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Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota: All You Need to Know

If you own a Toyota car, you might have noticed the TRAC OFF and Check Engine lights on the dashboard. While they may seem like minor issues, it’s important to understand what they indicate and how to address them.

The TRAC OFF light indicates that the traction control system is turned off, which can affect the vehicle’s handling on slippery surfaces. The Check Engine light, on the other hand, may indicate a problem with the engine control system.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the causes of these lights and what you can do to resolve them. So, read on to find out more about the TRAC OFF and Check Engine lights in Toyota cars.

What does the TRAC OFF light mean?

The TRAC OFF light on your Toyota vehicle signifies that the Traction Control system is turned off, meaning that the electronic stability control’s supplementary function is not currently assisting in preventing the loss of traction of the driven road wheels.

Depending on your specific Toyota model, the TRAC OFF light may appear in the form of the letters “TRAC OFF” or a picture of a car with lines bending in the opposite direction of the tires.

While turning off the system manually could trigger this warning light, it may also indicate a malfunction with the traction controlKeep an eye out for other MILs, like the Check Engine Light or VSC light, which may signify further issues with the vehicle’s stability.

What triggers the illumination of the TRAC off light?

Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota (1)

Below are the most common causes of the TRAC OFF warning light to appear on your dashboard:

  • The TRAC off light was manually turned off
  • Road traction instability
  • Brakes have been replaced recently
  • Failure of the steering rack system
  • ECU Malfunction
  • Faulty wheel speed sensor
  • ABS control module issue
  • ABS Malfunction
  • Brake light switch issues
  • Computer malfunction

The TRAC off light was manually deactivated

In most cases, this warning light shows up if you accidentally turn off the traction control system. This can happen when you press the button that activates or deactivates the system. But don’t worry, it’s an easy fix.

All you have to do is push the switch to turn the system back on. However, if you see the VSC light with a graphic of a car sliding on the road and the word “OFF” on your dashboard, the vehicle stability control might deactivate along with the traction control system.

It’s also worth noting that if the Check Engine light is on along with TRAC OFF, there may be an issue with your engine or traction control system

Road traction instability

When driving on an unstable surface, you may notice your car’s traction control light blinking on the dashboard. This warning light indicates that your vehicle may be skidding on a slippery road, making it challenging to maintain control.

Usually, this light won’t remain on unless the road conditions change. The most common cause of unstable road traction is snow or ice, which significantly reduces the grip your tires have on the road. However, even moderate rainfall can lead to temporary failures in traction control.

Brakes have been replaced recently

If you’ve recently had your brakes replaced, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) may not be properly working with the new brakes, which can trigger the warning light. Additionally, the sensors for the traction control system are located quite close to the brakes, so any malfunctioning of those brakes could also cause the TRAC Off light to come on.

Failure of the steering rack system

As a driver, you rely heavily on your car’s steering rack to function smoothly and precisely. This is achieved by pumping hydraulic fluid into the steering rack, which allows you to easily turn the wheels while driving.

However, if there’s a malfunction in the system, such as failure of the steering rack or any of the sensors, this could significantly affect the vehicle’s traction control capabilities. The TRAC off light will come on to indicate that there’s a problem, and the traction control system will be disabled until the issue has been resolved.

This highlights the importance of regular vehicle maintenance to ensure that all components of the steering system are in proper working condition.

ECU Malfunction

The ECU, or electronic control unit, is responsible for controlling all of the electronic systems in your vehicle. When it’s broken, the TRAC Off light may turn on as a result. So, if you’re experiencing this issue, it’s definitely worth having your ECU checked out by a professional mechanic.

Faulty wheel speed sensor

Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota 4
Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota 4

In a comment on Quora, a user mentions the cause of a TRAC off light being related to a faulty wheel speed sensor. You can read their comment here.

Faulty wheel speed sensors are often a common cause of this pesky light turning on. These sensors are located within each wheel, providing critical data to the vehicle’s traction control system and engine control unit. By tracking the rotational speed of each wheel, the sensors can pinpoint any inaccuracies in the system. If one of the sensors stops functioning properly, it can trigger the TRAC Off light, alerting you to the potential problem.

ABS control module issue

The ABS control module is responsible for detecting any problems with the anti-lock braking system. If it’s not working properly, the TRAC Off light will be triggered as an alert to let you know that something is amiss.

