Jason Lancaster is the editor and founder of TundraHeadquarters.com. He has nearly a decade of dealership experience buying, selling, and maintaining vehicles, and much of that time was spent working at Ford and Toyota dealerships.
Glenn sent us this note, and we think every Tundra owner should know about this. Thanks Glenn for taking the time to share.
Here’s Glenn’s story:
I put my tailgate down on my 07 Tundra Crewmax, and forgot about it being down, as I was involved in something that diverted my attention away from the open tailgate. I drove away not realizing it was still down. As I went down the street and over a bump in the road, I heard some banging, so I pulled over only to find my tailgate hanging from the support strap wires, and slapping against the back of the truck! Thankfully, I found a place to pull over immediately, and that I had all the windows, including the window facing the bed down, so I could hear it. Both tail light lenses are now damaged, but luckily, the tailgate itself and the bumper do not seem to be damaged much, except for minor paint damage on the inside of the tailgate. At least not that I can tell at this point.
Page 35 of the operators manual says, “Notice: Avoid driving with the tailgate open”. That is all it says. I had never seen this Notice before, but even if I had, I would not have expected that the entire tailgate could come off the hinges and bang against the back of the truck. I would have taken that Notice to mean that a rock could chip the paint of the tailgate if it were driven in the down position, or some damage could come to the tailgate if towing and turning with the gate down.
Doesn’t this sound like a serious design flaw? Well, not according to Toyota Customer service over the phone. First, there is this “Notice” (No actual warning of possible danger or damage), which tells you to avoid the operation, but does not tell you not to do it at all, or what could happen if you do. Second, there is no safety device that keeps the gate attached to the hinge point. Even a simple twist lock, a safetying pin, or a single securing screw would be beneficial, but none exists. If the safety straps were not connected, or failed and the tailgate were to fall off, it could bounce up into a car behind you and kill someone. If left to bang long enough, it is a real possibility that a failure of the straps could occur resulting in a slab of metal as a projectile at highway speeds.
We don’t want to hear anyone saying “you shouldn’t drive with the tailgate down” either. This is something people do all the time (like when they’ve got an ATV or dirt bike in the bed) — besides, who hasn’t forgotten to close their tailgate at least once? How mad would you be if both your tail lenses were broken because you forgot to put the tailgate up?
With great regret and embarrassment, we’ve just determined that our last software update resulted in the “Contact Us” form functioning improperly. Any messages you’ve sent us via Contact Us form since September 8th were not received. If you’ve sent us a message and you haven’t gotten a response, please send it again.
Sorry we lost your messages — Jason the admin/I.T. guy/main writer/designated email responder will use more care when updating the site’s software.
When we received Toyota’s response to our bed bounce email we realized a few things. In no particular order, here’s what we think:
1. Toyota can’t officially acknowledge the problem until they’re prepared to act.
2. Until the current owner community publicizes the problem, Toyota has no reason to acknowledge it.
3. There is no independent data to verify the size, scope, and severity of this problem.
We decided the best way to make Toyota acknowledge the problem (and therefore do something about it) is to gather some hard data. To that end, we’ve created a Toyota Tundra Owners Bed Bounce Survey. The results of the survey will be published on an ongoing basis once we’ve received enough responses to create some statistically significant data.
In order to make sure the data we gather is accurate, we’re going to verify owner responses a few different ways. First, we’ve got a VIN number checker that will make sure the VIN number entered is accurate and is comparable to the stated equipment on the vehicle. Second, we’re going to verify your email address by sending you a quick note. Third, we’ve got some measures in place to keep people from entering multiple surveys, etc. Hopefully all of these efforts will deter anyone intent on entering false info.
Just so we’re clear — your name, email, and VIN number are for verification purposes only. We’re not going to share this info with anyone, ever, under any circumstance. We’re not going to use your info for marketing purposes or mailing lists or any of that business — we just want to get an accurate picture of Tundra Bed Bounce that we can share with the community. Your responses will be tabulated and published on an ongoing basis.
So, in summary, if you or anyone you know has experienced “bed bounce” with their new Tundra, please complete our Tundra Bed Bounce Survey. If you’ve never experienced bed bounce, please don’t complete a survey. We’re only collecting data from people that have actually experienced the problem so we can determine the severity, frequency, and geographic location. We intend to provide all this information to the public
Finally, if you or anyone you know hasn’t contacted Toyota’s customer service department, please consider doing so. You can send Toyota an email or call them at 800-331-4331 to make an official complaint. Making an official complaint increases the likelihood that Toyota will address the problem.
