The Truth About Cars » Tundra The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Tundra Chicago 2014: Toyota TRD Pro Live Shots Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:20:03 +0000 IMG_5645

One nice thing about being the company that builds the Prius: you can get away with stuff like this.

The TRD Pro trucks, discussed earlier today, ring the retro bell hard with the reintroduction of the simple “TOYOTA” script on the grilles. To a generation that remembers unkillable half-tons bouncing across the California dunes with half a million miles showing on the odometer, this is a welcome change.

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Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota 4Runner (With Video) Fri, 13 Sep 2013 18:01:04 +0000 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when the attractive new 2014 Tundra pulled away revealing the 2014 4Runner, I was reminded of a woman I worked with in 1998. Drawn in by the promise of eternal good looks, she had her eyebrows surgically removed and lines tattooed on her face. The only problem was the tattoo artist (accidentally?) gave her a permanently surprised “eyebrows”. Oops. Perhaps the 4Runner also regrets going under the knife and that’s why the fog lamp slits make it look like it’s crying. What say the best and brightest? Click through the jump and sound off in the comment section.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Toyota


Are you relieved by this picture? I was. Things change if you’re willing to pony up $41,365 for the Limited model which adds chrome to break up the frowning grille and deletes whatever is going on around the SR5/Trail foglights. While I still think the headlamps are a little odd, the 4Runner Limited’s nose is attractive overall but it makes me ask: why do you have to pay more for the good-looking nose. Never mind, I answered my own question.

Aside from the new schnozz and some clear tail lamp lenses, little has changed for the Toyota’s mid-sized go-anywhere SUV. That means the 4Runner’s body still sits on a frame. That also means the 4Runner, Nissan Xterra and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited are the only mid-sized non-luxury body on frame SUVs left in America. (And I’m not sure I’d even call the smallish Wrangler a mid-size SUV.) Since I currently own two GMT360 SUVs, I “get” the BOF argument in many ways. Aside from the SR5′s nose, which is still giving me nightmares, there is something decidedly attractive about the proportions and profile of a body on frame rock crawler. Of course I can’t go further without mentioning the 4Runner’s modern nemesis: the decidedly unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee. The big Jeep isn’t just the current darling of the press, TTAC included, it’s also one of the most attractive SUVs for sale right now.

Click here to view the embedded video.


2014 brings a gentle refresh to the interior consisting of a new steering wheel, radio head units, gauge cluster, seat fabrics and plastic color choices. The new steering wheel is essentially shared with the 2014 Tundra and features a thick rim, well places sport grips, soft leather and well placed radio buttons. While Toyota claims that the front seats are unchanged from 2013, they seemed softer and more comfortable than the 2013 model made available for comparison. This could be down to the new fabric choices, but I think some foam was changed as well.

Ergonomics in the 4Runner have always been secondary to the off-road mission, and because little substance has changed for 2014 that remains. Window switches have gained an Auto feature but are still in an awkward and high place on the door, possibly to keep then out of the water should you stall in a stream. Radio knobs and switches and the 4WD shift level all require a decent reach for the average driver. Unlike the Grand Cherokee you can still get a 7-seat version of the 4Runner in SR5 and Limited trim, Trail remains 5-seat only. The extra two seats are an interesting option because the Nissan Xterra and Grand Cherokee, the only two rugged off-roaders left, are strict 5-seaters.

Toyota re-jiggered the features lists and the Trail model now gets heated SofTex faux leather seats with an 8-way power frame for the driver and 4-way power for the front passenger. You also get an integrated 120V inverter, auto-dimming mirror and programmable homelink transmitter. This placed the Trail model firmly between the SR5 and Limited in the lineup.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Like the new Tundra, the 4Runner gets Toyota’s latest infotainment head units. All models come standard with the 6.1-inch touchscreen unit with iDevice/USB integration with voice commands, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth speakerphone integration and smartphone apps. Toyota has “changed their Entune” lately and made the service free, however you need to sign up for an online account to make things work. SR5/Trail  Premium and Limited models add navigation software and improved voice commands with text messaging support to the same screen. Limited models upgrade the speakers from 8 Toyota branded blasters to 15 with JBL logos. If you want the detailed look, check out the video.


