2002 Toyota 4runner Guide

Our Complete 2002 Toyota 4runner Guide

The year 2002 was the end of the 3rg gen Toyota 4Runner and the beginning of the new, 4th gen. While previous model years had plenty of facelifts and added options, the optional e-locker for the rear differential was dropped in 2001. So the 3rd gen models in the year 2002 were being sold without the e-locker option. 

In August 2002, the 4th gen model was being sold alongside the 3rd gen, but the production of the 3rd gen came to an end. But it was not a bitter end. The new generation is the 4th one, which changed the world for the 4Runner offroad fan base. This new-gen 4Runner is considered the best generation of all time.

The 4th gen has its hype because of its offroad capability and sturdy base. The body on the frame platform has done wonders to the 4Runner’s chassis, making it one of the most desirable used offroaders on the market. Because of the offroad prowess, the depreciation on these trucks disguised as SUVs is unheard of. Instead of depreciating like other SUVs, the 4Runner is maintaining its value like a boss. Before we begin with our full 2002 Toyota 4runner Guide, let’s look at some of the most important specs of this model and year.

2002 Toyota 4Runner Specs 


2002 Toyota 4Runner Variants/Trim Levels 

The 3rd gen Toyota 4Runner came in 3 trim levels. 

  • SR5
  • Sport Edition
  • Limited

The SR5 is the base variant; after which comes the Sport Edition, and then we have the most expensive Limited model.

The biggest update later in the 4th gen model was the introduction of a V8 engine in the lineup. All the other generations of Toyota 4Runners are deprived of this beauty. The major benefit of this V8 engine is the increased towing capacity, up to 7300 lbs. The V6 model, on the other hand, has a lower capacity and can tow up to 5000 lbs. 

The 3rd gen, however, did not have a V8 engine but had a smaller 2.7L inline-4 making 150hp, goes by the name 3RZ-FE. The 3rd generation offered an optional 3.4L V6 (5VZ-FE), which you should be getting if you are looking for an SUV for towing purposes. 

As of the mid-cycle refresh, the inline-4 engine, with its 5-speed manual, was dropped altogether. So when you will be looking at the listings of the 2002 Toyota 4Runner, you will not find the inline-4 engine. 2002 model only had the 3.4L V6 paired with a 4-speed automatic. It will become clear as you go more and more into the details; the last years of 3rd gen Toyota 4Runner has quite abrupt changes after which Toyota finally decided to launch an all-new generation.

2002 Toyota 4Runner SR5

2002 Toyota 4Runner SR5

The SR5 did not have all the bells and whistles like the Limited, but it is the model which gets the job done. You do not get the luxury aspect in this trim level; instead, you get the offroad performance just as good as the Sport Edition. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition

The sport edition is the upgraded version of the SR5, with better suspension and better aesthetics. If you are more into looks, then you would certainly like the Sport Edition model. If you are looking for a dedicated offroader, then the Limited model would be your best bet. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Limited

The limited model of the year 2002 did not offer the e-locker for the rear differential, as the option was dropped in 2001; whereas, the 4th gen Limited model had the all-time 4-wheel-drive setup as standard. The limited was also deprived of the 5-speed manual as the automatic is considered more luxurious. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner MPG

2002 Toyota 4Runner MPG

When you are looking for higher miles per gallon variant of the 4Runner, you should consider the SR5 with a 2-wheel-drive. The other two models are a little heavy because of the added exterior trims and all those bells and whistles. The 4-wheel drive variants will give you fewer miles per gallon compared to the 2-wheel drive.

But in the end, it is not about the miles per gallon – it is about the smiles per gallon. The 4-wheel drive options are the most fun options as you can get better offroad capability from a 4-wheel drive compared to a 2-wheel drive configuration. 

2002 3rd gen Toyota 4Runner trim levels MPG City/Highway
3.4L V6 RWD 4-Speed Automatic 16/19
3.4L V6 4WD 4-Speed Automatic 15/18
2002 4th gen Toyota 4Runner trim levels MPG City/Highway
4.0L V6 RWD 4-Speed Automatic 16/20
4.0L V6 4WD 4-Speed Automatic 15/19
4.7L V8 RWD 5-Speed Automatic 15/18
4.7 L V8 4WD 5-Speed Automatic 14/17

2002 Toyota 4Runner Prices

2002 Toyota 4Runner

In 2002, the sales numbers of the Toyota 4Runner were dropping significantly; therefore, to give more lore to the customers, the 4th gen Toyota 4Runner was introduced. according to Kelly’s Blue Book, a fair price should be somewhere $5k-$10K.

