By on April 28, 2017

2016/2017 toyota tacoma

Toyota of North America is recalling 228,000 Tacoma midsize pickups from the 2016 and 2017 model years. The affected vehicles may be leaking oil from their rear differentials. If left unchecked, the affected component could eventually seize — opening the driver up to a sudden flurry of new problems, like losing control of the vehicle moments before a horrific crash.

However, these leaks seem to cause only a gradual depletion of lubricant, giving owners plenty of time to enjoy some unpleasant warning noises as their truck’s differential slowly destroys itself.

While public complaints on the issue haven’t been overwhelming, checking in with enthusiast forum TacomaWorld led to a posting where owners reported an unpleasant howling noise coming from the rear of third-generation trucks. Several also admitted to having their differentials replaced prematurely after visiting service centers, with no information from Toyota as to why.  

There is no guarantee the two issues are related, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalls page includes complaints of a nearly identical nature. Some of those troubles were diagnosed as software glitches, while others resulted in the installation of new differentials. There are also numerous reports of the problem returning, even after repairs were made.

The issue seems to stem from a lapse in quality control. For the most part, Toyota hasn’t been replacing parts so much as it has been shoring them up — and the recall seems to offer the same solution.

In the recall notice, Toyota says “dealers will check the rear differential for any oil leakage. If no leaks are found, all fasteners will be re-tightened. If leakage is found, the rear differential carrier gasket will be replaced with a new one, and new fasteners will be installed. If rear differential components are damaged, the rear differential carrier assembly will be replaced with a new one.”

Obviously, this will be done at no cost to Tacoma owners — who Toyota says it will notify by mail beginning in the middle of June.

[Image: Toyota]

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28 Comments on “Toyota Recalls 228,000 Tacomas in U.S. Over Potential Rear-wheel Lockup...”

  • avatar

    The CNN article I read mentioned tightening fasteners in cases where no leaks are found, which makes me think the problem is that the differential to axle housing nuts weren’t properly torqued during assembly, causing a leak at the gasket there. Either that or the bolts on the end plates where the axle shafts go in (but that could also cause gear oil leaks into the rear drums).

    • 0 avatar

      Searching the forums a few have taken it on themselves and found the bolts loose. One even broke a nut off. Looks to be a GKN differential.

      • 0 avatar

        When the news broke I called my #3 son in TX to tell him about it. He took his 2016 to the local Jiffy-Lube to have everything underneath inspected for signs of oil seepage, oozeage or other indications, but they found nothing.

        Maybe his San Antonio Taco is a good one.

        So now it is just waiting for the official dealer notification next month, to have the dealer inspect it.

        He’s still using it to drive to work, and back.

        • 0 avatar

          Absolutely, positively, the first place I would take my under warranty vehicle for an inspection would be to the goobers at Jiffy Lube. Not.

          • 0 avatar

            agroal, so where would YOU take it if you gotta know right now, and can’t get an appointment with the dealer?

          • 0 avatar

            I’d stoop down and take a look at the differential myself for chrissake. It’s a Tacoma of all things, not exactly difficult to take a peek under a high riding truck, or god forbid, even crawl under the truck to take a closer look.

            My god people are helpless.

          • 0 avatar

            gtemnykh, I think you misread the situation.

            He was on his way to work, was in uniform, and didn’t have a hoist at home. Nor ramps.

            So on his way to work he stopped at the nearest place with a hoist, got it on the rack, and took a look for himself alongside the Jiffy Lube guys.

            It also happens to be the same place that has the contract to service the gov’t vehicles. No charge for the use of the hoist.

            If you’re wearing a suit or a uniform, or good clothes, you wouldn’t want to slither under a vehicle on the concrete drive way.

            Would you?

          • 0 avatar

            I crawled under mine today (and, yes, I was wearing good clothes, but I didn’t mind getting the clothes dirty because I was finished with my errands and had no further need, today, to be seen in public). Mine has no visible signs of leaking. I don’t know what that means exactly. Maybe my truck is not affected. Or maybe I haven’t yet driven enough miles (only about 9,500 miles so far) to encounter the problem. It was not a big deal to crawl under to check it out. It was just somewhat uncomfortable since I am old and not exactly thin and fit.

          • 0 avatar

            Funky, my understanding is the oil seepage/leakage is visible, that over time it could all leak out which could cause the rear end to lock up.

            (Seems to me you would hear the rear end get noisier as the oil level got lower, like a bad wheel bearing)

            He got an appointment with the dealer on Wed, May 3. We’ll know a lot more then.

          • 0 avatar

            Gtemmyhk, I don’t think HDC and his son work on their Toyota’s, nor do they do maintenence. As you know inspecting the low hanging diff is one knee on the ground affair.

