FJ Cruiser Reliability – How Reliable Is The FJ Cruiser?

by Conner Mckay

Are you on the market for a used FJ Cruiser and do you want to learn more about the model, the specs, problems, and the overall FJ Cruiser reliability? If that is the case, you came to the right place because we are going to explain everything you need to know when it comes to the FJ Cruiser.

Getting a capable off-roader can be a real struggle these days because on the market there are plenty of offers. But only a small amount of the products manages to deliver the performance needed when it comes to off-road use and durability.

That’s why people turn back and look at some of the offerings that were popular back in the day. Namely the FJ Cruiser which was hugely praised by quite a lot of car journalists for its ability to tackle any rugged terrain with great ease. Along with the ease of tackling terrains, the FJ Cruiser has also plenty of other things to offer. Some of which that we are going to cover in this article, where we will go into detail when it comes to the specs and also the features of this vehicle.

In this article, we are going to learn what is the FJ Cruiser. Then we will go through the specs of this off-roader. We will also learn the FJ Cruiser reliability and learn if it’s a good car when it comes to the mechanicals. Then we will cover the pros and cons of the FJ Cruiser for you to make an estimate of whether it fits the bill or not. So, let’s get started.

What Is The FJ Cruiser?

The FJ Cruiser is a mid-size SUV made by Toyota by which Toyota paid homage to the original FJ40. Or better said, it’s Toyota’s take on the Hummer. Since the FJ Cruiser quite reminds me of the Hummer H2 as well.

The FJ implements a retro styling that makes it quite unique and it is a real spectacle when you see one on the roads since these SUVs are pretty rare and not that easy to find across the US. That’s why the demand for them by the car people is getting higher every day.

Nevertheless, the FJ Cruiser was initially unveiled back in 2003 at the North American International Motor Show as a concept car and got a lot of praise from the audience for its styling ques. That’s why in 2005 Toyota unveiled the first production model for the 2006 production year. It was assembled in Hamura, Tokyo, Japan, and was exported into the USA.

On some markets around the world, the FJ Cruiser is still on sale to this day. These markets include the Middle East, Chile, South Africa, and the Philippines. But the US model was canceled in 2014 since the sales were declining and there wasn’t the market anymore for the FJ Cruiser.

But although canceled, this model is still quite popular among the purists and it will cost you a good penny to get one in decent shape and low miles. Considering that the prices of these vehicles have gone up in value considerably in the past few years. But as the production numbers were pretty good, you can find one for a good deal.

But what about the specs of the FJ Cruiser and the FJ Cruiser reliability? We will cover that next.

FJ Cruiser Specs

Now let’s cover the specs of the FJ Cruiser and learn in which trims and colors it was offered. As we mentioned, the FJ Cruiser is a mid-size SUV that targeted the market of the Hummer H2, Jeep Renegade, and similar size vehicles which were trendy back then.

The chassis is a body-on-frame design that makes the FJ Cruiser extra sturdy and durable when it comes to its structural integrity. It implements a double-wishbone front suspension and a four-link rear suspension equipped with lateral rod and coil springs.

The FJ Cruiser implements 4 piston front disc brakes that are ventilated and two-piston rear brakes. It comes equipped with all of the safety systems like ABS, EBP, Brake Assist, and the VSC system, which is Toyota’s name for Traction Control.

The FJ Cruiser implemented 5 door designs, with rear clamshell doors. Making it a bit shorter compared to the other SUVs that had classic rear doors.

It was a front-engine with a rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive. The engine that was offered was a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produced 259hp and 270 lb. ft of torque. This engine was naturally aspirated. The engine was quite reliable and made a big improvement in the FJ Cruiser reliability score that we are going to discuss later in the article.

The transmissions that the FJ cruiser used were the five-speed automatic for the rear-wheel-drive FJ’s, then there was the five-speed automatic with the VF2A transfer case on the part-time 4×4 models and the six-speed manual transmission with a VF4B on the full time 4×4 FJ Cruisers.

