A. It’s not surprising you were unaware of the time limit for the Toyota Tacoma recall. That’s almost always the case for the safety recalls that are subject to oversight by Transport Canada. In this case, Transport Canada determined a long time ago that corrosion on the Tacoma takes years to develop and is clearly visible from underneath the truck years before the frame becomes unsafe. Consequently, Toyota’s campaign is an in-house recall administered more like a warranty extension with a prescribed time limit for the repair. Your truck’s frame must have been corroding long before it was brought to your attention in order for the frame to develop such a large hole.
Here are the applicable coverages for the Tacoma, which vary depending on the model year:
- 1995 to 2000 (15 years)
- 2005 to 2010 (12 or 15 years)
- 2011 to 2017 (12 years)
Coverage is for unlimited mileage. The most recent program is conditional on an inspection and application of additional rustproofing by a Toyota dealer before December 16, 2021.
This is a major repair. It requires 40 to 50 hours of labour and involves the body of your truck being separated from the frame as a new frame and front suspension control arms are installed. Along the way, other components may have been corroded, which will need to be removed and reinstalled, too. The retail cost of a repair like this is about $15,000, which is often more than the value of the truck itself. Even so, most Tacoma owners are fanatics about their trucks and would rather see their vehicles repaired than bought back by Toyota.
At one time, Toyota Canada appeared to be more flexible with outlier cases, sometimes applying their warranty beyond the established parameters on a case-by-case basis. Since Toyota settled a class-action lawsuit, however, the limits appear to have become more formal, and coverage for the more recent programs was dropped to 12 years. The Automobile Protection Association (APA) sees that if a vehicle has been inspected and the frame has been rustproofed, but it still corroded excessively, Toyota will stand behind it. That said, Toyota appears to be more rigid than they have been in the past, limiting coverage to the terms of the class action settlement. For an automaker, one of the main objectives of a class action settlement is to extinguish all other claims for the issue once the program is announced. Given that many people did not receive notices because the trucks were already many years old (addresses may have changed, and trucks may have changed owners), could Toyota still have an obligation to provide the remedies existing under the program to those affected by this issue? It feels like they should, but the answer is no; the settlement proposal is almost always accompanied by public notices that, in theory, will notify all Toyota owners of the recall.
If you’re a regular customer at a Toyota dealership, they should flag any issues with the frame before the warranty is over. Inspecting the undercarriage for defects is part of every general maintenance service. However, if you request an oil change, that is not considered a full maintenance service and it’s possible the work was performed by junior staff, who were unaware of what to look for on the frame.
If the franchised Toyota dealership you frequent failed to notice issues with the frame, they could incur liability for not attending to a safety recall or preventive program that a private owner is unaware of. Dealers often fail to do this. The APA’s position is that a Tacoma owner who has their pickup serviced at a Toyota dealership does not have to be aware of Toyota’s conditions for the recall, particularly if they did not receive a notice. When you rely on a specialist with expertise in your brand of vehicle, they should meet a higher standard than a general repair shop. A franchised dealership performing routine service which requires an inspection has a duty to disclose open safety recalls and other programs that apply to your vehicle.
Recently, the APA was made aware of a claim filed against a Toyota dealership in Montreal. The dealer flagged the corrosion six months after coverage ended and instructed the customer that his Tacoma was unsafe. The owner, a regular customer, is arguing that the dealership had a duty to flag the corroding frame years before and either fix it under Toyota’s frame replacement program or the lifetime rustproofing warranty they sold him. It will be a couple of more years before the case is heard.