If you drive your Tacoma properly, the clutch will last a long time. But improper driving behaviors (riding the clutch, dropping the clutch), constantly carrying or towing heavy loads, and harsh off-road abuse (heat and moisture) will wear out the clutch faster than normal.
Riding the clutch: This holds especially true in stop-and-go traffic or when navigating tricky off-road situations. If a certain gear is engaged, riding the clutch (or partially stepping on the clutch pedal as the vehicle moves) will have a tendency to wear out the frictional surfaces on the clutch as the flywheel and clutch disc will be rotating at different speeds, creating unnecessary heat and wearing off extra friction material.
Incorrect shifting: If you either shift before the clutch is fully disengaged, or if you don’t complete the shift before engaging the clutch, the action will wreak havoc on the clutch damper springs. This will result in excessive wear and tear. Excess heat inside the clutch pack will eventually warp or damage the clutch.
Holding your truck using the clutch: Toyota Tacoma owners know this very well. It is not healthy to use the clutch to hold the truck in an incline or slope. That’s what the parking brake or emergency brake is for. But there are reasons why holding the clutch is good practice, but it is tricky to find the right balance between engaging and burning the clutch. This particularly holds true in extreme off-road scenarios.
Modifying the engine to produce more power: The stock flywheel and clutch pack in the Toyota Tacoma are engineered to harness the torque of the stock 2.7-liter four-cylinder or 3.5-liter V6 motor. The stock clutch and pressure plate do not have the necessary clamping force when at power levels or weight ratings (when towing) above stock.
Burning the clutch: Performing a burnout may look awesome, but it will severely affect the service life of the clutch. This also holds true when towing heavy loads or playing a game of Tacoma tug-of-war with your buddies.
Off-roading and towing: Frequent off-roading and towing will likely decrease the service life of the OEM clutch due to more frequent slipping when off-roading and higher load when towing. Both of these situations produce more heat than regular on-road driving with an unladen truck.
Essentially, all of these scenarios involve excessive heat – excessive heat is a clutch killer and the scenarios above are some of the ways in which it is produced. Of course, a clutch is designed as a wear item so by no means are we suggesting it will last forever if you drive perfectly (plus, that would be a little boring).