Due to its durability and offroad capability, the 4th gen soon became one of the most desirable SUVs in the market. These mid-size SUVs have depreciated over time, and the 2002 model faced the most depreciation of all the other model years. If you are looking for an economical price for the 4Runner, the best option would be the 3rd gen 2002 model. The later models are more expensive because of the buying trend and are less old as well.

2002 Toyota 4Runner Accessories

Toyotas are easy to maintain and easy to upgrade as there is plenty of aftermarket support. When you are looking for a stock-like performance, then go for the OEM parts. If you want to save money on replacement parts, you can also go for the aftermarket ones, where you can get the same quality stuff with less price.

You can even find cheaper stuff online, but you should not consider those, as the quality is unacceptable. The high-end aftermarket is something worth checking – you can find the best quality that you can get, but the only drawback is the premium price. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Bumper

2002 Toyota 4Runner Bumper

In the 2002 4th gen Toyota, the size is a few inches smaller compared to the later models, therefore, if you are modifying your 2002 Toyota 4Runner to have the later model bumper, you have to make some modifications, and even then, the lines will not align properly. 

The best way to modify your 2002 Toyota 4Runner bumper would be to replace it with an aftermarket one. If you want to keep it as close as stock, you can try to look for it at the dealerships. They might have some old, new stock at the dealership. Given how old these SUVs are, finding them new is close to impossible. 

The best option after the dealerships is eBay. You can try to look for some used bumpers in good condition. You have to go for the same model bumper for a stock look. Whereas, if you want to make it a dedicated offroader, then there are plenty of options to choose from. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner is so old that they aren’t going to increase in value anyway, so adding expensive new OEM parts is not a very good investment. It’s better to go for the aftermarket ones and save money. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Camping

2002 Toyota 4Runner Camping

The 2002 Toyota 4Runner is one of the best options for budget camping and offroading. The aftermarket has everything you need; You can modify your 2002 Toyota 4Runner into an Overlander with minimum head-scratching and alterations. With each passing day, the mods are becoming more and more like plug-and-play appliances and can be installed without a hitch. 

You can find plenty of camping stuff here from Amazon. The best products are those which are neither too expensive nor too cheap. Always read the reviews before finalizing your purchase. To experience the best camping experience, you should keep the amenities to the minimum, and only carry the stuff necessary for survival and enjoy your time in the wilds. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Roof rack 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Roof rack 

Overlanding and camping aim to taste the freedom at its full. And when you are looking for maximum freedom, a roof rack can give you extra space for that. You can plenty of utility with these roof racks, just as you get plenty of utility from truck beds. It’s always good to have and not need than to need and not have. On top of that extra space, roof racks give your SUV that rugged look that declares that it’s ready to offroad. 

Either you can have all your luggage on the roof rack and sleep inside the SUV, or put all your luggage inside and have a rooftop tent to sleep in. You can also have your mountain bike mounted on top, or you can put other storage units on top of that as well. There are hundreds of ways you can use your roof rack. It is the kind of investment where you can never go wrong. 

Best 2002 Toyota 4Runner Replacement Parts

2002 Toyota 4Runner Tires 


All the power from the engine translates into the ground via tires, and if tires are not adequate, that power will not be utilized properly. It is especially true in snow-covered regions. All-season tires can never deliver the full potential of an SUV in snow. The tires will keep on skidding on a slope, which can quickly escalate into something undesirable; an accident. You can find the right tires here from tirerack.com

You should never take it easy when it is about your tires and brakes, as these are things that will stop your SUV from crashing into objects. If your tires are worn out, you should not be taking them lightly– replace them at once. From our experience, it’s best to buy your tires from certified stores physically. Buying online can give lots of options, but you never know what you will get in the end. At physical stores, you can be sure of the quality, year of manufacturing, and compound. You can also change them easily without a hassle if you encounter a problem with them.

If you want to buy your tires online despite the less transparency, we would recommend you tirerack.com. It’s one of the highest-rated websites from where you can buy your tires. With their fitment tool, you can find the best option suitable for your exact make and model. You can also select which type of tires you need depending on your use and the location you live in. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Air filters

2002 Toyota 4Runner Air filters

Your 2002 Toyota 4Runner engine breathes through the air filter. If the air filter is dirty or the lines are clogged, the engine performance will greatly be rescued, and the engine would feel as if it’s bogging down. The air intake system is one of the essential components, which needs to be taken care of at every maintenance. 

The most feasible option is to get the OEM air filter. If you cant find OEM, you can go for the aftermarket one having the same quality. But when you are looking to modify your 2002 Toyota 4Runner for competitive offroading, you should move to the higher-end air filters. K$Ns come ahead of the genuine OEM air filter. If you want the best of the best, you can have the aFe air filter– the top-of-the-line air filter, even better than the K&N cold air intake. 

