Back in early April I wrote about some maintenance woes we were having with our trusty tandem hauler, the ’06 Toyota Tundra now with about 118k miles on the clock.
At the time I knew we had a transmi$$ion issue and the rear differential was in need of some $erious attention as well. Those were both addressed, but not without some added drama. In addition to discovering a bad left front wheel bearing the ball joints, tie rods and connecting rod ends were also in need of replacement. It was also thought that the lower control arm had a worn bearing, but the shop that did the front end work didn’t find any issue there. Not sure I’m thrilled about that as I will not be a happy camper if a lingering clunk on hard stops isn’t addressed by a transmission bracket replacement that I need to replace. $o, after those were fixed the only remaining thing to address is the aforementioned replacement of a faulty transmission support bracket and cross member.
The transmission support bracket and cross member arrived from Boston last week, but I deferred the repair job until Debbie’s little red car came back from the body shop. As noted in our Debbie Fest 2015 update, we had a pretty close call with some tornadic episodes that left Debbie’s Honda S2000 dimpled by hail. Oh yeah, we gave her the nickname dimples after that. Thank goodness for comprehensive coverage and a $100 deductable: $2k later her little car is looking a lot less like a golf ball and more like its former self.
With Debbie back on the road in her car, I could now climb under the truck to do the TSB repair that Toyota neglected to do back in 2009. It was a pretty straight-forward remove and replace operation: the transmission gets supported while the old bracket and supporting cross member get removed. The assumption is, the frame of the truck has remained properly aligned so that everything will come off and go back in without a fight.
The TSB called out new part numbers for the support and bolts that tie it to the cross member, but the cross member was still the same part number. Hmmm. That’s interesting. Upon inspecting the new and old support, it looked nearly identical; however, the bolts had a different part number. Turns out, the original bolts that tied the cross member were undersized and eventually lost torque and fell out leaving the transmission support bracket simply resting on the cross member. The new part simply had larger diameter holes and bigger bolts that would handle a much higher torque spec (48nm). This peeved-me off a bit, as what I really needed was about $3 worth of bolts, a drill and a tap to increase the size of the holes in the transmission support. But, the OEM TSB had to eliminate all of the limited life issues that would come from a make-shift repair so their solution was bomb-proof: New mount designed with larger holes and a new cross member in the event the original one had been weakened by a different type of loading vs. what the cross member was designed for.
There was a bit of a fight getting the cross member bolt holes to align, but leverage in the right places brought it all together. So, the Tandem Hauler now has a shiny-new cross member and transmission support that’s actually bolted to the cross member! Hell, the piece of mind was worth the cost of the parts if this eliminates all of the clunks we’ve been hearing for 60k miles when stopping or turning at slow speeds.
Oh the joys of vehicle ownership. Machines are wonderful things when the work well, not so much when they don’t.
Post Script: Well, it would appear that the new cross member and transmission mount — or more accurately, having the transmission mount attached to the cross member — has eliminated the clunk on hard stops. Probably need to take a close look at those engine mounts! Oh well, at least for the time being the truck is now running tight without any clunks and without the rear differential bearing whine that drove me nuts at highway speeds. Fingers crossed, the truck will be “good to go” for the rest of the year.