Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
103,424 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #18

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 #17

Aug 122016


  • miles
My 2003 Toyota 4 runner has massive frame rot. I fixed what I could, but still fighting with the problem. I know Toyota recalled their pick up trucks because of frame issues, they should do the same for their 4 runners.

- Southington, CT, USA

problem #16

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

problem #15

Jul 242015


  • 75,000 miles


The frame on my 2003 4runner has rusted to the point of breaking. Toyota had a recall on the Tacoma of the same year for this issue and that vehicle has the same frame. As an owner of a 4runner I am upset because my vehicle costs more, but Toyota will not fix this.

- Clifton Park, NY, USA

problem #14

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

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problem #13

May 062015


  • miles
The frame is rotting out.

- Hawley, PA, USA

problem #12

Aug 312015


  • 211,000 miles


2003 Toyota 4 runner was brought into dealership on Saturday August 29, 2015 to inspect the frame rust. The rust was verified by the dealer, and was sent on my way, with no warning that it was unsafe. Monday August 31, 2015, the vehicle experienced a frame failure that could have been catastrophic. The driver side rear control arm mount broke free from the frame at approximately 30 mph. The rearend started to shake, wobble and vibrate and was immediately pulled off the road. Talked to dealer, no recalls on said vehicle. Talked to Toyota corporate, they said there is nothing they can do. Tacoma's and Tundra's have a recall, but not the 4runner. A complaint was filed here on July 5, 2015.

- East Haddam, CT, USA

problem #11

Jul 052015


  • 209,000 miles
2003 Toyota 4runner with excessive frame rot on rear of frame. Rear control arm mount is compromised with extreme rust perforation. Bump stop over axle is missing because of 2"-4" hole in outer frame rail. Car is deemed unsafe to drive.

- East Haddam, CT, USA

problem #10

Jul 032015


  • 119,000 miles
The dealer discovered severe rusting and a hole in the vehicle frame. The vehicle has been properly maintained and should not be rusting and creating a safety issue at these miles and vehicle age. Toyota was notified and said that there is nothing that can be done. Since these vehicles share the same frame manufacturer issues as the previous frame recalls for Tundra and Tacoma vehicles, Toyota should do a recall and replacement of the defective frames on the 4runners as well.

- Concord, MA, USA

problem #9

Jun 152015


  • 157,864 miles
The frame on my 2003 4runner has "perforations" in it's frame rails and the front cross-member is totally rotted away...this has been and issue with these SUVS for years..the Toyota Tacoma shares the same frame/platform as the 4runner and has had similar issues, with 1 difference Toyota has repaired many of them free of charge, but has not extended these repairs to the 4runner...a $30,000 dollar 12 year old SUV shouldn't have a rotted frame. I brought the truck to a Toyota dealership and they said "front crossmember is rotted off. Only be held by frotn skid plate. Found a hole in frame rail drivers side by fuel tank." I was then told I would be informed when a Toyota usa engineer would be able to look at it to see if they would do anything about it. I was called about a week later and told the engineer refused to look at it and would not be helping me with this matter..I then called Toyota usa and explained what was going on (I have a case # they gave me), they told me to expect a call from the dealership (where the SUV was purchased & where the frame was inspected) in 2 days..that call never came....

- Intervale , NH, USA

problem #8

Apr 142015

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 145,659 miles


My private mechanic informed me that my vehicle's frame was rusting and was a safety concern. He notified Toyota customer care who stated that Toyota was not responsible. Toyota has taken responsibility in the past for other vehicles with the same problem. My case # with Toyota is [xxx]. please investigate and advise. Thank you! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Katonah, NY, USA

problem #7

Feb 012015


  • 161,000 miles
Took my 2003 Toyota 4runner in for service and to have it inspected. The service guys say they cannot inspect my truck because it has a hole in the frame of the truck. The front of my frame is severely corroded after only 160K miles and completely unsafe for the road. This truck has always been well taken care of and kept clean in the winter months. This is entirely unacceptable for a vehicle of this era and highly unsafe to drive. I am sure there are many others out there driving around not knowing their trucks are rusting away to the point the frame they are riding on is falling apart under them.

- Palmyra, ME, USA

problem #6

May 052014

4Runner 8-cyl

  • miles
This vehicle has accumulated a scary amount of rust on the underbody. I took it to a local Toyota dealership and they told me it probably wasn't safe to have my kids riding in this vehicle because of the amount of rust on the suspension.

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #5

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 #4

Aug 012012

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
The front crossmember of the vehicle frame has severe corrosion. The amount of corrosion was identified to me by a service technician during recent routine maintenance, and the technician pointed out that Toyota has had numerous problems with suspension/ structural corrosion on other models. The amount of corrosion has the potential to weaken the structural integrity of the vehicle in a crash situation and potentially during normal vehicle use as well. The problem was discussed with dealership service manager who referred me to the Toyota national hotline. Toyota representative at that department stated that Toyota has not provided any extended warranty or repair programs for this condition, nor do they offer any financial reconciliation for the costs of correcting this problem. The information was documented in Toyota case number [xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Forke River, NJ, USA

problem #3

Feb 242012

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
I have had this vehicle since new, and only travel back and forth to work approx 30 miles a day..(now has 59,000 miles).vehicle has been regularly serviced at a local Toyota dealer...vehicle never used for towing or never been off-road, and maintained like a baby...all of a sudden dealer told me my front axle cv joints are leaking and needs replacing including the rear shocks" this is fully loaded 2003 Toyota limited edition V8...seems very unusual at 59K miles" will contact Toyota to see if they can help out in any way...

- Olney, MD, USA

problem #2

Jan 302008


  • 66,000 miles
I own a 2003 4 runner and also my daughter. I have reported the following issue to Toyota and also have taken the vehicle to a dealer. On snowy or icy roads, the rear end of the 4 runner will flip around when accelerating around a corner at very low speeds. It has happened to me three times and to my daughter 3 or 4 times. Both vehicle have new tires and the situation still occurs. I live in nc and we do not get a lot of snow. It happen a week ago when we got some snow. It can just happen so fast. My daughter is scared to drive it. Our 2000 4 runner would not come close of acting this way. Bottomline, it is unsafe. You must be extremely cautious or you will spin the car around.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #1

Jun 232009


  • 71,100 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While driving 30 mph, the steering wheel shook very badly. The contact pulled the vehicle over because he thought he had a flat tire, but that was not the case. The vehicle was taken to have the tire pressure checked and then to the dealer for inspection. The shaking only occurs while driving over 30 mph. The contact stated that there was a recall for this vehicle. The dealer checked the recall database, but found no recalls. The vehicle is currently at the dealer for inspection. There is a recall for the 2001-2002 Toyota 4runner regarding the suspension and the contact believes that the same failure is occurring on his vehicle. The failure mileage was 71,100 and the current mileage was unknown.

- Miami, FL, USA

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