Drive or not to drive this weekend!? What do you think the sensor lights are REALLY telling?

Please help.

I have a 2008 Rav4. Last night some lights came on my car and of course, I have plans to drive 4 hours tomorrow. I called the auto shop and they are tyring to squeeze in today, but they don’t know if they can. Can someone please tell me if this sounds like a big issue or something I can bring it to the shop on Monday and still drive it this weekend.

I stopped at a stop sign last night and I hit some loose gravel and my wheels spun a little. Then a couple blocks after that, some lights came on. (Traction Control,Brake, ABS, and VSC). I stopped the car and turned it off for a bit. I started it up and no lights, but then they came back on again. I was hoping this morning they wouldn’t come on again, but they did.

Anyone know what it could be, how much it might cost and if I can still drive the car tomorrow??? I hate to cancel Father’s Day plans. :frowning:

Thanks for all your help!!!

Dani from Minnesota

With Toyota 4wd/awd systems if there’s an Engine warning light…then the Traction Control, ABS and VSC are also disabled.

Is there also a Check Engine Light? If so…get that read to determine what the cause is. Could be something as a loose gas cap.

But I would NOT drive 4 hours without knowing what the cause is.

I would like to help, but I’m not psychic, and–from afar–you would need somebody with psychic abilities to tell you which of the hundreds of possible problems the lit-up CEL might indicate.

The problem could be as simple as a loose gas cap or a disconnected vacuum hose, or as serious as engine misfire–with a myriad of possibilities between those extremes. (Hint: Hopefully the CEL is lit up steadily. If it is flashing/blinking, DO NOT drive the car, and instead have it towed to the mechanic’s shop)

In the interim you can go to Auto Zone, or Advance Auto, or O’Reilly Auto Parts in order to have them “read” the trouble codes that have been stored by the car’s OBD system.

However, the guys at those places are not mechanics, and all they can do is to provide you with the numerical code(s) which will be in a format similar to P0123. Then, you can come back to this thread and post the code(s) for more specific help.

The first thing I’d check would be the brake fluid level. If it’s low, that can trip the brake light, which then trips all the other lights since they’re somewhat integrated with each other.

You can get low brake fluid if your brake pads are worn down a lot – the thin pad causes the caliper to squeeze in more than usual while you’re driving, which opens up more room in the hydraulic system and lowers the overall level of fluid without actually being a leak. If you’ve never had brake pads done on your 2008, it’s quite possible that you are now due, at least for the fronts.

There are a number of other sensors that can cause this because all of those systems rely on them. Whether it’s dangerous or not depends on if you need to panic stop. When those lights are on, the systems are disabled, which means you don’t have antilock brakes anymore. If you know how to brake properly on a non-ABS sytem so that your wheels don’t lock up, then you’d probably be OK, but most people don’t know that anymore because ABS has been around so long.

The short version is, get it looked at before you take your trip.

Some Gravel Could Have Damaged A Wire Or Connection Of, Or Obstructed A Wheel Speed Sensor. Suggestions For Having The Car Scanned For Diagnostic Trouble Codes Are Good.

Go to a very competent technician and be sure that he/she is aware of the anecdote that you posted here.


The CEL is NOT on. I will beg the car shop to get me in. Thank you all!

@MN Dani
Please Let Us Know What Is Found.

The warning lights you alluded to may be even more serious than if a CEL were on.
A car that suddenly won’t run can ruin your day.
A car that suddenly won’t stop can ruin the rest of your life.

I will keep you posted.

Ok…I sweet talked the car guys to get my in. The hooked it up and looked at it and it’s the “Stop Light Switch Break Pedal”. They can fix it next week for $120.00. I have the OK to drive this weekend. Thanks everyone!

Does this mean your brake lights are not working? If so, there’s the potential of the car being rammed from behind or getting stopped by the police.

This should be an easy fix so maybe some calling around to see if someone could work it in today could be an option.

What @ok4450 said. Are your brake lights working? If not you can be rear ended when other people don’t know that you have your brakes on. Back up to an object and see if it lights up when you put the brakes on. It’s an easy job to replaqce the switch or mabe it just needs adjusting. Do you have a friend that has any knowledge about cars that could adjust it or replace it for you?

I don’t have a friend that can do it for me. I will check to make sure they are working, and if not, go back to the shop and talk to the guys. Thank you!

If A Shop Told Me I Was Good To Go, But Didn’t Tell Me That I Have No Brake Lights, I Wouldn’t Go Back, Not Because I Thought They Were Incompetent, But Because I’m Afraid Of What I’d Say Or Do When I Got There.

I Hope The Brake Lights Work.

Always check all lights before making a trip and several times during the year.

I think it might be an over-reaction to think the brake lights don’t work but worth checking anyway. I often check mine when the garage door is closing and I can see the reflection of all three lights.

Your best bet read the manual. Probably not a deal killer.