Anyone hoping for a resurrected V8 4Runner needs to head to the Jeep dealer, engineers I spoke with indicated the V8 will never return. Unless you need to tow with your mid-sized SUV (like I do) this isn’t much of a problem since the V8 model existed primarily to bolster the 4Runner’s towing numbers and consume more fuel. Instead, the same 270HP 4.0L V6 as last year soldiers on cranking out a respectable 278 lb-ft of torque across a broad RPM range. For off-road duty the V6 is perfect as it’s lighter than the V8 and with the right gearing you don’t need more power. About that gearing. Toyota continues to use their old 5-speed auto in the 4Runner and that’s my only beef. The 5-speed unit has a fairly tall 1st gear with an overall effective gear ratio of 12:1, notably higher than something like a Wrangler. SR5 and Trail models feature a 2-speed transfer case bumping that to 31:1, still taller than the Wrangler’s insane 73.3:1 ratio. If you opt for the Limited model the 2-speed transfer case is replaced with a Torsen center differential for full-time four wheel drive with better on-road manners.

Keeping with the 4Runner’s mud-coated mission, the rear axle is still solid, features a mechanical locker and skid plates are still standard. The Trail model still uses an open front differential, but like the Jeep Patriot uses the ABS brakes to imitate a limited slip unit. Toyota claims this keeps weight down and improves grip on certain surfaces. Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select, active traction control and crawl speed controls continue for 2014. It’s worth noting here that the Wrangler still has a solid front axle.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Out on the road the 4Runner’s manners are defined by the high profile (70-series) rubber and body-on-frame design. Toss the 4Runner into a corner and the high profile tires cause a “delay” in responsiveness that you don’t find in modern CUVs with their 35-series rubber. In terms of grip, the wise 265/70R17 tires on SR5 and Trail models help the 4Runner stay competitive with mainstream crossovers. The Limited model gets reduced grip but improved turn in and feel with its 245/60R20 rubber. Going lower profile but reducing width at the same time seems like an odd choice, but it helps the heavier Limited model with full-time AWD get the same 17/22/19 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) as the part-time SR5/Trail models.

Soft springs and trail tuned dampers mean the SR5 tips, dives and rolls like a traditional SUV, which makes sense as it is a traditional SUV. These road manners have caused a number of reviewers out there to call the 4Runner “conflicted,” “confused” or “compromised.” Clearly these guys don’t live in the country and have never been off-road. The 4Runner is quite possibly the last utility vehicle with a singular mission: retain off-road ability.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Yes, Toyota continues to add creature comforts, and I’m sure they will sell plenty of the RWD Limited model in suburbia, but at its heart the 4Runner is an off-road SUV. This is quite different from the Jeep Grand Cherokee which has been on a constant march toward the mainstream. (Albeit with an eye toward off-roading.) This is obvious when you look at Jeep’s switch to fully independent air suspension, constant size increases, a plethora of engine options and curb weight gone out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Grand Cherokee, but if you want to climb rocks, it’s not the best choice. Meanwhile, Toyota has in many ways re-focused on off-roading. The 4Runner offers a myriad of off-road software aids and the retention of a mechanically locking solid rear axle and rugged frame. In this light, keeping the old drivetrain makes sense: it’s tried and true and there are plenty of aftermarket accessories designed with it in mind.

The 4Runner may be a go-anywhere SUV, but it’s not a tow-anything SUV. The V6 and 5-speed combo limit the 4Runner to 4,700lbs, down from the 7,300lbs the defunct V8 model could shift. That’s thousands of pounds less than the Grand Cherokee and even 300lbs less than the Ford Explorer crossover. However, even this can be seen as a refocusing on the 4Runner’s core mission. As I’ve noted before, nobody seems to tow with their mid-size SUV except me, and off-roaders prefer the lower weight and better balance of the V6 for true off-road duty.

