Tandem Hauler Begins To Show Its Age… Toyota’s Aren’t What They Used To Be.

So, last year at this time our faithful Toyota Tundra / Tandem Hauler hit 100,000 miles and got a bit of a face lift, er… suspension lift and new tires & wheels.  Now some 10,000 miles and a year later, it’s asking for more attention.

triplet on tundra

Just before Christmas I thought we had a tire-balance issue as there was a wheel-speed vibration / noise coming from the back-end of the truck that was very noticeable at freeway speeds. It was not necessarily something I wanted to listen to for 12 hours straight on our drives to and from Pennsylvania. I took it back to the tire shop for a rebalance and the tire guys gave it a test drive then put in on the rack and traced the noise to a worn-out rear differential pinion bearing.  The shop that works on Debbie’s little Honda S2000 took a look at it and confirmed the diagnosis.  But, they also said it wasn’t anything that required immediate attention, so long as we didn’t mind the subtle noise coming from the back-end.  So, we’ve endured…

This past Thursday the truck through us a new curve ball when the transmission decided to act up while I was out running some errands.  It threw a transmission pressure sensor solenoid code after the transmission started to balk every time I came to a stop and tried to drive away.  The problem disappeared when I dropped it off at the Toyota dealer for what I hoped would be a detailed diagnosis.  Yeah, well… apparently, our Toyota authorize service center is no longer doing repair work; they just remove and replace parts.  So, even though it might just be a $150 solenoid, their quote for repairing the problem was $5,020, i.e., a new transmission.  Apparently they won’t even pull off the lower transmission service panel to service the filters or troubleshoot anymore.

Since I knew the rear differential pinion bearing still needs to be replaced and because there was something going on with the transmission, we dropped it off at a motorcycling friend’s transmission shop.  They’ll take care of the rear differential and see if they can’t figure out what’s going on inside the transmission that would have caused the problem and the pressure solenoid to throw a code.   I’m far more comfortable having them look at it vs. anyone else at this point.  I know the bearing replacement will give me piece of mind and we’ll at least know what could be going on with the transmission by the time we get the truck back later this week.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.39.58 PMIf we can clear those two issues I’ll probably order some other parts to replace a transmission support bracket that Toyota issued a TSB on back in 2009 and that our Toyota dealer failed to mention while the work would have been covered under warranty.

Sure would like this truck to carry us another 10 years / 150,00 miles before the drivetrain gives up the ghost.  Of course, as our friend at the transmission shop observed, there was a time when they never saw Toyotas coming in for repairs; not so anymore.

Ref. old vs. new Toyota vehicles, I bought an ’89 SR5 4WD V6 truck new for $18,600 that I sold for $5,500 in 1999 with 250,000 miles and it was still running quite well. The water pump had to be replaced along with the front half shafts, but those were the only big ticket items.  We also had an ’95 Limited 4WD 4Runner that served us well for about 190,000 miles before the top end of the engine made us revisit our long term vehicle strategy.  It was also a very reliable vehicle where the most expensive service was timing belt + water pump replacement.  Gas mileage on all of these trucks has been pretty awful, but the 4Runner was the worst @ 14mpg ave with the Tundra at 16mpg ave (before the big tires) and the ’89 truck was the best @18mph ave, noting it had a manual transmission and was easily the lightest of all three.

 09toy 4runner


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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One Response to Tandem Hauler Begins To Show Its Age… Toyota’s Aren’t What They Used To Be.

  1. steve scholl says:

    Older Toyota’s really do work well. I just drove my 1991 Previa (with 8 single bikes, all standing upright with both wheels attached) back and forth to Palm Desert from Minnesota without any problems.

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