11 Most Common Toyota Tundra Problems (Explained)

The Toyota Tundra is a half-ton truck that’s comfy and can haul around a lot of stuff.

It’s a popular work truck because of its great reputation for reliability.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Tundra’s common problems and their solutions.

1. Exhaust Manifold Leak

A lot of first generation Toyota Tundras develop exhaust manifold leaks that make a ticking noise at startup.

When the engine heats up, the metal expands and seals up the small cracks and leaks, so the noise goes away.

This is especially common in trucks with the 4.7 V8 from 2000 to 2002.

2003 and newer model years have an updated exhaust manifold which aren’t as prone to cracking.

A few owners on TundraTalk.net described their experience:

“I have a 2000 Tundra SR5, 4.7 engine and the exhaust leaking. It is getting progressively worse. When I had it at the dealer for a recall they told me the passenger side manifold is warped.”

“I’m original owner of a 2001 limited 4.7 tundra. I think I have a leaky manifold, tapping sound goes away after the truck engine warms up as it accelerates. I know it isn’t the exhaust pipes,, sounds closer to the engine manifold.”

Aside from developing hairline cracks, the gasket might just need replacing to get rid of the exhaust leak.

The exhaust manifold might have also warped so the gasket isn’t making a proper seal anymore.

New exhaust manifolds from Toyota aren’t too expensive at around $300 a side. 

Local mechanics and exhaust shops should be able to do the job for around $500 to $600 in labor. It can get more expensive if the bolts are damaged or if the truck has a lot of rust on it. 

Some owners were also able to get away with welding the crack shut, but in a lot of cases, the flange that bolts to the engine’s exhaust port is also damaged.  

2. Cam Tower Leak

The second-generation Tundra’s 5.7-liter V8 uses a lot of sealant that can wear out quickly and create oil leaks.

The 4.6-liter V8 can also suffer from similar issues.

Many of these engines have oil leaking from the cam tower, which is a big job to fix because it requires taking off the camshafts.

Common symptoms of a leaky cam tower include: 

  • Burning oil smell
  • Smoke from engine
  • Low oil level
  • Signs of oil under the valve cover
  • Ticking noise

One owner shared their experience on Tundras.com:

“My 07 Tundra has just reached 226k miles. Dealer just confirmed it has a cam tower leak and I was quoted over $4k to fix which includes timing cover, valve cover seals, water pump and belt.”

Most cam tower leaks are minor so owners just keep running the truck and regularly check their oil.

“My son’s 2008 has cam tower leak on both sides. Has leaked for at least the last 50k miles. He has no interest in fixing it so I guess we will see how many miles he gets out of it.”

However, some have really bad cases where it drips profusely:

“Mine’s leaking all over exhaust and all over driveway. Already almost lost a whole quart of oil… Very noticeable when driving, it’s all i can smell.”

Resealing the cam towers to get rid of the oil leak can easily cost $3,000 or more due to the amount of labor involved.

If you’re still under warranty, it’s best to get rid of all the oil leaks before it expires.

If you do decide to fix the leak, it’s best to replace a lot of other wear items that are easily accessible as part of your preventive maintenance — but this pushes up the total repair cost even more.

Other common oil leaks in the Tundra include:

  • Timing cover leak
  • Rear main seal
  • Camshaft seal
  • Oil pan
  • Valve cover gasket

3. Window Seal Issues 

The window seals for the rear door windows of the third gen Tundra typically have gaps and pop out at the edges.

This issue has been widely reported starting with the 2022 model year up to the latest ones.

It’s mostly a cosmetic problem, but in some cases, the seal issues can cause other problems like:

  • Water leaks/ingress
  • Wind noise
  • Rattles

Owners on Tundras.com shared their experience:  

“I have a 2022 Platinum. It has the issue with the gap and seal popped up. 2 of my bosses have the same exact issue on their Platinums.”

“The rubber rear window trim/seal on my 22′ Limited is messed up. It doesn’t want to pop in at the bottom and is uneven at the top.’

“MY 23 Pro, I have the gap as well and noticed it immediately on delivery. Being that I’ve watched a lot of tundra videos before purchase, I expected it. No wind noise though but some panel on my left rattles with music (that’s not even turned up much).”

Many of those who have tried to get their window seals fixed while under warranty had issues with parts availability.

“I followed up with my closest dealership today. They told me there are 400+ backorders for this rear passenger outer window seal replacement.”

Weather stripping is quite cheap to replace and you’ll find them listed for around $30 a piece for the genuine Toyota parts.

Toyota updated the seals to stop them from popping out, but many report that the new seals still have gaps in them. 

Related: 20 Best & Worst Toyota Tundra Years (Pictures & Stats)

4. Suspension Issues

The second generation  Tundra can suffer from what many owners refer to as “bed bounce.”

