Repairs and Maintenance

Why Do Toyota Tacoma Leaf Springs Break?

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It’s definitely not a secret in the Toyota community that the rear leaf springs installed in the Tacoma pickup truck are prone to cracking, flattening and breaking. In fact, Toyota released a technical service bulletin in 2007 that was intended to address this problem by replacing the springs with new units from the factory. The repair was (and still is) available for free to second gen Tacoma owners still covered by warranty, but if you’re out of warranty then you’ll have to rely on goodwill from your local dealer or foot the bill yourself if you want a factory leaf spring replacement pack. Remember: Broken leaf springs are dangerous because they can lead to unpredictable driving characteristics, especially while towing. If you have a busted leaf spring pack, get it replaced right away.

A common sight: a cracked Tacoma leaf spring.

It should be noted that owners of first generation Tacomas have also had issues with the design of their rear suspension systems, with reports of leaf spring breakage stretching all the way from 1995 to the present day.

What’s Causing These Cracked Tacoma Leaf Springs?

At first, many Toyota dealerships put the blame on owners, claiming that the trucks had been overloaded and that suspension problems were the natural result of this type of abuse. Tacoma owners argued that the compact truck had been over-rated by the manufacturer in terms of its hauling capacity and that they should not be penalized for using the vehicle within the guidelines listed in its owner’s manual.

As the problem became more common, with some leaf springs breaking within a year of ownership, Toyota was no longer able to allege that the fault lay anywhere other than the design of its leaf spring units. Online forums began to jam up with frustrated owners who had all experienced the same problems – some more than once. Compounding the problem was the Tacoma frame rust issue that Toyota was also stonewalling owners on, dragging out the recall process for many years before eventually agreeing to buy back or replace the frames of trucks that had been affected by serious corrosion. In short, Toyota’s credibility with its ownership community was nearing an all time low, and the broken spring issue adding another log to the fire of discontent simmering across the country.

This Tacoma features the double-whammy of a corroded frame and a cracked leaf spring.

If the cause of these breaking Toyota Tacoma leaf springs is a design issue, does it make sense to replace broken components with stock Toyota parts? This question is something we will answer in our next Tacoma suspension post, which focuses on the after-market options available to owners frustrated by the lack of quality factory replacement leaf springs.

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24 Comments

  1. Ivan Millen says:

    I purchased a 2008 Tacoma 4dr TRD 95000km. Turns out both leaf springs were broken. The previous owner had purchased the extended warranty 8yr-200000 for over $3500. This was tranferred to me but dealer says the springs are not covered. I find it hard to believe that their is suspension coverage that does not include springs.

    • Ivan – Unfortunately, this is really common with extended warranties. Unless it’s sold by Toyota (and has Toyota’s brand name on it), it’s not unusual for the extended warranty company to deny all claims. Sorry to hear that you’re out of luck…if you want, you can try filing a complaint with the better business bureau, your state’s dealership licensing board, and also your state’s insurance regulatory authority. You never know. If you send enough letters you just might get the repair covered.

  2. I have an 07 Tacoma and just this week The RH lower leaf spring broke. The box was empty at the time and since new i have not had the box loaded over 500lbs. Does anyone know if Toyota covers this. It has 74000Km right now warrenty is out. I have had numerous issues with this truck…i should have stuck with the chevy!!!!

    • Leon – Unfortunately, once you’re outside the factory warranty, you’re SOL. It’s a fairly common problem, and Toyota says it’s just one of those things.

      My guess is that Toyota uses a spring that’s a little too weak, mostly to keep the truck from riding like a milk wagon.

  3. when i bought my 2010 toyota quad cab 4×4 i ordered it new with a 3 inch suspension lift which was installed by Les Schwab.anyways about a year later the dealership contacted me and said that there was a recall on the rear leaf springs,so i took it in and left it for the day and they replaced them.right away i noticed that the truck was squating more with my quad in the back and also with the tuck empty my drop hitch was hitting more bumps in the road than before(had 2 take it out)so i grabbed a tape measure and found that the rear of my truck is sitting an inch lower than the front,,before it was 2 inches higher in the back,i called them and they gave me the run around.so now i haft to go back 2 les schwab to do some research 2 find out what is up.

