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:
121,810 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 steering problems

steering 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 #14

Aug 202016


  • 167,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While driving 65 mph, the vsc and traction control warning indicators illuminated. The anti-lock braking system engaged and locked the front brakes. The vehicle violently pulled to the left lane and the steering and brakes failed. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure and repair the vehicle. The manufacturer stated that they were unaware of the failure previously occurring. The failure mileage was approximately 167,000.

- East Hartford, CT, USA

problem #13

May 112016


  • 155,545 miles
Steering binds and sometimes prevents a continued turn. Have to over power steering wheel to complete turns in either direction. Not a fluid, pump, steering rack issue from what I can tell. Understand it may be an unprotected steering shaft U-joint. Dangerous situation if not corrected asap as issue gets worse very quickly.

- Spanish Fort, AL, USA

problem #12

Oct 062015

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 203,000 miles
While driving on the highway the passenger rear side of my Toyota 4runner began to move up and down and wobble making the car wander all over the road. We immediately went to the local Toyota dealer, carver Toyota of columbus in taylorsville, in. Inspecting the car on the passenger rear side we found that the rear suspension had pulled away from the frame where the frame had completely rusted leaving a big hunk out of the frame. There was extensive rusting of the frame in multiple places. The car was inspected and photographed by matt Warren, service manager at carver Toyota and was determined to be undriveable. This is a well maintained vehicle which is in tip-top condition in every other respect than the rusted frame. We are very upset to lose a good car which still had a lot of value still left in it to us. We also feel that this is a very important safety issue. We were incredibly lucky that neither we nor anybody else on the highway that day were injured by this dangerous situation. And we are very concerned that this has been reported in other 4runners as well and there hasn't been a recall and these dangerous vehicles are still on the road. We are holding on to the vehicle hoping that there will be some remedy for this situation. Thank you so much for your attention.

- Nashville, IN, USA

problem #11

Jul 162015


  • 135,000 miles


Steering locked up during turn into busy parking lot sheetz store and gas station safely stopped vehicle after trouble shooting the problem we sprayed penetrating oil on lower steering shaft universal we moved vehicle to be towed home waiting for parts complete failure could have been deadly if driving at highway speed. This is the second rust problem we have had with Toyota nothing was ever done we lost a 1997 Toyota T-100 in an accident due to frame failure.

- Hunker, PA, USA

problem #10

Mar 092015


  • 182,700 miles
I purchased this 4runner in March, 2015. I began to notice a vibration in the steering wheel at 63mph. I thought it was brakes, I had brakes and rotors surfaced on 3/12/15. Still vibrating! so I figured it was a simple balancing issue, I took it on the same day to have it balanced. It started vibrating and shaking worse! I had the same mechanic re-balance and rotate the wheels/tires. It road the same. They turned me to the Toyota dealership because they have the road enforce balancer. I took it to Toyota to have them test drive first, they claimed it was indeed out of balance. Toyota balanced. I drove it and it was shaking like a leaf at 32-70mph. I had Toyota re-balance again! I drove it again and it remained worse. They informed me that they didn't know what else to do. I left thinking that it was my wheels and or my tires because in my mind Toyota knows best! I went to where the tires were bought, tires are 3 months new. They informed me that this same 4runner had been brought in by the previous owner with the exact same issue. They pulled the wheels off and pulled me aside to show me how excessive the balancing weights were on each rim and some all the way around rim (Toyota's doing). They balanced using the haweka, it drove better but still vibrating at 32-70mph. They re-balanced again, still same issue. They used a different set of wheels and balanced again, same issue. They installed my original wheels back on and re-balanced again, same issue! they checked hubs, bearings, alignment, brakes, rotors, boots, axle and everything checks out. I have invested nearly 4 days and $300 in locating the issue. I have done research and so many Toyota 4runner owners are complaining about the same issue. I am clueless and don't know what else to do. I am running out of patience and money! please help!

- Thomasville, NC, USA

problem #9

Aug 012014

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Exposed parts of Toyota steering components all rusted tight. Very dangerous when it finally locks. I am sure there was a recall notice on this when I first got the vehicle. They seem to have wanted to hide this issue. Replaced the rack and pinion the steering rack and steering knuckle. Hose ends corroded so bad had to replace it also.

