Tundra Problems

I own an '01 Tundra Access Cab, 4x4, TRD, Limited. I ordered and bought this truck new at Marietta Toyota in Marietta, GA in April '01.
I got a pretty good deal on the truck and the delivery of the truck and treatment of me as a customer was second to none.
From the very beginning I noticed the truck had a tendency to pull right. I brought it back to Marietta Toyota and asked them to look at it. They said everything was fine mechanically but a tire was low on pressure. I found that very hard to believe since I knew before I went in that the tire pressure in every tire (including the spare :)) was perfect. I was a tire technician and service writer for years and I am really precise about my tires.
The truck continued to pull right so I brought it back for the 6K oil change. Again they said it was tire pressure. This time I challenged that by telling them I was religious about tire pressure and had personally checked it before bringing it in. In fact, I check my pressure at every other gas fillup. They then tried to blame my gauge. I showed them my very good tire gauge so they then decided it was road crown.
AT 18K I took the truck in and told them to align it at my expense. They came back and said they had to make on very minor changes but the specs were fully within limits before they even started. At this point they pointed out the treads on the tires were seperating. I had them rotate in my spare (big mistake, trust me)
I brought the truck back in a thousand miles later. The tires on the truck were worn to the point of baldness (less than 2/1000 of usable tread left) at 19K. At this point I noticed that the alignment paperwork fromt he previous alignment indicated they had set it to 4x2 specs, not 4x4 specs. Since they told me at that time the truck was already fully within specs that tells me the truck had ALWAYS been set wrong. After intense haggling between me and the dealer they agreed to realign the truck to the proper specs and replace two tires. I paid for two more myself and they installed a complete set of Michelins. The alignment guy and the service writer were VERY unhappy and gave me the impression they thought I was just a chronic complainer. They didn't say it but they certainly let me know, particularly through their body language.
I took the truck home and again it pulls right. Consistently. Hard enough that after a long trip your wrists are sore from holding it in place. I took it back. On top of that the tires bounce around all the time. So now it feels like I have a bad alignment and a bad balance. I examine the wheels and tires and they have used over three ounces on two tires and on one other tire they have two weights placed 120 degrees apart. I have a balanced a lot of tires in my life and had never seen a balance like that unless the wheel was warped badly. Trust me, the wheels were not (and still are not) warped. I took it back to Marietta Toyota and asked them to check it. This time they told me they had nobody available to check out the alignment.
I took it to another Toyota dealership and they essentially said I needed to take this up with Marietta Toyota. I called they Toyota customer service line and they took my information and told me they would contact the Customer Satisfaction person at Marietta Toyota and they would contact me within three business days, but usually within a day. Three business days came and went which bracketed a three day weekend due to a holiday (Labor Day)and still I hadn't heard back. I called the Toyota Cusomer Relations line back (1-800-331-4331) and they asked me to give Marietta Toyota another day. I waited until the next day and again called back the Customer Relations line. This time they told me there was nothing they could do about it. Their not so helpful message to me was "we can't make them contact you. You will need to call them directly". Now I'm hot. What good has it done to deal with Marietta Toyota directly?
I call Marietta Toyota and ask for their Customer Relations Manager and was told she was out but would contact me shortly. I left my number and waited five hours. Nothing. I called back and was told she was in a meeting. I again left my number. After two more hours, still no reply. Now, I am really mad.
I pick up the phone and call my salesman at Marietta Toyota. This guy is a prince. He listens to just a fraction of my story and tells me to stay at my number and he will get someone on it. As we are talking my incoming line starts ringing and I can tell it is the Customer Relations Manager from Marietta Toyota. My salesman asks me to ignore that call and wait. A few minutes later the Fixed Operations Manager calls me and asks me to come in. I come right over and after a brief wait, get an opportunity to explain the problem to him and another man, a service writer.
As I lay the problem out I stand up and start laying paperwork on his desk. First the receipts and then the alignment records. He instantly sees what could be the problem. He asked me what it will take to make it right. I tell him to get the alignment right and I mean "spot-on right". I also want the tires to be rebalanced. I also ask them to change the oil at my expense.
Now for some praise. They took my truck and gave me a rental car from their fleet. A day later I pick up the truck and have driven it for one week today. The alignment feels right and the tires feel right. I notice they still take an incredible amount of weight and one wheel has two weights spaced apart. I chalk this up to what they call a "force balance".
Now back to my rant. When I picked up my truck they told me I needed new front brakes. Sure enough, the front pads are worn down significantly. I am shocked because the truck only has 31K on it. I opted to take the truck to the local JustBrakes franchise and they are at this minute putting on new brakes. Why would a truck with 31K need new brakes. More significantly, why only on one side, the left? Of course you can't replace only one side and I wouldn't even if you could.
Now let me give you some details about me. I am a trained and certified (certifiction no longer current) mechanic with over five years of experience as both an automotive mechanic specializing in brakes and suspension and simultaneously selling and installing literally thousands of sets of tires on passenger cars and light trucks. I am very concientious about my tires and alignment.
I have owned many Four Wheel Drive trucks. In fact, the last 4x4 I owned has a little over 80K miles on one set of Michelin LTX tires. I know how a 4x4 drives, I know HOW to drive a 4x4. I know how to maintain cars, partiularly tires and suspension components. In short I can say without false modesty, I know what I am talking about.
This Tundra has been a nightmare of epic proportions. After such a wonderful purchasing experience, the service has been horrific. Until I put my foot down I couldn't get anyone's attention. You can forget using the Toyota Customer Satisfaction number for any assistance. They work from a script and can not help you if it doesn't fit in the script.
My advice to anyone no matter what kind of vehicle you own is to pay attention to the car and save every scrap of paper pertaining to serviceing. I truly understand the psychology of a Service Writer and I know that they absolutely hate people self-diagnosing their cars. From the very beginning of this my observations and diagnoses were absolutely correct. If they had taken the time to listen in the beginning this would have been a mere bump in the road. It is now a nightmare I am going to remember this for a long, long time.
I no longer trust the truck. I look at these tires with significant wear (cupping) after only 11K miles and I feel cheated out what I paid for. Not deliberate, "were going to steal your money" cheated, but neglectfull "get this guy out of here" cheated. I waited a long time to buy a new vehicle and got exactly what I was looking for in equipment. My intention was to own this vehicle for ten years, just like my '93 Camry (also bought new). Now I just don't know. Whenever I look at those screwed up tires, the weirdly weighted wheels, whenever I have to correct the steering to keep it straight I'm going to wonder if there is another problem. Whenever I touch the brakes and hear any noise I'm going to wonder if there is another problem.
TundraNick
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<snipola> I am a trained and

