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:
129,575 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

problem #7

Apr 032015

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 195,531 miles


No failure. Flame is rusted through in parts and vehicle deemed unsafe to drive by dealership during routine maintenance. Failure is imminent and could be catastrophic. Toyota factory personnel handling complaints acknowledged the risk associated with a rusted frame, but insisted that they could do nothing. Frame is same/similar to the Tundra and Tacoma vehicles of like model year, both of which have had manufacturer recalls. No factory support exists for the 4runner. I am to keep my receipt for any repairs and if a recall happens in the future, Toyota would "consider" reimbursing me for costs.

- Sparta, NJ, USA

problem #6

Mar 202015

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 243,028 miles
2003 4runner was in for service and I was informed that there was an excessive amount of rust damage on the front frame cross member and there is a danger that the radiator, which is supported by the cross member, could shift or work loose. The rust damage is most evident near the front right (passenger side) frame member where the tow hook is mounted. Due to weakness in this area, the tow hook pulled out when the truck was being winched onto a flatbed for towing.

- Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #5

Oct 282014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 71,114 miles
2003 Toyota 4runner has very excessive amount of rust and corrosion on the undercarriage. Took the vehicle to a local auto repair shop to have a rattling sound checked out. Turns out, the heat shield broke loose and was resting on the exhaust assembly. Also, a muffler hangar was ready to come loose. In addition to this, the mechanic informed me the gas tank supports were also rotted away. I've been doing some research on online forums and found that other Toyota vehicles, such as the Tacoma, have been recalled for this same problem. In the interest of safety, I think these issues merit further investigation.

- Leominster, MA, USA

problem #4

Sep 252014

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 162,352 miles


I am the original owner of the 2003 Toyota 4runner ltd. I always seen rust on the frame since I purchased the truck and had it serviced at a Toyota dealership. They never told me the rust was bad or had through holes in the frame because they never looked. Recently I decided to request the dealership to look specifically at the frame for holes. They found may holes near the gas tank crossmembers and passenger side under bumper and driver side bumper. There are no campaigns or programs to cover under warranty for corrosion issues. However we know that Toyota had a recall for 110,000 Tundra and are performing undercoating for Tacoma. (my brother is having this done on his 2006) I tow a boat with my 4runner and I am not sure if it is safe to tow anymore. I feel Toyota is responsible for the frame rusting so bad and should fix the rusted parts like they did for the Tundra or Tacoma.

- Salem, NH, USA

problem #3

Mar 082010

4Runner 6-cyl

  • miles
Frame rust through. Front main frame support.

- Yigo, GU, USA

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problem #2

Dec 052012


  • 125,000 miles
My 2003 4runner was brought in on the above date for routine service to fox Toyota, East providence, ri. The service advisor notified me that in the process of servicing the vehicle, the tech noticed severe frame rot and broken welds on the frame. This condition was confirmed by the service advisor. Service advisor then suggested that I call Toyota's customer service 800 number since there have been recalls on other vehicles based on the same frame. A series of calls to Toyota have produced no result. They are denying any responsibility for this problem. I am now afraid to be operating the vehicle, and Toyota is washing their corporate hands of responsibility beyond their basic five year warranty.

- Rumford, RI, USA

problem #1

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

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