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Toyota Extends Warranty, Offers Buyback for Rusted Tacomas

May 11, 2008

Detroit Toyota Motor Corp. has offered to buy back Tacoma pickup trucks with irreparably rusted frames and to extend the warranty on more than 800,000 of the vehicles in North America, Reuters reported.

Toyota is offering to buy back Tacoma trucks built between 1995 and 2000 if their frames have rusted beyond repair. The company will pay one and a half times the suggested retail price for a vehicle in excellent condition, as calculated by Kelley Blue Book. In addition, Toyota will extend the warranty on Tacoma frames from the standard 3 years or 36,000 miles to 15 years with unlimited mileage for the rust problem.

The cost of the sweeping buyback and extended warranty program was not clear. Toyota said it expected that only a small number of the 813,000 trucks covered by the action would have frames so rusted it would require a buyback. Those were most likely to be in areas with heavy snow that are exposed to road salt, the company said.

The rust problem appears to stem from a production error that kept the components from getting enough undercoating when they were manufactured, the automaker said. The trucks were built at the New United Motor Manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. Formerly a General Motors operation, the plant was reopened in 1984, the result of a joint venture by Toyota and GM. The plant also builds the Toyota Corolla and the Pontiac Vibe. (The Toyota Matrix, on which the Vibe is based, is built in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.)

A Toyota letter to its North American dealers outlining the terms of the buyback and other company documents pertaining to the problem with Tacoma frames rusting were posted on the Web site of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Auto Safety. Letters to Tacoma customers began going out in March, according to Reuters.

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