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:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
105,986 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 (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #10

May 202014


  • 123,000 miles


1.) 4runner sat for 10-15 minutes with radio on (not running) (battery tested good/700, 701, 691 our of 75 ca) 2.) 4runner would not start, battery issue, and was subsequently jumped. 3.) drove 4runner 10 minutes, parked, tuned off and started back up just fine. 4.) 4runner sat for 3 hours, started 4runner, buzzer/warning sound emitted and brake and ABS light were on. 5.) tried disconnecting battery to see if system would reset after speaking to Toyota dealer to no avail. 6.) backed 4runner out of parking spot, lights and buzzer still in effect, and 4runner had no breaks. 7.) took 4runner to dealer, dealer cleared codes, battery test, reset brake system, test drove, all worked. 8.) drove 4runner approximately 10-11 miles, hit brakes, brakes failed, ABS and brake light on, warning/buzzer sound, crash - no fatalities. 9.) codes from dealer C1223, C1251, C1256; brake fluid level good. 10.) dealer replaced ABS and master cylinder. $3,356 repair cost. 11.) dealer (from multiple dealers in the orlando, fl msa) indicated this is a common occurrence and only by unacceptable odds do you avoid crash, death or serious injury. 12.) Toyota has no safeguards for early indication problem could or may occur. 13.) Toyota has no maintenance specifications for preventing or recognizing a possible fatal malfunction in the braking system. 14.) Toyota has no economical solution to resolve/replace the ABS pump/master cylinder and is in the top 5 most expensive parts of the vehicle. 15.) Toyota has received multiple reports from orlando, fl msa dealers from what I am told and has disregarded, neglected, refused, declined to address.

- Winter Springs, FL, USA

problem #9

Dec 102013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 77,860 miles
My wife was at the school zone taking our children to school, when she heard a noise and an alarm start to sound, the ABS and track off lights came on and the brake pedal went to the floor, she was not able to stop the vehicle, fortunately she was on school speed zone and nothing was in front of her and the vehicle stop by it self because the low speed, she was about to enter on the freeway to take our son to other school and I can't imagine what could had happen if the brakes would failed while she was at high speed on the freeway. We been searching online about other people having the same problem and we found out that this been happening to other 4 runners owners and our biggest concerns is that this can end up taking others peoples lives, because a malfunctions in this vehicle, we took the vehicle to the dealer, and certainly exist an electrical problem and since then our vehicle has been useless in storage.

- Mesquite, TX, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Mar 232013


  • 50,850 miles


I experienced a terrifying "acceleration problem" this past week as I was parking my car at a local store. I'd already slowed down to almost a halt, but as I put my foot on the brake to come to a complete stop, it suddenly lurched forward with shocking speed. I instinctively threw the gear into park; it stopped as it crashed into the steps leading to the store entrance. The cause had nothing to do with a floor mat (I don't have any) nor "sticking" gas pedal (the car had already come almost to a halt before it suddenly accelerated). The brakes were useless and felt like they were disengaged; acceleration may have occurred after depressing the brake pedal (this is still cloudy in my mind). I bought the car new, in 2004. This is the first time I've had any problem. I wondered what I might have done to cause the problem after so many years without any. I realized I'd never used the cruise control feature, until recently, only in the past few months. I was not using the cruise control feature when the incident occurred, but the sudden forward surge felt exactly like what happens when the car is on cruise control and drops beneath the speed at which it's set; it surges forward, on "its own." I believe there's a causal relationship. My concern is two-fold: Fixing a potentially deadly problem in my own Toyota, and helping identify the cause of the problem so it can be fixed by Toyota before another tragedy.

- South Woodstock, VT, USA

problem #6

Mar 162013

4Runner 8-cyl

  • miles
I opened the passenger side door to place my bag down. The car rolled out of gear down my driveway with my daughter in the front seat. Then I had to jump into the rolling car to put it back into park and the keys were not in the ignition.

- Kaneohe, HI, USA

problem #5

Jan 312013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
On 8/22/2011, phil bachman Toyota in johnson city, tn replaced a leaking left front caliper on my Toyota 4runner. The leak was so bad that the front brake pads were saturated and had to be replaced. Brake fluid covered my tire and wheel, and the wheel had several knicks from something that occurred related to the brakes and this issue. On 3/16/12, the very same problem occurred again with the left front caliper; the brake pads again had to be replaced but phil bachman did this work under warranty. On 1/31/13, the very same problem occurred but this time it was with the right front caliper, and it will cost me several hundred dollars to have this fixed. I did a google search and found that many 2003 and 2004 Toyota 4runners have this problem. Why was there not a recall by Toyota for this problem? it is a safety issue--by the time I realized what the problem was each time, my life was at risk in driving this vehicle with this type of problem.

- Erwin, TN, USA

problem #4

Aug 252012

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles


Vehicle was being parked alongside the curb when it suddenly jumped the curb, the sidewalk onto the uphill grassy landscape, hit and severed a tree, and almost crashed the house inches away, then bounced back to the street- all in about 3 seconds. The tires spun violently and left a thick residue of rubber and thick smoke throughout. The brake was hard and stuck, as I managed to put the stick to neutral and then to park. I was truly shocked and shaken that I could have hurt or killed myself or others. This is the second time this happened- the first in July 22, 2009 when the same acceleration happened when I was moving the vehicle into the garage, surged in about 2 secs. Crashing into the storage and the garage walls. Reference: Toyota claim no.[xxx] (2009) and no.[xxx] (2012). In both cases Toyota disowned any responsibility. While Toyota assures me of the safety of the vehicle, I cannot in my right mind continue to drive this vehicle nor pass it on to somebody else except to return it to Toyota. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #3

Oct 132012

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
While driving at approximately 50 mph and pressing the brakes for a sudden stop, the 4-runner lurches to the left, and then, when the brake is released, back to the right. I was on a trip and was lucky enough to get in to a Toyota dealer on Saturday. The service department told me I had two frozen pistons in the brake calipers, and the rear slides were not working properly. I had to replace the calipers, pads and rotors on all four wheels 2 years ago for frozen calipers. The warranty for that repair was 1 year, so I have to pay another $1200 to make the car safe to drive once again, after having spent $2000 2 years ago for the same problem. The history of this problem is widely known and Toyota should either extend the warranty on these parts, or fix the problem permanently and issue a recall. This is a safety issue, as the car lurches from side to side, and especially in the rain or when towing a trailer, is quite dangerous.

- Bethlehem, CT, USA

problem #2

Jul 052012

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 56,977 miles
There is a design flaw in the 04 4runner. The brake calipers rust out, and freeze, sieze, and need to be replaced any time the brake pads need to replaced. This also damages the rotors. Today, I had to overhaul the entire front end braking system, including pads, rotors and calipers. This is the second time I have had to go through this with the vehicle, and had all new parts installed 2 years ago, and the total miles on the vehicle is 56K. Toyota should be held responsible for this, as an internet search has turned up many posts for this exact problem.

- Oyster Bay, NY, USA

problem #1

Jun 022012

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
Drive shaft is clanging, banging, causing slamming with the braking action surging forward several feet before stopping.

- Kincaid, WV, USA

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