Toyota 4Runner: 12 Common Problems (Solution Guide)

 The Toyota 4Runner is a midsize SUV that first came into production in 1983.

The Japanese car has been hailed as a top family vehicle with great off-road abilities and is one of the highest sold SUVs in the country.

Known for being a hardy and durable vehicle, however even the toughest of cars can suffer from breakdowns and small niggling issues. We’ve compiled this handy resource to help you get to the bottom of these complaints.

Below we are taking a deep dive into the most common Toyota 4Runner problems and there solutions...

Toyota 4Runner Keeps Dropping Calls

Some owners of the Toyota 4Runner have experienced their calls being dropped and the Toyota system rebooting after 3-4 minute call durations. This can be fixed by deleting the Bluetooth connection and reconnecting, turning off LTE or cellular roaming, preventing the phone from syncing contacts, or updating the iOS or Toyota system.

The Toyota 4Runner requires the connected phone to have an app called Entune installed. This app is not essential to connect to the car via Bluetooth, however it is recommended.

There have been many reports of the Toyota 4Runner dropping phone calls after around a 3–4-minute duration.

When the call drops, the Toyota computer unit would also freeze up or completely reboot itself.

The exact cause of this problem varies, and many solutions work for some, but not for others.

Here are some of the solutions that have worked:

Reset Bluetooth

Some owners have disconnected their phones from the 4Runner and used the ‘delete and forget connection’ feature on both the phone and the vehicle’s systems.

In some cases, doing so and repairing the device to the vehicle has been successful.

Some users have found success by turning off the LTE or cellular roaming features under iPhone settings.

To do so, go to settings, then cellular and then cell settings.

Another solution some owners have found is to prevent the Bluetooth from syncing contacts.

To do this, go to settings and then Bluetooth.

Click on your Toyota 4Runner’s blue info button.

From there, make sure that the ‘sync contacts’ and ‘show notifications’ are turned off.

Update Systems

Others have had to update their phones in order to fix the problem.

The iOS update 13.1.3 solved the issue where Bluetooth on iPhone would disconnect from some vehicles.

Many owners reported this solution as the one that worked for them.

Toyota 4Runner Radio Keeps Rebooting

Some 4Runner owners have faced an issue where the vehicle’s radio unit becomes stuck in a reboot cycle. This issue is mainly caused through a Bluetooth connection. It can be solved by deleting the Bluetooth connection and reconnecting, updating the vehicle’s system, or replacing the head unit entirely.

Many owners of the Toyota 4Runner have experienced the head unit on their vehicle in a constant reboot cycle.

This means that the screen in the center console will freeze, go blank and restart with the Toyota logo.

This is of course annoying and inconvenient as it means that drivers are unable to listen to music or even use the navigation system.

This is an old issue on Toyota 4Runners and it has been a common one.

Below are some of the solutions to this problem.

Bluetooth Disconnect

The main cause for the radio to suffer from a reboot cycle is Bluetooth connectivity.

When the radio is connected to a phone’s Bluetooth, this problem tends to occur.

The first solution is to completely disconnect Bluetooth and use the radio without Bluetooth.

If Bluetooth is a requirement for you, another solution could be to delete the Bluetooth connection on the phone and the vehicle’s head unit.

Reconnecting after this process may solve the issue.

Software Updates

Some owners took their vehicles back to Toyota, where they needed to either update their vehicle’s computer system or had to do a complete system reboot before the problem was solved.

In some rare cases, owners have had to completely replace a faulty unit at a cost of $870.

Some owners have had their radio unit’s completely freeze on the Toyota logo which means that they have been unable to install the update on their vehicles.

The vehicle would then need to be taken into Toyota where they charge $100 to update the system.

Toyota 4Runner Battery Keeps Dying

Some owners of the 4Runner have reported having a dead battery at regular intervals even when the car is switched off. This can be due to faulty batteries, old batteries, faulty alternators, parasitic drains, or leaving electrics switched on. Possible solutions include replacing the battery or alternator and repairing the parasitic drain.

Some 4Runners have had issues where they struggle to start due to a dying battery.

This is a common problem; however, it is one that needs to be looked into as the battery is essential to starting the vehicle.