- Senoia, GA, USA

problem #8

Jun 242013


  • 125,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the steering wheel failed. The steering wheel became hard to turn and the vehicle was taken to a mechanic for inspection. The failure was located at the steering wheel system, which failed due to severe corrosion that expanded to the transmission lines and the frame. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 125,000.

- Coventry , RI, USA

problem #7

Mar 062012

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
The driver side inner and outer tie rods completely stripped out the adjustment threads on the driver side, resulting in the outer tie rod decoupling and the driver wheel assy swinging out of phase with the passenger tire, thus immobilizing the vehicle. This incident occurred in a parking lot, thank god, as a freeway speed failure would have resulted in potential catastrophe. I scanned the internet for similar failures and got multiple hits. The dealer does not show this failure in any safety recalls. This vehicle is the limited edition with a V8. This seems like a safety issue the gov.'t should look at if my case turns out not to be isolated. Car was aligned by a Toyota dealer approx 1 yr ago.

- Post Falls, ID, USA

problem #6

Jul 182011


  • 125,000 miles
The steering felt like it had been briefly catching or grabbing on something, so we took it in for service since this is a safety issue when the car does not turn as expected. The mechanic said the steering coupler was rusted, causing it to bind up with the joint when turning. He said the part is completely exposed on the underside of the car, and it rots with the road water salt, etc. The part was unavailable and the parts place said they have sold so many of them recently that it was on backorder. The part has now come in and we will be repairing it tomorrow. We replaced the same part for the same reason on our 2004 Toyota sienna six months ago. I would like to know why this has not been a recall issue for Toyota. I have had the same thing happen on both of my Toyota vehicles, and has cost me money to fix something that appears to be improperly designed to last. There is a recall on the spare tire cable that is rotting from exposure, and I don't understand how there can be no recall related to something that impacts the ability to steer the vehicle as expected. Thank you.

- East Greenwich, RI, USA

problem #5

Jun 012011

4Runner 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the subframe was rusted, causing the transmission to hang very low. As a result, the vehicle was inoperable. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the transmission was re-attached. The manufacturer was aware of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 129,000...updated 09/19/11 also, the steering intermediate shaft needed to be replaced. Updated 10/28/11

- Hillsboro, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jan 042010


  • 90,000 miles


Binding or sticking power steering on 2003 Toyota 4runner. Occurred continuously beginning at about 90,000 miles. Dealer replaced steering "joint" at cost of $500. Tended to lock in straight-ahead position unless extreme force was applied.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #3

Jan 302008


  • 66,000 miles
I own a 2003 4 runner and also my daughter. I have reported the following issue to Toyota and also have taken the vehicle to a dealer. On snowy or icy roads, the rear end of the 4 runner will flip around when accelerating around a corner at very low speeds. It has happened to me three times and to my daughter 3 or 4 times. Both vehicle have new tires and the situation still occurs. I live in nc and we do not get a lot of snow. It happen a week ago when we got some snow. It can just happen so fast. My daughter is scared to drive it. Our 2000 4 runner would not come close of acting this way. Bottomline, it is unsafe. You must be extremely cautious or you will spin the car around.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #2

Jun 232009


  • 71,100 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota 4runner. While driving 30 mph, the steering wheel shook very badly. The contact pulled the vehicle over because he thought he had a flat tire, but that was not the case. The vehicle was taken to have the tire pressure checked and then to the dealer for inspection. The shaking only occurs while driving over 30 mph. The contact stated that there was a recall for this vehicle. The dealer checked the recall database, but found no recalls. The vehicle is currently at the dealer for inspection. There is a recall for the 2001-2002 Toyota 4runner regarding the suspension and the contact believes that the same failure is occurring on his vehicle. The failure mileage was 71,100 and the current mileage was unknown.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #1

Feb 102004

4Runner 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles
Steering wheel has resonate vibration at certain engine RPM. It is not tire vibration but more like a buzz at these speeds. We filed for arbitration and lost because arbitrator would not drive the vehicle to feel the problem. Toyota has refused to fix though they know of the problem fleet wide. I feel that a total recall of this model is necessary.

- Saltillo, MS, USA

Not what you are looking for?