P0500 Error Code – Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, and Fixes

Manufacturers equip modern vehicles, produced since 1996, with an on-board diagnostic computer system. That system detects malfunctions from various components and registers them as alphanumeric codes. Usually, the engine check light illuminates whenever the ECM logs a fault code.

Whenever you suspect a malfunction on your vehicle’s drivetrain, Powertrain, or other parts of the car, scan the car with an OBD2 scan reader. One of the fault codes you may retrieve is the P0500 trouble code.

Yes, your in-depth knowledge of the meaning, causes, symptoms, common diagnostic mistakes, and fixes will add to your on-the-go comfort and experience. That is what this article is aimed to serve. 

Code P0500 Definition

Vehicle Speed Sensor Malfunction

What Does P0500 Mean?

The powertrain control module registers Diagnostics trouble code (DTC) P0500 whenever it detects incorrect reading or no signal at all from the vehicle speed sensor (VSS).

A Vehicle speed sensor (VSS) is an electromagnetic sensor that reads the wheel rotation via a rotating reluctor ring. The VSS is located on the transmission to set the reluctor ring in close proximity.

The automaker fixed the reluctor ring to the transmission output shaft to spin along with it. As the reluctor ring spins along with the transmission, the VSS sends the vehicle speed or transmission output speed to the PCM.

It is essential to note that the definition may differ from vehicle to vehicle. For instance, P0500 Toyota may have a different meaning from P0500 Mercedes.

p0500 vehicle speed sensor toyota

What Are the Symptoms of Code P0500?

You may notice a couple of symptoms indicating issues with the vehicle speed sensor. If you experience one or more, you must diagnose and fix the underlying faults before it escalates to expensive repairs.

  • The automatic transmission system may not shift properly
  • Traction control engaging when it shouldn’t or not engaging at all.
  • Defective speedometer
  • Erratic or inactive ABS performance.
  • Illuminated check engine light.

What Cause of Code P0500?

VSS comes in different variations. This means the causes may vary. If you’re wondering what causes the P0500 code, here are the potential causes you need to look into;

  • Lousy Vehicle speed sensor mechanism
  • Defective ECM or other system modules
  • ECM is not configured with the size of tires on the vehicle
  • Short or open VSS wiring harness or connectors
  • Damaged drive gears.

How Serious Is Code P0500?

P0500 is a moderate case because transmission shifting issues may lead to driving discomfort, especially on automatic transmission vehicles. However, the P0500 error code may not prevent the car from running, but you may experience hard gear shifting, which will reduce your confidence in the wheel. If the speedometer is not working, it’ll require caution to drive the vehicle within the speed limit.

If the traction control and ABS systems are not working, you’ll have to drive cautiously, especially in extreme weather conditions. It’ll also display a check engine light or traction control light to notify the driver of any imminent faults within the system components.

Code P0500 Common Diagnosis Mistakes

The common P0500 diagnostic mistake most mechanics make is changing the speedometer without diagnosing the cause. The speedometer may stop counting because of a defective VSS, and replacing it will not solve the problem. Hence, it’s essential to diagnose the vehicle before replacing any components.

vehicle speed sensor

Tools Needed to Diagnose Code P0500

  • OBD2 scan tool
  • Digital Multimeter

How to Diagnose and Repair Code P0500

Here’s an effective way of diagnosing error code P0500;

Pull out the fault codes by plugging in an OBD2 scan on the vehicle OBD2 access port under the dashboard. Write the fault codes along with the car freeze-frame data.

Erase the trouble codes with the scan tool and test drive the car for 20-30 minutes. Once you’re back from the road test, re-scan the vehicle and see if the code will reappear.

Do a visual inspection. Check the vehicle speed sensor wiring harness and connectors for any physical damage and replace them. This will help fix damaged components without replacing unnecessary parts.

After confirming the wiring harness, connectors, and external parts are working pretty fine, use the OBD2 scanner to see if the VSS is present while running. This helps determine if the drive gear is functioning as it should.

Check the vehicle speed sensor for electric voltage with a digital multimeter to see if there’s electrical flow.


Now, you’ll be wondering, ‘How do I fix code P0500?’ here are the potential fixes;

  • Replace faulty vehicle speed sensor drive gear
  • Resolve poor or no electrical current
  • Repair or replace the lousy wiring harnesses and connectors
  • Replace the vehicle speed sensor if damaged.

Additional Comments Regarding Error Codes P0500

Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the vehicle speed sensor location varies from vehicle to vehicle. If you own a rear-wheel-drive car, you may find the VSS on the transmission or on the rear differential. In contrast, the VSS is on the wheel hub in front-wheel drive vehicles. Newer cars may have VSS on each wheel.

The PCM collects signals from the vehicle speed sensor and displays accurate readings on the odometer or speedometer. And the car computer uses the collected data to tell the transmission when to shift to a higher or lower gear and work in harmony with other safety features, such as the traction control and anti-lock braking system.

Same Problems with different Error Codes

Here are fault codes with the same or related problems with trouble code P0500.

  • P0503 Vehicle Speed Sensor “A” High/Erratic/Intermittent
  • P0502 Vehicle Speed Sensor “A” Low Input
  • P0501 Vehicle Speed Sensor “A” Range/Performance.

Last words

Diagnostics trouble code (DTC) P0500 is not a severe case that may require suspending your adventure to take your car to the auto repair center. Whenever a check engine light illuminates on the dashboard, visit a mechanic garage to track down the cause of the light and fix it. Trouble codes log in to help a technician detect and fix the cause of the problem. It also prevents minor issues from turning into major repairs.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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