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My truck is turning out to be a lemon. Here is the quick run down. I live in Boise and my parents are in North Dakota. I found a great deal on a 03 Tundra, Limited TRD with only 115,000 miles in Minnesota. My dad drove it, looked at it, took it to a Toyota deal and seemed like a decent truck. This was the exact truck I was looking for. Had leather, topper, etc. I had the truck shipped to Idaho. I knew since it was from Minnesota it would have some underbody rust. My dad and Toyota dealer said it's not bad at all, I'm guessing for Minnesota standards. More rust that I care for. Body is in good shape though. I knew there was an issue with the exhaust, check engine was one. Ended up being a CO2 behind the CAT. No big deal there, the studs were rusty, I broke them off and had a muffle shop weld new studs. They also informed me of a cracked exhaust manifold. I was not happy to hear that but honestly I was prepared when I bought it that it would be the CATS so I was prepared. I had some headers put on. Last week the battery died. The battery was 5 years old and it was very cold here and I didn't drive it for 2 weeks, I was out of the country. Today I find out my transmission cooler is leaking in my radiator. So now I'm looking at a new radiator plus transmission flush, etc to fix that. Sounds like $700 ish on the cheap end. From what I have read I can expect the to replace the transmission over the next year. This is all in a span of 3 months max. It's one thing after another. I'm super bummed. I have read nothing but good things with these trucks. I'm not sure the timing belt and water pump has been done yet. Should I keep pouring money into this truck or cut my losses? Good news is soon I'll have everything replaced but the engine ha ha.

I realize I could have done more due diligence. I trusted my dad, Dealer, Carfax and my gut. I went for what I thought was high reward and low risk.

Just looking for some advice.
 

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How is it a lemon? It is 13 years old with over 100K miles. Work you're doing could be considered normal.
 

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How is it a lemon? It is 13 years old with over 100K miles. Work you're doing could be considered normal.
I hear what you are saying, most of those I would agree. I know I'm over reacting some but I'm pretty frustrated. A cracked exhaust manifold is normal? The more I read on the 4.7 the more this actually is the case. I'm okay with that, not big deal.It's expensive but an easy fix and will be fine for a long time. The mechanic I took it to initially who specializes in radiator made many comments on how odd and rare this is for a Toyota. Apparently Nissan this is common but not in Toyota. So a new radiator and transmission is considered normal on a 117,000 mile Tundra? I kept saying "As long as the engine and tranny are good I'll keep putting money into this truck. Now it sounds like the I can expect to put in a new tranny in the next year or so. What else will having tranny and coolant mixed in the system mess up? I've put 2,000 miles on it in the last 3 months because it's been in the shop most of the time and I was away for a couple weeks. I don't trust driving this thing around the block anymore. I spend a ton of time on forest service roads 50+ miles from a paved road in the summer in Idaho. I need a truck I can rely on.

Whats a tranny going to run? Icing on the cake is mine is a 03. I was reading the 03 tranny is bomber unless you get coolant in there.

Maybe I have been spoiled driving Subaru's for the last 15 years.
 

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The auto trans cooler built into the radiator failing seems to be more prevalent in Toyotas than other brands. But it can happen to any vehicle with an auto trans.
As soon as any of my vehicles are out of warranty (or even close ) I install an aftermarket cooler instead of the OEM one .
 

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Wait until your timing belt snaps... that should cost you plenty

Sounds like you bought a vehicle that needs normal time or mileage based maintenance which is normal for a 14 year old vehicle with over 100k miles.

After the radiator is changed, don't forget the thermostat. Nothing like a good overheat to ruin the day. And that original water pump??

You should consider flushing the ATF several times over several months to reduce the amount of antifreeze in the transmission. Might be able to save it. But, it's probably on the factory fill ATF and filter which would trash the transmission anyway.

I thought that rusty 2003's were getting replacement frames.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The rusty frame isn't horrible, not nearly enough for a recall if the recall was still valid. I believe it's expired. Its more of a mess when I try to work on this truck. I do need a new spare tire and mount. It's pretty rusted out.

I now have a new radiator, thermostat and new hoses. They were swollen pretty bad. Also flushed the transmission 3 times. They claim they got 95% of it out. I got the truck back today. It seems to me shifting fine, maybe a little rough but not bad at all. I guess time will tell how long it lasts. I'm now considering saving up for a transmission. Sounds like I have around 6 months. If I do that I better also get the timing belt and water pump done. Hopefully she is a good running truck from there. The thing is this truck has low miles and I really do like the truck a lot. Dropping $3,000 for tranny, timing belt and water pump is a drop in the bucket compared to a new truck.

Question, Would a new transmission fix this issue completely or are they other things that this contamination effected, like the engine?

Just looking for some wisdom to help make my decision. I still owe a decent amount, more than trade in value. Given the circumstances of this truck is it wise to put a tranny in it when she goes in your opinion? Anything you got I appreciate.

