AWD System Malfunction (Here Is How To Fix)

awd system malfunction

Have you ever wondered how to fix an AWD system malfunction on a Toyota vehicle? Well, we got you covered.

All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) systems are a popular feature in many modern vehicles, providing improved traction and handling in various driving conditions.

However, like any other automotive system, AWD systems can experience malfunctions. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the common causes of AWD system malfunction, how to identify the issue, and the steps you can take to resolve it.

Here are the most common steps you need to take to fix AWD system malfunction, which includes:

1. Restart the Vehicle’s Computer

2. Inspect and Repair Wiring Issues

3. Perform Regular Maintenance

4. Consult a Professional

Armed with this knowledge, you can keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely on the road.

What is an AWD System?

An AWD system is designed to distribute power to all four wheels of a vehicle, providing better traction and handling, especially in slippery or uneven road conditions.

The system continuously monitors the vehicle’s driving conditions and adjusts the torque distribution between the front and rear axles accordingly.

This ensures that the vehicle maintains optimal traction and stability at all times.

How AWD Systems Work

AWD systems rely on a combination of sensors, electronic control units, and mechanical components to function properly.

The system’s sensors gather information about the vehicle’s speed, steering angle, throttle position, and more.

This data is then processed by the electronic control unit (ECU), which determines the optimal torque distribution between the front and rear axles.

Mechanical components, such as clutches, differentials, and transfer cases, work together to transmit torque to the appropriate wheels based on the ECU’s calculations.

This allows the AWD system to adapt to changing road conditions and maintain optimal traction and stability.

How to Solve AWD System Malfunction

1. Restart the Vehicle’s Computer

In some cases, a simple restart of your vehicle’s computer may resolve the AWD system malfunction warning.

To do this, turn off your vehicle and disconnect the negative battery terminal for a few minutes.

Reconnect the battery terminal and start your vehicle to see if the warning has cleared.

2. Inspect and Repair Wiring Issues

Faulty wiring can cause a range of issues, including AWD system malfunction. Inspect your vehicle’s wiring, particularly in the area of the AWD system components, for signs of damage or corrosion. Repair or replace any damaged wiring as needed.

3. Perform Regular Maintenance

Proper maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity and proper function of your vehicle’s AWD system.

Regularly inspect your vehicle for signs of wear or damage and address any issues promptly.

Additionally, follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle, including fluid changes and component replacements.

4. Consult a Professional

If you are unable to diagnose or resolve the AWD system malfunction on your own, it’s essential to consult a professional mechanic or dealership.

They will have the specialized equipment and knowledge required to accurately diagnose and repair the issue.

Warning Signs of AWD System Malfunction

An AWD system malfunction may manifest itself in several ways. Some common warning signs include:

  • A dashboard warning light, is often accompanied by a message such as “AWD System Malfunction” or “2WS Mode Engaged.”
  • Loss of traction or stability, particularly when driving in slippery or uneven conditions.
  • Unusual noises, such as grinding or clicking, come from the drivetrain.
  • Poor fuel economy or decreased performance.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage to your vehicle and ensure your safety on the road.

Diagnosing AWD System Malfunction

Diagnosing an AWD system malfunction may require specialized diagnostic equipment to communicate with your vehicle’s ECU and retrieve fault codes.

These fault codes can help pinpoint the issue and guide your troubleshooting efforts.

However, some common causes of AWD system malfunction can be identified and addressed without the need for specialized equipment.

In the following sections, we will explore these common causes and the steps you can take to resolve them.

Can you drive with the AWD light on?

It is generally safe to drive your vehicle with the AWD light on, provided that the light turns off when the engine is switched off.

If the AWD light remains on even after turning off the engine, it indicates an issue with the AWD system that requires attention.

Continuing to drive with a malfunctioning AWD system can lead to further damage and reduced vehicle.

Why Does the AWD Light Come On?

There are several reasons why the AWD light might come on, indicating a mild or severe issue with the system.

Here, we will explore some of the most common causes behind the AWD light turning on:

Driving on Compact Spare Tires

Compact spare tires, often referred to as “donut” tires, are designed for emergency use only and should not be driven at high speeds or for extended distances.

Using a compact spare tire can negatively impact your vehicle’s traction, handling, and stability, which may trigger the AWD light to blink or remain on.

If you have installed spare tires of different sizes than recommended in the owner’s manual, you may experience a similar issue.

How to Fix: Avoid driving on compact spare tires for more than 50 miles or at speeds above 50 mph.

If the AWD light turns on due to the use of a compact spare tire, replace the tire with one that matches the size and specifications of the other tires on your vehicle.

Dissimilarity in Front and Rear Axles

The AWD light may also turn on if there is a noticeable difference in tire sizes between the front and rear axles.

