Toyota Tacoma 4 Wheel Drive Problems With Best Solutions

Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel drive problems affect the efficiency of the vehicle. The common 4WD problems are stripped gears, faulty solenoids, or bad transfer motors.

Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel Drive Problems

If you are unsure which of these problems your truck is facing, this guide is here to help you out! Keep reading as we highlight the common issues with your Toyota Tacoma TRD and their solutions.

What Are the Common Issues with Toyota Tacoma 4WD?

The common issues with Toyota Tacoma 4WD are bad transfer motors, faulty solenoids, stripped gears, and locker problems. Other typical problems are faulty 4WD actuators, low or dirty case fluid, faulty switches, electrical connections, and fluid levels. A professional mechanic should help you diagnose the exact problem.

– Bad Transfer Motor

A bad transfer motor affects the workability of the 4WD system. A transfer motor is an electric motor that engages and disengages the 4WD system. It receives power from the transmission system of the vehicle.

The motor transfers power from the engine to the front and rear wheels of the car. The transfer motor is below the floor pan of the truck, and it is for both normal road and off-road use.

Common Issues with Toyota Tacoma 4WD

Once the transfer motor develops a fault, it makes a whining noise whenever you engage the 4WD system. The transfer motor can become faulty if water gets inside it. It can also malfunction due to insufficient voltage entering the motor. A faulty switch or relay will prevent enough voltage from going into the motor and prevent it from engaging the 4WD system.

– Faulty Solenoid

A faulty solenoid will make the 4WD system engage abnormally. The solenoid enables the case to engage and disengage the 4WD system. A solenoid uses electric current, and it can malfunction if it doesn’t receive enough voltage. A faulty switch or relay causes this problem.

– Stripped Gears

Inadequate lubrication will lead to the formation of stripped gears. The truck needs sufficient lubrication, especially if the vehicle operates under dry and dusty conditions. The dust can seep into the gears and cause them to strip.

– Locker Problems

In a 4WD vehicle, the locker keeps the front and rear wheels locked together. The locker is what equips Toyota Tacomas with their off-roading capabilities. It operates from the truck’s center, below the floor plan.

A common Tacoma problem is that the locker fails to engage. The problem can be due to a bad switch or a damaged locker.

– Faulty 4WD Actuator

A faulty 4WD actuator makes the vehicle malfunction. In a 4WD system, the transfer motor is where the actuator operates, and its function is to engage and disengage the 4WD.

A faulty 4WD actuator is due to a voltage problem. The actuator will fail if it doesn’t receive enough voltage. A faulty switch or relay can cause insufficient voltage.

– Low or Dirty Case Fluid

A dirty case fluid is one of the problems that affect the efficiency of a Toyota 4WD truck. The case fluid is for lubricating the gears inside the transfer motor. Once the fluid becomes low or dirty, it can cause the gears to strip. A low or dirty case fluid is often due to a leak in the seals.

– Faulty Switch

A faulty switch might make you press the knob a few times before the dash 4×4 light stops flashing. Also, a defective switch makes it hard to disengage the 4WD system after engaging it.

– Bad Electrical Connections

Bad electrical connections can affect the efficiency of the Toyota Tacoma or TRD sport. Once a wire corrosion problem occurs, the voltage and current flow will be degraded. Thus, the 4WD actuator will not function properly, and this will cause a flashing light on the dashboard.

– Low or Contaminated Fluid Levels

The differential oil and transfer case oil are two fluids required for a Toyota Tacoma to function correctly. The fluids help to cool and lubricate the differential gears, so fluid levels must always be topped up, especially in regions that experience severe winters.

With time, the differential oil breaks down and becomes contaminated. The liquid can break down faster if you drive on rough and wet-off tracks often or place a lot of load on the drive train by regularly driving in thick snow or deep mud.

What Are the Solutions to Common Toyota Tacoma 4WD Problems?

The solutions to common Toyota Tacoma 4WD problems include replacing the transfer motor, faulty solenoids, the gears, and the actuator. You can also try replacing the locker, installing a new switch, removing dirty fluids, installing new wires, and using quality synthetic oils.

– Replace Transfer Motor

To fix a bad transfer motor, first remove the floor pan to expose the transfer case. Once you have access to the case, remove the old motor from the vehicle and install a new one. Also, ensure the electrical connections are in place before reassembling the motor components.

