2003 Toyota Tundra Problems
RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2003 Toyota Tundra based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.
Toyota issued a recall on the lower ball joint due to the possibility of premature wear from improper finishing in production. The ball joints will be replaced under the recall. There are two separate recalls combined here, one applies to 2002-2004 and the second to 2004-2006 Models. Please contact you local Toyota dealer to see if your vehicle is included.
The V8 models can experience exhaust manifold failures. A leaking exhaust manifold will sound like an exhaust leak or an audible ticking noise from the engine compartment and will be especially pronounced when the engine is still cold.
The 2000-2006 Toyota Tundra with the automatic transmission may develop an issue which is commonly known as the "strawberry milkshake".
The name is based on the color and consistency of the fluid found in the coolant reservoir, transmission, and radiator.
The radiator on these models has an isolated portion for cooling automatic transmission fluid(ATF) that is pumped in and out by the transmission. This area of the radiator is known to rupture internally, and the following occurs:
- Transmission overheating warning light
- Transmission slipping (engine revs high and vehicle moves slowly)
- Engine overheating
- ATF and engine coolant mix in the radiator, engine, and transmission
Engine coolant in the transmission can cause severe damage, and if not caught immediately may require replacement or rebuild of the automatic transmission.
To correct the situation, the radiator must be replaced, and the engine cooling system must be flushed thoroughly. Also, the transmission will need to be professionally flushed, inspected, and possibly repaired or replaced.
To prevent this from occurring, proactive replacement of the radiator is necessary and recommended.
Corrosion protection for the frame of the 2000-2003 Toyota Tundra is insufficient for the rear crossmember, under the truck bed. The crossmember is designed for chassis rigidity, truck bed support, and mounting for other components. When the crossmember rusts through there is a loss of rigidity, and can be metal-on-metal vibration from the truck bed.
Toyota has addressed the issue by applying a new coating to the rear of the frame when this issue arises. If deep rusting is present, the crossmember must be replaced.
Proper cleaning of the frame, especially in locations where road salts are used, can help protect the coating.