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 1 of 2)

problem #30

Aug 092016


  • 146,000 miles


Driving (slowly), every light on the console lit up dealing with, ABS, traction etc...accompanied with a high pitch warning tone, depressed on the brakes to stop...only no brakes, used the emergency brake to successfully stop, no incident. Called a tow truck to take to dealership.Toyota dealer said codes C1223 (ABS control malfunction), C1252 (hydro-booster pump motor) and C1256 (accumulator low pressure) appeared. When he checking the codes, there was already a service bulletin showing previous (known) issues with this. I call this a serious design flaw, no component should render the braking system useless and not be a recall. Researched online and many complaints about the same thing happening on automotive forums and such. We were quoted $3000(ish) to repair. We were very lucky to not be traveling at high speeds in traffic. Reported this to Toyota corporate/regional support.

- Altus, OK, USA

problem #29

May 162015


  • miles
Rear breaks - left and right (both) sides ceased up.

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #28

Jan 302015


  • 152,000 miles
Bought 4th generation 4runner in 1-15 from dealer after owning 4 prior 3rd generation ones and this one is plagued with excessive rust beyond normal wear in frame (some holes), suspension, steering rack and shaft, brake components, virtually everything steel under the body has rusted excessively while body remains rust free. I know 95-03 Tacoma and Tundra were under frame and brake line recall due to same issue but from the huge number of postings on internet of problem being just as bad if not worse in 3rd and 4th generation 4runner. Yes the frames were a different style but the frames in these 4runners are even worse as problems with rust due to design are eating their way from inside out making it more of a silent killer as it goes unnoticed until rust breaches all the way thru frame and by that point it is not only unsafe to drive, it has been unsafe to drive for a long time before getting to that point. This is major problem as noted in 1000's if not more noted cases on internet forums and Toyota refuses to take responsibility leaving all these people stuck with them and their families and kids that they put in these potential death traps at risk of frame, brake, steering, suspension failures that could result in loss of vehicle control, accidents, and deaths. I've cleaned, sprayed rust preventative oils and paints on areas of concern and rust makes its way back thru in weeks time. The many of owners with this issue are stuck without resources to buy another daily driver and have no choice but to take chance with the uncertainty of potential failure at anytime. Toyota is aware and obviously knew they had rust issue with other model years but they know they have same issues with newer models not included on original frame rust recall and its time they are forced to step up and take responsibility for the faulty frames and underbody steel components.

- Granville, OH, USA

problem #27

Jan 172016


  • 160,000 miles


The brake get hard and ABS, brake vsc and trac sign came on with alert whistle while I was driving in the neighbothood luckily.. mechanic said it is rare to go bad but it is brake booster assembly goes bad. Is this the same issue as prius?

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #26

Nov 242015


  • 194,000 miles
While driving at approximately 30 mph on a city street, with children in vehicle, breaks failed and loud cabin alarm sound and ABS, vsc and trac dash lights came on. I had to pull into a grassy swale, apply emergency break and down shift in order to stop and avoid crashing into traffic. Had vehicle towed to dealership. ABS pump break master cylinder was replaced at a cost of $3,300. I have read many posts in blogs from Toyota owners with similar issue, and some that caused accidents. I had just come off the highway, so this could have caused a serious accident just minutes earlier. Merits an investigation.

- Homestead, FL, USA

problem #25

Aug 142015


  • 174,000 miles
When I returned to my home and pulled into my garage, an alarm sound went off in the dashboard and all of the dashboard warning lights came on. The car was driving fine just prior. The next morning I went to try to drive it to drive it to the dealer and noticed that my brake pedal was very hard to push and had virtually no braking ability. After getting the car towed to the dealership, they said it needed a new ABS actuator assembly (aka an ABS module). The brakes themselves were replaced within 2 years prior to this incident. On the day that the incident happened, I did some research online to see what the alarm and warning lights were indicative of. I saw that this had happened to other people most of which had it happen while driving and were therefore left with the inability to brake. I feel fortunate that this did not happen while I was driving, possibly leading to a serious, if not fatal, accident.

- Keithville, LA, USA

problem #24

Nov 102011


  • 86,000 miles


2004 Toyota 4runner limited, has excessive chassis rust and rotted out at some point on the sub frame, contacted the dealer and there is no recall available also called Toyota and recall is not available.I am afraid that the chassis will break and cause an accident.

- Bayonne , NJ, USA

problem #23

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 #22

Nov 012012


  • 84,000 miles
Front caliper seize up L/F and R/F 3 incidents 11/2012 02/2015 06/2015

- Holbrook, NY, USA

problem #21

Dec 122014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 198,000 miles
Driving home and my brakes stopped working. I had my mechanic look at it and he said the ABS module had failed. He said that only my front brakes are working. I feel very unsafe driving my car.

- Vallejo, CA, USA

problem #20

Oct 052005


  • miles


I have a Toyota Tacoma 4 door 4 cly pick up..I was on the internet and just notice a recall about brakes, ,is my truck included in this recall? and another I have never got any letter or anything telling me about any recalls on my truck and I see here there has been recall for front ball joints and crack frames, ,,seat belt problems..I was in what do I do can they still fix any problems if any and check my truck..thank you

- Clermont, FL, USA

problem #19

Oct 282013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 235,000 miles
I started my vehicle @ 3pm when I got off work as soon as it started the vsc, ABS and brake light came on as well as a alarm in the dash. I also noticed the clock in the dash said 1:00 instead of 3:00. When I depressed the brake I had virtually no brakes. I have read up on this and found that a bad ground cable on the battery can send a low voltage signal to the cars computer and shut down the brake system. I think this needs recall!

