Toyota Investigating 2000-01 Tundra Pickups With Rusty Frames


Photo: Toyota

Despite an arctic-inspired name, certain Toyota Tundra full-size pickups may have problems withstanding harsh winter climates. Toyota is investigating reports of frame rust problems in 2000 and 2001 Tundras similar to those that caused the Japanese auto giant to extend warranties, buy back entire trucks, or repair or replace severely rusted frames in its 1995-2000 and 2001-04 Toyota Tacoma midsize pickups last year.

We contacted Toyota after reading a story from Boston television station WCVB about Tundra owners with frames so badly corroded that some trucks might not be considered fit for work or resale.

“At this stage, we’re trying to grasp the situation,” said Brian Lyons, Toyota’s Safety and Quality communications manager. “We don’t know whether we have an issue with Tundra or not.”

But 2000 Toyota Tundra owner Tim Gatzke says he knows.

“I can only drive my truck about two or three miles because the power steering fluid leaks out,” Gatzke said. “That’s because the steering rack behind the front part of the frame is so corroded that it’s broken away from the frame and the seal on the rack is leaking fluid. One of the rear leaf springs is broken, too.”

Photo: 2000 Toyota Tundra Owner Tim Gatzke

Gatzke emailed us underbody pictures of his Tundra pickup that show severe rust damage.

Other Tundra owners have filed similar complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where more than two dozen corrosion claims about 2000 and 2001 Tundra frames are on record.

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 is assembled.

“Because of the Tacoma, we are taking a look at other vehicles of similar make and production elements. This includes the Tundra,” Lyons said. “[Dana] used the same rust treatment [for the Tacoma and Tundra] during manufacturing.”

2000 was the Toyota Tundra’s . It was introduced as a replacement for the earlier Toyota T100 pickup. The first trucks were built in 1999. In 2000, 100,455 were sold, and another 108,863 were sold in 2001.

Most rust-damaged Tundras have been reported in what Toyota defines as severe cold-weather states, like Massachusetts, where brutal winter road conditions can take their toll on under-protected metal.

For now, a team of Toyota engineers and technicians out in the field is inspecting reports of rusted Tundras as they’re flagged by Toyota dealers or Toyota’s national Customer Experience Center. Toyota has yet to send out a formal letter about the issue to its dealers or to Tundra owners, like it did for the Tacoma in 2008.

Photo: 2000 Toyota Tundra Owner Tim Gatzke

“We need to look at each vehicle and understand its history — where it’s been driven and how it’s been driven," Lyons said. “It’s a little complicated because the warranty on these 2000-01 vehicles has run out. We can’t just warranty the frame. We have to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.”

Lyons says Toyota is still trying to figure out how it will support customers complaining about these vehicles, but part of Toyota’s short-term response could be paying for repairs even though the trucks are well past their factory warranty periods.

Over the long term, if the situation warrants, Toyota could take similar blanket action with the Tundra as it did with the Tacoma.

Lyons says 2000-01 Toyota Tundra owners with questions or trucks showing frame rust problems should call Toyota’s Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

[Source: WCVB Channel 5, Boston via]



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