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Toyota 4Runner years to avoid

When seeking a dependable and capable vehicle, drivers should strongly consider the Toyota 4Runner. It’s important to be informed of any potential issues that might exist with earlier generations of the 4Runner to make sure you get the ideal car for your needs. Here are several Toyota 4Runner models to steer clear of while looking for a used one.

Detailed years to avoid with the Toyota 4Runner:

Years to Avoid (1988-1989) for the First Generation (1984-1989):

The first generation 4Runner was powered by a 22RE gas engine, which had significant issues with head gasket failure. Additionally, portions of the body were made of plastic and prone to cracking, making them difficult to repair. For these reasons, any model from this first generation should be avoided when shopping for a used 4Runner.

Years to Avoid (1990-1995) for the Second Generation (1990–1995):

The second-generation 4Runner’s powertrain was marginally improved, but the head gasket failure problem it experienced was the same as with the first-generation model. Additionally, rust was an issue on this model, with drivers reporting that pronounced rust patches began to appear in various areas of the car.

Years to Avoid (2001-2002) for the Third Generation (1996-2002):

With the inclusion of a V6 engine, the design and drivetrain of the third-generation 4Runner underwent a significant revamp. However, these vehicles were notorious for having faults with their powertrain and gearbox as well as rotting body panels and frames. Consequently, it is advised to steer clear of any 4Runner from this vintage. Toyota debuted a full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) feature for its 4Runner SUV during the 1999–2000 model years. This addition enhanced the vehicle’s capability as an off-road machine. With this advanced drivetrain system, 4Runner owners can confidently maneuver through difficult terrains, such as muddy roads, steep hills, and rocky paths, with ease and safety.

Years to Avoid (2003-2005) for the Fourth Generation (2003-2009):

The fourth generation of the 4Runner saw major improvements in its powertrain and design, but there were still reports of dashboard cracks and gasket leaks. Additionally, some models were also reported to suffer from transmission failures and suspension issues. For this reason, it is best to avoid any model from this generation when shopping for a used 4Runner. The best years for this generation are 2008-2009, as they have fewer reported issues than the other years.

Years to Avoid (2010-2013) for the Fifth Generation (2010-2021):

Comparing the fifth generation of the 4Runner to its forerunners, it has proven more consistently dependable, making it an excellent choice for drivers seeking a used vehicle. However, there have been some documented incidents of gearbox failure and other mechanical problems, so it is crucial to thoroughly inspect any used 4Runner from this generation before buying. When choosing a used 4Runner from this generation, the model years 2014–2016 have gotten fewer complaints than the ones 2010–2013. Considering the 2017–2021 versions have proven more dependable, they can be regarded as safe bets when looking for a used 4Runner.

Typical issues with the Toyota 4Runner:

Although the 2025 4Runner has a reputation for dependability and capability, it has had some troubles in earlier iterations.

Leaky head gaskets:

These leaky head gaskets, which have been noted in the majority of the 4Runner’s prior models, can be expensive to repair.


Rust is also commonly seen on older models, with some drivers reporting rust patches appearing even after only a few years of ownership.

Transmission failure:

Reports of transmission failures are another frequent problem, particularly with the third and fourth versions of the 4Runner.

Suspension problems:

Drivers who own older versions of vehicles sometimes complain of bouncing, uncomfortable rides due to suspension problems.

Dashboard cracking:

Dashboard cracking has been reported in some fourth-generation 4Runners, making it an issue to consider when shopping for a used model.

Rusting of body panels and frames:

Rusting of body panels and frames is also an issue that can arise with older 4Runners, especially those from the third and fourth generations.

The Toyota 4Runner is still regarded as a dependable car overall. Drivers shouldn’t have trouble locating a trustworthy used 4Runner by thoroughly researching each model year or personally checking it before making a purchase. A regular schedule of servicing and maintenance will also ensure that the vehicle lasts for many years.

What to Bear in Mind before Purchasing a Used Toyota 4Runner?

When searching for a used 4Runner, there are several things to take into account. Finding the ideal 4Runner for your needs and budget should be aided by the following advice:

Research each model year:

Researching different model years is important when searching for a used 4Runner. It will allow you to understand which years are more reliable than others as the common issues associated with each generation.

Inspect the vehicle in person:

It is important to inspect any used 4Runner before purchasing it. Look for signs of rusting, leaks, or other mechanical issues that could be costly repairs.

Check for service records:

Service records are also important when shopping for a used 4Runner. It will allow you to see if the vehicle has been regularly serviced and maintained, which can help ensure its dependability.

Budget accordingly:

It is also important to budget appropriately for any used 4Runner to avoid any unpleasant surprises further down the line. When establishing your overall budget, be sure to account for any repair expenditures.

You need to be able to locate a trustworthy used Toyota 4Runner that satisfies your wants by keeping these suggestions in mind. You can ensure that you receive the best value for your money by conducting the required research and taking into account all of the factors outlined above.

Maintenance Advice for Toyota 4Runner:

Owning and maintaining a Toyota 4Runner can be expensive, so it is important to follow some key advice for keeping your vehicle running smoothly.

Regular servicing:

Regular servicing is key to ensuring that the vehicle is operating correctly. It should include oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks, and other necessary maintenance.

Checking fluids:

Checking all vehicles’ fluids regularly is also important, as these can help protect against potential damage. Ensuring that all vital fluids, including oil, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid, are checked and topped off.

Check for rust:

Rust needs to be checked because, if ignored, it might result in expensive repairs. Make sure to check for rust on the body panels and underneath the vehicle.

Pay attention to warning signs:

Paying attention to any warning signs from your 4Runner is also important to catch any issues before they become too severe. It includes strange noises or vibrations, as well as any dashboard warnings.

You can help maintain your Toyota 4Runner running well for many years by paying attention to these suggestions. You should have no trouble getting the most use out of your car with the right upkeep and care.

Wrapping Up:

Overall, the Toyota 4Runner is a dependable car with excellent value. By thoroughly researching each model year, physically inspecting the vehicle before making a purchase, and performing regular care and maintenance on the vehicle, you can make sure your used 4Runner will survive for many years to come. The aforementioned advice should be kept in mind when searching for a used 4Runner because doing so will enable you to get the most out of your 4Runner.