The Toyota Tacoma, long known as the king of compact truck sales is one durable and dependable vehicle. Yet, it has one big detractor, it vibrates unnecessarily in certain driving situations. What’s the deal Toyota?
In order to understand this issue, we went to a local Toyota dealer and took a Tacoma out for a few hours. We drove highways and streets, up hill and down. The truck performed admirably except when driving 15-25 mph through different school zones or up hill. The fact is that it shuddered through the seat and a little on the steering wheel. This minor vibration was really more of an irritant than anything else, yet why does it exist? Does it have to do with the shaft angles or an engineering oversight?
What is Causing the Vibration?
The vibration is thought to be coming from a variety of places with no general agreement between owners, service managers and Toyota. Some feel it is a two-piece drive shaft issue, others think it is a rear engine mounts and leaf springs, while others think it has to do with drive shaft angles.
Owners like those on Toyota Tacoma forums like Tacomaworld.com say the issue is about angles and the two-piece drive shaft. There are many owners who have decided to address the issue on their own and work out their own fixes. One of the common fixes deals with inserting shims to change this angle. While not every truck is completely fixed, many owners are reporting great results. There is actually a complete guide on Tacomaworld.com with specs for angles and how to find the right angle. Again, not a complete solution for everyone with greater success for those with lifted Tacoma pickups.
There is also a belief that the issue rests in Toyota’s use of a two-piece drive shaft. Most people we spoke to question the reasoning behind a two-piece drive shaft and that a one-piece shaft would reduce a lot of the issues. In fact, a few owners with lift kits, have replaced the drive shaft with a one-piece. They report great success with this approach.
Toyota Vibration TSBs
The truth is the vibration issue goes all the way back to 2005 (maybe farther) when Toyota issued a Technical Service Bulletin to address the issue. They recently expanded the TSB for all 2005-2013 models with a drive line vibration. The fix talks about a variety of ways to address it related to the rear engine mount, rear leaf springs and a steering wheel damper. This leads one to believe that Toyota believes the issue comes from the rear of the vehicle.
While at our local dealer, we spoke to the service manager about what he is seeing and how they have addressed the issue. He told us that frankly, the Tacoma pickup does vibrate and that some trucks inexplicably vibrate more than others. They have tried all the fixes Toyota has advised – none of them really addressed the issue. They also tried a variety of the owner supplied remedies dealing with adding shims and changing the angles. No luck there either. In the end, he doesn’t really have a great answer to tell complaining owners.
We asked Toyota about the issue and this was their response:
In December 2012, Toyota issued T-SB-249-12 with a number of solutions that are effective to help resolve customer complaints of driveline vibration occurring between 15 and 25 MPH. We are evaluating a small number of complaints that occurred after the remedies cited in the TSB have been implemented by a Toyota dealer. Because the evaluation of this customer satisfaction issue is on-going, we’re not in a position to provide further comment at this time. – Brian Lyons, Safety and Quality Communications Manager for Toyota Motor Sales
We have covered this issue in the past and found that there are a few things an owner can do to try to reduce and/or eliminate the issue. Now our list includes many fixes for lifted Tacoma’s since they have this issue more than others, however, it is a good read for stock-height truck owners especially the After-market drive shafts. The list:
There doesn’t seem to be any one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The facts are that stock Toyota Tacoma pickups shudder or vibrate at certain speeds. Some vibrate more than others and nobody has a real good idea why. The only real solution is to deal with it. In our test drive, we found it rather annoying in those low-speed driving circumstances, but it was really minor and not a deal breaker. Yet, there are some trucks out there that could vibrate more.
Hopefully, someday Toyota will finally figure out a way to adequately address the issue. One does wonder if it is just a by-product of the truck’s design. Maybe then it will never be completely solved.
What do you think? What has been your experience with the vibration issue?