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Toyota Tundra Bed Bounce: Owners Survey

When we received Toyota’s response to our bed bounce email we realized a few things. In no particular order, here’s what we think:

1. Toyota can’t officially acknowledge the problem until they’re prepared to act.

2. Until the current owner community publicizes the problem, Toyota has no reason to acknowledge it.

3. There is no independent data to verify the size, scope, and severity of this problem.

We decided the best way to make Toyota acknowledge the problem (and therefore do something about it) is to gather some hard data. To that end, we’ve created a Toyota Tundra Owners Bed Bounce Survey. The results of the survey will be published on an ongoing basis once we’ve received enough responses to create some statistically significant data.

In order to make sure the data we gather is accurate, we’re going to verify owner responses a few different ways. First, we’ve got a VIN number checker that will make sure the VIN number entered is accurate and is comparable to the stated equipment on the vehicle. Second, we’re going to verify your email address by sending you a quick note. Third, we’ve got some measures in place to keep people from entering multiple surveys, etc. Hopefully all of these efforts will deter anyone intent on entering false info.

Just so we’re clear — your name, email, and VIN number are for verification purposes only. We’re not going to share this info with anyone, ever, under any circumstance. We’re not going to use your info for marketing purposes or mailing lists or any of that business — we just want to get an accurate picture of Tundra Bed Bounce that we can share with the community. Your responses will be tabulated and published on an ongoing basis.

So, in summary, if you or anyone you know has experienced “bed bounce” with their new Tundra, please complete our Tundra Bed Bounce Survey. If you’ve never experienced bed bounce, please don’t complete a survey. We’re only collecting data from people that have actually experienced the problem so we can determine the severity, frequency, and geographic location. We intend to provide all this information to the public

Finally, if you or anyone you know hasn’t contacted Toyota’s customer service department, please consider doing so. You can send Toyota an email or call them at 800-331-4331 to make an official complaint. Making an official complaint increases the likelihood that Toyota will address the problem.

Tell everyone you know about this survey — we want to have as much data as possible the next time we contact Toyota.

Toyota Tundra Diesel Near Development

We’ve heard a lot of rumors about Toyota offering a diesel engine in the new Tundra, but we’ve just read of official acknowledgment that a Diesel Tundra is near development.

“In terms of (diesel) introduction into the U.S., the Tundra is the best (vehicle) to do that…The question is when is the best time to do that? That is determined by the customer…It’s something we’re looking at, but we have to see if we can price a diesel and still make it affordable.”

Those are the words of Toyota Executive Vice President Kazuo Okamoto, and the following is clear:

1. The Tundra will have the first Toyota diesel to debut in the US market.

Toyota has been making noise about developing diesels with Hino for use in the European and Asian markets. Considering Hino’s commercial success with large diesels in Asia, it’s reasonable to assume that Hino also has the expertise to assist Toyota in producing a diesel engine for the US market that can compete with Isuzu’s Duramax, the Cummins, and the Powerstroke. Okamoto’s words confirm Toyota would like to bring out a diesel Tundra, and their previous statements about bringing diesels to the US mean they’d like to develop a diesel Tundra soon.

2. Toyota has “put a pencil” to the Diesel Tundra

Clearly, Okamoto’s words indicate that Toyota has determined integrating a diesel into the Tundra would result in an expensive truck. However, his words also indicate that the ultimate cost has as much to do with consumer demand as anything else. That means that Toyota has determined the sales volume the Tundra needs to achieve in order to make the diesel’s development costs affordable. In other words, Toyota knows how many Tundra’s they need to sell in order to bring the Tundra Diesel online. The magic sales number, whatever it is, has got to be less than 400k units. That’s the most Toyota can produce out of San Antonio and Indiana combined.

