Toyota Tells NHTSA All First Generation Tundras Have Frame Rust Issues
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.
We’ve obtained a copy of the defect information report from Toyota to NHTSA, which contains information about Toyota’s frame rust recall that, as far as we know, has not yet been disclosed to the mainstream media. What follows are snippets from this letter.
First and foremost, Toyota has acknowledged that ALL first generation Tundras may be subject to the same rust problems that are found on 00-03 Toyota Tundras currently under recall. Therefore, Toyota will be offering rustproofing to 2004-2006 Tundra owners in the near future.
…while Toyota has not determined a defect exists in 2004 through 2006 model year Tundras, Toyota plans on initiating a field action in the near future to prevent future corrosion on those vehicles…at no cost to the owner
Obviously, Toyota would not be offering to rust-proof 04-06 Tundras unless they believed these vehicles also have this issue.
All in all, this is excellent news for first generation Tundra owners. Toyota will begin contacting 2004-2006 Tundra owners in the effected areas at the beginning of next year. Just like the current recall, the offer to rust-proof all 04-06 Tundras will be limited to vehicles currently registered in CT, DE, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT, WI, and WV.
The letter we obtained also outlines the chronology of events leading up to the official Tundra frame rust recall announcement. It turns out that Toyota had evidence of spare tires falling off of Tundras in late 2008 – 6 months prior to the news story in Boston that got this story rolling. While we’re inclined to give Toyota the benefit of the doubt here, we can’t help but wonder: How long was Toyota going to sit on this info?
More to the point – why didn’t Toyota do something earlier? They could have prevented a lot of bad publicity and looked like heroes had they announced a voluntary recall 9 months ago.
The letter describes Toyota’s investigation of the frame rust problems and their conclusions. Specifically:
the root cause is a combination of factors, including usage in areas where road salt is applied, inadequate vehicle maintenance (i.e., not following the recommendations in the Owner’s Manual), the design of the rear cross member, and manufacturing issues
Toyota spokesperson Brian Lyons said earlier this week that Dana was not responsible for the Tundra frame rust issue, yet Toyota’s official letter to NHTSA seems to indicate otherwise.
Finally, this letter offers the most encouraging sign yet that Toyota will honor their commitments to the owners of 2000-2003 Tundras with frame rust. If a dealer inspection finds that:
In those relatively rare cases where the rear cross member is significantly corroded and can no longer safely support the spare tire, but the rear cross member assembly cannot be replaced due to excessive frame corrosion at the mounting location (e.g., if the side rails are too damaged), Toyota will develop an appropriate remedy for those vehicles.
While the phrase “appropriate remedy” can mean many things, Toyota spokesperson Brian Lyons did recently confirm to PickupTrucks.com that Toyota has bought back some Tundras. It sounds like Toyota has promised NHTSA that anyone who owns a Tundra with severe frame rust can expect Toyota to go above and beyond replacing the rear cross member.
So, if you’re a Tundra owner with severe frame rust, it sounds like you’ve got a case for arguing for a buy-back.