Yet you take your vehicle to a monkey shop to have your brakes done? I don't get it ...
VLJ
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vlj wrote:

There's a saying, "Once burned, twice careful," that must apply here. Only in his case, it was several times burned. I wouldn't take it back for much of anything. After the thread about the oil change, I wouldn't take it back there for that either!!!
Tom - Vista, CA
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Nick,
Boy, does your post bring back some memories- I had ALL of the same symptoms you describe and got the same run-around you are getting. To make a long story short, my problem was solved when I took my wife's 4Runner wheels and swapped them out with my Tundra wheels. My truck steered perfectly and all the 'bounce' was gone and the 4 Runner now had the problems. This indicated a wheel and / or tire problem.
After switching everything back again, I dropped the Tundra off at a wheel balancing shop for a couple of days. I know you said "Trust me, the wheels were not (and still are not) warped." You may want to reinvestigate that angle because the wheel shop found two bent rims and 2 warped rims. I can only guess that the bent rims may have occured while in transit, while coming off the car carrier trailer, or while being horsed around the curbs at the dealership. The warped rims probably came from the manufacturer that way.
Also, much to my disbelief, the wheel shop said that 3 of my 4 brand new Michelins were malformed (out of round, heavier on one side than the other, etc.) and unable to be balanced within specs.
They re-worked the wheels for $40.00 a piece and I went back to the tire shop and insisted that my faulty Michelins be replaced. Because I had the diagnosis from the wheel shop, my tires were exchanged at no cost.
All of this happened back in 1999 when my truck was fairly new. It's got over 80,000 on it now, drives straight as an arrow down the road, has those same Michelins on it, and has never had a brake problem - the originals are still looking good.
My advice is to reinvestigate the possibility that you may have a bad wheel or two and maybe even a bum tire or two.
You have a great truck there - good for many many miles and many many years of dependable service. I hope you find out what your problem is and regain trust and faith in the vehicle. From your description and my experience, I would bet dollars to donuts that you have a "bad" wheel(s) problem just like I did.
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The following was the only _helpful_ reply to the original post I saw:

