The Million-Mile Toyota Tundra is in Shockingly Good Condition

18

A couple months ago, one proud Toyota owner pushed his 2007 Tundra pickup past the million-mile mark, a distance many motorists would be hard pressed to clock in a lifetime of driving.

But Victor Sheppard is no ordinary guy. He hauls parts for the oil industry, keeping its heavy-duty equipment humming and hydrocarbons flowing. Over the past nine years, he’s routinely made cross-country treks from his home in Louisiana to deliver desperately needed components all across America. In fact, he averaged around 125,000 miles each year in the saddle of his Toyota.

Million-Mile-Toyota-Tundra-Bed

Texas Tough

Getting any vehicle to roll this many miles is quite a feat, but an up-close look at his Tundra reveals that it has held up amazingly well since it rolled off the line at Toyota’s San Antonio, Texas, factory nearly a decade ago. Where it’s not dented or scratched from years of hard service, the paint is still shiny, body rust is minimal and even the driver’s seat, a touchpoint that receives a ton of abuse, barely shows any wear or soil despite never benefitting from the protection of a cover. Aside from the steering wheel, which is worn around the rim, and a few scuffs on the interior door panels, everything looks practically new.

Million-Mile-Toyota-Tundra-Interior

On top of all this, the truck in question still has its original engine and transmission. A quick twist of the key is all it takes to fire up its 4.7-liter V8, which idles smoother and quieter than some brand-new vehicles. Switched on, the odometer reads 999,999; apparently, they stop after six digits, but this is hardly an issue since the vast majority of customers never clock so many miles.

Mainline Maintenance

Obviously, it takes a fair bit of upkeep to make a vehicle go this distance, and Sheppard was religious in keeping on top of required maintenance, bringing his truck in for some 117 oil changes over the course of that million miles.

Another important aspect of this feat is where that work was performed. According to Mike Sweers, chief engineer of the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma pickups, “The dealership’s done all the service.” Taking your vehicle to a place that knows it best may cost a little more than going to the corner lube shop, but as shown here, it can be a sound long-term investment.

SEE ALSO: Toyota TRD Pro Series Review

Of course, any vehicle will have a few issues along the road and Sheppard’s Tundra is no exception. Sweers said the transmission needed a little work, losing reverse around the 700,000-mile mark. Also, the engine’s timing chains have been replaced along with its water pump, though the latter component didn’t really need service, but it was wise to swap it out when the engine was opened up.

Improving the Breed

To help celebrate his achievement, Toyota gave Sheppard a brand-new 2016 Tundra in exchange for his million-miler, which will be carefully dissected to see how it’s really held up over the years. As an engineer, Sweers is champing at the bit to tear into this truck and is particularly interested in the body. Aside from digging into the powertrain, he said he can’t wait to check the spot welds and other joints for signs of fatigue or cracking.

ALSO SEE: Appropriately, Toyota’s Texas Truck Plant Used to be a Ranch

What’s the secret to Toyota’s success? Why has this Tundra gone for so long without stopping? The answer may surprise you. Sweers said, “Are they overbuilt compared to our competitors? Yeah,” adding that maybe they’ve over-engineered this truck a bit too much, but this ensures customers don’t have issues.

Two examples of this are the brakes and rear-end. The Tundra’s binders are beefy and designed to withstand years of abuse. Likewise, Sweers said its 10.5-inch ring-and-pinion assembly runs cooler under heavy loads, which contributes to longevity.

Million-Mile-Toyota-Tundra-Odometer

This focus on quality is not just something owners experience when using their trucks, it’s also something that will make them smile when they want to get a new one. According to Sweers, the million-mile Tundra is still valued at around $8,000. “I think this speaks to our QDR,” he added, that’s shorthand for quality, dependability and reliability.

And customers have noticed this as the company is selling as many Tundras and Tacomas as it can build. Their plant in San Antonio, Texas is running at 120 percent capacity and shows no sign of slowing down.

