How Long Should a Toyota Tacoma Last?
John Goreham's picture

How Long Should a Toyota Tacoma Last? Not Judging - Just asking

Tell us, and we will make sure Toyota hears you, how long you think a Tacoma should last - and why.
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Walk past Easton Phalin's Toyota Tacoma in a parking lot (above image) and at a glance, it would seem to be a new truck. However, it is not a new truck, it is a 13-year-old Tacoma. Torque News reached out to the Facebook Toyota Tacoma Enthusiast's group for help with the image for this story and we immediately had a long list of pristine Tacomas older than 10 years to use.

The reason this story is asking the question "How long should a Tacoma last" relates to the frame rot issue so many Tacoma owners have suffered through. In Toyota's defense, the company has gone farther than any other automaker we can think of to solve a problem it has taken responsibility for. However, many owners are still not satisfied, and since the problem happened twice, not once, they are justified in their anger.

This week the publication iSeeCars released the results of a survey they did which asked owners how long they keep their cars. This was no small survey. They looked at owner sales data on 2.5 million cars. Toyota models dominate the list of vehicles that owners kept the longest. The top four are Toyotas (and half of the top 10 are Toyota models).

The Tacoma is the third truck on the list's truck breakout which measures what percentage of owners keep a pickup more than ten years. In the case of the Tacoma, 21.4% of owners keep their Tacoma longer than ten years. That said, this data does not answer our question fully, since these vehicles are then sold used in most cases and the new owners keep them - often for a long, long time.

Aaron Genske from the Facebook Tacoma club showed us an image of a compact Toyota pickup that is now 20 years old and has 337,000 miles on it. We don't expect many Tacoma owners to report they expect that kind of life, but we would like to know how long they think is a fair life expectancy. One commenter under a story about the frame rot issue took the time to write and say that he was angry his 1999 Toyota truck was no longer in service due to frame rot. Should Toyota be expected to fix an 18-year-old pickup, or compensate the owner if it eventually quits? If so, tell us how you come to that expectation. We are not judging, just asking. What is a fair life expectancy in years and in miles for a Toyota Tacoma before it is put to rest?

One footnote to those who think badly of Toyota trucks' overall longevity. Aaron Genske's 20-year-old truck was taken off the road due to the frame rot issue. It is now a bare-bones, stock race truck. He races it in a "Tournament of Destruction" demolition derby series. It has survived two races so far and he plans to keep on racing it indefinitely.


