2020 Toyota Tacoma Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Fuel system, brakes, engine, and powertrain issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

While many people are focused on the Big Three manufacturers when it comes to trucks, it’s hard to overlook the Toyota Tacoma. However, it’s had issues over the years, and despite its perceived reliability, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma has some major problems. The company claims owners can “play harder” with this model. But owners are finding major fuel-related problems, as well as brake, and highly concerning engine and powertrain malfunctions.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2021   2022

Most Common Problems

Owners are reporting major problems about the 2020 Toyota Tacoma to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The most common complaints relate to the fuel system, brakes, engine, and powertrain. But there are also serious problems that relate to forward collision avoidance and vehicle speed control. Other components and systems that owners highlight in their complaints include airbags, backover prevention, the electrical system, exterior lighting, lane departure, seat belts, seats, steering, structure, suspension, tires, visibility/wiper, and wheels of the vehicle.

While there are relatively few airbag complaints, they are also worth highlighting because they all resulted in injuries.

Bearing in mind that fuel issues top the list of complaints, it’s not surprising that there is a recall warning that the fuel pump of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma may fail. But it’s not only the Tocaoma that is affected. A total of 1,525, 742 Toyota (including Lexus) vehicles were recalled on November 4, 2020.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Fuel/propulsion System
Service Brakes
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Vehicle Speed Control
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Air Bags
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking

Problems with the Fuel System

A malfunctioning fuel system is an area of huge concern, and there are multiple issues that owners are highlighting. For example, many state that their vehicles stall, hesitate, or have difficulty starting. These are all symptoms that are all consistent with a failing fuel pump. Similarly, many owners complain about rough idling and stalling as well as reduced performance. There is also evidence of possible fuel leaks.

One of the first complaints about the fuel system was from an owner in Georgia who said that the vehicle smelled of gasoline. “After driving the vehicle, whether it was 2 miles or 20 miles, once reaching the destination you could smell gasoline. The smell lingered for at least 30 minutes after the vehicle was parked.”

An owner from Colorado states that the truck “died while driving two separate times. It seems that the problem is the fuel pump, just like we now know has been recalled by Toyota in this model and others. The symptoms are exactly what have been reported by people experiencing faulty fuel pumps that are covered by the recall. My truck is not currently covered by the recall and Toyota is refusing to replace the fuel pump, saying that they can’t duplicate the problem after having the vehicle for a week. No resolution has been offered. Just, ‘Sorry we can’t make it fail and we can’t replace it’.”

An owner from Indiana states that the vehicle stalls at various speeds. “It has broken down and registered fuel trouble codes four times in less than 90 days… The dealer has replaced the high and low-pressure fuel pumps, and the problem is still not fixed. This is an extremely dangerous condition because the driver loses all power, and the vehicle does not restart.”

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Problems with the Brakes

There are significant problems that relate to the brakes of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma. Some owners report reduced brake effectiveness, while others describe rear wheel lockup or uneven braking that can lead to loss of vehicle control, especially in slippery conditions. A few share experiences where the brakes completely failed or went to the floor, requiring significant driver effort or emergency brake usage to avoid a collision.

An owner from Florida tells that while driving and applying the brakes of the 2020 Tacoma “they do not always seem like they are going to stop me in time. Sometimes it feels like the brake is grabbing and the stop is jerky and not smooth. On a couple of occasions while driving with cruise control on, I applied the brake pedal, but as soon as I took my foot off the brake, the vehicle sped up on its own to resume (the) previous speed, so it appears the cruise control did not disengage when the brake was applied.” The dealership’s response was more than disconcerting! According to the complaint, they said, basically “it’s the nature of the beast.”

An owner from Washington tells a different, but alarming story about hard or regular braking in “inclement weather” when the rear wheels would lock up. The dealer replaced the rear drums, but the problem recurred. “They replaced more internal final drive parts like axle shafts and wheel bearings, shoes, and drums again.” But, “the lockup would disengage as soon as the brake pedal was released.” That didn’t work either, and when the owner filed a complaint, the truck was back in the shop for repairs a third time.

Engine Problems

The 2020 Tacoma has all kinds of engine problems including stalling, rough idling, oil pressure problems, power loss and hesitation, and catastrophic engine failure.