Discuss this story on our Toyota Tundra Forum

  • Richard Maheu

    It certainly would be nice to know if the engine is actually a 4.7, which according to Toyota info has a timing belt, and if so, how many times has it been replaced? Maybe there’s a typo? Maybe it’s really a 5.7, which has a chain? Sounds more likely. The cost of timing belt replacements for a million miles would be considerable – and annoying.

  • smartacus

    now that is a cool job to have.
    Drive across the country just to deliver some equipment.
    And he’s not limited to 55-75MPH like a big rig

  • VegasEMT

    Good catch.

    But I believe the intervals on the 4.7L belt is 100k…..about 10 changes @ $800 a pop.

    Not cheap, but not horrible considering a lot of trucks would of needed 2 or 3 complete motors in that time span.

  • larry bogner

    My 04 Tundra has only 350k and is still running like a top.

  • smartacus

    “only” 350k?

    it must be a garage queen that only gets driven to the car show 😉

  • Bo Mathis

    While the media continually praises the new Ford & Chevy trucks, the smart truckers are buying Toyota’s. How many F-150 owners have made it past 85k mi without some major engine work? Not many.

    I’ve had trucks all my life. And although Toyota has laid a few eggs along the way, they seem to understand that loyalty is attained by longevity when it comes to trucks. As long as Toyota continues to over-build their trucks, I won’t buy another brand no matter what the media is paid to rate the competition higher.

  • Richard Maheu

    How many times have you changed the timing belt?

  • larry bogner

    Twice. Preventative maintenance only. Never had an issue.

  • craigcole

    Both Mike Sweers and the press release say this truck has the 4.7. According to my notes, Sweers also said the engine has a timing chain. Maybe he misspoke, a belt seems more appropriate with this engine now that I think about it… Good catch.

  • hjs3

    Nice to read a positive story on ANY brand from anywhere thees days…Just kinda rare!

  • Outcast_Searcher

    The article seems to imply one chain change (and surely it must be the 5.7).

    When I told them to check and replace the timing chain on my ’82 Celica at 100K miles, they called me and asked if I’d already replaced the chain. Not knowing much about cars, I asked “Isn’t that kind of a big job with a big bill? Surely I would have noticed.” The mechanic/service manager agreed.

    So I asked how much wear it had. The service manager said, basically none, which is unusual at this mileage, so we wanted to ask you.

    I had changed the oil a lot and never redlined the car, but that’s the kind of stuff you just have to love about Toyotas. The auto service books used to talk about changing timing chains every 60K miles in those days, so I’d figured I was pushing it waiting until 100K.

  • Outcast_Searcher

    It’s hard to tell. I would have thought a credible article should have said ten timing belts if they would have cost $8,000. That’s a nontrivial expense (to not even be mentioned), even for a million mile truck, IMO.

    OTOH, he could have stretched the interval a lot and only replaced at, say, 240K, but that doesn’t sound like behavior of someone who maintains the vehicle well.

  • VegasEMT

    The 4.7L is 100% for sure a timing belt.

    The 5.7L and later 4.6L are without a doubt a timing chain.

    Being an ’07, it had either the 4.7 or 5.7….so Sweers has no clue…lol!!!

  • VegasEMT

    And why is the actor wearing a helmet and reflective vest???

  • craigcole

    That’s actually the chief engineer, Mike Sweers. All that getup is required before you go on the plant floor. They take safety VERY seriously down there, perhaps too seriously.

  • VegasEMT

    Right on….maybe he doesn’t realize he’s outside.

    I have a comment pending since yesterday.

    Probably because I linked a video.

    Google ” meet the one million mile toyota tundra.”

    There the clueless chief engineer talks about timing chains on the 4.7.

  • MadMax

    Sister lost her leased ford escape to dealer for 3 weeks for steering and a new axle. 2 years old less than 30k on it. That’s why I drive Toyota.

  • MyThreeSons

    Photos of the driver’s side of the truck also show the iForce 5.7L engine placard on the fender. So… chain.