P0500 – Vehicle Speed Sensor “A” (Toyota)

By Bojan Popic (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2023-11-21
Master Mechanical Engineer
CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P0500 Vehicle Speed Sensor "A"
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VSS, Software version, Wiring

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Table of Contents

  1. What Does Code P0500 Mean?
  2. Where is the P0500 sensor located?
  3. What are the common causes of code P0500?
  4. Get Help with P0500

What Does Code P0500 Mean?

NOTE: While this guide is specific to Toyota vehicles, P0500 is a generic OBD2 diagnostic code.  If your vehicle is not a Toyota, then please read the generic version of this guide as the following information will not apply to all vehicles.  If you have Toyota this code, then we hope the below more detailed information helps you.  Please comment below the article with your year, model, engine type, and mileage, and we will respond and try to help.

The generic description for the P0500 error is the vehicle speed sensor A malfunction. This effectively means the signal from the sensor, whose job is to detect how fast the transmission is spinning, is not getting through the PCM. To get a more in-depth perspective on what the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) does, please read the generic version of this guide.

It may be worth noting that two distinctly different vehicle speed sensor types are used on Toyota cars, depending on the model and year of production. Older cars use a so-called pinion type, which mechanically taps into the transmission’s gearing and spins at the same rate as it. Most newer models have a conventional hall-type sensor, similar to those used for measuring the crankshaft or camshaft speed.

Despite their differences, both versions of the VSS sensor do the same job. This is why their failure will have an identical effect. Apart from the illuminated check engine light, a malfunctioning speedometer is the most common symptom. A faulty VSS sensor could also affect the ABS system and cruise control. Lastly, vehicles without an automatic transmission may suffer from hard shifting and stalling.

Where is the P0500 sensor located?

The vehicle speed sensor determines how fast the transmission is spinning by measuring the speed of its output shaft. This puts it at the transmission outer side and determines its position within the engine bay.

Most front-wheel drive vehicles and smaller vehicles have a transaxle transmission. The VSS sensor here will usually be located on the final drive housing. In most cases, this will be somewhere near one of the drive shafts. For example, the photo below shows its exact position in a 99-02 Toyota Camry.

Larger SUVs and pickup trucks have their engines and transmissions mounted lengthways. The VSS sensor here is almost always found at the backside of the gearbox, near the prop-shaft flange. Unless when mounted on the upper side of the transmission, spotting the VSS sensor will be easy. The photo below displays its location in a Toyota Tacoma.

What are the common causes of code P0500?

The vehicle speed sensor on a Toyota is similar in its function and mechanics to those used in most other cars. As a result, the P0500 error code will have many similar common causes, regardless of the brand. These are already covered in the generic version of this guide, and we will not go over them here. Instead, we will focus on those issues that seem to affect particular Toyota models more than others.

Faulty vehicle speed sensor in older Toyota Camry models
The vehicle speed sensor in Toyota Camry models made before 2003 has a higher-than-usual failure rate. This is an older, pinion-type sensor, and it is that plastic gear that usually causes the problem. With time, its teeth may wear out and start slipping, which causes incorrect readings.

Incorrect software version
A batch of 05-06 Toyota Camry and Solara cars, equipped with a 4- cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic, may suffer from reoccurring P0500 codes. The likely cause is the PCM, which came with incorrect software from the factory. In simple words, this software is not calibrated correctly and needs to be reflashed. More detailed information is available in service bulletin T-SB-0242-09. Almos identical problem affects 07-09 Camry’s, described in service bulletin T-SB-0212-09.

Misconnected sensors
The P0500 is a fairly common issue on late-2000 Toyota Sienna minivans. One of the possible causes is that VSS sensor A (output speed) and VSS sensor B (input speed) have been mixed-up during repairs. This happens because these two sensors look identical and are near each other. Still, the signal they are sending to the PCM is not the same, which causes running issues.

Damaged wirings on pickup trucks
On pickup trucks frequently used on harsh terrains, the wiring for the VSS sensor and the corresponding connector may get damaged. This happens because of mechanical damage caused by branches and flying rocks. Stock vehicles, which have no additional underside armor, are far more likely to suffer from these issues.

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