Coming hard on the heels of its largest U.S. recall in history is news suggesting that Toyota could again face the wrath of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. That's because the government agency is finally turning its eyes on the frame rust problem for 2000-2001 Toyota Tundras, a problem that has lit up owner forums for years. Toyota is no stranger to frame rust issues, as it has also extended the rust warranty of 1995-2000 Tacoma trucks and has even offered to buy back the trucks in 20 cold weather states at 1.5 times their Kelley Blue Book values. 2001 to 2004 Tacomas are already eligible for supplemental corrosion protection and replacement frames if necessary, but Toyota will not buy the newer trucks back.

The latest probe by NHTSA involves 218,000 Tundras from the 2000 and 2001 model year, as the government safety organization has reportedly received 20 reports of frames that have rusted to the point where some serious problems occurred. Five of the reports were for brake lining ruptured on the driver's side "rear crossmember at upper shock mount." The other 15 reported incidences involved spare tires which separated from the rear crossmember as the result of excessive rust. Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies told The Detroit News that the frame rusting problem is so severe that the "bottom can collapse." We take that as meaning that the frame of the Tundra truck can collapse under its own weight due to advanced tinworm.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons told the DN that the company is aware of the issue and is conducting an investigation of its own. The Japanese automaker claims that the frames were built by the same supplier which built the potentially defective Tacoma models, so we're thinking a similar issue could be a real possibility. Since the investigation is ongoing, Toyota has yet to officially accept blame for the issue, nor has it offered to repair or replace any defective frames. If NHTSA's investigation determines that 2000 and 2001 Tundra frames are defective due to excessive corrosion, the world's largest automaker may not have a choice. Hat tips to Rene and Alex.

[Source: The Detroit News]