COAL: 2012 Toyota Tacoma – What a Deal

It’s been a while since my 2002 Tacoma post but as you may recall, I had been shopping for a bigger truck to accommodate our growing family as we were to host a foreign exchange student soon. Right around this time, a close friend of mine was looking to sell his company truck at trade-in price. It was too sweet of a deal to pass up.

My friend has always been very meticulous about keeping up his things and this company truck was no exception. Always serviced at the dealer and so very clean despite being subjected to salty Iowa roads for six winters at the time of purchase. Frequent underside baths are cruical. There was a scant 120,000 miles on the odometer, hardly break-in for the mighty 4.0 V6 Tacoma, though the six-speed manual transmission is known to be somewhat of an Achilles heel in these trucks. This trans had already had a full reseal and clutch replacement at 60,000 miles. Now the throw-out bearing was chatting up a storm as they’re known to do (there’s another six-speed in my neighborhood that does exactly the same as it drives by). My wife did not appreciate the loud aftermarket muffler but I was too cheap/not bothered enough by it to change it. Overall the truck was pristine, recently had new tires installed and the price was certainly right.

Glossy paint and nary even a door ding to be found, 120,000 miles and six years had treated this truck well.

We appreciated the bigger cab and rear access doors when our student came because we would frequently all pile in to go biking, camping, kayaking, hiking and other adventures where a truck was required. It was the right call and though he’s since left, I’m glad I didn’t opt for a crew cab for just my wife and me (though we hope to host another student again sometime soon).

The access doors sure were an upgrade over the 2002 Tacoma’s fixed rear cabin. The doors rattled and squeaked when I first got the truck but a liberal application of silicone grease on all inner and outer door seals fixed that right up.


Kayaking at the lake north of town but only two boats in back – my wife must’ve sat this one out.


The truck had a really clean interior from the previous guy’s meticulous regimen. He even had seat covers on when I purchased. The shift knob is a TRD aftermarket item he included as the original had leather separating from the seams, this felt better. I miss the rearview mirror functions such as the compass, air temp readout and garage door opener, I’ve read 2012 Tacomas were the peak spec and de-contented each year after for the 2nd gens.

The truck was great for that year but my most frequent destination was to work, situated on the other end of town, and the trip there is all stop and go traffic. I love manual transmissions but going through the gears all the time can be tedious and this was not a particularly fun manual vehicle, either. I recognize this is a heavy, mid-sized 4×4 truck and not a sports car but this truck would hardly accelerate to keep up with traffic without really givin’ it the mustard. So between all the shifting, rev hang and perceived laziness of the truck, I was just curious to see what an automatic truck might do for me.

I was really hoping I could trade in this truck and get into a similar automatic truck for minimal money out of pocket but last year through current is hardly a buyer’s market. One Saturday I sought out a suitable automatic truck that was within a decent price range and we test drove it. We both loved it. She liked the quieter exhaust and I found the automatic to be much more suitable and also peppier. It also kept the engine speed a bit lower out on the highway despite being having one fewer gear? Must be some overdrive/torque converter voodoo… The truck was two years newer and had 50,000 fewer miles but was also a rebuilt salvage title truck that had recently been repaired. We liked what we saw in that truck.

Most of these pictures were from the tail-end of ownership as I was looking to sell. In the background, you can see tree damage from the great derecho of 2020. My town was affected but not nearly as bad as towns to our south and east. Thankfully, I had ample warning of the storm and was able to take the truck to a covered safe spot. Our garage is already full of other cars so my truck lives outside on this slab, under a big tree.

The dealer did not want to give me all too much for the truck so I thought I’d be better off with a private sale. Pricing it was a dilemma. KBB really isn’t a good guide and comparable trucks were selling or at least were listed for quite a bit higher locally. But I also knew I didn’t want to sit on it forever and miss out on the truck we test drove. I priced it quite a bit lower and had instant interest that morning. The first inquiry was some random guy but the second was my really good friend who lives just a few blocks south of me. I would’ve offered it to him first had I known he was in the market! So, of course, I sold it to him. I also lowered the price twice more for him because in my close circle we have a thing called “friend price”. I got the truck for a great deal from my buddy and so should he.

I am grateful for the truck while we had it that year. It filled our needs well and didn’t cost us much to own during that short while. My friend still has the truck and enjoys it so I count it as a win that he got a great price on it and appreciates it.