The Toyota 4Runner is a veteran in the 4×4 market. Known for its reliability and performance, this Japanese offroader will take you to the most extreme places and back with ease.
Plus, since it comes from Toyota, you can rest assured that the car is overdesigned in some senses, like maintenance. So, you can expect to see the maintenance light turn on. But, it’s not bad news. Let’s find out what it means and how to reset it.
How Do I Reset the Maintenance Light On A Toyota 4Runner?
To reset the maintenance light on a Toyota 4Runner, you must turn the ignition switch to the “ON” position, then set the trip display to “ODO” mode, turn the ignition switch to “OFF,” then press and hold the trip “RESET” button, while turning the ignition to the “ON” position.
If you’ve followed the steps correctly, then the maintenance light should do the following.
It should illuminate solidly for three seconds, then blink for two seconds, then illuminate solidly for one second, then turn off. After which, you should release the trip “Reset” button, turn the ignition switch to the “OFF” position, and, finally, you should turn your vehicle on to see if the light has gone off.
If you’re concerned about the light turning on, don’t be. MAINT REQD stands for maintenance required. Toyota manufactures its vehicles with extreme quality standards, and it’s not unusual to see features such as this one to indicate owners when to perform maintenance. Of course, this shouldn’t mean that you ignore other lights on your dash.
Plus, if you want your 4Runner to last for long, you should tend to all lights and maintenance intervals (which we’ll cover later in this article). With good service, these vehicles can last for more than 250,000 miles. Read our article on how many miles can a 4Runner give you when you tend to it.
But there’s another important and interesting phenomenon that can happen as vehicle technology improves over time. And, to explain it, we first need to talk about why the light turns on.
All 4Runners (and other Toyota models) have a recommended service interval, usually about 7500 miles. The car is programmed to turn the light on at about 5,000 miles or more after the last reset.
This way, you remember and don’t go past the next service. You might perceive that 5,000 miles is too little for maintenance service and, as we’ll see in the next point, it might be.
Oil and 4Runner Maintenance
If you search the web, you will find that most forums consider that 5,000 miles is a more-than-safe interval and could be too short. The 4Runner is designed to have services done every 7,500 miles or so, but even that might seem a bit brief.
Oil technology has improved considerably in recent years. It’s not unusual to find synthetic engine lubrication that goes for 10,000 miles or more.
But your 4Runner doesn’t know this! So, even if you use more advanced oil, the light might still come up.
You won’t be damaging your car if you use newer, synthetic oil that exceeds the 7,500-mile interval. But always remember that vehicles with many miles (surpassing 100,000 or more) should use high-mileage synthetic oils, which usually have a lower replacement period.
The Toyota 4Runner is a very reliable vehicle. We’ve written about how it has a high resale value and consistently has met high demand from customers. Read more on the 4Runner’s reliability and value in our article.
But, if you don’t want to reset the maintenance light, you can have any Toyota repair center do so. It’s a fast job that will require no more than a few minutes. Always remember that, even if you use newer oils, you shouldn’t ignore any lights on your dash.
What Happens If You Ignore the Maintenance Light On A 4Runner?
As we’ve said before, if the light turns on, you shouldn’t rush towards the service center. This light only indicates that you should service your vehicle. But, not everyone drives the same, and, as we also saw, using advanced synthetic oils could extend the interval between oil changes.
But, maintenance isn’t only oil changes. So, let’s dig deeper into how you should and shouldn’t cope with your 4Runner’s maintenance light.
When you take your vehicle in for maintenance, expert mechanics will inspect all the components that might wear out, including suspension, steering, transmission, brakes, and the engine. Engine oil is only one of the many fluids that help run a car.
When the maintenance light turns on, it’s reminding you that someone (preferably with qualifications) must do all these routine inspections.
How long it takes to reach those 7,500 miles depends on how much you drive. On average, a driver in the US will average 15,000 miles a year, which means that you should do the maintenance twice a year.
If you don’t drive as much, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t service your vehicle frequently. Even standing still, components like suspension and steering can get damaged over time. For this reason, dealerships and repair shops not only use miles, but they use time as well. Instead of using 7,500 miles, they can opt for six or eight months, depending on the quality of the components and your level of use.
So, these lights are indicators of recommended maintenance intervals, and they’re not mandatory. Your 4Runner won’t blow up if you exceed them by one mile. But, it’s always best to respect the vehicle and the expert guidelines.
How Do I Know If My Maintenance Light Is Broken?
The fact that your maintenance light doesn’t turn on in your 4Runner doesn’t mean it’s damaged. It means that you’ve been servicing your vehicle before it reaches 5,000 miles between intervals.
Most dealerships know about these lights and understand they can be a nuance. A responsible, experienced mechanic will reset the light with every maintenance.
If the opposite happens and, no matter how many times you try the procedure in this article, you cannot turn off the light, then there’s another method, which you might consider more extreme.
You can disconnect your 4Runners battery, which will cause the vehicle’s internal computer to reset some values like trip odometers, radio stations, other infotainment values, and the maintenance light counter. Don’t worry; it won’t reset other aspects of your car, but remember that disconnecting your car’s battery requires tools.
Actually, disconnecting the battery is ideal in some situations. If you don’t plan to use your 4Runner for a long time, for example, more than weeks, you should disconnect your battery to maintain it and prevent damage.
If you haven’t used your vehicle in a long time (more than six months), then it’s also recommended that you take it to a dealership or mechanic for maintenance.
Fortunately, Toyota 4Runners are very reliable, and they’re not as mechanically complicated as other brands. Being a popular vehicle in the US means there are plenty of technicians capable of working on them. Check out our article on the 4Runner’s running costs and some essential services you should do on them.
Before You Get Started
This article gave you the step-by-step process on how to reset the maintenance light on a Toyota 4Runner. As you read, it’s a straightforward procedure that you can do at home. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can ask a mechanic to help you.
We also explained the importance of maintenance warning lights. Toyota is a company that overdesigns most of its vehicles, so models like the 4Runner are programmed to go in for service at determined intervals.
Technology has advanced so much that synthetic oils now last for 10,000 miles or more, but your vehicle might still turn the light on, especially if you travel for more than 7,500 miles. So, keep in mind that factories will usually adopt a cautionary interval and that you can go past it.
However, please do not ignore this or any light on your dash or warning on your infotainment screen. These could indicate the need for repair. Plus, if you cannot reset the maintenance light on a Toyota 4Runner, be sure to contact an experienced mechanic or dealership to help you sort out any situation.
They will run a diagnostic on the vehicle and assess you on services, if necessary. You can also unplug the battery from your 4Runner if you don’t plan to use it for a while to ensure it doesn’t drain out.
Fortunately, Toyota 4Runners are highly reliable vehicles, and this light is a guideline for when to take care of them.
But, as is with most vehicles, it’s always good to know how to tackle many simple maintenance issues that can come up.
The rule of thumb with the 4Runner, and all vehicles, is that a good maintenance routine is essential. If you do so, you will have a car that can last for hundreds of thousands of miles.