This issue can occur after reinstalling or replacing a tire with the correct size, but the AWD system may need some time to adjust. In some cases, you may need to cycle the ignition on and off for the light to turn off.

How to Fix: Ensure that the correct tire size is installed on all four wheels of your vehicle. If the AWD system continues to display the warning light even after installing the proper tire size, consult a professional mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue.

Speed Sensor or Transmission Issue

A faulty speed sensor can prevent accurate speed readings, leading to issues with the AWD system.

The speed sensor can degrade over time due to poor driving conditions, prolonged exposure to harsh elements, or driving on hilly or mountainous terrain.

If the AWD light turns on due to a malfunctioning speed sensor, it may indicate that your vehicle has lost stability and traction control.

How to Fix: If the speed sensor is causing the AWD light to turn on, it is recommended to replace the sensor rather than attempt a repair.

As replacing a speed sensor can be a complex task that involves disassembling sensitive car components, it is best to consult a certified mechanic for assistance.

AWD System Overheating

An overheating AWD system can also cause the AWD light to blink or remain on.

Severe operating conditions or poor driving environments, such as driving in deep sand, can lead to excessive wheel slip and AWD system overheating.

If the AWD system overheats, you may receive a warning message on your vehicle’s information display, along with the AWD light turning on and off intermittently.

How to Fix: If you suspect that the AWD system is overheating, pull over and park your vehicle, allowing the engine and AWD system to cool down for at least 15 minutes.

Once the system has cooled, the warning message should disappear, and the AWD light should return to normal operation.

Other factors that can cause the AWD light to illuminate include defective differential clutches and loose cap gaps.

Common Causes of AWD System Malfunctions

1. Unstable Gas Cap

A loose or damaged gas cap can allow contaminants to enter your fuel tank and cause issues with your vehicle’s performance, including AWD system malfunction.

To resolve this issue, check your gas cap for damage and ensure that it is properly tightened. If necessary, replace the gas cap with a new one.

2. Transmission System Problems

The transmission system plays a crucial role in providing traction to all four wheels of your vehicle. Issues with this system, such as fluid leaks or worn components, can impact the AWD system’s ability to function properly.

To address transmission system problems, inspect the system for leaks or damage and replace any faulty components as needed.

Additionally, ensure that your transmission fluid is clean and at the appropriate level.

3. Errors in Speed Sensors

Speed sensors provide critical information to your vehicle’s ECU, allowing it to make adjustments to the AWD system as needed.

Faulty speed sensors can cause the ECU to receive inaccurate information, leading to AWD system malfunction.

To resolve this issue, inspect your speed sensors for damage or corrosion and replace them as needed.

4. Ignition System Issues

A malfunctioning ignition system can cause a range of problems for your vehicle, including AWD system malfunction.

If your ignition system is constantly on, it can cause your engine to misfire and sustain damage.

To address this issue, inspect your ignition system for worn or damaged components, such as spark plugs, and replace them as needed.

What does “AWD fault service required” mean?

If you see a warning message on your vehicle’s information display stating “AWD fault service required,” it means that the AWD system is not functioning correctly and may need repair.

This message often appears alongside the transmission, throttle, or AWD indicator light.

It is recommended to consult your auto technician or a professional mechanic for a proper diagnosis and prompt repair.

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Preventing AWD System Malfunctions

Prevention is always better than a cure, and the same applies to AWD system malfunction.

Here are some steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of experiencing issues with your vehicle’s AWD system:

  1. Perform regular maintenance, including fluid changes and component inspections, as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
  2. Drive carefully and avoid exposing your vehicle to harsh conditions, such as off-road driving, when not necessary.
  3. Address any warning signs or issues promptly to prevent further damage to your vehicle’s AWD system.
  4. Consult a professional mechanic or dealership for regular inspections and maintenance, particularly if you are not comfortable performing these tasks yourself.

By following these steps and being proactive in your vehicle maintenance, you can help ensure the continued proper function of your AWD system and keep your vehicle running smoothly on the road.

2017 Toyota RAV 4 – AWD system malfunction 2WD mode engage >> Check out the video below:

Final Thoughts

An AWD system malfunction can be a cause for concern, but with the right knowledge and approach, it is often a manageable issue.

By understanding the common causes of AWD system malfunction and taking the appropriate steps to diagnose and resolve the issue, you can keep your vehicle running safely and efficiently.

Remember, prevention is key – perform regular maintenance, address warning signs promptly, and consult a professional when necessary to ensure the longevity and proper function of your AWD system.

Stephan K.

I have been working as a mechanic for over 13 years and have been deeper into advanced automotive diagnostics for some years.

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