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:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
67,167 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #6

Nov 032015


  • 100,000 miles


The steering wheel cover is broken, cracked. Behind it is the air bag.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #5

Sep 182015


  • 138,000 miles
Driving 45 mph in a 45 mph zone on city street when a pickup truck failed to yield right-of-way and pulled immediately in front of 4runner. Almost zero time for breaking. 4runner hit pickup truck behind driver's door at nearly 45 mph. The truck was was moving right to left. Front end of 4runner severely damaged and frame was bent. 4runner bumper mounts just below airbag sensors were broken off. Airbags on 4runner did not activate. 4runner driver has severe concussion and other injuries. Both vehicles were totaled by the pickup truck driver's insurance carrier. The safety issue too failure of the airbag to deploy in a severe frontal collision...updated 11/12/15

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #4

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 #3

Jan 282011


  • 115,000 miles


I was stopped on the highway behind a truck making a left turn when I was rear ended by another truck going 60 mph. My 4runner was crushed between them, totaled, and my air bags never deployed. I hit the steering wheel so hard I bounced off of it and broke my seat from the momentum. When I awoke I had slid into the back seat (which is all that was really left of the vehicle). Although I am thankful to be alive, I feel that at that force, the airbags should have deployed!

- Olathe, KS, USA

problem #2

Dec 012009

4Runner 6-cyl

  • miles
Have an 2003 Toyota 4 runner, that has always been parked in my garage. It only has 40,000 miles on it & is mint condition except for one major problem, the dash. Although it does not sit outside in the sun, only in my garage, there are cracks all along the dash. Most predominantly there a diagonal crack across the passenger side airbag, as well as along all the edges of where the dash meets a curve¯ (I.e. right above the speedometer) it is extremely unfortunate that this seems to be a major problem across the dashboard with other 4runner's and sienna's, and it is also very unfortunate that due to airbag restrictions, I can't even pay someone to fix it. My concern is the diagonal crack across the passenger front airbag.

- Mckinney, TX, USA

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problem #1

Apr 162005

4Runner 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles
2003 Toyota 4 runner, limited V8 4WD- vehicle impacted a bumper barrel on freeway exit at high rate of speed approximently 50 mph. Point of impact was driver's side front quarter panel and driver's side front end. Total damage to vehicle exceeded $5000. However, neither the front or side airbags deployed. The lack of airbag deployment caused non-life threatening injuries.

- Houston, TX, USA

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