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Toyota Tacoma Parts Advice for Older Tacoma’s

If your Tacoma is getting on in years, here’s advice from a Toyota mechanic you need to be aware of before ordering a replacement part you might not have considered ever needing.

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Wrong Part Confusion

Earlier this year I ran into a head-scratcher of a problem with the arrival of a new radiator for my truck. Since it was a vintage restoration style radiator that I needed to keep my truck looking as close to the original as possible, I was surprised and happy to find one available that was an exact copy of my original leaking radiator.

Until I realized that it was not.

The problem was that rather than possessing a front mount bracket, the new one arrived with a rear mount bracket. I triple-checked that online order page fields listing year, make, model, vehicle type, etc., and I still came up with the same wrong-mounted radiator bracket radiators.

Trying to figure out what was going on, I reasoned that since the bracket assembly is just a big U-shaped bracket that is soldered onto the outside of the radiator that the company had goofed by flipping the bracket the wrong orientation before soldering it on, which would understandably be easy to do.

The manufacturer disagreed stating that their orientation was the right way, despite the fact that I had photos showing that my original radiator was front-mounted.

Long story short: After consulting with “Ford Experts” (people I know who drive old Ford trucks) and looking at a variety of manuals from models of my truck’s year, I discovered that apparently Ford produced both front and rear bracketed radiators…even within the same year and model! For no apparent reason, except maybe they anticipated changes or modifications to the engine bay for exhaust emissions controls that were kind of crazy back in the 70’s.

Wrong Parts Today

The genesis of this wrong part confusion is due to a recent Toyota Maintenance YouTube channel episode where the host---despite being very familiar with Tacoma’ models over the years---wound up with the wrong radiator after receiving one from an auto parts store.

As it turned out, searching for a replacement radiator online led to a search result for the wrong radiator because there are actually three different sizes of Tacoma radiators.

Which is not that surprising. As we learned earlier when it comes to ordering auto parts, you sometimes have to include your vehicle’s VIN number to ensure receiving the correct part.

The crux of the matter of ordering a large part like a radiator (based on my experience) is that the company may be unwilling to pay for return shipping charges and simply dismiss your claim with a perfunctory “Customer ordered wrong part” vindication.

Toyota Tacoma Advice Video

The value to watching this latest video is that the host shares information all owners of older Tacoma’s need to know such as:

  • Signs and symptoms that your Tacoma radiator needs replacing.
  • Why you should not totally rely on the guy behind the counter for the correct parts.
  • Tacoma’s currently come with 3 different sizes of radiators.
  • How to measure your old radiator for the correct size replacement.
  • Why a radiator with the ports for an automatic transmission is also ok to use in a Tacoma with manual transmission and does not mean you were sold the wrong radiator.

Toyota Tacoma Radiator - 3 Different Sizes

For additional articles related to Tacoma models, here are a few for your consideration:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on  “Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair” website, the Zen Mechanic blog and on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

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Image source: Deposit Photos

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