hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
101,505 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.

2001 Toyota 4Runner drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2001 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #17

Dec 012015


  • 100,000 miles


Since I got the car, the ignition key does not get in properly and sometimes does not start the car. The movement of the wheel helps sometimes. There have also been leaking engine covers that needed to be replaced. The structure gets rusty and there is problem with transmission.

- Hollywood, FL, USA

problem #16

Oct 152014


  • 113 miles
Eccesive rust on the frame and body makes it unsafe to drive as intended

- Princeton, NJ, USA

problem #15

Oct 312009

4Runner 4WD 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Vehicle was parked in my gravel driveway. My home contractor smelled an odor & discovered that my rear was leaking gear oil. My husband, who is somewhat handy with cars, ended up sanding off lots of rust on the pumpkin, then cleaned it & used jb weld to seal where he thought the leak was coming from. (where the parking brake cable was attached.) this actually held for several years. Well, now at approx. 125,000 miles, the leak is back with a vengeance! and coming from a different place or places. The rust is bad. No one can believe it. I have taken it to the mechanic in town twice in the past 2 weeks, where he has tried to seal it while it was up on a lift, but it keeps leaking badly. I do not drive that often but do have to make a 100 mile round trip at least once a week, & upon arriving home just now, it is a mess again. My husband just put in about 20 oz. Of gear oil & we are wondering what to do next. I have been reading on 4 runner internet forums about many others with the same problem. This is totally unacceptable. These vehicles are definitely not what you would call cheap to buy, but apparently they are cheaply made with inferior metal. I am afraid to drive my 4 runner, & also cannot afford an expensive repair. If this rusting is happening to so many other 4 runner owners, then Toyota should do something about it. I took care of my vehicle, but it may not be taking care of me! please help!

- Clayton, NJ, USA

problem #14

Mar 242015


  • 98,528 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that while exiting out of a parking space, there was an oil stain on the ground. The contact noticed that the oil was leaking from the rear differential. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 98,528.

- Emporium, PA, USA

problem #13

Nov 302012


  • 138,000 miles
On the rear end differential housing, the back cover area (non replaceable) has become so porous because of heavy rust scaling and flaking that differential fluid seeps from it. The rest of the differential housing is made of thicker, heavier gauge metal and seems ok. This issue will cause the gear oil to drop below the required level causing differential failure or lock up and at highway speeds could be disastrous. When I realized I had this problem, I searched the Toyota forums online and it appears to be a very common issue with these vehicles and Toyota is aware but will do nothing about it. They will replace entire rusted out frames on trucks under recall, but refuse to address this issue" to add insult to injury they want $3000 to replace a known inferior/defective part. I have had to resort to makeshift repairs using brush on bed liner to stem the leaking and check the fluid to keep it full. But what about people who are not mechanically inclined or who are completely unaware"

- Little Ferry, NJ, USA

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problem #12

Oct 112014

4Runner 4WD 6-cyl

  • 198,000 miles
On October 11th 2014, I was driving my 2001 4runner, on my way to work. Had just turned off a road with a speed limit of 55. As I hit 35mph, my car comes to a jolting stop with a loud bang and drag on the tires. The car still ran, but the car wouldn't move. I had to finish walking to my job, as I was cellphone-less at the time. I had to pay to have my car towed home, missing an entire day's work, which was a loss of 120$. the guy who towed me told me it was definitely something to do with my rear end. So I had a family friend who is a retired mechanic look it over to see if he could spot what the problem was. First thing noticed was my emergency break was on and frozen. They remove it, clean it, put it back on. I start the car, go to move it and theres a continuous loud bang and the car again comes to the stop. The emergency break froze again. They once again take it off, and so far it hasn't refroze. However, my car is still making the loud banging noise coming from the rear end, which they have concluded is coming from the rear differential housing unit. Which they found a decent sized hole in, which it appears someone tried to cover with a yellow glue type substance. I just bought the car, and am now carless. As I have 2 small children, and cannot afford to fix a problem that can cost up to $3,000 to fix. Luckily I was only going 35 mph when it broke, and there was no one following behind me, or I would have been re ended, and had more to fix that I already do. This is a huge problem with the model car, and Toyota really needs to issue a recall on the differential unit!!! it's fairly dangerous. I loved this car before this incident. But now it's useless til I can afford this fix.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #11

May 102014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 107,000 miles


When driving at 70 mph, the vehicle vibrates on the highway. I have taken the vehicle constantly to the dealership for over two years complaining about this problem and they always told me that nothing was wrong. Today (5/10/14), the mechanic at the dealership put the truck on a rack and ran the car at 45 mph and there was visible vibration coming from the drive shaft and a loud noise that I could never hear from within the vehicle. All this time, I have been driving a vehicle that I was unaware could have snapped apart. The sound cannot be heard in the cabin, so I could not even report that as a problem until today. I purchased three sets of new tires, had shocks and struts replaced, and brake pads to no avail. Finally, after searching the web yesterday, I realized that this is a common problem with other vehicles of the same make and model. I'm not sure if this problem has caused injury to others, but there should be a recall. This could cause a potentially fatal accident if that shaft breaks. I read that for similar models (Toyota and Lexus), the manufacturer replaced the parts under warranty, but nothing for the 4runner. The dealership is charging over $700 for this repair.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #10

Jan 012013


  • 190,000 miles
Rear differential has had normal wear up until recently when I noticed a section of the rear diff leaking and rotting. The way the rear axle housing is build it does not have a rear cover like most. But that is the section that has flaked and begun to leak. The fill plug is in the same area which also is rusted. Making it not possible to check the fluid level. If your in a spot were you don't have the finances take care of the problem it leaves you in a spot of drive it till the rear end detonates. Being as this is a common problem for Toyota and it being a one part fix. I feel Toyota needs to look into covering it under warranty or at least good willing parts prices than leaving myself and others in the spot of a $3,000 bill due a known problem.

