Toyota Tundra Killer Heat Proves Transmission Is Tough

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We’ve all seen those spectacular car and truck ads where someone is either racing a jet, leaping through the desert dunes or avoiding video game-style obstacles in order to demonstrate just how agile and capable a certain vehicle really is. These ads are cool, but are they real?

The amazing advances that have been made in terms of computer graphics and special effects have led to the creation of a lot of “faked” commercials shot in front of a greenscreen in order to add in all of the perceived dangers once everyone is safely back in the studio. While this might be true of a large portion of television trickery, Toyota has remained committed to investing serious sums in producing some of the most incredible, and realistic, advertisements ever filmed.

The Toyota Tundra “Killer Heat” ad is a perfect example. In the TV spot (see below), a Tundra pickup is seen towing 10,000 lbs of cargo up a twisting road that spirals around an 80 foot tower. Here’s some information about the making of the Killer Heat commercial:

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The original Killer Heat Toyota Tundra commercial.

The most interesting aspect of this advertisement, other than the Tundra being able to pull such a heavy load undeterred up a fiery incline, is the fact that the entire thing was real. That is correct – Saatchi LA, the ad agency behind the commercial – took 2 months to design and actually build a corkscrew road snaking around a steel tower and then encased 170 feet of that road in a specially constructed flame oven in order to prove a point about just how durable the Tundra is.

Stunt driver Matt McBride, used to pulling duty in Hollywood films as one of the business go-to guys for dangerous work, was employed as the pilot of this inferno-bound pickup. He made 11 successful ascents of the steel road, each time hauling an extremely heavy trailer load.

Not only was the advertisement visually impressive, but it also proved a point about the Tundra’s inner workings. Outfitted with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Tundra pickup in the ad was asked to take on a lot. First of all, towing 10,000 lbs up a steep, winding incline is a lot to ask of any pickup. It’s also enough to heat transmission fluid to a very high level – which makes this stunt even more dangerous. Once a vehicle’s transmission fluid passes the 175 degree Fahrenheit mark, it begins to lose much of its viscosity. Every 20 degree rise above this level can cut the life of the fluid by 50 percent, and if temperatures get high enough the fluid will actually “boil over” and instantly ruin the transmission…and place the driver in this sort of test in a very precarious position as well.

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The making of video for “Killer Heat.”

So why is all of this important? First of all, the tower seen in the commercial was built in the Mojave Desert where temperatures are already much higher than what the average Tundra driver will ever have to face. When you throw in 170 feet of oven-baked driving and the potential for disastrous overheating (read flames and a truck falling 60 feet to the ground) is increased exponentially.

Of course, the Tundra performed admirably during each take, providing indisputable proof that the truck is one of the toughest and best-designed pickups on the market today. If there’s anything wrong with the “Killer Heat” commercial, it’s that it takes a real truck person to understand just how amazing this stunt was. People have known how towing effects transmission temperatures in order to recognize how much engineering prowess has gone into the Tundra’s drivetrain.

The Killer Heat ad was a huge undertaking to setup and safely pull off, but the value of such a stunning demonstration is indisputable.

Filed Under: Tundra Videos


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  1. DrBundy says:

    Kudos to all involved who, unlike myself, are not afraid of heights. One question…did the driver have to back that rig DOWN 11 times as well???

  2. Mickey says:

    That’s one of the best commercials they put out yet. Not being bias I like all of the Tundra commercials. Especially when a Crewmax is used.

  3. DrBundy – Yes. Crazy right?

  4. tmac says:

    holy sheetballs i never even thought about how they got it down
    thats mental, mad props to the driver…

  5. TXTee says:

    Trekked the Mojave this morning and yes it’s hot as h311 but the Tundra did great even though it wasn’t “on fire” with a load like the commercial. =)

  6. TXTee – Sounds like fun. If you decide to re-enact driving through the video, be sure to take some good pics for us to share on the site! 🙂

  7. Bob says:

    I’m pretty sure the trailer was on a rail system for the acent and decent. Most likely, so was the truck. they were proving a point on pulling, not steering. I’ve been driving military trucks for 22 years with trailers of all kinds and I WOULD NOT try to back that down that ramp. That’s a death sentence, it just would not happen.

    Aside from that, the truck held up it’s end of the deal admirably. That’s why I bought a Tundra.

    Cheers, Bob !

  8. Bob – I don’t see no rails man, but I agree with your assessment. You wouldn’t catch me doing that.

  9. Danno says:

    Nope, no rails. The trailer was lifted off with a crane at the end of the run and the driver backed the truck down. Toyota talks about this on the youtube video about the making of “killer heat”.

  10. Jason (Admin) says:

    Danno – Good call! I should have watched that video closer.

  11. badhemi says:

    you can see the crane lifting the trailer down in the video.

  12. […] in 2009, an author on the Tundra-fanatic website wrote: “If there’s anything wrong with the “Killer Heat” commercial, it’s that it […]

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