By James Limbach
November 24, 2009 Owners of certain Toyota Tundra vehicles are advised to remove spare tires mounted underneath the body of the vehicle. In an advisory, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says excessive corrosion due to "road salts" can cause the rear cross- member of the vehicle frame to fail and allow the spare tire to fall onto the roadway at any time, creating a road hazard for other vehicles.
Toyota has just announced a recall of these vehicles, but NHTSA recommends that owners remove the spare tires even before taking the vehicles to the dealers to be remedied.
In addition, the corrosion may also cause damage to the rear brake lines and lead to brake system failures.
Corrosion does not appear to be an anomaly with these trucks.
• Kenneth K. of Candia, N.H., writes ConsumerAffairs.com that his 2000 Toyota Tundra TRD 4x4 extended cab truck is "being eaten away by rust, causing parts to break and even fall off. Now the extensive frame rust has caused parts to fall off, and break."
• Thomas of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., owns a 2000 Toyota Tundra extended cab truck. He tells ConsumerAffairs.com, "The whole under side of the truck is rusting.I owned a 1968 Chevy that had less rust then this truck has."
The safety recall involves 110,000 Toyota Tundras for model years 2000 through 2003 that are registered in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. These states typically use chemical de-icers, such as road salts, to treat the roadways in winter weather.
Toyota will contact owners of all affected vehicles and ask that they bring the vehicles to a local dealer to be inspected and remedied. Based on the extent of the corrosion, Toyota will either apply a corrosion-resistant compound to the affected area or replace the rear cross-member if necessary. In the event that the rear cross-member cannot be replaced, Toyota will develop a remedy for those vehicles.
Toyota also says it will notify owners of model year 2000 through 2003 Tundras registered outside of the recalled states and perform the same inspection and repair if the owners desire.
Until the recalled vehicles are brought in, NHTSA urges owners to remove the spare tires to prevent them from falling onto the roadway. NHTSA also advised to avoid being under the spare tire or rear cross-member while removing it. If the spare tire is moved to the truck bed or to another location in the vehicle, owners should make sure that it is properly secured.