Lexus RX 300 Check Engine, VSC and TRAC OFF Lights

miamigradmiamigrad Member Posts: 1
edited June 2015 in Lexus
Just had some work done on my 2003 RX300. air filter, new water pump, timing belft front end alingment, rear breaks, turn rotor, caliper service rear dffy fluid, cabin air filter. Now as I drive it home the VSC light comes on and the repair shop tells me nothing to worry about bring it back tomorrow there is some sort of fluid leak. What do you think?

See also: Troubleshooting Lexus RX 300 Check Engine & VSC


  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    During the recent snow and ice storm here in the Seattle area I noticed that my 2001 AWD RX300, 60,000 miles, was not "acting" quite right. In situations where the VSC/Trac would have normally activated they did not. So I did a couple of "test" runs in an empty parking lot and sure enough the front wheels would spin free with the engine RPM rising accordingly. Also "throwing" it sideways did not result in VSC activation, only the little instrument light (no beeping) on indicating a skid.

    No real problem as I soon had tire chains on all four.

    Last week I contacted the service advisor at Lexus of Bellevue who proceeded to advise me, profusely, that the VSC/Trac system will always be operational unless an indicator is lit on the instrument panel indicating otherwise. When I persisted he insisted that it was probably working and I wasn't familier enough with its actions to know.

    So I fired off an email to [email protected]

    In response I was told to contact a dealer.

    Over the weekend I got out the shop manuals and discovered that the ABS was indicating codes 31,32, and 33, apparently a temporary or intermittent failure of both front wheel speed sensors and one rear wheel sensor, and VSC was indicating a code of 43, ABS control failure.

    According to the manual the ABS will continue to work with these codes but it was unclear, undefined, as to what the result would be with the VSC code 43.

    So I contacted Lexus of Seattle and after a long discussion I was told that a VSC code 43 would result in the VSC/Trac system being non-functional but that there should have been a VSC failure indication on the instrument panel. The Lexus Lexus technician suggested that I might have inadvertently ignored the failure indication for enough drive cycles that it would have extinguished.

    I'm quite sure, VERY sure, there was never an indication of VSC or Trac failure on my instrument panel for multiple drive cycles. When I suggested that the firmware might be flawed in that no indication was displayed the technician allowed that the 2001 was the first year of VSC/Trac implementation on the RX series but refused to speculate further.

    He did tell me that the wheel speed sensor faults could result from ordinary wheelspin that occurs in low traction conditions.

    So I have cleared the fault codes but have not yet been able to test the VSC/trac system for operational capability.
  • kathrinakathrina Member Posts: 2
    Hi there. The check engine light and the vsc light on my car came on. I took the car to auto zone, had the test... gave me 3 codes.... I took my car to the shop. They reset the light... Now it's on again. I looked for the loose hose as mentioned in the previous posts, and didnt find any errors there. The light was off for aprox. 5 weeks. The car has 48,xxx miles. Any other suggestions?

    Also, I am looking to replace the strip that is on the bumper. It says Lexus on it. I believe it is there to protect the paint from any damage when moving stuff in or out of the trunk area. Some how, mine has vanished... Anyone know where I can get a replacement?
  • bigdogman111bigdogman111 Member Posts: 3
    Hi ,

    I have same problem with my toyta Highlander 03 . I clear code 3 times. replace sensors. still same issue.
    anyone with similer problems who got is fix. please help.

    thank you
  • kathrinakathrina Member Posts: 2

    Today the light just magically went off... ironically after my son put gas in the car and didn't turn the car off while pumping. Coincidence?!
  • mhawksmhawks Member Posts: 3
    My 98 LS 400, 129K Miles VSC indicator light is coming on. I had the trouble code cleared but it returned after only 15 miles. When it first comes on the engine RPM slows. Returned home today with normal engine performance but the VSC indcator light remains. Any solutions offered would be cool since my mechanic is not familar with the issue. Code book indicates possible valve timing issue but the timing belt was replaced at 100K
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    "code book indicates..."

