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Got my old grey mare back to the barn. 230k miles and doesn't burn a drop of oil. Thanks so much for the help, great site.

Agree the broken part is not at all up to standard, and I did find a water-based lube considerably better than PAM for getting the rubber boot off the shifter lever........;-)

W.
 

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I'm going to attempt this repair. I have very little knowledge of mechanics, but I need to learn to do things myself. My friend, who has worked on my Tundra for years, can't do it anymore, and I can't afford to pay a mechanic. The shift lever broke a week ago. Thanks to this post, I was able to figure out how to drive it anyway. However, it does need fixed, and the sooner, the better. I'm now using this list to assemble the tools and parts, and I'll be starting the job as soon as possible.
This post, along with some youtube vids, will be my guide. I have ordered a manual, which should be in the mailbox when I get home today. My truck has 240k miles on it, so I'm fortunate that this didn't break sooner. I just replaced the ignition lock cylinder a few weeks ago. I'm feeling pretty confident, but I'm grateful for any help/instruction I can get. Here's to learning something new!
 

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My shifter lever broke off last weekend. It has been loose for the last 5 years but I was careful when shifting and it held up for that much longer. The car was stuck in reverse so I had to park it on the side of the street while going backwards (we were visiting relatives). I had it towed to the nearest dealer (Hanlees Hilltop Toyota) and I was given a $1040(!) quote. I was seriously considering just having the car towed to my house and follow this DIY but I will still have to pay the $160 charge for "diagnosis", plus towing, so I decided to just have the dealer work on the car. Total damage is $1073.42 and here is the parts list (typed as it appeared on my invoice):

Part Number Description
33501-0C021 Shaft Sub-assy, Cont
90080-16070 Screw, HEX Lobular T
45217-0C020 Stopper, Steering MA
45783-07010 Stopper, Tilt Steeri
45783-0C020 Stopper, Tilt Steeri
45856-07010 Bolt, Tilt Steering
45870-0C030 Tube Assy, Steering
45897-12020 Bolt, Steering Lock

Total Parts: $361.30, Total Labor: $678.70

I wrote to Toyota 3 years ago re: this problem, to at least have it in their records. I wrote again when the shifter lever broke and got a call from them the next day. Basically, I told them that the issue is common with the 1st Gen Sequoia and argued that the part is not a common consumable part that breaks. The Toyota rep was adamant that it is not Toyota's problem and that they don't monitor forums such as TS - he is making it sound like I'm the first to report this issue. All this time, all I'm trying to do is get this on record. I agree with another member that unless somebody dies from this problem, Toyota will not do anything about it.

When I first reported this problem 3 years ago, it's because the car backed up on its own while being smogged. The tech pushed the shifter lever up to P but didn't notice that the P light isn't on, yet, on the dash. Three of us rushed to the car to prevent it from rolling further. Since then, I discovered that to get to P, you will need to push the lever up all the way, then push it forward to actually engage P. When I explained this, the Toyota rep asked if the tech also activated the parking brake which he did not.

I hope this post will provide additional information about this problem. Some of the part numbers listed are also different from what has been reported before so maybe Toyota has improved their design(??). Before I decided to have the dealer work on the car, I made sure that the part numbers are different than the original. When I asked the Toyota rep if Toyota has re-designed the parts, he said "No.", to emphasize that there is no design issue that they need to address.

My Sequoia has 123K miles and I owned it since new.
 

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If anyone is going to do this in the future, using a tap to make the threads in the holes turns out to be much better, you are removing material and not expanding it, i just did mine took me about two hours from start to finish.
What size tap (diameter and thread pitch) did you use? It seems like an irregular size and pitch.
 

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I just joined this forum to say Thank You for the great write up. I just bought an 02 Tundra with a broken shifter, the previous owner had removed everything to be able to shift it by hand, and thats how he had been driving it for the last year or two.
For anyone doing this in the future, the thread size for the self-tapping screws is an M6x1.0
I went to OSH (or ACE or Lowes or anywhere like that would work) and got the metric tap and a screw that was exactly the same except not of the self tapping variety. Cost 6 bucks total, and I think it was worth it to try and prevent re-breakage.
 

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I've just been looking at the shifter assembly on my '03 Tundra, trying to decide whether it would be worth the trouble of designing a repair kit.

Scratching my head a bit as to why this problem is occurring but after watching a YouTube video on the repair I have the answer. The shifter assembly 33501-0C011 attaches to the support bracket 45859-07010 by three screws 90080-16039. The holes in the bracket that receive the three screws come from the factory untapped and the three screws cut their own threads as they are installed. The problem is the thread-cutting screws don't cut threads as well as a tapping operation would and so the screws also try to compress the metal around the hole. Well, the metal can't really compress but the radial outward force that the screw exerts creates a circumferential tensile stress around the hole. Where there is lots of metal around the hole this is not a problem but in the hole closest to the driver the part is too weak to resist the circumferential tensile stress.

So this is a Toyota design problem.

An inappropriate design feature plus an inferior thread-cutting screw produces a circumferential tensile stress in a location where the part is too weak to resist it. The ear of the support bracket cracks off and the shifter assembly, now unsupported at the corner, eventually breaks in two places due to repeated bending stresses.


Hmmm.... Seems that in light of this design flaw.... It would be wise to break out the tap & die set and properly pre-cut the treads into the part prior to installing, so the screws are not cutting their own threads and causing the problem in the first place. I'm pretty sure I've got to do this job (car is not engaging neutral safety switch properly, so won't always start, and when I parked today, the car rolled when it indicated in park, so I assume the bracket is broken causing it not to fully engage into park)... so, once I get into it and see if its broken, if I need to replace, I think I'll try pre-tapping the threads and see how it works out.
 

