Drew C.

Tacoma frame issue

94 posts in this topic

just wanted to add my Tacoma frame saga to this thread. I, like DrewC, am now involved with my second rusted frame. My first was a 2000 Tavoma that Toyota bought back. I took that check and bought a new 2010. I thought that after 10 model years, Toyoto would have figured out how to make a frame that would not turn into swiss cheese. This weekend I was getting ready to rotate the tires and check the front brakes that started to squeal.  I got the jack and looked at where to put on the front driver side. I am used to seeing rust on my Toyotas, but something did not look right. I pushed on it and my finger and it went thru the frame. Took it to Toyota on Tuesday, and I am now waiting for a new frame. They said 5 months to get a frame because 2010 access cabs are in high demand. I didn't ask any questions because of the 5 months backlog. I'll try and keep updating this as the saga continues.

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Although I have never owned a Toyota Tacoma or Tundra, I offer up what I have learned (since acquiring my first buggy in 1986) about battling corrosion......


My original buggy was a 1980 Toyota FJ-40.  Thing was, unlike trucks made in the more recent decades, the older truck frames were made from a thick-webbed C-Channel, so there was no internal corrosion of the frame, since all surfaces were accessible and treatable for existing rust.  In my case, having bought this truck as a retired Great Adventure vehicle, I repaired/prevented underbody/frame corrosion using Rustoleum rust converter, followed by Rusty Metal Primer, and then Flat-Black Rustoleum Enamel, which had much better adhesion for the final coat, which was asbestos fiber re-inforced undercoat.


From what I've seen on-line, these same vehicles are restored today to $75K vehicles with frame-off bead blasted frame restorations ( thought I did well when the Jeep dealer gave me $4K trade-in).


My second buggy was a 1989 Jeep Cherokee Sport with a 4-speed manual, which I traded in after 15years with 65K miles, of which probably 90% were beach miles, since I lived down the road from IBSP, and did not commute with it.  I paid the Jeep dealer to rustproof it, but he contracted to Jost Auto Center in Belmar, NJ, and, after 15 years, with me rinsing the undercarriage after each beach excursion, there was absolutely no rust there.


I lost my 2004 4-Runner last year to frame corrosion from the inside-out (with only 80K miles).  This is a problem that you can find on-line for virtually every truck out there (I know, I looked while researching a new replacement), for one reason only, which is that with the advent of higher gas mileage and the lack of a competitive domestic C-Channel supply market, manufacturer's started making frames by box welding flat, high strength steel plates.  This boxing requires the creation of internal bulkheads for frame stiffness, which in turn creates frame drainage issues - hence the internal corrosion, especially when exposed to salt spray. By the way, the worst is not salty water, but rather the brine used on the roads, which virtually every local utilizing this stuff now laces with molasses for better "stick" to the roads (and as a by-product, your undercarriage).


For what it's worth, I ended up going for another 4-runner, but had it straight-off-the-lot sprayed by the same company that did my 1989 Jeep Cherokee, using the state-of-the-art Ziebart product, which is indeed sticky (it is wax based).  He sprayed the entire undercarriage, rear differential, suspension linkages, and into every frame void, as well as the "drill-spray-plug" treatment of the internal body panels.  The engine compartment was done with a clear. Before the Zeibart product treatment, I had the Toyota dealer remove all my skid plates, mud flaps and plastic panels on the bottom of the quarter panels, so that all areas were accessible to the spraying company.  I treated the skid plates myself with Rustoleum 2-part epoxy Truck Bed liner, two coats, since I found on my 2004 that the beach sand (between the tire ruts) ablates any other coating, and the epoxy holds up to the engine/transmission heat. I also used polyethylene bushings (approximately 1/2in thick) to space the rear of the transmission skid plate off the frame cross member, and removed the transmission skid plate access panel, all with the goal of reducing sand build-up on the skid plates, especially under the transmission, which can also overheat it.  Finally, I replaced all the skid plate mounting bolts with Stainless Steel, and liberally coat them with Aluminum based Anti-Seize each time I re-install them.  Before each service, I remove both the engine and transmission skid plates, clean them thoroughly and touch up the epoxy coating, if required (more on regular maintenance below). This year, after the season ends, I will be removing all the skid plates and plastic pieces from the undercarriage and bringing the 4-Runner to the the rustproofing company for a coating inspection/ repair, as required.  They actually recommend this once-a-year, but since Dec 2015 I have only put 13K and change miles on it.


One thing I did notice is that seems to be a design improvement over my 2004 is that this frame has many more bottom and (lower on the) side drainage holes.  I am also told that Toyota made this frame a heavier gage, which is why my average MPG around town has dropped almost 4 MPG compared to the 2004...did not yet try to validate that with Toyota, however.


Preventative maintenance I perform:

I have a West Marine long tube nozzle assembly that is used for spraying down flying bridges on Sport Fishing boats, which gives me the reach to spray off half the width of the truck after every beach excursion (see attached picture).  In addition, once a month I use a long air gun (which I made from refrigerant tubing, compression fittings and a standard air gun) to blow out the sand from on top of the engine/transmission skid plates and out of the 2 frame cross members.  As I mentioned above, before each service, I remove the engine and transfer case skid plates, and thoroughly clean them, touching up the epoxy coating (Rustoleum 2-part Epoxy Truck Bed Liner) as necessary (I find that, after 6 months, sharp bends in the mid section of the plate(s) are still ablated by the scraping of the sand). If necessary, (it usually is) I treat surface rust with Rustoleum Rust Converter before re-applying the truck bed liner.


A couple of points to ponder:

-Once upon a time, undercoating was impregnated with asbestos fibers, which prevented cracking of the coating as it aged.  Modern-day undercoating cracks, which becomes a path of moisture to the metal surface, resulting in corrosion that you will not see until the undercoating falls off with the large area of rusted metal. This is why the latest Zeibart product is wax based.  Also, Spraying undercoating into the frame is pretty much useless, as it will (1) build up and clog the drain holes well before you can coat the entire interior of the frame void, and (2) the clogging of the frame drain holes will promote corrosion by trapped moisture/wet sand.

- As a possible approach to slowing down the internal rust of an in-use frame, you might want to look into a product that Boeing aerospace developed for treating Aircraft (I know, they are mostly 6061-T6 aluminum, but remember, non-Anodized Aluminum corrodes thru pitting, which weakens structural strength). The product name is Boeshield T-9. 


Hope this info helps, I know it is a lot, but it reflects what I have learned over the course of owning 4 different buggy's

West Marine Spray Wand.jpg

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wow, thats a lot to have to do. I have a 2000 Silverado that all I have ever done is spray with  a hose. Guess they dont build them like that anymore. Like a rock.

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my lazy, low budget approach is the common lawn sprinkler ( the cheap one that works on an arc)....drag it under the vehicle, center it, turn on sprinkler.....after 5 to 10 min. pull towards the front 5 feet, repeat, till you get to the front. With my good city water pressure and the fact the nozzles path is only a couple of feet from its target, does a pretty good job of cleaning it up.

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