With Toyota canning the slow selling FJ Cruiser at some point soon, the 4Runner will soldier on as one of the last rugged SUVs. For a model that helped ignite the SUV/CUV explosion, it’s refreshing that the 4Runner has stayed true to its roots: providing a daily driver capable off-road machine. The Wrangler Unlimited is a better rock crawler with solid axles front and rear, better approach/departure/breakover angles, better ground clearance and a lower range gearbox, but the Wrangler is too off-road dedicated for the school run. If you’re one of the few that drops the kids off and heads over to the off-road park on your way to Costco, the 4Runner is for you. If you’re the majority of SUV shoppers, there are more “conflicted” “compromised” options out there that will fit your lifestyle better. Jeep will be happy to sell you one.


Toyota provided the 4Runner for a few hours at the Tundra launch event. Food and flights were covered by Toyota.


2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-001 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-002 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-003 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-005

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Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra (With Video) Wed, 11 Sep 2013 20:02:31 +0000 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-002

We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be stopped. Despite inroads from the Japanese competition, the full-size truck market is a solidly American segment that isn’t just led by the big three, it’s dominated by them. In August, RAM took third place with 33,009 pickups sold in the US of A, more than three times the number four player: this week’s Toyota Tundra. Why is this gap so large when Toyota crushes the big three in so many other segments? Let’s explore that while we look at Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Tundra.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When it comes to trucks, we’re talking half-ton cargo haulers, not the compact truck market where Toyota arguably leads. The full-size truck market is about image and brand as much as it is about capability. Aside from men’s razors, no other product in America is marketed in such a completely-divorced-from-reality fashion. We buy trucks both because they haul and because they make us look cool. (Come on, you can admit it.) Truck advertising tells us that real Americans buy trucks, have cattle ranches, sing in country groups and get all the blonde babes. Real Americans also go muddin’, drink Bud and (most importantly) buy American. It is therefore no surprise that Toyota’s biggest market is California. (Make of that what you will.) It’s also no surprise the folks at the launch event were trying hard to sell the Tie-o-ter as the most American pickup on the market. With the highest percentage of American content, plus assembly in San Antonio, there is some truth to their assertions.


I think that part of Toyota’s tuck sales problem was the old T100 from 1993-1998. That truck was a half-step between the American mid-size and full-size trucks leading people to consider the T100 more of a mid-size competitor. Then came the 1999-2006 Tundra which grew but failed to keep up with the Americans in terms of styling and dimensions. In 2007 we got the all-new Tundra which yet again grew a half size and was finally competitive with the big three featuring two V8 engines and part-time 4WD. Sales were less than stellar. Why? Toyota believes styling was to blame and I’m inclined to agree. The “bubbly” theme of the old Tundra was fairly emasculating when you parked next to the “rugged” F-150 or RAM 1500.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

For 2014 Toyota has addressed this problem with an enormous new grille that comes in three flavors (you can see two of them in the gallery) and features a prominent Toyota logo and very upright styling. It’s so upright the front bumper hardly protrudes from the grille at all. The larger and “chromier” grill is flanked by new headlamps that pay homage to the daring big-rig style of the 1994 RAM. The new nose makes the Tundra look bigger and meaner even though the dimensions have barely changed at all. Mainstream looks? Check.

2014 maintains the Tundra’s three cab, two bed, two wheelbase product mix. Things start out with the three-seat, two-door SR and stretch up to the six-seat four-door SR5. In a nod to the large number of truck shoppers that buy for image, not payload, Toyota offers three premium trim levels: Limited, Platinum and 1794. 1794 is named after the ranch that used to operate on the property the Tundra factory was built on. Mainstream product portfolio? Check.

2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Truck makers have finally read the memo that truck shoppers expect passenger car quality interiors. Toyota listened in 2007 but didn’t catch the all important detail “car quality interiors” not “car-like interiors.” Thankfully the 2014 refresh banishes the awkward Camry-esque of the old model for a more masculine design language. Like the competition there is plenty of hard plastic in this cabin, more fake tree than a 1970s suburban tri-level and plenty of bling. I can finally say with a straight face that the Tundra’s interior looks like a truck.

