The VSC Light on TOYOTA – Troubleshooting Guide


Those that own a Toyota vehicle no doubt love all the safety and fuel efficiency features that come with the vehicle. However, they may wonder about some things like what the letters VSC mean on a button on their car. They wonder even more what it means if the VSC light comes on. 

The VSC is an acronym that stands for the “Vehicle Stability Control” system in the car. This is a feature whose sole purpose is to keep your wheels going where they are pointed. However, there could be issues with this feature at times so you need to find out more about this safety system. Here is more on the VSC light Toyota. Everything you need to know.

What Is the VSC?

The vehicle stability control system is a Toyota configuration that assists in keeping traction on the road. It does this in two ways:

  • It reduces or cuts electrical power to the wheels.
  • It applies brakes on wheels, applying pressure on any of the wheels up to three. 

All of this is done automatically without the driver needing to do anything. The system senses a loss of traction and does what it needs to do to keep your vehicle going where it was headed instead of sliding or a wheel turning wrongly, causing the car to spin. 

The VSC system is considered a safety feature. It was mandated by the United States government beginning in 2012. 

How the System Works in Toyota Vehicles

VSC is linked to Toyota’s Traction Control (TRAC) and the two aren’t the same thing. A-TRAC comes standard in the 4-wheel-drive Toyota models but TRAC is in Toyota’s other models. 

TRAC senses when a wheel loses traction. It then brakes the wheel with no traction and sends power to the wheels with traction. That extra power boost helps keep the car on the road. 

The two systems, VSC and TRAC, work together to automatically do things that keep the car moving on the road without slippage. That makes both systems not only helpful but valuable to a Toyota owner.

Can You Turn VSC Off?

Yes, you can turn VSC off. Most experts recommend you keep it and TRAC on the majority of your driving time. After all, it is a safety feature. These systems are particularly useful when you are driving in bad weather like rain, ice, and snow. 

The two systems will help you gain the extra traction needed when bad weather causes a tire to slip.

However, there are times when turning them both off is beneficial. 

Those times to turn of the VSC and TRAC systems are primarily if your front wheels are stuck in the mud, snow, or something else. The reason why you want the systems turned off during these times is that the vehicle will not move while the two systems are on, preventing you from getting out of the snow or mud.

However, you can get your car unstuck by rocking it back and forth once you turn the VSC and TRAC systems off.  Just be sure to turn them back on once you are back on the road.

Read: What Does The Service Engine Soon Light In My Car Mean?

How to Turn Off VSC and TRAC

All you need to do to turn off VSC is push the VSC button and release it. You can turn off both systems when you press the button for three seconds. 

You will know the features are off when indicator lights appear on your dashboard to alert you the features are off. It will also remind you to turn them back on. Just press the button again to turn both back on. 

What Does It Mean When My VSC Sensor Light Comes On?

The light on the dashboard showing a warning has a VSC meaning that something isn’t running right with one of your sensors or something related to wheel traction. It may not be the VSC system itself but is usually something else causing it to malfunction.

The likely scenario of the VSC light appearing on your dash is there is a problem with an O2 sensor or the gas cap. Modern cars have O2 sensors that pick up on traction issues and relay information to the VSC and TRAC systems. 

When on O2 sensor goes back, it doesn’t properly relay the information. That causes the VSC system to appear to malfunction and the light comes on. It will take a mechanic to replace O2 sensors and the labor can be somewhat costly to get that done.

Gas caps also have sensors and a problem with the gas cap can also cause the VSC light to come on.  Try taking the gas cap off and then putting it back on. If the light remains on, it could be a bad gas cap. That would be an easy fix because all you need to do is get a new gas cap.

Other possible problems could be the computer that controls the system failed or the ABS brake system isn’t functioning well. The ABS and VSC work together so if one has a problem, it will affect the other. 

If it is the ABS, you will need to take it to a mechanic to fix it. Brakes can be tricky and it will take a diagnostic test to see if the braking system is failing.

How Do I Reset My VSC Sensor?

It is a fairly simple process to reset your VSC sensor. It is recommended that you use a scan gauge to look for error codes before you clear and reset the sensor. An error code will indicate what may need repairing. 

Be sure to write down error codes for your mechanic if you decide to go ahead and reset your VSC sensor.

To reset your VSC sensor:

  1. Turn the ignition to the auxiliary mode.
  2. Press the button for the odometer until the actual mileage is displayed.
  3. Turn off the ignition.
  4. Hold the odometer button down and turn the car on at the same time.
  5. Hold the odometer button for a few more seconds. 

The light should be off the next time you start the car. If it remains on, you have something more serious to fix and will need to have a professional look at it.

Is It Safe to Drive With the VSC Light On?

It is safe to drive with the VSC light on but be aware that the light lit on the dash means your VSC system is turned off. This will make it dangerous for you to drive in adverse conditions like heavy rain, ice or snow because you will not have any traction or stability control. 

It’s recommended that you check out why the light is on as soon as you get the opportunity.

How Do I Fix the VSC on My Toyota?

It’s easy to fix the VSC on your Toyota. It is basically resetting it but is easier than a reset. Doing this simple fix first may help you determine whether to take your car to a mechanic. Sometimes this fix will end any minor glitches in the system. 

To fix the VSC:

  1. Put the car in park.
  2. Hold down the VSC button for three or four seconds.
  3. The off lights for both the VSC and the TRAC systems will light up on the dash indicating both systems are off.
  4. Press the button for VSC. The lights will go off of the dash and both systems are working again.

Fixing the system this way is a temporary fix because there is still the underlying problem. However, resetting the VSC will tell you whether the problem was with the system or something else. 

The light will not come back on if there is a minor problem with the VSC system that the reset fixed. If it is a sensor or an ABS problem, or if there is a serious problem with the VSC system comes back on, then you will need to get it fixed.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a VSC System?

It’s hard to estimate how much fixing a VSC system will cost because it depends on exactly what is wrong. However, most estimates state to expect to spend between $300 to $800 or more to fix any problems associated with the VSC system. 

Problems could include the ABS brake system or O2 sensors. If all of that has been fixed or replaced, the mechanic’s tab will dramatically increase. 


The VSC system is there to protect you and your Toyota vehicle by keeping it on the road. That makes it important when it comes to driving in bad weather or on rougher terrain. No car owner should take a VSC dash light casually as it could indicate something seriously wrong with your brakes, sensors, or traction. 

Yet, a simple fix can get you where you are going until you can take more time to have the system checked out. Be sure to ask the mechanic to check the other possibilities like brakes and sensors instead of just the VSC system.

Read: All Wheel Drive: Advantages and Disadvantages

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