    Did you by chance mean to say the CEL AND VSC came on..??

    If CEL came on then VSC is a simple default condition with any CEL indication.

    If no CEL and only VSC then there are only two components unique to VSC, the yaw sensor and the stearing wheel rotational position sensor.
  • mhawksmhawks Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the information. Both the CEL and VSC lights are on. I am returning the vehicle to mechanic Monday morning. Most likely the problem has nothing to do with the Skid Control but is a engine issue since the original code pointed toward valve timing or something and this would be an indication of poor engine performance when the light first comes on.
  • mhawksmhawks Member Posts: 3
    Well more good news, mechanic changed the filter on the valve timing sensor and the CEL and VSC light came on within five miles. I believe the code is 1639 if anyone knows what that means?
  • missfitmissfit Member Posts: 1
    My 2002 Lexus RX300 had the VSC and check engine light come on today. I did just get the oil changed about 500 miles ago, so I checked the hose behind the air filter and sure enough, it was disconnected. I reconnected it, then the lights didn't clear so I had to disconnect my battery to clear them. I hope it stays cleared now. I did notice my clamp that holds the hose on is not very secure, so may need to get a new one. Thanks for the tips, WAY better than getting charged at the dealer for something so easy.
  • theozzfactortheozzfactor Member Posts: 23
    I have a RX300 2002 model and today some truck guy rear-ended my vehicle. No major impact, just a small piece of plastic from the bumper got chipped (very small). And I also noticed the VSC and check engine lights constantly on. Well, this is my wife's car, so am not sure whether she noticed the lights earlier before th impact or whether it was a result of the impact (once again it was a very small impact). My question is whether the VSC and check engine lights will come on because of this small impact. My wife had the brakes pressed when this happened if that is important. Thanks
  • ortmann1ortmann1 Member Posts: 2
    Hello I have a RX300 the engine light keeps coming on and nothing is wrong with the car. I will check the hose behind the airfilter, as suggested in a ealier blog thanks to whom ever. I also have a dummy light for my "lights" I have checked al my light even brights. All good except for the(2) yellow light in the front of my car on the front quater pannels. I am thinking it's a fuse is their any easy way to find out which fuse it might be, I have looked at the owners manuel and find it hard to locate? Thanks

    Ortmann1 :sick: :)
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Member Posts: 4,028
    Our check/VSC light came on a couple of weeks ago. Not the gas cap, not loose hoses. Free AutoZone diagnostic reveals: 02 sensor! Fused to the manifold, I was told it happens to about 1 in 50 RX. Expensive little repair as they have to replace the sensor and the manifold... There goes the old tax rebate check! :sick:

    A fond, but bittersweet adieu to my '13 Jaguar XF. And so, I present this laurel, and hearty handshake to the new boss; '21 Audi A7 PHEV. '09 Jag XK , '05 Acura TL, '88 Acura Integra, '84 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo & '78 VW Scirocco ; all special to me. And, of course, the '92 Nissan Sentra SE-R and '95 Saab 900s I bought for the ex... I've yet to buy a car I didn't like. Although, do I really want to drive a car that would have someone such as me as its owner?

  • aecpharmdaecpharmd Member Posts: 2
    My 2002 Lexus is displaying the check engine light, VSC and TRAC OFF. This is a previously owned vehicle and did not come with an owner's manual and I can't seem to gain access to an owner's manual on the internet. Please help with any ideas...I have no clue what this means. Thanks!
  • bdigestbdigest Member Posts: 3
    I have the same problem with my 2002 and am looking for a solution. My warning lights came on a few days after I had the brakes checked. I've had the warning 'reset' a couple of times, but it comes back on after a few days. If I come up with an answer, I'll let you know.
  • bdigestbdigest Member Posts: 3
    Well, I found the solution by cruising the forum and the net. When I had my brakes checked, they tried to sell me an air filter. Opening the large black air filter cover on the driver's side of the engine pulls a hose lose that is on the back side of the cover. The hose is black, comes straight out of the cover an inch or so, then hangs down at a right angle to connect to a stiff tube sticking up from below. The end of the stiff tube is about ten inches below and is tough to spot, but you may see the metallic glint of the connecting portion of the tube. If you can get your hand in there, just reconnect the hose. Supposedly, you can get the 'check engine' light to reset by disconnecting the battery for 15 minutes. I reconnected the hose tonight...I'll check the lights in the morning. What a relief to save a trip to Lexus...
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Yaw sensor recalibration wasn't done after front end alignment.

