How to Disable Prius Traction Control

January 27, 2012

Many Toyota owners are complaining that the Prius traction control system is leaving them stuck in the snow. Consumer Affairs has even gone so far as to call it dangerous. The problem is that once the drive wheels of the car begin to slip, the Prius traction control system shuts down power to those wheels. This problem seems to be unique to the Toyota Prius, as most other vehicles equipped with traction control appear to handle snowy driving conditions without blunder. The Prius traction control system is managed by computer software, and currently allows for no wheel spin at all. Toyota states that this is the way that the system is designed to operate, and that if the software allowed excessive wheel spin there could be a potential danger of broken front axles.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: turn off the traction control. This is not as easy as pressing a button inside the car, but is surprisingly easier than most people think. In fact, by completing the following sequence, you can do it yourself without the help of a certified mechanic.

These steps must be completed within 60 seconds.

Step 1: Set the ignition switch to ON, not READY. To do this press the power button two times, without pressing the brake pedal.

Step 2:
While the transmission is still in park (P), fully press the gas pedal two times.

Step 3: Apply the parking brake to ensure that the vehicle will not move during this step. Put the transmission in neutral (N) and fully press the gas pedal two times.

Step 4: Put the transmission back in park (P) and fully press the gas pedal two times. The car will display “!Car!” in the upper left corner of the LCD screen.

Step 5: Press the brake pedal and turn the ignition switch to the start position, without going back to the ready position, to start the engine.

If these steps are followed correctly, the vehicle will start with the traction control system defeated.

This is probably more than most Toyota Prius owners are willing to do each time they crank their vehicle, but it does provide a useful alternative in the event of abnormal driving conditions. It would probably be a good auto standard to include a defeat switch on all vehicles equipped with traction control. Any Prius owner with a do it yourself attitude can follow these steps and accomplish something that your local certified mechanic probably doesn’t even know is possible

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