3. Cost-cutting and a Diesel engine are both needed to fill-out the Tundra’s line-up

The current Tundra is too expensive — $3k to $4k more than competing vehicles. In response, Toyota has offered $3k worth of incentives in order to help reach their sales goal of 200k units. But if Toyota reduces the cost of their trucks in 2008 (and they will be reducing content, we’ve shown that) then their overall profitability and sales volume will increase because they will be more competitive. The question is by how much? If Tundra sales grow by 25% in 2008, would that be enough to justify diesel development? We think so. The Tundra diesel will need 2 or 3 years to develop. If Toyota commits to developing the engine at the end of next year, that means the diesel debuts in 2010 or 2011. At that time, based on a 25% sales growth next year and 10% each year after, Toyota will be selling 300k to 325k Tundras. They can bring out a diesel and have the capacity to sell 75k units. For most automakers, 75k units is more than enough to recover all the development costs of a niche model.

Toyota needs a Diesel Tundra if they’re going to compete with Ford, GM, and Dodge. We all know how many more buyers they would attract if they offered a diesel option.

This is exciting news for anyone who’s interested in a diesel Tundra — they should be coming out in 3 or 4 years.

Bed Bounce: Toyota’s Response To Our First Email

Earlier this week, we sent Toyota a request for information about the Tundra bed bounce issue. We described our understanding of the issue, our position as an advocate of the Tundra community, and then requested the following:

1. Have Toyota’s engineering and/or quality teams been informed of this issue?

2. Are there any tests currently in progress to diagnose this problem?

3. Has a fix for this problem been devised? If so, when will it be available?

4. What steps can current owners that are suffering from this problem take to make sure they’re given priority when a fix becomes available?

5. Is this issue being corrected on the 2008 model?

We had high hopes that Toyota would communicate with us about this issue, but instead they replied with something that basically amounts to a non-response stating:

“As of today, Toyota has not issued a Special Service Campaigns (SSC) or Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) for the concern you have described.”

Clearly, this response is intended not to fan the flames of discontent. While they didn’t acknowledge the bed bounce issue, they didn’t deny it either. After some careful thought, we’ve decided we need more data before we can effectively pursue this with Toyota. Our thinking here is simple — if we’re able to present Toyota with hard facts indicating the number of owners that have had this problem, the average severity of the problem, when and where it occurs, etc., we’ll have something that Toyota won’t be able to ignore. An additional benefit to gathering this data is that we’ll be able to share the results with current owners and prospective buyers. Hopefully, this will be a benefit to everyone.

We’re working on finding a good tool to gather this data, and we hope to have something ready by the end of the weekend. In the interim, if you have any suggestions about the data we should gather and/or comments on Toyota’s response, please leave a comment.

Toyota Tundra Bed Bounce Issue: Our Position

One of our readers recently requested we spend some time talking about the “bed bounce” issue and what it means to owners or anyone considering purchasing a new Tundra.

First, for anyone who doesn’t know about the bed bounce issue, take a look at our post about All Known 2007 Tundra Problems.

To understand what’s going on with the Tundra’s bed, you need to know a little bit of physics (not much, but a little). Basically, all objects have an inherent natural frequency of vibration. When an object is subjected to an outside force whose frequency matches the object’s natural frequency, dramatic vibrations can occur. Perhaps the best explanation of natural frequency and mechanical resonance is a child swinging on a swingset. Even if you only push the child slightly, if you push them at the right time, they will go much higher. That’s because you’re matching the natural frequency of the swing.

Another great example of mechanical resonance is the collapse of the old Tacoma Narrows bridge in 1940.

Amazingly, the length, width, and thickness of the bridge created a natural frequency that corresponded exactly with winds of about 40mph. One windy day, the bridge fell down. Mechanical resonance in action.

But what does this have to do with the new Tundra?

Based on posts we’ve read on TundraSolutions, the situation seems to be most evident when driving on concrete highways between 55-65 mph. Evidently running over concrete expansion joints at those speeds matches the mechanical resonance of the Tundra and causes a nasty vibration. Additionally, we’ve see the Ford generated video of the Tundra’s bed vibration. Clearly, the Tundra has an issue here.

