Toyota to Pay $3.4 Billion in Tacoma Rusted Frames Lawsuit

Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia trucks with rusted frames to be fixed for $3.4 billion.

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— Toyota Tacoma rusted frames will cost the automaker about $3.4 billion after Toyota agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleges Tacoma frames rust and cause serious safety hazards on the roads.

The Toyota Tacoma frame rust lawsuit includes 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2008 Tundra and 2005-2008 Sequoia trucks at risk of corrosion that eats away at the frames.

The lawsuit alleges the truck frames rust prematurely because they weren't properly protected with anti-rust chemicals at the factory, leaving the frames too naked against salt water and other elements that corrode the frames.

The plaintiffs say this failure causes perforations in the frames that weaken the structural integrity of the trucks, leaving them particularly vulnerable in a crash.

Toyota has suffered from frame rust complaints for years that caused the automaker to issue warranty extensions and certain recalls. But according to some truck owners, the corrosion and rust problems have still caused nothing but grief.

"While driving 2 mph, the contact heard an abnormal noise underneath the vehicle. The dealer repaired the vehicle under NHTSA campaign number: 14V604000 (suspension); however, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the subframe and rear passenger side leaf spring fractured due to corrosion. The mechanic diagnosed that the subframe needed to be replaced." - 2009 Toyota Tacoma owner / Newport, Vermont

The "NHTSA campaign number: 14V604000" referenced in the complaint above refers to a recall of 690,000 model year 2005-2011 Tacoma trucks for rust and corrosion problems, but the recall involved only the rear suspension leaf springs.

Another Toyota truck owner said his Tacoma was a victim of a rusted frame, but his dealership didn't think the problem was serious enough to take action.

"Apparently some 2007 Tacoma's have excessive frame rust, and my vehicle is one of them. The frames were not undercoated correctly and have excessive, extreme rust, while the body is fine. Toyota will only cover the repair or correction to the frame, if there is a HOLE through the frame (from rust). Think about it, if your frame is rusted to the point of having a hole through it, you are in serious danger." - 2007 Toyota Tacoma owner / San Antonia, Texas

Toyota customers also complain about being blamed for the rust problems for allegedly not cleaning under the trucks.

"Had a 1998 Tacoma - frame rotted to the point that the truck was unsafe to drive in early 2007. Traded for $5000 for 2007 Tacoma as was assured by corporate Toyota that frame rot was due to me not washing the undercarriage enough. It's all very disheartening. So much for Toyota quality and dealer integrity!" - 2007 Toyota Tacoma owner / Kalamazoo, Michigan

If the settlement agreement is approved by the court, Toyota will replace the truck frame if rust has perforated the surface 10 mm or more, something that may be a huge expense to the automaker at $15,000 per truck. Based on court documents, it's believed as many as 1.5 million Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia trucks may be eligible for repairs.

The automaker also agreed to spend about $90 million for inspections, which equals to about $60 per vehicle, and money will also be paid to any affected truck owner who already shelled out money to have their frame replaced.

The Toyota Tacoma rusted frame lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California - Brian Warner, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.

The plaintiffs are represented by Blood Hurst & O’Reardon LLP, Barnow & Associates PC, Roberts Law Firm PA, and Monteleone & Mccrory LLP.