may be a matter of economics forcing them to ride in the back of a truck. For me, I think it's plain nuts.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    It all depends on whether or not they realize what they are getting into. 12-14 year olds probably don't even know what would have happened if they did get into an accident.
    So I would let them ride IFF they knew what was going on. Nevermind the lawsuits, I'd like to think that not everyone is an idiot to try to solve their problems (and escape responsibility) with a lawsuit: if they know the danger of riding in the back, do it anyway and something bad happens....well, they knew what they were getting into.
    The accident you described I would call Darwinism at work. He's old enough to know whats going on, Nissans' bed is not that big for anyone to mistake it for a soccer field, so maybe he wasn't thinking at all. Hey, he gets hurt like this, he won't do it again.
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    I see your point, but if there is people that let their kid run around in a vehicle it doesnt matter where they are riding they are going to get hurt in an accident. As for getting ejected from the bed I am not to sure what it takes but I was riding it the back of my dads truck, (sitting down against he cab because if I moved from there 9 times out of ten an [non-permissible content removed] whuppin happened) anyway we hit a moose at 60MPH it totaled the truck and I got a bruise on my arm. But then again up here the chances of hitting a moose are better than the chances of hitting a car so riding in the back of a truck isnt near as dangerous as other more populated areas.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    "Nevermind the lawsuits, I'd like to think that not everyone is an idiot to try to solve their problems (and escape responsibility) with a lawsuit: if they know the danger of riding in the back, do it anyway and something bad happens....well, they knew what they were getting into."

    In todays society a lawsuit based on negligence will occur with 100% certainty. Based on the earning potential of a 12-14 year old.....well I wouldn't even want to think of that.

    You're right, 12-14 year olds don't know what they are getting into.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    Whose negligence are we talking about here?
    Can I go out with my friends, get drunk till I can't walk, crawl into my truck, drive away, run into a tree, sober up and sue my friends because they did not stop me from driving away?

    If 12-14yos want to ride in the back, let them. Make sure they are not doing any stupid things like standing up while you're doing 60 down the freeway.
    Other than can't defend yourself against EVERYTHING, sometimes you just have to let it go.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    Sue not your friends but the establishment that allowed you to get intoxicated to the point where you fall off the stool.....deeper pockets.

    The thing about minors....they don't have much say especially where their parents are concerned. It's basically up to the adults on whether to allow them in the back or not. Good luck with letting them go.
  • wondering if anybody would like to speculate on how the Tacoma's side impact rating could possibly affect people riding in the bed...
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    regardless of rating of the sides.
    With a side impact all the force is perpendicular to the vehicle, and will launch people from side to side. With beds being pretty shallow on most trucks, anyone not sitting down very low would probably be flung out of the bed.
    Same would happen with a rear-end collision at high speed differential (only now people would be flung back at the vehicle that struck the truck).
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    truck being tboned by an 18 wheeler. Needless to say the passengers in the bed and cab didn't survive.
  • My Tacoma 4x4 extended cab came with the standard Bridgestone 16" tires which slip on the wet from a stand still start. The handling at speeds over 70 mph seems soft and unpredictable.
    I generally have the tire pressure at 36psi usually ride alone with an unloaded bed.
    Anyone else feel unsafe at higher speeds and any suggests as to how to improve upon the ride?
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Posts: 897
    1. Deflate the tires to 28-30. Having so much pressure means you're not riding on the entire width of the tire, but on the center (do a chalk test to see what I'm talking about).
    2. Get better tires if above does not help.

    I've driven at 90 and truck felt fine, but I ride around with 28-32 psi pressure max.

    Improving upon the ride:
    1. Replace coils to better ones (OME makes them, if you don't want lift, you'll want 880 coils., you can buy a setup with 880 coils and shocks from them.
    2. Tire slippage: put 3 50-lbs bags of sand in the bed.
    3. If you don't want to spend money on new coils (should be around $250-300), you can buy used TRD coils off someone on ebay who put a lift on.
  • Own a 2001 tacoma 4x4 6cyl 5M TRD. No major complaints. 18-20 mpg on mixed highway/local. "notchy" shift from 1st to 2nd when cold. whiny sound from engine in low revs. whine from cab fan at setting 3 and above. driver seat fabric wearing prematurely. I like the stability on hwy in high winds at 75 mph. definitely get rubber floor mats - the fabric ones are crappy. less than professional finish on truck bed metal. Engine noise will not remind you to shift into 5th - you need to get used to this. When I drove the automatic, I hated the lack of "punch" compared to the manual.
This discussion has been closed.