ABS Malfunction

An ABS malfunction is also a possible cause of the TRAC Off light. If the anti-lock braking system is unable to engage, it will trigger this warning light to come on and inform you that your car’s traction control system has been disabled.

Brake light switch issues

If you’ve noticed the TRAC Off light illuminating on your dashboard, then you might have some issues with your brake light switch. This small but crucial component is located close to the brake pedal, and it’s responsible for triggering your car’s brake lights. However, if the switch is broken or malfunctioning, it can also trigger the TRAC Off light to come on.

Computer malfunction

Today’s modern automobiles are equipped with a variety of computers, each performing a unique set of tasks. When one of these computers experiences an error, it can cause complications in various areas.

While a computer malfunction is less likely to be the root cause of the TRAC off light, it’s still something to consider, especially if you can’t identify any other potential causes.

Is it safe to drive with the TRAC off light on?

While it’s generally safe to drive with the light on, there are occasions when you should not drive your car.

For instance, if the traction control light comes on alongside warnings for the anti-lock braking system and red brake, your entire braking system may be compromised. In this case, you should avoid driving the vehicle until it has been inspected and any necessary repairs have been made.

When should the TRAC be turned off?

When your Toyota gets stuck in snow or mud, turning off the TRAC system may be necessary. While the system is designed to improve traction and stability on the road, snowy or muddy conditions may require you to switch it off temporarily.

When TRAC is disabled, power transfer from the engine to the wheels is not reduced, which makes it easier to rock your vehicle and free it from the snow or mud. All it takes is a press of the TRAC OFF button, and when the TRAC OFF indicator appears on your dashboard, you’ll know the system is turned off.

How to fix the TRAC Off light in your Toyota?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fix the TRAC Off light in your Toyota car:

  1. Check if you accidentally turned off the traction control system by looking for the TRAC OFF button, typically located to the left of the steering wheel. If you find it, press the button once again to restart the system and see if it fixes the issue.
  2. Turn off the engine and restart it to see if the TRAC Off light stays off. If it does, the issue has been resolved on its own, and you don’t need to worry.
  3. If the TRAC Off light remains on or other dashboard lights appear, use a scanner to read the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) to identify the problem.
  4. Address any issues indicated by the DTCs promptly, especially if the Check Engine and TRAC OFF lights illuminate together.
  5. Use the scanner to identify the problem more clearly before worrying too much about the TRAC Off light. Fix any issues that appear, as there is a chance it will fix the traction control system issue.
  6. If you’re unable to fix the issue using the above solutions, seek the help of a professional mechanic.

If you’re having trouble identifying the issue and the trouble codes aren’t making sense to you, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. There are two primary options available to you for diagnosis: taking your car to the dealership or hiring an independent mechanic.

While the dealership may be more expensive, it can provide quicker and more reliable service. On the other hand, an independent mechanic is often cheaper but might take longer to diagnose and fix the issue.

FAQs about Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota

What causes the “Trac Off” light to come on?

There are a number of common causes for this warning light, including manually deactivating the TRAC off light, road traction instability, recently replaced brakes, steering rack system failure, ECU malfunction, defective wheel speed sensors issue with ABS control module ABS malfunction and computer malfunction.

What happens when the “Trac Off” light is on?

When the “Trac Off” light illuminates on your dashboard, it indicates that your Toyota’s traction control system has been disabled. This means that your car’s ability to provide extra grip on slippery surfaces has been compromised and traction will be decreased.

Can I drive my car if the “Trac Off” light is on?

It is generally safe to drive while the “Trac Off” light is on. However, if it appears alongside warnings for other systems such as anti-lock braking and red brake lights, then your entire braking system may be compromised. In this case, you should avoid driving the vehicle until it has been inspected and any necessary repairs have been made.

How do I turn off my Toyota’s TRAC system?

You can turn off your Toyota’s TRAC system by pressing the TRAC OFF button located to the left of the steering wheel. A confirmation indicator will appear on your dashboard once the system has been switched off. You should only disable this feature if necessary, such as when stuck in snow or mud.

How do you fix a trac off light?

