Rust, as Neil Young once said, never sleeps, and neither will Toyota — at least, not until it has fulfilled its 12-year promise to inspect and replace (if necessary) hundreds of thousands of corroded truck frames.
Toyota has agreed to pay up to $3.4 billion to appease owners of several previous-decade truck models who launched a class-action lawsuit against the company. Replacing those severely rusted frames won’t be an easy task, and there could be plenty of vehicles needing a completely new skeleton.
The settlement covers about 1.5 million Tacomas, Tundras and Sequoia vehicles that left the factory with insufficient rust protection. The corrosion is so bad, some vehicles could lose structural integrity.
Of the crop of iron oxide-friendly frames, the bulk of them rest underneath 2005 to 2010 Tacomas. The rest lurk below 2005 to 2008 Sequoias and 2007 to 2008 Tundras. As part of the settlement, the automaker must now check up on those frames for a period of 12 years after they first left the dealer lot.
Replacing a frame is a pricey, time-consuming process, so Toyota has set aside $15,000 for each affected vehicle, plus an extra $60 for regular inspections. According to a lawyer involved in the class action, Toyota mechanics should expect more than just a few frame-swaps in the coming years.
“Probably about 15 percent of the frames that get inspected will end up needing to be replaced,” Timothy Blood, co-counsel with Blood Hurst & O’Reardon in San Diego, told Automotive News. “There are a lot of steps to it. And it is labor-intensive.”
Going by that estimate, a total of 225,000 vehicles could see new frames. The original, insufficiently rustproofed frames were supplied by Dana Holding Corp. of Maumee, Ohio.
For a clearer idea of the replacement process, see the video below.