Unfortunately for Toyota, 2014 also brings a raft of refreshed, redesigned and tweaked trucks from the big boys. Compared back to back with the 2014 Silverado and the 2013 RAM, the Tundra’s interior looks a little too “try hard” with shapes that are discordant and not harmonious and parts quality that is a notch below the pack. The F-150 is getting a little old with a 2015 redesign widely expected, but I still find the Ford’s interior to be a better place to spend my time than the Tundra. Mainstream interior? Check.

2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


2014 brings a few changes to the Tundra’s infotainment head unit. The major change is that all Tundra models will come with Toyota’s 6.1-inch Entune system only. The 7-inch system that ran the high-end software shared with the Lexus brand is not available in any model of Tundra. Consider me pleased. Toyota’s low-end system still seems to suffer from a dim LCD but the software itself is slick, speedy and easy to use. As before navigation is optional as is smartphone app integration. If you want the detailed look, check out the video. Mainstream tunes? Check.

2014 Tundra 5.7L V8, Picture Courtesy of Toyota


Delivering a new truck with an old drivetrain isn’t new, Ford’s been doing that for years. Unfortunately Ford is known for refreshing the under-hood-bits the next year while Toyota is known for  maintaining the status quo until a redesign. Unless Toyota breaks from tradition, this puts the Tundra at a serious competitive disadvantage. The base engine is ye olde 4.0L V6 mated to Toyota’s tried-and-true (but also tired and behind the times) 5-speed automatic. The rated 270 ponies and 278 twists are competitive with RAM’s 3.6L V6 and Ford’s 3.7L V6 on paper where torque is more important than horsepower for towing, but in the real world Ford’s 6-speed automatic makes better use of the power and 2014 brings ZF’s 8-speed to the RAM 1500 giving Chrysler’s 3.6L engine three more 60% more gears to play with. Toyota claims the V6 exists for a low entry price and as a result doesn’t even list a rated towing capacity for the V6 SR model. (Toyota says it’s 4,400 lbs.) I think that’s a serious mistake when we take two things into account. First, many truck buyers, especially those in California where Toyota is making headway, have no idea what a trailer even looks like. Second, Detroit is changing their tune on the V6 models changing them from entry engines to fuel efficient options that can haul some serious loads. RAM’s 2014 V6 model will tow 7,450lbs. Toyota was quick to say that they are the only ones with SAE verified towing numbers but I’m here to tell you the Chrysler 3.6L V6 and ZF 8-speed transmission are a weekend warrior’s towing wet dream.

Because the V6 is the milquetoast discount engine, Toyota offers two different V8s to fill out the product portfolio. Because Toyota only offers the V6 on the base SR model with the regular cab, most buyers will have a V8 under the hood. Both V8s are closely related to the engines found in modern Lexus models and as such are buttery smooth with a rich V8 burble and a torque curve that’s higher and “peakier” than the American competition. The 4.6L V8 is good for 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque, only slightly higher than GM’s 4.3L V6 and well behind Ford’s fire-breathing Ecoboost 3.5L V6. Still, this is not going to be the most popular engine because most Tundras will have Toyota’s 381HP 5.7L V8 capable of cranking out 401 lb-ft. Both V8s are mated to a mode modern 6-speed automatic which is on par with GM and Ford but notably shy of the RAM’s new ZF 8-speed for 2014. If you need more power TRD will be selling the same supercharger kit as before (as a TRD accessory it is covered by the Toyota factory warranty) which bumps the 5.7 to a class blowing 504HP and 550 lb-ft.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Driving and hauling

If you are one of the few that tow with their pickup truck, you may be happy to know that Toyota is the only company that follows the SAE standard completely when determining tow ratings.  Or, like me, you may look at the situation more skeptically and say “OK, so Dodge, Ford and Chrysler fiddle with their numbers” but does that matter? Not to me. The big three’s 1500 series trucks all slot in around 10,000 lbs with Chevy currently claiming king of the hill. Big deal. How the vehicles behave while towing is more important to me than the numbers and with that in mind there is one clear winner: the 2014 Ram 1500. Why? It’s all about ZF’s 8-speed automatic. The octo-swapper is two gears ahead of the competition and as a result can better keep the engine in its respective power band. Towing with Chrysler’s 3.6L V6 and 8-speed automatic is an eye opening experience and even though Chrysler’s 5.7L V8 lacks the power of the larger GM and Ford V8s the extra gears make a huge difference. Still, most half ton truck owners in suburbia have a truck because they bought a Ski-Doo and can’t imagine towing a 500-pound jetski behind a crossover with a meager 5,000 pound tow rating. (Seriously, I know some of these people.) With that in mind we can just say everyone in this segment can tow more than you need.

