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 1 of 2)

problem #36

Sep 012015


  • 150,000 miles


Frame rust - car is basically not safe to drive

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #35

Sep 082016


  • miles
Extreme frame corrosion. Frame condition is making vehicle unsafe to drive.

- Litchfield, NH, USA

problem #34

Aug 182016


  • 96,834 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While the vehicle was at an independent mechanic for routine repair, the technician diagnosed that the subframe underneath the front part of the vehicle was corroded and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 96,834.

- Eatontown, NJ, USA

problem #33

Aug 172016

4Runner 6-cyl

  • miles


This 2003 Toyota 4runner has 135,000 miles on the odometer and the frame and exhaust system including catalytic converter are completely rusted out and the vehicle is now unsafe to drive. Some frame components have completely rusted and broken off from the frame I.e. tow hooks, exhaust and engine mounts. The frame is only held on to the body by the shock absorbers. The vehicle can no longer be driven safely. The cost to repair this damage would be prohibitive and I believe that this issue needs to be addressed by Toyota. I purchased this vehicle in good faith and trusted that Toyota quality would last. Please advise any possible recourse. Thank you

- Plympton, MA, USA

problem #32

Jul 142016


  • 184,000 miles
Noticed the right front wheel making awful sound. I had my mechanic to take a look. It is the wheel bearings going out, but then proceeded to tell me that the rust is so bad underneath that all the hose lines will have to be replaced. Brake lines leaking, transmission line leaking. All will have to be replaced. The rust is eating away underneath the car like cancer. No stopping it. The sway bars are rusting into as well. Our mechanic will let us know how much it will cost to repair the lines...but is it worth spending the money on"?" this is our 7th Toyota that we have owned, always taken excellent care of vehicle, and I have never experience such a rusty mess. Love my 4runner but really don't know what to do with it!

- Bryson City, NC, USA

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problem #31

Sep 012014


  • 86,000 miles
Frame has significant rust and has developed a hole up near the front of the car. I've had the rust sandblasted off and the frame re-coated, but should the frame fail, it could result in a real safety problem. Driver seat belt does not retract properly, which could result in the seatbelt not being snug enough to prevent injury in the event of an accident

- Monument, CO, USA

problem #30

Jul 152016


  • 125,000 miles


Have rust on my frame. Have hole near my cat converter that Toyota found during inspection which failed because of the hole. They recommended I take somewhere else to patch to save money. Seems dangerous that frame is rusting to the point that it caused a hole.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #29

Jan 012005


  • 35,000 miles
Extensive and severe frame/chassis rust and corrosion throughout. This is a well-know problem with both 4runner and Tacoma

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #28

Jul 082016


  • 235,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While the vehicle was being serviced for annual routine maintenance, the dealer observed that the frame was severely corroded. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 235,000.

- Metamora, MI, USA

problem #27

Jun 052012


  • 80,000 miles
Extensive premature frame rust

- Endwell, NY, USA

problem #26

Mar 212016


  • 141,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While at an independent mechanic for repairs, the mechanic diagnosed that the entire subframe was corroded and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 141,000.

- Cooperstown, PA, USA

problem #25

Feb 012013


  • miles
I purchased my Toyota new in 2003 and have had it serviced by the same dealer as per schedule. I have 300469 miles but have rusting frame even though I wash under frame on a regular basis. I have been told by the mechanics at the dealer that is just thw nature of the make. I plan on keeping my car because it runs very well with little or no problems witb exception of rust. The Tacoma of the same year was tecslled.for this same reason but not the 4 runner with the same frame

- Marion, OH, USA

problem #24

Jan 252016


  • 153,208 miles
Failed state inspection 1/25/16 due to rusted and perforated frame. It passed the inspection 1/26/15 just before selling vehicle to us. We have put less than 7000 miles on it since purchase on 1/28/15.

- Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #23

Oct 062015

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 203,000 miles
While driving on the highway the passenger rear side of my Toyota 4runner began to move up and down and wobble making the car wander all over the road. We immediately went to the local Toyota dealer, carver Toyota of columbus in taylorsville, in. Inspecting the car on the passenger rear side we found that the rear suspension had pulled away from the frame where the frame had completely rusted leaving a big hunk out of the frame. There was extensive rusting of the frame in multiple places. The car was inspected and photographed by matt Warren, service manager at carver Toyota and was determined to be undriveable. This is a well maintained vehicle which is in tip-top condition in every other respect than the rusted frame. We are very upset to lose a good car which still had a lot of value still left in it to us. We also feel that this is a very important safety issue. We were incredibly lucky that neither we nor anybody else on the highway that day were injured by this dangerous situation. And we are very concerned that this has been reported in other 4runners as well and there hasn't been a recall and these dangerous vehicles are still on the road. We are holding on to the vehicle hoping that there will be some remedy for this situation. Thank you so much for your attention.

- Nashville, IN, USA

problem #22

Nov 222015


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4unner. While driving over a pothole at approximately 25 mph, a loud bang emitted outside of the vehicle. The vehicle wandered out of the lane independently and became difficult to steer. The failure occurred when encountering uneven road surfaces and potholes. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the entire frame was completely corroded. The vehicle was beyond repair. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 130,000. Updated 04/14/16

- Highland Lakes, NJ, USA

problem #21

Dec 202015


  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While backing out of the driveway, the lower control arm failed and the vehicle became inoperable. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and an inspector sent by the manufacturer examined the damage. The inspector determined that the subframe bracket, which holds the lower control, had rusted and caused the lower control arm to fail. The inspector recommended that the entire frame of the vehicle be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 104,000.

- Lancaster, NY, USA

problem #20

Jan 012016


  • miles
My 2003 4runner has serious frame rust issues with less than 150,000 miles. The piece of the frame that supports the radiator and A/C condenser has rusted completely through and the radiator is unsupported on the driver's side. I have not experienced this problem with my old 1996 4runner which had 100,000 more miles on it.

- Rockaway, NJ, USA

problem #19

Jun 112015


  • miles
Heavily rusted areas on the frame on my 2003 Toyota 4runner. Vehicle is garage kept and routinely maintained.

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #18

Jan 042016


  • 153,000 miles
Scheduled vehicle for regular inspection. Toyota rep advised substantial rot on frame, rear passenger side. Did not pass inspection. Rep advised that no current remedies/recalls in place. Rep suggested to trade it in. 153000 miles, engine/transmission excellent condition. Frame washed and treated w/ rust prevention 2X a year. Unacceptable structural problem, given the circumstances with no remedy from Toyota.

- Milton, VT, USA

problem #17

Dec 042006


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the subframe of the vehicle had excessive rust. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 62,000

- Irvine, CA, USA

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