Maintenance

5th Gen 4Runner Dash Light & Indicator Lights – Complete Guide

Updated 11/6/20 / Read Time: 16 mins

4Runner Dash Lights 5th Gen (Complete Guide to Dash Lights Blinking and More)

The Ultimate Guide to the 4Runner Dash & Indicator Lights: An Overview Of Every Indicator and Dash Light + What They Mean

Everyone has dash lights, but what does it mean when they come on?

In this post, we will explain what every light means and what problems or features they indicate. Some of the lights indicate that a system has been turned on and others mean the vehicle needs to be serviced.

Yellow lights mean that a problem needs to be fixed but the problem doesn’t have to be addressed immediately. Red lights should be taken care of immediately. Green typically means that a feature or function has been activated.

Each light has some importance so it is vital to know what they mean.

If you are troubleshooting Check Engine indicator lights or other flashing lights on your 4Runner, you should have an OBII scanner or at minimum a cheap code scanner from Auto Zone. Some local automotive shops will even let you rent one. So pick on up or go rent one today.

OBD2 & Code Reader Options: 

  • The Scan Gauge II (OBD2 + 37 digital gauges): Check Price
  • OBDLink MX+ OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner for iPhone, Android & More: Check Price
  • CARISTA OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter and App: Check Price
  • FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Professional Diagnostic Code Reader: Check Price

Why Buy a Code Reader? 

Most of these OBD2 scanners are a hardware device that you plug into your 4Runner’s OB2 port and then you can read the errors on your iPhone, Android device or computer. These are must-have if you are looking to troubleshoot your 4Runner.

We have seen many of these OBD2 Bluetooth adapters on the site. From customizing your 4Runner with the Carista (Diagnose, Customize and Service Your Toyota) to monitoring temperatures with the Scan Gauge II, many 4Runner run an OBD2 of some type full time in their rig. If you haven’t seen the value yet, take your time and read through some of these reviews. They will help you understand areas of your 4Runner you might not know about or even never knew existed before.

4WD Indicator Light

 4WD indicator light 5th Gen 4Runner

The 4WD indicator comes on when the High-Speed Position Four Wheel Drive System (H4), Neutral position (N), or Low-Speed Position Four Wheel Drive mode is selected. This light only applies to 4Runners with 4WD equipped.

Four Wheel Drive is a transmission system that gives power to all four wheels of a vehicle. It is designed to be used in off-road scenarios and tough weather conditions like snow and ice. By engaging both sets of wheels causes the traction and control to improve (more tires providing power means that more surface area is being used).

You can pull back on the transfer case knob (if equipped) while driving under 20mph.

4WD Indicator Warning Light

 4WD indicator light Flashing 5th Gen 4Runner

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

This light means there is a problem or malfunction in the 4WD system. This only applies to 4Runners with 4WD equipped.

A-TRAC Indicator

This indicator means the Active Traction Control System, otherwise known as (A-TRAC) has been activated. When in use, the system automatically helps to prevent the spinning of the wheels if and when the vehicle is started on or accelerated on slippery road surfaces.

To Use A-TRAC:

  • Part-Time 4WD Models: Stop the vehicle, put the car in neutral by shifting the lever to N and shift the FWD control lever into the L4 position.
  • Full-Time 4WD Models: Stop the vehicle, put the car in neutral by shifting the lever to N and push and rotate the 4WD control switch to L4L. Then to activate the system, push the A-TRAC switch. Then the A-TRAC Indicator Light will come on. If you want to stop the A-TRAC system simple push the switch.

The light and A-TRAC system only applies to vehicles with the A-TRAC System Equipped.

ABS Warning Light (US & Canada Have Different Lights)

ABS Warning Light 5th Gen 4Runner

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

This warning light means that there is a problem in ABS or the Brake Assist System.

ABS is the abbreviation for Anti-Lock Braking System, it is a computer system that works alongside the vehicle’s braking system. Wheel sensors tell the computer when the wheels stop rotating altogether during braking, the complete stop of rotation means that the brakes are overpowering the wheels. The computer then notifies the hydraulic valves to discharge brake fluid to allow the wheels to rotate. ABS keeps the wheels from locking so that the vehicle always has traction on the road.

Toyota’s Brake Assist system determines whether the driver is attempting to brake rapidly or not, in other words, is the driver making an emergency maneuver or not. The system measures the force and speed with which the brake pedal is pushed. If it is determined that the driver is attempting to brake rapidly the system applies additional braking to maximize the performance of the braking system.

