COAL: 2015 Toyota Tacoma – A Keeper

Like many Americans during the pandemic (and current shortages and long lead times reflect this), I was stuck at home and bored – which led to shopping. Even though I was no longer commuting to the office, which was the main pain point, I began to think about my truck’s shortcomings and there was plenty of time to look at suitable replacements.

As I wrote in my last COAL installment, it started out innocently enough – I simply wanted to drive an equivalent truck – extended cab, 4×4, 4.0 liter V6, but with an automatic transmission to see what the experience would be like. Both my wife and I enjoyed it more than we thought we would. The ’12 sold to a friend in just a matter of hours and it was back to buy the truck we test drove.

I tried haggling with them on the price a little. The truck was recently in from Chicagoland with accident damage and was fixed to the bare minimum of standards, I felt. It also badly needed new tires. But no dice, this was not a buyer’s market and they stuck to their guns. Oh well, I needed a truck at this point and a comparable clean title truck was several thousands more.

Google is such a handy tool anymore. Pop in a VIN and get a feel for what you’re buying. I figured a repaired rear hit in a pickup is a better gamble than a front hit. There was no driver’s side damage.


The day we brought it home. My wife likes driving this truck much more than the previous one. I’ve always liked this uncommon metallic brown color, Pyrite Mica. I’m not a big fan of the whole blacked-out wheel craze but I’m also too cheap to rectify it by sourcing other stock wheels.


I sourced the missing rear passenger mudguard, tailgate badging and added a receiver hitch back – items the repair shop dealer did not rectify in the rebuild.

The truck has turned out to be a good purchase so far. I sourced some new take-off Michelin tires from a Sprinter van off Facebook Marketplace, saving me a good bit of money. Just a few weeks later we were taking a trip on a windy day and there was this weird occasional humming or kazoo sound. Due to the sound and the location it was coming from I thought it was maybe a short in the head unit or something related to the stereo but it continued even with all that off. Another trip on a windy day (offset headwind) had the same results. Turns out the door to cab weatherstripping is known to do this. Odd, the ’12 never did. So, two new revised door seals later I now have a quiet truck.

It was a hot, windy late summer day when we drove to Northwest Iowa to buy this Honda Monkey. That was when the loud “kazoo”  sound reared its ugly head for the first time.

The Entune touchscreen head unit has given me the white screen of death a few times now in especially cold weather. It’s a bummer to not have it work for days on end but not bad enough that I’ll seek out a replacement yet. Progress, huh? The 2012’s more rudimentary-looking unit offered all the same functionality without a touchscreen and was dead reliable.

Aside from these somewhat minor gripes it’s been a great vehicle and had allowed us to pursue some other endeavors, namely buy a camper. My dad has talked about getting a little camper for years now but I think the cost and, more so the learning curve, has been a source of trepidation – and rightfully so when you’re going it alone without having done it before. My wife and I have also wanted to trade in our tent for a little camper someday but we thought that someday would be like 20+ years from now. Well, as I said above, this pandemic has given more time for folks to mull over purchases and we thought that maybe if we split the cost and helped learn together, my dad would be into committing to one. Sure enough, he was and we began looking for a small camper. We found an Airstream in St. Louis that had been in a hailstorm and as such, was heavily discounted. The truck handled the small, lightweight Airstream with aplomb and we can’t wait to take it out this spring once parks start opening up.

Pretty bad parking job but at night, in the rain, and after a 13-hour day in the truck I was ready to call it good enough. It was not blocking the sidewalk and that’s the main thing.


We look forward to the adventures this truck will take us on for a good number of years ahead. As long as we can keep the road salt damage at bay all else should be fine on such a robust truck, I’m hoping!