The truck can vibrate and get pretty bouncy when driving on certain roads. 

In some cases, the bed can also look like it’s also shaking or bouncing around.

It’s more pronounced in the older second generation models, especially the 2007 to 2010 years.

The crew cab models also have more bed bounce problems than the dual cab trucks.

A lot of the suspension issues can also be blamed on the stiff leaf springs that Toyota put in the Tundra. 

Owners on TundraTalk.net shared their experience:

“My 2015 sr5 CM TRD bounces like crazy. I drive the highway quite a bit. It drives me insane. So much so I’m thinking about selling the truck.”

“I had pretty bad bed bounce on my 2011 double cab on concrete highways too. When I installed my lift/level kit, it went away.”

Another owner on the r/Toyota Tundra subreddit chimed in:

“I’ve had a 2012 TRD Off Road and currently have a 2020 TRD Pro. The older models were much more prone to bed bounce issue… Biggest complaint was how the 2012 truck bounced on concrete slab highway; made me seasick.” 

“My 2020 does not do this. I test drove 2020 TRD off Road and the PRO both were similar, no major bouncing on slab highway.”

Toyota released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) for the 2007 to 2010 Tundra and changed the cab mounts to improve the ride quality over broken pavement and concrete.

Although Toyota made many improvements over the years, it’s still being reported in newer models, as well as third generation trucks.

One third gen reported the following on Tundras.com:

“I just purchased my 2022 Tundra TRD Off Road about 7 weeks ago, although I’ve been driving Toyota trucks for 31 years. I love everything about this truck except the bed shaking extremely bad and acting like it’s going to fall off.”

Tundra owners have tried many different solutions with varying degrees of success.

Some of the more common suggestions to fix the bed bounce include:

  • Changing/upgrading shocks
  • Swapping the leaf springs
  • Replace shackles
  • Reinforce the frame
  • Aftermarket bushings

5. Steering Rack

The 2007 to 2012 Tundra has lots of complaints over steering rack leaks.

Steering rack leaks are fairly common in the second generation Tundra, especially if they’re lifted.

The most common is a wet and torn steering boot. A rack that has leaking seals will leak fluid onto the rubber boot and cause it to break down quicker.

The rack’s internals and the power steering pump will also get worn out quicker if the fluid is old and dirty.  

Common symptoms of steering rack leaks include:

  • Wet rack boots
  • Heavy or notchy steering
  • Noise when turning the wheel
  • Play in steering wheel
  • Reservoir is always losing power steering fluid 

The leaks are often very small and don’t affect the fluid levels in the reservoir too much, but the hoses can also break down over time and cause larger leaks.

Owners on TundraTalk.net shared their steering rack issues:

“My steering rack has blown out. Took it in to get an alignment at the tire shop and they call me back saying it was low on fluid and they filled it up and it started leaking.”

“Get into my truck and I have NO power steering. Drove it 3 miles home and looked under the truck and it sprayed fluid EVERYWHERE in the struts and backside of the wheel. The res is empty but it’s not making noise.”

“My 2011 is going through the standard steering rack blowup, all the fluid in the passenger side steering boot.”

A new Tundra steering rack costs around $600 to $800 for the genuine Toyota part. There are also remanufactured units that cost around $300 to $400, while new aftermarket replacements are around $250.

Most dealerships will charge around $1,500 in total to replace the rack using the genuine part due to the amount of work involved.

If you’re only seeing a small leak, but don’t really notice any other major symptoms, you could also just replace the fluid and add a Stop Leak like AT-205.

Many Tundra owners were able to continue using their trucks for quite some time using this workaround, before having to completely replace the steering rack.

However, if you regularly drive your rig in the middle of nowhere, it’s best to just replace the steering rack to avoid getting stranded.

6. Water Pump Leak

Coolant leaking from the water pump is a fairly common issue on a lot of older first and second generation Tundras.

Even newer trucks can start slightly weeping coolant before they reach 100,000 miles. 

Here’s how one owner on TundraTalk.net described their experience: 

“Changed the water pump on my 2010 today. Mines got about 118000 on it and has been leaking for a while now. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay the stealership over $600 to do it. The pump cost me $85 and it took about 6 hours.”

If the leak isn’t very bad and you’re not losing much coolant, you can keep driving around without doing anything for years.

A few owners on Tundras.com chimed in with their thoughts:

“My 2008 5.7 water pump started leaking at 35,000 miles, no biggie and just changed it myself other than that it’s a solid truck.”

“My 07 water pump was still “weeping” when I traded it in July 4th. Was weeping for almost 5 years. I’d add maybe an ounce of coolant every six months.”