- Grayson, KY, USA

problem #18

Jan 022007

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
While I was driving my Toyota 4runnerand I stepped on the brakesand let off of the brakes I kept on making a thud sound as the faster I drive the louder it would make that sound and it had a burning smell to it so when I took it to the repair shop they told me that my brake pads where completely gone I had to get the rotors replaced the mechanic said the pistons in the caliber froze in the open position so that is why my brakes failed me.

- Billerica, MA, USA

problem #17

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 #16

Aug 062014


  • 121,000 miles
8/6/14-started my 2004 4-runner to leave work and a high-pitched alarm sound started and the vsc, ABS, and other dash light symbols came on. I reversed out of my parking spot, and brake, and nothing other than those things was out of the ordinary. I pulled forward and pulled into another spot and called my husband to let him hear what was going on to see if he knew what it may be. He asked me to reverse, pull forward, and see what else I heard/saw, so I did so driving a short distance (about 5 parking spaces away) attempting to exit the 4th level of the parking garage I was in. I started to brake to turn left and no brakes. I pushed the brake petal as hard as I could with both feet and nothing, so I pushed the parking break and as it came to a stop, I panicked and threw it into park. I was within 1 foot of the concrete wall 4 stories off the ground. Got it to a local dealer and told them I just got new brakes 6 weeks ago, could they have possibly gone bad" they called and said it was the ABS module that needed replaced and the used part and labor is $3000 and the new part and labor is $5500. This is not normal wear and tear. Others have had this issue and are being told "rare defect". this "rare defect" could have barreled me through a concrete wall or worse. Thankfully no one was in the parking garage with me at the time and I was at a minimal speed. I was leaving during a lunch break. Had I been leaving and this occurred after work, I would have hit someone. What will it take to get Toyota to fix this "rare defect"" I have a call into them and of course, no call back yet. So, I'm currently stuck with a vehicle that had a recall for an acceleration issue and a "rare defect" for a brake issue.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #15

Jul 162014

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I have had two incidents of brake calipers failure. Under 50K I had a front driver side caliper fail. Then again at 99K the rear passenger side caliper failure. Toyota has a major issue with their brake caliper design on 4-runners. Toyota should extend their warranty, I always bought Toyota's, but never again after this last incident. Toyota does not build cars like they use to.

- Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #14

Jul 012014


  • 137,000 miles
This complaint is not about the vehicle but rather about a replacement parts made/sold by the following outfit: Ph: (954) 970-8820 fax: (954) 970-8819 the caliper (new) I purchased from them was not only imported from china contrary to the company description "german efficiency for Japanese cars" as it appears on their site which may not constitute a crime these days but a manufacturing defect (missing brake fluid supply channel in the casting) is a clear hazard and an obvious indication of total absence of quality control. Safety-related items must be certified for for import into the us, and if they are not, the public is not protected.

- Orofino, ID, USA

problem #13

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 #12

Jun 162011


  • 70,000 miles
When I went to change my brake pads, I noticed that the front had hardly been worn down. I had previously noticed that I needed more room to stop, and my rate of deceleration had lessened. I discovered that my inner lower pistons on my front calipers had rusted and frozen. A quick search online and on a forum I am part of ( showed that this has affected numerous others. The design of the calipers caused the inner lower pistons to freeze up. This is an extreme safety hazard. I have not had this issue with the aftermarket calipers that were installed by my local shop.

- Oak Hill, VA, USA

problem #11

May 262014

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 111,000 miles
While approaching a red stop light, the ABS, brake! vsc off, vsc trac lights all came on along with a loud buzzer. I had no idea what was happening. 1 block later I pulled into a parking lot that was luckily empty, because when I went to brake to stop the truck, I had no!!! I had the truck towed to my mechanic. I have come to find out, that it's the ABS module and unattainable with Toyota at $2500 plus the installation. We are trying to find a used one, but apparently they are in high demand and very hard to find. This sends off a few red flags in itself. I have read countless stories about people in the same situation, some have not had an outcome as mine, and have had crashes and injuries and I wonder how many deaths have resulted from this. I have also read that Toyota has turned their backs on this problem, doing nothing for the consumer, no recalls, no warnings and no accountability. I find this frightening and wonder how many injuries and deaths it will take before Toyota opens their eyes and steps up to remedy this very dangerous problem. My truck is now worthless and undrivable until we can hopefully find a part, and am forced to rent a vehicle until the situation is resolved. I'm hardly in a position to pay for this very expensive repair when it really is a faulty item on the vehicle and there are countless others who are dealing with the same issue. It's revolting that Toyota issues a recall for front floor mats, but nothing for a faulty brake system. How many injuries/deaths does it take before Toyota takes accountability and does something for the consumer aside from charging a small fortune for a part that is not readily available? I am thanking god daily that I wasn't on the highway...I wouldn't be writing this, had I been. I'm done with Toyota and will take this to any level needed for resolution before someone else is injured or dies.

- Delray Beach, FL, USA

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