First, make sure to come to a complete stop and put the car in park. Then, press and hold the VSC button for a few seconds. This will turn on both the TRAC OFF and VSC OFF indicator lights, which means that neither system is operating at the moment. Now, press the VSC button again and wait for both lights to turn off.

Why won’t my trac off light turn off?

If you’ve noticed that your trac off light is remaining illuminated, there could be a number of issues at play. Some common causes include problems with steering angle sensors, rotational speed sensors, wheel speed sensors, or issues with your steering rack.

How do you fix TRAC off on a Toyota?

Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota (2)
Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota (2)

The solution is simple: quickly press and release the button. By doing this, you should see the TRAC OFF indicator light up. Once you’ve completed the task at hand, all you have to do is press the button again to turn the system back on.

Can low tire pressure cause the traction control light to come on?

When your tires are underinflated, it can affect the signals sent from the wheel speed sensors to the car’s ABS system, which may inadvertently activate the traction control. The ABS light may also turn on as a result.

To fix this, check your tire pressure and make sure it is at the right level for your vehicle.

Is the traction control light serious?

The traction control light isn’t typically considered a serious issue, but it does indicate that the system is unable to provide increased grip on slippery surfaces. If you notice other dashboard warning lights alongside the TRAC OFF indicator then you should take your vehicle in for repairs as soon as possible.

What Are the Dangers of Driving With the Trac Off Light On?

If the TRAC Off light is illuminated while driving, it means your car’s traction control system has been disabled and you may have difficulty gaining extra grip on slick surfaces. This can increase the risk of skidding or sliding in certain road conditions, and could result in an accident. A

Does Check Engine Light Turn Off Automatically After Repair?

In most cases, the check engine light will turn off automatically once you’ve fixed the underlying issue. However, if it remains illuminated even after you’ve completed repairs then there may be an additional problem that needs to be addressed before the light turns off. In this instance, take your car in for additional repairs or have a professional mechanic look at it.

What triggers traction control malfunctions?

The main culprits behind traction control or ABS issues are dirt or other buildups that can accumulate on the sensors. Such buildups may hamper the magnetic performance of the anti-lock braking or traction control sensors.

Does the traction control system have an impact on steering?

The answer is yes. Traction control systems work in tandem with the steering to ensure the car stays on course. By detecting and responding to sudden changes in traction, the system can make subtle adjustments to the steering that would otherwise be difficult for the driver to make on their own.

Why is my Trac off light and check engine light is on?

If you see both the Trac Off and Check Engine lights illuminated on your dashboard, it could mean that there is a problem with your vehicle’s traction control or engine control system.

The Trac Off light typically indicates that your vehicle’s traction control system is disabled, while the Check Engine light indicates that there is an issue with one or more of your car’s sensors, components, or systems.

Does traction control reduce engine power?

Yes, traction control can reduce engine power when necessary. The system works by monitoring your car’s wheel speed and adjusting the throttle accordingly to ensure that power is evenly distributed across all four wheels. This helps prevent slipping or skidding, while also providing extra grip on slippery roads.

How much does it cost to fix the traction control?

According to estimates, replacing the traction control switch may set you back about $111 to $125, with parts and labor included. Meanwhile, replacing a faulty wheel speed sensor could cost around $208 to $250.

What should I do if I can’t fix the “Trac Off” light?

If you cannot identify or fix the issue by yourself, seek professional help from a qualified mechanic. They will be able to diagnose and repair any faults with your Toyota’s traction control system. It may be worthwhile taking your car to a dealership as they may provide quicker and more reliable service than an independent mechanic.


The TRAC Off light in your Toyota car can be a stressful sight. However, understanding the causes of this light and how to address them is essential if you want to keep your vehicle running smoothly. So if the TRAC Off light appears on your dashboard, be sure to use this guide as a reference for troubleshooting it. Doing so will help ensure that your car remains safe and reliable for years to come. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post on trac off and check engine light Toyota!

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

1 thought on “Trac Off and Check Engine Light Toyota: All You Need to Know”

  1. “When the ‘Trac Off’ light is illuminated in a Toyota, it indicates that the traction control has been disabled. In some instances, restoring functionality may be as simple as pressing the traction control button. However, if the ‘Trac Off’ light is accompanied by a check engine light, it suggests a potential malfunction in this important safety system. Prompt attention and diagnosis are necessary to address the issue effectively.”


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