Repairs and Maintenance

Why Do Toyota Tacoma Leaf Springs Break?

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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