If you own a Toyota 4Runner or similar Toyota vehicle, you’ve likely seen a popup referring to “VSC.” If you are like me, you don’t spend a lot of time in the owner’s manuals, so you probably wonder what that means.
VSC stands for vehicle stability control. It is a safety system that prevents you from losing control in slippery conditions, a tire blow out or other forms of evasive maneuver. It is a sign that your vehicle recognizes that there is a problem.
Your VSC light can also come on randomly, which is cause for concern when you own a Toyota or other kind of vehicle. We will get into common uses for this feature in the following sections.
What Does Your VSC Trac System Do?
Given that it stands for vehicle stability control, it helps stabilize your vehicle should it start skidding as you turn on a curve. In some cases, you may see it referred to as the “traction control light,” as it’s your vehicle’s understanding that it is losing traction on dangerous roads.
The steering wheel will be a bit more sensitive compared to what you are used to. The braking system will also be susceptible, leading to you feeling like every tap will be hard braking.
What Causes The VSC Trac Light To Come On?
There is a speed sensor located on your vehicle’s inside that alarms when it reaches a certain threshold. That means if you suddenly lurch your vehicle in a direction, this system is essentially your car’s panic button. You may also see it come on to indicate other problems.
What Should I Do If My Vehicle Stability Control Light Comes On?
If you suddenly lurched out of traffic, know that your indicator light activating is entirely natural. In this case, turn off the light and wait to see if it comes back on. If you have a problem with your vehicle, either your VSC will come back, or you will see a check engine light indicating you had some damage in the crash.
You can also perform these regular checks:
Do You Have A Flat Tire?
If the answer is yes, head to a tire shop and get a replacement. This is a typical result after your VSC turns on.
Does Your Car Handle Alright?
If your car is suddenly sputtering or shaking, the VSC light indicates you need to get a mechanic to take a look at this. You may have damaged something in the process of veering.
Do You Hear Any Weird Noises?
Drive your car along a calm stretch of road and listen to it. If you hear any whining or clunking, take it to an auto shop for a checkup.
How Do You Turn Off Your VSC Light?
In most cases, there will be a nearby VSC button that you can hold down. Press down on that button for three seconds, and the light should turn off. If the VSC light comes back, that means the issue isn’t resolved.
What If The Check Engine Light Also Comes On?
That is another sign that you need your vehicle to be potentially repaired. Again, bring it to a shop if this occurs.
This video can also give you some guidance:
Is It Safe To Drive With The VSC Light On?
If you recognize any common signs that your vehicle may be broken, it is unsafe to drive with the VSC light on. You should also see no signs that your car has suffered anything, and you’ve confirmed that through an inspection. As long as you have followed through, you can safely drive with the VSC Trac light on.
When Is It Appropriate To Turn Off The VSC?
First, if you know your VSC system is malfunctioning, turn it off to avoid further headaches. It will only make driving a pain by increasing sensitivity and reducing vehicle power.
Next, you should turn off the VSC system if you are stuck in mud or snow. Given that the VSC is known to reduce power, you won’t be able to get out without this system disabled.
If you are driving along rough roads, you should also turn it off. With the steering wheel limitations and limited power, you could spend hours on a dirt road if you keep your VSC system.
What Are Potential Reasons Your VSC Indicator May Be On?
Below are a couple of other reasons your VSC light may be on.
There Is Heavy Snow Accumulating Around Your Wheels
If you have an ABS braking system, that means it is affected by environmental conditions. In some cases, you may also see an ABS light indicating dual-issues. In this case, you may be able to clear the snow around your wheels or remove the ice underneath. By leaving your car running and allowing the heat to melt, your lights may turn off by themselves.
You Have An Older Vehicle Giving Off False Signals
As your vehicle ages, your VSC Trac system is more likely to give off false signals. If your vehicle is in the 20 or more years older phase, that means it might be time to check out the VSC. You can also see it giving off false signals if you’ve recently been in an accident.
What If I Have A Lexus And My VSC Light Turns On?
Much like a Toyota, your Lexus also has a vehicle stability control, or traction control, option. However, most Lexus vehicles are a bit pickier when it comes to their lights turning on.
Lexus can have their VSC light on when they have a failure in their emission control system. So failures in the O2 sensor can cause this issue. You can also have a loose gas cap.
Also, this traction control system can activate if your Lexus computer turns on. That means you could end up seeing a problem with anything from spark plugs to other sensors.
As a result, you shouldn’t drive a Lexus when you see the Trac light on, as a check engine light will most likely accompany it. In this case, go to a Lexus service center to see about checking out your systems. Depending on what light indicators you know, you may see some wide variance in repair costs.
How Do I Reset My Trac Light On My Lexus?
Because a Lexus can have just as many problems as your Toyota 4Runner, it is a slightly different process to turn off the Trac and VSC lights on your Lexus vehicle. However, most Lexus vehicles have a VSC off option just by pressing the button twice.
If you find yourself running into further complications with this system, check out the video below:
If this doesn’t work, you can also disconnect the ground on your battery for about 30 seconds. By waiting, the code will have long left. This applies to both Toyota vehicles and Lexus vehicles.
Of course, take it seriously if you find that the light is turning back on.
Why People With VSC Systems Need Code Readers
In many cases, the electronic codes being given off by your computer can narrow down if your vehicle needs the help. This will allow you to avoid the needless replacement of parts when these computer codes give off no actual code-based problems.
To address this problem, you will want an OBD scanner to read the codes and tell you what the indicators mean. Given that Toyotas and Lexus vehicles have an extra layer of conditions limiting your driving, their cars are built to last regardless of your best efforts to circumvent it.
OBD scanners also allow you to override issues with the VSC using a switch. Granted, we do not recommend that you ignore all vehicle-based matters identified by these scanners.
What If You See Trac off?
Seeing “Trac off” is similar to seeing that your VSC Trac light is also on. It is just one of your indicators telling you that your traction control system is currently disabled, meaning you should turn it back on if possible.
This can be done with a nearby VSC button or by following the instructions listed above individualized vehicles. By resetting the system, it no longer recognizes the conditions behind your traction system.
Anytime you see indicator lights come on with your vehicle, it can be pretty easy to hit the panic button and race to the nearest auto shop. However, panic isn’t going to help anyone, and most of the issues behind the vehicle stability control system turning on are pretty mild. Most of the time, people complain about it turning on.
However, you should take it seriously and have it looked at, as a check engine light can also follow this VSC light. The combination of the two is a clear sign that something is wrong if your vehicle. While it may be any number of sensors, you must find out before it becomes an expensive fix.