Out on the road the Tundra drives just like a pickup truck. If you had hoped that Toyota’s badge on the nose would turn the full-size cargo hauler into a FR-S on stilts you will be disappointed. The Tundra tips/dives and leans just like a Chevy, RAM or Ford and like the competition the horizontal grip varies depending on the cab, bed and rubber you choose. Steering is accurate but numb amd cabin noise is well controlled for a pickup truck.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

With limited time behind the wheel of the pre-production models I must draw my V6 experience from a dealer provided 2013 model. The V6 is slow and thirsty, with the 5-speed automatic always a step behind what’s required. The 4.7L V8 is thirstier than the V6 but doesn’t drink anymore than the competition. Power delivery is smooth and  the 6-speed automatic shifts firmly with a relative eagerness to downshift when towing. The 5.7L V8 drinks like a college co-ed on spring break and has a somewhat high (3,600 RPM) torque peak which makes it feel out of sorts when towing compared to GM’s 6.2L monster.

After a day tossing the Tundra around Washington state and towing trailers with unknown weights inside (seriously, nobody seemed to know how much weight was in the demo trailer) I came to the conclusion that the Tundra is finally a solid middle of the pack contender. With the exception of ye olde 5-speed on the V6, there’s nothing about the Tundra that’s smaller, weaker, less masculine or less capable than the popular configurations of the Detroit trucks.

Everything about the Tundra is quintessentially middle of the pack, but does that make it the Goldilocks of the 1/2 ton truck market? Yes and no. In the pursuit of mainstream, Toyota has abandoned the attempt to be class leading. As a result, there is nothing extraordinary about the Tundra in a positive or negative way except, possibly, Toyota’s reputation for reliability. In a segment where brand is practically more important than payload and towing (just ask the Chevy vs Ford guys), that’s a problem for Toyota as it gives shoppers little reason to try something new. The 2014 Tundra is the best pickup truck Toyota has ever made and it’s a solid alternative to any of the American pickup trucks.  But, unless Toyota breaks out of their shell and does something radical, the Tundra isn’t likely to sway many shoppers in the heartland.


Tundra flew me to Seattle to sample the Tundra refresh.

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Piston Slap: Exhausted after a little Crack? Mon, 19 Nov 2012 11:57:57 +0000 TTAC Commentator jco writes:


In response to your call for more reader-submitted queries, I realized I’ve had one right in front of me and have never thought to ask my fellow TTAC commenters. I have a 2006 Toyota 4runner with the amazing 4.7L 2UZFE V8 engine, currently with 90,000 miles. I purchased the truck with 55,000 miles. However, this motor seems to have a fairly common weakness.

The thin-wall exhaust manifolds are prone to cracking at the flange where it bolts up to the head. This engine was used in a variety of Toyota
trucks, but in the 4runner, being the smallest truck of that group, this presents a particular problem. There is absolutely zero clearance between the frame and the manifold. On the bigger trucks, there are aftermarket headers available, and most will replace with those parts when/if they experience this issue.

Some owners have had success in having the dealer replace the manifolds under a TSB related to an issue with smelly exhaust, with the catalytic converters being the source of the smell. On some years of this motor, the first set of cats is the same piece as the exhaust manifold itself and gets replaced as a whole part. And there is a factory emissions warranty running 7 years/100,000 miles. So that’s usually enough to get the work done by the dealer without much complaint, as long as the symptoms can be replicated.

