Toyota Tundra Frame Supplier Dana Off The Hook, No Rust Fix Yet
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.
While this is not the news that the owners of Tundras with frame rust were hoping for, Toyota seems to be moving in positive direction in regards to frame rust complaints on first-gen Tundras. Before, Toyota seemed to blame frame supplier Dana for this issue. Now, it seems that Toyota has determined Dana is not responsible for frame rust problems on the first-gen Tundra.
This is an interesting distinction that, when combined with other facts, could indicate Toyota will take action…but it’s still very early.
According to a story in the Automotive News, Toyota seems to believe that:
- Frame supplier Dana is not the source of the rust problem.
- NHTSA is likely to expand their investigation of Tundra frame rust to a full engineering analysis.
Much of this is based on statement by Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons, who is also the main point of contact at Toyota for the unintended acceleration issue.
Here are the statements made by Lyons to the Automotive News:
It is too early to speculate what we will do for Tundra…They’re [NHTSA] only looking at one specific portion of the frame — the cross member that supports the spare tire — not the entire frame. [Lyons confirmed that Dana built the Tundra frames but that no connection exists between the Tacoma and Tundra frame rust issues] The frames were built to a different design and at different plants…so this is not apples to apples. [Toyota does not blame Dana]. Ultimately, this is our vehicle and our responsibility.
There are two interesting notes here.
- Note that Lyons says “what we will do” rather than “if we will do.” It’s a minor distinction to be sure, but hopefully it’s a positive indicator.
- Combined with previous statements, it sounds as if Toyota has begun to determine the financial impact of a potential fix. Why else would they go out of their way to say that Dana is not responsible?
It could be that Lyons is simply trying to clear Dana’s name after Toyota made a couple of statements earlier in the year that all but said Dana was responsible. Here’s the first statement that indicated Dana was to blame, released nearly six months ago (see Toyota Indicates First-gen Tundra Frame Rust problem):
…using the information obtained from the Tacoma, we pro-actively investigate other vehicles of similar design and production elements. In doing so, our investigations have indicated that there are a small number of complaints for a similar condition on 2000 and 2001 Tundras.
This was Toyota’s very first statement on the frame rust issue, and it indicates Toyota knew they were going to have a problem because of Dana’s production mistakes on the Tacoma. This quote from a PickupTrucks.com article further supports this idea:
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
Today, it seems clear that Toyota has made an about-face in regards to frame supplier Dana.
In addition, PickupTrucks.com reports today that
Toyota has been studying the [frame rust] issue for more than six months and has repurchased several Tundras from owners as part of its investigation process, though no formal repair program has been put in place
This information is supported by rumors of repairs and replacements found on popular Tundra forums (as well as reports that have been conveyed to us directly). It could very well be that these moves were for investigative purposes only, but our belief is that Toyota would not be buying back vehicles unless they were seriously contemplating a major fix. Here’s why:
- Buying back vehicles is a good way to test the efficacy of warranty repairs as well as determining scrap value and potential liability.
- Clearing Dana of financial responsibility might be corporate courtesy, but it could also be viewed as another indicator that Toyota is putting a price tag on a fix.
- Toyota’s belief that NHTSA will expand their investigation is a sign that Toyota is not expecting this problem to go away on it’s own.
Let’s hope that these moves are indicators that Toyota is preparing to make a financial commitment to fix this problem.
Filed Under: Tundra News