Dashboard Warning Lights on Your Ford Dashboard: What They Mean

Dashboard Warning Lights on Your Ford Dashboard: What They Mean

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of seeing dashboard lights pop on when you’re driving your Ford. You may see things like Service AdvanceTrac, a check engine light symbol, and several other dashboard lights pop on the dashboard when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, many of these lights are warnings that something is wrong, so it’s important to know what you’re in for.

The good news is that we’re here to help. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about dashboard Ford warning lights and their meanings to help you get back on the road fast.

Ford Dashboard Lights

Dashboard Ford warning lights will turn on at different times, depending on how you drive your vehicle. For example, you may activate some of these lights by turning a feature off. If you turn off the traction control, for example, the traction control light off light will turn on. Otherwise, you’d never see a light like this.

Additionally, some Ford dashboard lights will appear when you turn the key to test if they work. This can happen as you start the engine or if you have the car turned to the on position. These are factors to consider before reading about all of the Ford dashboard lights.

Learn more about each warning light below.

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning lamp will appear as a glowing orange light on your Ford’s dashboard. This light means that there is a system error with your ABS functionality. You may have a damaged sensor, broken brakes, or a faulty PCM.

It’s important to have the ABS addressed immediately because you don’t want your brakes to lock the wheels. Always visit a Ford technician if you’re unsure about how this system works.

Auto Hold

Another important lamp is Ford’s auto hold system. On your dashboard, it will appear as a small hand with two circles around it or the text Auto Hold. This is an important function for modern Ford vehicles because it keeps your vehicle at a complete stop until you hit the gas.

Auto hold lights are more common among vehicles with manual transmissions. Also, this is a feature that you have to use manually. To turn on this system, follow the steps below:

  1. Press the Auto Hold button on your vehicle’s instrument cluster.
  2. Step on the brake.
  3. Remove your foot from the brake.

As long as this system is functional, your vehicle won’t move again until you press the accelerator. If this light appears without manual activation, make sure you bring your vehicle to a technician because you could have issues with your brakes.

Battery Light

The battery light will sometimes appear while you’re driving. If it does, that means that there is an issue with your electrical system. This is usually a system issue and can impact your entire vehicle, so make sure you have your vehicle looked at by a professional technician.

Brake System Warning Lamp

The brake system is your Ford’s most important system. Without brakes, you can’t stop, and that can lead to a handful of problems like an accident or injury. Whenever you see the brake system warning lamp, which appears on your dashboard as an exclamation point surrounded by a circle or BRAKE, make sure you take your vehicle to a technician.

This Ford dashboard light often means that your vehicle’s brake system isn’t functioning properly. This can be the result of damaged brake lines, brake pads, brake calipers, or other brake components.

The brake dashboard light will appear in a few situations. Typically, it will turn on when your brake fluid is low in the parking brake or brake system.

It can also turn on if you have the parking brake activated while the engine is running. This is more common in manual Ford vehicles because the parking brake is used to secure the vehicle when you turn off the engine.

Electric Park Brake

Some Ford vehicles have an electronic parking brake. Instead of a handbrake that you pull to engage the brake, you press a button, and the ECU sends a signal to the parking brake to activate. These systems can be available in manual and automatic vehicles, but it’s more serious in manual Ford cars because they don’t have a parking brake.

The electronic parking brake light will appear as an electrical bolt surrounded by a circle and then a half circle or an exclamation point surrounded by a circle and then a half circle.

Engine Motor Coolant

Engines have to remain at a specific temperature to operate properly. Having temperatures that are too high can lead to overheating and problems that lead to costly repairs. The entire motor coolant light is a thermometer with three lines on the left that sit just above two squiggly lines.

Address any motor coolant issue immediately because your cylinder heads, oil, and coolant are at risk of getting too hot. When these parts are too hot, your vehicle will sustain serious damage. Stop your vehicle immediately when you see this warning light, and let the engine cool down before visiting a repair shop.

Engine Oil

The entire oil symbol on your Ford dashboard is something you don’t want to see while you’re driving. It looks like a small tea kettle with drips coming from the nozzle. When you see this light appear while you’re driving, make sure you pull over and turn the engine off because this means there’s an issue with your engine’s oil system.

Some common causes of this can be oil that’s too hot, a loss in oil pressure, or dirty motor oil. You may also have an issue with your engine’s computer.

Front Airbag

The airbag is an important safety feature that will save your life in the event of an accident. If you look at your Ford dashboard and see this light, it means that your airbag system isn’t functioning properly. You’ll notice the airbag light on the dashboard while driving when you turn on the vehicle, and it might flash if the problem is serious.

You may also see this light above the passenger seat when you have a child in the car. This is normal, and the light will turn off if someone who is over a certain weight threshold is sitting in the seat.