Your final decision should be based on the required performance. In a nutshell; genuine OEM if you want to get the job done, K&N cold air intake if you are looking for something better than OEM, and finally, the aFe if you want something bizarre that will surely give you prominent gains on the power numbers. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Headlights

2002 Toyota 4Runner Headlights

The 4th gen models have completely redesigned headlights. The 3rg gen 2002 model had those boxy headlights that were considered as the sporty headlights back then, and they do look cool even today. The only minus in the case of the 4th gen Toyota 4Runner is that the headlights were replaced with a set of more round and bulky headlights

If you are having the early production 4th gen model or you have one of the last 3rd gen 2002 models, it’s best to go for the OEM replacement if you need any. The headlights would be the first difference you will notice when comparing the 3rd gen with the 4th gen. Another big difference is that the 4th gen has the V8, whereas the 3rd gen does not. 

The 4th gen will be available as the 2003 model while the 3rd gen was sold as the 2002 model in its last year. So even if the earliest 4th gen model came in 2002, they will be considered as the 2003 model.  

2002 Toyota 4Runner Brake pads

2002 Toyota 4Runner Brake pads

There are tons of choices from which you can select the one you are most comfortable. To make sure that you get the brakes back to normal without any fitment issues on new brake pads, you should go for the OEM brake pads. On the contrary, if you opt for the aftermarket ones, you might end up with fitment problems. The factory OEM would give you the perfect fit whatsoever.

You should keep in mind that when you put in new brake pads, the brakes will not work at full potential. You need to undergo that break-in period before the pads can work at their full potential. 

When you feel like your brakes are not working as they are supposed to, instead of second-guessing yourself, get your brakes inspected at a certified auto shop or a dealership. Often the brake pads are the culprit. Less often, the brake rotors and calipers are the problems. To make sure that your brakes work seamlessly, replace the brake fluid after 4 to 5 years.   

2002 Toyota 4Runner Mods

To personalize your Toyota 4Runner, you can put on some mods that are widely available in the market. When someone modifies these SUVs, the sole purpose is to either have the offroad aesthetics or make it literally offroad competitive beast. The 3rg gen model, although a good body on frame configuration is not as offroad capable as the 4th gen model.

If you are looking for a good base to work your way into dedicated offroading, you would have to consider something other than the 3rg gen. If you are only looking for driving along easy trails and go camping in the woods, this option is not bad. You can easily modify them to carry all of your camping gear without an issue. 

2014 Toyota 4Runne Lift Kits 

2014 Toyota 4Runne Lift Kits 

The most satisfying mod that you can put on an SUV is a lift kit. With a lift kit, you can raise your ride height by about 2-3 inches. It will give you plenty of extra ground clearance. Whereas without a lift kit, you could encounter terrain where you might not be able to get across. To make sure that your SUV is ready for those decisive moments, you can give it a couple of extra inches so it can go through obstacles effortlessly. 

If you want to all out on the amount of lift, you can buy aftermarket coil-overs. There are tons of different coil overs available in the market, each with its purpose and quality. In our experience Fox, Bilstein and Ohlins are one of the most recommended ones. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Maintenance Schedule

Miles Maintenance Schedule
After every:


• 3,000 miles

• 9,000 miles

• 15,000 miles

• 27,000 miles

• Examine the brake pipes and lines.


• Examine the air cleaner

• Examine the chassis body nuts and bolts.

• Examine the cooling system, hoses, and clamps. Inspect exhaust system

• Change engine oil

• Change engine oil filter

• Rotate tires

After every


• 6,000 miles

• Examine the brake pipes and lines.


• Examine the chassis body nuts and bolts.

• Examine the cooling system, hoses, and clamps.

• Examine the exhaust system

• Keep ball joints lubricated.

• Change the engine oil

• Change the engine oil filter.

• Rotate the tires

After every:


• 30000 miles

• Inspect and replace the spark plugs if required


• inspect the whole electronics system and see if all the sensors are working right

• Examine the exhaust system.

• Lubricate ball joints

• Change the engine oil.

• Replace the engine oil filter.

• Rotate tires

• Inspect the PCV valve

• Inspect the spark plugs

• Drain and replace the transmission oil

After every:


• 36000 miles

• Drain and refill front and rear axle oil.         


• Thoroughly inspect the suspension components                

2002 Toyota 4Runner Recalls

There is only one known recall for the 2002 Toyota 4Runner, which we have explained.

