Print this page Notes: Although the 2003 model year is the "worst" model year for the 4Runner, it's not really bad at all -- mainly it's just that the other 4Runner model years are even better. Howver the 2003 model year has no major problems & no unexpected problems for a 17-year old vehicle. We award the 2003 4Runner our Seal of Awesome, since overall versus other comparable models of the same age, it's very reliable.

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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
153,300 miles
Total Complaints:
37 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. recall/replace frame (18 reports)
  2. not sure (16 reports)
  3. contact this lawyer (1 reports)
  4. need sandblasting and strips of steel welded over holes (1 reports)
  5. recall (1 reports)
2003 Toyota 4Runner body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #37

Apr 052019

4Runner Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,088 miles


Picked the truck up 2nd hand in Spring 2019, and did not know about the rusted frame, it passed inspection. Lately the truck/4runner seems to be leaning a tad to the front right side at highway speeds.

It looks like right side frame is rusting out, left side is looking very solid. I will look into this recall and save some coins in the meantime to get it done myself this spring/summer.

- Kevin J., Huntington, US

problem #36

Aug 022021

4Runner Limited 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 174,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion

Really excessive rust and holes in frame and engine mounts... Really disappointed in Toyota. Tried to clean some of the rust - it took me couple of days but it's bad...

- G M., Egg Harbor Township, NJ, US

problem #35

Oct 222019

4Runner SR5 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I have been reading about all the other vehicles that have frame recalls for Toyota that were produced by DANA. Toyota needs to recall all Toyota 4runners back to 2000 and inspect the frames and replace them on the same basis as the other vehicles were reviewed. I have been told by a dealer in Texas that they are moving older 4runners to Mexico by the truck loads. Why is this happening, when Toyota knows they have a problem with all of their vehicles that had frames from DANA?

Fix the problem, recall the 4runners and fix them!!!!

- Chris M., winona, MN, MN, US

problem #34

Jan 012015

4Runner Sports Edition V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


click to see larger images

excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion

I just hope that the below lawsuit also includes the 2003 and 2004 4Runners! ;-((

The Toyota 4Runner frame rust lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division - Gary Weinreich, et al., v. Toyota Motor Sales, et al.

Update from Nov 19, 2019: Ashely Graham Mon 18-Nov-19 14:13

Mr. Jones,

Thank you for speaking with me today in regards to your Toyota 4Runner. I spoke with Mr. Bell and he absolutely wants your information in regards to this claim. I asked Mr. Bell about the current class action year models and he stated that we will probably be adding older models to this class action as well. So please forward the photos, diary and also any and all documentation of your 4Runner along with bills for repairs. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know.



Ashley Graham

219 North Ridge Street Georgetown, SC 29440 o: 843.546.2408 f: 843.546.9604

- jonzn4suse, Willingboro, US

problem #33

May 182020

4Runner Limited 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,320 miles

I was so excited to find a 4runner for sale. My dad has owned Toyota's my entire life and had them for many years before upgrading. We were both so excited. The price was right the mileage was young compared to what you can get from this brand.

Then one day at work my boss came in from lunch telling me my gas tank was lying on the ground in the parking lot. My mechanic told me that the under body was completely rusted out and all the bolts had to be replaced. Then the VSC light was on. Then the check engine light kept coming on. Then the front brakes had to be replaced. Then the power steering sprung a leak. $1300 worth of work had to be done.

Then the noise from the back. Rear brakes? I take it to my mechanic for rear brakes and he tells me that there's around $4000 worth of things needing to be fixed in order for it to be drive-able. Including the brakes, brake lines, radiator leak, the rear differential is leaking, the frame is in terrible shape and it would be best to get into another vehicle. WHAT?!?!?!? It only has 154000 miles. I have only had it 2 1/2 years.

Second mechanic, same story.

You really should stop driving this vehicle. The holes in the frame are too many for this to be safe on the road. I have never seen so much rust in such a young 4runner. I am so disheartened by this news. I was not hoping to be looking for another car so soon. Toyota, I am deeply disappointed in the results of this long awaited purchase.

- Jen M., Grawn, MI, US

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problem #32

Jan 062020

4Runner Sport Edition V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 225,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion excessive rust/corrosion

I always buy Toyota. I traded in my Toyota Tacoma truck due to the rust recall for my used certified 2003 4Runner Sport Edition. I absolutely love my 4Runner. It runs excellent and never really has a problem and I never knew there was a problem until my muffler guy told me about the frame being unsafe.

I bought Toyota because they last. I would never think the frame would go out before the engine would. From what I have read, it cost a lot to replace the frame. The body shop said they won't even repair the frame due to liability. Now I have a perfectly wonderful Toyota that has a lot of life in it still but has to be scrapped due to the frame being almost rusted through. 2003 4Runners should be included in the rust recall. Now I have to buy another vehicle to replace a perfectly good excellent running 4Runner.

I'm going to have to drive it until I can afford another, and that sort of frightens me since its unsafe. Toyota should back their product and add this vehicle to their recall and replace the frame or compensate me so I can buy another vehicle.

- lauriefish, Dover, US

problem #31

May 172019

4Runner Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


I can't understand why Toyota never recalled my 2003 4runner - the body looks great but when you open the drivers door you can see the frame is rusted. I had both the rear shocks replace because they under carriage was all rusted then I was told by the mechanic the frame will have to be replaced!! I bought this car brand new and feel I paid way to much money for it to fall apart! I contacted Toyota and was told they haven't recalled the '03 as of yet but keep checking back b/c they are investigating the rust problem!


