Toyota Tells NHTSA All First Generation Tundras Have Frame Rust Issues

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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 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.

Search terms people used to find this page:

  • https://tundraheadquarters com/first-generation-toyota-tundra-frame-rust/

Filed Under: Auto NewsTundra NewsTundra Recalls


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  1. Pat56 says:

    So is Toyota sure that the rust is a issue or do they want to assume? Case in point check engine light.

  2. Mickey says:

    Rustproofing is a great idea but again limiting it in what states they think has the issue. Also in Toyota’s defense it take some time to try to duplicate the rust issue and also analyze what they learned from it. Pat56 your issue doesn’t compare to what is going on here. You’re frustrated by the 3 hour wait to do an oil change. I take it they ran diagnostics on your truck, which can be several pages long and they have to do what the manual instructs them to first. Not to mention were you the first one in line? Should others get out of the way for you even though they were there first?

  3. Mickey – The report also says that Toyota will inspect frames on Tundras not located in the 20 states, but not until next year.

  4. mk says:

    What’s next, 2007-2010 tundras? I bet so!

  5. RusTundra says:

    The rustproofing will only be as good as the prep work for the coating. The frame will have to be dry (unless they have some sort of latex undercoating) so when you bring in your truck during wet weather or when melting wet snow is wetting the roads (mixed with salt) it will have to dry out. How will they prep and remove all of the rust scale? Sandblasting….I don’t think so and on > 100,000 trucks? I think the coating will just be a band-aid with the rust poking back through in a short while leaving owners again frustrated and even masking the corrosion taking place. This is not a fix.

  6. Pat56 says:

    So is it Toyota’s fault that you live where road salt is used? Did the frames meet the 60 month warranty for corrosion? Model years 00-03 are beyond the warranty period so why is everyone whining. Did it meet the warranty period? Should have thought ahead and got the undercoating, maybe they assumed you would! Toyota is going above and beyond on this issue! Maybe this will sound familiar “it is what it is”. So what’s the issue??

  7. Pat56 says:

    I was incorrect, sheet metal is covered for 60 months and frame is under the bumper to bumper 3/36k. Where’s this entry about oil change. All I want is a engine light fixed on a truck the is less than a month old and ya are worried about the frame on a 9 year old truck. Stop whining, it severed its purpose. And I assumed I expected to much out of a new truck.

  8. mk says:

    Well, when you get what I say is moderate rusting on the undercarriage/frame, tailgate, both chromed bumpers, chromed lug nuts, black receiver 2″ hitch, and rocker panels in corner behind double cab doors all in less than 2 years and 24K of driving a 2007 tundra, how would you feel? Supposedly nowadays, most mfgs. do NOT even recommend the extended rustproofing on new vehicles above and beyond the mfgs. doings since in some cases, it may harm the already supposedly rustproofing process done at the factory/mfg. of the frames. I see your point on a 9 year old vehicle, but the rusting going on during that time frame is more like a 20 year old vehicle.

  9. Adam says:

    I’m torn on this one. I have a 02 Tundra. Its used hard in Montana and Idaho in the hills and as all will know, we have insaine winters. I simply have little to no rust under my truck. I don’t know what these people are doing to their trucks, but maintanance has got to be the number one priority on the trucks. Check this stuff out. If you see rust starting.. take care of it immediatly. Dont complain about a truck that is eight years old rusting because it was not properly maintained. Do people just expect any truck to be used and abused and still look brand spanking new after eight years? Come on. Should they be rusting… ya, the trucks are older models.. should they rust all the way through..? No. Some of those look like they were soaked in a vat of salt for a couple years. Good hell.

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  11. Janet says:

    Adam, we regularly maintain our vehicles…we did not cause the problem. In fact, the dealer sold us a used Tundra with low mileage. We drove it only a year before the power steering cracked away from the frame.

  12. ed says:

    I have done some serious thinking on this rust issue and I have a solution. Trade it in for a domestic. Yes that’s right, they have 03’s that done have the rust you where speaking of. Sorry, but its the truth. In stead of making the stupid commercials they should have invest that money in there frame R&D. But hey that money was well spent wasn’t it!!!

  13. Mickey says:

    Yes it was ED. Just like the Domestic that has the second recall for the same item that to this day is still catching on fire. So why would anyone want a flame on truck?

