2002 Toyota Tacoma Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2002 Toyota Tacoma 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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8
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.

Loud rattling or loud slapping may be heard from the engine on the 1995-2004 Toyota Tacoma with the 2.7L I4 engine. 

These noises has two known causes: a failed balance shaft bearing, and a failed timing chain tensioner. 

The balance shaft, also known as the counter rotating assembly, is installed to reduce engine vibration, and counter the rotational force of the crankshaft and camshafts. When the bearing fails, it will rattle loudly, and the timing chain will produce a metallic slapping noise. The rattle has been described as shaking a can of marbles. 

The timing chain tensioner is also known to fail, allowing the timing chain to contact the timing chain housing. This produces a metallic slapping noise coming from the front of the engine, but there is no "can of marbles" sound associated. This would not indicate balance shaft failure, but the timing chain may need to be replaced.  

To repair these issues inspection of the entire timing chain system will be necessary, and replacement of the timing chain, timing chain guides, balance shafts, timing chain tensioner, and associated seals may be necessary. 

Avoiding these issues may be possible by early oil changes, and using the factory specified engine oil. 

The 1996-2002 Toyota Tacoma with the 3.4L V6 and 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.

The Toyota Tacoma 2.7L I4 engine has a known issue with the valves that if left unchecked, will cause burned valves and engine performance issues. 

The engine ‘breathes’ through valves that are pushed open by the camshaft, and closed by springs. When valves are closed, they seal against a valve seat. In this vehicle, the valve seat is too soft, so after the valve contacts it thousands of times, it becomes crushed. Once it is crushed, the valve can no longer make a proper seal, and the valves erode due to extreme temperature (burnt valve).

Symptoms related to this issue:

To repair the burnt valves, the cylinder head must be removed and rebuilt, which is a costly internal engine repair, however, this issue can be prevented through inspection and adjustment of valve clearances every 40,000 miles.

On vehicles with a manual transmission, worn shift bushings can cause the transmission to pop out of gear, especially when coasting down in 1st or 2nd gear. Replacing all the shift linkage bushings is pretty straight forward and not expensive and will commonly correct this concern.

Occasionally, the Check Engine Light may come on, this can be related to a failed air flow sensor. This type of fault is commonly repaired by cleaning or replacing the air flow sensor.

At higher mileages, an anti-lock brake system wheel speed sensor may wear out and illuminate the ABS warning light. It is recommended to replace the sensor with a factory part and be sure to clean all rust and debris from the mounting area because the mounting distance is critical. Failure to do so may result in the new sensor setting false trouble codes. Be sure to check the condition and runout of the front wheel bearings on the 2WD and 4WD vehicles and the CV joints on the 4WD vehicles since worn wheel bearings and/or CV joints can cause the ABS trigger rings to rub against the ABS sensors and damage them.

 

A code P0770 or P0773 may occur at higher mileages which indicates that the 3-way lock-up solenoid could be defective and may need replacement.