Brake Failure In Snow Conditions

Due to a subtle rear-wheel design, the inside well of the wheel could accumulate snow in it, and if the snow gets hardened, it could damage the brake lines leading to a brake fluid leakage. And as a result, the brakes will no longer work. The recall replaced the rear brake lines.

But to make sure that you don’t come across this problem, you have to make sure that snow does not accumulate. After every drive in the snow, you must clean the inside of the wheels. You can have a small shovel or any other tool which can reach into the inner side of the wheels. 

Make sure not to damage the brake lines while you are removing the snow/ice. If you see that the snow has turned hard and it’s not coming out, let it melt, and do not force your way through the process. You can use hot water and park your SUV inside a heated garage if necessary. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Common Problems


Transmission Failure

It is a common issue that happens due to the intermixing of coolant with transmission fluid. It happens when the radiator forms pored through which the fluid gets mixed, and this mixture will likely be the cause of the transmission failure. These pipes deteriorated mainly due to rust. The best remedy would be to have a separate transmission cooler  

Rear Axle Seals Tend To Wear Out

This is one of those maintenance items that is often neglected. This seal tends to go out after about 100k miles, and if the rear axle oil gets leaked, it could seriously damage the axle, and you will have to face a major repair cost.  

Ball Joints Will Not Last Long

According to our research, several owners have reported that the ball joints wear out prematurely and require replacement. If not replaced, then the whole assembly could fall off, resulting in a swear accident. Other suspension components may also wear out, given how old this vehicle is. Make sure that there are no clunks and rattles underneath. 


Even though the rusting problem was not as bad as Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra, which led to a recall. The 4Runner frame was built in Japan, so the Dana problem was not there in the 3rd gen Toyota 4Runner. Even though there was no recall, if the 4Runner in question is handled roughly and has not been treated with rust prevention treatments, it will have a rust problem. 

Make sure that the rust is only the surface rust. If the rust has made its way all the way into the frame, then that’s a problem not to be taken lightly. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Resale Value

Given how old the 2002 Toyota 4runner is, you might expect the prices to be less, but in reality, these SUVs are still going for $5k easily. 4Runner is one of the best SUVs that have retained their value up to this extent. The 4th gen model goes a step further than the 3rd gen, averaging about $11k – in very good condition. 

Even the poor condition ones are fetching rates much higher than competitors with the same condition. 

2002 Toyota 4Runner Competitors

Jeep Grand Cherokee

2002 Toyota 4Runner belongs to the 3rg generation, which has many competitors putting up a good fight. Some SUVs are better in terms of cost, while others are better in terms of offroad capability. We will discuss these aspects in detail, buy first, let us look at the list of competitors, given below:

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Nissan Patrol
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Toyota Tacoma 
  • Toyota Tundra
  • Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Nissan X-Terra 
  • Lexus GX470
  • Honda Pilot 
  • Ford Explorer
  • Hummer H3

2002 Toyota 4Runner FAQs

Question: Is 2002 Toyota 4Runner Limited Good For Offroading 

Answer: The 2002 Limited Toyota 4Runner will not be a good base for dedicated offroading. However, if you are one of its die-hard fans, aftermarket can help you put all kinds of gadgets on it, whether it is an e-locker rear differential or air suspension, you name it, the aftermarket has it.

Question: Which Is The Cheapest 4Runner

Answer: The 2002 model is by far one of the cheapest as many of the good features were not available in the 2002 model. E-locker for the rear differential, for instance, was not offered in the 2002 model year. All-time 4-wheel-drive is also not available in this model. The only engine option offered after 1999 was the 3.4L V6. 1998 and 1999 models can also give you a good bargain. If the restoration has been done right, you won’t have a problem. 

Question: What Is 2002 Toyota 4Runner Worth 

Answer: Toyota 4Runner is one of the least depreciating vehicles, which is especially true for the 4th gen models. The 2002 model should not cost more than or equal to the 4th gen models, as so many bells and whistles were not available in the 3rd gen models. On top of lack of amenities, the 2002 model had dropped features like all-time 4 wheel drive, rear locking differential, which was previously available as an option.

Final Thoughts

For a casual camping experience and having that extra utility in your hands, you can go for the 2002 model; however, if you are looking to go for an offroad build, the 3rg gen, especially the 2002 model, will not be a very good choice. If you are a 4Runner fan and you want to personalize a 4Runner only, you must go for the all-time favorite – the most capable 4Runner of all, the 4th gen. 

One potential issue that you might encounter is rust. This SUV is two decades old, and that is a lot of time for rust to eat away the frame. Make sure to check if the SUV is having too much rust. If you come across little rust, then that’s okay. It is almost impossible to find a clean piece without any rust these days. 

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