Check engine light + vsc lights on 2003 Toyota 4Runner

While driving 60mph, my check engine , vsc trac, and vsc off lights came on at the same time. Any ideas?

Asked by for the 2003 Toyota 4Runner
This happened today sept 1, 2009, vsc, trac, check engine light all on!
The problem many systems are tied into the Vehicle Stability Control system:
Solution: Take off gas cap and turn back on and listen for ONE CLICK check to make sure it is tight, if not do it again!
Second, pop open the hood, (latch is adjacent to steering column on the left side at the bottom of the dash (two latches one is gas the other hood). Take a small crescent wrench and loosen positive terminal bolt from battery (six to seven turns should do it)
take it off for 30 seconds then place it back on and tighten back on. Turn on engine, if lights did not go off, get a diagnostic check to find the proper code, there are a myriad of problems from a loose electrical connection, to oxygen sensors to brakes, etc. That can make this go on! This is the easiest and cheapest solution for the DIY tree mechanic. It worked on my Daughter's 2003 4runner Sport 4WD!
I have a 2004 4runner, and this happened to me today Sept 9, 2010, I did what you instructed and it worked, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, it saved me $$$ for not bringing it to the dealer, thanks also to the web.......
I have a 2001 lexus RX300. Just found VSC and energy check lights on today. I searched this website and tried exactly what you said. It works!!! Thank you so much and thank this web also.
I am jumping for joy!! The problem is fixed and my husband is impressed, we don't have to tell him I didn't put the gas cap on tight enough to hear a click.
I am glad that the fix was beneficial to all especially since today is my birthday and I am up late with insomnia! To all congratulations on your tenacity to seek out answer to your problems it is refreshing that people are still able to be independent and dedicated to finding solutions to their needs. I hope this continues to help all of those who own toyotas and other vehicles that get this annoying glitch. Gas caps now such an important piece of equipment I recall my dad's 48 plymouth never had one (auto accident disfigured the port) being a practical man he just made one out of tinfoil-never happen today.
I just went out and turned the gas cap, and pulled the "positive" cable off of the battery, waited 30 seconds, put the cable back on, started the car, and my lights were off! Thank you so much for saving me a day of hell going back and forth to the dealership!!!
You are very welcome! It makes me feel good that so many are benefiting from my research! Dealerships can be trying to say the least. It amazes me that so many issues can arise from the simple gas cap. It goes to show you the sophistication that is going on with all the sensors and computer that are now attached to the modern day vehicles. I hope you pay this forward. With the money saved get someone a special gift at Christmas.
omg. have a 2004 camry v6 xle and vsc/trac off and check engine light turned on for no reason. I know about the fuel cap manuever but I put in a full tank of gas yesterday and always make sure that cap is tight. So when I got home I did the cap a couple of times -all three lights still on . Stressing out of little things like these since I can see my dealer droolingwith dollar signs on his eyeballs. Lo and Behold-did what you said. Cap one click and positive terminal off 30 seconds - GONE. Thank you. Made my weekend!!
HO HO HO Merry Christmas pay it forward to a loved one with the money you saved from not having going to the dealership for this insider information (hee hee) ! I know my good fortune has benefited from my paying it forward. Today I saved an additional 155 dollars on a washer and dryer for my wife as a Christmas Gift ! I hope she likes it since she won't let me buy her jewelry !

