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

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.

The EGR System tends to get restricted or blocked with carbon after 100,000- 125,000 miles which will cause an emissions test failure for NOX. If the EGR system is equipped with an EGR temperature sensor it will trigger a Check Engine Light for improper EGR flow. The repair is to clean out the EGR passages and the EGR Temperature sensor. Our technicians tell this repair is pretty straight forward and takes about 1-1.5 hours. It is also wise to verify the EGR system components i.e. the Transducer, EGR Valve and VSV Solenoid at this time.

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.

Starting difficulties may develop, mostly noted if the car has been parked for several days. Toyota has changed the 12v battery size specification to help correct this concern. Our technicians tell us the battery tray will need to be replaced to accommodate the larger battery

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. There are two separate recalls combined here, one applies to 2002-2004 and the second to 2004-2006 Models.  Please contact you local Toyota dealer to see if your vehicle is included.

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.

The power inverter coolant pump may fail resulting in illumination of the Check Engine Light associated with fault code P0A93 stored. Our technicians tell us the power inverter coolant pump should be replaced if this occurs. A revised pump is available for 2004-2006 models, Toyota service bulletin #EG001-07.

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.

The power steering pump and power steering hoses tend to develop leaks, particularly in the V6 models.

The 1996-2002 Toyota 4Runner with the automatic transmission may develop an issue which is commonly known as the "strawberry milkshake".

The name is based on the color and consistency of the fluid found in the coolant reservoir, transmission, and radiator.

The radiator on these models has an isolated portion for cooling automatic transmission fluid(ATF) that is pumped in and out by the transmission. This area of the radiator is known to rupture internally, and the following occurs:

  • Transmission overheating warning light
  • Transmission slipping (engine revs high and vehicle moves slowly)
  • Engine overheating
  • ATF and engine coolant mix in the radiator, engine, and transmission

Engine coolant in the transmission can cause severe damage, and if not caught immediately may require replacement or rebuild of the automatic transmission.

To correct the situation, the radiator must be replaced, and the engine cooling system must be flushed thoroughly. Also, the transmission will need to be professionally flushed, inspected, and possibly repaired or replaced.

To prevent this from occurring, proactive replacement of the radiator is necessary and recommended.

Toyota released a software update to fix a problem that caused the Check Engine Light to come on. Before the update, the computer would report a problem with the catalytic converter when there wasn't one.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate because a component of the oxygen sensor stops working. As a result the engine computer is unable to determine the proper ratio of air to fuel for the engine. Replacing the failed oxygen sensor should correct this concern.