This past weekend my tailgate was bent when unloading a waverunner from the bed of my 2005 4x4 access cab tacoma. It was an older smaller 2 seater with a total weight of ~500lb +/-.
I was unloading it and as I pulled it out to the edge of the bed and the weight shifted partially to the tailgate the tailgate began to bend right in the middle at the free end leaving a large dent above the handle on the body panel. I would estimate there was ~350 lbs on the tailgate at the most and it was not directly bearing on the edge of the tailgate as most of the waverunner was still in the bed of the truck.
I found a technical service bulletin for this specific problem as I was actually searching for a used tailgate for replacement of my dented one. But of course, I am ineligible for the TSB repair because I am out of warranty.
I called Toyota's 1-800 # to file a formal complaint. I informed the representative of what had happened and she tried to tell me that in the owners manual it recommends removing the tailgate for loading and unloading - I of course asked "what page" she put me on hold and came back and said that actually it is not listed in the owners manual, nor is there a weight limit listed for the tailgate nor is there any indication of it on the tailgate but that Toyota's official stance is that "the tailgate is a non load bearing body panel similar to a door". She informed me of the TSB issued for this specific problem but said that since my 36,000mile/3year warranty is expired that they will not do anything for me and I'm stuck with it.
I informed her that my official stance is that by issuing a TSB for this specific problem that Toyota is publicly admitting that the tailgate is poorly designed and the design was strengthened for later models beginning with manufacture dates 2/2007 forward and that regardless of mileage they should fix the problem as it arises in all affected vehicles with the original tailgate design. I informed her that it aslo does not reflect highly on toyotas "quality" that they claim in every commercial. Again she told me nothing could be done "its a non load bearing body panel, and I shouldn't have put weight on it blah blah. I then brought up the possibility of it bending if 2 or more people were to sit on it or bending it when climbing into the bed... she said thats perfectly plausible but again too bad... out of warranty.
Overall I love this truck but this recent event has me extremely upset and dissappointed with it. Basically you can put 1200 lbs in the bed but you have to take the tailgate off to load/unload anything over a couple hundred pounds. What about loading 4 wheelers or motorcycles or lawnmowers etc into the bed?? Its a TRUCK you should be able to put weight on the tailgate!
For anyone else with a similar problem PM me and I'll send you a copy of the TSB for the strengthening kit - if you are under warranty go get it done; if not call and file a formal complaint.
Others please feel free to comment or share you're experience with this problem. If you haven't bent you're tailgate yet - take heed