Brake Fluid Guide for the Toyota Tacoma (All Model Years)

Your Tacoma's brakes are designed to use a specific type of fluid to ensure proper function and protection of the braking system.

Key Points:

  • All Tacomas are compatible with SAE J1703 or FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3 brake fluid.
  • 2024 Tacomas are also compatible with SAE J1703 or FMVSS No. 116 DOT 4 brake fluid.
  • Professional fluid replacement costs are between $120 and $170.
  • Brake fluid should be changed every 20,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first.
  • Brake fluid can be challenging to replace by yourself.

Changing the brake fluid is part of the recommended scheduled maintenance for your Toyota Tacoma. To perform this task or to top off the system, you need to know what Tacoma brake fluid to use.

In this guide, I cover the brake fluid for your Tacoma and show you the cost of having the brake fluid changed. I also discuss how often the brake fluid should be changed and give you instructions to check and change it. 

Brake Fluid Type

All Toyota Tacoma models from 1995 to 2024 take the same brake fluid. You need SAE J1703 or FMVSS No. 116 DOT 3 brake fluid.

For the 2024 model year, you have some additional options to consider. In addition to the type mentioned above, you can also use SAE J1703 or FMVSS No. 116 DOT 4.

Brake fluids are made to a certain standard. Each type can include different chemicals and compounds. Therefore, it’s best only to use what the manufacturer recommends. Plus, you should never mix different types of brake fluid.


Cost to Change

On average, you can expect to spend $120 to $170 to change the brake fluid in your Toyota Tacoma.

A couple of factors influence this price, including the following:

  • Tacoma model year
  • City/state of service
  • Type of service location (independent shop vs. dealership)

You can save money doing the brake fluid change at home. I will touch more on this option later in the article.


Change Frequency

Based on the recommended maintenance schedule, Toyota suggests changing the brake fluid every 20,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first. Between those changes, the brake fluid level and condition should be inspected.

During the inspection, it’s easy to see if something is wrong. The brake fluid no longer looks clean and transparent if it’s old. If it seems dirty before the regular interval, you should change it.

Other signs that it’s time for a brake fluid change include the following:

  • Spongy or soft brake pedal
  • Decreased brake performance
  • ABS warning light comes on
  • Burning smell while braking
  • Noises while braking
  • Brake fluid leak

These symptoms can indicate more than the need for a brake fluid change. If you aren’t sure how to diagnose the system, take your vehicle to a qualified Toyota technician. 

Failure to change the fluid when needed can result in brake failure. 


Checking the Brake Fluid

You don’t need to be a professional mechanic to check your brake fluid. In fact, you should know how to check it to ensure the truck has maximum braking power.

Here are some basic steps to follow.

  1. Pop your hood and head over to the driver’s side
  2. Find the Toyota Tacoma brake fluid reservoir (see photo below)
  3. Look at where the level falls on the outside of the container (this is easier to see if the fluid is dirty)
toyota tacoma brake fluid reservoir

If the fluid is a little low but not ready to be changed, go ahead and top off the system. If it continues to be low, there could be a leak that a mechanic should check out. 

Changing It Yourself

Unless you are a qualified mechanic, I don’t recommend changing the brake fluid yourself. There are too many variables, and something could go wrong that affects braking power.

Instead, I recommend taking your Tacoma to a qualified shop for the brake fluid change. The cost isn’t that much, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing it was done right. 

If you’re still curious about how to change a Toyota Tacoma’s brake fluid yourself, check out this video:


Whether you are driving the Tacoma for a new adventure or hauling heavy items, you need to know that the truck will brake when you need it to. By paying attention to the brake fluid and changing it when recommended, you keep the system in optimal condition.

Your brakes are one system standing between you and a potential collision. Take the time to ensure the brakes will work when you need them.

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