Thanks for the tip. It worked like a charm.
Fixed the same problem on my '06 4Runner by following the instructions. Thanks a lot for sharing the information!
08 Avalon. Same problem and your solution worked (at least for now).
This just happened to me while in the ice and snow and rain from yesterday; (NY/CT) area. Thank god I read this because Toyota wanted to charge me $125 just to do a diagnostic test. Removing the (+) positive charge on the battery and reconnecting a several seconds later worked like a charm. For those who don't know or can't see the + and - signs, it's the one with the red covering. Also - be sure to have your keys out, the alarm sounds when you reconnect!
Simple gas cap was loose. Tightened gas cap, pulled negitive battery cable for 30 seconds and like magic, lights are off. The traction control was not responding while the gas cap was loose. Made it more fun in the snow, but just couldn't handle those lights being on.
This really works! Thanks! I have a 2005 Highlander and had the Check Engine, VSC and Trac Off lights go on yesterday morning after spinning a bit the night before getting up my steep driveway in the ice and snow. I knew nothing was probably wrong and found your post. I tried it when I got home last night -- tightened the gas cap and disconnected the positive battery charge for 30+ seconds. It worked like a charm! Thanks so much for saving me tons of time and $ going to the dealership! You're a life saver!
Happened 1/24 w/ my Avalon (see above) and then came on 3 more times after I was to Toyota Dealership for them to check it out. They finally determined it was a value in the fuel line that is known to have a problem regulating the oil pressure. If your light goes on when hitting the accelerator or hitting something slick, this may be it. The dealership told me they recalled this same part in several other Toyota models but for some reason did not do it on the Avalon. If it is not something simple like the gas cap, this may be the issue.
Thank you, this seemed to have worked on my 2000 Avalon XLS. Adjusted gas cap & disconnected/reconnected battery. I will keep an eye on the car's operation. Thanks again.
Thank you!! Appreciate the help! I was worried, but this seems to have worked!
Awesome! Worked on my Toyota Sienna 2005. The dope didn't put the gas cap on right (was loose). Your trick did the trick!
You are welcome, ahh attention to details is our lot in life. Glad to have helped.
This worked for me too! I have 2004 4Runner. The dealership wanted to charge $100 for the diagnostic, plus $700 to replace the o2 sensor. I am logging a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau against my dealer, since this is obviously a common fix yet they don't offer it as a solution. Thanks for the advice!!
Tried this today, 8/8/11 for my 2005 Camry XLE. It works. Thanks for this great solution.
thanks for the help. went out and checked gas cap and sure enough it wasn't tightened when I got gas today. Started car up lights are all out. Just saved me from having a diagnostic tomorrow.
Holy Crap...single mom, here in FL...had the check engine light and VSC Trac/Trac Off lights come on right after washing my car. Came home and looked it up. Tried the tip about cleaning the gas cap and tightening one click and disconnecting the positive battery cable...and voila' worked. THANK YOU so so much. I really appreciate all the tips and tricks. Can't afford a mechanic bill. Thanx again!
Happened to us today, Jan 2012. Found this sight and it worked perfectly!! Thanks Patrick Mannion. You saved us a lot of headache and even more money!!!
Thank you so much!! Worked on my 04 4runner.
Thank you so much for sharing this, papaobewan. Just happened to me this a.m. And lo and behold I popped the gas cap cover and the cap was definitely loose. I recapped, reset the positive battery terminal and voila it was fixed.
Just got back from vacation and found your response! Just pay it forward!
2005 4runner 4.6L v8. I am experiencing the check engine light and vsc and abs lights on but I got it taken to the toyota dealerdhip said it's the air pump that needs to be replaced . If the valves and gaskets are still good they will just replace the pump which will save me money (I don't have the codes on me because I'm at work )but it was close to the p 1440 (air restriction code ) the other shop said I just needed a flush (they flushed /forced the air pump air )through the valves to get it unstuck . They said they drove it with the computer hooked up and it passed . I drove it maybe 15 miles and the next day the lights came back on I took it back to that shop and they did the dame thing and said it was good so they said worst case scenario I'd need to get the pump replaced after the first time they said my pump was good . I think it's a sensor that's messed up only because on my 96 4 runner the check engine light wouldn't go away because it said it was an o2 sensor was bad but we replaced it so we did research and it turned out to be a transition solenoid was bad so we replaced that in the transition pan where the filter is and it fixed it . But I read that there was a recall on the tacamo and sequas and the 4.6 v8 had the same problem with the air injection system but no recall .should I replace the pump or is there some other things I can check before I throw down the 1400 it's gonna cost to supposedly fix it
14 answers 49 comments
The VSC, Trac and check engine light will frequently come on and be all traced to one problem as opposed to individual problems. Fixing the cause of the engine related code will fix all problems in most cases but a scan tool needs to be attached to the 16 pin diagnostic socket under the dash. It doesn't have to be a dedicated Toyota tool ,most aftermarket scan tools work pretty good on Toyota, they keep things simple.
If you can tell us what the code is we can explain what the code is related to, the code will look like, P0420 or P1433.
Is it safe to drive the car when these lights are on?
Oh My. Finally someone that is really interested in providing assistance with no strings attached. I was skeptical at first, but I did exactly what you instructed with the gas cap, that was successful. So I loosened that positive post on the battery and waited 30 seconds and much to my surprise, both the vcs and check engine light went off immediately. I was so pleased that I stated the care at least three times to make sure I wasn't imaging things.