    Stearing wheel off-center..??
  • cargovancargovan Member Posts: 10
    I would to share the same experience with you. I have a 2001 Lexus RX 300 FWD and the check engine light, VSC and Trac Off came on. It stay on for about two days or so and turn off all by it self. I didn't attempt any repairs at all. It is best to speak to a mechanic about this. The mechanic will then tell you what to do?
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Those symptoms are often an indication that the gas cap was removed and then replaced without refueling or the gas cap was left not fully tightened after refueling.
  • e0101227e0101227 Member Posts: 1
    I have an '03 RX300 and these lights recently came on for me, the day after I had gotten an oil change. It would make sense that this was the cause, since I'm sure they checked my air filter. Thanks for the help!
  • kenfigkenfig Member Posts: 1
    RIGHT ON! After reading this forum I found the problem with my RX300. The hose was off behind the air filter. I put it back on and cleared the code with OBD II reader and all is well. Thank you for the info! :)
  • acetacet Member Posts: 1
    You know I really wish people joined the forums which already have hundreds of your fellow car-make owners who could save people thousands...Just think about it, WHY would they fuse the o2 sensor to the manifold? :lemon: All the o2 sensors which I've seen in my life were ALL threaded. Its like saying that if you have a cut on your hand, the doctor needs to replace your entire arm. Nothing against you, I am just trying to save you money in the future, when I bet you could have found a much better use for the money from the tax return...

    Do not trust the STEALERSHIPS!! I can't stress that enough :sick: .
  • azjoelazjoel Member Posts: 1
    Me too.....I had all these same lights on and after reading a few post here, sure enough the hose behind my air filter was disconnected. It's a tight fit for my hands but I finally got it reconnected and unhooked the battery for 10 min or so and all lights have remained off......thanks everyone for the responses....!!
  • cargovancargovan Member Posts: 10
    Hi! If an oil filter is slightly damaged on the outside still usable?
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
  • remogulremogul Member Posts: 1
    bdigest you are "IT" thank you for posting your finding. :shades:
    I was on the way to drop off my wife's car to the STEALERSHIP and just before leaving I googled the problem and bam, there was the answer.
    Reconnected the hose and disconnected the battery for 15 minutes. Problem solved
  • cluelesslexuscluelesslexus Member Posts: 1
    Hi- I am having this random issue with my 2001 Rx 300. I cant check the hose, and cant afford a big cost at the dealership. Does anyone know if this is dangerous to drive? Can it be driven without wrecking my engine? Until I can get a brother or father to look at it!
  • gnail888gnail888 Member Posts: 1
    My 1999 Lexus ES 300 appeared having the same problem that you guys were talking about. The check engine and TRAC OFF lights stayed on for a while. After searching the web and reading a few of your postings, I got under the hood. To my surprise, the black hose behind the air filter did get disconnected. I simply reconnected the hose, and disconnected the battery for 15 minutes. Voila! The warning lights were gone! Thanks everyone for sharing the experience.
  • wreckedemwreckedem Member Posts: 1
    I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the problem.

    Right after I got it back from putting in new engine (due to oil sludge,I now learn) the Check engine and trac off lights came on.
    Brought car back and
    I had dealership check the code for these two lights being on &
    the code says to replace solenoid for tranny ($600-$1000),
    maybe the air filter hose has been disconnected.
  • gdarcygdarcy Member Posts: 1
    MY EMAIL IS [email protected]
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    Online Repair Manuals or Where To Find Your Car Owner's Manual Online may be helpful.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • sladie42sladie42 Member Posts: 1
    Why have manifold sensor replaced? Why not ignore? VSC has nothing to do with the engine. The check engine light is probably associated to Manifold sensor.

