Toyota Alloy Wheels Bubbling – Toyota Quality Concerns

The Problem – Toyota vehicles equipped with alloy wheels are experiencing abnormal corrosion and bubbling of paint and/or clear coat finish. I noticed that the finish on my Sienna’s (2005 XLE AWD) alloy wheels had some bubbles several months ago. My wife drives this vehicle almost exclusively, so I don’t “inspect” it too often. But last week I noticed the wheels now look horrible. Looking at other Siennas with these same wheels, most (over 80%) have the exact same problem. The problem affects post-2004 Siennas and other Toyota models equipped with alloy wheels.

Toyota’s Position – At this time, not admitting any manufacturing defect, and not extending any corrosion warranty protection. Toyota has suggested that brake dust build-up and lack of prompt removal of road salt are to blame. Very interesting because my 1998 4Runner has alloy wheels, and they’re in great shape. Same geographic location, same level of care (probably above average), and 7 more years on the road.

My Suspicion – Toyota or its alloy wheel supplier switched to a “greener” manufacturing process, perhaps using a water-based finish process (as opposed to solvent based), or at the very least, a lower level of solvent. The switch-over, although well-intentioned and environmentally responsible, is often difficult to pull off. Recall the peeling paint problem (body panels) GM had in the 1990s. The problem we’re talking about here is similar, originating under the finish, as if there is a problem with the finish’s ability to adhere. The problem has nothing to do with curb rash, stone chips, etc., in which the integrity of the finish has been compromised externally.

Strength In Numbers – If you have the same problem with premature bubbling or corrosion of your Toyota alloy wheels, add your comments below. Be sure to provide the Model and Year of your vehicle. If you submit a photo of an affected wheel (150X150 px .PNG or .JPEG file preferred), I will add it to the “Toyota Quality Wall of Shame” below. Send wheel photos to: nuckleslaw(@ symbol)charter.net. With enough feedback from angry customers, we might be able to get Toyota to accept responsibility for this widespread problem.

Toyota Alloy Wheel Corrosion

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567 Responses to “Toyota Alloy Wheels Bubbling – Toyota Quality Concerns”

  1. John Munyan says:

    2012 Highlander limited. At 7000 miles medallions corroded in wheels..Toyota replaced. 7000 miles later new wheels have same issue…..they could care less. Rear deck badge was starting to corrode – fixed and repainted….Warranty. Rear glass “stays” (window Pistons) corroded..warranty work. One week ago….needed complete brake job…..corrosion on discs. This car has 26,000 miles on it. The common excuse is that we live where ther is “harsh weather” (Adirondack mountains, NY)….that’s why we bought a AWD vehicle. Between snow tires on and off we travel about 3400 miles per season. The 2010 Subaru does most of the work in the winter and shares the garage with the frail Toyota and is in great shape! Something’s amiss!

  2. Koz says:

    Same problem on my wife’s 2009 Sienna. Repair shop thinks that it is an oxidation problem most likely connected with the wheel prep for coating. Can’t find a Toyota dealer or statement addressing the problem. Have seen idiotic “causes” like drivers ability to “step on the brakes incorrectly”(?) this kind of an explaination might satisfy a three year old dead goldfish, but I doubt anyone else would buy it. Toyota has always stood tall with handling a problem however small, but not this time. Can’t wait for the class action suit that is sure to follow soon.

  3. Hence says:

    I have a 2007 Tacoma which I love. After about two years of Ownership I noticed the bubbling and peeling to some degree starting on each of the four wheels. It has progressively gotten worse to a point that they look horrible. When I first pointed it out to the dealership they and Toyota blamed it on poor care and roads salts which is ridiculous. It clearly looks to be a problem with prepping of the wheel before powder coating. I have owned Toyota’s since I bought my first Celica in 1974 and never been this disturbed and disappointed with Toyota lack of accountability for something that is obviously a manufacturing problem. Makes me think twice about my next automobile purchase.

