By George Iny on May 19, 2021 Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes
“My truck’s frame is rusted. Where does Toyota’s obligation to repair it begin and end?”
By George Iny on May 19, 2021 Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes
Our auto expert answers questions from two different Toyota owners, who have concerns around recall rules, time limits and the safety of their trucks' rusted frames.
Photo by Enis Yavuz / Unsplash
Q.My 2009 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck has only 130,000 kilometres on it and the body is in great shape. While my mechanic was underneath the vehicle last week, he noticed a large hole and said it will be fixed under recall. I called my Toyota dealer and they told me there was nothing they could do, as the recall has expired. I proceeded to call corporate, who also said there was nothing they could do. I knew there was a recall on my frame, but I didn’t know the recall had an expiration date. Please tell me what action I can take—it feels like just one more punch in the gut this year. –B.W.
A. It’s not surprising you were unaware of the time limit for the Toyota Tacoma recall. That’s almost always the case forthe 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.
Q. In August 2020, my 2012 Toyota Tacoma was inspected and serviced at my Toyota dealer. At that time, they classified rust on the frame as “normal surface rust.” Accordingly, my dealer applied the Corrosion Resistant Compound (CRC).
But recently, I noticed the corrosion has progressed since the frame inspection. In March 2021, I returned to my Toyota dealer. The explanation I was provided was that the deterioration is not in the area of the frame where rust is problematic. The manager explained that the process involves striking the frame with a hammer, and if the hammer perforates the frame, the vehicle is no longer safe to drive and the frame needs to be replaced. If the hammer does not perforate the frame, it is considered drivable and is serviced with the CRC. It concerns me that the frame becomes unsafe the exact moment after it’s perforated with a hammer.
Subsequently, two mechanics inspected my pickup. One mechanic grabbed a hammer and struck the frame. At times flakes of rust and dust fell to the floor, but it did not perforate. The mechanic explained that all trucks rust and that his 2005 Tacoma looks the same. While I appreciate the mechanic trying to provide reassurance, having my 2012 Tacoma compared to a truck seven years older was no comfort. The dealership informed me that they haven’t replaced any frames on 2012 models yet; all the replacements were at least a couple of years older.
Although the truck frame has not perforated, the extent of rusting appears much more significant than normal surface rust. It appears to me that, despite multiple applications of additional rustproofing from Krown Rust Control to help out, Toyota’s CRC treatment is not fully effective; the level of corrosion on the truck frame is more significant than normal. I left the appointment with many questions still unanswered. The primary thought in my mind was: “Will my vehicle need a new frame a couple of years after Toyota’s warranty enhancement program for 2011–2017 Tacoma pickups ends?” —B.W.
A. Your case is interesting because the dealership was so forthcoming and diligent. Unfortunately, their hands are tied: they cannot do anything outside of what Toyota Canada has approved under the recall program unless they obtain authorization from Toyota Canada. You are absolutely right to worry that letting the problem slide for several years, until the frame fails the perforation test, is a gamble.
Most Toyota truck owners contacting the Automobile Protection Association (APA) do so only after a dealer has condemned their vehicle. The APA has received about a dozen complaints from Toyota owners who believe their trucks have fallen through the cracks of the warranty extension program. We are also aware of many cases where worn, high-mileage trucks with over 250,000 kilometres were rejuvenated, almost completely on Toyota’s dime; that’s far above and beyond what most manufacturers would do to cover a factory defect.
Frankly, the photos you provided of your frame don’t look as bad as many I have seen. It appears that the additional rust treatments you have been applying may have helped. Have you considered getting in touch with Krown Rust Control, to determine if there is some guidance they can provide? The Krown product is supposed to be very effective in boxed areas of the frame, as long as there is access for their spray wands to get inside (the Tacoma’s frame has holes in it, some of which are supposed to receive plugs under the recall). And the Krown warranty should cover a preventive repair to your frame if one is indicated. For more information, there is a page on the APA website that illustrates the vulnerable areas needing additional protection. Read more on autos:
I’ve been taking my 06 Tacoma to the dealership religiously for all scheduled services and maintenance since I bought it previously owned in 2011 and so did the previous owner. I lived in a condo townhouse with a parking spot and rules that didn’t allow me to do maintenance or even wash my vehicle there so I relied on the dealership thinking it was the best for my vehicle. My last visit to the dealership to have my AC serviced I was informed of bad corrosion on the frame. A week later I had a stuck caliper and took it for the first time to a local mechanic he informed me the frame was unsafe in 2014 the dealership had it under sprayed the local mechanic could peel off the black coating and showed me holes and rot under it I can see through the frame. The local mechanic told me Toyota was replacing frames and to call customer service which I did and found that the there was a frame replacement program that had expired I was unaware or this program and it wasn’t mentioned during any of my visits to the dealership. I am currently waiting for response back from the dealership hoping they restore my faith and thinking I should request an official frame inspection because my vehicle will be 15yrs old this July although the 12yr warranty had expired in 2019.