Special Editions

Now let’s discuss the special editions that the FJ Cruiser was offered. There were basically two different trims that you could pick.

One of them was the TRD edition. Which stands for Toyota Racing Development. The TRD offered quite sporty equipment compared to the standard models of the FJ Cruiser.

It offered different colors and also some beefier suspension. There were specially tuned Bilstein shocks and rock rails. Then there were special TRD wheels with BFGoodrich special all-terrain tires.


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The TRD also improved the off-roading capability of the standard model and made it more fun to drive on rugged terrains.

Then there was the other edition called Trail Teams Edition. This edition included most of the TRD options but what differentiated from the TRD were the external styling cues like the trim pieces for the mirrors, door handles, bumper caps, and the trail teams also came with different colors.

More specifically the Ultimate Edition of the Trail Teams included colors like Iceberg, Sandstorm, Army Green, Radiant Red, and Heritage Blue. But what about the FJ Cruiser reliability? We are going to cover that, let’s first finish the specs and the safety of the FJ Cruiser.


For its time, the FJ Cruiser has delivered a good safety record. It got 5 stars on most of the NTHSA tests both in 2008 where it was introduced and in 2014 which was the last year of production for the USA model.

The only downside was the frontal passenger safety. Where it only got four stars and also the rollover, where it only got 3 stars.

The overall safety of the FJ Cruiser can be considered to be good for today’s standards.

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy of the FJ Cruiser is understandably not one of the best out there. This is the case because it is an SUV and the air drag is much bigger compared to a regular sedan.

That’s why the FJ Cruiser only gets 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. The combined fuel consumption is around 18. But in reality, is probably 16 mpg.

That’s why, if you are in search of a fuel-efficient vehicle. Then maybe it’s best to look somewhere elsewhere. Because the FJ Cruiser is not a particularly fuel-efficient car. But what about the FJ Cruiser reliability? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in the next chapter where we will learn more about the issues that the FJ Cruiser has.

Toyota FJ Cruiser Reliability

Now we came to the important bit and that is the FJ Cruiser reliability. One thing is for the car or SUV to deliver a good performance and another thing is to deliver all this performance reliably. That’s why in this chapter, we are going to cover the reliability issues of the FJ Cruiser in great detail for you to have a better understanding of what should expect before you purchase one. So, let’s start.

When it comes to the FJ Cruiser reliability, it is important to note that these SUVs are usually high mileage cars that are well beyond 150,000 miles and they had numerous repairs during their lifetime.


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That’s why you need to play it smart and look for a model that has lower miles. Getting a model that has lower miles can be tricky but if you want to save money in the long run, this will be the way to go. I’m saying this because some services that are mandatory were already done by the previous owners and also the engine is still fresh.

This means that you could easily drive it until you hit 400k miles on the clock. Nevertheless, here are some of the problems that you could come by with a high mileage FJ Cruiser.

Possible Engine Issues On High Mile FJ Cruisers

Oil Consumption

Increased oil consumption is probably one of the prime samples of a worn engine. The oil rings simply don’t seal properly anymore and there is a lot of space where oil could pass through and cause oil burning issues.

When you have an oil-burning problem, you will notice how the level of oil simply drops after a while and this could also cause an issue if you don’t notice it and you don’t top off the oil level.

Also, black smoke coming from the exhaust will be another symptom of an engine that has oil burning issues especially if this problem is very pronounced. That’s why before you buy an FJ Cruiser make sure that the engine doesn’t smoke from the rear.

Increased Blowby

Increased blowby is also present in these engines that have more than 200,000 miles. But what is a blowby? A blowby is an unmetered air that enters the engine through the piston rings.

Which in other words translates that the piston rings are not sealing properly anymore. There is the air that finds its way through the gaps between the compression rings and the cylinder walls.

Overall, not the best situation since the engine would be down on performance and will not have the right pulling power than it did before this blowby issue happen.