    • Ron – I don’t know what kind of kit they installed when the truck was new, but there are a few possibilities. The first is that the dealership didn’t put the kit’s lift blocks back in (unlikely, but possible). The next possibility I can think of is that the old leaf pack had a helper spring (part of the lift kit) and they didn’t re-install it. My last guess? The old leafs were stiffer in order to provide lift (they were part of the lift kit) and they replaced them with stock leafs that don’t have any lift to them.

      In any case, a 3″ drop in height would seem to indicate that they didn’t restore the lift kit.

  4. I have a 2006 Toyota Tacoma and recently discovered that the left leaf spring is broken, and according to the dealership, where I took it to get a repair estimate, the right one is about to break. The cost, 2,400. After asking the dealer’s technician the reason why they think the spring broke he said that I may have overloaded the truck with heavy loads many times, which I never had since I purchased it brand new. I called the company to try and get a repair for having faulty leaf springs, and after two days they got back at me willing to pay for half the cost for the repairs. I never heard of such a thing happening on cars or trucks that are not that old, and especially on trucks that are made to carry heavy loads and having done none at all. I always held Toyota as the one of the best companies with great cars, but this little set back has left me with a sour taste that will never change. Now I am contemplating selling this truck as is, with the broken leaf spring and going with another manufacturer. Please, someone give me some advise, because I don’t think my truck will ever be the same, and I don’t want to keep it any more.

    • Leo – Replacing leaf springs is pretty basic (mechanically speaking) and a new set isn’t going to change your truck at all, really. If anything, it might ride a little stiffer. Also, it’s hard to sell a vehicle with a known safety problem like a broken leaf spring, so I wouldn’t consider that option unless you’re going to fix it first (or unless you’re going to trade it in…you don’t have to fix it if you’re trading it in).

      Overall, I have no idea why Tacoma springs break. Toyota says it’s heavy use, either from overloading the truck or aggressive off-roading.

  5. We are currently leasing a 2009 Tacoma with just over 18k. Thus far, we are on our 3rd set of leaf springs. As stated above, the dealership states that we are loading it up too much, but at the most, our security officers put rubber cones in the back. We have no trailer hitch nor are the officers loading the truck up with sandbags or other heavy articles. I would think that leasing a vehicle would cover such items, but no luck. The dealership was “nice” in covering the first set and then we just handed out $1,200 for the last set. I personally drive a 2003 Tacoma with little to no issues. Every vehicle has it’s issues, but (2) sets in (2) years? Are they made of paper?

    • Paul – If it happens once, that’s bad luck. If it happens twice, that’s bad design. If it happens three times?? I’d have a serious conversation with your employees, because racing around is the best explanation for what’s happened. At least that’s my guess. :-)

  6. Jim Kirschner says:

    Just replaced both sets of leaf springs at 59,000 miles.
    First set of springs I ever had to replace. Had a Ford F150 and a Dakota in the past and used them for hauling. I don’t use the Tacoma for hauling. Used to think I bought a good truck when I bought Toyota. Never buying a Toyota again. Too many other problems. Engine is still racing when you don’t expect it (even after they fixed it). Back door on access cab came loose when truck was fairly new.
    Toyota hides their problems from the public but they finally got caught.

    Goodbye Toyota!

    • Bought a 2010 brand new Tacoma and just found out broken leaf spring. Never hauled a thing. $1100 to repair as I did not buy extended warranty. Has 46,000 miles. Serpentine Belt bad too. Thinking of trading this piece of crap in and NEVER buying a Toyota again

