hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
103,608 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Toyota Tacoma Owner Comments

problem #20

Dec 132016


  • 98,650 miles


The frame on my 2003 Tacoma is rusting badly! the truck only has about 98K and im the second owner. I purchased the truck on 9/3/2011. The truck in getting to the point of being unsafe to drive. The mounting points for the leaf springs are almost completely rusted away. I have never received any type of notification from Toyota regarding the frame recall. Ive had it looked at by my local Toyota dealer and they are telling me I don't qualify for assistance because no corrosion treatment has applied. The problem with that is, I was never notified! if I had been, then they would replace the frame free of charge. Ive recieved at least three letters from Toyota for the spare tire holder rust issue, so they do know I own the truck and how to contact me. Ive lived at the same location for 14 years! from what ive read, the corrosion treatment they allegedly offered didn't help anyway. I don't understand why some people were notified and other were not. There are plenty of people just like me driving these unsafe trucks. I have to wonder how many of those people are clueless about the danger they are putting them selves into, not to mention their families. At any moment you could loose total control...after the truck collapes in half after you hit a bump while driving on the highway. Im sure if someone looked hard enough they could find examples of these unsafe Tacoma causing serious and possibly fatal accidents. They already know its a problem. How else could they have won a lawsuit against the vender that supplied them with these frames. They sued, and won because these frames are defective. That settlement should have been contingent upon the ongoing inspections and repairs for everyone affected.

- Lafayette, IN, USA

problem #19

Oct 012010


  • miles
Frame recall for rust Toyota did undercoat the frame and it did not dry for several years now all the undercoat is falling off and the frame is rusting worse than when it originally was worked on I took it back and was told as long as there are no holes they will not fix the rustproofing.

- Byron, IL, USA

problem #18

Dec 152015


  • 166,000 miles
Frame has rusted thru by the leaf spring and other places. Toyota has a recall/campaing that covers the frame thru 2018. But they will not replaced frame because they said it was not undercoated during a specific time....they want $10,000 for new frame.. this is a known problem that should be fully recall.

- Huntington Station, NY, USA

problem #17

Oct 092015

Tacoma 4WD 4-cyl

  • 210,000 miles


Both sides of my frame are rusted in front of the rear wheels. The left side has a large rusted crack where the leaf springs connect to the frame. The right side has a roasted whole large enough that I can put my hand inside. I contacted Toyota corporate and they told me they were very sorry but all their campaigns were expired and they had to tell thousands of other people the same thing. Vehicle is unsafe to drive and could cause me or someone else harm at any time. If Toyota has talked to thousands of other people about the same problem, it seems to me they should be responsible for their faulty equipment. Updated 11/19/15.

- Poca, WV, USA

problem #16

Jun 102015


  • 123,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. While driving at 60 mph, the rear end of the vehicle veered to the passenger side while the contact was steering the vehicle straight. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the shock absorber was not attached to the truck. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 123,000.

- West Port , MA, USA

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problem #15

Mar 122015


  • 275,000 miles
I purchased this 2003 Toyota Tacoma 4 dr a few months ago I've been a Toyota owner for more than 6 yrs as my previous trk was also a Tacoma the body on this trk was spotless, no rust anywhere, the frame had surface rust but it didn't look too bad the trk needed tires & a bulb for safety. I felt like I had gotten lucky to get a nice dependable trk on the road. Within a month I noticed the trk was riding rougher. It seemed to be getting worse everyday. Tacoma doesn't have good suspension in the 1st place as I had to do it twice on my last trk. The trk had snow build up from the cold winter we were having, so I took it to the car wash to clean it up before putting `it in the shop. While washing it I noticed some scale rust came off under the drivers floor, I pulled it into the shop over the hoist & while setting the lift arms I noticed a substantial hole in my frame. I lifted the trk to find a piece of the frame starting at the lt front sway bar mount had rotted around the welded seam & disintegrated. The hole was15" long & another 8" hole on the rt rear in frt of the spring shackle. Toyota says they will replace the spare tire hanger under warranty but the frame is my issue as I did not have the frame inspected back in 2010 to extend the warr. Until 2017. I did not own the trk until 2014. Toyota is trying to hide behind a technicality that does not apply to the new owner. I feel Toyota should be held responsible for the excessive rust issue as they are well aware of the problem. They have had to re-call over 160.000 units because of the fact they failed to use adequate rust protection in the 1st place. This trk & many other Toyota trks on the road are a potential death trap. The world needs to be informed of Toyota not backing their warr. & trying to keep the hush hush on their recall for rust perforation. Toyota created the problem, Toyota needs to fix the problem.

