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P0500 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor Malfunction

Check Engine Light

P0500 code definition

P0500 is a general OBD-II code that indicates a malfunction has been detected in the vehicle speed sensor circuit. This code may be seen with P0501, P0502, and P0503.

What the P0500 code means

The P0500 diagnostic trouble code tells us there is a fault found with the vehicle speed sensor. The speed sensor is monitored by the ECU and when it fails to operate properly the P0500 code is set. Once the code is set, the Check Engine Light will illuminate on the dashboard.

What causes the P0500 code?

P0500 has a few standard causes:

  • Failed vehicle speed sensor
  • Open or short in the wiring harness
  • Damaged vehicle speed sensor drive gear
  • Poor electrical connection

What are the symptoms of the P0500 code?

  • Check Engine Light is illuminated
  • The speedometer may not work
  • Transmission may not shift properly as the ECU uses the vehicle speed to help determine when to shift
  • The vehicle’s ABS and traction control systems may become disabled

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0500 code?

  • Qualified technicians hook up a scan tool to the vehicle to check for any codes present and will note all codes found along with the freeze frame data.

  • All codes will be cleared to start with a fresh look at the vehicle. Next, a road test will be performed to confirm the problem is present.

  • The technician will then visually check the speed sensor and all associated wiring for obvious damage or wear.

  • Next, the scan tool will be used to check if a vehicle speed sensor (VSS) signal is present at all when driving.

  • Lastly, the voltage will be checked using a multimeter at the vehicle speed sensor.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0500 code

If diagnosis is not performed, the vehicle’s speedometer may be replaced due to it not working only for the vehicle speed sensor to be the cause. Proper diagnosis tests all components on a step-by-step basis to avoid unnecessary repairs.

How serious is the P0500 code?

P0500 will not prevent the vehicle from operating but it may shift roughly causing some discomfort when driving. If the speedometer is not working, care must be taken to drive within the speed limits until the vehicle is repaired. If the ABS system and Traction Control System (TCS) do not operate, care should be taken when driving especially during adverse weather conditions.

What repairs can fix the P0500 code?

  • Vehicle speed sensor drive gear replaced
  • Repair or replacement of the wiring harness
  • Vehicle speed sensor replaced
  • Poor electrical connection resolved

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0500 code

Depending on the year and drive type of the vehicle, the location of the vehicle speed sensor can vary greatly. On front wheel drive cars the speed sensor is often found on the front wheel hub. On rear wheel drive vehicles the speed sensor may be found on the output shaft of the transmission or located within the rear differential. More modern vehicles may have a speed sensor located on each wheel.

The ECU uses the information from the vehicle speed sensor to display the proper speed on the speedometer. In addition, this information is used to tell the transmission when to shift and monitors other safety features, such as the anti-lock brakes and traction control system.

Need help with a P0500 code?

YourMechanic offers certified mobile mechanics who will come to your home or office to diagnose and repair your vehicle. Get a quote and book an appointment online or speak to a service advisor at 1-800-701-6230.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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