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:
83,822 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 #15

Feb 022016

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


I'm an owner of a 2003 4runner and have researched the issues involving the paint on the wheels pealing. I have found that it is an issue with several, if not all wheels that Toyota uses on their 4 runners and other trucks. Why does Toyota continue to sell and use a wheel when they know it is defective, and why aren't they correcting the problem by issuing refunds, or repair services? the defect leads to the wheel being corroded and eventually compromises the integrity of the wheel's strength. The safety of the wheel is a big concern of mine, especially since the problem continues to get worse. Sincerely, [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #14

May 292015

4Runner 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 179,000 miles
Rotting out frame with gaping holes. There are several large holes in the frame, and along the weld lines and soft spots leading to more as well. Unsafe to drive and now off the road (I am now without a car or value for trade in). Apparently, according to 3 separate mechanics I brought the truck to, it resembles the Tacoma rotting that led to recall (that I had never known about). According to last mechanic who I was going to get a quote for repair said the whole frame is rotted, soft spots in several other areas, and it is a matter of time and not worth fixing. I have called Toyota twice and they basically said "to bad for you". nothing they are going to do. I've taken good care of my car, bought it new and have been the only driver. Planned on another couple years at least. Very disappointed in Toyota and lucky that I was in get to an inspection sticker as I wouldn't have known. I imagine could have been very dangerous to myself and the general public hadn't I been made aware....updated 07/30/15 updated 9/24/15

- Alton, NH, USA

problem #13

May 152014


  • 27,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the dashboard was developing a crack on the passenger side. The vehicle was taken to two different independent mechanics and both stated that the air bag was leaking causing the dashboard to crack. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 27,000.

- Fort Washington, PA, USA

problem #12

Aug 202014

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 77,000 miles


My 2003 4runner has a big rust problem... the frame is rotting at an exponential rate... recently took in for an oil change, and my mechanic said the frame was severely rusted out, and was starting to have perforations...I haul my children around in the vehicle and it is starting to worry me that it is going to be unsafe to drive... I called Toyota to try and remedy the situation, but they pretended like there was no problem... I have done lots of research and found thousands of complaints with 4runner owners in the same years and body styles as mine who are having the same exact problem- this needs to be recalled by Toyota before someone gets killed, if it hasn't already happened...

- Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #11

Jan 012013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Dashboard is melting becoming sticky and cracking due to heat exposure. Dashboard is defective and needs to be replaced. Their is a high risk the dashboard could fall apart and cause a serious accident.

- Plantation, FL, USA

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problem #10

Aug 262014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 147,084 miles
My dashboard is melting from the sun. It's sticky, cracking and everything is sticking to it. The safety and biggest issue is the glare on the windshield affecting my ability to see clearly. It's the entire dash, but most of the glare is on the driver's side.

- Seminole, FL, USA

problem #9

Apr 062014


  • 120,750 miles


While in process of replacing serpentine belt and idler pulleys on engine, I noticed (after removing lower engine shield under vehicle) significant rust damage to front frame segment under radiator support. The right side tow hook and corner of frame it was mounted to fell off in my hand when I touched it. Upon further inspection, there are other parts of vehicle frame with rust damage, though none appear to be as severe as area of frame underneath radiator. This portion of frame appears to connect the two side frame rails together.

- Glenville, NY, USA

problem #8

Oct 122012

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
The dash of my 4 runner has split all the way across the front. It's not from the sun because my car is in the garage when I'm not at work. I keep my windows cracked when I'm at work it's hot outside. It's on the front where all my gauges are not on the top. I googled the problem I have and it looks like I'm not the only one with this problem. One picture I saw looked just like mine. I took it to our locate Toyota dealership and they said they have never saw one split like it has split. I'm not the only one with this problem. If you need pictures I will send them to you. Please look into this. Thank you

- Hogansville, GA, USA

problem #7

Apr 302004

4Runner 8-cyl

  • miles
Dashboard is cracked from driver side to passenger side. Spider web like cracks over glove box.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #6

Jun 012011

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the dashboard was cracked from the driver to the passenger side air bag areas. The contact was concerned that the air bags would deploy. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 115,000 and the current mileage was 118,364. Updated 02/28/12

- Douglasville, GA, USA

problem #5

Feb 022009

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


Dash cracking in 2003 Toyota 4 runner. Cracks materialized from drivers side to passenger side. Numerous. Exact dealer recommendations to not use anything other than a damp cloth to clean the dash board. This SUV is garaged and normally not out in direct sunlight. I haven't seen a dash crack like this since the old ones back in the late 70's. Toyota needs to step up to the plate and fix this obvious flaw in their dash design.

- Ocoee, FL, USA

problem #4

Aug 282010


  • 68,500 miles
2003 toytoa 4-runner that has a 5 to 6 in crack in the pasenger side dash that could cause huge problems with the airbag if it were to deploy. With this crack II the dash it could cause the airbag to not deploy, not deploy properly or pop when deploying. In all of these situations a passenger could be severly injured or killed because of this problem. They are numerous reports of this happening and Toyota has just said that they will not fix it because if you have used armoral or a cleaner such as this it can cause this crack. I have never used this on my vehicle and will only use a damp clouth to wipe down the dash. The vehicle is always in the garage and when outdoors in the sun then I place sunshades in the front window to reflect the sun away from the dash. The failure was discovered when driving to work one morning and according to reports on Toyota sites this is a frequent occurence for all Toyota vehicles. Nothing was done to correct the issue or to fix the problem.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #3

Aug 082010


  • 15,000 miles
I have a crack in the dash 1 foot long above the passenger airbag only 15000 miles on truck. Alot of other post are on the internet with same crack or more. It has always been garaged. I am worried that something will spill and short the airbag. For a truck drove so little and always in the dark this should not happen. Toyota place 9670 trask av garden grove ca asked Toyota to replace it they said it was a defect. Anika from Toyota came to look at a showroom condition truck and said no it is out of warranty. I would have to pay to replace it if I am worried about it. It would be $1000. I do not have the money at this time. They do not care. Called Toyota on same day they said anika said no so that is as good as in stone nothing more to talk about. This is the new Toyota money over safety.

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #2

May 152007

4Runner 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated the dashboard was exhibiting cracks near the air bag. The failure began years prior but became progressively worse over time. The dealer advised him to contact the manufacturer. The manufacturer was contacted but would not provide any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage was 123,000. Updated 10/20/10 updated 10/26/10

- Boca Raton, FL, USA

problem #1

Jul 192008


  • 67,000 miles
The gas-filled struts that holds up the hood experienced premature failure. Once the hood is opened, the hood would begin slowing coming down and the pace picks up. The hood would slam shut violently and can potential cause injury to someone who is working on the engine.

- Westminster, CA, USA

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