Auto LSD Indicator

This means that the Automatic Limited-Slip Differential, otherwise known as the Auto LSD system has been activated. By using the traction control system to control the performance of the engine and brakes the Auto LSD system can aid traction when a wheel begins to spin in a ditch or on a rough surface. Basically, the system is used to help get the vehicle out of situations where one of the wheels is spinning without any traction.

To turn on the system press the VSC OFF switch. The Auto LSD and VSC OFF indicators will then come on. To turn the system off just press the switch again.

The Auto LSD Indicator only applies to vehicles with Automatic Limited-Slip Differential Equipped.

Automatic Running Boards Indicator Warning Light (Flashes)

Running Board Light Flashing

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

This warning light means a malfunction in the 4Runner Running Boards has taken place.

The auto-running boards extend when the door is opened and retract when it is closed. Automatic running boards are not equipped on all Toyotas, therefor this only applies to vehicles with auto-running boards equipped.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Temperature Warning Light (Flashes)

Automatic Transmission Fluid Temperature Warning Light (Flashes)

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

Transmission fluid provides the best durability and frictional performance for smooth shifting. By ensuring proper lubrication it allows for a longer transmission life. If something is wrong with the fluid shifting could become faulty or cause an accident.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Temperature Warning (Comes on)

This light indicates that the temperature of the fluid is too high. Stop the vehicle in a safe location and put the car in park, wait until the light goes off to begin driving again. If the light does not go off Toyota asks that you contact them immediately.

Brake System Warning Lights “Warning Buzzer” (US & Canada Have Different Lights)

Brake System Warning Lights "Warning Buzzer" (US & Canada Have Different Lights)

There is a problem in the braking system that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light and its corresponding buzzer come on.

If something is wrong with the braking system the vehicle might not be able to properly brake during an emergency situation or when attempting to avoid a collision.

The problems that could be occurring when the lights and buzzers come on could be low brake fluid or a malfunction in the braking system. Brake fluid hydraulically transmits the braking force applied to the brake pedal to the brake calipers/pads. If the brake fluid has problems the transmission of force from pedal to brakes could be un-proportional. Braking system simply means anything involved with the brakes. So, parking brake, brake fluid, brakes themselves, all of these could be what is causing the Brake system warning lights to come on.

Center Differential Lock Indicator

Center Differential Lock Indicator

This means that the center differential has been locked.

This only applies to vehicles with 4WD equipped. When the center differential lock is engaged, all four wheels are locked together so that all four wheels spin with the same speed, power, and torque no matter what.

With the rotational force and speed being the same for all four tires, slippage is prevented because one wheel or set of wheels can’t have a higher output and speed than another.

Center Differential Lock Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Rapidly)

Center Differential Lock Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Rapidly)

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light flashes rapidly.

This means that there is a problem with the 4WD system. Your 4Runner is in 4WD when both the front and rear sets of wheels are in use at the same time. This is helpful in rugged terrain or extreme weather conditions. If there is a malfunction in the system, it will not function properly and could cause an accident if engaged.

Charging System Warning Light

Charging system warning light

Stop the vehicle immediately and contact a local Toyota dealer. If the system is not properly checked, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

The charging system is what converts the mechanical energy from the engine into electrical energy for the vehicle. If there is a surplus of electrical energy from the charging system the excess is sent to the battery so that the battery maintains a high level of charge.

If there is a problem with this system the electrical components of the vehicle like lights, audio, and other computer systems could have problems and not work properly causing dangerous conditions while driving.

Crawl Control (CRAWL) Indicator

Crawl Control (CRAWL) Indicator

This indicates that Crawl Control is engaged. Crawl Control is for extremely rough surfaces or off-roading. It allows the vehicle to maintain a fixed low speed without the driver having to press the accelerator or brake pedals. It can also minimize slippage and loss of traction on wet and icy road surfaces. CRAWL is effective because by moving at the low speeds but always moving at the low speed, the vehicle constantly has traction because the wheels are always moving.

Two indicators come on when Crawl Control is in operation, the Crawl Control indicator comes on, and the slip indicator flashes.

This only applies to vehicles that have crawl control equipped.

Cruise Control Indicator Light (Flashes)

Cruise Control Indicator Light (Flashes)

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

This light means that there is a malfunction or problem with the cruise control system. Toyota has two types of cruise control systems. One system is dynamic radar cruise control. It utilizes a radar behind the Toyota grille badge along with an additional camera on the windshield. The radar cruise control maintains a preset distance from the cars in front of the vehicle. The second system is regular cruise control which maintains a constant speed for the vehicles. It doesn’t matter which system you have though, because if there is a malfunction with the system and it is engaged it could cause a serious accident.

Downhill Assist Control (DAC) System Indicator

Downhill Assist Control (DAC) System Indicator

The DAC indicator means that Downhill Assist Control has been turned on.