– Replace Solenoids

Fixing a faulty solenoid is more complicated than a bad transfer motor. To repair a defective solenoid, you must first remove the floor pan from the vehicle to gain access to the case. Then, you will remove the old solenoid and install the new one. Afterward, ensure that the electrical connections are correctly fitted back into position.

– Repair the Gears

To repair stripped gears, remove the floor pan to gain access to the case. Once you have achieved this, take out the old gears using a gear puller. After that, clean all the dust and install the new gears. Also, lubricate the parts before assembling them back into position.

– Replace the Locker

Replacing the locker is the corrective measure for locker problems. To replace a locker, remove the floor pan to gain access. Afterward, check the electrical connections of the locker.

Solutions to Common Toyota Tacoma 4WD Problems

If you don’t notice anything is a miss and the connection looks good, the locker itself might be damaged. In this case, you will have to replace the locker with a new one.

– Replace the 4WD Actuator

To fix the 4WD actuator, replace the defective one. Unearth the floor plan to gain access, remove the old actuator, and install a new one.

– Remove Dirty Fluid

Once you notice a problem with the case fluid, remove the floor pan to gain access to the case. Afterward, check the fluid level and its condition.

Removing Dirty Fluid of Car


If you notice that the liquid is low, the next step is to add more fluid until it reaches the required level. If the liquid is dirty, remove it by flushing it out, then add new fluid.

– Replace Switch

To fix a faulty switch, you need the help of a professional electrician. It is the job of the electrician to test and inspect whether the switch needs replacement or not. However, you might first want to try a DIY approach to fix the defective switch.

To do this, remove the 4WD switch from the dash and check for failures or irregularities. Troubleshoot all the components to see what is responsible for the faulty switch. Ultimately, it could be a minor problem that you can fix yourself.

– Install New Wires

To fix electrical connection problems, check if there is a wire corrosion issue. If this is the case, replace the wires with new ones. Also, ensure you correctly clean and spray the cables with quality electrical silicone spray to prevent moisture build-up.

– Use Quality Grade Synthetic Oil

Using good grades of synthetic oil helps to maintain the fluid levels in good condition. Quality synthetic oil prevents the differential oil from freezing when it gets to sub-zero temperatures.

Also, in cold weather conditions, always warm the vehicle before engaging any of the 4WD systems. Furthermore, check for oil leaks before and after every road trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Is a 4WD Tacoma Vehicle Reliable?

A 4WD Tacoma is one of the most reliable pickup trucks in the market. Irrespective of the model year, they can cross any terrain while keeping the passengers safe. It is cost-effective to use a Tacoma truck as it offers owners fuel economy in addition to reduced cost of maintenance.

In a report by an online study, Toyota Tacoma RTD received average ratings for its reliability. It scored 3.5 out of a possible 5.0. Another study by Consumer Reports saw Tacoma earn perfect reliability scores for its 2013-2015 year models.

– How Long Can You Expect Your Toyota Tacoma Transmission To Last?

You can expect your Toyota Tacoma transmission to last about 150,000 miles. Still, some reports show that the vehicle’s transmission lasts longer than this. You can extend the life of the truck’s transmission by changing the fluid and servicing it regularly.

However, take note that Toyota Tacoma started experiencing transmission problems with its older models, such as the 2000 Tacoma. The most common problems recorded have been automatic transmissions not shifting into gear properly.

– Why Does 4WD Dash Light on the 1996-2002 Toyota 4Runner Remain On?

The 4WD dash light on the 1996-2002 Toyota 4Runner remains on due to a malfunction problem. The dash light is a warning light on the vehicle’s dashboard. The popping dash light might be because of the 4WD lever not being in the right place.

The lever should be set all the way forward. The 4WD dash light might also be on because of a vacuum leak from the solenoid lines. If the lines are cracked or fragile, then you should replace them.

Toyota Tacoma Common 4 wheel Drive Problems With Solutions Conclusion


Having read this article, you now know about common Toyota Tacoma 4WD problems and how to fix them.

Let’s do a quick recap of the points discussed in this article:

  • This article discusses Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel drive problems, so drivers know what to do if their Tacoma 4WD experiences said issues.
  • The problem could be a result of a faulty solenoid, low fluid levels or dirty fluid, or electrical connections.
  • To fix the problem, you can replace the solenoid or ensure that the gears are adequately lubricated or replaced.
  • To fix the electrical connection problem, clean or spray the wires with quality silicone to prevent moisture build-up.

There is no doubt that our guide will help you to troubleshoot common 4WD problems and fix them yourself.

5/5 - (13 votes)
Ran When Parked