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Toyota Tacoma, Toyota 4Runner, Car Safety, Auto Body, Car Warranties, Truck
#666 of 1369 Long, Long Post - Letter to NHTSA
Jan 23, 2009 (1:28 pm)
The following is a letter that I've sent the NHTSA. I've pulled out all the stops trying to get someone to do something about our Tacomas. I've contacted the bostonchannel, 60 minutes, the Mass AG, my congressmen. It's a long read. I go into detail on what the problem is and why logistically, I feel Toyota won't be able to adequately perform their proposed fixes on our vehicles. That leads us to only one logical conclusion - buyback.
I am the unfortunate owner of a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. By now I'm sure you've heard all about the frame corrosion problems with the 1995 - 2004 Toyota Tacoma pick-ups. I believe that this is a much bigger problem than what Toyota is telling you folks at the NHTSA. The magnitude of this problem and the logistics of Toyota's proposed fix leaves the NHTSA no choice but to force Toyota to initiate a mandatory buyback of these dangerous vehicles. The conditions of the buyback should follow the precedence set by Toyota on Toyota's voluntary buyback program for the '95-01 Tacomas - 1.5 times the Kelly Blue Book retail value. Tacoma owners, such as myself, must be fairly compensated for unknowingly driving an unsafe vehicle and for the inconvenience of for being prematurely forced to look for a replacement vehicle. All this frame trouble is artificially depressing the Kelly Blue Book values, hence the 1.5 times Kelly Blue Book basically makes Tacoma owners whole. I had plans to keep this Tacoma for many more years. Now all I can wonder is when this defective frame will prematurely take my truck off the road and how much Toyota's gross negligence is invariably going to cost me. This isn't the legendary Toyota reliability that I bought into.
Toyota's approach to addressing this frame issue is flawed because of the sheer number of vehicles involved. Basically Toyota won't be able to get the faulty frames repaired quickly enough, which will leave literally thousands of dangerous Tacomas still out on the roads, as their owners just can't park those vehicles and wait around for Toyota to replace the frame. Just think about the logistics of all this. Toyota is allotting 60 hours of technician time to swap out a typical frame. If you divide the number of Tacomas needing frame replacements by the number of northern states technicians available to actually perform the work, resolving this frame problem is literally going to take years. Not all the dealership's technicians will be doing frame replacements. Other vehicles will have to be serviced. If you happen to own one of the afflicted Tacomas, you don't have years to wait for a fix. The prudent thing is to force Toyota to accept the overwhelming futility of the situation and initiate a buyback immediately. If as a Tacoma owner, you want to wait around for your turn to get your frame replaced, then that's your call. Most of us can't wait. Our vehicles are rapidly becoming unsafe. We simply don't have years to wait.
Synopsis of problem: The frame of the Tacoma was fabricated with insufficient corrosion protection, particularly inside the boxed section of frame under the midsection of the truck. The frame is literally rusting from the inside out. What happens is, as the frame rusts on the inside of the boxed section, the rust flakes drop onto the bottom of the boxed section. These rust flakes then plug the weep holes in the frame so that moisture is not allowed to drain out the interior of the boxed section, thereby exacerbating the potential for corrosion. So what is happening is the bottom of the boxed section of frame is rusting out due to the build-up of moisture and the accumulation of rust flakes plugging off the weep holes. The rust flakes are 1/8" deep on the bottom of my boxed section of frame. Basically the bottom 20% of Tacoma frames are rusting out.
To a lesser degree, the top exterior of the boxed section of frame is also rusting, as the floor of the truck cab is only 1" above the frame, which makes cleaning the top of the frame in that area difficult with a water spray.. Because of the tight frame/cab tolerance, this area doesn't get cleaned by most owners, as they never realized it was such a problem until it's too late.
What is particularly dangerous about the bottom of the boxed section of frame becoming compromised by corrosion, is the bottom of the boxed section is where the bracket for the rear leaf spring is attached. As the boxed section corrodes, there is less and less material supporting this major suspension bracket. The design of this bracket must be analyzed by your NHTSA independent engineer. I strongly believe that it doesn't take much frame corrosion to severely compromise the integrity of this welded leaf spring bracket. If this bracket fails, then the front of the leaf spring comes free, the rear axle comes out of alignment, which could cause the operator to lose control. This is a major safety issue!
This compromised leaf spring bracket is why the NHTSA needs to force a mandatory buyback of this vehicle. In the northern road salt using states, the Toyota Tacoma MUST be taken off the road! Rampant frame corrosion is making the Tacoma unsafe.
Toyota has an action plan to coat the inside and outsides of the good frames with an industrial coating. They are not removing the accumulated salt saturated rust flakes lying on the bottom of the boxed section of frame. They are just spraying a coating over them. The loose rust flakes have to be removed for the coating to properly adhere to the inside of the frame. Toyota's proposed fix for the so called "good" frames is flawed and will give owners a false sense of security.
