New Toyota Tundra Problem – Bumper and Lug Nut Rust

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UPDATE: After our blog post and press release, Toyota dropped a TSB stating that the rust spots seen on many chrome parts are actually brake dust particles that have stuck to the bumper, lug nuts, etc. and then rusted. The TSB recommends a good clean and polish to get rid of the spots.

While we have seen evidence to support our original theory, this is a possible explanation as well.

In what may be old news for some people, there is growing evidence that Toyota Tundra bumpers may be rusting much faster than they should be. While exact numbers are hard to guess, it’s safe to say this problem affects a very small percentage of Tundra owners. Based on our correspondence and the handful of forum threads we could find, this problem is mostly confined to areas of the country where rust is already an issue.

Here are some pictures of the typical types of rust being described – the first was sent to us, but the rest were found searching TundraTalk.net and TundraSolutions.com. It’s fairly minor rust, but totally unacceptable for such a new vehicle.

Toyota Tundra bumper rust spots

These spots are pretty small, but they’re consistent with other photos and descriptions we’ve read. We think they’re the most typical.

Rust in bumper around fog lights. Another example of small rust spots.

More examples of rust found on popular Tundra forums.

What could it be? First of all, regardless of any evidence of poor quality, you can’t underestimate the number of powerful corrosive agents a typical bumper is exposed to. Obvious agents like water and salt (NaCl) are omnipresent, but you can also add carbonic acid (from acid rain), corrosives present in your own vehicle’s hot exhaust gases, and other salts like magnesium chloride (used as road de-icer in some parts of the U.S.) to the list of chemicals that accelerate rust formation. Considering how common rust is, it’s easy to understand how powerful the rust process is.

Having said all of that, rust shouldn’t be present on vehicles less than a year or two old. If properly maintained, most modern vehicle finishes (paint and chrome) should stay rust-free for 5 to 10 years. Toyota hasn’t officially announced a problem (nor have they issued a TSB), but it appears that there was an issue with the chrome plating process used on the Tundra’s chrome bumpers and lug nuts. It’s possible this was a failure to plate these parts properly, and it could be that these parts were stockpiled in less than perfect conditions for a few weeks or months before they were added to these vehicles.

Most dealers in rust-prone areas of the country are familiar with this problem, and unless they suspect abuse, they are likely to replace any lug-nuts or bumpers showing signs of rust (provided your vehicle is still fairly new).

If you have visible rust on your truck, here are some tips for making sure you get the rusting parts replaced:

1) When you bring your truck in to show your local dealership, bring it in as clean as possible. If it looks like you haven’t washed your truck since you bought it, it’s going to be hard to argue you’ve been doing your part to keep it reasonably clean.

2) Call in advance and make sure the service manager will be available to look at your truck when you visit. If you can speak with him or her, explain you’ve got some rust on your truck and you’re aware there’s a problem. Even if the service manager isn’t aware, the fact that you know something they don’t will get them investigating.

3) Don’t be adversarial – the dealership didn’t chrome plate your truck. It’s not their fault. Explain you’re a very understanding person, you just want to get a new part as soon as possible. If you wait, Toyota might claim you’ve done something to cause your truck to rust. You want to get this taken care of now while the truck is still new. That way, there’s no question what the problem is.

Bottom Line: This is most likely a problem with a supplier. We don’t know what company(s) supplies Toyota with chrome bumpers and lug nuts, but it sounds like their process is flawed. Toyota seems to be aware of the problem and willing to replace rusted parts. Our advice is to clean your truck up as best you can and take a good hard look at your lug nuts and bumpers. If you see any rust on your bumpers or lug nuts, take your truck into your dealer now.

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  1. […] Originally Posted by TundraScout WASH YOUR NUTZ! Are you sure its not just residue from the last set of nuts the mechanic had his socket on? My nuts are prefectly clean, but I did have the tires rotated a month ago. yea because I was the mechanic that changed the tires last and looke at this link! New Toyota Tundra Problem – Bumper and Lug Nut Rust | tundraheadquarters.com […]

  2. Mickey says:

    I’m glad to see most dealerships are being proactive on this than reactive. This makes for good publicity when a negative cloud is over our heads. Boils down to CUSTOMER SERVICE. Great job to those dealerships for stepping up.