Downhill Assist Control allows a vehicle to descend steep hills and surfaces while maintaining a constant speed of around 3 mph or 5 km/h. This keeps the driver from having to use the brake or accelerator pedals during the descent. To engage the system press the DAC switch, to turn the system off just press the button again. The indicator will come on when the system is on and then turn off when the system is turned off.

KDSS Warning Light

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) is used to help the performance driving on and off the road. It uses hydraulics to automatically adjust stabilizer bars and lean resistance to adapt to whatever situation the vehicle is in. If the vehicle is on the highway, the Kinetic Suspension System will limit body lean. At slower speeds on trails, the system will loosen and have more give to create more wheel articulation (the wheels have more movement capability). Around typical driving speeds, about 50 mph, the system lets the anti-sway bars to work at the normal level to reduce body lean.

If there is a problem with this system there could be too much swaying and vertical movement or too little.

Low Engine Oil Pressure Warning Light

Low Engine Oil Pressure Warning Light

Stop the vehicle immediately.

This warning indicates the possibility of damage to the vehicle that may lead to an accident. Immediately stop the vehicle in a safe place and contact your Toyota dealer.

This means that the pressure of the engine oil is too low. Engine oil transfers heat away from lubricated engine parts like pistons. It also lubricates the parts in the engine to ensure that everything works smoothly.

When the oil pressure is low, the engine is not getting supplied enough oil to stay lubricated. Grinding of parts can then cause different engine components to brake. Engine parts can also overheat if there is a lack of engine oil.

Low-Speed 4WD Indicator

Low-Speed 4WD Indicator

If 4WD Low Speed is equipped, this light indicates that it has been activated. The low four-wheel-drive system is for sand, snow, mud, rock, and deep water. The system keeps the vehicles at a slow speed and the vehicle doesn’t get any more grip to the surface but a lot more torque is being applied to that traction. The wheels will turn more slowly in 4L than 4H to allow for the most traction and power.

To activate Low-Speed 4WD the vehicle needs to be at a complete stop. Then put the vehicle in neutral and turn the 4WD knob to the low-speed setting. Once the knob has been turned to the correct setting, car can be shifted back into drive.

If the driver wants to turn Low-Speed 4WD off, the vehicle needs to be at a complete stop. Then shift the vehicle to neutral and turn the 4WD knob to the desired setting. The vehicle can then be shifted back into drive and begin moving again.

Low-Speed 4WD Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Rapidly)

Low-Speed 4WD Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Rapidly)

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

This indicates that there is a problem with a part of the 4WD system. It could be the transfer case, sensors, locking hubs, etc. It doesn’t mean that the system needs lots of expensive repairs (it could though). There could simply be a sensor malfunction.

However, do not delay getting the issue checked because if the system is engaged an accident could occur.

Maintenance Required Reminder Light

The light will come on for three seconds and then flash for another fifteen. This indicates that the vehicle has been driven for approximately 4500 miles since the last maintenance data reset.

The purpose of the light is to give drivers a heads up that their vehicle most likely needs scheduled maintenance. Scheduled maintenance should be done at a certified auto shop or a local Toyota Dealership. It can include oil changes, vehicle inspection, new tires, etc. After the maintenance is performed the automotive specialists will reset the maintenance required light so that it doesn’t come on until the next scheduled maintenance.

If the light comes on and stays on that means the distance driven since the last maintenance is over 5000 miles. It will stay on until the maintenance data has been reset.

Malfunction Indicator Lamp AKA Check Engine Light (US & Canada Have Different Lights)

Malfunction Indicator Lamp AKA Check Engine Light

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

There is a malfunction in one of the following systems:

The first system is the Evaporative Emission Control System otherwise known as EVAP, which prevents fuel vapors from being released into the atmosphere. Instead, the vapors are being stored and then disposed of. If there is a problem with this system these vapors could be escaping into the atmosphere.

The second is the Electronic Engine Control System. This system uses many different engine sensors to determine the proper air/fuel ratio the engine needs. It then turns on the injectors to create that proper ratio.

Thirdly, is the Electronic Throttle Control System (ETC). The ETC is an electronic computer system that connects the accelerator to the throttle “electronically.” This provides more stability, quicker response, and better performance in terms of acceleration.

Lastly, there could be an issue in the Electronic Automatic Transmission Control system. This is an electronically controlled transmission, it still uses the same hydraulics to activate clutches and bands, but each of those hydraulic circuits is controlled by an electric solenoid (an electromagnet that converts electrical energy into mechanical force).

Other reasons that the check engine light might come on are gas cap is loose or missing, spark plugs need replacement, and oxygen sensors need replacement.

