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The Blueberry

We purchased a 2003 Certified Used Toyota 4Runner this past July. Recently, the ABS & VSC traction control light came on. The dealership tells us we need to replace the Yaw Rate Sensor (a.k.a. angle speed sensor). This, of course, is not covered by the drive train warranty.

Our questions:

Is this a situation that can only be repaired, calibrated, and sensor light reset by a Toyota service technician? We have researched and found the sensor on-line for $300.00 less than the dealership is quoting so we feel we are getting a raw deal.

Is it unsafe to drive the vehicle until we can save up the gobs of cash it will cost to have it repaired through the dealership or can our trusty “hometown” mechanic do the job?

Too often the sensor is blamed for what it has sensed. If you think about it, this doesn’t make sense. The logic seems to be: If you get rid of the messenger (the sensor), you get rid of the problem (what is sensed). Do you see a problem with this line of thinking? Knock once for “YES”, and knock twice for “Yes”. (You can knock thrice for “Yes”, if you wish).
There are a few mechanics around who “speak” 4 x 4 trucks, and “speak” it well. Ask around and you may find one of these rare critters.

   Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

it’s not unsafe, as long as the ABS system can be disabled. It probably disables itself if it sees a problem.

In that case, you are no less safe than you would be driving before the days of ABS. Drive with a tad of extra care, specially in icy or wet conditions, and you will be fine. go here and look by your zip code for a local mechanic.

ask among your: friends, co workers, church members who they recommend.

although you may find the sensor for less, any mechanic is going to charge you the ‘retail’ rate. they all do this to make their living. BUT dealerships will charge the full retail, undiscounted rate. just to make a little bit more. have you noticed when you go to any auto parts store the sales slip says, “retail cost”, and then “your cost” the retail cost is what the mechanic charges you, but he pays an even more discounted “professional discount”. kind of makes you feel special, Huh?

I hear you. I have my doubts about the dealership’s agenda here. We sincerely thank you for your response.

Actually, according to the dealer explanation, somebody must of spilled a soda on the central console and eventually shorted out the chip. As we are positive this has never happened during our ownership they came to the conclusion that it was most likely the previous owner. I don’t know what’s going on but something smells fishy. I don’t trust these guys. I won’t say their name but they sell Toyotas in Oxnard Ca.

Good to know. Thank you much.

I could go out and buy a brand new Mac for the price they’re asking for this one little computer chip.
I did the math and that one little chip is 5% of the whole car’s worth. Don’t make much sense.
Thanks for the response.

What is this ABS and VCS traction control, anyway?. This article from might help with that question: After having a fuller understanding of what it looks like, and what it does, you can make a more informed decision of what to do next.

although i (and probably all the other responders here) certainly don’t want to give you bad advice, i am fairly certain that your car is safe to drive with this abs light on. BUT, don’t take that as trusting your car with your life.

some people drive their cars with these lights on for years. BUT (and i don’t know about your state) some state inspection programs will fail your car for having the indicator light on. so the real answer depends on how long you want to wait to get the full functionality back in your cars braking system.

i know that your discovery af the cost of the part is prejudicing your thoughts about repairs, but (unfortunately) this is the way IT is. you MAY find a mechanic who will install the new part, but they would NEVER warranty it, since you didn’t buy it from them. BUT it is highly unlikely that you will find one to do that for you.

I think if you added the price of all the replaceable parts of a car, you would total up at a cost many times the original cost of the car. Then if you added in the labor…

Very informative. Thanx

what is “The Blueberry”?

As Tom and Ray would say, It looks like we’ll be buying somebody a boat. UUUURRRRRRRGGGGGGG!!!

It’s the name or 4runner. It’s very blue, hence the name. Unfortunately, it is making me very blue at the moment.