Tacoma Truck Owners Frustrated by Delayed Recall Repairs

June 02, 2017 by Ryan ZumMallen, @Zoomy575M

When Bill Cowden brought his 2016 Toyota Tacoma into the local dealership for a routine service recently, he expected to be back on the road in just a few hours. Instead, he might not drive it again for two months.

Toyota recalled the truck in April to fix a potential oil leak in the rear differential, but several weeks later there was no timetable for the repairs to be finished.

“They issued the recall before they even had the procedure and the parts available to fix it,” said Cowden of Oxnard, Calif.

His truck remains in the service department at nearby Ventura Toyota. The dealership loaned Cowden a Camry sedan for transportation in the meantime.

Toyota is concerned that the rear differential on some 228,000 model year 2016 and 2017 Tacomas could seize, creating a situation where the driver loses control of the truck and crashes.

While it’s not uncommon for a lack of parts to delay repairs on recalled vehicles, Toyota’s move to sequester the trucks until they can be fixed is unusual.

General Motors, for example, did not ground 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars — mostly from the 2003 to 2007 model — that were equipped with a faulty ignition switch that was eventually linked to causing crashes responsible for at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

The GM recall, a fatal flaw with Takata air bags in Honda and other vehicles and earlier Toyota problems with floor mats and sticky gas pedals, have prompted automakers to recall more vehicles than ever.

The industry called back 53 million vehicles for repairs in 2016, a record. Last year, automakers issued 927 recalls, a 6.7 percent increase compared with 2015.

The large number of recalls creates a backlog of replacement parts that need to be produced, leading to long delays as owners wait for repairs, said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at the AutoPacific consulting firm.

Suppliers are instructed to build new production parts first, and many plants are operating at full capacity in order to bring those models to dealer lots, Sullivan said. When a recall hits, and replacement parts are ordered, that work needs to be conducted in the after-hours. Dealerships, and owners, are left with sitting trucks.

“Imagine if a dealer in L.A. suddenly had 2,000 Tacomas show up for the same recall,” he said. “There would be a huge issue with turning those around.”

Automakers have become extremely cautious when it comes to safety, and Toyota isn’t the only one, Sullivan said. Ford has also issued numerous recalls that forced backlogs at dealer service departments.

Ford issued six recalls alone in March of 2017, three of which included the phrase “Remedy parts are currently unavailable.”

There are currently two open recalls for the 2017 Ford F-150, four for the F-250 and three for the F-350 pickup trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Now automakers are so trigger happy to issue [recalls] that people are overwhelmed,” Sullivan said.

Cowden, a field service engineer, needs his Tacoma to carry tools during long work assignments.

“It’s kind of why I bought the vehicle,” he said. “It was a good fit for what I do, with comfort and economy.”

So far, only a small percentage of 2016-17 Tacomas have been found to have leaking differentials, said Victor Vanov, spokesman for Toyota.

The automaker has not even sent out notices to owners yet – those will be delivered in mid-June. But the company deemed the issue serious enough to try and keep troubled Tacomas off the road.

“In the interest of their safety, customers have been asked to leave their Tacoma at the dealership until replacement parts arrive,” Vanov said.

Pickup owners are left in a pinch, since many rely on their vehicles for their livelihood.

Dorsey Clark, a plumber in Vacaville, Calif., brought his 2016 Tacoma in for a 15,000-mile service in May. The dealership found a differential leak and said they would need to keep the truck for up to two months.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Clark said. “I mean, it’s a gasket.”

Clark needs his truck to travel to work sites. On top of that, he was about to embark on a personal road trip to Nebraska a few days later. Instead of leaving the Tacoma with his dealer, Clark tightened the bolts and topped off the rear differential oil himself. He drove to Nebraska and back with no problems.

“I’m sure they want me to bring it back, but why?” he said.

Despite the personal inconvenience, Tacoma owners Cowden and Clark are sympathetic to Toyota’s decision. Both expressed appreciation that the automaker is concerned about safety, and commended their respective dealerships.

“It’s a fact of life,” Cowden said. “There’s going to be defects here and there.”

Cowden was pleased when Ventura Toyota offered to ship his truck to wherever he’s working, free of charge, when it’s finished.

But he had another concern. He needed to make a scheduled work trip to Iowa, and the Camry wouldn’t cut it.

So, the dealer arranged for a long-term vehicle from a local rental agency.

“Ironically, it’s a Nissan pickup,” he said. “I’ll get a chance to sample some of their competitor’s equipment.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said 2015 was the record year for recalls and misstated the number of vehicles called back by automakers.

30 Responses

  1. Tyler

    I don’t understand your article. This is for a differential oil leak. The tsb says they will tighten bolts if it’s not leaking. If it is leaking, they replace a gasket and tighten bolts. Why would it take 2 months to get the same gasket that is already shipping with these trucks? This article doesn’t pass the smell test. Any other examples besides Bill?

