There are thousands of Toyota trucks and SUVs that are one stiff breeze away from turning into a pile of corroded dust. The automaker has been accused of not properly applying corrosion protection to their vehicles, leading to multiple lawsuits and at least one massive settlement.
Any car or truck is suceptible to rust, particularly those in the salt belt. But there’s a theory going ‘round that Toyota vehicles were never properly treated with anti-corrosion chemicals at the factory. That means their frames are more suceptible to the corrosive properties of road salt and spray.
Over time the frames become so ‘holey’ they make the Pope blush.
“The frame is severely rusted at all joints. Since the truck is garaged 95% of the time, always clean (even engine compartment), and only has 12,000 total miles on this 2006 vehicle, it is extremely illogical. The warranty covers only “perforated” rust. It is not perforated but will be that way in a year or so.” – 2006 Tacoma owner in Virginia
First Lawsuit Leads to Massive Corrosion Settlement
The first rusted frame class-action lawsuit was filed against Toyota in 2016. The lawsuit made a few key points:
- Frame rust, unlike most body panel rust, poses a real threat to the structural integrity of the truck.
- Owners were tired of being told they simply “didn’t wash the truck enough” when in reality it appears the trucks were never properly treated in the first place.
- A previous recall of 690,000 Tacoma trucks for rust and corrosion showed Toyota was aware of the problem.
Toyota agreed to a massive $3.4 billion settlement for owners of the 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2008 Tundra and 2005-2008 Sequoia.
The settlement includes the cost of inspections ($60 per vehicle), the application of corrosion-resistant compounds (N/A), and in some cases a complete frame replacement ($15,000 per vehicle).
To get a new frame, dealers will use a “rust perforation standard” – any frame where rust has perforated 10mm or more will be swapped out.
The lawsuit was scheduled for a fairness hearing in April 2017.
Should the 4Runner Have Been Part of the Settlement?
In August of 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was petitioned to look into corrosion-related steering and suspension issues in the 2002-2006 4Runner. The petition believes the 4Runner should have been part of Toyota’s settlement as it uses the same frames as the vehicles in the original lawsuit.
Tired of waiting around with no answer, a class-action lawsuit was filed looking for corrosion protection for 2005-2011 4Runner owners.
If Toyota tries to deny previous knowledge of corrosion issues in court, their argument should crumble faster than their frames.