The noise on my truck has been there since I rolled off the lot with it. I’m not sure how much attention I paid to it at first, but it was there. The noise is far more prevalent when the engine and ambient temps are warm, and when the engine is under load. so fast/slow acceleration from start in the lower gears tends to consistently produce it. Which, truthfully, makes somewhat less sense as any crack would close as the metal expands with heat. But as with most car owners with an internet connection, I informed myself about my vehicle. And yes, I have wondered if I’m just reading about something on the internet and then self-diagnosing. But I’ve been racking up the miles, and i did purchase an extended Toyotacare warranty, so I feel like I should do my best to keep the truck properly maintained while the work is covered.

So, after living with the truck for a year and recognizing that it wasn’t just my internet-colored imagination, I took the truck in. They did actually recognize the exhaust smell, but only replaced ONE of the 4 catalytic converters. and it was not one of the ‘pre-cats’ directly off the manifolds. As for my noise complaint, they determined that they were hearing something, and that it was caused by the exhaust system, which had been installed at some point by a previous owner. it consisted of some cheap piping and a Flowmaster muffler (which, let me tell you, sounded AWESOME with the V8, heh), and looked to have been done on the cheap by a muffler shop. They found some leaking at the seams, and would not attempt to further diagnose the noise issue without a full OEM replacement. a $1,000 assembly of parts not covered because it is considered a ‘wear item’. they sort of relented and agreed to install an aftermarket bolt-in part at a quarter of the cost. after all that was done, they determined the noise was ‘normal’ and sent me on my way. and it still sounds exactly the same. that was at about 80,000 miles, about 6 months ago (haha I drive a lot).

With my driving habits, and edging closer to the warranty expiration, I took it back in yesterday. Though it was a cold day, they were able to hear the noise, again. and again they stated that it was ‘normal for this engine’. The reason I am leaning towards the manifold and not a ‘tappet’, or ‘valvetrain’ noise as the service manager claimed, is just the nature of the sound. were it a top-end noise, the amplitude would be higher. same with a downstream exhaust leak. what i hear is a ‘tick’ with what sounds like every pulse from ONE cylinder. meaning at around 1500rpm under load, it will repeat itself approximately once per half-second (i’m guessing, but that seems close). and i would describe valvetrain noise as more of a constant clatter anyways, prevalent under any operating condition.

So what should I do? Take it to another dealer? Take it to an independent guy for at least a casual diagnosis? Is there another cause for this issue? I’d love to say this is just a normal noise, but I know it isn’t. Having done my research, the only way to actually SEE a crack in the common location is removal of the manifold. not a job I am equipped to handle. I truthfully don’t mind the noise so much, but I love this truck and because it’s a Toyota
truck, I plan to put at the very least another 100,000 miles on it. and so I don’t want the problem to further degrade and fail over time, given the expense and difficulty of replacing this particular part.

Sajeev Answers:

I love how you “love this truck and because its a Toyota I plan to put at the very least another 100,000 miles on it.”  Not because I’m a hater, because I plan on doing the same thing with my orphan Lincoln-Mercury vehicles.  We all have our quirks, some of us are just crazier than others: and both of us should just give up and find something else to drive.

Or not. Because odds are the replacement manifold is an improved design, if this is any indication.

Having personally dealt with bad exhaust manifold gaskets, leaky headers and the like, it does sound like your diagnosis is on the money. But who cares?

Replace it when it gets worse.  I’d recommend cutting off the replacement mufflers you put on after the dealership demanded it, replacing with some mild flowbastards (get it?) or Magnaflows, or whatever floats your boat.  I like the mufflers from the 2005-present Mustang GT: you can get them for free at some exhaust shops when your average stangbanger demands a more obnoxious sound…but they are actually the best balance of rumble and sophistication on the market!

Those of us who like to wrench around on older vehicles simply gotta love free shit. Especially when it masks the impending failure of your cracked manifold. Let the problem get worse, obviously worse, then let an independent mechanic fix it.

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

As you modify a vehicle after the warranty expires, avoid the dealership’s service department.  It’s in both parties’ best interest to keep it like that: less BS for the owner and less risk of giving bad service (at a lower profit compared to other tasks) with the repercussions that come with.

Take it from the guy farting around with a restomod Mercury Cougar for the past 13 years. Time to cut the cord.

EDIT: I forgot that there was still an extended warranty on the vehicle, that changes everything.  Going to another dealership and asking them to scope it out (literally) for a crack is a good idea. 