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Discussion Starter #31

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Just finished replacing the column shifter assembly on my 2001 Tundra. Thanks to the OP and some u-tubers it was not too bad.

Notes: Although the mounting bracket was still intact, I replaced it because the self tapping screw in the soft alum are not durable. The top back screw had loosen - looks like from a previous repair - and gave the bracket too much room to flex. This whole assembly is awful and probably needs an annual inspection with re-greasing on the slides. The two forward screws appear to be ok. It is the triangle section on the steering wheel side that is overstressed. The intent is to leave space for the swoosh ball to move the shifter arm, but then there is minimal support for all the required torque.

The kicker panel has to be dropped but not removed to access the shifter assembly screws.

Before centering the wheels (at the start), get under the dash and find the steering shaft connector bolt (12mm head) and rotate the shaft (steering wheel) until the bolt head is easy to attach to...break it free and loosen it. Then straighten the wheels.

The steering shaft does not keep marks very well, so scar the shaft a bit. This may be most important at the top because that gets handled a lot while aligning. Another option would be to use a bit of masking tape over the marks until you need them.

Keep in mind that to remove the steering shaft you have to turn the key (to on) to release the retaining pin.

I did not have the correct pry bar to remove the retaining pins, but I was able to use a long nose vise grip under the screw head and pry against that with a big assed screwdriver. I think you could also use 1" construction strapping, tho one of the holes may have to be drilled out to the M40.7x16 screw to pass thru. I used philips head screws and mangled them a bit with vise grips to turn them in. Spend a couple $ more and get hex head screws...that is easier.

I'm not sure the retaining pins really need to locked in. Those suckers set pretty hard...maybe only if the mounting plate was machined incorrectly with holes a bit too large.

If you lose your shaft marks like me. You can realign wheel to steer wheel position fairly easily. If the steering wheel is off a degree or two, then a bit of trail and error may be needed. Also check the signaling hub alignment so that it has 2.5 turns in either direction.

Previous owners of my truck were into the steer column before and roughed things up. The airbag assemble would not reattach because it had been compressed. The horn wire had be disconnected - probably because the assembly had been pushed down too far. In any case, I had to pull one bracket back out so that the mounting screw would mate up. This cost me about 45 mins of fussing.
 

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There is NO NEED to remove the steering wheel or column.

I did this job in 2 - 20 minute stretches - time out to get the part. I got mine from the dealer (for time reasons) who insisted there is no difference in Tundra vs Sequoia. $130, but it can be had for $80 on line.

There is NO reason to take off the steering wheel OR the air bag.
I just did this yesterday on my 2002 Tundra; elapsed time 40 minutes. (broken into 2 x 20 minutes to get the part).

First: to tell if it’s the controller casting: When you move the shift lever, the lights won’t follow all that well. Mine wouldn’t start in park, but it would in Neutral, so don’t worry about not getting home. My truck would not lock into park though, so it could roll across the parking lot, not a good thing. The shift lever will probably seem sloppy or stiff, since the casting is broken.


1: Block wheels on level surface and take off negative battery cable. Might as well inspect it and clean if necessary.
2: Take the large bottom shroud off, 4 x 10mm bolts. Lower gently to the floor, no need to take anything else off of it.
3: Rotate steering wheel from side to side to expose the 2 Philips screws on either side and remove them. Also remove Philips bolt on lower plastic shroud in the center; it's a different thread , so remember that.
4: "pop" the upper and lower plastic steering wheel shroud apart with a putty knife or such. Keep at it, it's a small pain, but it will come apart. Drop the lower one. The upper one still is attached with the shift lever going through it and the overdrive cable.
This will be a good time to verify that your controller casting is actually broken; it likely will be in two places.
5: Shift into low. Get a #20 torx and unscrew the shift lever in the housing. Remove the lever.
6: unplug the white plastic electrical plug (for Overdrive) just to the right of and behind the steering wheel. CAREFULLY pop the black rubber tube out of it's channel by the top of the steering shaft. I used a small screwdriver as a lever. The upper shroud can then be removed and set aside. You then have all the access you need.
7: Disconnect the shift cable, using a flat bladed screw driver to pry off. It comes easy.
8: Remove the 3 #30 Torx bolts from the controller that attach it to the steering column. The one in the back is a bit of a pain; I used a small vise grip directly on the Torx bit since I didn’t want to take off the ignition switch. I didn’t have a small enough closed end wrench. You may have to shift the “stub” around to get good access with your extension.
9: The black brake interlock plug can be accessed better now. There are 2 #20 Torx bolts that hold it on. Easy, they’re 3/4" long. BE CAREFUL of the long spring when you pull the plug out. It’s not strong, just long and you don’t want it lost.

You will now get a good look at your broken casting. Mine was in two places. It’s cast aluminum. There were no casting imperfections, it’s just a bad design. Cuss Toyota here.

Assembly:
1: Reconnect the black brake interlock plug. It’s keyed, so it can’t be put on wrong. Be careful of the spring though.
2: Attach the controller assembly with the 3 #30 Torx bolts. Don’t over tighten. I used a 1/4" socket wrench.
3: Re-attach the shift cable.
4: Re-attach the overdrive sensor wire plug and gently push the black rubber sleeve back in the channel on top of the steering column.
5: Re-attach the shift lever. Check and see if the whole thing works now.
6: Pop the upper and lower steering column shrouds back in. Patience.
7: re-attach the lower shroud with the 4 x 10mm bolts.
8: Test drive.
 
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