We have a2004 Tundra in beautiful bod but can’t say much about the frame It looks like it was eating from rust they tell me we had a recall on this I don’t think so I would have remember this we only have 75000 mileage body is ok it’s just the frame and no help from no one and we love Toyota 7176800958 phone
We have a2004 Tundra and have rust everywhere just had it to Hanover Toyota they did nothing for us I dont think that is right they said they put a coating on it in 2014 and did not no that they did that till I took it to Hanover Toyota this week will not do nothing for us plain words its are baby not happy
Very disappointed in Toyota. I took it in to Toyota and they berated me and the manager accused me of wanting to get something for fee, while the mechanics there couldn’t believe how bad it was. My frame had a hole so big you could put your hand through it, yet the body is literally perfect with non rust anywhere. Toyota wants to put cream on their rusty holes. In my case they said i was too late and they did nothing. What a disgrace Toyota has become. Never again Toyota!
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My uncle has a 2004 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 with a 4 door can, the frame developed a hole in the rear driver’s side, it was unnoticed because the rust was on the inside of the frame, when he went for an inspection sticker, the mechanic knocked on the frame and the rusted spot fell out and left a huge hole in the frame rail. Then he jacked up the front and checked and the front frame was cracked all the way through just behind the engine mount, the mechanic said he couldn’t drive it home because it was very dangerous. My uncle contacted the dealership and they said there wasn’t a recall on his frame, and his air bag recall had expired. He never received a recall notice on anything, he contacted Toyota headquarters and they said he had multiple recalls and should have received a letter, he said well I never received a letter, they said oh well it’s closed now so we won’t do anything about it. Now his truck sits there and he’s considering getting a lawyer, because he contacted the USA national highway safety administration, and they said they found no such recall on his truck that Toyota claimed they sent letters about, so they also advised him to get a lawyer and go after them. Unfortunately the lawyer is extremely expensive so he’s going to need to save up and see what he can do. Toyota has made this family decide to never buy another one.
My son has a 2001 Tacoma we recently noticed severe frame damage due to rust he is unable to drive it now due to it being unsafe is there anything we can do
Due to the large volume of comments we receive, we regret that we are unable to respond directly to each one. We invite you to email your question to [email protected], where it will be considered for a future response by one of our expert columnists. For personal advice, we suggest consulting with a qualified advisor.
Love my 2004 Toyota Tacoma but the frame is looking dangerous. Is Toyota still buying back these trucks. Don’t know what I’m going to do.
my 2007 tacoma was pencil wipped. the chassis on my tacoma is FAR worst than the pics I have seen here truck is in excellent shape but a bad frame . an they would not even give me a new frame to take an have it done elsewhere.
OK I got one for you…my frame WAS replaced under the warranty recall/class action lawsuit on my 2004 Tacoma. I’ve recently discovered the exact same failure has reoccurred with approximately the same amount of miles and the same age as the original failure occurred!!! WTHeck Toyota??? I’ve been speaking with Toyota, it doesn’t sound like I have any recourse or action (through them) at this time! It appears to me as their dismal approach for a resolve has once again failed! They just replicated the exact same dynamics of the original failure that occurred with my vehicle from the time it was new. My prognosis is they replicated the exact same frame sourced exact same frame (although new). But again the new replacement frame was not properly treated for rust prevention. Apparently Toyota is unfamiliar with undercoating or the term “powder coating”? Thinking it may be time for another class action lawsuit because they didn’t fix it (mine) right when they did attempt to fix it!!! Damn you Toyota! At present these failures present a significant life, safety and not to mention financial loss. Thinking NTSB should now be involved. These vehicles have been know to break in half due to this frame failure. I would not be surprised if a loss of life has occurred in some dynamic involving these. I’ve been trying to contact Brain Warner, Ryan Burns or the Heffler Group who were all involved in the original class action multi billion dollar lawsuit!!! Of which they were granted $9.75 million dollars in legal fees alone. Anybody have a back door number for ant of them? ~ Mark
I have an 06 Tacoma and when I took it to my local dealership, they refused to replace the frame. due to having children and other family issues, I did not have the time/energy to fight it. Is there any way I can still get the frame replaced in 2022?