- South Yarmouth, MA, USA

problem #9

Jul 192013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 158,000 miles
Driving down the highway in 2001 Toyota 4-runner going about 60 and all of a sudden the rear end/tires locked up and got it to the side of highway barely and then it started smoking really bad. Very lucky that it didn't cause a wreck or no one got hurt. Can't drive it or nothing, makes a loud knocking noise in the rear end and also when you turn the key on inside the vehicle all lights are on and its making a terrible buzzing noise. So had to have it towed and that cost me also and I need the whole rear differential and that's a lot of money. I've seen other problems/complaints about the same thing that happened to mine. I really think something should be done about it, Toyota should be fixing the problem and we shouldn't have to pay for it. Hopefully something gets done about this.

- Walton, NY, USA

problem #8

Jul 042013


  • 11,380 miles
The back of the rear differential housing started leaking about one drop per second. The vehicle has 113,800 miles. We bought the car with about 20,000 miles. It has received the recommended maintenance. The source of the leak is severe corrosion that has removed much of the structural metal of the differential housing. The leak is coming through several cracks that have passed through the remaining metal. The only available repair is to replace the entire rear axle housing to the tune of between $2000 and $3000. This type of corrosion is unusual. I have not experienced this sort of malfunction in nearly 50 years of driving.

- Oregon, OH, USA

problem #7

Aug 302012

4Runner 4-cyl

  • 132,500 miles


After I my mechanic replaced the catalytic converter for $1500, this problem began. The vehicle began to buck (jerk violently) as I was accelerating to 45 mph. It always happens at about 20 mph as I try to accelerate to 30, 35 or 40 mph. The engine revs up to 3 of 4K before the transmissions engages forcefully. This has been going on for now 3 months.

- Somerset, , MA, USA

problem #6

Sep 152011

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 141,460 miles
Toyota 2001 4-runner, the vehicle has an excessive amount of underbody, frame, drive train rust specifically the rear differential housing unit. The problem first encountered was the rr. Differential housing rusted through and is leaking oil from it.so I called Toyota executive office and spoke with an executive analyst, I explained in detail what the problem was, she arranged for the vehicle to be taken to a Toyota dealer and inspected by their mechanics and the report reads as follows. Inspected rear differential, inspected housing -found fluid leaking from housing at yoke through rear cover ;metal porous and thin. Recommended replacement of housing and associated hardware repair estimate $1491.28 plus tax. They also noted several other issues that I cannot be sure if it was caused by excessive rust or normal wear. Then under miscellaneous a general inspection, by technician reads as follows vehicle undercarriage has heavy corrosion - - found perforation at front shackle on right rear of frame. Second problem, at the end of the inspection report under the comments section the technician, hand written said frame is bad, rust perforation (sloppy writing ) I believe it said, right rear rail. So after the executive analyst read the report she called me and said there is nothing Toyota can do because the vehicle is out of warranty and there are no recalls. I researched on line for excessive rust and rr. Diff. Leaking, and found many other vehicles have a lot of the same problems developing. Thank you

- Sugarloaf, PA, USA

problem #5

Jun 032009


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the vehicle differential was corroded and developed a leak. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the rear differential assembly needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 120,000 and the current mileage was 180,000.

- Merrimack, NH, USA

problem #4

Mar 032009

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 22,650 miles
Rear differential cover rusted through with only 22650 miles on vehicle. Dealer had to replace the whole rear axle assembly at a cost of $1800 because the cover is welded on and cannot be replaced separately. My concern is for the frame rusting out and subsequent safety issue as indicated by the number of other complaints listed here. I understand the Tacoma's have similar problems and similar frames. The warranty for corrosion has been extended by Toyota for the Tacoma. When are you going to do something about this?

- Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #3

Dec 052011

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
The rear differential on my Toyota 4runner rusted so badly in 9 years of ownership that the structural steel frame that supports the differential gears (the housing) cracked and oil spilled out on the road. I discovered the rust during the yearly state inspection and consequently had the differential inspected by my Toyota dealer (berlin city portland, me) a few months back and they said it was structurally sound but rusty. I am an engineer and clearly it was not structurally sound or it would not have failed in short order as it did.... this failure could have caused the rear wheels to lock up resulting in a severe accident. This rust problem is common on most Toyota truck frames and drive trains owned in the North East. Toyota has elected to repair the trucks at no cost but not the 4runners with the same frame and differentials. This is dangerous as [xxx]... they put me and my family at grave risk.... information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- North Yarmouth, ME, USA

problem #2

Dec 012001


  • 1,500 miles
Vsc, stability/traction control system limits power to normally accelerate from a stop while 4WD engaged. Happens 99% of time when in 4WD rarely in 2wd mode. Direction doesn't affect(can be going straight or turning either left or right) may result in rear end or side impact collision because following or oncoming vehicle not expecting my vehicle to be an obstruction. No help from dealer.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #1

Jan 232010


  • 76,450 miles
I have a Toyota 2001 4runner with 77563 miles. The rear differential has rusted thru and leaks. Toyota is unwilling to help.

- East Taunton, MA, USA

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