Rusty Frames Leave Toyota on the Hook for Billions

2008_09_01_09_Tacoma_ACab (1)

Rust, as Neil Young once said, never sleeps, and neither will Toyota — at least, not until it has fulfilled its 12-year promise to inspect and replace (if necessary) hundreds of thousands of corroded truck frames.

Toyota has agreed to pay up to $3.4 billion to appease owners of several previous-decade truck models who launched a class-action lawsuit against the company. Replacing those severely rusted frames won’t be an easy task, and there could be plenty of vehicles needing a completely new skeleton.

The settlement covers about 1.5 million Tacomas, Tundras and Sequoia vehicles that left the factory with insufficient rust protection. The corrosion is so bad, some vehicles could lose structural integrity.

Of the crop of iron oxide-friendly frames, the bulk of them rest underneath 2005 to 2010 Tacomas. The rest lurk below 2005 to 2008 Sequoias and 2007 to 2008 Tundras. As part of the settlement, the automaker must now check up on those frames for a period of 12 years after they first left the dealer lot.

Replacing a frame is a pricey, time-consuming process, so Toyota has set aside $15,000 for each affected vehicle, plus an extra $60 for regular inspections. According to a lawyer involved in the class action, Toyota mechanics should expect more than just a few frame-swaps in the coming years.

“Probably about 15 percent of the frames that get inspected will end up needing to be replaced,” Timothy Blood, co-counsel with Blood Hurst & O’Reardon in San Diego, told Automotive News. “There are a lot of steps to it. And it is labor-intensive.”

Going by that estimate, a total of 225,000 vehicles could see new frames. The original, insufficiently rustproofed frames were supplied by Dana Holding Corp. of Maumee, Ohio.

For a clearer idea of the replacement process, see the video below.

[Image: Toyota]


  1. raph says:

    Was there a NHTSA investigation prior to the class-action suit?
    Anyways seen a truck a few months ago with the frame replaced already. I noticed a “hencho en Mexico” sticker on what appeared to be a super clean frame and the owner told me Toyota replaced it at a cost of 15k.

  2. dukeisduke says:

    This isn’t anything new, except for the settlement being reached. I follow the second-gen Tacoma forums at ToyotaNation (I own a ’13), and there are plenty of owners who’ve had no-charge frame replacements done (also some FJ Cruiser owners).
    It’s time consuming, since you have to swap over all the drivetrain and suspension components, do a front end alignment, disconnect reconnect brake lines and bleed the brakes, etc.

  3. gtemnykh says:

    “also some FJ Cruiser owners”
    Now this is of particular interest since the FJ frame is Prado-based and has nothing to do with the US-market Tacoma C-channel frame. I haven’t heard of 4Runners recalled that use the same exact frame, and there were many more of them sold compared to FJs.

  4. VoGo says:

    4Runners do get rusty frames, but I suppose not to the extent that requires a recall. Yet.

  5. gtemnykh says:

    Oh I hear you, it’s my #1 piece of advice to people looking to buy one, next to careful inspection for accident damage and turned back mileage. Everything else on them is pretty trouble free and/or can be economically replaced/repaired. Prioritize a clean rust free truck over a lower mileage one.

  6. 28-Cars-Later says:

    “Prioritize a clean rust free truck over a lower mileage one.”
    This. Motors and transmissions can be easily replaced, the whole body and structure are much more annoying and expensive depending on what you’re doing.

  7. JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N says:

    Are LOL when you say how cheap it is to repair a Toyota? Geeze man, you’re unreal. Compare Toyota part prices to domestics, stuff like sensors up to used engines.
    Oh but these things never break! Just buy a high mileage one. Its so cheap to fix!!!
    That’s why people give them away for $700
    Over 200k? Don’t worry about it! Its fine. Like this one
    Yep,you just can’t kill a 22re. You just have to keep rebuilding it. Or replacing it when it cracks a block
    And the Prius, 10 years old and STILL worth $1500! And people say the 04-7 Taurus depreciated. It does, especially with and acknowledged stripped torque converter. So, buy a Prius instead so you can be stuck with it undeivable and are forced to dump it
    High mileage is fine, just replace the “head gaskets once or twice” and then deal with low compression. Probably cost $20 to fix it. Must be why he’s dumping it.
    I swear, I don’t get it. This chick goes ON and ON about how reliable her 140k mileage Corolla that blew its engine is. Not was, is, even though it needs an engine. Yes. Its so reliably broken right now, but “if you replace the engine, it’ll run great!” lol excellent conclusion, Columbo!
    How does one get so brainwashed? I admit I love Ford, but I am also quite honest about their flops and screw ups. Its not like admitting the DCT in the Focus is crap (apparently) is going to weaken my position that Ford does make good vehicles…overall. Lol, the Windstar, the 3.8L in general, the crash worthiness of 97-04 F-150, Several or their FWD automaics, lots of stuff that was admittedly bad. I still believe in Ford. I don’t put a paper bag over my head when they get caught using a bar in the SuperCrew to improve performance but left it out of the regular and extended cabs. They did the right thing by implementing it on all Body styles since, but to attempt to get away with it deserved harsh words.
    You Toyota guys simply don’t grasp that there are plenty of 22re and 3.0/3.4L V-6 failures. That the frame on the Tundra is lacking, that the Camry and its derivatives ride on a platform being developed when I was in high school (class of ’00), the failure of Scion, the terrible styling on some models, their inability to create a modern world-class subcompact. The Sonic, Fiesta and Fit may have their respective issues, but the Yaris just freaking sucks.
    It baffles me. Its like a mental block you guys have.

