Repairs and Maintenance

Toyota Tacoma Fuel Pumps – Location, Replacement and Causes of Failure

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If you own a Toyota Tacoma – regardless of the year – and you learn that you have to replace your fuel pump, you might be in for a bit of a headache. Like many modern vehicles, the 1995 to 2011 Tacoma houses its fuel pump within the fuel tank, taking advantage of the gasoline in the tank to serve as a lubricant and a cooling method during its operation. With the pump assembly sitting at the top of the tank, it means that replacing the component means dropping the whole thing in order to get access to what you need to change, which is not a trivial task.

Why Did My Fuel Pump Fail?

Just how do fuel pumps fail, anyway? One of the most common culprits is heat. Remember in the previous paragraph where we noted that the pump uses gasoline to stay cool while driving? In practical terms, this means that once fuel drops below a certain point in the tank, there is not as much gasoline available to circulate around the pump and keep temperatures low. Frequent driving with an almost empty tank can often lead to premature fuel pump failure.

The Tacoma fuel pump sits on top of the gas tank.

Other culprits that can take out a fuel pump include corrosion inside the tank that can clog it and reduce its ability to deliver gas to the engine. Fuel tank corrosion is most often related to the presence of moisture, which – surprise, surprise – can condense inside an almost empty tank, especially during colder weather. This further reinforces the need to keep your tank at least half full at all times. In rare cases, sediment found in low quality fuel and a not-so-tight gas cap that allows foreign particles to enter the tank can also introduce debris that can terminally clog your pump.

How Long Will My Fuel Pump Last?

Barring these types of harsh operating circumstances, you might be surprised to note that Toyota expects the fuel pump in the Tacoma to last well past 100,000 miles. In fact, it’s considered a “life of the vehicle” component, one which typically only wears out from normal operation north of 200,000 miles. There are reports from Toyota Tacoma forums of drivers with well over 350,000 miles on their original pumps.

The point is, a fuel pump isn’t expected to fail. If you avoid low quality fuel and/or perpetually driving around just above ‘E’, your fuel pump will last a long time.

How Do I Replace My Fuel Pump?

If you do end up deciding to replace your fuel pump yourself, the Toyota factory service manual for the Tacoma outlines the basic steps you will need to take to get the job done. First, you will need to relieve fuel pressure within the system, which can be done under the hood at the same connection you would use for your fuel pressure gauge. Toyota also recommends disconnecting the battery in order to avoid any electrical sparks during the repair process.

A closer look at the Tacoma fuel pump assembly.

Next, disconnect the fuel tank main tube and return tube and drop the fuel tank from the truck. At that point, you will be able to see the fuel pump assembly and the fuel sender assembly, which must be removed from and lifted out of the tank.

Fuel Filters – Where Are They, and Do I Replace Them?

Second generation trucks have a fuel filter inside the tank, which can be replaced at the same time as the pump. Earlier trucks feature a filter that is located alongside the inside of the driver’s side frame rail.

First-gen Tacoma fuel filter, located on the driver's side frame rail.

Why did Toyota put the fuel filter in such a difficult to access location on the later trucks? The filter is also considered a “lifetime” part by the company, and for most drivers it will be. However, in certain use scenarios, such as unreliable access to high quality fuel, or the previously-mentioned corroded fuel tank, it might be necessary to service the fuel filter. If you discover a drop of fuel pressure at the engine, a clogged fuel filter is a possible cause, and should be considered alongside a potentially failing fuel pump.

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