Toyota RAV4s come with various warning lights to let you know when something is wrong. When you see the Auto LSD on a Toyota RAV4, you naturally wonder what it means. After all, the Toyota RAV4 Auto LSD light isn’t something found on every vehicle.

In this guide, I explain the meaning of the Auto LSD light and tell you why it’s useful. I also illustrate how to turn it on and off, so you have more control. Finally, I talk about what to do if there’s a malfunction. 

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What Is Auto LSD on a Toyota RAV4?

Auto LSD goes on anytime that the TRAC off mode is activated.

auto lsd light

When one of the wheels is spinning, auto LSD applies the brakes to that wheel. Torque is transferred to the other wheels, thereby securing driving power. 

Spinning wheels often occur because traction is lost. You may notice this when driving over ice or mud. 

If your Toyota RAV4 has a limited-slip differential, about 99% of the time, it operates as an open differential. Only when traction is lost does the limited slip go into action.


Differences Between Auto LSD and a True Mechanical LSD

Even though Auto LSD has to do with a limited-slip differential, it’s not technically the same. What’s most surprising is that the Auto LSD system doesn’t even employ the differential or the transmission.

Instead, this automated system mimics the actions of a limited-slip by modulating the front brake calipers. When a wheel is slipping, the brake is applied to that wheel to regain traction. In essence, the Auto LSD is actually part of the anti-lock brakes (ABS).

In comparison, a true limited slip differential is a gear assembly transferring torque to the wheels from the engine. It usually contains a clutch pack and spring between the two axles that handles the torque distribution.

When the wheels rotate at different speeds, torque shifts to the tire, where more traction is needed. This torque amount is limited, hence the differential’s name. Because of the limitation, traction and balance remain equally important. 


Real-World Examples Where Auto LSD Can Be Useful

When is Toyota’s Auto LSD helpful? Below are scenarios when it could come in handy.

  • Icy roads where traction is lost
  • Getting stuck in the mud
  • Losing traction on snowy roads
  • Excessively bumpy roads where a drive wheel lifts off of the ground
  • If the car gets stuck in a ditch

The Auto LSD is beneficial when weight is taken off one wheel or vehicle side. Because the downward force on that wheel is limited, it could begin slipping. Auto LSD changes the torque to regain control.

Which RAV4s Have Auto LSD?

Some RAV4s have a mechanical limited-slip differential, while others use the Auto LSD. How can you tell which one your vehicle contains?

If you own a 2006 to 2018 RAV4 with two-wheel-drive (2WD), it contains Auto LSD.

You can also look in the owner’s manual for more information. It explains what type of system is in your Toyota RAV4.

How to Toggle Auto LSD On/Off

By default, the RAV4 Auto LSD is turned off. To be able to turn it on, vehicle stability control and traction control must be turned off. The directions are found in the owner’s manual.

  1. Press the VSC OFF switch. The word OFF is printed on the button and it contains an image of a vehicle and two wavy lines below it.
  2. Once the button is pushed, the VSC Off notification will display on the instrument cluster.
  3. The Auto LSD light also comes on, indicating that it is activated. 

When you are finished using the Auto LSD system, simply press the VSC Off button once again. The lights disappear on the instrument cluster.

Even if you activate the system, it can sometimes shut off automatically. For example, if the brakes get too hot, Auto LSD turns off. Once the brakes cool down, the system re-engages automatically.

It also shuts off once you turn off the engine. When you restart the engine, it remains off unless you turn it back on. 


Auto LSD Light Flashing or Stuck On?

If the Auto LSD system is engaged and the wheels lose traction, the light will blink. This is a normal operation for the system.

However, if you haven’t activated the system, but the light is flashing, and you can’t turn it off, there’s a problem. The Auto LSD system may be stuck on, which indicates a malfunction. You don’t want to keep driving with the system on, or damage could occur.

Try turning off the engine in a safe location and restarting it, and it should reset the system. 

If the light won’t go out, it’s time to seek help from a qualified Toyota technician. Reach out to your local Toyota dealership service center for more support.

Prevent Slipping in Your Toyota RAV4

Depending on the Toyota RAV4 model you drive, you may have Auto LSD to maintain traction. This sophisticated system can be a huge help as long as there are no problems. 

If the Auto LSD system malfunctions, it might be time to have a mechanic look at it. Because of all the advanced parts included, novice mechanics shouldn’t work on it. Once it’s repaired, you are ready to head off the beaten path again.

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