AUTO LSD Toyota – Everything You Need To Know

Dashboard lights can be confusing, especially when you do not know what they mean. Some of these lights are warning signs of an impending problem with the engine. While others simply alert you on a feature you could be missing out on.

The AUTO LSD is in the latter category and if you do take your Toyota truck off-road, then this is one feature you wouldn’t want to miss out on. 

What does AUTO LSD mean on Toyota?

Auto LSD is a feature found in most Toyota trucks like the Tacoma and RAV4. As the name suggests, this is an automatic feature that kicks in when a specific set of conditions are met. The LSD stands for Limited Slip Differential and it is part of Toyota’s traction control system. The engineering behind auto LSD is all thanks to the differential which is a gear train with three shafts that connects the driving wheels.

auto lsd warning light

A differential allows both wheels to turn independently which is great for when the car is turning around a corner or driving on a slippery surface. When turning a corner, the outside wheel (the first wheel making the turn) should rotate faster than the inside wheel, otherwise, the car will jerk. The differential makes this possible by allowing each wheel to rotate at different speeds. This is the most basic function of the differential.

 Any additional function will depend on the type of differential. The most common ones are the open differential and the limited-slip differential. The difference between the two is that the limited-slip differential permits torque to be transferred to the wheel that has more traction when the car is driving on a slippery surface while the open differential will transfer torque to the wheel with the least resistance (being the one on the slippery surface like ice or snow).

That is why cars with limited slip differential like the Toyota Tacoma or RAV4 have better traction on slippery surfaces compared to cars with the basic open differential. All of these are part of a bigger system within the car known as the traction control system. 

Traction control and Auto LSD

Most modern vehicles have a traction control system that gives them more stability when driving on slippery or uneven terrains. The traction control system works with the help of sensors attached to the wheel of the car. When any of the wheels lose traction, the sensor picks this up and sends a signal to the traction control system.

The TCS will then cut engine power or apply brakes to the slipping wheel. Both of these actions will reduce torque on the wheel. This will prevent the car from completely losing traction and slipping off the road. It also gives the driver more control over the car that would otherwise be difficult, especially in snow, ice, mud, or sand. 

The auto lsd takes traction control to a whole new level. Instead of cutting engine power (which affects the other wheels by slowing down the car) or applying brakes to the slipping wheel, auto lsd simply redirects the engine power from the slipping wheel to the wheel that has more traction. By doing this, it gives the car a forward momentum.

Read more: What Is Power (PWR) Mode In Toyota Highlander? Explained

Benefits of Auto LSD

There are many benefits to using the Auto LSD feature in Toyota. These include:

Better handling on slippery surfaces – by far the best thing that comes with you having an auto lsd is the ability to navigate through slippery surfaces. This is a common experience for people living in regions prone to heavy snow or rainfall. 

Lower chances of car skidding – skidding can be dangerous and it mostly happens on  slippery surfaces. By quickly transferring torque to the wheels with more traction, auto lsd can instantly reduce the chances of skidding and help the driver maintain control of the car.

Longer brake life – with auto lsd, you don’t have to apply your brakes for too long when trying to stop a wheel from spinning out of control. This is because the feature intelligently diverts torque from the wheel that has lost traction (hence the spinning) to the one that has more traction. This action slows down the spinning wheel considerably and makes it easier to stop when the brakes are applied. Since the brakes are not applied so often, they get to last for a longer time. 

Great for off-roading – from the discussion so far, it is easy to glean that the auto lsd feature is great for those who like to go for a little off-roading adventure. The feature makes navigating difficult terrains easy, whether it’s sand, mud, snow, or ice. 

Better power management – one of the features of LSD that sets it apart from other differentials is the fact that rather than lock the wheel or reduce the engine speed, it transfers the torque to the wheel with more traction. So the engine doesn’t lose speed. 

Improves fuel efficiency– driving on slippery surfaces can be tasking on the engine and without a good traction control feature like auto lsd, the engine is bound to use more fuel. In essence, driving with auto lsd can help you save on gas by reducing fuel consumption.

Read more: How To Deal With ICS Malfunction On Toyota

What does it mean when the Auto LSD light is on?

The Auto LSD light is always on. This is because the car is constantly monitoring road conditions using the sensors on the wheel. If the car senses any slippage or skidding on any of the wheels, it will automatically activate the LSD function to give the driver more control. 

