The Toyota 4Runner is a fantastic vehicle. It’s rugged and capable, and it even looks good. Year over year Toyota 4Runners sell well and are known to hold resale value more than many other similar vehicles.
So, let’s take a closer look at how many miles the average 4Runner can last and some of the factors that affect the lifespan of a Toyota 4Runner.
Why Are Toyota 4Runners Known For Longevity?
Tried and True: The fifth-generation 4Runner debuted during the 2010 model year. We are now in 2022, so Toyota has had nearly twelve years to perfect the design and build a rock-solid platform.
Build Location: 4Runners are built in Japan. Toyota enthusiasts often praise any of the Toyota model vehicles built in Japan, which is no different from the 4Runner.
Less Complex: 4Runners generally have a less complex build than other SUVs. By Toyota keeping the build comparatively simple and reliable, fewer things can go wrong.
Quality Parts & Craftsmanship: One of the key factors behind the Toyota 4Runner’s longevity is the quality of its parts and components. Toyota is renowned for exceptional engineering and manufactures many of the 4Runner’s components in-house rather than sourcing from third-party suppliers. For example, the 4Runner’s V6 engine has been fine-tuned over decades to offer smooth, reliable power even at high mileage. And the transmission pairs well with the engine for performance that holds up over time. Toyota also uses high-quality materials in the interior that stand up well to everyday use. While proper maintenance is still required, the 4Runner starts with an advantage thanks to its inherently quality components engineered for the long haul.
What Do Studies Show?
In a study by iSeeCars titled “Longest-lasting Cars to Reach 200,000 Miles and Beyond,” the Toyota 4Runner came in the number five spot out of sixteen vehicles, with 4.1% of the 4Runners reaching over 200,000 miles. This is impressive because it means that out of all the 4Runners on the road, a decent percentage will in fact reach the 200,000-mile mark.
On Toyota-4runner.org one of the largest 4Runner forums, the consensus is 200k-300k is reasonable high-end mileage of a 4Runner that is properly maintained.
But How Long Does The Average 4Runner Last?
The average lifespan of a Toyota 4Runner under the right conditions is about 15 years or 300,000 miles. We want to stress this number will be lower for those who don’t properly maintain their 4Runner.
Buying A Toyota 4Runner With 200,000 or More Miles? Here is What To Check
For vehicles with 200,000 plus miles, no matter how dependable and respected the brand is, the sheer age of the vehicle could be an issue, especially if the previous owner hasn’t done preventative and routine maintenance. This next section will detail some things you can check before purchasing a high-mileage vehicle, which could save you some serious headaches.
A vehicle’s maintenance history can tell you a lot about how the previous owner took care of the car. If they performed all regularly scheduled maintenance at the dealer, then that is a good sign that they probably also did preventative maintenance and took care of issues as they arose.
You can check the service history in a few ways:
There are a few ways to check a vehicle’s maintenance history. One way is to look at the service records at the dealer where the car was serviced. Another way is to talk with the previous owner and ask for copies of all service records if available (assuming you are buying it via private sale).
Car Facts Accident Reports
Checking Car Facts for any accidents is another important step in the used car buying process.
If you are looking at a 4Runner with over 200,000 miles, which has had several accidents, that is definitely a red flag. Even if the vehicle has been repaired properly, any type of accident will add wear and tear that could potentially shorten the vehicle’s lifespan.
If a vehicle you want to buy does show an accident on the Car Facts, it isn’t always a deal breaker as long as you are taking that into consideration when it comes to price negotiations. I would recommend taking it to an independent mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) to get their professional opinion on the accident damage and any potential issues that could arise from it.
Get An Inspection By An Independent Mechanic
This is one of the most important steps in the used car buying process, especially if you are looking at a vehicle with a lot of miles. The mechanic will perform a basic mechanical inspection going over a large checklist of items. They will also inspect the car’s underside, looking for overly worn parts, frame issues, or signs that the car was in an accident and repaired.
They will often provide a report detailing what they found and their opinion on the severity of any issues. This is extremely helpful when negotiating a price with the seller.
Remember that just because a vehicle passes an inspection doesn’t mean it will be free of issues down the road, but it gives you peace of mind knowing that everything checked out okay at the time of inspection.
Number Of Owners
This isn’t an important metric and can often be verified via the Car Facts report. In general, the fewer owners a vehicle has had, the better.
If several people have owned a car, it could indicate that there were issues with the car that caused each owner to get rid of it quickly. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and there could be a perfectly logical explanation.
In general, I wouldn’t let the number of owners be a make-or-break factor when buying a used car, but it is something to keep in mind.
Location Of Vehicle
Location may sound like a funny thing to consider, but hear me out.
If you are looking at a 4Runner sold in Arizona and now has 250,000 miles on it, that is a much different scenario than a 4Runner with the same mileage initially sold in Maine. The reason is that vehicles in southern states generally have an easier road life. Like our earlier example, vehicles from Arizona often haven’t seen snow or salt.
This isn’t an exact science, and other factors play a role in how long a car will last, but all things being equal, a 4Runner from Arizona will have a longer lifespan than one from Maine.
Another example is vehicles located near the coasts and the ocean. These could have been driven in salt water, accelerating rust and corrosion. Again, this isn’t always the case, but it is something to consider.
In short, try to find a 4Runner that was originally sold in a state with good weather and little snow/salt if possible, as it will likely last longer than one that wasn’t.
