Which FJ Cruiser Years To Avoid and Why? (Explained)

FJ Cruiser is still considered one of the highly desired SUV choices, although this particular SUV line had one of the shortest lifespans since it came in 2006 and got discontinued in 2014. 

This mid-size retro-styled SUV line comes in a unique design, higher compatibility, unmatched durability & better reliability, and is solely produced by Toyota Motors Corporation for off-road use. 

But do you know some years of the FJ Cruiser models are considered the worst years?

Therefore, before planning on purchasing an FJ Cruiser SUV first, learn which model years you should avoid and which you should consider from today’s article.

FJ Cruiser Years to Avoid  (List of Years)

Toyota has maintained its world-recognized solid dependability and reliability while producing the FJ Cruiser SUVs by creating them with impressive engines, legendary transmission, suspension, and endurable electrical system which can cope with any harsh off-road conditions.

Still, the brand could not avoid the mistakes and flaws that made some of the FJ Cruiser released model years worst.

Remember to avoid the following Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV years-

  • 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser: Unreliable transmission system, lack of structural integrity, paint tends to chip off, converter failure, check engine light coming on, gear issue, Growling or humming noise.
  • 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser: Rusting problem continues, faulty internal accessories, leaking issue inside the cabin, erratic braking system, engine, transmission, and steering troubles.
  • 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser: Water leaking trouble, unusual shifting noise, and faulty driveshaft.
  • 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser: Screen blurring issue, unreliable braking system, knocking sounds, and engine failure.

What Makes These FJ Cruiser SUV Years Worth Avoiding? 

After seeing the potential issues, one might encounter with some FJ Cruiser SUV years that I highlighted earlier, I am sure you already got a hold of why I am stating them as the worst years and strongly suggesting avoiding them.

That’s why I have decided to give you an in-depth overview of the most common problems of Each of these FJ Cruiser SUV years here-

1. Excess Oil Consumption & Grown Blowby:

Extreme or high oil consumption is also one of the prime indications of major engine failure.

The oil rings fail to seal properly and eventually let the oil passes through major internal compartments such as the combustion chamber to cause oil-burning. That ultimately results in excess oil consumption.

Many users claimed to encounter symptoms like oil leaks from engine and exhaust areas, black or white smoke coming from the exhaust system or engine smoke from the rear, as well as extreme oil-burning smells when the oil rings start to fail in sealing.

Another major engine issue was the grown blowby or increased unfiltered air. Since the unfiltered air contains enough harmful contaminants, it can severely affect the vehicle engine’s performance level and lifespan.  

This issue arises when the vehicle’s piston rings turn bad and fail to maintain the seal, and the leaks in the seal let the unwanted contaminant-filled air find its way between compression rings and the cylinder walls to get inside.

According to reports, this error mainly occurs as soon the FJ Cruiser reaches around 200000+ miles of operation.

2. Visible Compression Loss:

Unfortunately, the worn piston rings do not only let the blowby or unfiltered air access to get in but also let the air get a path out too due to the improper sealing.

When blowby increases due to improper sealing, the engine loses the necessary compression and power to process the combustion accurately. As a result, it effectively lowers the engine performance, and in worst cases, one has to rebuild or replace the entire engine to fix the issue.

Reportedly, it’s not a cheap fixing task, and it might cost you around $1,500 up to $2,000.

3. Unreliable Transmission System:

Toyota made sure to equip FJ Cruiser models with a bulletproof transmission system so that consumers do not have to worry about any transmission issues.

But still, many users have experienced one common trouble with some of the FJ years models, and that’s the shuddering issue.

Reportedly, users encountered shuddering issues accompanied by vibration noise in the cabin whenever the vehicle reaches around 24 to 45 MPH, and it most probably occurs either due to an imbalance in the transfer housing or a faulty torque converter.

Several 2011 FJ Cruiser users even complained about gear slipping and experiencing hard jerking problems while shifting the gear from 1st to 2nd.

According to a group of FJ SUV users, the shuddering, hard jerking, and gear slipping issue arise simultaneously.

4. Problem With Drivetrain & Steering:

Several 2014 FJ SUV owners and users have complained about unusual excess vibration in the drivetrain, and even after balancing their tires, the issue did not resolve.

Users also claimed that vehicles start generating too much road noise within 10,000 miles of operation. 

It mainly arises when either the U-joints turn worn out or due to slipped splines. It can also cause due to out-of-phase yokes or when the angles are misaligned.

Another commonly mentioned problem is the shimmy or shaky steering wheel, where some 2013 FJ SUV users claimed to notice that while they were driving at 60 to 70 mph range, their steering wheel got shimmied by around two inches.

This steering issue mainly occurs when the tires are unbalanced or misaligned, wheel bearings turn bad, or you have faulty or worn-out brake pads.

The steering wheels might shake excessively while driving at low RPM speed due to wrapped brake rotors or cuts in the suspension system.

5. Faulty Factory Assembled Finders & HVAC System:

Unfortunately, some of the 2007 and 2008 early released FJ Cruisers come with the defected factory assembled finders, and as one starts using the vehicle, the metal crumbles and tears the finder.

This defected factory assembled finder can force the vehicle’s front end to sag quickly, and in worst cases, one might not be able to open and close the driver and passenger doors to drive the car further.

One of the common problems that directly questions FJ Cruiser’s reliability is the HVAC or ventilation system failure.

This problem mainly arises with the vehicle’s blend doors, where the doors tend to turn faulty after a certain level of operation and refuse to open after activating the system. The ultimate solution is to replace them, and the replacement task is not cheap.

Besides those above discussed common issues, other major problems such as Check Engine Warning Light illuminating trouble, Loose or faulty Foot Rest Pedal, broken driveshaft, faulty seat belts, and noise from fan belts.

Which FJ Cruiser Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the published report on the Recent 1st Generation (2007–2014) FJ Cruiser News by CarComplaints.com, these following years are considered the best model years of the FJ Cruiser SUV-

  • 2009 FJ Cruiser
  • 2011 FJ Cruiser
  • 2012 FJ Cruiser
  • 2014 FJ Cruiser

Based on the CarComplaints.com report 2009, 2011, and 2014 are the most preferable FJ Cruiser SUV years since those models rarely have troubleshooting issues.


Toyota FJ Cruiser is undoubtedly a great mid-size SUV to look for only if you can pick the right year model.

But since Toyota has discontinued the production of this particular SUV lineup due to declining sales and has no reproduction intention for the near future, you have no other choice than pick between used options.

That is why one needs to know which model years are the worst and do not worth your investment.

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