NHTSA Investigating Tundra 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.
NHTSA has officially announced a 2000-2001 Tundra frame rust investigation. According to multiple news sources, Toyota has begun to quietly replace frames and/or buy-out Tundra owners. Whether this is Toyota deciding to act in good faith or an attempt to avoid an embarrassing safety recall is hard to say, but the good news is that 2000-2001 Tundra owners with rusted frames are finally going to get consideration from Toyota.
PickupTrucks.com has a great story about this investigation with some info about Tundra frame replacements, as well as some communication from Toyota that indicates the root cause of the frame rust issue:
According to Lyons, 1995-2004 Tacoma pickups and 2000-01 Tundras shared the same frame supplier: Toledo, Ohio-based Dana Holding Corporation. In investigating the Tacoma’s rust complaints, Toyota discovered that Dana hadn’t properly prepped Tacoma frames to resist corrosion before they were shipped to Toyota’s NUMMI manufacturing plant, where the Tacoma was assembled
This information is consistent with Toyota’s previous statement on the matter when WCVB in Boston first broke this story. However, this isn’t consistent with owner reports of frame rust on 2002 and 2003 Tundras. If you’re a first generation Tundra owner with a rusted frame, you are strongly advised to visit your Toyota dealer. Now is the time to have your frame rust problem documented. If your local Toyota dealer does not respond quickly, by all means contact NHTSA. This is the only way to get Toyota to act.
The actual text of the NHTSA investigation announcement:
THE OFFICE OF DEFECTS INVESTIGATION HAS RECEIVED 20 REPORTS ON THE SUBJECT VEHICLES THAT RELATE TO SPARE TIRE SEPARATION AND BRAKE SYSTEM FAILURES AS A RESULT OF SEVERE FRAME CORROSION. THERE HAVE BEEN 15 REPORTS ALLEGING THE UNDER BODY MOUNTED SPARE TIRE SEPARATED FROM THE REAR CROSSMEMBER AND FIVE REPORTS ALLEGING BROKEN BRAKE LINES AT THE PROPORTIONING VALVE LOCATED ON THE DRIVER’S SIDE OF THE REAR CROSSMEMBER AT THE UPPER SHOCK MOUNT.
If NHTSA officially determines the frame rust is a safety issue they can force Toyota to repair the defect in all vehicles – meaning every 2000 and 2001 Tundra will need either a replacement frame or some sort of undercoating. Often times, in order to avoid a recall, a manufacturer can work with NHTSA to find a solution that solves the problem without issuing a recall. This is similar to the way Toyota handled the frame rust issue on 1995-2000 Tacomas (Toyota extended the warranty on these trucks). Extending the warranty forced Toyota to replace or buy-back the bad trucks without having to issue a recall, and we would expect a similar move IF NHTSA determines Toyota needs to take action.
However, in order to avoid the whole situation, it sounds like Toyota is taking action now. Here’s a list of rumored actions Toyota has taken to make this right with 1st gen Tundra owners:
- Frame replacement. It might sound crazy, but Toyota is replacing entire frames piece-by-piece for some first generation Tundra owners. This is an expensive option for Toyota, but it satisfies any government requirements.
- Cash payment buy-backs. Buying back the trucks with the rusted frames (and subsequently junking them) is a cheap way for Toyota to fix this problem…but some owners expect more than fair value. If you find yourself in this situation, expect Toyota to offer you retail replacement value according to the NADA or KBB used vehicle pricing guides. If you try and hold Toyota up for a lot of money, they’ll simply replace your frame (and you’ll get nothing).
- Purchase credit towards a new Toyota. Toyota has also offered credits towards new vehicles, with the rumor being the credit was $10k. $10k almost buys a new Yaris or Corolla, and it’s a fine down payment on a new Tundra.
If you have any first-hand experience, or if you know of anyone who’s been offered a new frame, a cash payment, or a credit towards a new Toyota, please comment below.
Filed Under: Tundra Recalls