Signs of Offroading
This is a minor concern, but I figured I would mention it. If you are looking at a 4Runner with dings and scratches all over the place, it usually indicates that it was driven off-road quite a bit.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as many people love to take their 4Runners off-roading, but it could be some extra wear and tear on the vehicle. Some off-roaders will not clean the frame well, covered in mud, dirt, and debris. This can lead to corrosion and premature rusting of the frame.
Again, this is a minor concern, and most 4Runners can handle a little off-roading without issue, but it is something to keep in mind if you are looking at one that appears to have been driven hard off-road.
How To Make Sure Your 4Runner Lasts For A Long Time
The best way to keep your 4Runner running strong for many miles is to take good care of it. What do those owners who have already hit 200,000 miles have to say about keeping their 4Runner going strong?
1) Keep Up With Regular Maintenance
Keeping up with regular maintenance includes oil changes, tire rotations, and other basic services that keep your 4Runner running smoothly. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual that came with your vehicle and review the section on recommended vehicle maintenance intervals.
2) Be Proactive With Repairs
Often, when a repair does need to be made, people will wait to repair for whatever reason. This isn’t recommended, as delaying a repair can often lead to further damage being done. Be proactive and take care of repairs as soon as possible.
3) Don’t Neglect Your 4Runner
This probably goes without saying, but it is important nonetheless. If you neglect your 4Runner by not keeping it clean, it can prematurely rust out (especially for those of you in states in the northern United States that use road salt).
Frequently washing the salt off your vehicle and doing an annual undercoating will help protect your vehicle’s body and frame to ensure the rust doesn’t get to it before the mechanical components wear out.
Look into undercoating if you live in a state that uses road salt. The best undercoating is the oil-based coatings that seep versus the kind that hardens and looks similar to a pickup truck spray-in bed liner.
4) Use Good Quality Parts & Products
When it comes time to replace parts on your 4Runner, be sure to use good quality OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts or aftermarket parts that are comparable in quality. Also, don’t forget about using good-quality fluids and lubricants as well.
5) Store Your 4Runner Properly
This is especially important if you live in an area with harsh winters. If at all possible, avoid parking your 4Runner outside and being exposed to the elements. Park it in a garage or carport if you have one available.
6) Don’t Ignore Fault Codes and Warning Messages
If you are driving around town without knowing what a warning code or fault light means, ignoring it might cost you to spend more money and add trouble down the road.
Most drivers overlook the dashboard’s warning lights and fault codes since they believe nothing is wrong. However, such warning signals only appear on the dashboard if a potential problem is discovered.
If a warning code or fault appears on the dash, it might develop into something more serious, costing you lots of money or even destroying your engine.
You must know how to identify whether a warning light or fault code is something important or not. Generally speaking, in the 5th Generation 4Runners, if the code is a solid light, it tends not to be as serious as if it is flashing. Either way, I wouldn’t recommend continuing to drive if you see either one and seek a professional mechanic to have it checked out.
7) Check For Recalls
Checking for recalls is something that not a lot of people think about, but it is important nonetheless. A recall means that there is a problem with your 4Runner that could potentially be dangerous, so it is being recalled by the dealer for a fix to be applied.
What To Expect After 200,000 Miles?
After your car reaches the 200,000-mile mark, not a lot will change. Expect to continue performing routine maintenance and repairs as needed. The best thing you can do to keep your car going is to keep up with the proper maintenance and be proactive with repairs.
You may start to see an increase in overall repairs, so be sure to keep regular repairs in your budget, but overall the 4Runner can go for a decent amount of additional miles over 200,000.
The biggest issue you may see is with rust starting to form both on the body panels as well as the frame. Unfortunately, you can only slow it down with rust, but you can’t prevent it over time.
One of the biggest non-mechanical complaints for 200,000 plus mile 4Runners is that the steering wheel and seats start to rip and break down. These are generally easy fixes where you can get covers or aftermarket replacements.
Lifespan Of Specific 4Runner Components
How Long Does A 4runner Transmission Last?
Based on reports from Toyota 4Runner owners, a well-maintained 4Runner transmission typically lasts between 150,000-200,000 miles or more before needing major repairs or replacement. A few key factors that impact 4Runner transmission longevity include:
- Maintenance: Regular fluid changes, inspections, and addressing any leaks or issues early helps transmission longevity. Toyota recommends changing the automatic transmission fluid every 60,000 miles or 72 months.
- Driving style: Aggressive driving with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, hauling heavy loads, or towing near the vehicle’s limits generates more heat and wear on the transmission. Gentle acceleration and driving helps the transmission last.
- Year and generation: Newer 4Runner generations tend to have transmissions designed to last longer. For example, the 5-speed automatic in the 5th gen 4Runners (2010-2023) is more durable than the 4-speed in the 2nd-4th gens.
- Off-roading: Frequent challenging off-road use adds more stress and wear on the transmission than only street driving. Overheating is also a concern during extended off-road climbs. Additional transmission cooling is recommended for off-road enthusiasts.
So with proper maintenance and care, aiming to get over 200,000 miles out of a 4Runner transmission is a reasonable target for most drivers. Going beyond even 250k+ miles is possible if the transmission is meticulously maintained and driven lightly.
As you can see, there are quite a few factors to consider when determining how many miles a Toyota 4Runner will last. In general, if you use the above recommendations as a guideline, you should be able to get a lot of additional miles out of your 4Runner.
If you have any other questions, feel free to comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer them. As always, thanks for reading!