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
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,757 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #20

Oct 202016


  • miles


Took the truck for inspection it won't pass frame is rotted beyond fixing!!

- Francestown, NH, USA

problem #19

Jan 012010


  • 108,000 miles
We have owned the vehicle since 2010 and the frame is rusted completely thru.

- Elkhorn, WI, USA

problem #18

Nov 182016


  • 82,000 miles
Frame rusting out

- North Billerica, MA, USA

problem #17

Jan 012010


  • miles


Frame has rusted out.

- Weirton, WV, USA

problem #16

Oct 012016


  • miles
Frame and suspension attached to the frame corroded early. The attachments for the rear shocks are almost corroded through.

- Marshall, NC, USA

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problem #15

Jun 192014


  • 100,000 miles
My dash is cracked from drivers side to passenger side and it appears to be kind of melting. When I am driving over 50mph and my back window is down it makes an horrible noise but the dealership says its fine not

- Villa Rica, GA, USA

problem #14

Aug 122016


  • miles


My 2003 Toyota 4 runner has massive frame rot. I fixed what I could, but still fighting with the problem. I know Toyota recalled their pick up trucks because of frame issues, they should do the same for their 4 runners.

- Southington, CT, USA

problem #13

Jul 142016


  • 184,000 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!

- Bryson City, NC, USA

problem #12

Jun 012016


  • 130,009 miles
Extensive frame rust through and rear differential/axle rust the frame rust is in an area that connects the rear axle to the vehicle.

- Georgetown, KY, USA

problem #11

Jul 242015


  • 75,000 miles
The frame on my 2003 4runner has rusted to the point of breaking. Toyota had a recall on the Tacoma of the same year for this issue and that vehicle has the same frame. As an owner of a 4runner I am upset because my vehicle costs more, but Toyota will not fix this.

- Clifton Park, NY, USA

problem #10

Apr 082016


  • 180,000 miles


I purchased my 4runner new. It currently has 189,500 miles. Even though I keep my car inside my garage, the dashboard is cracked and sticky. I see many other complaints like this one. Toyota needs to fix this problem.

- Columbus, IN, USA

problem #9

Mar 312016


  • 143,000 miles
Frame is rusted through making the vehicle unsafe and will not pass safety inspection

- Spring Brook Twsp, PA, USA

problem #8

Feb 012013


  • miles
I purchased my Toyota new in 2003 and have had it serviced by the same dealer as per schedule. I have 300469 miles but have rusting frame even though I wash under frame on a regular basis. I have been told by the mechanics at the dealer that is just thw nature of the make. I plan on keeping my car because it runs very well with little or no problems witb exception of rust. The Tacoma of the same year was tecslled.for this same reason but not the 4 runner with the same frame

- Marion, OH, USA

problem #7

Mar 012014


  • miles
Toyota seems to be dragging their feet in replacing the sticky dashboards as promised. Surely they are not replacing these dashboards out of pure concern for vehicle owners. They must have been pressured through the class action lawsuits and by dragging their feet may be effectively in contempt of that promise. I first heard from Toyota in the spring of 2014 that I will be further contacted in the spring of 2015 about my replacement. After receiving that letter in the spring of 2015, I contacted my local Toyota dealership but was not able to get an appointment until June 2015. Since then I have been waiting for them to receive the necessary parts. Surely Toyota have not stopped making cars so their inability to complete their promise appears to be out of indifference. Hopefully the department of consumer protection can put more pressure on Toyota to honor their promise.

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #6

Jan 232016


  • 130,000 miles
Frame rusted out in less than 13 years on the road.

- Glen Ellyn, IL, USA

problem #5

Sep 292015


  • 65,257 miles
The frame on my 4 runner rotted so badly it was unsafe and not repairable. I took vehicle in to the dealer to have brakes worked on. When they put it up on the rack, they asked me to come back and look at it. The frame was rotten with rust. They told me that it was unsafe to drive, not practical to repair, and could only be sold for parts. This vehicle only had 65,257 miles on it. The frame was rusted so bad that the service man told me that he thought he could poke a screwdriver right through it. Large rusty chunks were falling right off of the frame. There are two steel U pieces welded, one on either side, to the front of the frame for towing purposes. One of these was hanging down by a rusty thread. I later pulled on it with my hand and it came right off with a bunch of scaly rust flakes. I have saved it as evidence of how badly the frame had disintegrated. The dealer would only allow me $100 on a trade in, but I did as I had to have a vehicle to drive. I felt very fortunate that the frame did not break up while I was driving it as I could have been killed! my working career has been as an engineer and I am very familiar with metals and corrosion, but I have never seen steel this prone to rotting.

- Walton, KY, USA

problem #4

Aug 312015


  • miles
Frame has severe rust. Much more than would ever be considered normal.

- Canandaigua, NY, USA

problem #3

Jul 012015


  • 125,000 miles
This vehicle is unsafe to drive due to the frame that supports the car is rusted out where the structure of the frame is compromised and the vehicle is unsafe to drive. Every other component on the car is in very good working order.

- Mahopac, NY, USA

problem #2

Jun 152015


  • 157,864 miles
The frame on my 2003 4runner has "perforations" in it's frame rails and the front cross-member is totally rotted away...this has been and issue with these SUVS for years..the Toyota Tacoma shares the same frame/platform as the 4runner and has had similar issues, with 1 difference Toyota has repaired many of them free of charge, but has not extended these repairs to the 4runner...a $30,000 dollar 12 year old SUV shouldn't have a rotted frame. I brought the truck to a Toyota dealership and they said "front crossmember is rotted off. Only be held by frotn skid plate. Found a hole in frame rail drivers side by fuel tank." I was then told I would be informed when a Toyota usa engineer would be able to look at it to see if they would do anything about it. I was called about a week later and told the engineer refused to look at it and would not be helping me with this matter..I then called Toyota usa and explained what was going on (I have a case # they gave me), they told me to expect a call from the dealership (where the SUV was purchased & where the frame was inspected) in 2 days..that call never came....

- Intervale , NH, USA

problem #1

Dec 172008


  • 75,000 miles
Re: 2003 4- runner I recently sold my 4-runner but want to report an incident that caused my car to crash into the side of my house causing considerable front-end damage to the car. I was maneuvering the car into its usual parking space, as I had done several hundred times before, when with my foot on the brake, the car surged forward into the side of the house. I did not report this issue at the time of the accident, but recent events have raised questions in my mind and I now believe that an acceleration issue may have been the cause of my accident. The 4-runner is not included in the recall involving floor mats or Toyota's more recent spate of braking recalls. Please advise.

- Duck, NC, USA

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