- Mitchell Ontario Canada N0k1n0, TX, USA

problem #14

Dec 252010


  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle veered to the right without warning. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who diagnosed that the struts failed. The vehicle was repaired but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Waitahu, HI, USA

problem #13

Dec 092014


  • 122,000 miles
So in December I took my Tacoma to the dealership for a regular frame inspection after learning upon the issue. The truck is in almost perfect condition, spotless inside and out. The frame failed inspection, and I was unable to drive the vehicle home. First off, a service rep at the dealership tried to send me off to a friend of his who could "patch" up the frame so that it would pass inspection (great idea, right?). Toyota has provided me with a rental, but the only rental they would give me is a corolla. I live in the mountains, and bought the truck so that I would be able to handle the rough winter weather. I have already had to call out of work as a result of being unable to drive through the snow. I am looking at a date of mid March at the earliest (most likely longer) until I am able to have my truck back, depleting the whole purpose of me having a truck. I have tried getting Toyota to buy the truck back. I love my truck, and I plan on continuing to drive Toyota due to the well-known reliability of these vehicles. I understand that this is a sort of bad luck incident, but considering that rust spreads, I already know that I am going to have to put more money into the vehicle to combat the rust corrosion that has already begun due to a faulty frame. This is obviously already occurring, considering that it is not just the frame that is corroded, but also the brake lines. I am not looking in any way to cheat Toyota, I am just attempting to have a safe vehicle to drive, and I worry that since this corrosion has already started, replacing the frame is only putting off the issue until it becomes noticeable on the rest of the vehicle. If anyone has been able to successfully have Toyota buy back a 2001-2004 model Tacoma, I would love to know how they accomplished this.

- Harrisonburg, VA, USA

problem #12

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 #11

Mar 131997


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that the axle, power steering lines and oil pan was severely rusted. The corrosion was so severe that it caused a fracture on the power steering line. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer to be repaired. The dealer replaced the frame and advised the contact that the failure was caused by environmental factors. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacture was not contacted. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000. The current mileage was 118,000.

- Windsor, MA, USA

problem #10

Jul 052012

Tacoma 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles


Frame rusted/ cracked would not pass state inspection. Truck was taken to Toyota during the first recall and I was told it passed. Did not go back for subsequent recalls to have the frame sprayed. Called Toyota when the truck failed inspection and was told that because I didn't have the frame sprayed there was nothing they would do for me. The exhaust system outlasted the frame. This is not acceptable.

- Topsham, VT, USA

problem #9

Dec 182013


  • 175,640 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that while turning at 10 mph, the contact lost control of the steering wheel as the front driver's side dropped to the ground. The vehicle was towed to a local mechanic where the front suspension lower ball joint was found to be separated, causing the front suspension to fail. The manufacturer advised the contact that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number 05V225000 (suspension). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 175,640.

- Mill Valley , CA, USA

problem #8

Jul 052013

Tacoma 4WD 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
A Toyota Tacoma pickup was taken to my mechanic for routine maintenance and frame rust was noted. I called Toyota and took the car to a local Toyota dealership. They replied they could do nothing as the cost of repairing the frame was not worth the value of the car. They instructed me to call Toyota directly and have been told I am on my own. There are 96,000 miles on the car and this was the first time rust was noted. We never received any notifications that there were problems as I am not the original owner. I am stuck with a valueless car with no help from the parent company.

- Bedford , MA, USA

problem #7

Apr 252013

Tacoma 4-cyl

  • 180,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. The contact stated that while attempting to enter a parking space, the front driver's side wheel collapsed to the ground. The contact inspected the vehicle and found that the ball joint was split. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 05V225000 (suspension: Ball joint) and was told by the manufacturer that the vehicle was not included in the recall campaign. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileages were 180,000. Updated 06/10/13

- Oxon Hill, MD, USA

problem #6

Dec 272012

Tacoma 4WD 6-cyl

  • 143,000 miles
Toyota has recalled my truck due to a rusted out frame. The Toyota dealership has elected to replace my frame with a new frame. This large procedure has left me insecure about the outcome. This truck is now 10 years old and as soon as the start wrenching on all the system components to disassemble and re assemble my truck I am afraid that they shorten the life of existing components due to added wear and tear. The dealer will need to remove and reinstall brake lines and gas lines that have been set in place and have extensive corrosion this will lead to premature failure and unsafe operation. Most mechanic know that a rusted and set bolt that has not been moved for 10 years has a 50% chance of removal. In order to remove such a "stuck" bolt they will need to apply heat and impact and may weaken the existing parts, steel, and bolts to lower levels out of tolerance that the vehicle as designed originally. Additionally, this service is completed in a location with out the controls, quality assurance and testing that is in place in a factory where new vehicles are built. There is uncertainty that this vehicle will be assembled, tested, and inspected according the manufacturer's guidelines for a factory produced vehicle. This leads to uncertainty that the vehicle will not operate within the intended manufactures guidelines for safety, roll over protection, and crash performance. I propose that a total frame recall and replacement (or any large integral part that will impacted the vehicle operation) on any vehicle shall not be allowed given the uncertainty described. The consumer stated there appeared to be an oil leak coming from the front differential boot that was not apparent prior to the frame replacement procedure.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #5

Nov 152012


  • 90,400 miles
Purchased used vehicle from private seller. On the first day of use, after obtaining new title, tags, insurance coverage, the check engine light came on. The following day scheduled service w/ the local Toyota dealer. Upon inspection was told that the truck needed a catalytic converter and there was a recall for the lower front ball joints that the dealer will replace for free. The dealer had to order the parts. After receiving the parts and upon start of the repairs, I received a phone informing me that the frame was rusted and the vehicle is deemed unsafe to drive. I was given an 800 phone number to call and deal directly with Toyota corporate office. I am patiently awaiting for a response.

