10 Most Outrageous Truck Quality Problems Of The Last Decade

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All of the recent and damning evidence uncovered in the first-gen Tundra frame rust investigation has been discouraging. How could Toyota and the frame supplier Dana underestimated the potential for rust so profoundly? Why has Toyota let this issue go so far? Clearly, a critical error in quality has been made. Toyota’s image will depend on how they take care of the problem.

However, no matter what you may think about the Toyota Tundra frame rust issue (we think it stinks), this problem is fairly comparable to problems that other truck manufacturers have had in the last decade.

Here’s are the 10 most outrageous truck quality issues of the last 10 years:

UPDATE: Ford’s SuperDuty flames are definitely outrageous, but they really shouldn’t take the place of the Tundra’s tailgate failures. So…the SuperDuty will get slot #11 so we can make room for a poorly designed tailgate that buckled under normal weight.

11. Ford’s Flame-throwing 2008 SuperDuty Diesel

Ford’s engineers jumped on top of this issue almost immediately. In terms of an actual “quality” problem, it’s barely on the radar. However, in terms of outrageous…it’s off the charts. SO, it makes the list.

YouTube Preview Image

Watch the video and you’ll see flames 2-3 feet long shooting out of a 2008 SuperDuty exhaust pipe.

10. 2007 and 2008 Toyota Tundra Tailgates That Bend

Toyota’s engineers royally screwed up the launch of the 2nd generation Tundra when they forgot to make the tailgates strong enough to support more than a couple of hundred pounds. At least Toyota replaced the Tundra tailgates that failed…eventually.

9. 2000-2001 Dodge Ram Hoods Flying Open While Driving

NHTSA investigated 30 reports of 00′ and 01′ Dodge Ram hoods flying open while driving. Normally, if a driver doesn’t fully latch his or her hood, there’s a secondary safety latch in place to keep the hood from flying open. However, 00-01′ Rams used a secondary latch mechanism that was vulnerable to rust. When these owners forgot to latch the hood, they got a nasty surprise.

Car hoods flying open are only funny in the movies.

Car hoods flying open are only funny in the movies.

8. GM’s Surprise ABS Activation At Very Low Speeds…And Subsequent Low Speed Crashes

Approximately 800,000 GM 99-02′ trucks registered in the “salt belt” were recalled in 2005 because the ABS wheel speed sensors were vulnerable to corrosion…and subsequent malfunction. In terms of safety risk, this recall was pretty minor. The problem was that when the ABS came on at low speed, a lot of people ran into something. NHTSA received 840 complaints and 244 crash reports associated with this problem. (244!)

7. Violent Front-end Oscillations in the 05-07′ F250

NHTSA received 78 complaints from 2005-2007 F250 owners regarding violent front-end oscillations at highway speeds. Some of the owners report losing control of their vehicle as a result of this problem. While NHTSA could never pinpoint a safety issue, Ford did warn their dealers about this problem.

6. F150’s Phantom Airbag Deployment At Engine Start

NHTSA is currently investigating allegations of spontaneous airbag deployment in the F-150

NHTSA is currently investigating allegations of spontaneous airbag deployment in the F-150

Imagine jumping into your 2005 F-150, cranking the key, and having the airbag explode right in your face. NHTSA is currently investigating this problem, but as of September of this year NHTSA has received 8 incident reports. Ford dealership technicians have told customers that the problem was an “inadvertent wire chafing issue.”

Keep an eye on this one – the results of the investigation should be out soon.

5. 1999-2002 Dodge Rams with the Cracked Dash Option

This isn’t a major problem, but it sure is annoying…and common. There are hundreds of separate complaints on CarComplaints.com about 1999-2002 Dodge Rams with cracked dashes. A quick search of “Ram cracked dash” tells the story. What was Dodge thinking? This seems like a quality problem that, frankly, should never occur.

4. Spark Plug Ejecting F-Series

In September 2005 NHTSA investigated 1997-2002 F-Series trucks after receiving 474 separate complaints about “spark plug ejections.” For some reason or another, as the Triton series of motors of this time period (the 4.6L V8, 5.4L V8, and 6.8L V10) got some wear and tear, spark plugs shot out of the engine like little bullets.