    Not sure just voicing an opinion
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    "..Fused to manifold.."

    Get thee to a welding shop and have them use a gas cutting torch to HEAT the manifold while avoiding heating the O2 sensor, then remove the "fused" sensor.
  • jackurjackur Member Posts: 6
    I believe this is a COMMON problem with toyota cars. I had a 98 camry several years ago. The check engine light went on after the first month I purchased the car. I remembered that I went to dealer at least 4 times for repairing that the same problems during the first 4 years of my ownership. After then, it kept on and off and I just ignored it. It was really bothering. But I found that it was ok if you ignore it. Four of my friends had the same problems with their toyota cars (camry or RAV 4), too! For this reason, I did not buy camry any more.
  • acutezacutez Member Posts: 1
    I have an '01 Lexus RX 300. The VSC and TRAC OFF lights came on the dash. No manual! So, I found this forum and felt I had the problem solved. Took all this posted info to my mechanic (to save time/money) and after checking things out, he said that the hose and filters were OK . . . . that one of the Oxygen Sensors was bad/out/mal-functioning . . . . that it needs to be replaced ($350.00) . . . . that continued driving with a bad oxygen sensor will affect the fuel mixture and probably get lower mileage . . . . not dangerous.

    Has anyone had this problem with the VSC and TRAC OFF lights???

    AND . . . . consequently, we unplugged the battery (as suggested) . . . . replugged . . . . the lights came back on once . . . . then, not again . . . . BUT, SINCE REPLUGGING, the electronic data on the dash has been inaccurate (i.e., 25 mpg)!!! Anyway, no manual!

    Has anyone had this (2nd) problem with unplugging the battery and electronic data display???

    Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Other than ABS all functionality, VSC?TC/BA/etc, of the ABS pumpmotor is disabled with a CEL indication.
  • dcummins1dcummins1 Member Posts: 1
    I have noticed that my vehicle has to have oil added every time I fill up. I check it & its low, some times very low. Its not showing leaks on the ground. Any suggestions?
  • mukundamukunda Member Posts: 1
    I had corolla 2000 model. my CEL light was on abt 40K miles for the same O2 sensor.. drove till 95K without repairing.. thought emission test will fail.. but took battery off to turn CEL off and went for emission test and it passed.
    Now I bought 2007 highlander.. I have 45K miles on it.. same problem.. P031.. O2 sensor.. shopping for cheaper replacement.. if I don't get it.. wait till emission test fails..
  • la4meadla4mead Member Posts: 347
    edited June 2010
    If the O2 sensor fails by 40,000, that's way too early. Could it have been the fuel in your area?
    Do you use any cleaning product for the system?
    It was warranteed at least until 70,000 for emission-related items, wasn't it (U.S. vehicles)? Why not have the EFI cleaned or the defective part replaced?
    I wouldn't use a cheaper third-party sensor. You can see the difference when you have both side-by-side.
    Other RX300's tend to need cleaning of MAF sensor and the idle servo (really easy DIY and lots of tips using "search" on this and other sites) long before O2, but those have different codes.
    I hope the info helps. I'm really surprised your OEM O2 sensor didn't last very long, and it happened twice.
  • bdigestbdigest Member Posts: 3
    As wwest mentioned, it can also be an indication that the gas cap was removed and then replaced without refueling or the gas cap was left not fully tightened after refueling.

    I solved my initial occurrence by reconnecting the hose behind the air filter cover. But a year later, the same lights came on. Refilling the gas tank, tightening the gas cap, and resetting the lights by disconnecting the battery for 15 minutes did the trick...
  • gemini416gemini416 Member Posts: 1
    I have same problem from last night. Is it safe to drive for a few days until my husband can reconnect the hose and disconnect the battery?
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Only if you're CERTAIN the CE is the result of the gas cap or air intake hose.