The NHTSA needs to demand that Toyota turn over all Tacoma frame design and suspension calculations to an independent engineer hired by the NHTSA. The independent engineer must analyze what effect various levels of corrosion have on the safety factor of the frame and suspension brackets. It is my strong belief that the frame is already designed to the margin for weight savings, so that it doesn't take much corrosion to erase all safety factor and place the frame and suspension components in grave danger of failing.
I also can't help but wonder that since the frame is an integral part of the vehicle's safety system, what does a severely corroded and weakened frame do to the level of crash protection offered by the vehicle? If NHSTA's independent engineer finds that the frame does play a major role in the crash protection offered by the vehicle, and that these severely weakened frames makes the vehicle inherently dangerous, then NHSTA will have no choice but to force Toyota to initiate a mandatory recall and buyback.
The NHTSA must take action. Toyota is in way over their head.
#667 of 1369 I'm worried now
Jan 23, 2009 (3:30 pm)
I have a 2003 that's been in CA (Orange County to San Francisco) it's whole life. I called and had the Dealer check my VIN and he says my truck is not on the recall list. I'll have to check the frame myself. It sounds like this is mainly affecting trucks in the snowy areas that use salt on the roads. That sucks...
But I hope my frame is OK.
#668 of 1369 Re: Long, Long Post - Letter to NHTSA [bearcatter]
Jan 23, 2009 (6:28 pm)
Great letter. Very informative and well written. Have you heard back from anyone yet? I have an '01 that's sitting in the shop right now. They did give me a loaner but I want my truck back. They've already made it very clear there will be no buyback. I just wonder how long and how much bs until my truck's back to where I want it.
#669 of 1369 Still Waiting
Jan 26, 2009 (2:11 pm)
It has been 5 weeks now and no information on when the frames may be available. As others have noted the Corp reps are useless, they have no information and repeat the same corporate BS. Case manager (Kevin of other postings) refuses to provide the letter or provide a higher authority to talk to. Unbelievable. They're deliberately stonewalling us. To top it off my buddy Kevin tells me the local dealer is the one who would have the info and my local dealer tells me they get all the info from corporate. Dealer has no idea what parts to order, what part numbers will be needed, when they may get parts, etc. Absolutely atrocious responses from Toyota corp and their lackeys. Dealer now has 4 Tacoma's sitting there with same issue.
I'm going to try contacting local papers and TV stations but am not holding out much hope.
Jan 26, 2009 (5:20 pm)
I called Toyota Canada and am not happy. I spoke with a female Toyota employee and she started off her conversation with "we've told you over and over again, your 2001 Tacoma is not covered under this campaign".
The reason she said "over and over" is because I emailed them 3 times regarding this issue because they never answered my question, so I replied until they answered. She said regardless of what is happening in the US, Toyota Canada does not have a program for 2001-2004 Tacomas. She was extremely rude, all I called for was because I wanted to know if the frame replacement in the US applied in Canada.
Oh well, theres really not much to do but wait. I don't plan on keeping a truck that had the frame replaced, so hopefully they buy it back and I can purchase a new Tacoma, if not, I don't know what to do.
#671 of 1369 Re: [grammyd]
Jan 26, 2009 (6:29 pm)
well she sucks and so does her attitude.
If I were you, I wouldnt buy a new tacoma or any toyota for that matter after being treated the way people have been and to think thats just in this forum.
I fought with Keven and he was pretty much reading from a Q card. it was pointless.
so i told him I will never buy a toyota again and he said "thats your decision to make"
So tomorrow it looks like I will be getting a honda element.
I wanted the ridgeline ( which is awesome) but the gas mileage is bad ..
#672 of 1369 Re: [mcalautt]
Jan 27, 2009 (12:31 pm)
Same bs I heard. Sounds almost word for word. Still waiting to hear ANYTHING. No one has a clue what is going to happen let alone when. Its been 2 weeks and the dealership still knows nothing. Kevin just reads from a card and won't tell me anything. I'm getting real disgusted with Toyota and it looks like Nissan here I'm come.
#673 of 1369 Re: [pataco01]
Jan 27, 2009 (12:37 pm)
Nissan or honda ..
u cant lose..
I just missed a 2007 honda element AGHHHHH
it was awesome but they would not meet me on the price..
major bummer .. ....
look at consumer reports for honda and nissan if your looking for a truck again.
the ridgeline is awesome and got excellent ratings.Get this,
nissan makes thier NISMO frontier.. and I heard that Suzuki is going to sell
the exact same truck and with suzuki you get a longer factory warranty.
Worth looking into because its literally the NISMO with suzuki badges.
my buddy has a NISMO and loves it.
Jan 27, 2009 (1:09 pm)
Toyota dissed me and now I drive a Nissan. To hell with them!!!
#675 of 1369 Re: [mcalautt]
Jan 27, 2009 (1:11 pm)
Yeah, bought my wife an '05 Nissan Xterra Off Road. Absolutely love it. It would run circles around my 3.4L taco. I really like the '03 and up Frontiers, and I did see the new Suzukis in a quad mag. Not real crazy with the bed on the Honda though. The bedsides are too high for my liking. My dealer told me to just tell him what year/make/model/mileage and he'll find it for me. Just wondering what I'll get for my truck though.