Tucson Tom's Tacoma Pages

I own a 2000 Tacoma 4x4 with a V6 engine. As of late 2012 it has about 200,000 miles on it. In August of 2012 I was getting 21 mpg on the highway.
A side note: a friend with a V8 Tundra gets 17.5 mpg on the highway.

The V6 engine in my Tacoma is the 3.4L 5VZ-FE. This is used in the Gen 1 Tacoma (1995 through 2004) as well as the 1996 through 2001 Forerunner.

Note that this is a different engine than the 3.0 liter 1MZ-FE V6 engine used in my 1999 Gen 4 Camry

Tucson area mechanics

Dan's Toy shop is at 2502 E. Fort Lowell 620-1957 This is the SE corner of Tucson Blvd and Fort Lowell. I am told he used to work at one of the Toyota dealers. This is where I take my vehicles all of the time. Brian does a lot of work on my vehicles. He knows his stuff, but can be terse at times.

My friend Jeff Rill uses Lance at "Mercer automotive" at 1037 E. Miles, and has for some time. He works mostly on Toyotas. I called him 3/26/2008 and he sounds like a great guy.

Dusty uses John at Tokyo Imports at 343 E. Prince, 887-3010. between Stone and 1st on the north side. When I asked about ABS brake problems, he redirected me to either the dealer, or to Dan's Toy shop.

Emissions Canister

This little story begain with my check engine light coming on and staying on.

When your check engine light is on, that means that the computer (ECM or whatever you want to call it) has stored trouble codes. The good news is that you can go to Autozone and they will hook their tool up and read the codes out for you, for FREE. They will even suggest a probable cause. Alternately you can buy a tool to read them out. The dealers and repair shops all have the tools to read codes out of course.

The tool to read the codes is called a "scan tool", and you can buy them for as little as $40 (so I did!). There are also ways to bend a paper clip and shove it into the right holes and count flashing lights, but my advice is to just buy a scan tool. Given that my dealer charges $65 to read out codes, this is money well spent, and peace of mind when you take your vehicle to the shop.

Once you have the trouble codes, Google is your friend.

A scan tool is also the preferred way to clear the codes. OBD-II codes are standardized (many of them anyway) for 1996 and newser vehicles. OBD stands for On Board Diagnostic. You can buy Scan tools at Amazon.com for prices ranging from $40 to $150 and more. The cheap unit (UIFtech) gets decent reviews and has the ability to clear the codes, but does not work with newer vehicles using the CAN protocol. The Equus 3030 looks like a great unit (for $60) and gets good reviews and works with both the older OBD-II and the newer CAN protocols. As of 2008, all newly manufactured vehicles are required to use CAN.

Note: I did buy a scan tool and it was money well spent. In minutes it gives me any codes and has a convenient button to clear the codes. It is crazy not to own one of these things.

Back to my story. It is September, 2009 and my service engine light has been on for a few weeks. The truck seems to run just fine, but while at the dealer for an oil change, I asked them to check the code and they tell me that I need a new emissions carbon canister. The dealer will charge $281 for the canister, and $150 to put it in. (They will deduct the $65 charge for reading out the codes from the labor when they do). I will need to get this done (or do something) before the next time I need to pass emissions in Arizona (since at emissions, they hook up a diagnostic tool and demand no outstanding codes before I will pass). Right now I am pondering my options.

The canister is solely an emissions thing and sits between the gas tank and the throttle body as near as I can learn. Some people have removed it entirely and let the sensors and actuators dangle. Another fellow removed his and replaced the sensor with an appropriate resistor to ensure he gets no codes. The friendly guy at Autozone tells me that this canister is a dealer only item, which explains the inflated price for a can of carbon.

The best way to clear codes is by using a scan tool (Autozone might even do this for you). The ugly option is to disconnect the car battery for 15-30 minutes. This is in general not recommended because it can screw up other things (such as alarm systems with remote keyfobs, radio presets, and so forth). To clear codes (this works on some models of Tacoma, but has yet to be verified on my 2000 model) do this:

Here is an online list of OBD-II trouble codes. Note that generic codes begin with P0xxx, Toytota specific codes begin with P1xxx.

Timing Belt

The kit with water pump is $171 on Amazon, or $168 at Rock Auto. Lots of reviews with information and advice on Amazon. My repair guy quotes $1400 to do the job (including new radiator hoses, which he recommends). Also many recommend replacing the thermostat.
  • Aisin TKT-025 on Amazon


    I needed new shocks (my 2000 Tacoma was a TRD package with the original Bilstein shocks). I considered a number of the options below, but finally bought the Bilstein HD shocks at Autozone (believe it or not!!), but had the Toyota dealer install them (no regrets about that). This provide a nice stiff ride and the truck now sits a bit higher than it did with the original worn out shocks (I can't say how it now sits relative to its original condition from the factory, no records or accurate memories). If I had wanted lift, then the Old Man Emu kit or some other option would have been worth looking into, but I decided against it. Maybe when I get my next set of shocks I should do the springs also.

    Lance recommended the Old Man Emu kit, says that it is springs and shocks and other parts and in the usual configuration would give about 1 inch of lift (maybe). He emphasized that springs do wear out, and Land Rovers usually need new springs around 100,000 miles.

    The best stock options for the Tacoma seem to be the Bilstein HD or the Bilstein 5100 series. The rear shocks have a different left and right. The passenger side rear shock is about an inch shorter. One guy measured a length of 12.5 inches compressed and 19.5 extended on the passenger side, and about an inch longer on the driver side.


    On 3/26/2008, I called Wheelers offroad and talked to Johny. He was helpful, and I would be happy to do business with this outfit. He mentioned the Bilstein 5100 shock as a more serious option than the Bilstein HD. As far as springs, it is a matter of looking at the truck and deciding if it has started to droop.

    Have any comments? Questions? Drop me a line!

    Tom's Tacoma pages / tom@mmto.org