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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
85,786 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.

2004 Toyota 4Runner brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #11

Nov 262015


  • miles


Loss of coolant with no visible signs of leaking. Replaced so many things and keep getting misfires and vsc lights on constantly. Rough start up for about 30 seconds every time started. Slight over heating if idling... all points now lead to blown head gasket in which I read more and more and common with 04 V6S.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #10

Jan 222016


  • 79,000 miles
I have an ongoing problem with our 2004 Toyota 4runner. It started about 4 years ago when the Maryland state emmission test facility plugged into my odbi2 port. All the dash lights were on and I went in to the office and complained. I filed a form with emissions. I work out of town, my wife is a teacher and we have two small kids. Going to the dealer was not an option until school was our. In the mean time the truck drove fine other than no four wheel drive and the tires spinning if you hit the peddle to hard (no traction control or stability control. Took the truck to the dealer over the summer and they had to reset the values for $110 the four wheel drive would no longer engage. Toyota dealer said all the values being erased was a common problem with that year and mva cheep scanners. Maryland said they called Toyota and no one had ever had that problem. Have had this happen again last emission test. Biggest problem is that the 4 wheel drive no longer functions. The actuator doesn't engage the 4 wheel drive. This was apparent when my wife lost control and nearly flipped the trick over after picking up the kids in a snow storm. I climbed under the truck in the snow and pulled the cover off the actuator, pulled out the plastic gears and manually shifted it into 4 wheel drive to get it home. The four wheel drive system was always used at least every month until the emission test problems just to keep it lubericated. The 4 wheel drive or lack there of, could have caused death or serious injury to my wife and kids. This actuator is a serious problem, if they can't design a actuator that operates when you need four wheel drive, especially in an emergency than go back to the old stick and linkage. 55 people died in the blizzard of 2016 and there could have been 3 more just because of a design flaw! P.S. my wife and I bought it new, never off road!

- Forest Hill, MD, USA

problem #9

Jul 072015


  • 60,285 miles
I was driving home at around 50 mph and had to brake and suddenly the vsc/ABS brake dash indicator lights came on and a loud alarm started to sound. I did not hit anything, I just pressed the brake pedal and whole system went off. I was very close to the exit to a Toyota service center, a couple blocks away, so I drove very carefully to it and parked the car. When the service representative started the car again, the vsc, ABS, brake dash indicator lights illuminated with the audible alarm once again. She also said the brakes were hard and that I should not drive it anywhere. Replacement of the system cost me around $3700, out of pocket. Since there was no accident or collision, my insurance company said they don't cover maintenance repairs. After checking if there had been a recall on this issue, which there wasn't and reading about other Toyota owners experiencing the same problems with the vsc/ABS brake dash electronic system, I truly believe there should be a recall on the Toyota vehicles using this vsc/ABS brake system. A faulty brake system is a very dangerous issue that needs to be addressed. My car has only around 60K miles on it and I am the original owner of this Toyota 4runner.

- Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #8

Aug 092014


  • 187,529 miles


Driving on the interstate in North Carolina vsc light turned on, tsc light turned on, ABS light turned on, brake light turned on. Car was drivable for a short period of time then braking became extremely difficult. Limped home with my 3 year old in her car seat and luckily was able to do so without incident as given time of day and location from home, very light traffic made travel possible. Several times though I contemplated stopping and calling a tow service. Took the car to the dealer, it's a $3000 part the ABS module and $700 installation price.

- Lancaster, SC, USA

problem #7

Jun 302014


  • 99,000 miles
Suffered sudden, catastrophic failure of vsc/ABS brake system while driving. Vsc, ABS, brake dash indicator lights illuminated with an audible alarm. Vehicle operated normally for about 1 mile, then lost most braking control. Narrowly avoided collision with another vehicle due to having minimal brake system. Had to use evasive steering and emergency brake maneuvers to slow and stop vehicle. After researching this issue on auto repair blogs there seems to be a common issue with the vsc/ABS system in most Toyota vehicles, especially Camry's. replacement of the defective part costs $3200 and Toyota refuses to acknowledge the problem or help pay for the repair since my vehicle is out of warranty. Catastrophic brake failure should not be tolerated by any manufacturer. Personally, I believe a recall is needed on all Toyota vehicles using the vsc/ABS systems before more serious accidents, injuries or deaths occur.