Replacement Batteries

The main cause for this problem is often a bad battery.

If a brand-new battery keeps dying it will need to be replaced.

You can have the battery tested to see if it is faulty or not.

A new battery costs around $400 to $800.

Batteries have a lifespan of around 5 years before they begin to lose their voltage.

Eventually, old batteries will be unable to start a vehicle. In this case, a new battery will need to be purchased and installed.

Faulty Alternator

If the battery is dying while the car is running, the problem could be a defective alternator.

The alternator is a component in the engine that charges the battery while the engine is running.

An alternator replacement on a Toyota 4Runner costs around $400 – $550 according to repairpal.com.

In order to test if the alternator is the problem, check the voltage running through the battery while the engine is on.

If the voltage is higher than 14 the alternator is working properly. If it is lower than 12 then it may be defective.

If you’re unsure how to this, have a trained professional take a look for you.

Parasitic Drawing

If the battery is depleting while the car is parked it could be due to a parasitic draw.

This is a rare occurrence when an electrical element in the vehicle is consuming power when the car is switched off.

Identifying which part is drawing power can be an extremely time-consuming process as it involves disconnecting and reconnecting various parts.

It’s recommended to have a professional conduct this test for you. However, due to how long it takes, the costs will vary.

Once the faulty element is found, it can be either repaired or replaced.

The cost of this will vary depending on the part.

Leaving Electrical Elements On

In some cases, the battery could drain because of an electrical element being left on.

This can be anything from the lights being left on or the radio. This will drain the battery of the vehicle even while it is switched off.

The solution here could be as simple as a push start or a jump start from another vehicle.

Toyota 4Runner Rotors Keeps Warping

Rotor warping is an issue that is faced by some owners of the Toyota 4Runner. This issue can be caused by general wear and tear, bad driving habits, or incorrect installation. In most cases, the solution is to replace the rotors and the brake pads. However, changing your driving style and having the car checked by a mechanic can also help.

Brake rotors are the circular metal discs that are visible through the Toyota 4Runner’s wheels.

These discs are essential to slowing your vehicle down when braking.

Some owners of the 4Runner have experienced these discs ‘warping’ or losing their shape.

This causes the vehicle to lose its stopping power.

Symptoms

Some symptoms of warped rotors are vibrations in the steering wheel, vibrations in the brake pedals, noisy brakes, weaker brakes or grooves and marks on the discs themselves.

Aggressive Braking

Some of the causes of warped rotors on the 4Runner are misuse of the brakes, or braking too aggressively.

The solution here is to use the brakes more carefully and to mostly use the brakes when stopping the vehicle.

Incorrect Installation

 Sometimes, the rotors may have been installed incorrectly which could then cause damage when the driver uses their brakes.

Be sure to have a mechanic check the alignment of the rotors and that they are tightened correctly.

Wear and Tear

Malfunctioning or worn-out brake pads can also cause warped rotors.

When the brake pads wear out, the friction from the metal contact causes warping on the discs.

Replacement brake pads are between $150 and $300 depending on the brand of brake pads you choose.

Brake Pressure

Sometimes, an uneven brake pressure could also result in the rotors warping.

Bleed out the brakes and refill the brake fluid evenly on all the brake systems.

Bleeding out the brakes and replacing the brake fluid evenly can solve this problem.

Rust

If the 4Runner is parked for too long, rust can build up on the rotors which will cause an uneven surface area, resulting in warping.

Similarly, general wear over time can also cause varying thicknesses on the rotors.

In this scenario, the brake discs will need to be replaced at a cost of around $400.

Toyota 4Runner Alarm Keeps Going Off

Some Toyota 4Runners a malfunctioning alarm system, causing them to go off when they’re not intended to. This could be caused by a faulty or dead battery or a faulty alarm system. Possible solutions to this issue are replacing the battery, repairing the alarm system, or installing an aftermarket alarm system.

In some cases the Toyota 4Runner has had issues with the alarm going off at random times and for no reason, this can be incredibly annoying and disruptive.

Alarm Settings

The car can be taken to Toyota where they can adjust the sensitivity of the alarm or disable it entirely.

