Do you see a VSC light on your Toyota or Lexus dashboard? You’re not alone. Many car owners have noticed the same thing and wonder what it means for their vehicles. The VSC light is a warning indicator in Toyota and Lexus cars that something may be wrong with the stability and traction control system of your car.
So when this light pops up on your dashboard, it’s important to understand exactly what this warning signal could mean and how to address any potential issues and risks that come with it.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the VSC light, including its meaning, common causes of activation, ways to check for underlying problems, and tips on resetting the system after repairs are made.
What Does the VSC light Mean?
If the VSC light (also known as the Vehicle Stability Control light) comes on, it indicates that there is a fault with the stability and traction control system of your vehicle and that these systems are temporarily disabled. This is often caused by malfunctioning sensors or accidentally pressing the VSC off button.
VSC (vehicle stability control) is a system for handling traction control in Toyotas and Lexus cars. This system helps to keep the vehicle stable and under control, particularly during difficult driving conditions, such as wet or slippery roads.
It does this with several sensors monitoring things such as how fast each wheel is rotating, how fast you’re turning the steering wheel, and the angle at which the wheels are being turned.
With this information, the VSC system can detect if traction has been lost within seconds and help you maintain control by reducing engine power to each wheel and sometimes even applying the brake through the ABS system.
All these sensors providing data and different control modules processing information often work in conjunction with each other to create these types of safety features. So if the “VSC OFF” warning light comes on, it means the traction control system is disabled, and you’re on your own if you lose grip.
Note that if you have newer Toyota or Lexus cars, you may instead see the “Check VSC system light” message instead of the regular VSC light on your dashboard.
What Causes the VSC Light to Come on?
The most common cause for a VSC (vehicle stability control) light to come on is a malfunction in the system. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as a fault in one of the sensors that the system relies on upon, a problem with the system’s control unit, or an issue with the system’s electrical components.
Since there are quite a lot of things that could cause the VSC light to come on, here’s a more detailed list of the most common causes:
1. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
The wheel speed sensor, also called the ABS sensor, is an important component of the Vehicle Stability Control system. It measures the rotational speed of each wheel and sends this information to the vehicle’s computer.
If a wheel speed sensor fails, it can cause the VSC light to come on. If it’s not the sensor itself, it could be due to a faulty or damaged wiring harness.
These sensors are located at the wheel spindle hubs at each of your car’s wheels, measuring and providing a lot of data and information to various systems and not only the ABS system itself.
The wheel speed sensor monitors each wheel’s rotational speed relative to other wheels so that if one starts spinning faster than others due to loss of traction, corrective action can be taken by reducing engine power or applying brakes independently at each wheel until stability is restored again.
2. Faulty Steering Angle Sensor
The steering angle sensor monitors how far you turn your steering wheel when driving around corners and sharp bends. Basically, its job is to monitor changes in directionality to determine the intended direction of travel.
If anything goes wrong with it, then chances are high that error codes will appear within diagnostic scanners indicating faults present, thus causing activation of warnings upon dashboard displays to inform the driver.
The good news is that a recalibration of the sensor often fixes the issue and can often be done by most code readers. But other times, you’ll need to replace the entire sensor.
3. Engine Issues
Now, you may wonder how engine issues can cause a warning light, such as the VSC light, to come on. Well, with the advance of technology, today’s modern engines have many, many sensors, actuators, and other parts to collect, process, and control various components. Your Toyota or Lexus is no different.
When there’s a malfunction or issue with any of these sensors or actuators, it will most likely trigger the check engine light. This also causes a VSC light in many Toyota and Lexus models. However, with many potential causes, it can be hard or nearly impossible to guess what is at fault.
Fortunately, when this happens, your vehicle computer will sense the fault and store a trouble code. So in order to catch the cause, you will need to read the trouble codes.
4. Faulty Brake Light Switch
Another component that sometimes causes the VSC light to come on is the brake light switch. This switch is a part of the brake pedal assembly and is what tells the rear brake light to come on when pressing the brake pedal, alerting any road users behind you that you’re slowing down.
Although the brake light switch is built to last forever, it can sometimes fail. The VSC system will notice this fault and illuminate the light to alert you this system is deactivated.
5. Electrical/Wiring Issue
In some cases, an electrical issue could also trigger the VSC warning light in cars equipped with these systems.
Many times, a battery or wiring issue can cause a fault in one of the sensors connected to the stability control unit, which monitors wheel speed and traction levels while driving around corners or accelerating too quickly from standstill positions on slippery road conditions.
While diagnosing electric or wiring issues can be hard, you should take it into a garage where technicians have access to diagnostic tools capable of detecting faults by connecting to the vehicle’s OBD (on-board diagnostic).
How to Fix VSC Light
To fix the VSC light, you will need to diagnose and repair the underlying issue causing the light to come on. This may involve repairing any damaged components, sensors, or wiring. And surely this may seem like a hard thing to do on your own.
However, before taking the car to a mechanic, there are a few things you can check that may help narrow down the problem.