Multi-Terrain Select Indicator

Multi-Terrain Select Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Continuously)

The indicator coming on means that the system is engaged.

The Multi-Terrain Select system is comprised of four different modes. Each mode should be selected based on the terrain conditions. Engine power and the Active Traction control system are controlled differently for each mode to improve off-road performance in different situations.

Also, messaging such as transfer mode selection guidance is displayed on the accessory meter to help the driver operate the vehicle while Multi-Terrain Select is engaged.

Multi-Terrain Select Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Continuously)

Multi-Terrain Select Indicator

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

If there is a problem with this system the Active Traction Control could be faulty, if traction is faulty there could be an accident. If the system is not properly creating the right amount of engine power the vehicle will not drive properly while engaged in this mode.

Power Steering Warning Light

Power steering warning light

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

Power steering is where a pump circulates power steering fluid under pressure when the wheel is turned. This build-up of pressure is what causes the hydraulic pistons that turn the wheels to move. The use of pressure is what greatly reduces the amount of force the driver has to use to move the steering wheel. The faster turning allows for smoother driving and quicker response from the vehicle.

As time goes on, dirt and debris can interfere with the system. That is why the system should be flushed out when scheduled. Also, components of the system can wear down so if the warning light comes on it is important to make sure nothing needs to be replaced.

If the steering system of the car is not fully functioning the vehicle is not safe to drive and could cause accidents.

Rear Differential Lock Indicator

Rear Differential Lock Indicator

This means that the system has been engaged.

The rear differential lock system is very useful if one of the rear wheels is spinning in a ditch or on slippery or rugged terrain. To activate the system press the rear differential switch to activate the locking system. The indicator will then flash, the driver should wait a few seconds to ensure the system has completed its operation. As soon as the rear differential is locked the indicator will come on and stay on. To unlock or disengage the system, press the rear differential switch again.

By making both wheels spin at the same rate with the same amount of torque, the rear differential lock will prevent spinning.

Rear Differential Lock Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Rapidly)

Rear Differential Lock Indicator Warning Light (Flashes Rapidly)

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

A malfunction in this system could prevent the rear wheels from properly locking. So, if the vehicle gets stuck in a ditch and the driver tries to use the system, it may not work and the vehicle might be stranded.

This only applies to vehicles that have the Rear Diff. Lock equipped.

Roll-Sensing of Curtain Shield Airbags off Indicator

This indicates that the Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags, otherwise known as RSCA, have been turned off. These airbags should only be turned off where inflation is not desired or ideal like extreme off-road driving. To turn these airbags ON/OFF, press and hold the button for a few seconds.

When the RSCA OFF indicator is on and there is a vehicle rollover the curtain shield airbags and seatbelt pretensions will not activate. However, the curtain shield airbags will activate in a severe side impact.

Slip Indicator Light

Slip Indicator Light 5th Gen 4Runner

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

There is a problem or fault in one of the following:

  • VSC system
  • TRAC system
  • Active Traction Control system
  • Auto LSD system
  • Downhill Assist Control system
  • Hill Start Assist Control system or
  • Crawl Control system

SRS Warning Light

SRS Warning Light 5th Gen 4Runner

If the system is not properly checked by a local Toyota dealer, the system could act abnormally and potentially cause an accident. Don’t delay in getting the vehicle inspected and serviced if this light comes on.

There is a problem in the SRS airbag system, front passenger occupant classification system, or seatbelt pretension system.

The SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) Airbag is designed to provide protection that goes above what the seatbelt already does in specific crashes. If this system is faulty the vehicle is not at the level of safety that it should be if a crash were to occur.

The second possible abnormality is in the Occupant Classification System (OCS), it classifies the weight of the front seat passenger and deters whether or not to leave the front passenger airbag on or turn it off. If there is a problem with this system the passenger could be at serious risk if a crash or emergency situation was to occur.

Lastly, the seatbelt pretension system is designed to tighten the seatbelt and retract some of the seatbelt the instant a crash occurs. This reduces how far passengers are thrown forward in the event of a collision. If this system is faulty, passengers will not be fully protected in an emergency situation.

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Tire Pressure Warning Light

If the light blinks there is a problem with the tire pressure warning system itself. It could be a sensor that isn’t working properly, but the system should be checked by a local Toyota dealer.

When the light comes on, at least one tire has low tire inflation pressure.

To resolve this, take a tire pressure gauge and examine the pressure of each of the tires on the vehicle. Then adjust the tires that have low pressure to the specified level. The light will turn off a few minutes after the pressure has been raised. If the light does not go off after the pressure is fixed take the vehicle to a local Toyota dealer for an inspection of the tire pressure system.

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