An open letter to Toyota:
Mr. Jim Lentz
Toyota Motor Sales USA
National Customer Relations
19001 South Western Ave. WC11
Torrance, CA 90509
I own a 1997 Tacoma (VIN: 4TAVL52N1VZ236397) which runs well and looks good. Although it has 178,000 miles on it, I had planned to drive it for many more miles. If I hadn’t planned to keep the vehicle, I would not have bothered to replace the exhaust system and shock absorbers last summer. I no longer put many miles on it but it is very convenient to have in the garage to use when necessary.
In March 2008, Toyota extended the warranty on the Tacoma frame to fifteen years. At that time Toyota said in a press release that, “This is not a recall. Rather, it’s an example of our commitment to the durability of our products and to our owners. These are older trucks and rust is a fact of life, especially where road salt is used, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that we take care of our owners. We just thought you should know that.”
I have had the truck serviced and inspected at the local Toyota dealer (Stateside Toyota and Luv Toyota near Jamestown, NY) since I moved into the area in 2006. It was last inspected on Dec. 18, 2010. I have driven the truck 2,300 miles since then. It sits in my garage most of the time.
On Feb. 7, 2012 I returned to Luv Toyota for the annual New York State inspection. I was shocked to hear that the frame would not pass inspection because of rust perforation. I was also shocked to find that the warranty had expired. My records (Carfax report when I bought the truck) indicated the truck was first registered July 7, 1997. Toyota records indicated it was Dec 13, 1996. According to them, I was 55 days late and they would do nothing for me.
I spoke with Kevin, the case manager at Toyota Corporate Office (Ext. 83711), and he very politely but very firmly confirmed that Toyota would do nothing.
I have suddenly gone from the owner of a vehicle that I had planned to drive for many more miles to the owner of a pile of junk worth nothing more than salvage value. Several questions come to my mind. Was there really no problem a year ago when they last inspected the vehicle? Is 12 months in a dry garage and 2,300 miles going to cause that much rust? Would they have found the problem 2 months ago if I had taken it in then? Or does Toyota feel they can safely transfer the problem to me since according to Toyota’s records the warranty has expired? Does 55 days mean that much over 15 years? Are you living up to your commitment? Are you taking care of your owners?