Thanks,
 

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I'm sorry to hear that you were just on the wrong end of the time frame with it :( I think it will be a good truck and would fix it and drive it into the ground personally. Heck my little Sonoma has next to no book value but I would put a new tranny and engine in it and not think twice. I still enjoy it as much as the day I saw it roll of the truck almost 20 years ago.
 

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I'm sorry to hear that you were just on the wrong end of the time frame with it :( I think it will be a good truck and would fix it and drive it into the ground personally. Heck my little Sonoma has next to no book value but I would put a new tranny and engine in it and not think twice. I still enjoy it as much as the day I saw it roll of the truck almost 20 years ago.
I agree, it really seems like I hit some horrible timing. Good news is this truck will have low miles and lots of new components. I talked to a couple dealers and trade is was round $6500. I just bought the truck and have over double that invested, I just don't think I can do that. Taxes alone on a newer truck is almost a tranny so it's close to a wash.

Just sucks knowing I've dropped a good $2500 into it so far and I'm looking at another $3000 in the near future. Cross my fingers I can get 5 more years out of her without anything else major and I'll feel good about that decision.

I do really like the truck, it just needs to be reliable. I spend a lot of time in the Idaho back woods and any issues out there is a major deal and very costly. Hopefully she can start regaining my trust again very soon.
 

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I hope you have a cell booster for the remote areas. I hike a lot and am really close to getting one of the becon devices. What do you doing you don't mind the question? Logging?
I don't have a cell booster. I do carry a SPOT device. Not sure if you are familiar with those but basically you send a email and text, they are preset in the device to friends and family that are preset. One button says "I need help but ok" with your GPS coordinates. Another says "Life and death, send the chopper" and life flight is on the way. I'm a huge whitewater kayaker. Most weekends are spent out of cell service camping and kayaking. Basically playing around in super remote areas. Lots of forest service roads to where I carry 2 full size spare tires. We will do lots of rivers where we hire people to drive our vehicle around for us and spend multiple days living out of our kayaks. So random people will be driving the truck. So reliability in a truck is huge for me. Also turning radius since we have to turn around on one lane roads a lot and this truck is perfect for what I need as long as I can rely on it. We can easily be 100 miles down a road that is 20 mph and sketchy.

I've relied on Subarus the last decade and just wanted more room. So I bought this truck. I like Toyota, the wife has a Corolla which we both like so I wanted a Tundra and a 1st gen being it's smaller than a newer full size truck. Everything I have read make these trucks sound bomber, stories of them going to 300,000 with no major issues like a tranny. I guess you can't win them all.
 

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Yeah that is one of devices I was thinking of. How much is the subscription for the one you use?

Also I Hike, Bike and Kayak as much as I can as well although I won't do the Whitewater. Mainly because I'm not around it much also because I am just enough risk averse to not take the risk. I have an almost 7 year old to think about.

You should definitely post up in the Hike and Kayak thread! :) http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/9-off-topic/1317977-backcountry-hiking-kayaking-20.html
 

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Yeah that is one of devices I was thinking of. How much is the subscription for the one you use?

Also I Hike, Bike and Kayak as much as I can as well although I won't do the Whitewater. Mainly because I'm not around it much also because I am just enough risk averse to not take the risk. I have an almost 7 year old to think about.

You should definitely post up in the Hike and Kayak thread! :) http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/9-off-topic/1317977-backcountry-hiking-kayaking-20.html
My SPOT is a gen 1 so it's older and it's $100/year. I think the newer ones have more options but are $150/year. The $100 is well worth it to me just for the sake my wife likes to see a email and text every night when I'm gone to know I'm okay. I also do some back packing trips it's nice to have. Keep it in the truck, you never know when you might need it.

http://www.findmespot.com/en/ If you wait cabelas or sportsmans, etc usually have them 50% certain times of the year.

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out for sure!

Looks like I'm going all in with my not yet beloved Tundra ha ha.
 

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Just wanted to confirm the potential damage. I'm looking at a transmission most likely. Is that it? Is the transfer case, engine and other major components completely separate from the these?
 

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Now when I'm in 4wd there is a clunk or clicking noise from the drivers side front end. It does it driving straight, the faster I driver the faster and louder it clicks. I know 4wd is engaged because it gets me out when I'm stuck in the snow. Nothing flashes, it all acts normal with the exception of the noise.
 

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Both CV joints are bad. Boots are broke and I can jiggle them pretty good. Getting them replaced today. Still need to do that water pump and timing belt, it has 117,000 miles so it's over do by a decent margin. Water pump looks original which makes me believe the timing belt has never been done. I wish I could 100% confirm that but doesn't seem possible. I'll get that taken care of next month. Got one quote yesterday for $1,330. They way this truck has been I don't want to keep rolling the dice but financially I need to for another month so about 1500 more miles. rossing my fingers she doesn't break.
 
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