          • 0 avatar

            On a tacoma it’d simply be squatting down (not even taking a knee) to be able to see any serious leaks from the rear diff. Short of seeing anything catastrophic, I’d simply wait until I got home, and wearing old clothes crawl underneath and inspect closer.

      • 0 avatar

        I remember working on British cars in the old days seeing parts identified Guest, Keen, and Nettlefolds. 258 years in business and doing about 9 billion pounds gross business currently.

  • avatar

    Does any one know if this was the Tijuana or Texas build Tacos? ….oh heck, what’s the difference.

  • avatar

    The Tijuana plant only has a yearly capacity of about 1/4 of the total number of trucks being recalled so I do not think this is a plant specific issue.

  • avatar

    “New fasteners will be installed ”

    Could the root cause be low grade bolts that loosen by themselves?

  • avatar

    Sudden acceleration in 2009 to eight years later sudden deceleration?

  • avatar

    You have to give Toyota credit for standing behind it’s product . A little over 2 years ago they put almost 17K in my 06 SR5 with a new frame , springs , brake lines , wiring harnesses , etc . Now they want me to trade it in for like 7K , but why would I ever ? At 66K miles it purrs like a new truck , has a new powder coated frame , and Toyota doesn’t even offer an SR5 extra cab 2wd with a 5 speed manual , much less the new ones that have less legroom ! It cost me 8K with a trade in of my 03 Matrix(actually bought in Feb 02)that had 55K miles on it at that time on Columbus Day 2006 . Drove the car in for a wheel alignment and oil change – drove the truck home ! Never did that before , probably never will again , but I think I’m getting my money’s worth out of this vehicle .

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Yes, bless them for taking action when new trucks rear ends seize up or when their supposedly renowned for reliability trucks start breaking in half.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m a Toyota guy now but I will quickly add that the stuff Toyota makes in the US is no better and no worse than the domestic crud.

        A lot of people who had owned Japan-built Toyota products in the past have stepped away from the US-made Toyota products, and looked elsewhere for replacements.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “You have to give Toyota credit for standing behind it’s product”

      Toy motors generally only stands behind their defective products after a class action lawsuit has been thrown at them. They sure didn’t stand behind that miserable little 2001 Highlander we had when the motor $hit the bed with only a little over 70K on the odometer. Repairs totaled over $3K dollars. Gave that crapbox to a family member, replaced it with a Chevy Tahoe & haven’t looked back at Toy motors since.

      “At 66K miles it purrs like a new truck ”

      Boy do you have low expectations. 66K? It should still look and drive like a new truck. For crying out loud they rebuilt the whole truck. Bet it burns more oil than the 13 year old GMC I just sold with a 185K. That motor also purred like a kitten and when you fired it up & sounded good and tight through the original exhaust.

  • avatar

    Now will Nissan admit that their Frontier rear axle vent valves are faulty and cause axle seals to blow and leak the whole axle out? No, of course not.

  • avatar

    I’m not an expert. But I have to ask this question: Are they sure the root cause is with the differential? Perhaps something going on with the drive shaft is causing the symptoms (the symptoms being gasket and/or bolt/nut failures which are leading to leaks which are then causing potential damage to the differential). This might possibly explain why folks are reporting that the newly replaced differentials supposedly eventually again fail.

    Or, then again, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree with the above notion (because I’m not an expert in this area).

    And, by-the-way, I personally plan to stick my head under my Tacoma tomorrow to check for signs of any leaks/seepage (although I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be looking at…I’ll just do the best I can to figure it out). I’ve been using the truck lately for long trips. I’d hate to run into any trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like it is hit or miss on a gasket fitment or case distortion.

      Regardless if Toyota under speced the diff or the supplier failed to deliver spec, but Toyota doesn’t mind using their consumers as beta testers and recall them at a later date.

  • avatar

    A lapse in quality control is sure what I would call the latest edition of these trucks. Looking at several brand new 4 door TRD models with stickers crawling up to 39K revealed lots of cost cutting cheapness everywhere I looked. The door sheetmetal sounds like they went to the same paper thin sheet metal that encases a Yaris!

    The entire front grille assembly is very flimsy and is literally being held on by two pieces of small plastic so watch out for those low flying birds or you may need to replace your entire frontal grille assembly!

    The interior is also rubbish. Everywhere I touched felt cheap and flimsy and in fact the entire front dash bezel came right off in my hand with just a slight tug. The driver’s seat has zero up and down adjustment and no power option and the driver’s seat position was very lacking.

    Ironically right next door where Ford F-150’s in various trims on sale for about the same price these Tacoma TRD’s were stickering for. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see why the F-150, Silverado and Ram continue to outsell these toy trucks, even when fuel prices are high. Surprise! Many of the F-150’s were rated for the same combined mileage as the Tacoma, despite being much larger and having far more power in the 2.7 EB V6! They are also considerably better built both inside and out.

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