Here’s what we think:

1. The Ford produced bed bounce video is worthless. In the video, you’ll see that the Tundra has dramatic bed vibration. You’ll also see that the entry speed was 28mph. Why 28? Our guess is that 28mph was the speed that the Ford performed best at. Had the test been conducted at even 30mph, the results could have been dramatically different. Mechanical resonance is tricky — even small changes in speed can dramatically effect the results. Besides, is anyone really going to drive on that surface that fast? What real-world situation would require you to drive almost 30mph on a surface that unforgiving? Because the situation in the Ford video is so unique, we really don’t think you should put much stock in it.

2. The Tundra’s bed bounce on concrete highways is a big deal for some. Toyota screwed up here — the new truck shouldn’t have this problem. While nearly all trucks exhibit some form of bed bounce on concrete highways, the Tundra’s bed bounce is outside the norm. We think it may have something to do with Toyota’s decision to angle the rear leaf springs rather than orient them straight front to back, but that’s nothing more than a guess. But of all the items on the new truck, this unconventional suspension arrangement seems to be the most radical (and therefore the most suspicious, at least to us). However, based on the volume of complaints we’ve seen on forums, etc., we’re willing to bet most Tundra owners haven’t experienced this problem.

3. The bed bounce problem isn’t necessarily an indicator of frame strength. While one possible explanation for the Tundra’s bed bounce issue is that the frame isn’t strong enough, it seems unlikely. If the frame were really so weak that it would allow the bed to bounce out of control, a few trucks probably would have fallen apart by now. We’re 99% certain that the issue is suspension related, specifically that the suspension doesn’t dampen the natural mechanical resonance of the truck. If bed bounce really was a result of poor frame strength, why does the it only happen at certain speeds? The answer — it’s not about frame strength.

4. There are things you can do to mitigate the bounce. Some owners have reported that adding a few hundred pounds of cargo to the bed has reduced bed bounce. Others have added a new leaf spring, or an air suspension system. Perhaps the easiest fix is to avoid speeds that cause bed bounce — when traveling on concrete highways with big expansion joints, anything outside of the 55-65mph range will result in little or no bounce.

5. Toyota should fix this soon. When we first heard about this problem, we didn’t believe it. However, over the last few months its become clear that something is wrong. Just like it took us a while to acknowledge, Toyota will need time as well. However, once it becomes clear to them, we can’t imagine they won’t fix it, especially considering the fix would be rather simple. Changing the rear leaf springs, while expensive, would undoubtedly cure the problem. In fact, the fix COULD be as easy as adding a new brace or redistributing some suspension weight. It’s important to remember that minor changes to the suspension can result in a radically different natural frequency, and therefore no bed bounce (or very little).

6. Should this affect your decision to buy a new Tundra? Like all things, it depends. We tested the Tundra here in Denver a few months ago, and noticed no bed bounce. We drove it all over town, on highways, etc., with no problems to report. However, there aren’t a lot of concrete highways around here. Our advice to anyone considering buying the truck is to take the time and test-drive the vehicle on your normal commute route. Based on the number of complaints we’ve seen online, and the relative lack of publicity, this problem likely affects less than 5% of Tundra owners. 95% of the people considering purchasing the new Tundra shouldn’t be effected, and therefore shouldn’t be too concerned.

For those that have to deal with this problem daily, we hope Toyota finds a solution quickly.

So there you have it. Our opinion of the Toyota Tundra pickup bed bounce issue and how it should impact your decision to buy a new Tundra. Any comments?

All Known 2007 Toyota Tundra Problems

Here’s a list of all the known problems with the 2007 Toyota Tundra. We’re not trying to tear the truck down or anything – we love it – we just want to make sure everyone knows what’s going on.

