Toyota is conducting a safety recall of certain 2001 through 2004 Tacoma pickups in cold-weather states over concerns that rust in the spare tire carrier assembly may cause the tire to come loose while driving.
A bulletin posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website puts the number of vehicles potentially affected at about 150,000 vehicles. Affected vehicles were built from August 28, 2000 through August 27, 2004.
The recall involves 2001-2004 model-year Tacoma pickup trucks originally sold in or currently registered in 20 states and the District of Columbia where road salt used on streets in cold weather may result in extreme corrosion on certain truck parts.
2001 Toyota Tacoma Xtra Cab
A notice posted on the Toyota website describes the problem this way:
“In these vehicles, the spare tire is stored underneath the rear bed and suspended by a spare tire carrier on a metal lift plate. During manufacture, the spare tire carrier lift plate may not have been sufficiently coated with phosphate. The lack of phosphate coating combined with prolonged exposure to high road salt use and other environmental factors may contribute to the development of more than normal corrosion of the lift plate on some vehicles.”
The notice goes on to say that “over time and in limited cases, corrosion of the lift plate could cause it to break and result in detachment of the spare tire from the vehicle.”
According to documentation from Toyota (PDF), the company has received three field reports of spare tire carrier corrosion and, in June and July 2010, three field reports alleging detachment of the spare tire carrier while driving.
The 20 states affected include (in alphabetical order): Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia. In addition, the District of Columbia is also included.
Toyota said that the supplier of the spare tire carrier assembly is no longer in business. The automaker noted that 2005 through 2013 model year Toyota Tacoma pickups have spare tire carrier assemblies produced by a different supplier with different process controls for phosphate coating application. Analysis of recovered parts from those model years shows sufficient phosphate coating on the spare tire carrier lift plates and Toyota said it has not received any reports of spare tire carrier detachment due to lift gate corrosion in 2005-2013 Toyota Tacomas.
2003 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab
What Toyota will do
Toyota will send a letter via first-class mail to owners of vehicles affected by the recall, instructing them to bring their Toyota pickup truck to any authorized Toyota dealer to make the necessary repairs. The dealer will inspect and repair the spare tire carrier assembly, as necessary. The work will be performed at no charge.
The recall letters are expected to go out beginning in December.
In the meantime, owners of 2001 through 2004 Toyota pickups with any questions or concerns may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331. They may also check online to learn more about the status of the recall at www.toyota.com/recall.
Alternatively, owners of vehicles involved in the campaign may contact NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to http://www.safercar.gov. Reference the NHTSA campaign ID No. 12V542000.