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Comments

This is Aaron Genske here, My truck is a 1996 Tacoma 2wd with the 2.4L Inline 4 cylinder 5 speed manual. I bought it for $800 as a daily driver in Sept. 2014 and took as good care of it as I could. Then after awhile I got carried away and drove it like I stole it, exhaust didn't want to be quiet, got a new muffler put on it and a week later the pipe fell off where the catalytic converter was supposed to be. Welded it back on and another weld let loose. I drove it for 6 months without an exhaust attached. Only exhaust manifolds, surprisingly I ever got pulled over. I would redline 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears like it was nothing. It leaked oil from a small hole I put in the oil pan from running over a small engine and had to put 2-4 quarts in every other week. At one point when money was tight I ran it dry of oil, and at another time there ended up being water in my oil. After a new/used oil pan all was well. Now the truck has been in two TODs and was T-boned by an Astro van, I backed into a bunch of other trucks, rear ended and hit other cars to where the radiator van was pushed up into the engine block. Before the next event I pulled the core support out so that fan could spin freely and fixed the ground to the battery. In the 2nd event I ended up rolling and sliding on my drivers door with the truck still running and got put back on all 4 wheels and get driving her hard. The frame is still intact but not looking good. The bed is all smashed in and looks like hell. But 3 months after I went to drain the radiator and pull the battery before the cold weather came and started the truck up. It started with no issues, had oil pressure right away and it went into gear with no issues. I'm proud of this little bullet proof truck and will always talk highly of older and newer Toyotas. I now drive a 2012 Tacoma and love it just as much.
I believe there's a strong desire to keep these trucks for awhile. All trucks, including mid-size, are getting larger in size with each refresh. In my town I see a lot of Rangers and older Tacomas for this very reason. Then add the cult following the truck has and I'm not surprised to see so many owners not want to part with them.
When the frame rot issue was settled, Toyota, to its credit, stepped up and supported all of its pickups affected. The settlement gave owners new frames or repaid them for work already done. Not many automakers do this -- unless they are told to by the court -- which makes Toyota's support so much more commendable. Let's look at something, though, age. The original suit in this was filed sometime in the 2009-2011 timeframe. It became a class-action lawsuit sometime in 2013 and was settled in 2014. The provisions of the settlement go back to the early 2000s. This means that, even with warranty extensions, some of the trucks are getting long-in-the-tooth, putting some of them at better than 15 years old. I think this is more than enough time for Toyota to provide support. I can see 10 years of support; 15 years tops. That's more than enough time. Why, automakers usually only keep about 15 years of parts on hand for older models, so 15 years would seem to be a good time for the automaker to back away. Some might even argue 10 years is more than enough time, but, Toyota's problems began in the early 2000s and there are some vehicles still out there that are a tad newer out there that may need the automaker's TLC (or a new frame), so those vehicles should be supported. . Just my opinion.
Expecting a modern vehicle to last more than 15 years without significant repairs is pushing it and blaming an automaker because your 18 year old pickup is out of commission is ridiculous. When you have a truck with known issues of this type, you are the only one to blame when the known issue occurs.
There are some vehicles out there where you can have an expectation that they will last and last. For example, I know of one 1989 Honda that's trundling around Central California daily. The mileage is somewhere over 400,000 and climbing. The car the driver gave up -- and to his son -- was a 1993 Mazda that had had lighter use and only had about 350K on the clock. The last I knew it was running fine, as well. The point to this is that there are lots of old cars out there that just keep on rolling. But, I have to agree with you that there's a point where it's not on the manufacturer anymore. I think 15 years max is a good compromise in a situation like Toyo's where there's a known problem. I can see your point, though. There comes a point where it is the owner's responsibility, no matter how good the manufacturer is.
As a multiple brand truck owner, I've owned 3 Toyota pickup trucks over the years going back to the mid 80s. In our region, Cal Trans and O-Dot do not salt the roads in winter. So I haven't experienced frame rot. My immediate neighbor drives a 1996 Toyota 4-runner with 300,000 + miles on the odometer. It's here daily driver. And, outside of normal maintenance, has required ZERO major mechanical or aesthetic repairs. This would appear to be a regional issue. and yes, a body off frame replacement is possible, although generally not cost effective. Should a manufacturer be held accountable for a near 20-year old frame? Hell no. Cheers!
I haven't owned a truck, but in my opinion how long a vehicle lasts depends on how well an owner will maintain it. One major thing is how often you will change the oil, as an example.
Quite true, but, there was a series of trucks manufactured over several years that were prone to frame rustout. There was a lawsuit settled for about $3 billion to handle the costs of this. Toyota also acknowledged the problem beforehand by providing repairs to those who asked and repaying others owners who paid for the repairs themselves. Not many automakers do this.
I have an 02 Tacoma with the V6, manual transmission. It just turned 230,000 miles this week in Ketchikan, Alaska. That's a little more than 3,000 miles from home. I never gave a second thought whether it would make it or not My son gave it to me in May 2015 with 185,000 miles. I've used it to go camping for 10 months of the last 24 months. Gotta do something when you're retired! The only issues have been rubber parts like boots, belts, etc have worn out as expected for a 15 yr old vehicle. My son replaced the timing belt at 175,000 miles. But any dollar I spend on maintenance is the only money I've put into it!
I have a 2006 with 165,000 miles on it, that is 11 years old now in 2017 and it still drives like it did when it was new. I have only replaced a u-joint and a wheel bearing so far. I talked to a master mechanic at toyota and he said to expect to get 250,000 miles minimum out of it and he sees them in the 300,000 mile range from time to time for maintenance. So, I would say 20 years would be a good estimate for a 12,000 miles a year driver and maybe more. If you do the scheduled maintenance it will last 20 years with no major issues. After that it is a case by case I think. Hard to put an exact number on it.
I just purchased a 2006 Tacoma SR5, 4 door, 4.0L, 5 speed automatic with 158,000 miles, the bank did not hesitate to finance the complete purchase price of the vehicle. I am expecting to at least double the miles on it if not triple with minor repairs.
My 1999 tacoma has 312000 and runs great. I think toyota has given me my money back aleady in its reliability. I have zero complaints. If it dies tomorrow I've gotten enough out of it. But I just might drive it past 500k based on how good it drives.
2002 taco 4 cylinder with 245,000. No problems. Best vehicle ever. I'll take it with me to my grave. My advice? Change the oil people! Don't listen to the ads that say you can go 15,000 miles between changes. What kind of nut would want to do that anyways. One more tip. Wash the undercarriage regularly. It just takes a couple of minutes. No rusty frame problems.