  4. Don Storm says:

    My 2004 Sienna XLE Limited developed this problem at around the 5 year mark. I have never seen any other make or model with similar problems. There is no doubt that this problem is very specific to the Sienna model during 2004-2005. Whenever I see a car like mine on the road I can predict with 100% accuracy that it will have corroded wheels and/or bubbling paint. The problem became so bad I finally paid to have the wheels powder-coated (over $600). Toyota needs to take responsibility for this.

  5. Jon says:

    05 Tundra: same issue bubbling and flaking off… trying to determine best solution to fix without replacement.

  6. Baoliang CUi says:

    I have a 2005 toyota sienna LE AWD and the rims have been peeling/rusting/corroded since 2007 .
    The same type of cleaner was used on all my other cars. They are OK.
    I want to show you how ugly they look.

  7. R. B. Eberwein says:

    My 2004 Toyota Sequoia had corroded wheel the 2nd year… they told me it was me applying the brakes wrong. Three went completely black/bubbled within 2 years and one if still perfect today (ten years later). Only today did someone tell me that this is an obvious Toyota responsibility- though they have not admitted it yet. They will!

  8. Mary says:

    Same exact problem of bubbling/peeling on our 2005 Sienna LXE AWD. Looks awful and have noticed the problem for the past few years. Our daughter’s 2005 Corolla is beginning to peel also. Will be replacing the rims. Also hated the run flat tires. Purchased a new rim and spare plus all four new tires back in 2008 after run flats continually broke down after only 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Very disappointed in Toyota.

  9. John says:

    Bubbled, then peeled, paint on 2006 Sienna 17″ alloy wheels. Looks awful – corrosion of metal beneath. Not at all as durable as polished alloy wheels we’ve had before. $500 apiece to replace! Not gonna do that with the same technology to happen all over again.

  10. mario says:

    My wife has an 04 sienna with 100k. I wash and maintain all my vehicles. They never see the inside of a car wash nor do I use chemicals on the wheels other then car soap. We purchased it as a certified pre-owned in 06 with 30k and at that time the wheels were peeling so the dealer replaced them for us. Now they are doing the same. I contacted Toyota customer service and explained the circumstances. They had me bring it to the dealer for inspection, they stated that they maybe be able to do something out of warranty for being a loyal customer. Well once the dealer gave them an estimate of repair and or replace costs they changed there tune and offered me a 200 dollar credit on any future toyota purchases. I currently have three toyotas. 04 sienna/ 03 4runner/99 solara and all have the dreaded peeling. Toyota needs to come to terms with themselves and realize the inferior quality of there wheels and recall all of them.

  11. Danny says:

    I own a 2003 toyota corolla S with 172000 miles & my rims have been peeling/rusting/corroded.
    I use the same type of cleaner as i use on all my other cars. They aren’t peeling/rusting/corroded.
    These rims are a disgrace to the car. Toyota should stand behind its product no matter how old & how many miles are on it.
    Please keep me up to date.
    Thank you

  12. billy says:

    noticed corrosion starting on my 2012 highlander and i have heavy corrosion on a 2003 4runner

  13. Sean says:

    Toyota Highlander: 2006, 6 cylinder, FWD. The toyota has a spare tire that I rarely use. Last (2014) I replaced 4 tires but found that the spare wheel had a lot of bubbles on it!

  14. Ed Giambalvo says:

    The gas station that sold me 4 new tires 18 months ago, all of which are losing air regularly, through the seal, I think, claim that the corrosion is breaking the air seal on the tire. Don’t know for sure. Only that I lost a lot of air in what are fairly new tires.

  15. Myles says:

    I have 2011 Camry SE 4cyl I noticed the rust/corrosion just recently the car has less than 30K I also have an’06 Accord and there is no corrosion or rust on the alloy wheels. both cars a washed by me or car wash in winter. I will never buy another Toyota!!

  16. Frank Sattler says:

    There is a skin on these aluminum wheels that looks like there is a thin layer over a cast aluminum structure that is normally not used when the wheels are forged in the United States. The photos show the problem of corrosion on all four wheels of a 2007 Corolla S with 72000 miles. Suspect that the wheels may have been produced in China unless Japan is going to the dogs! Castings are always cheaper and inferior to forgings.

  17. admin says:

    Debra, well put. I think lots of folks who have commented are also done with Toyota.

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