This F150 caught fire when an ejected spark plug hit a fuel line. Image from ConsumerAffairs.com

This F150 caught fire when an ejected spark plug hit a fuel line. Image from ConsumerAffairs.com

Despite the image above (see more on ConsumerAffairs.com) NHTSA’s official investigation says that damage was usually “limited to the engine,” and therefore it was NOT a safety issue…which is a small consolation to anyone that had to buy a replacement cylinder head.

3. Toyota Tundra Frame Rust Problems

2000-2001 Tundras are being investigated by NHTSA for major rust problems.

2000-2001 Tundras are being investigated by NHTSA for major rust problems.

NHTSA is investigating 2000-2001 Toyota Tundras for frame rust problems, and we fully anticipate this investigation will lead to some sort of recall and/or warranty program. According to our readers, rust is so bad on some of these Tundras that spare tires and brake lines are literally falling off the truck because the frame can no longer support their weight. Read all about Tundra frame rust and the NHTSA investigation…and our belief the frame rust problem might not be limited to 2000-2001 Tundras.

2. GM’s Hotshot Washer Fluid System Fires

The potential for a spontaneous vehicle fire, however remote, is downright scary. GM recalled nearly one million vehicles (many of which were decked-out pickups) after determining that their “hot-shot” heated windshield washer fluid system could short out and cause a fire. Only 3 fires have been reported, likely thanks to GM’s efforts to issue a recall as soon as they realized there was an issue.

1. Ford and Texas Instruments Cruise Control Module Fires

This F150 caught fire while parked as a result of a defective cruise control switch. Luckily it was outdoors.

This F150 caught fire while parked as a result of a defective cruise control switch. Luckily it was outdoors.

Ford and Texas Instruments get first place on this list for two reasons. First, the potential of a spontaneous fire (even if the key isn’t in the ignition) is the definition of an unsafe product. Second, Ford and T.I. have yet to acknowledge this as a safety issue, despite 2 deaths and millions of dollars in property damage linked to this problem.

Starting in 1992, Ford installed cruise-control switches manufactured by T.I. in nearly all of their vehicles. By the late 90’s, Ford acknowledged a potential issue by recalling 280k 92-93 Crown Vics and Mercury Grand Marquis. This small recall was followed by a series of larger recalls over the next decade. Each time, Ford refused to acknowledge a safety problem while simultaneously paying for replacement switches.

As of last week, yet another recall has been announced for this same issue. Ford has now recalled a total of 14.1 million vehicles for this problem over the last 10 years. NHTSA reports a total of 550 fire incidents as a result of this problem. These fires have also been blamed for the deaths of an elderly woman and a four year old girl – both of whom died after their burning vehicles caught their homes on fire while they slept.

Hundreds of fires and 2 deaths are blamed on faulty cruise control switches.

Hundreds of fires and 2 deaths are blamed on faulty cruise control switches.

After 14 million recalled vehicles, Ford still claims this isn’t a safety issue.

Any issues we forgot? Comment below.

Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com

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  1. Jeremy the Dark Dork says:

    #10 I’d pay to get

    Yesterday I saw a guy with the #9 issue. Poor guy had to climb on top his truck and kick the hood back down.

  2. Mickey says:

    That sure puts all trucks in perspective about quality issues. Especially the 2nd recall on the cruise control. Recall on a recall I call it. No matter how you look at it we all lose.

  3. Brian says:

    This article sure makes GM, Nissan, and Toyota look like best bets in the trucking world. Not so much for the best selling F-series.

  4. Brian – If the F-series looks bad, it’s because they’ve been so wildly successful in terms of sales. When you have millions of copies on the road, you’re bound to have more problems than manufacturers with fewer copies. Having said that, GM has just about the same number of trucks. I’ll also say that Ford’s record on the cruise control switches is embarrassing…only in fairness to the ‘new’ Ford leadership, this is a leftover from the days of Jacque Nasser.

  5. Jeremy the Dark Dork says:

    Spontanious Combustion, no matter how many or few, make an automaker look bad.

    “Marge, you smell something bur (SPLOOF) ning?”

    Not a good day

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GCG 4×4 Club, Jason TundraHQ. Jason TundraHQ said: Post Edited: 10 Most Outrageous Truck Quality Problems Of The Last Decade (http://cli.gs/5ePLT) […]

  7. Jeremy the Dark Dork says:

    Also, For the record, The flaming tail pipe of doom is awesome.