  8. gtemnykh says:

    How does one work himself into such a frothing rage over nothing (trolling craigslist for used Toyota ads)?
    Answer: he drives a Ford Taurus
    I’d take the time to break things down for you RE: affordability of parts and durability of various components but it doesn’t seem worth it for your sake.

  9. 28-Cars-Later says:

    Take two Festivas and call me in the morning.

  10. dukeisduke says:

    It’s a pretty small number, but there were also some frame replacements due to motor mount brackets breaking; a problem that also affected some 2005 and 2006 Tacomas, before they added reinforcements in that area.

  11. brettc says:

    So is this the second wave of trucks with rusty frames?
    I thought there was already an old frame recall on late 90s/early 2000s Toyota trucks, and that they were also supplied by Dana?

  12. gtemnykh says:

    Yes this is an entirely new thing, although I’ve heard of gen 1 Tundras recalled before (maybe a silent recall?).
    The weird thing is the “05-08” Sequoias as that straddles two generations. 05-07 was gen 1, ’08 was the first year of the bulbous 2nd gen based on the then-new Tundra.

  13. brettc says:

    Interesting, thanks for the information. It’s kind of insane that this has happened twice. You’d think Dana would have “fixed the glitch” after the first frame debacle.

  14. dividebytube says:

    My co-worker, who owns a 2005(?) Tundra, had his frame replaced by the dealer.
    The truck has some 290k+ miles on it when Toyota did the job last year! He would have been happy with a good trade-in value but decided if they were insane enough to do it, then why not? Now he’s up to 300k miles.

  15. Nick_515 says:

    My colleague literally lost his Land Cruiser to rust. He bought it because “they last forever” but then it began rusting horribly in upstate NY. He paid beaucoup bucks to replace brake lines, suspension components etc. Then the engine seized on the highway. I think it was one of the coolant lines that just dumped it all and killed the car. He lost ten grand right there and then.
    He got a brand new LR4. It certainly won’t rust, but the question is, did he jump from the frying pan into the fire? We’ll have to wait and see.

  16. 28-Cars-Later says:

    I pity this man.

  17. gtemnykh says:

    “It certainly won’t rust”
    “did he jump from the frying pan into the fire”

  18. Nick_515 says:

    Oy oy oy. I’ll just shut my mouth. He wants to chat with me as the resident “car guy.” I said yeah Europeans never rust. What was I supposed to do after the fact?

  19. CoreyDL says:

    Man that RR is a complete mess.
    LR4 man jumped from the frying pan into a vat of HCL.

  20. OldManPants says:

    Heh… Russian guys say “whoa! whoa! whoa!” too!

  21. Big Al From 'Murica says:

    PITA heater hose on an FZJ80 me thinks. Yes there is a hose back there you can’t change without removing the engine. You have to rip the metal out and do a crazy bypass. Other than that they are bulletproof. That and the failure prone headgasket, the front axle that needs rebuilt every 60k, the rust, the crap brakes that you have to replace all the rubber on to get to work, the power seats that the gear strips out on regularly, the transfer case that locks up if your tires are a slightly different size, the failure prone servos in the trans, and a plethora of other bits that will run you no less than 250 bucks and have to be shipped from Japan. Other than that though, bulletproof.

  22. Big Al From 'Murica says:

    Oh yeah, forgot the frames that crack at the steering box. Other than that though, bulletproof.

  23. gtemnykh says:

    Front birfields every 60k? I don’t believe it. I’ve never really heard of transmission issues on those either. Mind you I’ve never owned one of these either so all of my knowledge is indirect.

  24. 86er says:

    Good thing Toyota has lots of money.

