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:
65,162 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 #16

Oct 142011

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


I had a new brake pads and rotor's installed at 50,000 miles, at 70,000 miles I discovered that the front lower brake caliper piston had frozen. It was the same for both sides. Took it into the shop, and they said the same thing. Had to have the caliper, brake pads, and rotors, replaced on both sides for a total of $724. This is the same thing that has happened to many other owners, which can be found on

- Pittsfield, MA, USA

problem #15

Nov 112010

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 54,000 miles
Both front (left and right) caliper seized. Lower inside piston seized and would not retract. Replaced both calipers with re-manufactured parts from A1 cardone and less than 1 year and 5000 miles later both calipers have seized again creating wheel shake when braking above 40 mph. I am not the first owner of this vehicle and am not sure how many times in the past it has been an issue on this particular vehicle. Research on the internet has revealed that this is a very common problem for 4th generation 4runners. It seems like there is a deign flaw that has not been addressed by Toyota as I can find no "upgraded" replacement.

- Charlestown, MD, USA

problem #14

Aug 102011


  • 165,931 miles
The evening of 8/10/11 as I was leaving work, I turned the vehicle on and a high pitched alarm-type sound started; vsc light, brake lights came on. At this point, I asked a near by supervisor to take a look at the vehicle; upon inspection he did not find anything out of place. He test drove the vehicle around a couple of parking spaces as I watched. He stopped the vehicle and asked if I had been having brake issues. He then asked me to test it to see if my brakes normally responded as they did with him. When I got into the vehicle to test drive, I also went across a few parking spaces but when I got ready to brake, the brakes totally failed. The curb of the end parking space stopped the vehicle, it came to rest and the truck was later towed to Toyota dealership. On 8/11/11, Toyota dealership called me and stated that the skid control actuator/ECU assembly needed to be replaced which would cost $3,000.

- Tucker, GA, USA

problem #13

Dec 232009

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


Frozen front brake caliper resulting in brake part failure and brake pedal pulsating. Occurred again May 2010. This problem occurs with many Toyota trucks.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #12

Jul 012010


  • 29,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. While driving approximately 40 mph, the contact heard a loud rumbling noise. The vehicle was pulled over and the contact noticed the caliper on the front driver side was locked and extremely hot. The vehicle was taken to an independent repair shop where the caliper and brake pad on the front driver side were replaced. The failure mileage was 29,000 and the current mileage was 33,000.

- Blackwood, NJ, USA

problem #11

Apr 122011

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Had to replace right front caliper at 55,000 miles after it froze up after new pads were installed--it was done by a local garage by a former Toyota tech.--had it checked by a Toyota dealership at 57,000 miles and they said it was all good--still did not feel right--had it checked again by Toyota dealership at 66,000 miles and they said it was all good again--at 94,000 miles still not working very well and had it service by Toyota dealership which said it was fine--at 105,0000 miles both front calipers are frozen and needed to be replaced.

- Morristown, VT, USA

problem #10

Feb 152010

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles


While driving I noticed that my front ABS would not activate in an emergency situation. Braking distances became a lot longer. When I went to replace my front brakes, I discovered that the front lower brake piston had frozen. It was the same for both sides. Took it into the shop, and they said the same thing. Had to have the caliper replaced on both sides for a total of $750. This is the same thing that has happened to many other owners, which can be found on

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #9

Nov 092010


  • 67,000 miles
Took my 4runner to be serviced and I was told that both front brake calipers had frozen pistons. Because only one piston worked, they damaged the rotors and worn out the pads unevenly. This is a car that always serviced by dealer according to Toyota specifications with 67K miles. The job repair cost me $2000. Not only this extremely dangerous but also a very costly repair.

- Stony Brook, NY, USA

problem #8

Aug 182010


  • 10,000 miles
2004 Toyota 4runner brake calipers seem to seize at 10K miles. The boots on the pistons hold water, and during winter gather significant corrosion from road salt. Toyota replaces with the same part, but these fail in the same manner.

- Penn Valley, PA, USA

problem #7

May 052010


  • 79,664 miles
Brake pedal spongy, not stopping like it should ( extended stopping range) uneven brake pad wear smell of hot brakes when used hard.

- Macomb, IL, USA

problem #6

May 252010


  • 73,989 miles


2004 Toyota 4runner SR5, with just under 74K miles on it, has a frame with severe corrosion, and more importantly the front calipers had to be replaced due a ceased lower piston. I've talked to the dealer about all of these issues, but they can't do anything for me. I got the same story from the Toyota customer service hot line. They blame the salt, but can't explain why its worse on the 4runner than other vehicles. I should mention that the people at the dealer and on the hot line were very friendly. They said they noted the issue and would monitor the calls for trends. I felt unsatisfied with this, so I am filing a complaint with the NHTSA. I'm a little annoyed by their unwillingness to address safety issues without a major accident or consumer report rating.

- Barnegat, NJ, USA

problem #5

May 102010


  • 32,000 miles
Frozen pistons on inside front brake calipers.

- Nanuet, NY, USA

problem #4

Apr 232010


  • miles
I have a 2004 Toyota 4runner SR5 V6. I have a constant issue with pistons on the front brake caliper seizing. This lowers the effectiveness of the brake system, and causes uneven wear on the brake pads. I have been able to dislodge the piston using a C-clamp and find that I have to replace the brake pads about every 6 months rather than the 2,3 to 4 year intervals on all other cars I have driven (including an older generation 4runner) this has been happening ever since I bought the car brand new in January of 2004. I found this website while searching for answers to my issues which I also found out that countless other Toyota 4runner owners are experiencing. I have been diligent with my constant brake pad replacements as to not cause further damage or safety issues. I believe that Toyota should step up and resolve this problem with these vehicles as they have with all of the vehicles in their new mass recall problems. They know it is an issue and even came up with a replacement caliper but it is not covered and is a $1500 job.

- Granada Hills, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 202009


  • 66,000 miles
I was driving at about 35mph and had to start braking for a vehicle that was signaling a left turn. I notice the brakes did not feel normal and that the pads were not catching on the rotors. So I jammed on the brakes as hard and as far as they could go and avoided hitting the other vehicle by inches. I came home and decided to investigate and found that the front calipers inner 4 pistons were seized. I just changed the brakes last year and they were fine. But noticed a surge or slippage forward when stopped at a red light or stop sign after a complete stop waiting for right of way. I am now leaving the vehicle in the driveway for now until I can replace the calipers. Many other people have complained about the same problem on forums just look up 03-09 4runner caliper seize. This is very dangerous and could cause serious harm in an avoidance situation at highway speeds.

- Cranston, RI, USA

problem #2

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

problem #1

Mar 012006

4Runner 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. While driving any speed, the brake pedal and the vehicle vibrate and pulsate when the brake pedal is depressed. The dealer has not inspected the vehicle. The contact replaced the brake pads, however, the problem continues to persist. The current mileage is 65,000 and failure mileage was 50,000.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

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