Toyota Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Toyota as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

Toyota issued a recall on the lower ball joint due to the possibility of premature wear from improper finishing in production. The ball joints will be replaced under the recall. This recall applies to 2001-2004 models only. Please contact you local Toyota dealer to see if your vehicle is included.

The evaporative emission (EVAP) system may illuminate the vehicle's Check Engine Light due to intermittent failure of the charcoal canister purge control solenoid valve or canister failure. Upon failure of the charcoal canister, debris may circulate around the EVAP system causing other emission control problems.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate with a fault code P1121 stored. It is commonly caused by a failed three way coolant control valve. Valve replacement is recommended if this occurs.

The V8 models can experience exhaust manifold failures. A leaking exhaust manifold will sound like an exhaust leak or an audible ticking noise from the engine compartment and will be especially pronounced when the engine is still cold.

Models with electric sliding doors can develop problems with the door mechanism. The cable in the door becomes frayed, which will damage the electric motor.

One or more oxygen sensors may fail resulting in illumination of the Check Engine Light.

The Evaporative system may have problems with the vapor canister releasing charcoal pellets that plug the vent valve. Typically a Code P0441, P0442 and P0446 will be set. The key code is the P0446 which is a vent valve electrical failure. The proper repair is to replace the entire canister with all the valves as a unit. This is located on top of the fuel tank and is expensive. Our Technicians tell us that for awhile Toyota was covering these problems, but this may have changed. It would not hurt to call the dealer if this problem occurs to see if Toyota is still helping with these repairs.

On higher mileage vehicles, an engine misfire may develop and/or the Check Engine Light may illuminate due to a failed ignition coil. It is not uncommon to replace all the coils when the first one fails in order to prevent return trips to the repair shop.

The rear light wiring harness can break where it attaches to the trunk hinge. As a result, the reverse lights or the shift indicator may not work and the rear bulb fault indicator may stay on constantly. The harness can be repaired and does not have to be replaced.

The pickup coil inside the distributor can fail and cause a no-start condition. There have also been some failures of the radio noise suppressors inside the distributor which can short out. It is recommended to replace the whole distributor with a complete genuine Toyota distributor if any of its components fail.

The proper repair for a leaking Steering Rack & Pinion is replacement with a new unit.

At higher mileages, (125,000-150,000) the automatic transmission may not shift correctly. This can be caused by the throttle position sensor being out of adjustment or a shift solenoid needing to be replaced. Typically the transmission does not need to be completely overhauled.

The head gasket may fail due to a defect in manufacturing of the cylinder block.

On this vehicle, the head bolts are known to pull the threads out of the engine block, allowing the head to slightly lift, and causing head gasket failure. Symptoms may include:

  • Overheating
  • White smoke from exhaust
  • Rough running conditions and/or inability to start or idle
  • White or cream colored oil on dipstick
  • Check engine light 
  • OBD Trouble Codes P2181, P0300

When the head gasket fails, the bolt holes for the head bolts must be repaired before the cylinder head can be remounted. 

This issue is not always preventable, but to help avoid it, never run the engine if the engine temperature is ever above the normal range. 

The VVT-i oil line is known to burst. This is a very large leak which covers the ground, engine, and undercarriage.

If the oil line ruptures while driving, the low engine oil message and engine oil pressure warnings will illuminate. Continued use after these warnings will result in complete engine failure due to oil starvation.

The line is known to be defective, and a revised part has been issued by Toyota, however, this revised part is known for the same issue.

To repair the issue, the line must be replaced, and the engine bay and undercarriage must be cleaned thoroughly.