  8. Mickey says:

    They had that recall before. It went up to the 2002 models. In 06 they added the 03 models to it. Had my 03 F-150 fixed right before trading it in. That’s why I stated a recall on the recall. Doesn’t look good for the older models quality.

  9. Brian says:

    Okay, I’ll give you the pre-2007 problems, but if my new 2008 PSD made that hideous cackle and spewed flames out of the exhaust…I’d be seriously miffed. (Right after I stopped thinking how cool the afterburner effect looked.)

  10. Brian says:

    Hey, first there were 10…now 11?!?

  11. Mickey says:

    Brian they added Toyota tailgate issue’s.

  12. mk says:

    I don’t think the tailgate is a recall, but should be a TSB at least for the inferior welds in the corners that can break (they seem to have made it better on my 2010 tundra – wait and see) along with the flimsy replaceable sheet metal piece in the middle that is about as thin as 1/16″ and bends/dents when stepped on or pushed down hard with your hand.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What about the notorious Gen I Tundra Airbag issue?
    What about the ball joint recall?

  14. Anonymous – As is typical with Jalopnik, that’s only a small fragment of the whole airbag swich story. Toyota asked NHTSA to waive the required child seat anchors…because, you know, it’s a truck. Toyota didn’t want to install the child seat safety system, so they disabled the cut-off switch. It’s a great example of stupidity on both Toyota’s part and on the part of federal regulators, but I don’t think it’s a candidate for outrageous quality problems.
    As for the ball joints, I think it’s a candidate.

  15. Anonymous says:

    May I ask how the ranking came about? I had never heard of most of these issues but they are good to know. #1 is definitely an issue and #11 looks bad azz even though dangerous LOL…

  16. TXTee says:

    Grr tis I quoted above

  17. The rankings are based on combination of safety risk, bad engineering, and crazyness. If I had it to do over again I would have included a poll or something so people could rank them instead of me ranking them…

  18. Jeremy the Dark Dork says:

    You did a great job. With all eleven of the ten items.

    Sorry, I leave no knife unturned. No flub unmocked. No Burritos uneaten.

  19. LOL thanks. Burritos, steak, and vicadin…sounds like a good day.

  20. Mickey says:

    You know the burrito’s made me hungy. Had to go to Taco Bell to get my fix.

  21. Jeremy the BUrritozilla says:

    Taco Bell LOVES to see me coming. $5 can get you enough Burritos to seriously alter the balance of greenhouse gases on the planet.

  22. Mickey says:

    I seriously work on that also…… Bean Burrito’s for 89 cents with alot of onions….. hahahhaa now I can say take a whiff of Jiff.

  23. LOL – Who doesn’t love a 2 am Taco Bell burrito?

  24. Jeremy the BUrritozilla says:

    to answer your question: Everyone else who is around you. That is who doesn’t like my 2AM ritto runs.

  25. Randy says:

    Why isn’t the second generation Toyota Tundra(choppy ride/bed bounce) issue listed? T-SB-0270-10

  26. Jason (Admin) says:

    Randy – I suppose bed bounce could be listed, but I don’t think it’s top 10. Toyota says that it’s normal, and I’ve seen a few comments here on the site from former HD truck owners who said their Ford/GM/Dodge HD truck did the same thing.

  27. Steve H. says:

    Toyota Truck quality has gone down when they started being made in America, Period!

  28. Jason (Admin) says:

    Steve – The Tundra has always been built in the USA, and I’m pretty sure the Tacoma was built at NUMMI since it debuted…but I’m checking on that.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I disagree. American workers can make a good truck, provided they have a good design and they’re working for a manufacturer dedicated to quality.

  29. john says:

    What about Chevy’s, instruments won’t work. Talking about keeping some thing quite!

  30. Blake says:

    what about the 2000 f150 ignition coils going out all the time? im not sure if that has been a reason of recall but it definatley should be. i know its not a top 10 or even on this list, but just wondering what everyone feels about it.

  31. Jason (Admin) says:

    Blake – Good call.

  32. blake says:

    Thanks. Only reason I know about it is cause I have one that’s I keep having to replace them. :/

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