The other solution is to get the alarm replaced or have an aftermarket alarm system installed on the vehicle.

Dying Battery

Another possible cause to this problem could be that the battery is depleted or dying.

This may cause the alarm to malfunction.

The solution is to have the battery tested and replaced if necessary.

Toyota 4Runner Not Starting In the Cold

The main cause for the 4Runner struggling to start in colder weather is the battery. This could be due to a depleting battery or having the wrong battery. The solution is to replace the battery and ensure that it has enough cold cranking amps. Other possible causes could be using thicker oil in the engine or having moisture in the fuel lines. Ensure that your vehicle is running thinner oil in winter and is stored in a garage.

Many cars struggle to start the engine when the weather becomes cooler, and the Toyota 4Runner is no different.

Batteries are the main cause

The number one cause of this problem is the battery.

This could be either a dying battery or having the wrong battery.

A battery that is running low on power will struggle more to turn the engine over when it is colder.

Some batteries have enough power to start the engine when the weather is warm (cranking amps), however when the weather becomes colder, their ‘cold cranking amps’ are simply not enough to start the 4Runner’s engine.

Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is a rating used in the battery industry to define a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures.

In both these cases, replacing the battery will solve the problem.

Ensure that the new battery has enough cold cranking capacity.

Another solution could be to turn on all the electrical elements in the car such as the lights and the radio to warm the battery.

Using the wrong oil

Another cause for the difficulty to start the 4Runner engine in the cold could be due to having the wrong oil.

In warmer temperatures, a thicker oil is used to keep the engine running smoothly.

However, when the weather becomes colder, a thinner oil is needed to get the engine to turn over.

Frozen Fuel Lines

Another issue in the 4Runner is the possibility of having water in the fuel lines.

This happens when condensation or moisture makes its way into the fuel tank.

In cold weather, this moisture can freeze and cause blockages.

The solution is to wait until the moisture unfreezes or to ensure that your vehicle is stored in a garage.

Toyota 4Runner Not Beeping When Locking

At times, the 4Runner will not make a beeping sound when locking or unlocking the doors. The cause of this problem could be as simple not having all of the vehicle’s doors closed properly. In some cases, the system has been disabled and needs to be reset. Other possible causes could be that the speaker has blown and needs to be replaced.

The Toyota 4Runner normally makes a beeping sound when locking or unlocking the vehicle. If there is no beeping sound there may be an issue to look into.

Reset Alarm

The first possible cause to the lack of the beeping sound is that it may have been disabled.

If this is the case, the solution is as simple as taking the vehicle in to the dealership to have it re-enabled.

Otherwise, disconnecting the battery and reconnecting it could reset the settings.

Check Doors

If there is no beep, it could mean that not all of the 4Runner’s doors are closed and properly locked.

You may need to do a quick check to see if all the doors are closed.

Replace Speaker

Another possible cause is that the speaker that makes the beeping sound has blown.

This can happen over time, and the speaker may need to be repaired or replaced.

You may also be interested in our article: Toyota 4Runner Beeping? (11 Common Causes)

Toyota 4Runner not going into gear

4Runner owners have reported having difficulty shifting their vehicles into gear. These issues have been reported in both manual and automatic transmissions. There are various causes to this problem such as having low transmission fluids or a faulty clutch. Solutions vary from refilling transmission fluid, replacing the clutch or refilling brake fluid in the clutch hydraulics.

In some rare cases the Toyota 4Runner has had some issues shifting into gear.

This has affected both manual and automatic cars.

Taking the car to Toyota or to a mechanic can cost a lot of money, especially if you aren’t aware of what the exact problem is.

Worn out clutch

In manual cars it could be a bad shifting fork which would need to be replaced.

It could also be a worn-out clutch causing the gears to slip. A clutch replacement on a 4Runner costs between $800 and $1000.

Replace Transmission Fluids

Another cause to this problem could be that the fluids in the clutch hydraulics are old and dirty. Draining this fluid and refilling it will solve the problem.

In automatic transmissions, the solution could as simple as refilling the transmission fluid.

You could do this yourself by following a guide in the owner’s manual, or it can be done by a mechanic.

