Which years of Toyota 4 runner should you avoid?

This blog will answer the following questions: which years of Toyota 3Runner should you avoid? What are the common problems in the Toyota 4Runner? Which year of the Toyota 4Runner is best? What are the specifications of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner?

 Which years of Toyota 4Runner should you avoid?

The following generation of the Toyota 4 Runner should be avoided because of multiple recalls and safety concerns

  • 2001-2002
  • 2003-2005
  • 2015

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of the years:


The Toyota 4 Runner models between 2001-2003 belong to the third generation of the 4Runner model series. It has a longer wheelbase with more space in the interior. Toyota also offered an anti-lock braking system and an electronic stability program in these models to increase the safety of occupants.

The sheet metal used in the construction of the body easily crumpled in a collision. The SUVs are known for strong built quality but the 4Runner model manufactured during this time period did not score a good safety rating in crash tests.

The manual transmission available in the second generation was also discontinued in 2001. Also, there is no locking differential, and the off-road capabilities of the 4Runner are not good compared to the other models in the 4Runner model series.

Toyota also had to issue a recall for the lower ball joint. Many customers reported abnormal noise from the suspension of the vehicle. The lower ball joint prematurely wears due to improper fitting in the factory. 

The lower ball joint on the affected vehicles was replaced for free at authorized dealerships. So if you are purchasing a used 2001 or 2002 model, check the vehicle history and make sure the lower ball joint is replaced in the recall.


In this model year, the fourth generation of Toyota 4 Runner was not sold. Toyota sold almost 300,000 units in this time period so the number of complaints reported by customers of the 4Runner was really high.

The major issue in the 4 generations Toyota 4 runner is the Rust on the frame of the vehicle. The rust on the subframe and even the body completely compromised the structural integrity of the vehicle.

Many customers reported suspension components mounted on the frame snapping off while the vehicle is in motion. The rust on the body panels and crumple zones affected the safety of the vehicle in a front-end or side collision.

The worst affected area due to the rust is the transmission mount, it is constantly under stress as the transmission is transferring the power produced by the engine to the rear and front differential. When the transmission mounts brakes due to rust, the drivetrain is not able to send 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels.

There are also grinding and rattling noises as the alignment of the propeller shaft gets offset due to a damaged transmission mount. There are also paint peeling issues in these models which did help prevent the rusting of the body.

It can be very expensive to repair the area damaged by rust and also repaint the entire vehicle. The quality of the interior components is also not great. Customers reported that the plastic trim on the dashboard gets deformed if the vehicle is kept in the sun for too long.

Toyota issued a recall and replaced the plastic trim on the dashboard of the affected vehicles. A class action lawsuit was also filed against Toyota because of the rusting on the undercarriage of the 4Runner. A settlement of 3.4 billion was made to the affected customers of the Toyota 4 Runner.


The 2015 Toyota 4 runner is the 5-generation model and Toyota managed to rectify most of the bad issues found in the previous generation. There were no paint or rust problems in this model due to advancements in the production process and the use of anti-corrosion coating on the undercarriage of the vehicle.

The only serious issue with the 2015 Toyota 4 runner is the Airbags. NHTSA found that the airbags did not deploy in a crash. The affected airbags were replaced in a recall issued by Toyota. Toyota dealerships will notify the customers if their vehicle is one of the affected models.

The driver and the front passenger airbags are replaced in this recall as the igniter in the old airbags was found to be faulty. 

Customers also reported the door not locking or noise coming from the door locks when the vehicle is locked or unlocked. The cause behind this issue is the faulty door actuator and the cost of replacement is 400-500 USD.

One of the nagging issues is the infotainment in the 2015 model, it is very slow and customers cannot even connect the phones using Bluetooth. Firmware updates are planned for the infotainment but software cannot fix the lack of quality hardware components in the media system.

The 2015 Toyota 4 Runner also suffered from brake juddering. The juddering can be felt on the brake pedal as well as the steering wheel. It is caused due to excessive brake disc runout or warped rotor. The cost of new disc brakes and brake pads is 150-200 USD. 

 What are the common problems in the Toyota 4Runner?

The common problems present in the Toyota 4Runner are given below:

  • Braking system- there are concerns related to premature brake wear, the brake master cylinder also leaked in some models resulting in insufficient brake pressure.
  • Paint issues- the paint quality problems can be found on high mileage vehicles. The cause can be exposed to high UV rays or improper curing after repainting
  • Transmission- there are few reported concerns related to poor shift quality or loss of power. The cause can be a malfunctioning shift solenoid or an incorrect signal from the throttle position sensor.

Which years of Toyota 4Runner are best?

The Toyota 4 Runner manufactured in the following years is the best. There are very few customer complaints and the 4 runners can last for 10 years without any rust or paint issues.

  • 1984-1985
  • 1994
  • 2000
  • 2009
  • 2017-present

What are the specifications of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner?

The specifications of the latest 4 runner models are given in the table below:

Specifications2022 Toyota 4Runner
Engine Petrol V6 4.0 liter
Transmission5-speed automatic
Power 270 horsepower 
Fuel consumption17 MPG
Towing capacity5000 lbs


This blog listed the model years of the Toyota 4runner that should be avoided, the problems are also explained according to the production years. Toyota is known for reliability and cheap cost of ownership, 4runner drivetrain is very reliable and the ride quality is really great, especially in the models produced after 2017.