Toyota 4Runner Years to Avoid Buying in 2024

The Toyota 4Runner is a rugged, old-school-body-shaped midsize SUV. The 4Runner has been a capable off-road icon since its introduction in 1984.

The Toyota 4Runner is not fuel-efficient, but the SUV has always satisfied its users. There are five generations of the vehicle, and it is one of the longest-used vehicles in the USA.

But all the generations and model years didn’t satisfy the users and had many issues. Let’s discuss 7 Toyota 4Runner years you should avoid while buying a new or old SUV.

7 Toyota 4Runner Years to Avoid

According to the user reviews and complaint numbers, you should avoid 1995, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2015 Toyota 4Runner model years. Among them, the 2004 model year has the most complaints. But the 2003 model year is the most problematic for higher repair costs at lower mileage and excessive corrosion.

1995 Toyota 4Runner Problems

1995 Toyota 4Runner Problems

The Toyota 4Runner 1995 is the 2nd generation SUV of the 4Runner family.

There are a few issues, and most users are dissatisfied with them because the problems continue to show up repeatedly. Let’s look at the common issues:

Engine problems: There are many reports that the head gaskets have blown up. Sometimes there is hesitation while accelerating.

Also, the engine’s cooling system malfunctions over time.

Body/paint problems: Peeling and faded paint are common for this model year.

There are also reports about the corrosion of body structures.

There are also issues with the sunroof, drivetrain, and miscellaneous issues.

So you should avoid the 1995 Toyota 4Runner model year if you intend to purchase an old SUV.

1995 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.2 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.9 out of 5.0

2000 Toyota 4Runner Problems

Toyota Runner 2000 is the 3rd generation SUV in the family.

You will also find that the 2001 and 2002 model years have the same problems as the 2000 models.

The body structure isn’t that rigid, making it unsafe for passengers.

Let’s have a look at some common issues with this model year:

Body/paint problems: The vehicle’s frame becomes rusty and rots.

There are also body structure issues, as the body ruptures during a collision.

Suspension problems: The main issues are the control arm falling off, the rusted shock mount, and troublesome suspension.

Drivetrain issues: The axle housing becomes rusty.

Disengaging from 4WD fails, and there are also issues with the powertrain.

Brake, steering, and miscellaneous issues also occur in this model year.

So you should also avoid the 2000 Toyota 4Runner while purchasing any 4Runner.

2000 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.7 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.9 out of 5.0

2003 Toyota 4Runner Problems

2003 Toyota 4Runner Problems

The Toyota 4Runner 2003 is the 4th generation vehicle in the 4Runner SUV family.

Let’s discuss the common problems of the 2003 model year:

Body/paint issues: The main problem is rust and corrosion.

The body structure gets rusty easily and erodes over time.

Interior accessory issues: The main problems include cracks in the dashboard, defective drive seats, and a malfunctioning radio.

Brake problems: The brakes on this model tend to lock up, and the calipers freeze.

This causes the brake failure and turns on the check engine light.

There are also a few issues like suspension, drivetrain, engine, AC/heater, transmission, fuel system, seat belt, airbag, and electrical problems.

So you should also avoid this model year.

2003 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

2004 Toyota 4Runner Problems

2004 Toyota 4Runner Problems

The Toyota 4Runner 2004 is also a 4th generation vehicle. It does have most of the issues of the 2003 model year.

Let’s have a look at the problems:

Engine problems: Engine problems include a head gasket leak, a speed control issue, a check engine light on, and an engine cooling issue.

Interior accessory issues: Cracked dashboards, seats, and equipment issues are common.

Body/paint problems: Rusted body structure and peeling paint are the main issues.

There are also suspension, wheels, drivetrain, AC/heater, exhaust, transmission, seat belt, and electrical issues with the model year.

So you should also avoid the 2004 Toyota 4Runner model year.

2004 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

2005 Toyota 4Runner Problems

The 2005 Toyota 4Runner is also the 4th generation SUV in the family.

Let’s take a look at the common problems:

Body/paint issues: Undercarriage rusting, peeling paint, and body structure issues are the main problems.

Interior accessory issues: Cracked dashboard, switch not working, seat, and equipment issues are common.

Suspension problems: The main issues are the suspension lower control arm breaking and the rusted frame.

There are also issues with the model year’s engine, brakes, transmission, exhaust system, cooling system, fuel system, and exterior accessories.

So you should also avoid the 2005 Toyota 4Runner model year.