- Flipper K., CINCINNATI, US

problem #30

Mar 012021

4Runner 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,253 miles

The car runs beautifully, however the Toyota dealership where I get it maintained states that the frame is so rusted it is unsafe to drive. I took it to a body shop and they said that this year's 4Runner (2003) is notorious for frame rusting. I cannot believe that Toyota whose brand is recognized for quality has not addressed this via a recall. This is unconscionable.

- Mufi N., Benton Harbor, MI, US

problem #29

Oct 092020

4Runner Limited 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

How can the rest of the car be fine and the frame be rusted through in places?

- Chris H., Tarboro, NC, US

problem #28

Mar 022021

4Runner Sport 6-4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 250,000 miles

I have severe rust on the back hatch above the brake light. Its rusted through completely. I can't afford a whole new back door. Toyota needs to recall this issue and fix it. There are thousands of complaints just like mine.

- Jodi G., Sandy, US

problem #27

Jan 012015

4Runner SR5 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


Had my car serviced at local station and they warned that my frame rust is so bad that they had trouble finding a jack point. Mechanic mentioned this being a major Toyota issue and recalls were available. I called Local Toyota dealership who said its not a recall for my vehicle. I was told they do have recall for tundra and Tacoma models??? My question is, does my vehicle have the same frame as these recalled models?

I do love my Toyota, but this issue may be enough for me to stay away from this brand in future. Bad Toyota!

Come on Toyota, do what's right and fix this issue. Your brands reputation is at stake

- clemsun29rf, Jackson, US

problem #26

Nov 152019

4Runner Sport 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I just found out that the frame of my vehicle has significantly deteriorated due to rust. There are holes in the frame, welds that have rusted completely through, and one of the transmission mounts is gone. I was told "DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE!!" by the body shop who reviewed the frame. He said that he normally sees this type of rust on vehicles that are 30-40 years old!! He also said that the entire frame and all rusted parts will need to be replaced and would cost between $12,000 and $15,000 depending on the parts that need to be replaced. My truck only has 122,000 miles on it, and the body, paint, and interior are immaculate! Toyota needs to step up and offer to perform this repair at their cost, or at a minimum, provide me with a new frame that has been properly rust proofed. They knew about the issues with the frames rusting out on these 4Runners and are denying owner claims. I expected more from the Toyota Motor Company. I will never buy another Toyota vehicle again! I'll post photos at a later date.

- Tim K., Cherry Hill, US

problem #25

Sep 152019

4Runner SR5 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,691 miles

I went to my local mechanic for a yearly inspection. Frame is over rusted and falling apart at multiple places and cracked. My vehicle is unsafe and needs repairs and does not pass inspection. The damage are worth over $2000.

- Maxime D., Saint-François, NB, Canada

problem #24

Aug 202018

4Runner Limited 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 235,000 miles

Frame is rusted to where its unsafe to drive. Toyota denies knowing about it despite recalling similar models. Only way we will get recall is if you file your complaint on

There is an investigation under way! The more complaints, info, and pics the better we will all come out. Report your complaints now! Dont wait hopefully they will speed up and conclude their investigation making toyota recall the 4runner frames. Act Now! It's up to us to make it happen!

- mcguyver , Kindred, US

problem #23

Jul 012015

4Runner Limited 4.7p

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I am so disappointed! I considered Toyota a quality product, this is our third Toyota, was going to buy two more. Took my 2003 4Runner in for new exhaust, they refused to put it on a lift due to sever frame rust passenger side. I bought a Chevy this time around, not sure what to replace my wife’s 4Runner yet.

- Gerald K., Bethel, MN, US

problem #22

Jan 012019

4Runner LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

We have 5 Toyota vehicles. Most have been okay. The frame and undercarriage on this vehicle is rusted beyond belief. It is really scary. The motor would run forever, that is why we bought it, but the rust may take down this vehicle, or cause loss in an accident. So disappointed.

- Cynthia W., Stillwater, MN, US

problem #21

Dec 192016

4Runner V8 5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 179,957 miles

Back hatch wouldn't open. Dealership said I had to take it to a body shop. It was rusted shut. Now I have a rusted rear frame and my 4runner is unsafe to drive. Dealership said I have to have it towed from lot. CANNOT DRIVE IT.

- Kimberly D., Sugar Grove, US

problem #20

Apr 012016

4Runner Limited 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,954 miles

My 2003 4Runner has significant corrosion on the frame and under the truck, including steering components and front end parts. Also, about 4 months ago while driving on the highway, my gas tank fell out causing the vehicle to stall out obviously and putting me in a dangerous situation. The gas tank straps and skid plate rotted out and broke while driving. I oil spray this vehicle every year before the winter and it is still rotting way!

- tonysrotties, Hamilton, ON, Canada

problem #19

Apr 082019

4Runner Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 255,089 miles

My 2003 Toyota 4Runner Failed State Inspection today for the first time ever due to Extreme Frame Rust. The vehicle is totally unsafe to drive because of rusted out holes in the metal frame. Yes, if I drove over large pothole or involve in a collision, this vehicle would separate in pieces and not to mention what level of bodily harm you would sustain. Even though my odometer reads 255,000+ miles, the engine seems to be able to run another 200,000 plus miles with no electrical or mechanical issues and body looks fantastic for the year. On-the-hand vehicle frame below is in horrible condition, with holes rusted through the metal and no signs of any under coat paint protection (hate to lose such a wonderful vehicle). Please add my vehicle and safety concerns to the list of other 4th Generation Toyota 4Runners owners facing the same frame rust issue.


problem #18

Mar 102019

4Runner SR5 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I really wish the 4 Runner class action suit included the 2003 year. The rust was very significant even 15,000 miles ago. Now my mechanic has deemed it unsafe to drive with only 92,000 miles on it.

- Glenn T., Jacksonville, US

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