symptoms
and
all
indicated
wheels
that
other,
those
are
wheel
years
regain
I
like
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Tom S wrote:

To paraphrase the announcer at the Hindenburg disaster: "Oh, the humility!" ... :>))
Tom - Vista, CA
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A couple of notes and an update:
The dealership has had real problems in the shop. I don't know if it is hiring bad mechanics or just a culture that promotes slothful maintenance. I just don't know. I do know that I have had them overfill my Camry's oil four times, three times after I had warned them about the capacity (4 1/2 qts max on a V6, 93 Camry).
What really irks me is the way I was treated when I suggested what could be the problem. When you look up the word "Condescending" in the dictionary it says "See Marietta Toyota Service". As I said in my post, I have been on the other side of the service desk and understand that some people really don't know what they are talking about. There is a difference however, between cluless suggestion and knowledgeable suggestion and they don't try to spot the difference.
The idea about the wheels is intriguing. I need to hurry up and get this determined because I have 33K on the truck right now. I will get that checked and get back to you.
As for the brakes, I'll be damned if I am paying them to monkey around with my brakes, especially since they haven't shown me they can handle something less complex like an oil change. JustBrakes did a great job and charged me $99 bucks. I did have to buy my own front pads but that was OK (NAPA Premium). The most important difference between my JustBrakes experience and my Marietta Toyota Service Department experience was that JustBrakes didn't try to sell me on ficticious and costly "Brake Diagnosis" and "Brake Cleaning" (whatever the hell THAT is). The total cost of the Just Brakes job was $133, the ESTIMATE from Marietta Toyota Service Department was $159 for the front and $55 for the rear. I get a warranty on both parts and labor from JustBrakes.
Thanks for your help and keep those comments coming.
Nick
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The factory alignment specifications on the Tundra are a very wide range. Aligning it within spec does not mean it is right. The symptoms you describe - say alignment problems. Visit http://www.tundrasolutions.com and search for DJ's alignment specs. Then get it aligned exactly to those specs on Hunter equipment by someone with a clue. I am willing to bet that fixes your pulling and tire wear problems. However, I am sure by now the tires are toast, so replace them with a set of Michelin LTX/MS.

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For those of you that have followed this thread here is some additional information. On Saturday of this week I took the truck out on the interstate and drove it at speed. I discovered that even with the "force balance" the tires still vibrate but now do so at 55 mph. This isn't the little hum-type vibrate, this is the full steering whell shaking and objects rattling vibration. On top of this one of the tires they force-balanced will no longer keep air. I'm not sure that it was caused by the "force-balancing" but I can't discount it either. I pulled the tire and wheel off of the truck to put on the spare and rolled the tire. It not only appears that the wheel is out of shape but the tire now seemes, for lack of a better and more descriptive phrase, oblong. Oblong is not the ideal shape for a tire in my opinion.
These are not cheap tires. These are Michelin MS/X tires, the proper size and inflated to the proper pressure.
Right now the truck is back at Marietta Toyota having the tire looked at. I have sent an amended copy of the original post to this thread to one of the companies officers. I don't know what, if anything, will happen with this but at least I have it off my chest.
Nick
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