    • Ryan Keisling

      Toyota has had my truck for almost a month. Its a 2016 Tacoma with a leaky rear differential. They claim they are waiting on parts. They did give me a rental to use, its a 2017 tacoma but not as nice as mine and I need to drive to the east coast soon. I’m hoping they work this out…

    • Gianena

      It’s going on 3 months in a week that my truck has been held hostage at the dealership. They keep telling me that it will be another couple of weeks. They initially gave me a Highlander as a loaner…..before they knew how long I might need it. They tried to get me to return it for a Camry or van…I said no way. I had to call corporate several times before they agreed to let me keep it. I had to take two long road trips in a vehicle that I was not familiar with. I had to return the Highlander before the end of June because the tags were expiring. Now I have another Tacoma, but I want MY truck…….the Limited Edition. I miss my creature comforts.

    • Andy

      I own a 2017 Toyota Tacoma, took it into Andrew Toyota in Wisconsin. They indicated mydifferential was leaking. They indicated they would put me in a car. I advised them I needed my truck for towing.. They said they couldn’t get me a truck. I plan on driving mine as I have been a truck owner for years and need a truck. If I needed a Camry I would have bought a Camry.

  2. Chris

    They have had my 2017 Tacoma for a nearly a month and a half. If its just a gasket that’s needed, like Tyler said they are still using these gaskets to build new trucks and did not stop production. How is it possible they don’t have the part? or know how long it will take the manufacturer to deliver the gaskets needed. Toyota’s build quality is not what it once was.. It has already been to the dealer for a defective blower motor cage and a cracked windshield which also seems to be an issue for a lot of Tacoma owners.

  3. Arthur Sirianni

    My dealership has had my truck for over 60 days and has given me no indication when it will be repaired or when I will get it back. My dealership is not at fault. It is corporate Toyota at fault and when I complained to my “case manager,” she promised that parts were released and sent to dealerships but she could not tell me when it would be repaired. The dealership states they did not get the parts. I have contacted the FTC, the NTSB and my Attorney General’s office to make a complaint. I have a loaner but I bought a truck and I pay on it monthly and don’t have it in my possession. Is there any legal recourse for me to recover my payments or give me a new truck without the problem. Mine is a 2016 4Dr Tacoma. The “case manager” won’t allow me to go above her. Efforts on my part to try to get into the upper echelons of the company and get an executive were stymied by this “case manager.” They are a buffer zone and not at all helpful.

    • Don

      I have the same problem. The case manager was not helpful. I cant fish or move my boat, so mad. If i wanted a mini van i would have leased one.

  4. Tim Turner

    They still have my Tacoma since June 14.Leaving town Friday without kayaks and bicycles (no carriers),when I get back this Chevy rental will be used like a truck hauling rock, stone,sand and pine straw for my yard,poor Chevy suv which is a nice ride with only 9000 miles.

  5. Tim Turner

    Ryan,still no date on parts or repair of my Tacoma,very frustrating with Toyota Corp.Might be my last Toyota.

  6. Kim

    My Tacoma has been at the dealer for a month. They claim they ordered parts and originally led me to believe it would be a few days to a week. I called Toyota’s national office yesterday (7/19/17) and they said there are no parts available and no parts on order. They do not know when the trucks will be repaired. This is interfering with my business, my family plans and more. What the hell?

    I love Toyota trucks. This is my fourth. It is vital to my business. They gave me a rental but I am a landscaper and farmer and we are afraid to get it “farm dirty” and dinged up. Sheep dogs in the rental?? What do we do?

  7. Tony Hidalgo

    I think Toyota should make my car payments for every month they have possession of the truck.

    • Tony

      Nope. They refused to return the car when I took it in for an oil change. 2 months of car payments for a vehicle I am not driving. Its sad that Toyota is not doing anything for their customers.

  8. James

    Jokes on you guys, its a voluntary recall. They can’t hold your vehicle without your permission. I went back after 10 days when I found out they had no idea when it would get fixed and demanded my truck back. They weren’t happy but they gave it back.

    • Tony

      Did you have to sign a waiver? I hear it would be a liability for a dealer to return the truck and it causes an accident.

  9. Steve

    James definitely has bad info. I have my original recall notice and it says “Safety Recall” and its highlighted that if the leak is present, and if no parts are available, a loaner vehicle can be provided by the dealer at no cost. I asked about getting mine back and the dealer told me I would have to sign a waiver releasing them from liability, and I would be responsible for all damage. So if you get it back and there is damage, jokes on you!

  10. Steven Duke

    My 2017 Tacoma has now been at the dealer for 5 weeks. It may be there for 2-3 weeks more. I was given a Corolla as a loaner. Are you kidding me? This has taken away a whole summer of kayaking and camping. I have expressed my displeasure to all who will listen, I get a lot of shrugged shoulders. I have even offered to pay fr express shipping of the parts. No dice. This has been a bitter ‘lesson learned ‘ for me. I paid cash for this truck. When I get it back, I may trade it in on a 2018 Ford F-150.

