The Toyota Tacoma shows up in a lot of ‘most reliable used pickups’ lists, for good reason. This is a truck that’s built for hauling tools, storming off-road, and even rally courses. Certain model years can even reach higher-than-new asking prices. But not every Tacoma is built the same. In fact, according to Car Complaints, there’s one model year that should really be avoided: the 2007 Toyota Tacoma.
2007 Toyota Tacoma’s sticking accelerator and other throttle problems
Although Toyota’s ‘unintended acceleration’ problem focused on ’09-’10 models, the 2007 Tacoma may have foreshadowed it.
Car Complaints actually lists a sticking or malfunctioning accelerator as the #1 Tacoma problem. Not just because of the incredible potential for danger—one owner stated their truck jumped a concrete barrier and damaged a nearby deli—but also the repair cost. Car Complaints claim the average cost for repairs due to a sticking accelerator pedal is $6,500. The problem can also show up as early as 13,000 miles into the truck’s life. That’s a fairly expensive issue so soon into truck ownership.
Toyota did issue a recall for sticking accelerator pedals, but the same owner whose truck ran into the deli claimed the truck did so after being recalled. And based on other owner complaints, the 2007 Tacoma’s accelerator issue could be more than a pedal problem.
Several owners have complained their trucks’ engines would surge in high gears. Whether with automatic or manual transmissions, the engines would stay at high RPMs. Drivers would have to brake hard just to avoid accidents, putting massive strain on their brakes in the process. Not only was this unsafe, it meant the trucks’ fuel economy was poor.
The problem didn’t just crop up at high RPMs, though. Several other ’07 Tacoma owners reported complete throttle control failure. One driver’s pedal went straight to the floor and stayed there.
Based on all this, it’s clear why Car Complaints considers the ’07 Tacoma, and this problem in particular, so troubling.
2007 Toyota Tacoma’s clearcoat issues
We’ve previously noted the issue 2005-2010 Tacomas had with rusting frames. And although that is a problem reported on Car Complaints, the 2007 Tacoma had another protective coating failure. When owners went to wax their trucks, their clear coats would crack and peel. One owner said their truck look like it had pox marks. And this was after only 1,000 miles on the road.
Clearcoat can fail for a number of reasons. The factory may have let the truck’s basecoat dry too long before spraying on the clear coat. Or the oven didn’t bake the clear coat properly. Or the painting area may have gotten contaminated. I’ve worked as an automotive paint engineer: there’s a lot of things that can interfere with clear-coating.
It’s also possible Toyota was using a clear coat formula that couldn’t stand up to UV rays or road debris. Modern clearcoat formulas are stronger, and have built-in UV protection, unlike earlier formulations. If you’ve seen a vehicle from the ‘80s with faded or cloudy paint, that’s from an early formula. But who knows? Maybe Toyota’s supplier had a quality-control issue and delivered sub-par ingredients.
Regardless, if the clear coat’s compromised, that means the base coat below is, too. Car Complaints, in fact, has multiple reports of 2007 Tacomas with fading, chipped, or flaking paint. This may seem like a minor problem compared to the sticking accelerator, but it is an expensive and time-consuming one to fix. Not to mention, if a truck’s paint is failing, that can cause its body to rust faster.
2016 and 2017 models: less money, mo’ problems
Car Complaints considers the 2007 Tacoma the worst model year not by the absolute number of complaints, but their severity. The sticking accelerator and clear coat failure can happen very soon into ownership, and they’re expensive to deal with. But there are other Tacoma model years to avoid. The 2016 and 2017 Tacoma models are also fairly problematic.
Toyota redesigned the Tacoma for 2016, and as is often the case, the redesign caused reliability issues. In fact, the #3 Tacoma problem on Car Complaints is the 2017 model’s shifting and gear-slipping issues. The 2016 model’s transmission was also slow to shift and often caused surging during downshifts. These trucks also suffered from vibrations through the steering wheel, brake pedal, and floorboards. In addition, 2016 Tacoma owners reported rattling door panels and loud cabin noise. There’s a reason the 2013-2015 Tacomas often sell for higher than 2016-2017 models.
Interestingly, although all these issues are troubling, they’re not the most-reported. Car Complaints reports the most-reported problem is for the 2009 Tacoma. Owners reported their radios would randomly turn off without warning. The general fix seems to be simply replacing it.