How to recalibrate VSC system on 2001 Toyota 4Runner

VSC TRACOver the past few weeks my 4Runner will occasionally behave weirdly when pressing on its gas pedal. When it happens, it is usually when at a standstill and then pressing the gas pedal to move forward doesn’t do anything, not even rev the engine up. The vehicle just idles forward, which is very dangerous if you are in an intersection and can’t move anywhere! (Note that the 4Runner starts and idles just fine.) This can be due to two possible problems. Either the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system needs to be recalibrated (described in this post), or the throttle body is dirty and is sticking shut (I describe how to clean it in a different post).

If your vehicle has these same symptoms, then you can perform fixes for both of the issues I mentioned above. The VSC recalibration is free and I will describe it in this post. I found a solution to this problem at http://www.yotatech.com/f2/01-02-4runner-how-zero-point-calibrate-your-vsc-system-203498/, but their solution is not entirely correct so I’m writing this post to explain what I did. The solution to the throttle body cleaning can be found at http://www.top4runners.com/ja/cleantb.html.

Materials Needed

A single piece of wireYou only need one thing for this fix: a single piece of wire about 4 to 6 inches long, with the insulation stripped at both ends. (See picture at right).

The Problem

The cause of the problem is that the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), which is responsible for the traction control, needs to be calibrated. It can go out of calibration for various reasons – for example, from any vehicle repair, maintenance, modifications or aging that cause the vehicle to not sit level anymore. The result is that the 4Runner thinks that you are skidding or sliding when you really aren’t (because the non-level tilt of the vehicle doesn’t match what the wheels’ rotations should be for that tilt, or something like that I think).

Performing the Fix

Inflating the tires
Make sure the tires are inflated to proper levels. Click image to enlarge.
This fix involves recalibrating the VSC system, so it is important to get your vehicle as level as you can make it. To do this, first make sure that your tires are all inflated to their proper level (I highly recommend the Viair 70P air compressor). Second, park the vehicle on a level surface. Third, open the driver-side window, get out of the vehicle, and close the door – you can’t be sitting in the vehicle or it won’t be level.

Diagnostic port
The location of the diagnostic port and the terminals. We use terminals E1 and TS. Click image to enlarge.
Next make sure that the vehicle is off. Open the hood. Locate the Diagnostic port on the driver’s side of the engine and open it (circled in green in picture at right). You will see a bunch of metal terminals. If you look in the lid you will see that it has labeled them for you. We will be using the E1 and TS terminals, but don’t do anything with them yet.

The VSC TRAC light
Waiting for the VSC TRAC light to turn off. Click image to enlarge.
Reach in the driver’s window and turn the key to the "ON" position. (Do not actually start the vehicle, just turn it to "ON" so that the battery is running the vehicle’s electronics.) Look at the dash board and wait for the "VSC TRAC" light to go out.

Shorting E1 and TS terminals
Repeatedly shorting E1 and TS terminals together. Click image to enlarge.
Use the aforementioned piece of wire to repeatedly short together the E1 and TS terminals at least 4 times within 8 seconds. Remove the wire and look in the driver’s window again and you will see the "VSC TRAC" dash light on again. After 5 or 6 seconds it will turn off, and then if you wait a couple more seconds it will start blinking rapidly.

Now turn off the ignition.

Turn the key back to the "ON" position (but don’t start the car) and wait for the "VSC TRAC" light to go off.

HERE IS THE KEY PART missing from the other tutorial linked above. The last thing to do is:

  1. Turn off the ignition.
  2. Put the wire back in the E1 and TS terminals, but this time do not repeatedly short it, just put it in and leave it in.
  3. Turn the key back to "ON" and wait for the "VSC TRAC" light to start blinking very quickly.
  4. Turn off the ignition.
  5. Remove the wire.
  6. Start the car (you can get in it now).

The other tutorial that I previously linked to said that these steps I just mentioned were optional, but they are not – they must be performed. If you skip this step then when you start driving the vehicle then the "VSC OFF" light will turn on while you press on the gas and then the light won’t turn off. For some reason performing these steps prevents that.

You can now close the Diagnostic port lid, close the hood, get in the vehicle and take it for a drive. Make sure that neither the "VSC OFF" nor the "VSC TRAC" lights turn on during your short drive (unless you actually spin out somewhere or if you have locked your rear differential).

I just performed this fix, so I need a few days of driving before I will know for sure if it has actually fixed my problem. I’ll post back here with an update if it didn’t fix my problem (if I don’t put an update, then problem fixed!)

50 thoughts on “How to recalibrate VSC system on 2001 Toyota 4Runner”

  1. I too am having similar issues on my ’02. I have noticed that when at a stop I turn my wheels left to turn and attempt to turn I get no power until I turn the wheels straight.
    It also happens to the right as well but not as often. What I have been doing to get around the issue is keep my wheels straight and drive forward before turning so it doesn’t do it. I have also experienced it on roads with slopes and sometimes my slip indicator comes on. I previously worked as a technician at a Lexus dealer and in the parts dept. at a Toyota dealer. I did some research with the repair manuals and my theory is that all my issues lead back to the skid control ECU or also known as the ABS computer. My other theory is the steering angle sensor in the steering column because when turning my wheel back straight from a left turn I can hear a faint clicking in it.

    If anyone has found a fix or has any suggestions please let me know

  2. have the same problem but no communication at all and no trouble codes in my case, checked all powers and grounds perfect. I jump E1 and Tc Cruise control light blinks, I jump E1 and Ts nothing happens. all the speed sensor are okay.

  3. I had been doing many hours of research trying to find the answer for the hesitation problems (with slip indicator light) , as well as braking problem (while stopping, the clicking of the VSC would happen and no brakes for almost 1 second). No one seemed to have the exact same problems, so I tried this calibration, and it didn’t work. Since the hesitation and braking problem happened at about the same speed, I determined it might be the speed sensor. I saw a YouTube video on speed sensors and how they can accumulate rust. I took my 2002 4Runner to my all time favorite mechanic, and told him what I had found. He agreed that it might very well be a bad speed sensor, or rust if I don’t drive it often, which I don’t. He found that the speed sensor worked fine, but there was so much rust around the sensor that it thought the wheel was moving faster/slower than the other wheel and that’s why the slip indicator light came on all the time. He removed the rust and this dangerous hesitation problem has been solved for $100!!! I am SO relieved! Just thought I would post this here since this is the place I came first to see if the problem was just a zero point calibration.

    1. I have the same year Toyota 4Runner with similar condition. Any chance you could refer me to the YouTube video on speed sensors.
      Thanks

  4. I have 2001 4 runner with mant problems they all started in a two week period the 4wd light never stops flashing and it will not got into 4wd very often the VSC lights are on [both] and it wont down shift into first gear but I can manually shift it and it seems very under powered and doesn’t seem to down shift when you step on the throttle could these problems be linked or did they all just happen at once

  5. Fantastic fix! Just did it. I had previously disabled my track and VSC via a similar procedure but the dealship cleared the faults. As a result, my 01 4Runner was cutting out on snowy streets when I applied gas in both 2 and 4wd – very dangerous. This procedure completely fixed the issue. It’s actually working better than it ever has. Many thanks!

  6. hi mike i have a 4runner 2001 and the brakes behave strangely. when I press the brake it makes a strange noise and loses pressure. I already take out the air to the system but the problem continues and the lights of the, vsc off, vsc track are set. you can help me?

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