Don’t Waste Your Money: Rusting frames

Don't Waste Your Money

Toyota has a reputation for being one of the most reliable car brands in the world.

Buy one, and drivers are almost guaranteed trouble-free-driving for years — except when it comes to the frames of some popular pickup trucks.

Jeanne Middleton’s 2004 Toyota Tacoma has been a trusted friend, until a few days ago when it started swerving.

Middleton brought it to a local repair shop and got some bad news.

“They said the frame was cracked, that it was rusted and it was unsafe to drive,” Middleton said.

Mechanic Mike Fehler says it needs a new frame or the whole back end could fall off.

“Basically where the leaf spring mounts to the frame, this is load-bearing and is essentially why holds the bed onto the truck,” Fehler said.

But, he told her, there might be an extended warranty for this exact issue.

Safety recalls save lives and save money — and in this case — thousands of dollars in repairs.

But a lot of automakers set a window on them, and after, say, 15 years, they will not pay for a repair anymore.

“They said there was a limited recall and it expired in 2019,” Middleton said.

She just missed the warranty cutoff date.

In 2016, Toyota agreed to repair or buy back millions of Tacomas, Tundras and Sequoia SUVs with rusting frames. This included models from 2004 to 2008, or in some cases, 2010.

But the program expires 15 years after the date of manufacturing.

Middleton never saw a notice.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to other car owners, make sure the car’s manufacturer has a current address on file for recalls or repair bulletins. Also, check recalls.gov to see if any unfixed recalls have been filed.

“I would love to keep my  truck, I am sure it can go another 100 thousand miles,” Middleton said. But to do that, it needs a $7,000 frame repair.

A Toyota corporate spokeswoman told abc27 they would contact Middleton about her options, but would not promise a free repair.

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