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Hitchin’ A Ride Sun, 14 Oct 2012 11:37:56 +0000

Space Shuttle Endeavour was hitched to a silver Toyota Tundra CrewMax half-ton pickup to cross the 405 Freeway on its two day trip from LAX airport to the California Science Center (CSC).

According to Toyota, the truck was not modified. In a few hours, I will be on my way from Tokyo to Los Angeles. I will meet up with Editor Emeritus Ed Niedermeyer to do a “from the truck bed” review of the Toyota Tundra CrewMax half-ton pickup. Stay tuned.

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Toyota Pulls A 300,000 Lbs Stunt, Reps Fume. Toyota: We Pull It Alone Tue, 18 Sep 2012 19:15:07 +0000

Electioneering is redlining. One indicator: The Michigan Republican Party is protesting loudly against an improbable stunt: A Toyota Tundra will pull the retired space shuttle Endeavor to its final resting place at the California Science Center (CSC). This has the Reps up in arms: “”Barack Obama acts as if he single handedly built the U.S. domestic auto industry, meanwhile, a symbol of American greatness will be towed to its final resting place by a foreign competitor, forever cementing the image of a Toyota truck towing a retired space shuttle,” Matt Frendewey, director of communications for the Michigan Republican Party, told the Detroit News.

Aside from the politics, the DetN saw a technical problem: The Shuttle and its, well, trailer, weighs close to 300,000 pounds. A Tundra has a maximum towing capacity of 10,100 pounds. Toyota fed the DetN the story that it developed “a dolly specifically for hauling the Endeavor.”

Commenters to the DetN story immediately engaged in a brawl of donkeys against elephants. At, they are a bit more skeptic.  Officially, the Endeavour will travel from LAX to the Science Center by way of the “four self-propelled, multi-axle vehicles” that were originally used to move the shuttles. On the last quarter mile, the Endeavour “will be towed using a Tundra CrewMax half-ton pickup, identical to 2012 models currently found in Toyota dealerships, with no additions to increase towing capacity or provide more power,” says Toyota.

Commenters at think that the Tundra will receive assistance from the multi-axle vehicles in the shuttle schlepp. Other commenters hope this is not true. We have asked Toyota whether the Tundra will do it under its own power. We’ll let you know what they say if they say it.

The Reps say that “the symbolism of this PR stunt should be offensive to every red-blooded American with vested interest in the success of the U.S. automotive industry.”

I guess if  Ford, GM, or Chrysler would have paid for the honor of the last pull, American blood would not have to boil over. (We also asked how much Toyota paid, and do not expect an answer on that.)

The mud-slinging misses a more important, but also less black and white (or make that red and blue) issue:  With the Shuttles heading to museums, the resupply of the International Space Station goes into private hands, those of Orbital and SpaceX. SpaceX is headed by Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla.  Tesla is partially owned by – oops – Toyota, which invested $50 million into the company, and which contracted the powertrain of the electric RAV4 from Tesla.

And the answers are in …  Toyota Motors Sales chief spokesman Mike Michels says  ..

On the pulling: “Yes, the Tundra will pull by itself. The majority of the transit will be aboard a self-propelled mover. For the last block or two to the Science Center it will be transferred to special dollies for the approach to the facility and the Tundra will tow it.”

On the money: “No payment was made for this event. As a member of the Southern California Community since 1957, Toyota has been a supporter of the California Science Center from the very beginning.”

On the hubbub: “SoCal is our hometown where we employ approximately 6000 people, and we are honored to be able to be part of this event.”

Toyota has been a supporter of the California Science Center for 20 years and is providing financial support for Phase 3 of the center. No stand-alone payment for the truck-pull has been made, says Michels.

Toyota U.S. sometimes (only half jokingly) calls itself “California’s largest car company.” The Tundra is an All-American effort with an American Chief Engineer. The truck is produced in the heart of truck country, Texas, from where the Tundra is exported to all parts of the world. Even the folks at Toyota Japan concede that the Tundra “was an American idea.” Calling it offensive to every red-blooded American is a disgrace.