  7. I bought a 05 Tacoma quad cab 6 spd. band new no miles on it.. Less then a 1.5 yrs later my springs cracked. Never towed w/it Only put a 750cc Kawasaki Brute force in the back. FUN!! Yeah right, But anyway it was still under warranty & Toyota replaced it no problem. well the next time it happened again two more yrs later down the road. Now @ this time I did towed a trailer. During this time frame towed two bikes to Daytona Florida from PA. One was only a 650cc Yamaha & the other 1100 Kawaski rocket bikes so not to much weight. Well they cracked again not during the trip but about 6 months later. Toyota wouldn’t cover it becuase it was past the 3yr 36,000 mile warranty but I do have the 100,000 pwr train, But anyways I had a local spring shop guy put OEM back on because the labor was cheaper. But was still OEM parts. Well here is the kicker that has me pissed off I broke these w/only 84,000 on a 2005 pickup & it busted my brake line & I lost my brakes on the highway. I called local Toyota dealer & they said to bring it in & maybe Toyota will pay for it but I will have to pay up front & then take it up w/ TOY. MFG. Co. to try to recover my money back. I could’ve lost my life & this was nothing to them. What really gets me is that I am a Toyota owner of several vehicles & my family is too in this household & I felt cheated & like to change to another pickup truck maybe NISSAN Titan or FORD Raptor. I own a Matrix & had two Rava4 plus this Tacoma that I keep having this broken leaf spring problems. I hate to complain but this was my life & It seemed as if they didn’t care whats so ever. Plus I don’t know if anyone else is having this problem but my paint on truck is all white mirrors bumpers the works but it is dull like its 20yrs old. Every part looks like it was painted different shades of white. I had people wax it I wash it I keep it clean but now it looks dull.. The person that I take it to get washed & waxed told me there is something wrong for sure he don’t want me to waste my money anymore because after he is done waxing it a wk later it looks like crap. I put a tonnuenu cover on it, It’s a leer 700 series a yr after I purchased it & It still looks beautiful like the day It was opened outta the box & put on by a retailer. I guess the cover is to much to heavy for the truck. LMAO that is what Toyota representative would probably throw that excuse @ me.. Any thing to hide behind a defective product.. It’s a shame Toyota motors are great but every thing else is sh*t pardon my french… But if anyone had problems w there paint as well start to complain because I really don’t think I should have to pay for a whole pickup truck to get repainted when I shouldn’t have too. I have other toys to obtain or save the money instead of paying for inferior products.. Toyota I am really disappointed….

  8. Pingback: Toyota Extends Frame Rust Coverage to 15 Years (95-00 Models) - Page 23 - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums

  9. I own a 2002 Tacoma 4 X 4. Has anyone experienced major rust through on the main frame structures? My local Toyota dealer has confirmed the rust issue and advised me they will repair the rust damage by sending it to a metal shop. This repair is not done by the Toyota local dealer but has been a recommended repair via their dealership.

  10. Ellis joseph says:

    I have a toyota tacoma 2005 model xtra cab broken spring leaf twice and now on the third i fed up and need a replacement please

  11. Kyler showers says:

    Its called axel wrap people….

  12. I have a 2007 Tacoma double cab in which I Told toyota dealership that the rear springs suck!! if I put two 150 lb people in the back seats the truck would bottom out!! They said it’s ok to ride or drive That the shocks would help support the weight.THe springs are flatted out and now broken and a $2000 bill to replace them. TOYOTA should be responsible poor design and workman ship. I was disappoted with my 1998 tacoma RUST OUT FRAM in which was forced into trading in because it would not pass inspection only to get 3000$ for and six weeks later toyota was buying back those truck at a fair price. I’m very displeased with the way TOYOTA stands by there products.

  13. Jason Conner says:

    I am going through and reading everything that has been wrote and wondering, are the Tacoma’s that people have been talking about with the leaf spring issue Tacoma’s with the TRD package or the Tacoma’s without? I have a 2005 Access Cab 4WD in which my leaf springs went a month ago. My truck does not have the TRD package. I have been the only owner since I bought it in 05. I have been kicking around the idea of getting after market springs as a replacement and keeping the truck for a few more years but at the same time, I’m thinking of maybe just getting the one broken leaf fixed on each side and buying something else. Anybody have any recommendations for aftermarket leaf springs or ideas? Has anybody had any luck getting the leaf springs replaced by the dealer? I have never hauled anything and I use the bed maybe 4 times a year moving itemes less than 400lbs.

    • ron morgan says:

      the leaf springs are weak(cheaply made)I had a rear leaf break on a 96 Tacoma and the bed was empty.I drove over a mound of dirt coming down a steep hillside,it was to big to straddle so I ran the tires right over the top of it,stretched the suspension a little but not bad I thought.I did not even know that it had broke til the next day when I was backing up and heard a noise,I got out and looked and saw that what was left of the leaf was in an angle and hitting the inside of the wheel.I got a newer Tacoma now and it has the TRD package,the springs on the TRD’s are more heavy duty,you can tell just by looking,they have a decent arch to them where the other ones do not(more flat)

    • ron morgan says:

      changing to a higher performance leaf set up might change the height of your truck though?forcing you to put $ up front to level the truck out,,I would check with les schwaab they put a 3 in suspension in mine.and for some reason they swapped out the leaf springs even though the truck was new,but I only had to pay for the lift,toyota were the ones that wanted the springs swapped

  14. stephen borkowski says:

    my tacoma 2010 with 90k milles both leaf springs just went

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