    CE can be something much more serious.
  • galmarodegalmarode Member Posts: 2
    Had my tires rotated, oil changed, vsc check engine lights on? Wire was knocked off and I put it back on. Check engine light went off but vsc still on. How do I reset it and check to make sure the vsc is still functioal?

  • galmarodegalmarode Member Posts: 2
    When the check engine light comes on so does the VSC. Before you take it to a garage cross pins 14 & 24. Thats what I did and it worked. No VSC light. Everything comes on when I first start my Lexus but goes off. Hope this helps.

  • eli55eli55 Member Posts: 1
    Thanks my car has exactly the same symptoms but I can't see a black hose disconnected, do you have a picture? which hose?

  • la4meadla4mead Member Posts: 347
    edited October 2010
    After the code was read (171, system too lean?) I cleaned MAF and IACV, using a good portion of a can of quality CRC EFI cleaner sprayed into butterfly intakes while revving; blew out a little carbony stuff till exhaust came clean, synthetic oil change, and serviced K&N engine air filter. Then I cleared the codes by disconnecting the neg battery terminal and pulled the EFI relay under the hood.

    After clearing, it seems to come on after driving an hour or two upon moderate (1/2-2/3 throttle) acceleration (freeway onramp uphill, etc.). Upon restart CEL remains on.

    I'm taking it to my neighbor Toyota dealer and asking for sparkplug replacement, oil change and read the trouble codes again. Is the dealer going to say I also need new expensive oxygen sensors?

    Does anyone know the locations for each sensor?

    How many O2 sensors are there?

    I've done O2 sensors, etc. on other cars before, and have no problem with investing in it so it's running right. I just want to be prepared, because if it's a set of sensors I can replace myself, I'll save money on the parts as well as labor, and right now without an income I don't have extra dough laying around. I just don't want to start replacing sensors that aren't bad, either.

    Jay (So Cal)
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
  • koa8koa8 Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2010
    Thanks a lot for sharing this information! I fixed it by simply reconnected the hose. Got rid of engine check light after disconnected battery for 15 minutes and.
  • avery1avery1 Member Posts: 373
    I have a 99 RX with 167,000 miles on it. Last year my transmission went out. A month ago the check engine light came on but the engine was running smoothly and the Lexus service guy said run it for a month and see if it goes off. It didn't and started to have bouts of rough running so I brought it in and they said they got two codes, one for an oxygen sensor and another that indicated to the mechanic that I had a gelled? engine. I remember in the early days of owning the car that there were folks with gelled engines and Lexus even extended the engine warranty to cover this. Of course that is now expired. It seemed to be associated with folks in cold climates who didn't run their cars much in the winter. Since I am in Ca and had always changed the oil when I was supposed to I didn't think this was an issue for me to worry about. He said it would cost another $300 to be sure of the diagnosis and he didn't recommend spending it since the mechanic was very experienced and was sure. At first I said skip it but was so furious that I changed my mind and told them to get the firm diagnosis because I was going to need it when I went to court. After a couple of hours they called to say they got the oil to flow freely and that my engine wasn't gelled after all. They changed the oil and the oxygen sensor and now my car is running. I am in the market for another car, not a Lexus. Thought you all would be interested in the story.
  • garx300garx300 Member Posts: 2
    Engine malfunction, VSC and TRAC warning lights came on last week. Did a generic read at Auto Zone and replaced the air filter. Lights went off after about 20miles. The next day, the car was running fine. Stopped for coffee, got back in the car and suddenly it was jerking and the D transmission light started flickering on the dash. Suddenly the car completely died. Pulled over and it started right back up again. (Battery is one year old.) Have gone about 5 days with no problem when the lights came back on. Read that it could be spark plugs. It's not the gas cap - have checked that numerous times. At 99,400 miles and hoping this isn't the end. Can't afford to go to the dealer. Any suggestions?
  • midnightsun1midnightsun1 Member Posts: 1
    my headlights are pulsating and cel light is on,code is for s4 solenoid, sometimes does not shift to overdrive, can they be connect or seperate problems
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