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
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
157,684 miles
Total Complaints:
7 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

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

body / paint problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #7

Aug 252016

4Runner Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,580 miles


This is a well documented problem: severe body rust on 2003 4 Runners, even if well cared for. The Toyota dealer told me the car is unsafe to drive. The 4 Runner should be included in the settlement that Toyota is making for the Tacoma and Tundra frames that have had the same condition. My understanding is that the Tacoma has the same frame with the same issues, so the 4 Runner should certainly be included in the 2016 settlement.

- , Concord, MA, US

problem #6

Jan 012012

4Runner V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Had to have frame welded in many areas. In addition my spare tire fell from its hoist when the winch gave way, exhaust hanger gave out, brake lines needed replacing. Frame is totally rusted and I believe is a danger. I believe the engine mounts will give out soon.

- , Tenants Harbor, ME, USA

problem #5

Jun 012015

4Runner Sport 5.3L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

Let me start off by saying I absolutely LOVE my 4Runner but the frame/rust issues it has are just awful. The entire underbody is rusting like crazy and so is the tailgate and bottom of the doors. Yes we live in Ohio but it has always been meticulously maintained and washed and waxed frequently. It only has 136,000 miles on it which is great for a 2003 but I just don't foresee the frame holding up as long as the engine. I sure wish it would be been part of the huge frame recall that Toyota had. It certainly seems that there are plenty of other 4 Runners out there with the same issue. We are going to get it up on a lift soon and I will post pics. It's pretty darn bad. I just don't know what we will end up doing with it. :(

- , Plain City, OH, USA

problem #4

Jan 262016

4Runner SR5 Sport Edition 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,208 miles


click to see larger images

excessive rust/corrosion

That is one of many pictures, the entire frame is perforated in several spots. It passed inspection Jan 25, 2015 just before we purchased vehicle but failed inspection last month. So far Toyota has refused to state there is a problem. I have asked them to include the 4Runners in the recall of the Tacoma's and Tundra's with the same rusting frame issues. The whole underside of our 4Runner is eaten up with rust to the point that a mechanic was able to punch new holes in frame with his hammer while knocking off rust so he could give me an estimate to repair.

- , Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #3

Dec 072015

4Runner SR5 V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 250,000 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!

Does anyone know if Toyota has a recall on the Toyota 4 runners?

- , Dry Ridge, KY, USA

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problem #2

Jan 302015

4Runner SR5 V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

Frame rusted?? Holes in THE FRAME??? How do the engineer's of Toyota sleep at night, knowing massive lawsuits can be filed against them for knowingly causing potential harm to human lives??

Is there a Class Action Lawsuit filed yet?

They replaced frames on Tundra's & Tacoma's..why not replace these POS frames that they slapped under our feet and put on the roads..

even the all mighty Tow Hook on our 4Runner ripped right off-I guess the term "tin can" is true..I can not believe the TSA isn't doing anything.

Well..Full coverage & a fully filled out Will is required to drive these rigs.

- , Milford, NH, US

problem #1

Oct 142014

4Runner 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

2003 Toyota 4Runner has excessive amount of rust and corrosion on the frame and undercarriage. Took the vehicle to a local mechanic to have a rattling sound checked out. Turns out, the heat shield broke loose and was resting on the exhaust assembly. Also, an exhaust pipe hangar was ready to come loose. In addition to this, the mechanic informed me the gas tank supports were also rotted away.

About a week before this, I had taken it to a local Toyota dealership (Prime Toyota) for an accelerator recall. They told me about the pipe hangar but never mentioned anything else except for a $917.75 estimate to replace the exhaust system. Since then, I've been checking if anyone else has had similar problem and yes, especially with the Tacoma. It's been recalled for the same problem. Anyway, I filed a complaint with Toyota Motor Corp. and also a safety complaint with the NHTSA/ODI. I'm thinking about removing the spare before it drops.

Update from Oct 12, 2016: Just wanted to update a previous complaint about excessive corrosion and rust on the frame on my 03' 4-Runner. It's not surprising that it's gotten worse in the last couple of years. So bad, in fact, that the mechanic advised me to avoid driving it at highway speeds. I called the local Toyota dealership where I bought it to see if there were any recalls on it (like the Tacoma and Tundra models) NO! Further research found this problem widespread and dangerous. I filed a complaint with the NHTSA. I've got to add that, aside from this one problem, this SUV has been one of the best vehicles I've owned.

- , Leominster, MA, USA

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