  14. kent crow says:

    Rusty Kansas Truck
    I have a 2000 trudra the bed rusted out at about 60000 just a little over they did replace the bed. at that time when i was at one dealer they did comment on how rusty the frame was. but my dealer did not say anything about this. my dealer now says they know nothing about any recall. what do i do love the truck other then the rust have had no problem with the truck. other then then something with the throdle not responding has anyone had this it dose not die just no response turn it off restart it all ok check engine say on for a little but then goes off. i dont think its to much to ask to spend 30000 on a truck and not to have it rust out in ten years. and i do take real good care of it if anything i may wash it to much. K from Kansas

  15. Mickey says:

    Kent use this website to show the dealer the recall or better yet have them go to NHTSA’s (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) website okay. This should settle their dragging of the feet. Make sure if you have the receipt of when the bed was replaced to show them.

  16. RusTundra – You are correct. I too wonder what their procedure will be, and I hope it includes some sort of prep. Perhaps Toyota feels a minor fix is all that is needed.
    Adam – There’s no doubt that proper maintenance would reduce the damage from rust on some older Tundra’s frames. However, NHTSA and Toyota both found that the frame rust was also a result of design and manufacturing. As Janet says, there are many Tundras that rusted despite following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
    Ed – You should definitely follow your own advice and trade your Tundra. Oh – wait – you don’t own one. You’re just here to talk trash. Thanks for your wonderfully insightful commentary, can’t tell you how much it means to me and all these Tundra owners. Idiot.
    Kent – I like Mickey’s advice here. I also think you might be able to get some money back from Toyota, as their recall announcement included some language that said owners who had already replaced the recalled pieces would be reimbursed. Have you called Toyota customer service?

  17. Justin says:

    First off, I applaud Toyota for issuing a recall, especially with the safety, severity and volume of vehicles involved. Now I just want to see how they treat the customer. At what percentage will they buy back vehicles, if needed? How exactly will the rust proofing process take place? For how long will they warranty the rust proofing of 04-06 models? How will those customers living in states not listed be treated by their local dealers that aren’t as familiar with this issue. Simply a lot of questions, but it’s a step in the right direction.
    RusTundra: I agree. What type of prep work will be done, how long of a process will it be, will Yota front for a loaner vehicle and how long will they warranty the work. I’d be a little concerned, but it’s better than nothing.
    Pat56: No it’s not Yota’s fault where you live or how you maintain your vehicle. But simply compare the rust on these Tundra’s to similar year vehicles from similar regions, full-size & compact trucks, cars, SUV’s, etc. There is clearly an issue with these vehicles; otherwise you’d see many other makes/models experiencing the same problem. If Toyota wants to continue its quality and reliability standard, it needs to acknowledge there’s an issue. Otherwise they

  18. Mickey says:

    Justin I did the same with my 03 in 2006. As far as getting people to do their recalls I agree with you. When I got mine for the 06 Silverado I took it it when I had an appointment and it was fixed no issue. I just got mine for the Prius and Tundra and upon my next oil change in both I will tell them I won’t remove my Toyota all weather mats. I havene’t had an issue with them and I be dang if I’m going to screw up the carpet with no replacement because some people don’t know how to act. I do understand what you’re presenting but my message is that the pasture isn’t always greener on the other side.

  19. Justin says:

    Mickey: Agree 100%! The grass isn’t always green on the other side. And please don’t ruin the carpet. Have the WeatherTech floor mats/liners in my Screw, and carpet underneath is still like new. No stains or missing patches or anything, and this with 2.5 CO winters under its belt.

  20. Justin – To your earlier comment – agreed. It is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, it’s not the only step.

  21. Bobby says:

    What is the difference in someone suing McDonalds over hot coffee and this frame rust issue? Nothing just a group of people whining and going to make other people pay for the rust on their truck. It isn’t Toyota fault you frame rusted. Why don’t you go after mother nature, there’s the true culprit. See the issue is people, I like Toyota but its the owners who give Toyota the bad rap. Always like my sh+t don’t stink. Granted the accelerator is Toyota issue, but the frame served its purpose and a group of owners got together and raised a stink because of their frames. Maybe you should have taken care of them (trucks). Take it as a learning experience and move on. Why should others pay for your lack of maintenance? What’s up with Mickey, seems pretty bull headed. The whole I hit a deer once, always straying off in left field? Well once I washed my truck and the frame didn’t rust, true story and I live in up-state NY. Two years a go I had to throw away a 96 Nissan Hardbody due to the frame was unsafe, everything else was great. So I should have raised a stink even though it was out of warranty. Give me a break, stop crying and deal with it. I just read Toyota is adding a new TRD edition, the “Kamikaze Edition” its a way to not have to fix the accelerator and make even more money. A rising sun flag with Bonzi on it on the back of the bed. Get it Kamikaze Edition? I also seen where you deleted comments why is the Ford CC comment still up and the floormats? They are off subject!!

