hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
75,336 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Toyota Tacoma body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Toyota Tacoma Owner Comments

problem #16

Jul 022014

Tacoma 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. While driving approximately 30 mph, the contact felt movement and heard an abnormal noise coming from the rear driver side axle. An independent mechanic discovered excessive corrosion on the sub frame and stated that the vehicle was unsafe to drive. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000. Updated 12/30/14 updated 05/27/2015

- Waltham, MA, USA

problem #15

May 102014


  • 75,880 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign id number: 05V225000 (suspension) and stated that an independent mechanic before the notification of the recall sprayed the undercarriage. The dealer informed the contact that the recall repair would not be honored due to the coating of the undercarriage. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who diagnosed that the entire frame was rusted and corroded and may fracture. A lift plate inspection was performed and it was diagnosed that the frame was covered with undercoating and the lift plate was unable to be repaired due to the rust. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 75,880.

- Leets, MA, USA

problem #14

Jun 112014


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that upon inspection, it was discovered that the frame was rusted. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who confirmed that the frame had rusted. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage and the current mileage was 40,000.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #13

Jul 032013


  • 104,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that the frame was rusted and dropped five inches. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis where they deemed the vehicle unsafe to drive. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 104,000.

- Lenoir, NC, USA

problem #12

Jul 012012

Tacoma 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that the frame was severely rusted, exhibiting aa large hole. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where they advised him that the frame needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 80,000. The current mileage was approximately 84,000....updated 06-19-13

- Camarillo, CA, USA

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problem #11

Jul 202011

Tacoma 4WD 7-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
Rust perforation on 1998 to 2004 Toyota Tacoma frames and undercarriages, the dealer stated was due to improperly manufactured frames. Toyota customer care told me that the voluntary frame recall on my 2003 Tacoma for frame rust expired in March of 2011 and they would not do anything to correct the problem. The frames of certain year Toyota Tacoma are defective and were not properly made and are subject to rapid rust perforation. Toyota should be required to correct the problem. Their voluntary program should be made mandatory.

- Virginia, VA, USA

problem #10

Jul 182011

Tacoma 4WD 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


2003 Toyota Tacoma was recalled in April 2010 for frame replacement. The truck failed and the "entire" frame was replaced. July 18, 2011, while driving this truck the spare tire falls out from beneath the vehicle. Thankfully I was on a side road going about 35 mph and the other vehicles on the road were able to avoid any impact. The next day I took the plate that was " holding" the spare tire to the Toyota service center that replaced the frame. Despite the fact that the plate looked like it could have been a piece from the titanic, I was told that this particular part was not part of the Tacoma recall. I asked if they had to remove this part while replacing the frame, which they acknowledged they did, and then I asked why they would put a worn piece back on... the response was "it probably didn't look that bad a year ago"....!!! I called the Toyota 800 phone number and opened a case. As a result, I have learned that this part was recalled on the 2003 Tundra, but not the Tacoma... Toyota will however reimburse me the cost $233 if I wish to have the piece replaced. I am disgusted and shocked at the fact that something like this could happen. Thankfully no one was injured...however I could not get this very same truck inspected in the state of Massachusetts in April of this year until I replaced the catalytic converter ($1600)...yet it is okay to put safety inspection sticker on a vehicle that is a hazard to others due to a spare tire projectile that could occur at any moment. This is insanity to me. I also have a 1994 Toyota which would not pass due to rust on the exterior "bumper"... exterior rust was considered a hazard.. and I had to replace the entire bumper "or remove it" before it would pass. Perhaps the "inspection" requirements should be enhanced to include true life threatening problems... I have never had anyone harm themselves on my rusty bumper....but I nearly took out 4 vehicles with my faulty spare tire mount..

- Brewster, MA, USA

problem #9

Jan 312005


  • 15,000 miles
Excessive rust has appeared on the frame and underbody components of my 2003 Tacoma making me question the structural integrity as it ages. I am concerned for the safety of myself and passengers at highway speeds knowing that proper examination of the metal's strength requires more than just a visual inspection and the use of a hammer. I began noticing excessive rust approximately one year after purchase in January 2004.

- Ashley, OH, USA

problem #8

Apr 142010


  • 159,000 miles
Wednesday April 14,2010 at approximately 8:30 am while I was getting onto a highway (101 E/B in bedford nh) my spare tire broke off from the underbed carrier. There was a motorcyclist right behind me that had to make a evasive action to avoid being hit by my spare tire. The plate had rusted out.

