Which Toyota Tundra Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Toyota has been the epitome of reliability and it never fails to get good grades from its users. They have been consistent with the development of their vehicles. The Tundra is one of the best in its class and has been rated five-out-of-five on the reliability scale for a long time. But not every model year has achieved the perfect rating.

For example, 2002 and 2007 received a low-reliability rating from their consumers. 2005-2008 were the worst years for the Tundra with the highest number of complaints from users with the engine, transmission and exhaust system as the key points of issues.

These models’ engines and transmission had a lot of problems. The Toyota truck’s electric system, brakes, and paint/trim have also been cited as having issues by owners.

So we have to go through a process of elimination for these years to figure out the best years to buy secondhand to not have to go through the hassle of repairs.

Toyota Tundra Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Stay away from the following Toyota Tundra years if you want a long-lasting vehicle.

Following years you mostly need to avoid being on the safe side:

  • 2002 Toyota Tundra
  • 2005 Toyota Tundra
  • 2007 Toyota Tundra
  • 2012 Toyota Tundra

Let’s talk about each model and what issues users have faced for certain years.

2002 Toyota Tundra Problems:

The most complaints about the Toyota 2002 Tundra were on the Body and paint. The frame was rotted and the body started to rust as well.

The bumper paint started flaking off and there were severe rust issues all over with the gas tank rusting beyond repair in one instance.

There are also reports of the rear differential leaking oil through the housing metal and rack leakage. The shift lever breaking loose and transmission going out are some of the other problems as well with this model year.

2005 Toyota Tundra Problems:

The 2005 year model has quite a few engine issues. The most common problem that users faced was the secondary air pump failing. The repair cost for this is usually around $1700.

Other problems with this model year include exhaust issues, transmission problems and AC/heater issues.

The catalytic converter starts to fail after a while. There’s a bump or lunge when shifting gear and sometimes the transmission starts to slip. The fan motor in the air conditioning fails to keep the interior of the car at a steady temperature.

2007 Toyota Tundra Problems:

This 2007 Toyota Tundra model year had the highest number of complaints from users among all of the Tundras. From the engine to the transmission, accessories and even the fuel system had issues with this one.

The piston makes a knocking sound when on cold startup. The air injection pump fails and the secondary air pump gets stuck. The car stalls while driving and accelerates on its own with the check engine light on.

The paint on this model year is horrendous. It starts to fade and there is a lot of rust build-up. The tailgate is also very weak and has chances to break down sometimes.

The radio and clock malfunction and the gas gauge does not show the proper reading. The charcoal canister gets contaminated with fuel and the gas inside gets contaminated.

2012 Toyota Tundra Problems:

The issues on the Toyota Tundra 2012 are mostly related to exhaust systems and engines.

The air injection pump stops working and repairing this is very costly. It costs around $3000 on average to repair a broken AIP. It usually starts to fail at around 78,500 miles.

Engine problems include knocks on the engine and the secondary air injection system failing.

The body on this model has some flaws as well. The roof develops warps after 17000 miles and the length of the truck bed is not on par with the advertised information.

A rusted brake is also a concern for some of the users. Repairing this also costs $3000 on average which is a lot of money. Rusted brakes can cause accidents to occur if not taken care of soon.

While both the 2007 and 2002 Toyota Tundras received poor reliability ratings from Consumer Reports, CarComplaints.com reports that the least reliable Toyota Tundra model years are worth avoiding.

According to Car Complaints, the 2012 Toyota Tundra has higher repair costs and more problems than previous model years at lesser mileage.

What Makes These Toyota Tundra Years Worth Avoiding?

The Tundra has received fewer complaints than its competitors. Nevertheless, it has left some users unsatisfied. Some common issues that the consumers have faced are:

  • Secondary air injection system failing
  • Unintended acceleration
  • Corrosion of the frame at an early stage
  • The propellant in airbags is deteriorating

Secondary air injection system Failing:

The secondary air injection system is intended to reduce emissions when the car is started from a cold start.

These components are prone to corrosion. The problem arises when water gets into the system’s induction pumps, and in the valves in some circumstances.

Unintended Acceleration:

After several Tundra owners complained about unintended acceleration, Toyota studied the problem and determined that it was due to the accelerator pedal sticking to the sliding surface because it was too smooth.

Unintended acceleration can cause major accidents on the road and should be viewed as of utmost importance.

Corrosion of the frame at an early stage:

The corrosion was a result of the first-generation frames’ moisture being able to penetrate the inside of the frame. Reports show that Toyota assisted affected users to get rid of the problem for $3.4 billion.

The propellant in airbags is deteriorating:

Long before Takata became a popular name owing to large recalls of tens of millions of vehicles from a variety of automakers a few years ago, there were issues with the airbags in the Toyota Tundra.

The first generation of Tundra cars had issues with the front passenger airbag inflator. The chemical drying agent that absorbs moisture was missing and it caused the propellant to deteriorate.

Which Years is Safe to Buy Used?

Now that I have separated the years to avoid, it’s time to look at the model years that are the most reliable and worth spending on.

The most dependable Tundra year models are:

  • The 2013 Toyota Tundra
  • The 2015 Toyota Tundra
  • The 2018 Toyota Tundra

Consumer Reports awarded the 2018 Toyota Tundra a flawless grade, making it one of the first full-size trucks to do so. It not only has a sleek outside, but it’s also sturdy enough to tow and pull on the inside.

Following all of the big challenges in 2012, the 2013 Tundra made a strong debut. This Toyota Tundra model garnered a lot of accolades and outperformed the others.

The Tundra was given a facelift in 2015, with the interior receiving the most attention. The 5.8L engine, with 381 horsepower and a towing capacity of up to 10,500 pounds, was offered for the first time this year.


The Tundra is a wonderful used car option, but you need to know what you’re looking for. Some of the Tundra model years had to be recalled to get fixed and relaunch in the market.

Skipping those would be the best choice and going for alternatives that do not come with severe issues should be the way to choose the right year model as your dream car.

Knowledge of the issues on different year models will help you choose the right car and you will not have to go through the predicaments that the other users have gone through.

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