  3. […] Tundra – Rust Problems http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/bl…-lug-nut-rust/ In what may be old news for some people, there is growing evidence that Toyota Tundra bumpers may […]

  4. Pat Tyring says:

    I purchased a 2007 Tundra SR5 with the 5.7 V-8 engine. This engine performs great, but I have a low RPM engine knock that is very difinite. The dealer does not know what to do with it and says that it is normal for this engine. I disagree with their opinion. I was wondering if any other 5.7 litre owners has the same issue?

    Thanks, Pat

  5. admin says:

    Pat – Other people have mentioned this problem in the comments section of this post:

    https://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2007/08/22/all-known-2007-toyota-tundra-problems/

    Take a look through them and you’ll find a lot of back and forth about the issue.

    Ultimately, your Toyota dealer is correct. This is normal (albeit disconcerting) – not much they’re going to do about it.

  6. Tundra Fever says:

    Rust sucks

  7. […] Originally Posted by rarjar I am certain I read somewhere (maybe on here?) that Yoda admitted that a supplier of some of their chrome parts had "issues" with the chrome plating process such that there were rust issues on some trucks. I also recall that Yoda said it was replacing such parts for affected owners without any hassle. The again, maybe this is wishful thinking on my part!!?? Regardless trinibob (and the other members with rust issues), I hope Yoda takes care of you guys without any hassles! you did thats how i knew whare to look New Toyota Tundra Problem – Bumper and Lug Nut Rust | tundraheadquarters.com […]

  8. Marco Derro says:

    Tundra rear axle is offset 1” went to mount new rims one is even one sticks out 1 inch anyone know if this is normal the dealer said it is. How can it track right if the wheels are not all aligned. To me this a huge issue

  9. Justin says:

    Interesting. Seems more and more Toyota’s are having rust issues (see Tacoma). It’s good to hear Toyota is stepping up and resolving the issue, which is good/great customer service, but a little concerning for the quality of product.

  10. marco Derro says:

    I took the car to the dealer and we measured all the tundras with the same stock wheel set up. At top of wheel tread ( about mid fender flare) it is 1/4 out and the other side is 3/4 in. total 1 ” shift The mechanic at the dealer measured with me and called toyta on thursday but no responce yet. as far as offsets the tires are 7.25 inches to mounting hub face from rear of tire laying a straight edge on the tire they are all the same offset. If you have a tundra measure it and Im sure you will find the same result you can see it without measuring just by looking at it.

  11. admin says:

    Marco – that’s amazing. I’m interested to hear Toyota’s response to that one.

  12. marco derro says:

    me too,I am waiting to hear from the regional service rep he is supposed to check out the tundras on the dealer lot that also show the rear axle offset. How do I post this as a problem so I can see if anyone else noticed the same thing.

  13. David says:

    If these were GM trucks you would be calling for the drawing-and-quartering of engineers and managers from GM. But because it’s a Toyota, it’s “OK”.

  14. David – Not sure what to say to that – considering we’re leading the charge here (we even issued a press release), it’s hard to imagine how you could accuse us of being “soft.”

  15. cheryl maurer says:

    Well, I just got the run around. Toyota will not stand by my truck under warranty despite the fact that this is a well known problem. I unfortunately tapped my bumper into something – creating a very slight indentation with no structural failure of the materials – just a minor blemish – and as a result I am being told it is not under warranty. Furthermore, they are alleging that my mishap (which occurred after the rust appeared) is the cause for the rust. What a joke. I guess that is also the reason the running boards, the chrome exhaust pipe & R rear quarter panel are rusting as well. So much for ‘tundra tough.’ I’ve gone all the way up the channels through the ‘customer experience’ to be told that Toyota won

  16. Mickey says:

    Cheryl when you found rust on the bumper did you take it in to have it looked at? Reason being documentation. That would show that it was there before the blemish. Make sure you have several pictures of the rust to also show proof of what is happening. Now you can talk to the media showing them everything. Exposure like that will make Toyota rethink their process about the rust. Did you see an are rep about the rust or was it just the dealership? Make an appointment with the area rep about those issues. Keep us informed.

