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5 Tips for Buying a Used Toyota Tacoma

Buying a used Toyota Tacoma can be a great way to save some money, but it can also be a bad idea if you don’t do your homework. It is a pretty popular option for many shoppers since the truck is known for its reliability.

5 Tips for Buying a Used Toyota Tacoma

Looking for a used Toyota Tacoma? Here are 5 things to look for when shopping around.


When shopping for a used Tacoma, you will want to follow the general used car buying advice – ask a lot of questions, have it inspected, etc… You will also want to take a closer look at few model specific problems. This will help ease your mind when buying or financing an older vehicle.

Here are the top 5 items to inspect when buying a used Toyota Tacoma. By following these tips, you will avoid some big dollar repairs and yur wallet will thank you.

1. Check Frame for Rust

Older Toyota trucks are known to have frame rust. In fact, there was a large truck buyback a few years ago for older Tundra trucks with substantial amounts of rust. Toyota’s chief engineer Mike Sweers told us the problem is a change in the chemicals that Toyota is allowed to use on their frames.

Regardless of why they rust, you will want to have a very good, detailed look at the frame, door handles, chrome rear bumpers and spare tire carriers. In fact, it would be wise to enlist the help of a professional. A quick trip to your mechanic’s shop will allow you raise the truck up and do a thorough inspection of the undercarriage.

2. Test Drive for Low-Speed Vibration

Another item to be aware of is a vexing problem affecting an odd assortment of Tacoma trucks. These trucks have a profound vibration at low speeds (15-25 MPH). What makes this a vexing problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for certain trucks to have the problem while others don’t.

How strange is this problem? You can test two identical trucks on the same lot and one will have a vibration while the other may not.

Luckily, this is pretty easy to test. Simply drive the truck between 15-25 MPH and see if it vibrates. Chances are it does, but the degree with which it does may be small or profound. You will want to know which one is the case.

Unfortunately, we haven’t heard of anyone having a lot of success addressing the problem. Toyota continues to offer/extend a technical service bulletin to address the problem. Yet, we are hearing varying degrees of success.

3.  Examine the Leaf Springs for Cracks

Another item to look closely at is the rear leaf springs. The Tacoma, for whatever reason, seems to have a high incidence of cracking leaf springs. This can affect your ride quality and could cause damage to the truck in certain driving situations.

In order to really check this, you would want to remove the rear wheels and thoroughly inspect the springs. Also, reference our post on cracking leaf springs for an idea on what you are looking for on the leaf springs.

4.  Check the Paint for Bubbles

Paint quality on certain Toyota trucks seems to be an issue for some owners. For them, the paint bubbles quickly and becomes an eyesore. While we haven’t seen this become a wide-spread issue, it seems more like a select few have run into this problem.

Luckily, this is a cosmetic issue that easily fixed with a new paint job. There is nothing really to worry too much about, just something to look for when buying a used Tacoma.

5.  Look Up Service Bulletins, Check VIN for Repair History

Lastly, check the truck for technical service bulletin repair history. You can do this by taking the VIN to your local dealer and having them look it up. This will tell you what technical service bulletins have been addressed and if there is any outstanding recall items that should be repaired.

Also, check the repair history of the vehicle with this VIN as well. Quite often, the dealer can also tell you what service items have been done via the VIN number. This is often the same information you can find on a CarFax report.

By following these tips, you will be an informed consumer when buying a used Toyota Tacoma. This will make a difference in how much you enjoy your new truck.

Questions?