Thanks so much.
Your suggestion of making sure the gas cap is on tight, and also loosening the postive post on the battery for 30 seconds works. It made the check engine and VSC light both go out. Thanks for this information.
THANKYOU!!!! You saved us $$$ today, this happened to me Friday afternoon coming home from work. My husband followed your instructions and it worked. Thank you so much! Have a blessed day :)
Yeah I took it to my local toyato and they scan it and restart it the whole system
but then the lights came back on and they had to change the MAF sensor and after that was replace the light still came on again and now they are saying is the Brake booster this for a 2008 toyota highlander
2005 4runner 4.6L v8 (recall on Tacoma and sequia but toyota won't own up to the v8 4runners)I have the same lights on. I got two opiniions from two different different shops one toyota dealership and one from another shop the toyota dealership ran the diagnostic and I got the code for the air restriction (don't have the code on me because I'm at work but it was something like p1440) they said I need to replace the air pump and Mayne the valves and gaskets which is gonna be 1400 dollars but they said if the valves and gaskets are good I just need to replace the pumps . The second shop did their diagnostic test and they decided to force the air pump to push air through the valves to get them unstuck. They did that then drove the truck with the computer hooked up and they said it passed . When I got the truck the lights were off but I drove maybe 15 miles then the next day the light were on again (they could of just unhooked the battery and reset it ) took it back there they did the same thing again and said it passed again after flushing then told me worst case scenario I'd need to replace the pump after the first time when they said my pump was fine >:(. I have two shops saying it's the pump but the lights will go away sometimes but not for very long . I'm worried it's a sensor issue or something that's just triggering the lights (my 96 4runner had a check engine light issue that said the o2 sensor was bad but we replaced it twice and it wouldn't go away so I did some research and it turned out to be a transition solenoid in the transition oil pan with the filter and it fixed it ) that's why I'm scared to throw down the 1400 dollars cuz the air pump might not be the problem . What do I do ?
Your problem is EXACTLY mine. What did you end up doing?
This happened today sept 1, 2009, vsc, trac, check engine light all on!
The problem many systems are tied into the Vehicle Stability Control system:
Solution: Take off gas cap and turn back on and listen for ONE CLICK check to make sure it is tight, if not do it again!
Second, pop open the hood, (latch is adjacent to steering column on the left side at the bottom of the dash (two latches one is gas the other hood). Take a small crescent wrench and loosen positive terminal bolt from battery (six to seven turns should do it)
take it off for 30 seconds then place it back on and tighten back on. Turn on engine, if lights did not go off, get a diagnostic check to find the proper code, there are a myriad of problems from a loose electrical connection, to oxygen sensors to brakes, etc. That can make this go on! This is the easiest and cheapest solution for the DIY tree mechanic. It worked on my Daughter's 2003 4runner Sport 4WD
Tried but did not help.
then left car overnight without + connected, still did not help.

brought car to Advance auto parts and it shows several code readings: Lexus RX300 1999-2003 P0021, P0300, P0304

change it all and still the same.. ;-(
more here:

Will apprisiate any help

thank you.