- Lynn Haven, FL, USA

problem #6

Jan 072014


  • 118,000 miles
Driving vehicle in frigid weather and engine service light went on, followed by vsc trac light and vsc off light going on. Went to service station they checked car and were able to turn off engine light. Took vehicle to empire Toyota in oneonta NY 1/18 and was told low battery caused problem. Diagnosis and battery change cost $202.33. I/29 same 3 lights go on. Returned to dealer, told computer sensed a future possible problem with catalytic converter and car designed to disable vehicle stability control system (a personal safety system) because of a possible future exhaust emission problem. Price quoted on catalytic repair was $2,200. Repair offer declined, engine light reset - dealer refused to turn vsc system stating it couldn't be done unless cat. Was replaced; charger another $86.40 for diagnosis of same problem. I have been forced to drive vehicle through ice & snow with this " vsc -safety feature" intentionally shut off. To date engine light has not gone pack on indicating to me there has been no cat problem, yet my safety has been intentionally compromised.

- Charlotteville, NY, USA

problem #5

Aug 222013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 144,094 miles


Driving to coral gables at around 20 mph, all of sudden four lights comes on and loud beeping noise. Vsc, trac off, ABS & brake lights on at the same time, brake peddle is hard and no brakes at all. I had to go into neutral try the emergency brake to try and stop and pull over, I had to tow my truck home, I call the Toyota dealer they told me they I need to replace the complete brake master cylinder assembly costing $2600.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #4

Oct 112012


  • 105,000 miles
Driving on the highway going straight at 55 mph, with my foot on the accelerator only (with no loss of stability or control and no wet conditions), suddenly and simultaneously a beeping noise from the dashboard occurs along with the 4runner pulling real hard to the left. (almost as if I pulled the steering wheel abruptly to make a left turn...). also feels like brake is applied during all of this to the front left tire causing me to lose acceleration - regardless of having my foot on the accelerator. I took my car to the dealer a year ago when this happened and they said nothing was wrong. It happened again this morning and I took it to the Toyota dealer. Both instances nearly caused an accident.

- Springfield, PA, USA

problem #3

Oct 012006


  • 60,000 miles
Warning lights began coming on around 60,000 miles or so. Started with the low tire pressure light & now has progressed to the vsc on, vsc off, ABS warning lights being on all the time and the low tire pressure light is still on. I have taken this vehicle into 2 different dealers to be fixed for 40,000 miles or around 3 years which amounts to multiple trips to the dealer, waiting while they work on it or going without a vehicle for days at a time while they try to figure out what is wrong. They have replaced ABS sensors, engine computers, brakes, speed sensor wires, reset computers, ordered new valve stems for the tires. I can get online & find thousands of complaints regarding the same issue in Toyota & Lexus vehicles since at least 2001. The dealerships look at me like I am the very first & only person to ever mention these problems. The solutions online have ranged from defective master cylinder/brake booster assembly, faulty ignition coil, O2 sensors, vsc computers, catalytic converters & brake pedal switches. Also problems with the exhaust system & acceleration module under the console was listed as fixing these issues. Why has this issue not been addressed and/or fixed in 8 years " there have been times when my brakes did not work, times when they barely worked, times when I put the brakes on & it abruptly pulls to the left or right & a couple of times when my vehicle would not accelerate as I was pulling across traffic. As I read of these "freak" accidents lately with Toyota, I have to wonder if they really are "freak accidents". I do not want my family or myself to be one of the Toyota fatalities this year or anytime. When is something going to be done ? how many more innocent people have to die "

- Makanda, IL, USA

problem #2

Oct 072006


  • 5,740 miles
Chk engine light, vsctrac light, trac off light all came on while driving down the road. Took to dealer, found gas cap off, chk light then went out but others did not. Dealer said all is ok vsc trac and trac off will go out after a few driving cycles. They have not yet. This IS11/19/2008. While lights are on vsc and trac do not work. Had obd scanned shows no code at this time.

- Bartlesville, OK, USA

problem #1

Oct 012008


  • 85,000 miles
While driving, noticed that the vehicle decelerated quickly when letting off the accelerator. Returned home and after exiting the vehicle found flames in the area of the left, front wheel. The brake rotors on both left and right front were glowing red hot. Root cause was found to be a yaw rate sensor failure caused a computer to apply the brakes and leave them applied while driving.

- Noblesville, IN, USA

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