  17. Cheryl – That’s awful. We’ve documented this problem and the typical experience is that you get new chrome parts. Unfortunately, the fact that you’ve damaged your bumper will make it difficult to get it replaced. Toyota usually requires the dealership to return the old part whenever they approve a warranty. If the old part has damage, Toyota may reject the warranty claim. The dealership is then left holding the bag. I have two ideas. First, try another dealership. Second, worst case, since you leased this truck you can simply polish the truck’s chrome just before you turn your lease back in and avoid any complications.

  18. rick starr says:

    I have had 2 sets of bumpers on my 2007 tundra and today. I came to get my 3rd set and i put on a brush gaurd and new counrty wanted to charge me to take it off and put it back on.. i was shocked they want to charge me for a problem that they know they have.. not a very smart choice if you ask me. dont think you will ever see me in another toyota.

  19. stacey brooks says:

    I have a 2000 Tundra with a broken rusted out frame. My dealer serviced my car since the day I bought it. They recently had advised me to do a big job on my car including replacing all 4 tires…saying that my truck was kept up so well, that I’d pretty much have a new truck after I did the job. The frame rusted out about 3 months later. Toyota has said nothing except that we should keep calling them to see if they plan to do anything about it. My dealer is very apologetic but will do nothing except keep it there. I have filed claims with Toyota and the NYS consumer affairs department. I have not heard anything. Does anyone know how one proceeds with something like this? Thanks

  20. stacey – Don’t forget to file a complaint with NHTSA. Also, how does a frame rust out in 3 months? Rust usually takes years to reach a level where the frame is really deteriorated…something they’re telling you doesn’t add up.

  21. superman says:

    I own a american made dodge truck 330.000 miles no engine work run awesome no rust problems. In fact I was in a accident last winter me and a Toyota Tundra both hit the wall in highway.My dodge and his Tundra slid on the snow into the wall.I drove away he had to be towed. The stupidity of americans who slam american workers yet they themselves are american workers ? We have 10% unemployment and growing higher. Fact is American workers are one of the most productive in the world . Remember people these truck like Toyota makes have always rusted go back and look at past.Why buy a Toyota truck when Ford ,Dodge and GM always have made incredible trucks.

  22. Mickey says:

    Sorry superman but not intrested in a govt. owned truck. I’m sorry you feel that way about a truck with more american made parts than your brand. It’s not the Tundra’s fault there.

  23. ManOver says:

    Mickey-
    You should take a good look at your sales (Tundra) numbers from last year??? Govt. owned truck, so that makes the Tundra a Govt. owned truck too right? I mean Japan did loan Toyota USA money to get thru this past year as well so it’s just as much govt. owned as a GM or Dodge product only thing is your supporting the wrong Govt.. Noce Job. And more American owned parts than a Dodge you say, wow so they have you brain washed. Take a good look at your content label. And also do a little research and find out what US suppliers are suppling parts for that Toyota all Japanese owned… Still sending your money out of this countrym thanks!
    This truck is a joke! Toyota product is a joke! and the 15,000,000 million vehicles recalled in 2009 is awesome.

  24. Jason says:

    Superman and Manover – Tundras ARE American vehicles made by American workers. Sorry to be the one to tell you. https://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2008/07/28/toyota-tundra-more-american-than-silverado-and-ram/

  25. Anonymous says:

    So let me get this straight. There is a special rust out there attacking Toyota Tundra’s and Tundra’s only. Sounds like a Government conspiracy! “LMAO!!! So it isn’t a sign of poor quality materials or production right? Then why does it seem its only happening to Toyota??
    Jason, tell that american made stuff to NUMMI auto workers who’s production was sent to Canada. Oh you left that part out!!

