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Inevitable Repairs Owners Will Make - Toyota Parts Center Blog

As long as you maintain your vehicle according to the factory maintenance schedule, you can expect much of your vehicle to function trouble free for a decade or two. However, despite Toyota’s considerable engineering talent and commitment to minimizing consumer operational costs, there are some components that often fail before your vehicle officially “dies.”

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Here’s a list of common repairs for Toyota brand vehicles, with some advice about what you can expect when these components fail.

Toyota Battery

Battery Replacement

Regardless of how many miles you drive your Toyota, you can expect to replace the battery every four or five years unless you are in a hot climate like Arizona. Hot climates reduce the lifespan of the battery to around three years.

A conventional zero maintenance lead-acid battery has less of a life than an Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) or gel-cell battery, either of which can last at least a year longer than standard batteries (and sometimes much longer). So, if you’re buying a replacement and you expect to have your vehicle for many years to come, it probably makes sense to go with an AGM or Gel battery. Otherwise, a conventional battery is probably fine. Just make sure the battery has sufficient power to start your vehicle (buy an OE replacement or larger).

Water Pump Failure

Toyota water pump

Water pumps fail pretty rarely, and when they do fail it’s often because the engine coolant either a) became contaminated or b) fell to a lower-than-expected level. Either situation can cause damage to your water pump, and depending on the type and severity of damage, your water pump can fail. The good news is that water pumps are affordable and (usually) easy to replace.

Fuel Pump Failure

In a perfect world, a fuel pump would last the vehicle’s lifespan. However, contaminated fuel causes fuel filters to clog, clogged fuel filters cause fuel pumps to work “extra hard,” and depending on your vehicle’s age, the number of times your fuel filters have become clogged, your fuel pump can fail.

NOTE: The best way to prevent a fuel pump failure is to replace your fuel filter as often as recommended in your Toyota’s owners manual.

Toyota fuel pump

There is no warning on a fuel pump failure to let you know that they are going to fail. You may find some hard starts or stalling to give you an idea that there is a problem. The pump may not be at fault; it could be the wiring, the relay or a plugged filter or line.

An electric fuel pump is generally located within the gas tank, so they can be difficult to replace. However, it’s not impossible and if you do it yourself, you can save a TON of cash!

Gaskets and Seals

Gaskets and seals are wear and tear items. Designed to seal two mechanical parts together to keep fluids or gases contained, a gasket or seal is a rubber or silicon part that will shrink or harden as it grows older. At some point, they will fail…the only question is how long they’ll last. The good news is that – generally speaking – your vehicle has dozens gaskets in any number of places, and they all work great for your vehicle’s lifespan.

Some gaskets and seals – like head gaskets, valve cover gaskets, manifold gaskets, rear main seals – are more prone to fail than others. But most gaskets and seals will start to succumb to the elements after a period of 5-10 years, at which point these items should be fixed as soon as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of doing serious damage to your engine.

Gaskets and seals are rarely expensive in terms of part costs – the expense is in the labor involved in removing and replacing gaskets and seals. Still, it’s less costly to replace a leaky seal or gasket than it is to replace a ruined engine or differential due to a gasket or seal failure.

NOTE: There are some additives you can purchase to help “cure” a leaky head gasket, for example, but keep in mind that these additives are often too little too late. Feel free to try one of these additives out, but understand there’s a good chance they won’t solve your problem.

Timing Belt


Toyota timing belt

The timing belt in an overhead cam engine needs to be replaced around the 100,000-mile mark in newer cars and 60,000-mile mark in the older vehicles. The belt is subject to continual wear and can stretch or break over time. If you have never replaced this belt, should it break, you can do extensive damage to your valves. A replacement belt is usually under $100, but the labor to replace it can run up to $800. While that may seem expensive, if you do not replace it, you are looking at a whole lot more money if the timing belt fails unexpectedly.

Clutch Disc

If you have a manual transmission, you can expect your clutch to wear out sooner or later. While you extend a clutch’s lifetime by driving carefully, clutches wear a tiny bit every time you shift. Worse-case scenario is that a clutch fails after 75,000 miles of use. Best case is that they last 120,000 miles. But like anything, there are people who get a lot more and a lot less.