When the feature is activated, the auto lsd light will flash on and off repeatedly. This is to say that the feature has been activated. So if you notice that the auto-led light is turned on but not flashing, there is no reason to be alarmed. It is simply telling you that the feature is available and would be automatically activated if the need arises. 

However, you can turn the light off but be warned, doing so means you’ll have to activate the feature manually when the car loses traction.

How to turn Auto LSD on and off

Auto LSD is supposed to be automatically engaged since this is a more effective way of ensuring that the car responds on time if any wheel loses traction. But it also has its cons, one of which is that it makes turning around sharp corners difficult. 

Because of this, it is advisable to turn off the auto lsd function before making sharp turns. If you’d prefer not to turn off auto lsd, then take slow and wide turns around sharp corners. Otherwise, the car might skip or spin.  

Now, turning off auto lsd depends on the model of your car. But for most Toyota models you can simply turn auto lsd on or off by pressing the traction control button. This button has the silhouette of a car with two lines and the text “OFF” written below it.

auto lsd button

If the auto lsd light is on (meaning that the feature is active), then you can turn it off by pressing (or pressing and holding) the traction control button until the light goes off. And to turn it back on, you simply repeat the same process until the light comes on again.

Read more: What Does the Check Hybrid System Warning Indicate on Your Toyota?

When should I use Auto LSD?

Auto LSD is automatically activated when specific conditions are met. First, the car should be moving at low speed and then there should be severe road conditions that could possibly cause the wheels to slip or spin out of control. But if you prefer to turn off auto LSD and turn it back on when you need to, then you have to make sure the conditions are met. 

First, you should not turn it on when driving on normal (dry) roads, only when driving off-road or in severe conditions like snow or mud. Also, you should avoid turning it one when turning a corner or You should also avoid using auto lsd when driving around a bend as the system could automatically detect the difference in wheel speeds and interpret this as a slip especially if it’s a sharp bend. Finally, avoid using auto usd if you have noticed that your brakes overheat when auto lsd is used.

Why does Auto LSD automatically turn off?

Auto LSD (Limited Slip Differential) automatically turns off to avoid overheating the differential and causing damage. When the system detects that it is being overworked or that it has exceeded its operating temperature, it will shut itself off as a safety measure.

This could be due to excessive use, prolonged usage on rough terrain, or towing heavy loads for extended periods of time. Once the system cools down and returns to normal operating conditions, Auto LSD can be reactivated.

If the light remains off, then this could indicate an underlying problem with the system. It is best to grab a scan tool and start looking for error codes.

Read more: What Does BSM Mean On A Toyota RAV4?


Is there a difference between manual LSD and Auto-LSD?

Yes, manual limited slip differentials require some input from a driver while operating whereas automatic limited slip differential technology like Auto-LSD provides assistance without requiring intervention from the driver.

Which vehicles come with Auto LSD as standard equipment?

Auto-Limited Slip Differential technology is typically included in off-road oriented vehicles such as trucks, SUVs, and some four-wheel-drive models of cars.

Does using Auto-LSD have any impact gas mileage efficiency?

Using this technology may marginally reduce fuel efficiency since it increases drag slightly in order to improve traction but not enough to cause significant decrease in performance overall.

Can I install an aftermarket kit for Autolock/limited-slip differential if my vehicle doesn’t come equipped with one originally?

It depends on whether your car has an OEM auto-limited slip differential system installed or not; however retrofitting an Auto-Lock Differential or Limited Slip Differential can be cost prohibitive due to its complexity and the many components involved.

What maintenance does an Autolock/limited-slip differential require?

There isn’t much regular maintenance required for automatic limited slip differentials aside from routine inspections during scheduled service intervals which may include checking fluid levels as well as replacing worn out parts when necessary.

Can Auto LSD be used as a replacement for full-time 4WD?

No, auto-limited slip differential technology is designed to assist with traction but cannot replace the capability provided by full-time four-wheel-drive systems which are designed to engage all four wheels at once sending equal power to each of them. This makes them ideal for even more challenging terrains where extra grip is needed.

Closing Thoughts

Auto LSD on Toyota is a nifty feature to have, especially when you frequently take your car off-road or live in a region with more than an average amount of snow or rainfall. The feature is available in most Toyota SUVs and trucks and can be activated using the traction control button.

However, it is good to be cautious when using this feature since there are some disadvantages like when cornering. If you were wondering what the auto lsd on Toyota is all about, then hopefully, this article was helpful.