An owner from Connecticut experienced “catastrophic engine failure” on the highway and had to be towed to a dealership. The truck had only 1,400 miles on the clock! However, according to the complaints, the dealerships didn’t even acknowledge the problem or communicate with the owner for more than a month.

A complaint that highlights the danger of stalling at high speeds comes from an owner in Maryland. While driving at 60 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled, for no apparent reason. There were no warning lights, and the driver was able to continue. When it happened again, the owner took the Tacoma to the dealer who found nothing wrong. Unfortunately, the failure persisted.

An owner from Ohio had “severe hesitation issues during warm startup.” In the complaint, filed as an engine, powertrain, and fuel/propulsion issue, he states that there is a smell of gasoline plus the starter seems to stick and make “a  loud grinding noise,” Sometimes there is a “single click/pop noise immediately after pushing the start button, but the truck still starts.” Sometimes it idles rough and “the tachometer will dip low and the truck will shake slightly” as if it’s going to stall. Despite video evidence, Toyota denied there was anything wrong, the complaint states.

Powertrain Problems

Some of the powertrain complaints also talk about engine issues, and often both engine and transmission problems are related. Complaints that link the powertrain specifically to their problems talk about a loss of power and stalling, trucks going into “limp mode,” engine starting problems, and various transmission issues.

Here are a few examples of complaints.

One, issued in April 2023, states that five times in three years, the truck went into “limp mode” when pulling out into traffic. The complaint states that the truck loses power and won’t go faster than 25 mph. “When the truck goes into limp mode I pull over and cut the engine off. I immediately turn the engine back on and the truck operates normally. I know this is a protective system but if you are pulling out into traffic and the truck goes into limp mode for no good reason, it could result in an accident.“

Another complaint states that while driving at 79 mph, “the vehicle lost motive power and stalled without warning.” The dealer couldn’t find any cause for the failure but performed “an unknown software update.”

A complaint from an owner in California filed as both an engine and powertrain issue tells that while driving up a hill, whenever the accelerator pedal was released, the vehicle started to roll backward. Similarly, the dealer couldn’t identify the cause. But, when the failure recurred, the dealer found that “the engine not getting enough oil causing the vehicle to stall.”

Forward Collision Avoidance and Speed Control Issues

Multiple issues are raised by NHTSA complaints about forward collision avoidance and vehicle speed control issues. Complaints relate to:

  • The automatic emergency braking activating or warnings appearing when there’s no obstacle in front of the vehicle. This can be startling for drivers and it leads to unnecessary braking or accidents.
  • The system malfunctioning in winter conditions. This means that a critical safety feature isn’t available during times when it might be most needed.
  • Backup pre-collision system failures that are supposed to prevent a collision while reversing.
  • Unintended acceleration with cruise control. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to a high-speed collision.
  • Sudden deceleration with adaptive cruise control that can cause a rear-end collision with vehicles following behind.


Airbags are installed in vehicles to save lives and help to prevent injuries. It is devastating when they malfunction.

An owner from Iowa was driving in heavy fog when she crashed into a ditch. The airbags didn’t deploy, and she ended up with a head fracture, concussion, and bruises on her right chest and right arm. The Tacoma wasn’t driveable after the accident.

An owner from Montana was driving at 5 mph on “a snow road.” He tried to make a left turn, but because of the icy conditions, the vehicle slid off the road and into a ditch. According to the complaint, “The driver-side curtain airbag deployed at an angle, which hit him in the right eye and caused immediate blindness. The side curtain airbag also trapped him in between the seatbelt and the airbag.” He was rushed to hospital where doctors confirmed his right eye was permanently blinded. He also suffered minor facial abrasions. Luckily, the three passengers in the Tacoma weren’t injured, but the vehicle was totaled!

Another owner was driving at 35 mph when another driver ran a stop sign and T-boned the car. The complaint states that the driver was “tossed all over the car” and injured when the airbags didn’t deploy. The Tacoma was “totaled.” The other driver’s airbags did deploy.

What Can You Do?

Do you think you might have bought a lemon? If so, you don’t have to live with it. Lemberg Law will assess your problems free of charge to see if you have a valid claim against Toyota. After all, every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of owners who discover they have bought lemons. And the law makes Toyota pay the legal fees.

All you have to do is fill out a contact form or call the Lemberg Law Helpline today.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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