  26. Mickey says:

    Superman I take it your truck is about 10 years older than that Tundra was right? Did you read what you wrote? “The stupidity of americans who slam american workers yet they themselves are american workers ?” Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black or are you calling yourself stupid? How many American Workers put these vehicles together? As for your last statement it’s a matter of opinion. We know what opinions are. Manover you really don’t want us to go there about your recalls right? I guess you too are calling the kettle black. Where are the Big 3 vehicles being made in Canada and Mexico? Who get’s paid there? Isn’t your money going out there? If you believe it doesn’t then who is brainwashed? Well okay brain dead. Anonymous the only letters for you is N/C.

  27. Jason says:

    Anonymous – The number of jobs that Toyota has taken away from Americans and given to Canadians PALES in comparison to the number of jobs GM, Ford, and Chrysler have taken away from Americans. Think *before* you type – who has closed more plants in the USA, Toyota, or the domestics? NUMMI jobs going to Canada sucks, but is that totally Toyota’s fault? GM was half-owner at NUMMI – what’s there responsibility here?

  28. RUSSELL J. HENRY says:

    I HAVE A 2007 TUNDRA LIMITED. HAVE HAD RUST ON BUMPER AND NUTS 6 MONTHS AFTER I GOT IT IN OCTOBER 2007. THEY HAVE POLISHED THE BUMPER AND CHANGED THE NUTS 3 TIMES. APRIL 14 ,2010 HAD MAITENANCE DONE ON IT OIL,FILTER,DIFFERENTIAL ,FRONT AND REAR $250.00 ASKED ABOUT THE RUSTY NUTS THE DEALER NYE TOYOTA ,ONEIDA N.Y. I WAS TOLD TO CALL THERE HOT LINE YOU NEVER GET THREW. TO BAD I REALLY LIKE THE TRUCK. BUT WITH THIS KIND OF LACK OF CUSTOMER CARE, I AM THINKING OF ANOTHER TRUCK. IT SEEMS THAT SOMETHING THIS SMALL THEY WOULD WANT GOOD WILL. ONCE THEY HAVE YOUR MONEY THE BALL IS IN THERE COURT. $39,000.00 51 K MILES RUNS GREAT WHAT IT?

  29. Mickey says:

    Russell Toyota was replacing the rusted bumpers because they knew the dipping process had an issue from that part manufacturer. The lug nuts I can see that. Mine never rusted till I let some jack use an impact on the nuts. Now I have the rust on the edge of the nuts before it flanges out. I usually use my 4 way to do my own rotation and never had the issue. Just the one time I was in a rush and had a tire company rotate my tires. The impact suts into the nuts and makes them rust. I’ve seen where Toyota replaced the nuts but that was just a few. Get a hold to the factory rep who will then order your replacement bumper. Keep us informed on what goes. I have an 07 Crewmax but being down in florida I don’t have the rust issue on the bumper.

  30. Kent says:

    What did you expect? The frames are rusting to a degree they are not road worthy. So if your bumper is rusting, how do you think your frame is gonna look? Better enjoy it while you can.

  31. RUSSELL J. HENRY says:

    MICKEY, THANK YOU FOR THE THOUGHTFUL RESPONSE TO MY ISSUE. I AN GOING TO BE IN TOUCH WITH THE FACTORY REP. THE TRUCK DOES RUN GREAT. I PULL A 10 K FIFTH WHEEL RV AND NO PROBLEMS. I AM A BUILDING CONTRACTOR AND TOW MY 6 K CARGO TRAILER . NO PROBLEMS WITH ACCELERATOR . IF THEY WILL REPLACE THE LUG NUTS I AM GOING TO BE HAND TIGHTENING THEM AS YOU. THANKS FOR THE RESPONSE , I’LL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT WORKS OUT. RUSS

  32. Mickey says:

    Your welcome Russ. I only pull a 18.5ft bowrider boat single axle with mine. Just wished Toyota was more proactive on this.