“My 07 had the “weep” at 7 years old when I bought it and still had the “weep” when I traded it in for my 14 five years later.” 

A new OEM water pump costs around $150, but you’ll also have to get new belts and seals. 

An independent mechanic or Toyota Dealership might charge anywhere from $700 to $1,000 to do the job.

7. Broken Valve Spring

A lot of early second generation Tundras have had catastrophic engine failures caused by a broken valve spring.

This was more common in the 2007 to 2008 model years with the 5.7 V8. The 4.6 V8 also suffered from similar problems. 

Cases of broken valve springs were significantly reduced after the 2010 model year.

Common symptoms of a faulty valve spring include:

  • Misfires at idle
  • Rough running
  • Ticking noise from valve train
  • Loss of power

When the valve spring breaks, you could end up with a dropped valve and damage the cylinder head and pistons.

A few owners on Tundras.com shared their experience:

“My 2013 Tundra broke a spring and dropped a valve last week. 160k km. Out of warranty. No SC, no abuse. Currently feverishly searching for an affordable engine. Looking like 10-13k can$ installed for a reman.”

“I’ve got a 2011 Rock Warrior with 88,000 miles. I tow occasionally about 3,500 pounds and I take excellent care of my truck. A few days ago I was driving along approaching a stop sign at about 10 mph and the truck just died and would not restart. I had the truck towed to the dealer where today they told me a valve broke and fell into the engine.”

If the engine dies due to a broken valve spring, you’ll need to have it rebuilt. 

Dropping a new engine will be the cheapest route, and will let you get a few more years out of the truck.

If the engine isn’t severely damaged and you don’t need to send parts off to a machine shop, a rebuild might cost you $2,000 to $3,000.

8. Front Differential Noise

Early second generation Tundras suffered from early front differential issues.

One of the most common problems is the constant howling noise that it makes when driving at 15 to 30 mph.

The howling or growling noise usually goes away when switching to 4WD mode.

These problems affect the 2007 to 2011 model years the most, but newer models can also have similar issues.

Here’s how owners on TundraTalk.net described their experience:

“I had the growl, hum, and vibration. It comes from the Needle bearing on the driver’s side of the diff. When I worked at Toyota dealer, they did replace a few. I replaced that bearing with the Ecgs bushing last night and it is quiet and smooth so far. A lot easier and cheaper than replacement.”

“One of my 2008 trucks with 65,000 miles is at the dealer now with the front diff problem. The other Tundra front diff went at 40K miles.”

“My ’08 started growling when it got to around 30K miles. New diff case per the TSB. Then at 50K miles it did it again…another new diff case.”

“My 2020 Tundra is making the ‘wush, wush, wush” sound from the front, driver’s side below 30 mph, that is linked to rotational speed. This started a couple of weeks ago… At the dealer yesterday, the problem was confirmed to be the needle bearing.’

Toyota released a TSB for the front diff rumbling noise and dealers usually replaced the front differential.

A new front diff costs around $2,000 so replacing one that’s making a lot of noise will cost you a lot.

In most cases, the noise is caused by a worn needle bearing inside the differential.

Instead of buying a new diff or replacing the OEM bearing, many Tundra owners replace it with an aftermarket bushing which is more reliable.

9. Secondary Air Injection Issues

A lot of early second generation Tundras with the 5.7 and 4.6 V8 have suffered from air injection pump failures.

The air injection pump is an essential part of the Secondary Air Injection System (SAIS), which helps improve the truck’s emissions at startup.

Common symptoms of a faulty air injection pump include:

  • Misfires
  • Limp mode
  • Check engine light

Here’s what owners on Tundras.com had to say:

“Bought a 2007 DC 5.7 long bed three weeks ago with only 96k and in pristine condition. Love it. Unfortunately it went into limp mode on me a couple of days ago and it’s the air injection pump failure.”

“2013 Tundra 4.6 V8. Turned on the truck and the 4lo, check engine, and trac off lights were all on. After looking online I saw it’s a pretty common problem on Toyota with the secondary air injection pump seizing. I checked it with the code reader at a local shop and the guy confirmed it, code P2240 ‘Air Injection Switching Valve Stuck Open Bank 1.’”

When you start getting codes for the secondary air injection system, it’s usually caused by an air injection pump or air switching valve issue.

When water gets into the air injection pump, they can also easily break soon after.

Due to the number of reported failures, Toyota extended the warranty for the secondary air injection system to 10 years or 150,000 miles.

However, if you’ve already replaced the air injection pump and switching valve once, you’re likely to replace them again over the course of your ownership.

A new air injection pump from Toyota costs around $600, and the Tundra has two of these. A new switching valve is also expensive at around $500.

To avoid future issues, many owners get rid of the secondary air injection system using a delete kit. However, this might not pass emissions inspections.