  11. David

    Same here..no parts available for my 2016, been held for 6 weeks now…rav4 given for loaner….I am pissed just typing this..My 4th Toyota and also my last..it also burns me to be paying for something I cannot use..wish they would just buy it back and be done with it, or swap a new tacoma with no problems, obviously not an option.. what to do?? Any lawyers out there know of anything to do??

  12. Victor

    My 2017 Tacoma SR5 dbl. cab V-6 Has been sitting in the dealers for 2 months now . I’ve been getting the same song and dance as everyone else on this page . I hear the horror stories from Corolla owners of waiting 1 year just for an air bag . Considering my truck will be out of commission for a year or longer is not acceptable . A 40 thousand dollar investment after you add all the extra’s sitting on the roof at the dealership exposed to all weather elements . They give me a 20 thousand dollar 2017 corolla as a loaner and I’m to be happy with that ? I have lost all faith in Toyota .

  13. Chris

    My 2017 SR5 dbl. cab V6 has been at the Dealer for 4 months now. with no eta on parts. How is it they have parts to build new trucks but not to fix the trucks they already sold us?

  14. C. A. Moore

    As far as I know, the recall was announced o/a 27 Apr 2017. Had my 2016 Taco in for 1yr svc on 29 Jun and they confirmed minor differential leaking and wanted to keep it – I declined as I don’t drive that many miles per month, and was not asked to sign a waiver. The dealer says they ordered the parts the next day; now almost two months later they still have not received the parts?? Come on Toyota…you should be ashamed that you cannot provide better customer service than this. You should have demanded that your supplier provide the replacement parts within 30 days of the recall notice or defaulted on them and went to a different supplier. I have been a Toyota fan for years, but as others have indicated, I may be forced to look elsewhere next time.

  15. Steve

    Finally got mine back–was down 51 days. Not sure why Toyota thinks it is ok to not fix their loyal customers trucks when they are recalled for safety reasons, but apparently they would rather build new trucks than take care of ones they have already sold. I have gone from telling people how great the Tacoma’s are, to telling them to run away due to the engine/transmission combo being junk compared to previous models (2015 and previous with 4.0 engine) and the lack of customer service. I believe Toyota has lost their way and no longer cares about the consumer. I cant wait for he new Ford Ranger scheduled to come out in 2020.

  16. Brad

    My Taco has been in the taken for the rear diff recall. It’s only been two weeks, but reading everyone else’s story hear makes me furious. I was given a corolla as a rental. How is that supposed to take the place of my truck when I need a 4×4 just as hunting season starts. I nicely expressed my concern to the dealership I purchased the vehicle from and mentioned that I would be interested in a trade in for a new model. Toyota offered me less than Ford did for trade in value. I most likely will trade this in for a F-150 when I get it back. DON’T BUY FROM TOYOTA, I guess lesson learned.

  17. Arthur

    I think we need a class action lawsuit against Toyota. Is there any attorney out there who might be willing to take this on? I ended up having to buy a new truck and this one better not leak or I will get an attorney myself. No one helped me during the course of this scam, not the Attorney General’s Office, not the NTSB, and certainly not Corporate Toyota. My dealership tried to be helpful but they seem to have been kept in the dark and misled the same as all of us. I can’t believe consumers have been so neglected at what clearly is an injustice bordering on fraud. If they knew the 2016’s were rotten, how could a 2017 have the same problem?

  18. Kristin

    Thanks for reporting. This is first one I have heard/read about a Tacoma actually being repaired and back on the road. Mine has been grounded since Aug 18 and still no ETA on parts. When I called Toyota they actually tried to deflect responsibility to the dealer telling me to work with the dealer to get the parts.
    This is my third toyota and it’s my last toyota.

  19. Kim

    2016 Toyota been in the shop six weeks now. They have no idea when they will have parts. Gave me a car and I told them I was paying for a truck so they got one for me. Got a call from the rental place yesterday.. tags expired over two weeks ago and the maintenance light had just come on. Got up from bed with bronchitis to take care of Toyota’s mess. Can’t have dogs in this rental. So no vet for my dogs? Not to mention I had to double my gas cost to go on vacation because I had no cap for the rental truck and ended up taking two cars. Corporate office is offering absolutely no help and told me there is no competition for inconveniencing my whole life. No Toyota does not care about their customers.

  20. Martin

    My 2016 Tacoma SR5 Double Cab has been at the Toyota Garden Grove dealership since July 29th. I was calling every week to get a status and they have no idea when it will be ready. I’ve called their Parts Manager, Service Manager and they don’t have a clue. I don’t like pounding sand, so I gave up calling them weekly. I’m so freakin’ frustrated.

  21. Kevin

    I just make a call to Toyota and they still saying the parts are being made in their manufacturing. It is my first Toyota Truck and will be last one … very frustrated, I had to go to DMV and extend the registration …


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