Which Toyota 4Runner Years To Avoid and Why?

Toyota 4Runners are durable; they are strong; they are long-lasting; they’re reliable – and all of that. But then, there are a few Toyota 4Runner years to avoid. Yes, they are still strong and reliable, but they’re linked with frequent mechanical problems by the users.

The fourth-gen 4Runners are alleged to be the worst models in the series. Although 4Runners are respected as rugged SUVs, the models produced in the 4th-gen era seem not to match the “actual” performance and quality of other 4Runners.

Let’s learn more about these 4runner generations and why you should avoid them!

4Runner Overview

If what you need is a rugged SUV, spacious SUV, reliable SUV, off-roading SUV, or family SUV, then the Toyota 4Runners checks all of that. Toyota 4Runners have been around for quite many years – since the 1980s – and it has experienced several revolutions.

It became the best choice for off-roaders when Toyota stopped producing FJ Cruisers. Toyota 4Runners are seen as the best reliable series from Toyota – especially for adventure seekers (off-roaders). The Toyota 4Runner series is in its 5th generation, which is one of the good gens’ you can buy.

The predecessor generation – the 4th-gen didn’t deliver what the customers expected from a “4Runner.” But all the same, the generation has some clean, reliable, 4Runner models for all kinds of driving.

There has been so much good stuff said about 4Runners, but not everyone had the “Best” experience with their 4Runner.

Toyota 4Runner Years To Avoid

These 4Runner years are linked with frequent mechanical problems. Notwithstanding, they are still worth considering over most other SUVs in their class.

  • Fifth-Gen, 2014 – 2016 model years
  • Fourth-Gen, 2003 – 2005 model years
  • Third-Gen, 2001 & 2002 models
  • Second-Gen, 1990 – 1995 models with 3.0L V6 engines
  • First-Gen, 1988 & 1989 with 3.0L V6 engines

Note: These problems do not occur on all 4Runners produced within the specified years; it’s just that these years’ have more number of complaints than other 4Runner years.

1. 2003 – 2005 4Runners

The reason why these years’ 4Runners are hinted at as the ones to avoid is that they are linked with “rusty” metallic components. Particularly, the 2004 models are alleged to have a common “dashboard cracking” issue – the dashboards tend to crack after some time.

Another common problem with 4Runners built between 2003 – 2005 is head gasket failure. Apparently, head gasket problems are quite expensive to fix and they need to be attended to pretty fast.

2003 was labeled the “worst” 4Runner year – but, this doesn’t mean the 2003 4Runners were bad – they just weren’t like the others.

2. 2001 & 2002 4Runners

The 2001 and 2002 4Runners, unfortunately, didn’t make it to the list of the “Best” 4Runners. Models produced in-between these years are not as “powerful” and “reliable” as “typical” 4Runners.

2001 and 2002 4Runners are often ignored by 4Runner lovers because the models aren’t decent enough for off-roading.

3. 1990 – 1995 Models With 3.0L V6 Engines

1990 – 1995 4Runners fall into the second generation of the series; they are pretty good with several advancements from the first-gen models.

However, models from these years are linked with having “sagged” suspension after running a few hundreds of thousands of miles, which is unlike other “Good 4Runners.” These models also seem to always have head gasket problems.

4. 2014 – 2016 Fifth-Gen 4Runners

The 2014 models seem to have their paints peeling off after a few years – mainly the models with Blizzard Pearl or Super White paints.

Also, these newer 4Runners are linked with poor sound systems; you may not find this a worthy reason, but for an audiophile, a bad sound system is a big turn-off.

5. 1988 & 1989 4Runners With 3.0L V6 Engines

When compared with the newer 4Runners, the first-gen models are definitely among the ones to avoid. Well, being the first models, the expectations aren’t too many.

It’d be much better to buy off a newer 4Runner than any of the models made in these years: 1988 and 1989.

What More?

Explained in this article are the Toyota 4Runner years to avoid. This does not basically imply that these 4Runners are entirely bad; they are simply not as functional and/or reliable as other 4Runners that are considered to be made in the “Good Years.”

Toyota 4Runners remain the best off-roading SUVs from the Japanese automaker.

Read Also: Nissan Sentra Years To Avoid

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