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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
93,932 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #11

Sep 052016


  • 170,450 miles


Oil leaking from transfer case actuator motor assembly powertrain transfer case. Vehicle is stationary

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #10

Apr 102016


  • 220,000 miles
Rust eat my frame into

- Rockwood, TN, USA

problem #9

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 #8

Jan 162016


  • 70,000 miles


There is excessive rust/corrosion on the frame of the truck. The skid plates completely rusted off the truck in 2010. The transmission lines have corroded to the point they have to be replaced. The engine oil cooler and radiator supports have rusted through. The exhaust rusted off the truck in 2010 as well. Currently there is extensive corrosion on the frame of the truck and the suspension components. These issues appeared in 2010 and I have been fighting them ever since. Mechanically the truck runs great, never a problem, however the vehicle's frame is disintegrating due to corrosion.

- Stafford, VA, USA

problem #7

Jun 302015


  • 72,000 miles
I was going 5 mph and hit my brakes. The control arm was ripped from the frame due to rot/rust. Toyota is aware of this problem for 4runners, but has only offered assistance on the Tacoma and Tundra. The body of my vehicle has no rust anywhere, and the mileage is extremely low. I cannot even find a mechanic to fix it, because the frame is so bad. I was told, if it gets fixed, another part of the frame may fail when I'm cruising on the highway and people could get hurt or killed. No mechanic wants this liability in doing a repair.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

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problem #6

Oct 062014


  • 85,400 miles
Driving down the local highway, smelled transmission fluid burning. Pulled over to find transmission fluid leaking from under the radiator area. I was near the garage that works on the vehicle and was able to drive there. Skid plate was removed and the transmission lines that run along the radiator support frame rusted through. The mechanic servicing the vehicle said I was lucky, that this could have caused transmission failure and or fire in the engine compartment while driving. Toyota dealer was contacted, said, this was a common problem with these vehicles, but no recall or notifications sent the owners to inspect this item for rust through. When this problem was found, the frame under the radiator was found to be rusted through also. ( listed in another complaint.)

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #5

Oct 062014


  • 85,400 miles


Front support frame under radiator rusted through. The local Toyota dealer told me this is a common problem and there is no fix. The vehicle is unsafe to drive and the question is how would this hold up in a frontal crash. The vehicle has a little over 85,000 miles and this happens. It is in a area where salt is used. Many of these vehicles are on the road, many like me would not have known of a broken frame unless the skid plate was removed.there was also an issue with the transmission lines running along the frame listed in another complaint.

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #4

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 #3

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

problem #2

Feb 012011


  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4-runner. While driving approximately 15 mph, the contact attempted to engage the 4-wheel drive but it would not engage. The vehicle was brought to a stop and she then attempted to engage the 4-wheel drive again but to no avail. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where she was advised that the transfer hose was fractured and both rear axles were leaking. The failure would only occur when attempting to engage the 4-wheel drive. The vehicle had not been repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 112,000 and the current mileage was 113,000. Updated 1/5/12

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #1

Feb 122010


  • 83,000 miles
Four months ago I purchased a 2004 Toyota 4runner limited with approx. 82,000 miles. A month or so later, I approached a stop sign and as I braked, the vehicle suddenly accelerated. I stepped as hard as I could on the brake and fortunately, the vehicle stopped. At the time, I was scared but thought that maybe by mistake, my foot was spanning both pedals (I didn't think so but couldn't be 100% positive). Yesterday, I approached another intersection with my foot clearly on the brake pedal as I was coming to a controlled stop when, suddenly, the vehicle accelerated aggressively. Again, I was able to slow the vehicle down by almost standing on the brake pedal, though not enough to stop me from going through the intersection without stopping. This time there was no doubt - the vehicle accelerated on its own. The pedal did not stick as my foot was on the brake as I was coasting to a stop. This vehicle definitely has a defect and it was very scary. My wife will not drive this car and I only will now if I absolutely have to.

- Hingham, MA, USA

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