Thank you for the question. We invite you to email it to [email protected], where it will be considered for future articles.
June 2022 and I have a 2012 Tacoma which is scheduled for the Corrosion Application where they are going to inject the interior of my frame because my frame passed the “ball peen hammer” test. Albeit I did look at the frame and surely I do see rust yet there’s rust on other parts as well so.
My appointment is to take 3 days of servicing so we’ll see fingers crossed on the longevity of this application! I live in Northern Ontario btw where there’s a plethora of salted roads in winter.
I have a 2002 Sequoia with a rusted frame. I know its not covered under the coverage but I want to know where I can purchase a frame in Canada.
My 2012 Taco has been plagued by rust issues. Rear springs corroded/ broken, steering universal corroded and broken, power steering lines deteriorated/leaking, rack and pinion unit corroded and split, emergence’s brake apparatus corroded/frozen. All this with the frame and just about everything else under the truck looking in terrible condition. Ever hanger or support has rust through or is about to fall apart. I forgot that front struts had to be replaced due to corrosion damage/broken .
The truck has just turned 70k and looks fine
And I’ve maintained it at the dealer however I’m sadly disappointed and have to chuckle when I hear of Tacoma’s legendary reliability.
He’ll I’m afraid it’ll just crumble into a pile of dust in the near future.
I have a 2005 Toyota Tacoma. The frame I rusted plum into in places. I am still driving it. Don’t have another opion. What do I need to do to get the recall on the Toyota Tacoma frames
My 2004 Toyota Tacoma has a rotted frame. Getting a lawyer, if Toyota doesn’t help me, afraid to drive it what a shame on toyota .
You all are screwed Toyota is crap. I loved my 2001 Tundra 4×4 TRD, but I also loved my 09 scion XB I drove the scion out of the bay door of the dealership in 2008 with 48 miles on it. We paid a little extra on the car every payment nd paid the car off a year early and we had all the services done at that dealership, we also noted that it was using oil. They never noted that in the computer so they say. But 6 months after we paid it off a year early blewthe engine due to oil consumption the whole 2.4 deal. Stop shopping Toyota they wouldn’t honor the oil consumption warranty extension because they could test the oil consumption with a blown motor they said fix it and have the consumption test done over and over I heard this. I won’t need them if I had it fixed. Lost all faith in Toyota especially after finding out about the frame warranty on my 2001 Tundra only after seeing the rear frame almost rusted in two and after the expiration of the service. The way I veiw it all the problems they are have lately f-Toyota! Pieces of cocka-detoro. I plan on hauling both of them to a empty car lot across the road from the dealership and paying the owner of that lot what I would pay monthly for the car payment and letting people know what they are buying when they buy Toyota with signs next the the junk metal piles Toyota calls vehicles. I won’t ever ever trust a friend to give me a ride in any type of Toyota manufactured vehicle. Personally I believe the government should stop selling them in the U.S. too save tax payers from being ripped off thousands of dollars saddest part was both vehicle had less than 150,000 miles and I planned on always keeping the pieces of junk.
Signed the owner of 2 expensive boat anchors….
Had my 2008 frame checked at local dealer, was told it was ok, there was no rust proofing done. Six months later while replacing the exhaust found that frame was rusted through in several places. Called Toyota and was advised I had missed the window to have my frame replaced, I been patching enough to keep it going, will soon have to park it. First Toyota I bought was 1978 Corolla and been buying them every since. Don’t plan to buy another. THANKS TOYOTA
Never got a recall on my 2008 Toyota truck about the frame can it still be replaced
My 2004 Tacoma has a dangerous rusted frame ,the shock mount has rusted loose from the frame. It runs excellent but can’t drive it .I all I ask is for it to be repaired so I can drive it. What a waste of my money, I am so frustrated I would never purchase another one.
I have lot concerns I purchase a tacoma 2004 the did not know there was a recall now truck need alot work the transaxle is so rusty it has a oil lick and has alot frame rust the body truck is nice but the chassis is so rusty don’t know what to do
I also have a 2004 Tacoma that I love. I bought it from a private seller, and learned that the frame had already been replaced. I Also had it undercoated by my local mechanic a few years ago. Unfortunately, when I took it to my mechanic recently for a muffler replacement, he told me there were holes in the frame, that made it unsafe to drive. Toyota Corporation will not help me with the issue, saying only that the recall program has expired. I’m very disappointed in Toyota, and will never buy another one. Unfortunately, I recently had both bumpers replaced and new snow tires put on. The truck is in very good shape otherwise.