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.


definitely annoying
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
198,550 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
2003 Toyota 4Runner engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Toyota 4Runner:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #2

May 212018

4Runner Limited 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 220,065 miles


I keep getting codes 1201, 430,420. I notice I get it more in the colder (55 and below) weather, but still get the codes when its warmer.

- bananacooler, Virginia Beach, US

problem #1

Feb 012016

4Runner Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 177,000 miles

Check Engine Light and VSC Trac VSC Off lights are on and will not go out.

-Replaced spark plugs with Platinum 100k mile plugs from RockAuto for about 6.00 each -Replaced ignitor coil with OEM part from RockAuto for about 55.00 -Check engine light still on, and I think it triggers the VSC lights, as well as using a non toyota OBD code reader.

-I suspect dirty or failed fuel injector possibly. -I had several error codes, including P0301 (which is cylinder 1 misfire) and P0300 which is random cylinder misfire. Also had a P0171 error which said something about system "too lean". After changing spark plugs, breaking and repairing one ignitor wire (for cylinder 4), and running with a new ignitor, I still can't get the lights to go out. I read on RockAuto, under a rebuilt fuel injector description, that someone had the o-rings go bad on fuel injector number 1 for cylinder 1, which caused a poor seal (thus too lean)...and they replaced the fuel injector which fixed the problem. Only issue for me is the OEM part is about 150 per injector...rebuilt is about 20.00. So may just replace all since car is older (now 13 years) and I want to drive it to 300k miles.

Additionally, the VSC lights seem to trigger if you use a non toyota code reader. I've been able to clear the Check engine light but it comes back. I'm also worried that when I accelerate quickly, the check engine light flashes, which I think means the catalytic converter or O2 sensors are protesting the unburned gas or fumes going into the converter.

Anyway, I've had to learn a ton about this stuff because I'm military stationed overseas, in the middle east, with not lots of local parts or expertise. I'm still researching this issue, but I love this car and was glad to find this website and discover the green seal of awesome.

- D B., Norfolk, VA, US

Not what you are looking for?