10. Starter Issues

Changing the starter in the second generation Toyota Tundra’s 5.7 and 4.6 V8 can be very expensive.

Starters are considered wear items and starter failures in the Tundra can occur at around 100,000 to 150,000 miles. 

When you do need to get to the starter, it’s buried deep inside the engine bay next to the exhaust manifold, and requires a lot of labor to take out.

The most common sign of an imminent starter failure is when you intermittently only get a click and don’t hear the engine crank when trying to start the truck. 

The starter can also just stop working all of a sudden without any prior symptoms.

Here’s how owners on TundraTalk.net described their experience:

“Was driving just fine. Stopped to fill up the tank and now she won’t start. One single click, no lights turn off but the aftermarket radio resets. 2008 Tundra crewmax.”

“2011 crew max tundra, 4×4, platinum, 170k. Drove the truck home, and next morning it wouldn’t start. Tried jumper box, tried, jump starting. The truck will Click, gauges turn off for about 5 seconds, starter doesn’t turn at all, then after a few seconds another click, gauges light back up.”

Although the starter is only around $200 and most shops will charge an additional 6 hours of labor to get the old one out. 

Some mechanics are more experienced, and can take out the starter without having to remove the exhaust and engine mounts.

If you’re experiencing starting issues, you should first check the battery terminals for corrosion and also verify if the 12-volt battery is still working properly, before troubleshooting the starter.

In a lot of cases, it’s just the starter solenoid that’s malfunctioning. If you’re in the middle of nowhere and the starter goes out, you can try jumping the starter motor itself if you have the tools to access it.

11. Radio Problems

The second generation Tundra has had loads of complaints regarding the factory radio.

The radios in the early models from 2007 onwards had issues with the volume knob not working and can just suddenly stop working.

The newer head units in the facelifted models from 2014 onwards also had lots of glitches and phone pairing issues.

Here’s how owners described their problems on TundraTalk.net:

“I have a 2015 Tundra Limited 4×4 with the Premium system… I was having really bad freezing and rebooting issues until several months ago. I downloaded the software revision onto a flash drive and installed it. It worked. A few days ago… I heard a loud pop through the speakers… The radio went dead.”

“I have a 2007 V8 DC 4×2 and I’m having problems with the radio volume dial. It’s a stock radio. This is a well documented problem and was able to tolerate for a little while but now it’s a volume button that’s not functioning at all. Toyota wants to charge over $500 plus installation to put in a refurb.” 

“My non Nav Entune has shut on and off a half dozen times in the last few weeks, after less than a minute it comes back on to where it was last and all works fine. I had similar happen on my 07 and it finally died for good after a few months, replaced under extended warranty at 90k miles. This one is past 36k miles and did not opt for the extended warranty this time around.”

If the radio is always turning off at random or not turning on at all, there might be a wiring issue or blown fuse.

You can also try spraying contact cleaner on the volume knobs to clean them out if they’re not working properly.

In some cases, the radio itself just dies. Getting a used radio or a new aftermarket head unit is your best bet since the original OEM radio will be significantly more expensive. 

Software updates can also fix a lot of common glitches, but if your truck is already a few years old, it probably won’t be getting any new updates anymore.

Toyota Tundra Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Outstanding reliability
  • Great towing capacity
  • Powerful engine options
  • 4WD
  • Roomy interior
  • Lots of configuration options
  • Reliable and versatile work truck
  • Good resale

Cons

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Outdated infotainment in older models
  • Not as luxurious as rivals
  • Stiff suspension in old models

What Do The Reviews Say?

“Toyota last redesigned the Tundra in 2022, so the latest generation of this full-size pickup truck continues into 2024 with no major changes.”

“Depending on the configuration, the Tundra can tow up to 12,000 pounds and carry 1,940 pounds of payload.”

“While the loss of the snarling 5.7-liter V8 might cause some concern among the Tundra faithful, the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 is more than a suitable replacement.” 

“There’s a substantial amount of torque on tap, even at low rpm, and the 10-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. In our testing, a 4WD Tundra accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, which is respectably quick.”

“This Tundra is a marked improvement over the previous generation. Seat comfort and interior noise levels are vastly improved, and the Tundra is a pleasant truck for covering long distances for both front and rear passengers.”

2024 Toyota Tundra | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a Toyota Tundra?

Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the Tundra on Edmunds at the time of writing.

YearMileagePrice
202310,803$43,998
202219,946$40,434
202130,678$36,753
202052,517$35,970
201965,620$32,600
201872,695$30,998
201777,168$28,755
201691,674$25,995
2015102,384$24,990
2014119,574$22,285

Related: Toyota Tundra Beeping? (12 Common Causes)

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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