2003 Toyota Tacoma Base 2.4 gas L4
The most reliably boring truck in existence, that will never let you down
Front main seal started leaking at 24,000 miles and leaving oil spots everywhere. Dealership replaced the seal at no cost under warranty. The service tech noted on the bill that the truck was not to be used for serious off road use (my father was not pleased) and I never off roaded the car again.
At 100,000 miles the clutch will grab oddly when cold; this is likely due to the clutch's age and the abuse I have put it through, and I have NOT been nice to this clutch.
The car at 120,000 miles started falling out of 3rd gear on deceleration on hills.
During Snowmagedon of 2014 in Alabama, I slid into a curb on the ice; not an bad impact, but not soft either. No tire or wheel damage, no bent wheel. The rear end is now making noises of what I think to be the driver's side rear wheel bearing slowly going in the solid axle.
Tires don't seem to hold alignment well; may be due to poor Alabama and Georgia roads. Always have to add brake fluid every year or two; I don't know where it goes.
I have only replaced front brake pads once, changed oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, but used best Royal Purple and Mobil 1 premium filter or Premium Mobil 1 oil. Replaced diff fluid and transmission gear oil two times. I have only added radiator fluid. All belts are original. I do not recommend this to anyone, just my experience and a testament to how reliable and well made it is. The car is still running strong.
I have a love/hate relationship with this truck. This is probably the best truck I will EVER own. It has never left me stranded or down as long as I have had it. It has carried me through High School, College Undergrad, College Masters, moving into first apartments, first dates, first kisses, first... It is a truck that has never given up, and never will. I have done more stupid things in and around this truck. It's a part of me, a part of my life. It has been in 3 minor accidents, none of which were my fault. It is rugged, it is somewhat tough. It is safe.
I seriously have neglected this truck growing up. I did not adhere to 5000 oil changes, even though I used the best of oils and filters. I put it through the wringer. A/C HAS NEVER GIVEN ME AN ISSUE, NO SERVICE, NO RECHARGE, it still blows cold. Heat works remarkably well.
Early in its life, I added a Tal and Hadas Brush Guard, Toneau cover, fog lights, truck originally had slightly large tires, similar to stock jeep size tires. The truck still has all this now. It was not a chick magnet, but great for getting me from point A to B, then C, D, etc.
It was a two door. Parents, if you are looking for a first car and you have a son, GET THIS TRUCK IN 2 DOORS. They will not get into any problems in this small of a space. It is so small inside. Yes, you can cram 3 in there, but it's hard to do.
This truck is the most boring truck I have ever driven. It doesn't corner well. It is not fast, it is not great off road, it does not get great gas mileage (that's my largest gripe with this truck, I average 22 MPG for a small 2.4L truck. That is sad for as small as this thing is). It is not "attractive", there are 0 creature comforts over an AC. Interior is OK, bench seat is comfortable. I gained a bunch of weight and the truck is still comfortable.
I am actually getting ready to retire this truck this week. Since the truck was such a good truck, I am holding onto it as a moving truck or backup vehicle, the memories attached to it and the neglect it's taken have earned this. In this time I hope to polish her up and clean her up to what it deserves. The dealer I bought my new car asked if I wanted to trade it in, and I said no. This truck is that good. I hope to one day pass it on to my son or daughter.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd February, 2014
I also added a K&N FIPK cold air intake. Helped horse power, hurt torque.
Recently added an Ultra Gauge OBDII scanner. My commute to work, which is a 16.8 mile commute, if I drive watching the scanner constantly, I get 26 MPG there, 27 MPG back.
If I drive normal and with traffic, 24 MPG there. So driving nicely really doesn't translate well. I am now averaging 22 in the city.
Finally had one issue with the truck. I noticed one day out of the blue that when I was moving the truck, that it never came off high idle and was idling at around 1000-1500 RPM. Given that this 2.4L I4 engine has no counter balance, it gets rough around 4000+ RPM and will shake; nothing horrible, just symptoms of the larger inline 4 design, but you can also tell when it's idling high.
Any ways I tried driving it to see if it would correct itself and never did. I drove normally to work the next day in it (I was thinking it was bad gas at the time). Put new non ethanol fuel in it and it still did the same. Reset the ECU several times, no CELs, nothing. I then tried Seafoam and it made it worse. By worse, that means that it would no longer idle period.
I researched online and found that the Tacoma's 2RZ-FE engine had an IAC and it was clogged. I removed all the components to get to it on the bottom of the throttle body; it was kind of a pain, but not horrible. The IAC was gunked up heavily and frozen in black sooty carbon and dirt. I cleaned with aircraft grade degreaser, but any cleaning solution can be used really. Put it all back together and voila, it was good. I also noticed that my throttle cable had stretched considerably and tightened it up; it felt like a new truck.
I am currently getting super bad gas mileage and the front suspension is extremely loose. It has about 140,000 miles now. It needs attention such as brakes, bushings etc.