Toyota 4Runner Won’t Come Out of 4wd

The Toyota 4Runner is known for having difficulties in disengaging the four-wheel-drive system. The owner’s manual recommends ‘rocking’ the vehicle using the throttle and steering movements. Other recommendations include resetting the system by disconnecting the battery or putting the vehicle into reverse when disengaging the system.

A common problem on the Toyota 4Runner is that the 4-wheel drive system fails to disengage.

Rocking the car back and forth

This problem can be solved in various ways.

The first is recommended in the owner’s manual and that is to use gentle throttle pressure and turning the wheel left and right.

The system sometimes needs a ‘rocking’ movement to disengage.

Reset 4-wheel drive

Another solution is to put the vehicle into reverse and then to press the four-wheel drive button to disengage.

Doing so can sometimes reset the system.

Disconnecting the battery can also sometimes be used to reset the system.

If that fails, other solutions include changing the differential fluid, changing the transmission fluid, and cleaning the sensors and connectors.

10. Toyota 4Runner Won’t Go Into Reverse

Some 4Runner’s have had issues shifting into reverse gear. This problem could be caused by cold weather, contaminated transmission fluid or a broken reverse band. The solutions in these scenarios are to warm the car up before shifting into reverse, replace the transmission fluid, or have a mechanic replace the reverse band in the transmission.

In some cases, Toyota 4runner owners have reported that their vehicles are struggling to shift into reverse gear. This problem has various causes.

Cold Weather

The first cause can be from cold weather.

It is possible for the transmission linkage to freeze over resulting in the vehicle struggling to shift into reverse gear.

The solution is to let the vehicle warm up first before shifting into reverse gear.

Replace Transmission Fluid

Replacing the transmission fluid is another solution in this scenario.

Sometimes the transmission fluid can become dirty and contaminated which will prevent the 4Runner from shifting into reverse gear.

In some more severe cases the reverse gear band may be broken.

If this is the case, a mechanic will need to replace the band.

Toyota 4Runner Noise Behind Glove Box

The air conditioning filter is located behind the glove box area in the Toyota 4Runner. If there is a buzzing or ticking noise coming from this area it could be debris stuck inside the filter. This can be solved temporarily, but the permanent fix is to have a mechanic inspect the part. In some cases, a servo motor could be faulty or damaged and may need to be replaced.

The 4Runner’s cabin air filter is located in the glove box.

A noise emanating from this general area can come from the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit.

There are several solutions to this problem, and the correct fix may vary.

  1. It could potentially be caused by a piece of debris stuck inside the air filter which needs to be removed.
  2. Turn the air temperature from the highest point to the lowest point a couple of times in order to reset the temperature control in the air filters.
  3. Another solution is to switch the air to defrost and back to air again.
  4. In some more severe cases, the servo motor can be faulty or damaged. In this case, it may need to be replaced by a mechanic.

You may also be interested in our article: Toyota 4Runner Tune-Up & Maintenance Costs (Complete Guide)

12. Toyota 4Runner Bluetooth keeps disconnecting

Disrupted Bluetooth connectivity is a known problem on the Toyota 4Runner. Owners have reported various different solutions to this problem; however the most common solutions were to update the phone and vehicle’s software. If there are no updates available for either one, then deleting the Bluetooth connection and reconnecting may solve the problem.

Some owners of the 4Runner have had difficulty with the Bluetooth system on the vehicle.

In some vehicles the head unit on the 4Runner freezes and reboots when Bluetooth is connected to it.

There are various reported solutions to this problem.

Disconnect and Reconnect Bluetooth

The first is to delete the Bluetooth connection from both the phone and the vehicle’s systems.

Make sure to ‘forget’ the network. Reconnecting after this process can sometimes solve the problem.

Update software

In some cases, the system on the phone needs to be updated in order to work properly.

If there is an updated available for your phone, make sure you install it and try again.

In other cases, an update can actually cause this problem.

For example, the iOS 13 update disrupted Bluetooth connectivity in some vehicles.

This problem was solved by Apple in the next iOS update.

An outdated Toyota Entune system could also cause this issue at times.

It’s always best to keep your vehicle’s computer system as up to date as possible to prevent these problems from occurring.