Gents, I have done as advised and it worked for the day, on the next day the lights came on again! So what should be the solution this time...can anyone help?
If your check engine , vsc trac, and vsc off lights come on. And if the gas cap retightening didn't work for you, as it didn't for me, here is the solution. First some history, I had the dealership replace both the O2 and A/F sensors on bank 1(passenger side) 3 on separate visits. I have an 03 4 Runner. I also personally replaced the O2 sensor twice and the A/F sensor once at $100 to $200 a pop over an 18 month period!! Toyota had a service bulletin come out on this problem in 2007 or 08 but I had to bring it to their attention!?! I finally permanently solved the problem myself because three separate Toyota mechanics were clueless. Buy and install a product from the 50's and1960's called a "NO FOULER" between the tailpipe and the sensor. The cost for this part was $0.69. That's right sixty nine cents. I found them at Pep Boys(not everyone sells them anymore). The product was originally designed to stop spark plugs from getting fouled with oil which was common problem back in the day. I've been trouble free for 4 years now. This is very easy job for a diy kind of guy or go to your local garage. If they charge you more the 30 mins labor they are ripping you off. It must be fixed asap because your mpg will drop from 20 something mpg to 12 mpg as mine did. The reason for that is because the sensor is sending a msg to the CPU that the fuel is too lean and mistakenly 'richens it up too much'. First try using the old sensor with the "NO FOULER" before buying a new one. P.S. If you do buy one, make sure that you buy a Denso sensor or you'll regret it. They are the OEM for Toyota. They can be found on ebay for 50% of the dealer cost, which is about $200.
try the simple things first. the vsc light is activated every time the check engine light goes on. Check engine light can go on for the simple things like gas cap not tight, wiper fluid is low, low brake fluid, and I think low coolant. Simple checks that anyone can do
The wrench / battery trick worked! Hope it stays off!
The battery is key what is going on is a reset on the computer settings!
thank you!
Thank you for this advice, Perfect! I have an 04 Sienna replaced spark plugs after 130K miles, believe it ir not they don't look that bad, anyway after that task became quite a bit more work than I had planned I was floored when I finally got eberything back together to then get these VSC, Check Engine, and Trak lights on. What a bummber after spending six straight hours just replacing plugs. Anyway added coolant, removed batter ground and removed gas cap. Runs great now and my high 2K idle is back to where it should be now.

Thanks a bunch Papaobewon! Now its on to my clicking washing machine problem.