Clutch replacement is fairly straightforward, and the clutch disc itself is usually pretty affordable, but the labor required to replace the clutch can sometimes be considerable ($1000+ for labor isn’t unheard of). This is why it’s crucial to invest in an OEM clutch disc…it makes far more sense to spend an extra $100 on an OEM quality clutch that will last five+ years than it does to “save” $100 on an after-market clutch that will require replacement in three years. When you buy a replacement clutch disc, you want quality and longevity if you’re going to minimize your long-term costs.

TIP: If you want to maximize the life of your clutch, you should:

  • Make sure you’re only putting your foot on the clutch pedal when you’re shifting. “Riding” with your foot on the pedal is a great way to ruin the clutch.
  • Make sure your clutch engagements are smooth and easy, but don’t “baby” the shifts too much. No one likes a herky-jerky shift, but a shift that’s overly “careful” can reduce your clutch pad’s lifespan.
  • Do not use the clutch to “hold” position on a hill. Some people will use the clutch to hold themselves on a hill rather than disengaging and using the brake. That’s a great way to reduce your clutch life.

Brake Rotors and Calipers

Everyone knows that brake pads will require replacement, but a lot of people don’t know that brake rotors and calipers can wear out before the rest of your vehicle. Your vehicle’s brake system has a hard life; stopping or slowing your vehicle dozens (or even hundreds) of times a day is hard. Stopping your vehicle while you’re towing, driving in mountainous or hilly terrain, or during “spirited” driving is harder.

Front brake pads can last 30-60k miles, depending on your vehicle, and rear brake pads can last twice that long. But there is not hard and fast rule for rotors and calipers. They should last the lifetime of your vehicle, but their lifespan can be shortened if you:

  • Use cheap, non-OEM brake pads, which have the potential to damage your rotors and place excess strain on your calipers
  • Tow or drive fast on a frequent basis
  • Engage in a lot of sudden “panic” stops

Rotors can sometimes be “turned” (technically, rotors aren’t actual “turned” on a lathe but instead resurfaced) to extend their life, but if you’ve got a set of rotors that are warped due to extreme heat or damaged by cheap brake pads, they’re going to need replacement. Calipers shouldn’t need replacement at all, assuming you’re not overtaxing your brake system.

NOTE: Brake shops often recommend replacing rotors and calipers “just to be safe,” and this is a waste of money. If a rotor or caliper has a problem, you’ll almost certainly notice it before it becomes a safety issue. Don’t buy replacement rotors or calipers until you have symptoms consistent with a rotor or caliper problem.

Exhaust Tubing and Muffler

Your vehicle’s exhaust system has a hard life too. In addition to carrying exhaust gases that are hundreds of degrees, the exhaust system is exposed to grit and grime from the road, and is often soaked during a snow or rainstorm.

All this heat, dirt, and water adds up to a highly corrosive environment. While you might get 10 years of life out of your OEM muffler or exhaust system, systems can rust to the point of having holes after as little as 3 years depending on where you live.

A muffler or exhaust system with a hole it it needs to be fixed. Not only does a hole make your vehicle much loder, but it can be a dangerous source of carbon monoxide that can seep into your vehicle’s interior. Carbon monoxide isn’t good for your health, and in high enough concentrations it can actually be deadly. Therefore, you want to replace a muffler or exhaust tube with a hole in it immediately.

When you buy a replacement muffler or length of exhaust tubing, you either want to buy an OEM system (which is usually stainless steel) or an after-market stainless system. If you go with a cheap “aluminized” steel system, you’ll probably be buying a new muffler or exhaust pipe in 2-3 years.

Rubber Parts

Tubes, hoses, weatherstripping, and liners are all going to wear out over time. Rubber shrinks and cracks after it has been on the car for a long time, and all of these pieces will need to be replaced. You may be able to get 10 years out of your rubber parts, but if you see or hear leaks of any sort before that, you may need to replace them sooner. A hot, sunny climate is going to be harder on your weatherstripping than a cooler, drier climate.

All rubber is going to deteriorate and replacement prices vary. Always check your hoses and brake lines when you do your regular maintenance in order to stay on top of a part that is aging.

Our Best Advice:

  1. Follow your scheduled maintenance guide. Regular maintenance can prevent a lot of failures.
  2. Use OEM parts. Cheap replacement parts don’t save you any money if you have to replace them twice as often.
Written by Jason Lancaster