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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,743 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #3

Sep 242007


  • miles


My 4runner has been making an awful clunking noise coming from the rear for about 2 years now. I have done some research and it seems to have happened in the Lexus GX470 as well. The 03-06 4runners have the same driveline as the Lexus and unlike Lexus, Toyota has refused to fix this problem. Please help!

- Valdosta, GA, USA

problem #2

Nov 152008


  • 79,229 miles
2003 Toyota 4runner was stuck in 4-lo, vehicle unable to travel at safe highway speeds. Part that needs replaced is transfer case actuator.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #1

Nov 052005

4Runner 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
My 2003 Toyota 4runner makes a clunk sound that is felt throughout the vehicle when coming to a stop or when beginning to take off. This was first noticed at approximately 40,000 miles. Per the Toyota dealership, removing the driveshaft and greasing the spline yoke quiets the clunk for approximately 20,000 miles. This is partly true, as the greasing quiets it, but it does not go away and the clunk get stronger every day the car is driven until you feel like you are being rear ended. Toyota states this is normal for the operation of the vehicle. It is not normal, and it is absurd to think it is normal. The car should accelerate from a stop without a clunk and come to a stop without a clunk. This problem is widely documented, but Toyota has yet to provide a fix. The "clunking" changes your driving behavior/habits in order to minimize the clunk, but in the end, the car clunks when taking off, and clunks when coming to a stop. The Toyota dealership states no damage is being incurred to the vehicle by the clunking, this may be true, but you certainly do not feel safe and secure when the vehicle clunks and shakes the car at virtually every stop and start. Toyota needs to find a fix to ensure Toyota customers are safe when they drive, feel safe when they drive, and are satisfied with the Toyota vehicle they drive.

- Newcastle, WA, USA

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