  22. mainhunter says:


  23. Anonymous says:

    He has a point. The Toyota sludge issue that resulted in a law suit is a good case in point. Attached is the story . Oil sludge forms from not changing oil at correct interval. In the story you will see Toyota asked for the proof of having their oil changed. One couple said it was done at Walmart and they don’t have the proof (aka I didn’t do). I don’t know about you but I have proof of maintenance completed on my vehicle no matter who completed or when. The other said they bought a extended warranty for it, since when does a extended warranty cover oil sludge if you didn’t change your oil.. The point being is that if you don’t do the maintenance and have proof of it stop complaining. Toyota said some of the frame rust was due to lack of maintenance. Who’s fault is that, must be Toyota’s. We where just talking about this and it is a great reason to buy a Toyota, you don’t have to complete any maintenance and if something go wrong EVER just start crying and everything will be ok! Life must be good in never never land!! They should make a commercal showing a car in the middle of a hail storm every dented, window broken and Toyota fixes it because it must be their fault it hailed! That will sell cars!

  24. Bobby – I’m sorry you don’t like the way I moderate comments. I think there’s a difference in the comments here as opposed to the post about holiday gifts. To be honest, I probably should have closed comments on the holiday gift post. In any case, thanks for your feedback.
    As for your comments that people are crying over spilled milk, I have mixed feelings. Speaking in pure hyperbole, at what point does Toyota’s liability for rust end? 8 years? 10? 20? There has to be a point where people accept the problem for what it is. Have said that, I believe that in this instance the complaints are warranted. Bear in mind that some 2003 trucks are showing this level of rust, and Toyota is going to treat 04-06 Tundras. NHTSA and Toyota feel this is a defect going back to 2000, so I think that validates the idea that Toyota is responsible. Still, your point is well taken.

  25. mainhunter says:

    Well I can tell you I have washed the frame on my truck at least once a week in the winter, it just snowed today and I will be washing it off in my shop in the morning. To say that the frame rusting away is my fault is a bunch of crap.

  26. mainehunter – I wholeheartedly agree that Toyota is responsible in this case.

  27. Mickey says:

    Bobby I guess I can draw a pic for the few who can’t get the picture. The deer thing was an example of keeping your cool and staying under control compared to the ones who had a so called runaway engine and can’t find neutral. You have liberal judges who will side with people who were hurt in accidents where a vehicle is over 10 to 20 years old. Case in point in South Carolina a lady and her daughter back in 2006 were in a 1985 Malibu stationwagon which was rearended and the wagon caught fire and the daughter got burned pretty bad. They didn’t sue who hit them they sued GM and won a 2 billion, I say again won a 2 billion law suit over a rusty 20 year old station wagon being hit from behind saying it was GM’s fault with a bad design.

  28. Justin says:

    Bobby: Like most here, I do agree with your point on this being partly an owner/maintenance issue. But on the other hand, how many vehicles made in the last 10-20yrs have shown this severe of rust over such a short period of time (6-9yrs)? I’ve seen much older vehicles, poorly maintained and left out in the elements with much less corrosion. Also, if Toyota and the NHTSA have found defects in the build quality/material, then they should be partly on the hook.
    Not looking good for Toyota right now. 1st the rust issues, then the sudden acceleration recall, now an investigation into vehicles stalling.

  29. Justin – It’s not a good time for Toyota for sure. I think that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. They’re going to lose a lot of money until they figure out how to cut capacity or exchange rates improve, and that’s going to hurt their image.

  30. Mike says:

    I have a 2000 Tundra – love the truck – but it’s dissolving bit by bit. Replaced tied rod ends, power steering tubes, ebrake pivots (twice), the entire steering rack rotted away and the frame is fairly brown with little coating left. Toyota recalled it and checked the spare tire crossover mount and declared it “OK” for now. Spent $1100 this year on “rust” issues so far. I was planning on upgrading to a newer Tundra, but now I’m hesitant. I’d be happy if they could just fix the rust because other than that, it is in great shape and runs fine. I don’t think spraying a little rust proofer on the the tire mount is going to help it much though. If I still have it in the spring, I may put it up on blocks and sandblast the bottom and spray it with Rust Bullet and hope for the best. I’m not optimistic that Toyota is going to fix this problem (like they did for the Tacomas by replacing the frames) or buy back the trucks. I’d like to buy another Tundra, but they’re not making it easy and the reports I say on the bouncing truck beds and cheap plastic interiors in the newer Tundras don’t fill me with confidence either. I think Toyota has lost it’s way. It’s about quality, not the biggest or strongest or prettiest; just the overall feeling that it’s a good solid truck.

  31. Mike – I hear ya. Toyota isn’t doing the right thing on the older Tundras, and it could hurt them for a long time. Let’s hope that someone at Toyota steps up soon…

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