Tell everyone you know about this survey — we want to have as much data as possible the next time we contact Toyota.
We’ve heard a lot of rumors about Toyota offering a diesel engine in the new Tundra, but we’ve just read of official acknowledgment that a Diesel Tundra is near development.
“In terms of (diesel) introduction into the U.S., the Tundra is the best (vehicle) to do that…The question is when is the best time to do that? That is determined by the customer…It’s something we’re looking at, but we have to see if we can price a diesel and still make it affordable.”
Those are the words of Toyota Executive Vice President Kazuo Okamoto, and the following is clear:
1. The Tundra will have the first Toyota diesel to debut in the US market.
Toyota has been making noise about developing diesels with Hino for use in the European and Asian markets. Considering Hino’s commercial success with large diesels in Asia, it’s reasonable to assume that Hino also has the expertise to assist Toyota in producing a diesel engine for the US market that can compete with Isuzu’s Duramax, the Cummins, and the Powerstroke. Okamoto’s words confirm Toyota would like to bring out a diesel Tundra, and their previous statements about bringing diesels to the US mean they’d like to develop a diesel Tundra soon.
2. Toyota has “put a pencil” to the Diesel Tundra
Clearly, Okamoto’s words indicate that Toyota has determined integrating a diesel into the Tundra would result in an expensive truck. However, his words also indicate that the ultimate cost has as much to do with consumer demand as anything else. That means that Toyota has determined the sales volume the Tundra needs to achieve in order to make the diesel’s development costs affordable. In other words, Toyota knows how many Tundra’s they need to sell in order to bring the Tundra Diesel online. The magic sales number, whatever it is, has got to be less than 400k units. That’s the most Toyota can produce out of San Antonio and Indiana combined.
3. Cost-cutting and a Diesel engine are both needed to fill-out the Tundra’s line-up
The current Tundra is too expensive — $3k to $4k more than competing vehicles. In response, Toyota has offered $3k worth of incentives in order to help reach their sales goal of 200k units. But if Toyota reduces the cost of their trucks in 2008 (and they will be reducing content, we’ve shown that) then their overall profitability and sales volume will increase because they will be more competitive. The question is by how much? If Tundra sales grow by 25% in 2008, would that be enough to justify diesel development? We think so. The Tundra diesel will need 2 or 3 years to develop. If Toyota commits to developing the engine at the end of next year, that means the diesel debuts in 2010 or 2011. At that time, based on a 25% sales growth next year and 10% each year after, Toyota will be selling 300k to 325k Tundras. They can bring out a diesel and have the capacity to sell 75k units. For most automakers, 75k units is more than enough to recover all the development costs of a niche model.
Toyota needs a Diesel Tundra if they’re going to compete with Ford, GM, and Dodge. We all know how many more buyers they would attract if they offered a diesel option.
This is exciting news for anyone who’s interested in a diesel Tundra — they should be coming out in 3 or 4 years.
Earlier this week, we sent Toyota a request for information about the Tundra bed bounce issue. We described our understanding of the issue, our position as an advocate of the Tundra community, and then requested the following:
1. Have Toyota’s engineering and/or quality teams been informed of this issue?
2. Are there any tests currently in progress to diagnose this problem?
3. Has a fix for this problem been devised? If so, when will it be available?
4. What steps can current owners that are suffering from this problem take to make sure they’re given priority when a fix becomes available?
5. Is this issue being corrected on the 2008 model?
We had high hopes that Toyota would communicate with us about this issue, but instead they replied with something that basically amounts to a non-response stating:
“As of today, Toyota has not issued a Special Service Campaigns (SSC) or Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) for the concern you have described.”
Clearly, this response is intended not to fan the flames of discontent. While they didn’t acknowledge the bed bounce issue, they didn’t deny it either. After some careful thought, we’ve decided we need more data before we can effectively pursue this with Toyota. Our thinking here is simple — if we’re able to present Toyota with hard facts indicating the number of owners that have had this problem, the average severity of the problem, when and where it occurs, etc., we’ll have something that Toyota won’t be able to ignore. An additional benefit to gathering this data is that we’ll be able to share the results with current owners and prospective buyers. Hopefully, this will be a benefit to everyone.
We’re working on finding a good tool to gather this data, and we hope to have something ready by the end of the weekend. In the interim, if you have any suggestions about the data we should gather and/or comments on Toyota’s response, please leave a comment.