  25. dr_outback says:

    When I would hear about Tacoma owners complaining about rusty frames, I thought they were just too sensitive to a little light surface rust. But we had a 2005 Tacoma in the other day with 70k miles and I felt I needed a tetanus shot just from looking at the frame. Every inch of the frame had cancerous rust and was severely deteriorated. The trunk could not pass the State Inspection due to a rust hole in the frame. The brake calipers and steering knuckles were also severely rusty and the body was rusting around the caulk. I was shocked!

  26. OldManPants says:

    Steel is so suck.

  27. bullnuke says:

    Perhaps Toyota could get some pointers from its partner Mazda for things other than hybrids( to control rust problems in vehicles. Or, perhaps not.

  28. philadlj says:

    A friend had his Tacoma almost completely rebuilt, a process that took months, during many of which the truck was just sitting in line on a lot. I don’t know exactly how much Toyota spent to fix it, but I can tell you it was a lot more than $15K, and that simply giving him a brand-new truck with no rust problems would have been quicker, easier, and cheaper for the company. That being said he still seems satisfied with the repairs and the truck in general.

  29. mason says:

    I did not know Dana provided the frames for these. I wonder if Toyota has pushed back on them to help foot the bill.

  30. dukeisduke says:

    Yes, they are getting compensation from Dana.

  31. Scoutdude says:

    Dana did not provide this bunch of frames, they sold that business unit in 2000.
    They did provide a paltry 25 million for the earlier frame issues that were built when they still owned and operated that business unit. More or less for building it to Toyota’s specs w/o warning that that spec will result in sever corrosion in the salt belt.

  32. mikey says:

    Just a couple of questions here. What would be the retail value be of a 2006 Tacoma , in fair shape ,and a rust free frame in the USA? Are all owners covered , or just the original buyer ?

  33. 87 Morgan says:

    This is a financial windfall for the Toyota dealers.

  34. Scoutdude says:

    And the Technicians that draw the tickets. These guys apparently decided to team up or at least the dealership had them team up. They claim 5hrs for the job for the 3 guys working together. Elsewhere there is a video of a guy doing it by himself in 2 days. I’ve seen that Toyota pays up to 40hrs for the swap depending on configuration and options. Still not as good of pay as sawzalling accelerator pedals but very nice indeed.

  35. NotFast says:

    Didn’t Rusty Frame win the NASCAR championship back in the 70’s?

  36. Suto says:

    You mean Dick Trickle.

  37. Superdessucke says:

    When an American grabs his sack and heads out into the salty slush in his 4×4, the last thing he deserves is for his frame to rust out from under him. I’m glad Toyota is making this right.

  38. 86er says:

    I don’t think all male residents of the U.S. grasp their scrotum upon heading out in their four-wheel-drive.
    Well, maybe Ted Nugent.

  39. Tstag says:

    Right, so presumably this affects Toyotas reliability record and they now have a worse reputation than Fiat?

  40. Scoutdude says:

    Of course not because it is an “isolated incident” (that ran for many years across a couple of product lines.)
    But seriously Toyota is for the most part treating the customer right on this deal. The buyouts on the earlier trucks meant many people who bought them used were able to drive them for free for several miles and years in some cases. So the customer drives away satisfied and is willing to give Toyota another chance since they felt they were well taken care of. Though I’m certain some dealers botched the customer service aspect of this campaign.

  41. SCE to AUX says:

    I know two people who have had their Toyota truck frames replaced – a coworker and my BIL. They said the dealer claimed it was a $9000 expense and 4-8 weeks of effort.
    Both were very happy with the work, but my friend foolishly traded his truck soon afterwards, wanting to maximize its value. So in rapid succession he bought an F-150 (“too big”), then a Camry (“can’t haul stuff”), then a RAM Ecodiesel (drivetrain reliability nightmare), and finally a Tacoma once again. All the while, he was saying he never should have traded his first Toyota.

  42. Lou_BC says:

    My local Toyota dealer has a stack of frames behind their shop. I wonder how this would work out if it was a domestic manufacturer with the same problem?
    Just refer to the recent story on recalls.

  43. SCE to AUX says:

    Toyota is buying future customers. It’s a wise play.
    Another friend (besides my truck frame friends, above ^^^), had his Sienna transmission comped by the dealer even when it was out of warranty. He continues to buy Toyotas.

  44. Big Al From 'Murica says:

    My mother in law had one of those sludge monster V6s. The dealer certainly didn’t earn her goodwill.

  45. CoreyDL says:

    Wonder if they’ve severed all ties to Dana by now, or if they’ll try and get some money from them.

  46. pragmatic says:

    Now to get the Ford Ranger’s rusty frames repaired.

  47. namesakeone says:

    An obvious, to me (and at least one other person, above) question: Why wouldn’t Toyota simply buy back and scrap the older ones–which would certainly cost less than replacing the frame for $15,000?

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