Ensure a potential Tundra buy has a clean bill of health
When the last-generation Toyota Tundra was launched in 1999, it wasanyone’s guess how a full-sized Japanese pickup would compete with thelikes of established models from Dodge, GM and Ford.
Model: 2000 to 2006 Toyota Tundra
Vehicle type: Pickup truck
Approximate used price range: $9,000 to $22,000
History/description: When the last-generation Toyota Tundra was launched in 1999, it was anyone’s guess how a full-sized Japanese pickup would compete with the likes of established models from Dodge, GM and Ford. Despite its relatively small sales volumes, the Tundra impressed owners and media alike, and quickly went on to receive numerous awards from industry authorities.
Tundra came initially with a 3.4 litre V6 engine with 190 horsepower, or a 4.7 litre dual-cam V8 that cranked out 245. The V6 was eventually enlarged to a four-litre, 245 horsepower unit, while the V8 was re-tuned to generate 282 ponies — depending on the year in question.
Look for a five or six-speed manual gearbox, or a four or five-speed automatic transmission, depending on the model and year. Regular cab, access cab or double cab bodies were available, and all models shared the same wheelbase and frame.
Tundra’s features list included items like antilock brakes, an off-road package, fog-lamps, power accessories, leather seats and front captain’s chairs. Note that dealers offered a comprehensive selection of add-on parts, organizers and audio system upgrades, too.
What owners like: Of course, capability, power, all-terrain traction and cargo-hauling abilities are all praised by Tundra owners. Most also enjoy a well sorted out ride, and say the looks and performance helped seal the deal.
What owners hate: Common complaints include a large turning circle and low seats which create a potentially-awkward seating position. Some owners wish for a redesigned centre console, and others complain of a harsh ride in the TRD Off-Road version.
Common issues: On a test drive, be sure to check the Tundra’s brakes and tires, ensuring that neither is in need of replacement. Many owners reported premature wear of both. Any shuddering, grinding or vibration during stopping likely means a brake job is needed.
A check-engine light could indicate a bad oxygen sensor, which may adversely affect mileage and performance if not replaced.
As with any pickup truck, a thorough inspection of the underside for excessive rust, gouges, dents or other signs of trouble is highly advised. If you’re not mechanically inclined, a visit to your Toyota dealer for a pre-purchase inspection may reveal any potential troubles. While beneath the vehicle, ask the inspecting mechanic to look for fluid leaks, and inspect the suspension for signs of excessive wear.
There’s a lot of potentially-expensive hardware beneath a pickup truck, and shoppers shouldn’t necessarily trust that the former owner isn’t trying to pass the bill on. Additionally, those unsure of the service history of the machine in question should budget for a tune-up and full fluid change.
Finally, ask your dealership to see if the Tundra you’re considering has any outstanding recall work.
The verdict: If you’re set on a Tundra, a thorough test-drive followed by a clean bill of health from a mechanic will likely leave you with a hard-working and reliable truck for years.