62k mile 2003 Toyota Tundra Shows Frame Rust
UPDATE: As of May 2010, Toyota has extended the warranty on 2000-2003 Tundra frames. Please see Toyota Tundra Frame Replacement Program for more details.
UPDATE (10/7/09) – NHTSA has begun investigating 2000-2001 Tundras for frame rust issues.
Last week the owner of a 2003 Toyota Tundra contacted us about significant rust on the frame of his 2003 Toyota Tundra. If the pictures aren’t shocking enough, the owner says the vehicle only has 62k miles:
“Have 2003 Tundra with rusted out frame and 62,000 miles. I can’t adjust alignment because the frame has fused with those parts. So much for my new tires. Cross members are also shot as well as rear bumper attachments. I love the truck, it’s just that it is now worthless and dangerous in this condition. Two years ago the gas filler pipe rusted out – what gives?”
The stark contrast between the rust on the frame and the nearly rust-free underside of the body panels is quite telling. Clearly, there is something wrong when two pieces of metal in nearly the same space rust at vastly different rates. More pictures follow…
Accusations of frame rust on the Tundra, unfortunately, aren’t new. However, this is the first time that a 2003 Tundra has been found with significant rust (at least that we’re aware of). We covered a story about frame rust issues on 2000 and 2001 Tundras a few weeks back, and at that time the evidence was limited to these older trucks.
The fact that only 2000 and 2001 Tundras have had signs of frame rust is significant. In a press release, Toyota acknowledged the possibility of a frame rust problem on the Tundra that corresponds with a frame rust issue on Tacomas of the same model years. Our assertion from Toyota’s press release is that 2000-2001 Tundra and Tacoma frames had the same defect/issue that led to this rust problem. If 2003 Tundras also show this problem, it’s possible that all Tundras through 2003 could have frame rust issues.
Obviously, this is alarming news for many 1st-gen Tundra owners. If you own a 2000-2003 Tundra, you are advised to take the following steps:
- Park your Tundra on a flat surface. Make sure the ignition is off, the vehicle is in gear, and that the parking brake is set.
- With a flashlight, crawl under the rear end of your Tundra and look for any signs of rust. Do not touch any surfaces that appear to have rust (trust us, your eyes and rust don’t mix).
- If you see any evidence of flaking, or if you see any frame connections that show heavy signs of rust, you are advised to take your Tundra to your local Toyota dealer.
- When you visit your dealer, request a documented frame rust inspection. This should be a standard service ticket with information about the frame inspection. Preferably, this service ticket will include notes from the technician. Many dealers will charge for this service – if you aren’t interested in paying for this inspection, you can call Toyota customer service and lodge a complaint (800-331-4331). Bear in mind that having your vehicle inspected by a Toyota dealer is best, but it’s not essential. Any ASE certified mechanic can make an inspection.
- If your inspection shows that your Tundra has significant frame damage from rust, you should file an official safety complaint with NHTSA. You can file online or call the NHTSA hotline at 888-327-4236.
- If the damage to the frame is substantial enough, you may be advised to stop driving the vehicle. At this time, pending an alternative, we would suggest parking the vehicle for your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Check those 1st-gen Tundras! If your Tundra’s frame has rust, take the time to file complaints with Toyota and NHTSA – they can’t deal with this issue if they don’t know how big it is.
UPDATE: The vehicle owner has sent us some more info:
“First and foremost, I have always washed under the truck since new with a garden hose spray during the winter months as well as warm weather. I park next to my wife’s car, a 2000 Saab with 120,000 miles. WE drive the same roads and her car has almost no rust. I wash under it as well…The longer Toyota delays helping out on these defects, the more devalued my truck and others become.“
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