Toyota Tacoma Frame Rust



Can you imagine the Toyota mechanic who is given the job of replacing the frame on a rusted-out 15 year old vehicle??? Every nut and bolt rusted and seized up…The brake lines, gas lines, wiring, steering and suspension, …I would be heading for the time clock…


Oil and or grease liberally applied always does wonders for rust prevention. The problem with frames is getting that stuff to the appropriate place. Closed box framed trucks may be stronger, but C Channels lend them selves to drainage and rust preventative applications. In their attempt to strengthen the frames, making Tacomas excellent off roaders, they create more areas that don’t drain properly and cannot be serviced as easily.

Had 6 Toyota PUs and hated to deal with every one when body oiling time came around and half of it would fall on me while spraying on and inside the box frame. But, if you can and are willing, treatments like this stop rust in it’s tracks. It isn’t for the faint of heart and may be the grungiest maintenance you every do to a vehicle. Toyota of late is going to more C Channels…you can’t win for loosing. Now we can complain about too much frame flex as a trade off to less frame rust.


Toyota’s recommendation to dealers in 2008 was to tell the customers to wash off the underside occasionally. They said “Customers who live in areas where road salts are prevalent may wash the undercarriage of the vehicles periodically. This may assist in preventing this condition.” They had this to say about rust treatment procedures, “Given the age, differences in driving environment and actual condition of each vehicle, its is extremely difficult to determine if a specific aftermarket chemical will be effective at this time.” Three years later, after the warranty runs out they decide that there might be something they could have done. They have initiated a second limited service campaign which ends March 31, 2012 for vehicles covered by the 2008 campaign. I guess they have decided now that the frames have had 3 more years to corrode that rust preventive treatments might work.

Here is a link to a website that has the original service campaign letters.


@ ok4450 You said, “Maybe the OP needs to clarify a few things about how many miles on the truck when purchaed and what date it was actually purchased on.”

I just realized I’m the “OP”.

I purchased the truck in July, 2001. At that time it had about 69K miles. Here’s the vehicle history as reported by CARFAX.

On 07/07/1997 a title was registered in Maryland and it was registered as a private vehicle. There was no listing for the odometer reading.

On 8/18/1999 it was offered for sale at a dealership in Maryland. The registered odometer reading was 45,072.

On 11/01/1999 with 45145 miles it was registered in Maryland.

On 07/31/2000 it was registered as a leased vehicle in Maryland with odometer reading at 63446.

On 08/29/2000 it was registered in Pennsylvania and on 10/19/2000 with 63564 miles another title was registered in PA.

I purchased the vehicle in July, 2001 with 69358 miles and registered it in PA.

I moved to NY in 2006 and registered it in NY with about 148K miles.

This is probably more info than anybody wants but I hope it clears up the murkiness.


I’m inclined to think this truck was a dealer demonstrator and the date it became a demonstrator is the date when the warranty starts. That doesn’t make it less palatable for you though.

For what it’s worth anyway, I work with a lot of antique motorcycle part that are rusted in one degree or the other. When it comes to chemicals to convert rust, etc. that’s a mixed bag. Some of those chemicals help prevent or hold down rust after it’s been removed from the part but won’t do much for a severely rusted part.
If the frame is rusted to the point that there are holes or very deep pitting I don’t see a chemical as being of much help. The frame would still be unsafe and application of a chemical would be like putting lipstick on a warthog. It might help a bit on the surface but it’s still dangerous.

I’m afraid I have no answer for your problem seeing as how corporate Toyota has denied you. If this problem was a Recall then it would be a slam dunk for you but it’s a Campaign and those always have limits.
Even the thought of a full frame swap is an iffy procedure because as Caddyman mentioned, there are going to be rust issues with suspension components, brake lines, etc, etc.


It’s sort of understandable how Toyota would not want a bay occupied in one of their dealership repair shops for a week or more, spend a couple thousand or so on a new frame, break a bunch of stuff trying to replace that frame, have to eat the cost of all that stuff, and have to eat probably 30-40 hours of labor to do this job just to keep a 15 year old vehicle that’s pushing 200k miles on the road. It would be cheaper in the long run to give you a comparable 5-7 year old truck, but businesses do not make money operating like that, and the ones that try to bend over backwards to keep every last customer happy end up bankrupting themselves and going out of business. I have seen it happen before. Your truck has lived an acceptably long and productive life and has met the same fate that has befallen many a Toyota truck over the years (as well as other makes. I recently got rid of a Chevy half ton that had frame perforation in one spot at younger than 20 years and less than a quarter million miles, which is somewhat disappointing, but IL is not shy about salting the roads anytime there is precipitation and a chance of <40 degree temps in the forecast).


It’s disappointing (if not a little heartbreaking) here in northern Ohio (which throws a Dead Sea worth of salt on the roads every time it’s below 40°) to walk through a Pick n Pull lot and realize that probably half of the cars were in good running order when they got there, but died from rust.


Plenty of good ideas on the post.

Mountainbike is correct. You probably can’t fix this problem without major work (we’ve had this problem before), and the frame damage could be dangerous if you have sudden stress on the car. Thankfully you found this early. Maybe send this one to the salvage, er, recycling yard since it could be deadly to you or whomever you sell it to. This is a glass-half-full-half-empty situation and at least Toyota extended their coverage even if you did not benefit.

We lived in upstate New York for a while and rust would often surface before you’d notice, and washing the car was not feasible when temperatures usually stayed below freezing for weeks. Spraying the car might help but is not a panacea. Eastwood has some good rust preventive products that have helped us (although that’s just a sample size n = 1). Good luck.


@ mark9207 Frame replacement was not an option on my 1997 truck. The offer was a buy-back at 150% of Kelly Blue Book retail value in excellent condition for the year and mileage of the vehicle. For trucks newer than, I think, 2001 the offer was a new frame. The service manager said the frame replacement meant a well paying job for his garage.