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:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
622,379 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2004 Toyota 4Runner:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2004 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments

problem #13

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 #12

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 #11

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 #10

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 #9

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 #8

Mar 052013


  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4-runner. The contact stated that the vehicle stability control and the check engine warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the computer needed to be calibrated. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The failure and current mileage was 112,000.

- Calverton , NY, USA

problem #7

Jun 182013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 7,200,000 miles


On June 20, 2013 approx. 10:30-11:00 am, walked in garage attached to house notice smell of burn, opened driver door and discovered that the front passenger door completely burn, front passenger seat burn, passenger sunvisor burned, carpet burned. No previous problems or technical issues, auto check ups daily.....contacted insurance co. And now their saying it may be fixable or totaled. Would appreciate any assistance in this matter [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #6

Apr 062011


  • 131,000 miles
While driving, the cel (check engine light) came on and the vsc trac and vsc off lights came on as well. Apparently Toyota disables vsc when the cel is triggered. In my case, the 2 times it has occurred has been due to emissions related failures (1st time the cat failed, 2nd time one of the O2 sensors failed). In the 1st case, I immediately took the vehicle to the dealership as I was approaching the end of the emissions warranty. They made the repairs and cleared all the codes so wasn't aware that the vsc system was actually disabled. The 2nd time (O2 failure) I replaced the failed O2 sensor, the cel has cleared, however the vsc lights are still on and vsc is disabled. I have serious concerns that Toyota disables key safety systems due to emissions related failures especially given the inherent stability problems with SUV's. if I'm on a trip with my family and an O2 sensor fails, or a catalytic converter fails, or the gas cap fails, key safety systems that help keep my family and I safe should not be disabled! I think this deserves an investigation.

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #5

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 #4

Oct 182009


  • miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) I am an original owner of a 2004 Toyota 4runner, sport edition. Two safety issues: 1) during the fall of 2009 on the way back from franklin va, I experience a continuous acceleration after my foot was removed from the gas paddle, speed exceeded 80 mph and after tapping the gas and pulling up on the gas paddle, the speed returned to normal and I was able to regain control of the 4runner [xxx] 2) air monitoring system warning light kept going off, have had repaired during warranty period and is not resolved currently mileage: 49,892.

- Mechanicsville, VA, 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

Jun 102007


  • miles
The speedometer needle stop working right after 36,000 miles on 2004 Toyota 4runner limited edition 4 wd. The needle will work after idle for 2 days until engine off.

- Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #1

Jan 012004

4Runner 4WD 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 0 miles
There is a delay and then a sudden and abrupt acceleration in the vehicle a 2004 Toyota SUV, virtually every time during slow downs in traffic and when making turns. This causes the vehicle to jerk and has caused a hot beverage to spill on the driver, nearly contributed to an accident when the vehicle failed to accelerate while changing lanes, and with passengers in the vehicle at the time caused the vehicle to spin out while making a turn on a wet road surface - had there been another vehicle at the intersection at the time a certain collision would have occurred. The result is that I must constantly negotiate the degree of pressure on the accelerator in stop and go traffic and when making turns. Despite altering my driving habits I am not always able to prevent the vehicle from jerking and the sudden acceleration. This problem is extremely frustrating and has been a deterrent from letting others drive the vehicle and because of safety concerns will be a prohibitive factor in permitting my daughter to drive this vehicle when she reaches driving age. Ultimately the vehicle was checked by the dealer where it was purchased and there documented response is as follows: Condition is not abnormal for this model vehicle. Believe delay and harshness upon acceleration attributable to drive line lash and engine lag due to electronic throttle control. Comments as a result of further phone conversations with customer service at the dealer were about design flaw, warranty not applicable in this situation, no repair.currently available, could not correct the problem - even if I were to pay, aware of the problem and concerns by other drivers, would not provide any further documentation or assistance.

- Hummelstown, PA, USA

Not what you are looking for?