- Laurel Springs, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jan 122011


  • 88,841 miles
I bought a 2003 Toyota Tacoma from a Toyota dealer in December 2011 with 81,841 miles on it. Upon driving the vehicle from Tennessee to Oregon a leak in the oil pan appeared. I looked under the vehicle and to my surprise the whole undercarriage of the vehicle was extremely rusting. The leak was from the oil pan that was corrected badly. I was able to make it from there to my home in Oregon having to add about one quart of oil. The distance was about 700 miles. I took it to my local Toyota dealer and he informed me that I had major rust problems under the vehicle. The gas tank shield is gone due to rust. The front end suspension was so rusty they couldn, T get some of the bolts out. They had to remove some of the front end suspension to replace the oil pan. Both front backing plates for the rotors where rusted away. No alignment could be done because of the rust. I had the front end replace with good used parts and when they attempted to align the vehicle the front tie rod broke due to rust. The whole frame assembly is very rusty. I find out now that there was a voluntary recall of frame which I did not know about. This vehicle was bought from a Toyota dealer in Tennessee in December of 2011. They never said a word to me about the rust problem. They did a oil change and they also replaced the emergency brake cable so they had to be aware of the rust problem. The vehicle a find out came from New York originally. They say they will help out with repair costs so far but what about the frame rust. This dealership withheld vital information from me. Toyota of America says the frame recall was voluntary and has expired. I feel this is a safety problem that needs taken care of.

- Klamath Falls, OR, USA

problem #3

Oct 012004


  • miles
Very loose steering wheel. Problem is the slip shaft in the steering column. Over time the lover shaft wears and the steering becomes loose and sloppy. Problem first shows up as looseness in the wheel and eventually turns into a clunk when driving over minor rough roads. From talking to mechanics and other Tacoma owners this is a very common problem that Toyota will not address. Problems include difficulty maintaining control over rough pavement. Wandering at all speeds. Major direction changes when breaking on all roads. Smooth or rough. Over all the truck is very difficult to drive. I've had the truck actually change lanes when I hit an unexpected rough patch of road at appox 30 mph. There was nothing I could due because of the slop in the steering wheel. Please note that this truck is very well maintained and I have gone through the entire front suspension and steering trying to fix this problem with no luck. I'm now faced with spending even more money to replace a steering column.

- Des Plaines, IL, USA

problem #2

Jan 292009


  • miles
2003 Toyota Tacoma 4WD crew cab pickup I would like to relate a recent experience I had with my 2003 Toyota pickup. I was driving the truck through a parking lot in largo, Maryland on January 29, 2009. Suddenly there was a loud noise and the vehicle dropped down in the front end and I came to a stop. The front driver side wheel had dropped down into the wheel well. I had the vehicle towed by boswell auto service of waldorf, Maryland near where I live. I was told by the mechanic that the castle nut on the driver side ball joint assembly had come off. I was told that this was an extraordinary event. The ball joint assembly separated and as a consequence front axle was broken as well. In reviewing my records I saw the recall for the lower ball joint for my Toyota. I had this recall work completed at waldorf Toyota on December 29, 2005. I brought this to the attention of the mechanic who fixed my truck. He told me I should make the dealership service department aware of this incident. In his opinion, this event should not happen if the ball joint castle nut is installed correctly. I took the information to waldorf Toyota on February 3, 2009. I spoke with the service manager (michael pavan, 301-843-3700, mpavan@toyotaofwaldorf.com) and a man I believe was a mechanic or service supervisor. I showed them photographs and the broken ball joint assembly. They told me that the remnants of the cotter pin were still in so that they believe they had installed the castle nut correctly. I left the broken ball joint assembly with them. The service manager told me he would report it to his regional manager.

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #1

Jun 262006

Tacoma 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,750 miles
The contact stated a recall letter was received pertaining to the lower ball joints. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for the recall on 12/27/05 where the ball joints were replaced and the vehicle was realigned. The vehicle began to shimmy after about three month later and it was taken to an independent repair shop. The front tires were balance which resulted in difficulty of steering due to the tires becoming worn. The contact expressed that the worn tires were a direct result of the improper alignment performed by the dealer on 12/27/05. After 3 days, the vehicle was taken back to the independent repair shop for tire rotation because the difficulty in steering had worsened. The rotation fixed the problem for awhile however after a couple of months the steering worsened. On 6/26/06, the vehicle was taken to another independent tire dealer for realignment. The contact can provide specifications for the realignment of the tires before the alignment, after the alignment and the specified ranged.

- Lexington, NC, USA

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