When inspecting an FJ Cruiser or a regular car that has higher miles. It is useful to start the engine and remove the oil dipstick. Place your hand on top of the dipstick pipe and if it blows a lot of air then this engine has some serious issues. A small amount of blowby is normal and will not affect the FJ Cruiser reliability score.

Compression Loss

If there is a lot of blowby, then it means that there is a compression loss as well. Compression loss means that the engine doesn’t seal particularly well and this ruins the combustion and messes up the work of the engine.

Making the engine down on power, particularly in the affected cylinders by this blowby problem. Another good idea to do before purchasing a higher mileage FJ Cruiser is to do a compression test on it.

A compression tester is a small tool with a gauge that you plug instead of the spark plug and then you crank the engine. If the readings are good or above 100, then the engine is good. If the readings are below 100, then you probably have compression loss and the engine has to be rebuilt.

This means new pistons, bearings and other componentry has to be replaced to bring the engine back to spec. This will cost a lot, by the way, if you do this work for less than $1,500, you are going to be very lucky.

Other Important Engine Issues

Other engine issues were also reported on the FJ Cruiser. The water pump can start to develop leaks and also the front and the rear crankshaft seals can leak oil.

The oil pressure sensor can develop glitches and cause some false positive alerts. And the last thing is the timing belt tensioner pulley which is also known to fail often and cause the belt to wobble.

Transmission Issues – FJ Cruiser Reliability

The FJ Cruiser doesn’t have many transmission issues. The transmissions of this model are pretty much bulletproof. The only problem is the transmission shudder that some of these transmissions were affected with. More precisely somewhere between 24 mph to 45 mph the transmission can shudder and cause vibrations to appear in the cabin.

These vibrations are most likely caused by an imbalance in the transfer housing which activates at a particular speed or RPM. It can also be caused by a faulty torque converter as well.

Owners of automatics have also reported slipping gears that often happen on the 2011 FJ Cruiser. The problem resembles hard jerking between 1st and 2nd gear and then it disappears. This problem is somehow connected with the shudder issue that the FJ Cruiser has and can happen simultaneously.

When you experience issues like this, the best thing is to take the FJ on an inspection to your local Toyota dealership and let the technicians take a look at the transmission and improve the FJ Cruiser reliability.

Tear/ Bulge On The Fenders

This is a factory defect and can happen on many FJ Cruisers. Especially on the early 2007 and 2008 models. The metal simply crumbles and it starts to make a tear.

In the worst-case scenario, your front end will start to sag and will impair you from driving the car because you will not be able to open and close the driver and passenger doors.

In later models, Toyota has patched this issue and also recalled the affected models. If you are looking to purchase an early model, make sure that this problem is sorted.

HVAC System Problems

Problems with the ventilation system are also present with the FJ Cruiser and this also affects its FJ Cruiser reliability. More precisely, the problem is in the blend doors. They become faulty after long use and they will not open when you activate the system. If you experience something like this, you know that the blend doors are due to be replaced.

Fan Belt Noise

Fan belt noise is also present on higher-mileage models. The sound often comes from a bad idler pulley and this problem could be easily addressed by changing the idler pulley.

Seat Belt Retractor Problem

This is the case because the FJ Cruiser doesn’t have B pillars. This means that the seatbelts are mounted at the back doors. And as the doors open and close heavily, they could damage the door panel and develop cracks that eventually will cause the door to fail and the seatbelt not to work in case of an accident. There was a recall about this problem and the recalled vehicles were patched. More about the recalls we are going to cover later after we finish the FJ Cruiser reliability.

Which Year To Avoid For FJ Cruiser Reliability Issues?

Some of the most problematic years are the first years of production of the FJ Cruiser. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend getting an early model of this SUV.

The reasons are many but most notable is the transmission shudder that affects the automatic transmissions. More specifically the 2007 model.

2007 and 2008 models also have issues with the fender developing cracks and causing the front end to sag. This was also patched by Toyota.