- Bedford, NH, USA

problem #7

Mar 112010

Tacoma 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 158,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact noticed severe rust and flaking on the front and rear passenger side frame on the vehicle. The dealer stated that there were no recalls associated with the VIN. The dealer also stated that the vehicle could be repaired at the owners expense. The manufacturer had not been contacted and no repairs were made to the vehicle. The current and failure mileages were approximately 158,000. Updated 05/06/10. The consumer stated the frame was checked by the dealer. They used a ball pin hammer and tapped all over the frame and said it passed inspection. Updated 06/25/10

- Hanover, IN, USA

problem #6

Dec 312008


  • 24,000 miles


I am the owner of a 2003 Toyota Tacoma with approximately 29,000 miles, living in the northeast. The frame and the undercarriage of the vehicle have extensive rust from front to rear. I believe the frame is rusting from the inside out and will continue to do so. At this point, the transmission shield and the fuel tank shield are in danger of falling off of the vehicle. The leaf springs are so corroded that they no longer function properly. The exhaust system and muffler are completely rusted out.

- Newton, NJ, USA

problem #5

Aug 102009


  • 53,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. While the contact was having his vehicle serviced, he was informed that the frame was rusting. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 53,000.

- Pittsfield, MA, USA

problem #4

Jun 262007


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. When entering the vehicle, the contact noticed rust on the frame. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they predicted that the frame would fail within the year. The contact received a recall notice from the manufacturer regarding the frame failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they conducted a test by taking a hammer and striking the rust spots to see if the hammer would go completely through. The failure could not be duplicated, which meant that the vehicle was not completely failing. The contact was informed to bring the vehicle back for inspection by a regional inspector. The contact feels that the issue needs to be remedied before a crash occurs. He called the manufacturer and was informed that a regional inspector would call him to schedule an appointment for further inspection. The failure mileage was 45,000 and current mileage was 61,200.

- Scareorough, ME, USA

problem #3

Jan 132009


  • 156,500 miles
Synopsis of problem: The frame of the Tacoma was fabricated with insufficient corrosion protection, particularly inside the boxed section of frame under the midsection of the truck. The frame is literally rusting from the inside out. What happens is, as the frame rusts on the inside of the boxed section, the rust flakes drop onto the bottom of the boxed section. These rust flakes then plug the weep holes in the frame so that moisture is not allowed to drain out the interior of the boxed section, thereby exacerbating the potential for corrosion. So what is happening is the bottom of the boxed section of frame is rusting out due to the build-up of moisture and the accumulation of rust flakes plugging off the weep holes. The rust flakes are 1/8" deep on the bottom of my boxed section of frame. Basically the bottom 20% of Tacoma frames are rusting out. What is particularly dangerous about the bottom of the boxed section of frame becoming compromised by corrosion, is the bottom of the boxed section is where the bracket for the rear leaf spring is attached. As the boxed section corrodes, there is less and less material supporting this major suspension bracket. The design of this bracket must be analyzed by your NHTSA independent engineer. I strongly believe that it doesn?T take much frame corrosion to severely compromise the integrity of this welded leaf spring bracket. If this bracket fails, then the front of the leaf spring comes free, the rear axle comes out of alignment, which could cause the operator to lose control. This is a major safety issue! I also can't help but wonder that since the frame is an integral part of the vehicle's safety system, what does a severely corroded and weakened frame do to the level of crash protection offered by the vehicle? if NHTSA"S independent engineer finds that the frame does play a major role in the crash protection offered by the vehicle, then the NHTSA will have no choice but to force Toyota to do a recall.

- East Wareham, MA, USA

problem #2

Jun 012008


  • miles
Excessive frame rust on 2003 Toyota Tacoma.

- Danbury, IA, USA

problem #1

May 162003

Tacoma 4WD 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 0 miles
Purchased a new 2003 Toyota Tacoma SR5 trd P/U. the truck sways and pitches excessively at highway speeds. The dealer service department has verified that there is a defect in the frame. The steering rack bracket was welded at an angle. Toyota corporation says the truck is unsafe to drive and won't even let me take it off the lot. The proposed fix is to rebuild the truck on a new frame.

- Winchester, CA, USA

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