1. Check for Trouble Codes
All modern vehicles are equipped with an OBD (on-board diagnostic) system that stores trouble codes when it detects an issue with the car. And Toyota and Lexus are no exception. You can use a diagnostic tool to retrieve these codes and get an idea of what might be causing the VSC light to come on.
2. Check the Brake Light
The VSC system is closely tied to the car’s brake light switch, so if the brake lights don’t work, there may be an issue with the brake light switch that is causing the VSC light to come on.
3. Check the Gas Cap
If a TRAC OFF light and a check engine light accompany the VSC light, it could mean there’s a leaking gas cap. So if you recall the warning lights coming on after you refueled your car, you’ll want to ensure the cap is tightly sealed. But it could also be the O-ring on the gas cap.
4. Check for Low Brake Fluid
Another thing worth checking is the brake fluid. Low brake fluid can cause a number of different problems with the ABS system. Resulting in a VSC system failure since these systems often work in conjunction with each other. So make sure the brake fluid level is just below “max”, and top off if necessary.
5. Consult a Professional Mechanic
If you can’t figure out the cause at this point, it’s time to consult a professional. While you may have to spend more money doing so, a professional mechanic will be able to accurately diagnose the problem and provide a solution, potentially saving you money and time in the long run.
How to Turn Off VSC Light?
Most code readers will allow you to turn off or reset the VSC light. But this action alone does not actually address the underlying problem that causes the check VSC system to illuminate the light in the first place. In many cases, the light will simply come back on later.
But if the issue is resolved, resetting the VSC light is a relatively simple process that can be done by following these few steps:
Resetting VSC Light by Holding VSC Button
If an intermittent problem caused the light, this solution might be worth trying. Simply follow these steps:
Step 1: Stop your car and locate the VSC button, which is typically on the center console near the gear stick.
Step 2: Press the VSC button and hold it for a few seconds.
Step 3: You should now see the TRAC OFF, and VSC OFF indicator lights come on, which means both systems are off.
Step 4: Now press the VSC button again and hold for a second. The illuminated light should now turn off, which indicates both the TRAC system and VSC system is back on and re-engaged.
If this doesn’t work, it likely means the problem isn’t yet resolved. But before making any rash decisions, you can try to reset it with a code reader. If it’s still on after that, you need to continue troubleshooting the cause.
Here’s how to reset a VSC light with a code reader:
Resetting VSC Light With Code Reader
Step 1: First, you’ll need to find your vehicle’s diagnostic port. This is usually located near the driver’s side of the dashboard or underneath the steering wheel. Once you’ve found it, connect your code reader and turn on your car.
Step 2: Next, select “VSC” from the menu options on your code reader and follow any additional instructions given by the device. Depending on which type of code reader you have, this may involve pressing certain buttons or scrolling through menus until you reach an option for resetting codes related to VSC lights.
Step 3: Once this step has been completed successfully, disconnect your code reader from its port and start up your car again to see if it worked properly. If not, then try repeating these steps with another type of scanner or contact a professional mechanic who will be able to help diagnose what’s causing the issue more accurately than a handheld scanner would be able to do alone.
Frequently Asked Question
What Does It Mean When Your VSC Light Comes on?
The system is designed to monitor various functions of the vehicle and alert the driver when something is not working correctly. When the VSC light comes on, it typically indicates a problem with the Vehicle Stability Control system, which is a safety feature that helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle.
Can I Drive With VSC Light on?
You can drive with the VSC light on; however, it’s not recommended as the stability and traction control system is disabled. Driving with the VSC light on does not remove the fact that it indicates a problem with the stability and control system of your vehicle and that the issue should be addressed promptly.
Is It Safe to Drive With VSC Light on?
It is generally not safe to drive with the VSC light on as it indicates a problem with a safety system that helps improve traction and stability. If it is not functioning properly, it can affect a driver’s ability to control the vehicle, especially in emergency situations or on slippery roads.
Where Is the VSC Button Located?
The VSC button is usually found on the center console or dashboard. It may be labeled as VSC, ESC, or TRAC and will often have an icon of a car with squiggly lines around it. Pressing the button turns the VSC system on or off. The VSC helps maintain control when driving in slippery conditions like rain, snow, or ice
How do I fix the VSC on my Lexus?
In order to fix the VSC system on your Lexus, you need to diagnose and troubleshoot the issue causing the problem. Most times, a code reader will do this for you. After diagnosing the underlying problem, you need to repair it in order to turn off and reset the VSC light.
The VSC light on your Toyota or Lexus dashboard is an important indicator of the health and safety of your vehicle. If it comes on, then you should take action to identify and fix any underlying issues causing it to come on in the first place. Until then, the light indicates the vehicle stability control is inactivated.
The VSC system light can be reset once these issues have been addressed, but if they are not fixed, then the problem will likely persist.
By following the steps on diagnosing and taking appropriate action when necessary, you can help keep your Toyota or Lexus running safely for many years to come.