2005 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

2006 Toyota 4Runner Problems

2006 Toyota 4Runner Problems

The 2006 Toyota 4Runner is another 4th generation vehicle in the 4Runner SUV family.

Let’s discuss the common issues of the model year:

Body/paint problems: Frame rusting, paint peeling, and scratches are common issues.

Brake problems: Delayed brake and service brake issues occur in this model year.

Exhaust system issues: Exhaust manifold leak, P0420, and P0430 codes for check engine light are the main problems.

There are also a few issues with interior accessories, exterior accessories, the engine, drivetrain, and suspension.

So you should also avoid the 2006 Toyota 4Runner model year.

2006 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.9 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5.0

2015 Toyota 4Runner Problems

2015 Toyota 4Runner Problems

The Toyota 4Runner 2015 is the 5th generation vehicle in the 4Runner series.

You will also see some common 2015 Toyota 4Runner issues in the 2014 and 2016 models. Let’s have a look at the problems:

Interior accessory issues: Entertainment system malfunctions, failed power door locks, and substantial rust on all seat frames are the main problems.

Brake problems: The brake pedal makes a squishy sound whenever users press it.

You will also notice brake master cylinder assembly faults and jerking while braking issues with the model.

Body/paint issues: Users noticed that the paints were chipping easily.

The body structure has problems, and the hood vibrates during driving.

The model also has issues with the engine, seat, airbag, steering, transmission, and drivetrain.

So you should avoid the 2015 Toyota 4Runner model year.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Reviews

Edmunds user rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

Cars.com reliability rating: 4.9 out of 5.0

Toyota 4Runner Best Years

These are the best Toyota 4Runner model years to buy:

  • 1990–1994 Toyota 4Runner (2nd generation)
  • 1996–1999 Toyota 4Runner (3rd generation)
  • 2007-2008 Toyota 4Runner (4th generation)
  • 2010-2013 Toyota 4Runner (5th generation)
  • 2017-2022 Toyota 4Runner (5th generation)

Toyota 4Runner User Complaint Numbers

According to carcomplaints.com and nhtsa.gov the user complaint numbers are:

Model Years

Complaint Numbers

(source: carcomplaints)

Complaint Numbers

(Source: NHTSA)

2000

25 492

2001

18

188

2002 22

249

2003

95 698
2004 103

645

2005

86 408
2006 34

366

2007

15 150
2008 17

92

2009

3 21
2010 7

141

2011

16 157
2012 18

95

2013

19 31
2014 24

64

2015

26

78

2016

24

59

2017

9

29

2018

7

44

2019

5

47

2020

2

22

2021

1

20

2022

0

15

Toyota 4Runner Recall History

2002 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for rear brake line replacement.

2003 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for installing a fuel hose protector on the body flange.

2004 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for airbag module replacement.

2005 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for seats, airbags, and equipment.

2006 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for equipment, seats, and airbags.

2007 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for seats and equipment

2008 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for seats, vehicle speed control, accelerator pedal, and equipment.

2009 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for seats, airbags, accelerator pedal, and equipment.

2010 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for airbags, engine and engine cooling, equipment, and seats.

2011 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for airbags, structure, seats, engine, and engine cooling.

2012 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for airbags, engine and engine cooling, seats, equipment, electrical issues, and structure.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for airbags, structure, equipment, engine, and engine cooling.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for the fuel system, airbags, structure, equipment, engine, and engine cooling.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for the fuel system, structure, hood, airbags, labels, engine, and engine cooling.

2016 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for airbags, equipment, structure, labels, and tires.

2017 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for equipment, structure, and tires.

2018 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for the fuel system, equipment, steering, and structure.

2019 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for the fuel system, steering, equipment, and labels.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for equipment and labels.

2021 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for equipment and labels.

2022 Toyota 4Runner Recall: Recalled for equipment and exterior lighting: headlight.

Toyota 4Runner Reliability

The Toyota 4Runner is a very reliable vehicle. It has some problems, but they are not major issues.

Older 4Runner models have fewer problems than the other vehicles of that time.

You should avoid some model years; that doesn’t mean they are bad. Other model years are just slightly better compared to avoidable years.

The Toyota 4Runner is a great, reliable vehicle if you are looking for an off-road, 4WD, rigid-looking vehicle.

Final Thoughts

The Toyota 4Runner is a great choice if you are looking for off-road adventures.

Many users are satisfied with its reliability and performance.

But you must choose from the best years and avoid the problematic years if you want to buy a new or used Toyota 4Runner SUV.

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