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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12 Comments

  1. Deeks Schroeter says:

    My 2005 Toyota Tacoma is at dealer, after shutting off intermittently while driving it finally would not start, the dealer had previously attempted to re flash the computer to try to see if updates might stop the intermittent shut down,
    On 11/23/11 dealer returned truck to me saying it should work, I drove about 2 miles and broke down, back to dealer, after they looked at the truck again they decided the fuel pump is the problem, $ 800.00 for pump and $400.00 labor. My contention is the price of the pump, $800.00
    Why so much? It is not affordable, The reviews don’t show frequent problems with fuel pumps, I will be going after Toyota.

    • Deeks – Intermittent failures are the worst. They’re incredibly difficult to diagnose, and often times the computer system can’t detect them either. As for the price, I don’t think they’ll give you the labor for free. However, you might be able to buy the fuel pump online and save some money. Parts.olathetoyota.com will give you a better price…often times, your local dealer will charge 120% of suggested retail (this is standard practice, believe it or not).

  2. gerald leblue says:

    If I disconnect the fuel supply line feeding the throttle body and have someone turn over the engine should fuel come out of that line. I have a 2003 toyato tocoma two wheel drive. Also while the truck was running . If I put the gas peddle to the floor it would only go at 70mph. Would a fuel pump that is going bad cause that….thanks

  3. leann nelson says:

    txt answer please do people cut hole in box to get to fuel pump. and how to know where to cut?

  4. 2000 tacoma sr5 fuel gauge bounces, already tested old and used sender units and still bounces when driving. It will not bounce when off and a little movement at idle, just movement when driving, goes up and down depending on how much fuel is in the tank.This model does not have a tach, just coolant gauge, gas gauge and speedometer gauge. Pulled cluster out and wires, gauge and circuit board looks ok. Any thoughts To what is wrong?

    • Sounds like the (gas tank) level sending unit is sloshing around with the fuel, causing it to rise and fall on the ‘waves’.

      Is the truck ‘new to you’, and you’ve just noticed it doing this, or have you had it a while, and it just started doing this, out of the blue?

      Might just be a characteristic of that tank, how it’s baffled inside, and how the sending unit is oriented in the tank. If you get very little oscillation on the gas gauge when tank is full, that’s probably all it is.
      Since you’ve tried other sending units, I’d guess it’s just how the parts work with each other.

  5. humberto ruiz says:

    what happens when u take out fuel pump with out disconect battery

    • Humberto, you *can* take the fuel pump out without disconnecting the battery.

      However, disconnecting the battery ensures you don’t *accidentally* create sparking from energized vehicle wiring, which could ignite gasoline vapors, and cause you to ‘die in a fire’, as the expression goes.
      You might be lucky, and just lose your eyebrows, and burn your house down, but you get the idea.

      Electricity doesn’t care whether you understand it, or realize there’s a connection available that you’re unaware of.

  6. PUIGE AVOIR LES REFERENCE DE LA PUMP ET DE LA BOUGIE DE MA TACOMA 1998;CAR LALLUMAGE EST TRES DIFFICILE LES MATIN

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