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The Toyota Tundra. The Quiche Truck Fri, 08 Oct 2010 15:52:34 +0000

In news which will shock absolutely no-one, Business Week reports that Toyota and Nissan’s attempts to woo buyers of big pick-up trucks are failing (or failed, depending which way you’re looking at it). “The Big Three successfully beat back the Toyota incursion into the pickup market” said Brian Johnson, auto analyst for UK bank Barclays, “We had expected Toyota would do what they did with cars and take over the market. Their share gains have been frustratingly slow.” As with most things, the devil is in the details. Or in this case, the devil is in the market research.

For instance, according to Nielsen Claritas data, Toyota truck owners are 38 percent more likely to fly on business than typical truck drivers. Their hobbies are more toward things like mountain biking or backpacking. Now compare this to buyers of Big Three trucks. They are more likely to own a rifle or two. The data also shows that GM and Ford truck owners are more likely to dine at “Cracker Barrel” restaurants, have dial-up internet (does that still exist?!) and use the hardcopy of the Yellow Pages.

Starting to get a picture of your typical Big Three truck driver? Toyota truck drivers are more likely to dine at steakhouses, shop online and own golf clubs. Yep, Toyota took aim at the truck market and missed by a country mile. GM, Ford and Chrysler trucks have the working men and women of the United States buying their trucks and Toyota have yuppies on their side. “Toyota planned for a (truck) market that really didn’t exist,” said Alan L. Baum, an auto analyst at Baum & Associates, “They just didn’t hit a chord with buyer. It was almost comical.” It is kind of ironic, when you think about it. Toyota won the car market over by building cars in vanilla form (and I mean that in a good way). But when it came to building a truck, they failed because it required the vehicle to have some character…

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Truck Thursday: Toyota Mulls FJ/4Runner Replacements, Boosts Tundra Output Thu, 14 Jan 2010 16:02:24 +0000 Remember what 4Runners used to be like?

We’re at a difficult phase in the global economy. Economists would have you believe that we’re out of recession and things are starting to look rosy. But just talk to someone like Peter Schiff and he’d have you believe that a second downturn is inevitable. It really is tough to say where the economy will go and it’s showing in the car market. USA Today reports that Toyota are looking at their 4Runner & FJ Cruiser models and wondering whether to build a new generation or not.

“We have to look at that market closely,” said Jim Lentz, head of Toyota’s U.S Sales operation. Mr Lentz went on to mention that with the market for truck based, full-frame vehicles contracting and the fuel economy standards coming into force, the case for these vehicles’ existence makes less sense. Do they make more sense as unibody trucklets? That’s one of the possibilities Toyota is exploring.

However, one vehicle which Toyota will not give up on is the Tundra. Toyota has indicated that it will push  forward with full size pick up trucks, and indeed, ToMoCo has just added a second shift at its San Antonio Tundra plant. Therefore, it’s a good bet that the Sequoia SUV will carry on production, as it is built off the same platform.

Toyota sold 19,675 4Runners last year, as volume fell 59 percent. FJ Cruiser volume for 2009 was 11,941, down 58 percent. Tundra sold 79,385 units last year, a 42.2 percent drop from 2008.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Are Toyota Losing Their Reliability Halo? Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:14:15 +0000 Things fall apart/ the center can not hold
I was watching the classic British gangster film “The Long Good Friday” the other day. For those not in the know, it’s a story about how Harold Shand, the kingpin gangster of London, struggles to keep his grip in the London underworld when the IRA try to muscle in on his patch. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say, it isn’t pretty. Shortly after watching the film, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing yet another Toyota quality problem. From Floormatgate to the 110,000 Tundras which allegedly rust prematurely, to this most recent headline, “Corolla and Matrix face U.S safety probe,” there’s clearly something rotten in Toyota City. Much like the aforementioned Harold Shand, Toyota built an empire on the foundation of quality and reliability, but now, subsidence and rot are affecting that foundation. The question for the Best and Brightest is this: Are Toyota in danger of losing their crown of quality and reliability in the minds of consumers? Or are these recent cases statistical outliers that car buyers take for granted?

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