Notes: Although it has a stellar record in terms of vehicle problems, initially the 4th generation (2003 - 2009) 4Runner didn't earn our top "Seal of Awesome" rating because it received poor crash test ratings for rear impacts. However it's proven to have one of the lowest driver death rates out of all vehicles (not just SUVs), so we've bumped it back up to our top award.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
98,472 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Toyota 4Runner body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #16

Sep 282015


  • 139,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to the dealer to be serviced, but it was discovered that there was extensive corrosion on the frame of the vehicle. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 139,000......updated 12/08/15

- Bartlett, IL, USA

problem #15

Sep 152015


  • 180,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the subframe was rusted. In addition, there were three large holes in the front passenger side of the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 180,000.

- West Springfield, MA, USA

problem #14

Sep 012015


  • 137,000 miles
My vehicle has severe frame rust and rot. Part of frame at the front of the car has holes in it and is not safe to drive. This vehicle has been well maintained. It was driven primarily in Maryland and Virginia.

- Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #13

Jul 292015


  • 140,000 miles


Brought the vehicle in for a suspension check and the mechanic found the passanger rear frame completely rotted.

- Burlington, CT, USA

problem #12

Nov 032014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 156,000 miles
My mechanic showed me that my 4runner has severe frame rust. The mechanic stated that it cannot be repaired. The mechanic is warning that the vehicle will not pass it's next safety inspection. The 4runner was purchased and kept in Virginia.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

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problem #11

Jul 312014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
The front cross member has developed a hole, and another is starting on rear of the frame. No rust anywhere on car except frame. Car was garaged or parked on pavement always, never on grass or dirt.

- Exeter, NH, USA

problem #10

Mar 152010

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


We purchased the vehicle in 2008 for $14,000 from a local Toyota dealer, with 84,000 miles on it. The transmission lines rusted out shortly after that, the steering rack has been replaced twice, and now the gas tank has fallen down, and there is nothing left to attach a new support to. An automobile that should have a value of $6,000 + is now worthless, and we cannot even drive it safely. This was a chronic problem that was addressed by Toyota early on, but they managed to avoid repairing this vehicle. Is there anything that I can do, other than warn others against buying a Toyota. "ask someone who drives one".

- Kingston, MA, USA

problem #9

Jul 142010


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4-runner. The contact stated that the dash board was severely cracked and the problem had worsened over the passenger side where the air bag was located. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 95,000.

- Port St Lucie, FL, USA

problem #8

Jun 172014


  • 76,500 miles
Heavy frame rust....I have heard of other Toyota SUVS and pu's with frame rust that were recalled due to the frame rusting through. This vehicle's life started out in wny, and has been in Virginia the last 3- 4 years. If Toyota is recalling the Tacoma and sequoias then the 4runner should be included. I know I am not the only one with this issue. Thank you

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #7

Aug 012013


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for inspection when they detected that the rear differential, rear lower control arm and frame were severely corroded. One of the two rear lower control arms had become slightly detached from the vehicle. In addition, the emergency brake also exhibited corrosion. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Waymart, PA, USA

problem #6

Jun 032013

4Runner 8-cyl

  • miles


My 4runner got rear ended on the freeway and during the repair process I found out that the hitch receiver that was original installed (51909-35010) was superseded to an 'improved' one (51909-35011). However, when I installed my bicycle carrier, I realized that the universal foot was standing one inch out of the hitch receiver causing it to virulently shake and bounce around. When inspecting the new hitch receiver more closely, I realized that the hole for the hitch receiver pin is now only 1.5 inches from the end of the hitch away while before it was 2.5 inches. I compared this to other manufacturers hitches (e.g. GMC, Chevrolet, Jeep, etc) and they all have a 2.5 inch distance from the end of the receiver to the hole for the pin. I contacted Toyota to find out whether this is the correct part and why they changed the design in that way, but they were unable or unwilling to provide further information. In my opinion, the new hitch receiver is unsafe as it allows more play of the ball mount and appears less stable as less material is around the hitch receiver pin. Since I am unable to obtain more information from Toyota and Toyota is not willing to look further into this, it would be great if you could have a detailed look in this issue. Best regards.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 242013


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the steering wheel failed. The steering wheel became hard to turn and the vehicle was taken to a mechanic for inspection. The failure was located at the steering wheel system, which failed due to severe corrosion that expanded to the transmission lines and the frame. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 125,000.

- Coventry , RI, USA

problem #4

Feb 042009


  • 48,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the dashboard was cracked. The contact took the vehicle to a private mechanic. The technician stated that the entire dashboard needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 48,000.

- Aliso Viejo, CA, USA

problem #3

Nov 092012

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 110,580 miles
I bought the car new and other than a couple of fender benders caused to the rear of the vehicle, the car has been kept in excellent condition and garage kept both at home and at work. I noticed a hairline crack from the left (driver's side) on the top dash panel extending to the middle (top of the stereo). After researching online (several complaints both here as well as other websites), I called Toyota @ 1-800-331-4331 and opened case # 1211091043 after mentioning that the issue seemed to have been widespread and citing another case # by a forum member (1208280716). However, Toyota denied being aware of this issue and was unwilling to help citing an out-of-warranty condition. My concern of deployment of the airbag as a result didn't appear to concern them. I was given a contact name of the number customer relations manager at my dealership for possible help. I have also read that newer models use a different material (plastic) for the dash panel. I haven't taken it to the dealer yet but I believe the widespread nature of the defect calls for further investigation and possible recall.

- Acworth, GA, USA

problem #2

Aug 082012

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 120,863 miles
Frame of vehicle is rotting out- not likely to pass inspection for very long. Similar issues to frames of Toyota Tacoma and Tundra frames that have been recalled. 4runner should be recalled as well. Just discussed condition of frame with local Toyota dealership today- recommended filing a complaint.

- Enosburg Falls, VT, USA

problem #1

Dec 172010


  • miles
This vehicle has a rotted frame which is perforated in at least 3 places

- Shelburne, MA, USA

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