  33. John says:

    We bought a Toyoto Tacoma in August 2009 and the rear bumber is rusting already. Called the dealer in Denver(Go Toyota) and they said that Toyota will not cover the rust. The service manager also said this is happening on alot of models. Thanks Toyota for not standing behind your product. 8,000 miles and already rusting.

  34. Jason says:

    John – I’ve seen a recent TSB that says the rust spots might be the result of brake dust. I don’t know that I’m buying that explanation for some of the photos, but if your bumper only has “spots,” you might not need a new bumper (just a good wax to remove the dust particles).

  35. lyndamae says:

    hello, i have ordered a tundra april 7, 2010 from a canadian dealer and it still has not arrived, july 14, 2010 what is going on? is toyota having production issues as my dealer stated? please let me know if i should get my down payment back or be more patient? thank you, lyndamae

    • Jason says:

      lyndamae – Search for “ordering a new Tundra” and you’ll find an entire post devoted to this very question.

  36. William says:

    I own a 2005 Tundra. It has been awesome to date, no problems except one. My rear chrome bumper just rusted through completely. I have 55 K miles on it and it is professionally cared for.The underside of the truck was in excellent shape, frame perfect, side panels in the back nearly perfect with exceptable minor rust spots. The truck is not abused at all
    and still looks really good. The bumper however is a joke. I can’t believe this bumper rusted through and to see the underside and inside of the bumper you would think it was sitting in a field for 20 years. Its clear there is a problem with the plating process or the prep. I am going to talk to my dealer but I’ll bet I am SOL on this.

  37. Jason says:

    William – I have to say I agree 100% – the plating process on some Toyota chrome parts sucks. I also think you’re right about the dealership not doing anything…after 5 years, it’s hard to get Toyota to warranty much.

  38. D. Miller says:

    I purchased a 2010 Tacoma two months ago. Crew cab, 4wd. Rear bumper is rusting already. Many, many spots. I will be visiting my dealership here in Ithaca, NY. This site has provided useful info. Toyota seems to have bad bumpers for both the Tundra and the Tacoma.

  39. Jason (Admin) says:

    D. Miller – There was a TSB that came out after this article was published that said some of the rust spots seen on wheels and bumpers are actually brake dust particles that have clumped and rusted. They just happen to stick to chrome parts.

    While I’m a little dubious, others have commented that a good clean and polish completely removes the spots…so they could just be particles.

  40. D. Miller says:

    Hello Jason, I took my Tacoma into Maguire Toyota, they looked it over, determined that it was not brake dust as it was also up around the license plate. Small pits are evident. They are going to replace it for me. She is a 2010 that I purchased in mid-October, about 2.4K, and I wash her every Sunday. Some of the specks may be brake dust, but there is clearly an issue with the chrome on my truck. The dealership was very good about this; they have ordered a new bumper. David

  41. Jason (Admin) says:

    D.Miller – Super glad to hear you’re getting a new bumper. You’re not the first one to tell me that some chrome pieces have rust problems…if only Toyota would communicate with us about these things. Sigh.

    Thanks for commenting!

  42. jose rivera says:

    I have the similar looking oxidation on my 2002 tundra front bumper, around the parking lights. I kind of think its not rust, because the grill has the same kind of rusty look but its made of plastic. Maybe if it bothers you so much have it analyzed,its only a truck.

  43. Melissa says:

    Our dealer contacted toyota and got all of our lug nuts replaced. Our hitch completely rusted too and they replaced that as well.

  44. Jason says:

    Just test drove a brand spankin’ new (2011) limited double cab and found significant rust on the rear bumper. Truck also had a steering vibration at 60 mph. After drooling over a new tundra for quite some time now, I think I’ll just play it safe and get a chevy.

    Btw, I have an f150 and would NEVER have another! Too many issues!

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