BOSTON -- Toyota is hearing from truck owners about frames so badly rusted
they can't be repaired nor replaced.
It's a problem Team 5 Investigates first uncovered last year with Tacomas.
And now it appears to involve larger model Tundras as well.
"The frame is cracked," said Tim Gatzke, owner of a 2000 Toyota Tundra. "And
down in the back here, the leaf springs on this side are so corroded that
He said the frame on his truck is being eaten away by rust. Driven only
89,000 miles, it no longer holds power steering fluid.
"In order to fix it, you need a power steering rack," Gatzke said. "But the
corrosion is so bad, there is nothing for it to get welded back onto the
Gatzke has pretty much stopped driving his truck.
"It's aggressive corrosion that essentially makes the truck unsafe," he
said. "I mean, the power steering rack at 70 mph. --- if that were to let
go, that could be a really bad accident."
Bob Malone is another Tundra owner with the same complaint. "You can see the
frame rail is just orange with rust," he said. Malone's 2000 Tundra --
driven just 72,000 -- essentially fell apart going through the car wash.
"I could literally just hear the metal chips flying off," he said, holding a
rusted sheet in his hand. "This is the biggest piece I found out of the
Team 5 Investigates discovered more than two dozen complaints about 2000 and
2001 Tundras filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drivers wrote, "Metal shearing off in large sheets"; "The rot caused the
frame to break in half.".... (and) "Poked my finger right through the cross
Frustrated Tundra owners told NHTSA: "My truck is undriveable and
unfixable." ... "It will not pass the next inspection." ... (and) "I cannot
drive my car or even sell it as is."
"What needs to happen is, Toyota needs to recall these trucks," said Sean
Kane, a national safety expert who believes the rust problem with older
Tundras may be the same one plaguing more than 800,000 Tacoma trucks built
between 1995 and 2000. As Team 5 Investigates first reported last year,
those model years did not have adequate corrosion protection, causing the
frames to disintegrate from rust.
Toyota agreed --- and offered buyback deals for one-and-a-half times the
vehicle's Blue Book value. "Toyota really does need to step up here and
extend that warranty beyond the vehicles that they've already covered to
include any vehicles of theirs that has this kind of problem," Kane said.
In a written statement, Toyota told Team 5 Investigates that they've had
only a small number of complaints and are investigating each one. They said,
"using the information obtained from the Tacoma, we pro-actively investigate
other vehicles of similar design and production elements." The company
added, it "takes great pride in the durability and quality of our products."
Toyota wouldn't disclose how many rusted Tundras they've heard about or what
they're doing for the owners. "I'm pretty incensed," Malone said. "If you
call them up, they just ignore you and hope you'll go away. I don't know
what it's going to take."
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