Overall, avoid the early models. But which one to get? The one to get will probably be the models between 2011 and 2014. The newer the better. All these models had the early problems patched and sorted out. The newer models are also packing more technology and features compared to the early ones and it is a no-brainer to get a later model of the FJ Cruiser.

Your budget also plays a big role since newer models are also quite more expensive than the early ones. So, the biggest responsibility is up to you since you control your budget and how much you can spend on an FJ Cruiser.


There were a number of recalls on the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Namely, problems with the auxiliary driving lamp kit. Lights were deemed too bright by the NTHSA and these vehicles were recalled. Starting from 2007 up to 2013.

There was also a recall concerning the TPMS sensors on the 2008 to 2011 models. The sensors were prone to failures and didn’t give accurate readings.

Seatbelt retractor recall for the problem that we covered above from 2007 to 2013 models.


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Faulty fuel pump issue that caused the FJ Cruiser engine to stall, the models that were affected were the 2014 models.

In 2014 there was also a recall for a steering wheel issue for the FJ Cruiser.

Overall, there were many recalls, but the important thing is that these things were patched. That’s why you as a future owner have to learn if the vehicle that you want to buy participated in these recalls and the issues were addressed. Making sure that the issues were addressed means that you are not going to have any problems. Otherwise, it could potentially harm your health and put your life in danger.

Pros And Cons Of The FJ Cruiser

Now let’s discuss the pros and cons of the FJ Cruiser and determine the FJ Cruiser reliability. The FJ Cruiser has a reliable engine and transmission. Except for the shudder issue that affected the early models with automatic transmissions. Other engine problems were just minor and did not affect the vehicle’s overall impression.

The cons of having the FJ Cruiser are that this vehicle is a big gas guzzler, which means that you will visit the gas station more frequently. The second con is that the interior space is limited and it could be cramped inside if you are carrying a lot of people.

Toyota FJ Cruiser: Common Problems and Repairs

  1. The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a popular midsize SUV due to its great fuel economy and resale value.
  2. RepairPal gives the FJ Cruiser a 3.5 out of 5 reliability rating, making it 12th out of 26 midsize SUVs in terms of reliability.
  3. The FJ Cruiser’s annual repair and maintenance cost is around $506, lower than the average for midsize SUVs.
  4. The FJ Cruiser typically needs unscheduled repairs 0.5 times a year with a 14% chance of needing a major fix.
  5. The drivetrain can vibrate excessively, which may be caused by worn U-joints, slipped splines, out-of-phase yokes, and misaligned angles.
  6. A shaky steering wheel may be due to misaligned or unbalanced tires, warped brake rotors, bad wheel bearings, and worn brake pads, among other causes.
  7. Loose footrest pedals have been reported in some 2007-2012 FJ Cruisers and can become a safety hazard if left unaddressed.
  8. Some 2010 FJ Cruisers have had issues with broken driveshafts, which could damage other parts like the ball joint and rocker arm.
  9. A shuddering engine has been reported in the 2007 FJ Cruiser, which could be due to various causes such as worn-out spark plugs, fuel system issues, or a faulty timing belt.
  10. Illuminated check engine lights are a common problem in 2007 FJ Cruisers and could indicate various issues, including damaged sensors or a misfiring engine.

Conclusion – FJ Cruiser Reliability

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the FJ Cruiser. We have learned that is the FJ Cruiser and what are the specs of this SUV. We learned the trims and the colors that this SUV was offered in.

Then we learned more about the FJ Cruiser reliability and we covered everything that is concerned with the FJ Cruiser. We learned the engine issues that you could expect on high mileage engines. Then we covered the transmission problems that this vehicle has and also other problems that could cost some money to repair.

Lastly, we covered the recalls that this vehicle was a part of and also the pros and cons of owning one. Overall, the FJ Cruiser reliability is excellent and you shouldn’t worry much about the vehicle’s quality.

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