What Does VSC Trac Mean On The Toyota 4Runner?


As technology improves, cars come with more driver aids than ever before. You can expect to find everything from braking assistance to descent control. But, to fit all those indicators on the dash, manufacturers turn to letters and numbers. With so many distinct features, knowing all those terms can be challenging. So, in this article, we’ll explain two crucial indicators on the Toyota 4Runner. 

What Does VSC Trac Mean On The Toyota 4Runner?

VSC and Trac on a Toyota 4Runner stand for Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control. These are driving aids that help keep the vehicle stable when driving on slippery roads and adverse weather conditions. They’re connected to the vehicle’s main computer and link the brakes and tires. 

Sensors all around the vehicle capture data like speed, aggressive turns, and even a blown-out tire. With this information, the computer adjusts acceleration and braking to keep the car stable. The VSC and VSC Trac terms are unique to Toyota and Lexus. Other manufacturers refer to their proprietary stability and handling systems differently. 

Strange as it may sound, you can turn off the traction control in some vehicles, including the Toyota 4Runner. Drivers should keep these systems on most of the time. But, some situations might require turning them off. Let’s imagine that you’re stuck in mud or snow. Your front wheels can’t move. 

In this situation, the VSC and Trac might prevent the driver from accelerating at will since they sense little traction. If you turn off both systems, you can move your car back and forth to help free it. 

When you turn the systems off, you will get indicator lights on your dash. They indicate VSC OFF and Trac OFF. Keep in mind that these indicators are different from the VSC Trac light. Let’s go further into detail with this warning. 

What Are The VSC And VSC Trac Lights On A Toyota 4Runner? 

The VSC and VSC Trac lights on a Toyota 4Runner indicate an issue with these systems. Ideally, if any of these indicators turn on, you should have your vehicle checked by a certified professional to diagnose the problem.

The vehicle will continue to operate and you can drive it. But the issue might compromise the 4Runner’s stability in situations such as swerving and slippery roads. These indicators are different from the VSC OFF and Trac OFF. 

VSC OFF and Trac OFF indicate that you’ve voluntarily turned off the VSC and Trac systems. So, if any of these lights turn on and you haven’t done anything, there might be an issue. The reasons include faulty sensors and pedals, dirty sensors, and faulty throttle bodies. Newer 4Runners come with a “Check VSC System” light, which is clearer to understand. 

Now that we’ve mentioned it, let’s discuss how to turn off the VSC and Trac systems in further detail. 

Why Would You Turn Off The VSC And Trac Systems On A 4Runner? 

As we mentioned before, there are situations in which you might need to turn the VSC and Trac systems off. The most frequent problem that will require you to do so is when you’re stuck, especially if your front wheels aren’t moving. 

To understand why we’ll first explain how these systems work. There are sensors in each wheel connected to the car’s Powertrain Control Module (PCM), which controls the engine. If you’re losing traction, the vehicle will reduce engine speed and apply braking to the wheels that need it.

If you’re driving across muddy or snowy terrain, traction will be limited. The wheels might spin more than usual, or they might get stuck. In this situation, the car senses that you’re having traction issues and sends power to other wheels. But, you need the opposite. 

When you’re stuck, rocking your car back and forth can help free it. By turning off the VSC and Traction Control, you can accelerate with more freedom to try and get your 4Runner unstuck. But always remember to activate your VSC and Trac once you’ve freed the car. 

How Do You Turn Off The VSC And Trac Systems?

If your vehicle has two buttons, one for VSC and the other for Trac, you can deactivate them separately. In some Toyotas and Lexus, the VSC indicator is a vehicle sliding with the word OFF underneath it. 

In these vehicles, all you need to do is press each button once, and both systems will deactivate. Indicator lights will appear, notifying you that they’re off. To turn them back on, you simply press the buttons again until the lights turn off on the dash.

Other Toyotas might only have one button for both. In this case, you will deactivate the Trac system first, then the VSC. To do so, press the button once. The Trac OFF indicator should appear. Then, press the button again, and hold for three seconds. The VSC OFF light should appear. To turn both systems back on, simply press the button once more. Both lights should disappear.

Can I Reset The VSC And VSC Trac Lights On My Toyota 4Runner?

The Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control systems rely on many sensors that can get dirty or loose. If you love offroading, then it’s likely that you’ve seen the light turn on after a weekend on challenging terrain. 

There’s one way to check if it’s only a dirty sensor or if there’s a possible issue with your car. All you need to do is reset the light to see if it will turn on again. 

To reset the VSC and VSC Trac lights, you need to do the following: 

  • Stop your car. Put it in Park or in Neutral (if it’s a manual). 
  • Locate your VSC button (usually on the left side of the steering wheel) 
  • Press and hold the VSC button for about three seconds until the VSC OFF and Trac OFF lights appear
  • Release the button
  • Press the button again
  • The VSC OFF and Trac OFF lights should disappear

If the light turns back on, then there’s an issue with your car, and you should have a certified professional check it. Also, since the VSC and Trac systems are linked to the PCM, be on the lookout for other warning lights like the “Check Engine” light or the “ABS” light. 

But, there’s another surprising cause that can turn on the VSC and VSC Trac lights, along with the “Check Engine.” This issue is frequent in the 4th generation 4Runners (2003-2009). The gas cap rubber seal might wear off, causing sensors to detect a leak. Since the VSC and Check Engine Light are linked to the PCM, they might turn on when this happens. 

You can visually inspect the seal and confirm that the gas cap is screwing on properly. If this is the issue, then you’re off the hook. But, if the lights do not turn off, other issues might be happening. The best way to fix these issues is to have experts check your vehicle with scanners. Once they’ve figured out the problem. 

Closing Thoughts

Many owners might ask what the VSC and VSC Trac lights in the Toyota 4Runner mean, and this article aimed to answer that question. We saw that VSC stands for Vehicle Stability Control and that Trac is short for Traction Control. 

Toyota and Lexus use these systems to provide drivers with aids to ensure stability in slippery situations. If the 4Runner senses that it’s losing traction, it will reduce power. Also, it will apply braking to the wheels that require slowing down. 

But, there might be the rare occasion in which you need to turn it off. If you’ve stuck your 4Runner in snow or mud, turning off both the VSC and the Trac could help you free it. 

Both controls rely on sensors around the vehicle and in the wheels. If your car gets dirty, warning lights might appear on the dash. There are several reasons why these lights might turn on. These include not only dirt and snow but loose sensors, damaged throttle bodies, and faulty computers. 

The best way to diagnose the problem is by having experts run scanners to pinpoint the issues. But you can reset the lights. 

You just have to follow a simple procedure that involves pressing the VSC button for more than three seconds to reset both systems. 

If the light continues to turn on, then there might be other issues. Since these systems depend on the PCM, the “Check Engine” light could turn on. Whenever these lights appear on your dashboard, it’s best to take your 4Runner to a mechanic. 

While the vehicle will be able to drive, you might be at risk. The Vehicle Stability Control and the Traction control might be turned off or faulty. The systems might not perform as expected in a situation in which you need them. 

The Toyota 4Runner is a very reliable car. But, with so much technology going into modern vehicles, it might feel overwhelming to have so many letters and lights on the dashboard. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand your 4Runner better.f

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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