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:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
104,716 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Toyota 4Runner Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

Jan 132015

4Runner 6-cyl

  • miles


2004 Toyota 4-runner. Consumer writes in regards to accelerator pedal recall. The dealer informed the consumer that since he had interior package, including a sport accelerator pedal, the pedal could not be modified. The consumer was informed the silver would have to be stripped off the pedal and then modified, but the silver part of the pedal would not be replaced. The consumer would then have the silver sport package on all the other pedal interior pedal, but would have a thinner, black, accelerator pedal. The consumer chose not to have the recall performed.

- West Paducah, KY, USA

problem #27

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 #26

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 #25

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 #24

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

problem #23

Jan 072014


  • 118,000 miles
Driving vehicle in frigid weather and engine service light went on, followed by vsc trac light and vsc off light going on. Went to service station they checked car and were able to turn off engine light. Took vehicle to empire Toyota in oneonta NY 1/18 and was told low battery caused problem. Diagnosis and battery change cost $202.33. I/29 same 3 lights go on. Returned to dealer, told computer sensed a future possible problem with catalytic converter and car designed to disable vehicle stability control system (a personal safety system) because of a possible future exhaust emission problem. Price quoted on catalytic repair was $2,200. Repair offer declined, engine light reset - dealer refused to turn vsc system stating it couldn't be done unless cat. Was replaced; charger another $86.40 for diagnosis of same problem. I have been forced to drive vehicle through ice & snow with this " vsc -safety feature" intentionally shut off. To date engine light has not gone pack on indicating to me there has been no cat problem, yet my safety has been intentionally compromised.

- Charlotteville, NY, USA

problem #22

Jan 212013


  • 164,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that while driving 15 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated to 25 mph and caused the contact to crash into a pole. The contact was not injured and a police report was not filed. The contact did not call the manufacturer regarding the incident. The contact later received notification of NHTSA campaign I.D. number 11V113000 (vehicle speed control) however, the vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 164,000.

- San Burno , CA, USA

problem #21

Feb 142013

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Rough idle at morning start up. Vsc, trac off indicators illuminate. Obd II code of P0306, misfire cylinder #6. having to refill engine coolant on a weekly basis. Premature head gasket failure. Toyota super long life engine coolant is slowly leaking into cylinder #6. rough idle noticeable at morning start up because the fluid builds up to a considerable amount overnight. Estimated cost to fix is $3000.

- Cranston, RI, USA

problem #20

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 #19

Mar 302013

4Runner 8-cyl

  • 47,000 miles
I was backing into my driveway. I stopped the vehicle. I then shifted into forward for about 1 foot and then shifted into reverse (I was maneuvering my car). When I shifted into reverse the engine went to maximum power (instantly). I jammed on the brake and the rear tires started to spin and the rear of the car was bouncing up and down as the tires were spinning. I immediately shifted into park and shut off the engine. The car was sent to the dealership where the service department did not find a problem.. my car has to remain at the dealership for 2 weeks because a Toyota factory rep has to visit the dealership to inspect the car.

- Peabody, MA, USA

problem #18

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 #17

Oct 112012


  • 105,000 miles
Driving on the highway going straight at 55 mph, with my foot on the accelerator only (with no loss of stability or control and no wet conditions), suddenly and simultaneously a beeping noise from the dashboard occurs along with the 4runner pulling real hard to the left. (almost as if I pulled the steering wheel abruptly to make a left turn...). also feels like brake is applied during all of this to the front left tire causing me to lose acceleration - regardless of having my foot on the accelerator. I took my car to the dealer a year ago when this happened and they said nothing was wrong. It happened again this morning and I took it to the Toyota dealer. Both instances nearly caused an accident.

- Springfield, PA, USA

problem #16

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 #15

Oct 222011


  • 67,200 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30-35 mph, the accelerator pedal became jammed and caused the vehicle to accelerate to 65 mph. The contact was able to release the pedal as the vehicle resumed normal operation. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where they advised that they were unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised the contact that due to her having aftermarket floor mats, they were not liable for the failure. The failure and the current mileages were 67,200.

- 3715 Sir Lance A Lot , CA, USA

problem #14

Aug 012011


  • 170,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. The contact stated that the floor mat became trapped under the accelerator pedal and caused the vehicle to unintentionally accelerate. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for repairs under NHTSA campaign id number: 11V113000 (vehicle speed control: Accelerator pedal). The dealer did not perform the recall because the contact wanted the vehicle floor mat replaced. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised that only the all weather floor mat was replaced with the accelerator pedal recall. The failure and the current mileage was 170,000.

- Ponthatoula , LA, USA

problem #13

Sep 252011


  • 67,262 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. While driving 30 mph, the contact stated she applied pressure to the accelerator pedal when it extended to the floor and remained stuck. She applied pressure to the brakes; however, the vehicle did not stop. She activated the emergency brake and shifted into neutral gear and the vehicle came to a stop. She was able to restart the vehicle; however, it would not accelerate. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where she was informed that the rear differential had locked and failed. No repairs were performed. The current and failure mileage was 67,262.

- Bakersville, CA, USA

problem #12

Aug 182009


  • 87,643 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4-runner. The contact was driving 2 mph uphill when the vehicle suddenly accelerated and crashed into a tree. There were no warnings prior to the failure. The contact was injured but there was no police report filed. The vehicle was inspected but no technician was able to explain what caused the crash. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The current mileage was approximately 110,000 and the failure mileage was 87,643.

- Corona, CA, USA

problem #11

May 112009


  • 50,000 miles
I leased a 2004 Toyota 4 runner in 2004 for five years and turned the vehicle back into Toyota in 2009. During the time I had the vehicle, the accelerator became stuck on the freeway which resulted in my entire family almost being killed. Fortunately, we were not hurt, but our brakes were ruined during our efforts to bring the vehicle to stop. At the time, we had the brakes replaced and our mechanic felt that somehow, the floor mat caused the problem, rather than some mechanical issue. Early in 2011, I became aware of a recall of 2004 Toyota 4 runners because of this exact problem. I have requested reimbursement for the brake repair, but Toyota has told me that they will not reimburse me, as "brakes are not covered under the recall notice". I find this extremely disturbing and feel that Toyota is avoiding taking responsbility. I have complained to their customer relations department, who have been totally uncooperative. Is this something that you can look into or help me with. It seems silly that Toyota would not accept responsbility for something that was an obvious defect, for which they admit..

- Moraga, CA, USA

problem #10

Feb 072011

4Runner 6-cyl

  • 72,564 miles
This morning I stopped at the end of my driveway to wait for the garage door to go up. I stepped on the brake and stopped. After I was stopped my 4runner accelerated hard and I had to use both feet on the brake to hold it. I shifted in to neutral and the engine continued to race. It eventually stopped and I was able to pull in to the garage and park. It was very frightening. I was in 4 wheel drive mode due to snow and ice on the roads. After I parked in the garage, I shifted back to two wheel drive.

- Florissant, MO, USA

problem #9

May 092010


  • 78,500 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota 4runner. While driving at approximately 50 mph, the contact applied the brakes but the vehicle surged forward. The contact depressed the brake pedal again but the vehicle would not stop. He was able to pull over and turn the vehicle off. Upon restart, the engine revved so the contact shut the vehicle off again. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealership where the contact was informed that the brakes were slightly warped but could not find the cause for the acceleration. The current and failure mileages were approximately 78,500.

- Fort Collins, CO, USA

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