1) 5.7L Camshaft Failures

This is EASILY the most publicized problem with the new Tundra, but we think it was completely been blown out of proportion. Toyota said that this had only happened 20 times. We think it might have been slightly higher than that, but not by much. Since the original news story broke, very little has been heard about any more failures. Many doom sayers predicted the Tundra’s sales would collapse because of this “HUGE” issue, but the Tundra has never sold better. Confidence in Toyota quality remains high, as it should be, and the 5.7 camshaft issue is actually a non-issue.

2) Highway Bed Bounce

This problem is very odd. Because of the specific characteristics of the Tundra’s bed and frame, it is possible to induce a self-amplifying oscillation of the back-end of the truck. Amazingly enough, this can occur at highway speeds as the bed bounces over expansion joints in the roadway. Here’s a video:

Here’s a different video shot on a California highway. At this time, Toyota has not announced a fix. While all trucks exhibit some type of bed bounce on concrete highways with lots of expansion joints, Tundras seem to be worse than normal. Adding weight to the bed and/or a trailer helps, and some other fixes include air suspension and custom leaf springs. The best solution might be to wait and see if Toyota comes up with something official. Finally, if you can drive faster or slower than the harmonic frequency (observed at 55-65 mph) the vibration is vastly reduced. Try using that as an excuse when a cop is writing you a speeding ticket…

3) The stereo shutting off by itself

Of all the problems to have in the world, this one is pretty small. Occasionally, for no apparent reason, a small number of stereos in brand new Tundras have shut off all by themselves. Evidently, this is due to a short in the stereo itself. Toyota is aware of the problem and will replace your stereo as part of the warranty. We’re not 100% sure, but we can’t imagine this problem won’t be fixed in the 2008.

4) One of the air vent’s louvers won’t stay pointed downwards

This problem is actually kind of humorous, so we decided it might be fun to mention. The vent to the right of the driver, due to the effects of air-flow and gravity, has a tendency to creep upwards. In other words, you turn on the A/C, point the vent towards your mid-section, and within a few minutes the louvers have worked themselves upwards so that now the air stream is pointed towards your face. The smartest fix we heard of was to attach a book clip (you know, the black plastic and wire clip) to one of the louvers in such a way to keep it from moving. You could always ask your dealer to fix it, but they would have to remove part of your dash to do so. The book clip seems so much easier.

5) The seatbelt warning chime

A lot of people have complained about the seat belt warning chime. If you take your seat belt off for just a few seconds (say to get out of the truck to get the mail) your warning chime will go off. Also, if you are hauling something in the front passenger seat that weighs more than about 40 lbs, the weight sensor in the passenger seat will think there is a passenger sitting in the seat. If this cargo isn’t buckled in, you’ll get to hear the warning chime. There are lots of solutions to both — check out our article on the Tundra’s annoying seat belt buzzer.

6) Not getting the mileage on the sticker

In our opinion, this issue doesn’t really belong on this list. As long as people buy new vehicles, there will always be some that don’t get the mileage printed on the sticker. First of all, the mileage indicated is an average, meaning half will get more and half will get less. Second, the testing process used to determine those mileage numbers is, well, ridiculous. This isn’t a reflection on Toyota either — the EPA came up with this test nearly 30 years ago. It involves driving VERY slowly with the A/C off and not exceeding 54mph on days ending in “y” with your head cocked at a 17 degree angle…you get the idea. It’s not very applicable to today’s driving. If you’re looking for ways to improve your Tundra’s gas mileage, we wrote about gas mileage earlier this month. But don’t let stories you hear about Tundras getting poor gas mileage scare you off — just know that the mileage printed on the sticker is an estimate.

7) The Tundra is “too nice”

We’ve also heard of new Tundra owners being accused by their relatives (typically domestic truck owning in-laws) of having stuff that was “too nice” and “showing off.” We’re not sure what it is about, but it seems the Tundra gives people the impression that you’re better than them.

Any problems you’ve had that aren’t mentioned here? Tell us about them! We kind of made that last one up btw.

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