You are very welcome! Clicking Washing Machines? Ouch I hope it isn't the motor !!!! We just replaced ours for Christmas new washer and dryer as the old dryer tried to burn down the wiring internally but we were fortunate nothing else melted! Hope your holiday is a glorious one as I stay grounded in the present and cherish each day with my family I hope you do the same!
2005 Toyota 4runner did the 3 lights VSC, VSC off and check engine light while I was pulling
Into a hotel 4 hours from home! I googled the issue found this forum
Did as suggested with the gas cap and battery cable and
Much to my delight it worked! I don't have tools in the car with
Me so I asked the maintenance man at the hotel to undo the battery
Cable. I think he was as surprised as I was! Thank you!!!!!
Worked for me on my 2003 Avalon.
I got the same lights on couple days ago, thanks to the previous answer. I followed the instruction to re-check gas cap, then removed the battery positive terminal for 30 seconds. It worked and all lights went off now. Thank you thank you.
THANKS TO EVERYONE ON THIS SITE!! I had this problem sneak up on me after a business trip in my trusty 4-Runner and I followed your advice - low-n-behold! VOILA! Issue solved! YOU ROCK!
It is very satisfying to research a problem and discover that a solution exists.
Thank you for your advice. We will share with others. We own a 2003 4-runner sport edition. The VSC light came on and we followed your advice. It worked. The only thing we would let people know is, after you disconnect and before you reconnect the battery, put your key in the ignition and turnover the engine. That stopped the horn blowing. My husband tried to reconnect the positive cable before he put in the key, and the horn blared. Other than that, this trick worked. Thanks....
Awesome, Thank you sir, it worksss..... My camry 2010 had the same problem. Last night i refilled the whole tank of my camry 2010, reached home. But next day when i board on road i saw both the ligths on, i tried many ways what ever people suggested on you***e. But when i tried this fuel cap one it worked and all lights gone..... Thanks again. Sir u r genius.
thanks guys tightened the gas cap and loosend the positive terminal of the battery after 30 seconds reconnected and my 2005 avalon drives like a soft smooth car
You are absolutely right! I purchased gas today and noticed VSC and ENGINE lights on. Did as above and my 2004 4 Runner is back to normal! I would have gone to the dealer without this site and would have probably been told I needed at minimum, O2 sensors fixed, or even worse, a new catalytic converter!
Satisfying to fix your own car? Yes it is! Glad to hear it worked!
Pay it forward is all I ask!?
I can't thank you enough..... I'm a widow who's biggest fear is car problems.... my husband always handled car problems, and wouldn't even tell me there was a problem so I wouldn't worry. These lights suddenly came on on the 4Runner, which has 66,000 miles on it. I almost had it towed to the garage.... then I saw this post. Who would have EVER thought it was a gas cap/positive post on the battery fix. Your site saved me, not only $$$, but also the fear of an unreliable vehicle.... Thank You!
As I dont come out to check very often I gain satisfaction in helping people with my suggestions! To each and everyone of you that has taken the time to respond ! You are very welcome!
Papaobewan aka papa aka papaobewon aka Mark
2003 4Runner vsc lights as described..detaching +pole of battery worked.
Thanks to google and you at RepairPal
To all of you that have had success congratulations? To those who have not had success, persevere! A few more tidbits of info! My 2001 Toyota Sequoia now has the same issues! All lights on ! This time I found a bad brake caliper, low brake fluid, a bad ABS/ VSC assembly bad ( this is a combo piece that has an Actuator (pump) and a combo ABS/Skid Control ECU AND THE RELAY ECU CALLED AN ABS Translate went bad! ) along with a bad gas cap ! Yikes!
SOLUTION - Replace the gas cap, brake caliper, fill the brake fluid reservoir with brake fluid, bleed brake system and find the Exact Model of ABS/VSC ECU 89541-0C020 and ABS Translate 89630-34010 I have all the lights off except the VSC OFF &ABS !
Can anyone tell me if a USED ABS/VSC ECU and ABS TRANSLATE ECU are plug n play or if they require reprogramming?
I have had opinions on both sides! Im am looking for anyone with facts to contact me and help please? Thank you ! On Oct 25th I turn 62 over the years I have learned patience is my best ally as I have been working on this since June 2016 ! Two lights to go! BTW THE 60 amp fuse and the 120amp are bolted underneath the fuse box you can not just pull these! As I found out the hard way by destroying the ABS FUSE it disabled the ABS pump and unplugging the VSC signal WIRE from Master Cylinder booster SHUT off the ABS/VSC ECU ,! Sequoia now runs without VSC SKID CONTROL AND ABS ( lights are ON!) but car is semi functional meaning these two items are disabled so car operates like a vehicle from the 70s! Im on my own! Are there savvy Any techs out there that can help the old man? My educated guess is that they can talk to my ECU ( which is working fine) without reflashing ( reprogramming) but I would like to avoid paying out $400 for used items to find out my guess was wrong! No one likes to throw out hard earned money !
God Bless everyone seeking solutions to lifes little nuisances! Cars? They are just machines ... , we control their destiny ! Quoting my father! It may be Christmas before I reply again as I life gets in my way!
Yes o thanks to you guys i got a postive result as to vsctrak light vibe 2009model just open tank cover and recover it remove battery head for 30secs and replace it start the car and it wipe off
Thanks so much for your advice. Tried exactly what you said by disconnecting + terminal and tightening gas cap and it worked right away. If this correction holds, you will have saved me a lot of unnecessary time and money. Your site is great!