Grade Assist and Overdrive Cancel

Grade assist is a Ford feature that helps you when you’re on a hill. If you’re going downhill, this light might appear to ensure that the vehicle runs properly during a steep decline. This is also something that happens when you deactivate overdrive. These lights don’t mean that there is an issue with your Ford vehicle, which is a relief to many.

High Voltage Electric System

Seeing a triangle with an exclamation point inside it on your Ford’s dashboard is never a good sign. This light means that your Ford vehicle is having problems with its electrical system. In this case, it’s a high-voltage problem. You’ll notice this light when electrical problems occur, and it may remain on while you’re driving.

Low Beam Warning

Ford vehicles have low-beam headlights. These lights are the standard headlights that you use when you drive at night. When the low-beam headlights aren’t working, the low-beam warning light will activate. It’s a lightbulb with an exclamation point inside, surrounded by a handful of hash marks.

While you can keep your high beams on to continue driving, this needs to be addressed sooner rather than later because high beams are dangerous to other oncoming drivers.

Low Tire Pressure System Warning

One of the most common Ford dashboard warning lights that you’ll encounter is the low tire pressure warning light. This light is an exclamation point inside a small symbol that resembles a car wheel/tire. When this light is on while you’re driving it means your vehicle has low tire pressure. Low tire pressure will result in problems like flat tires if you don’t address them.

Additionally, this dashboard lamp will activate when you turn on the engine. This is to test if the lamp works. However, if you don’t see it turn on, that means there is a sensor issue that needs to be addressed.

Normal Drive Mode

The normal drive mode dashboard light is a picture of a road. When you change settings back to their default, this light will turn on to let you know that you’re in normal driving mode again. You shouldn’t see this light when you’re encountering a problem.

Overdrive Off

The overdrive system controls your vehicle’s overdrive setting. This light will turn on manually when you select the overdrive-off button. When you activate this button, the overdrive feature of your transmission won’t engage. However, if you notice this dashboard light when you’re driving, it means there’s a problem with your transmission. Make sure you have your vehicle inspected by a technician when you see it.

Powertrain Fault

One of the worst Ford dashboard lights you’ll have to deal with is the powertrain fault light. A powertrain fault light will activate when there is an issue with your vehicle’s all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive systems. When this light is activated, it means that your engine isn’t properly sending power to all four of the wheels. This needs to be addressed quickly to avoid damage to your vehicle’s powertrain.

The powertrain fault light looks like a wrench in most Ford vehicles.

Service Engine Soon

The check engine light, or the service engine light, means that your engine needs to be serviced. If you notice this light on your vehicle’s dashboard while you’re driving, it means that there is an issue with your emissions system. However, if the service engine light is flashing, it means that your engine could be misfiring.

That said, numerous sensor or ECU problems can cause a check engine light to appear. If you want to learn about the specific reason, you’d need an OBD-II scanner to learn more. We always recommend having one of these to know exactly what’s wrong with your engine.

Stability Control On/Off

Stability control is another dashboard light that you typically have control over. When you turn off the stability control system, you’ll find the Stability Control Off light. The image is a car over squiggly lines. When the system is on, you typically won’t see anything. However, if the system is damaged or if a sensor isn’t working, you may see the light turn on. In these cases, you’ll see the picture of the car over squiggly lines without the Off text next to it.

The Color of the Ford Dashboard Lights

dashboard lights in different colors

Ford dashboard lights aren’t always a single color. In fact, you can find several colors on your dashboard, and each color has a different level of severity. The common colors you’ll find on a Ford dashboard include yellow, orange, red, and green.

Green Ford Dashboard Lights

Some dashboard lights are green. When a light is green, that means your vehicle does not need service. So, if you see a green overdrive warning light turn on, that doesn’t mean you need to service your vehicle. Many green lights are also lights you can turn on manually by pressing a button on your steering wheel or dashboard.

Yellow Ford Dashboard Lights

One of the light colors you’ll find is yellow, which doesn’t necessarily mean your engine is in trouble. That said, it does mean that you should take your vehicle in for service. Ford dashboard lights that are yellow are warning lights that mean you have a problem that needs to be addressed before it gets worse.

Orange/Red Ford Dashboard Lights

The last group of colors you’ll find are orange or red dashboard Ford lights. In these cases, your engine is having serious problems. Red lights, like a red check engine or transmission light, mean that your engine can’t run properly and may sustain damage if you leave the car on. Issues like overheating, transmission failure, and some PCM issues will trigger lights of this color.

Understanding the colors of Ford dashboard lights will help you identify issues with your vehicle and when they need to be addressed. Make sure you keep this in mind when evaluating your Ford vehicle.

Get Back on the Road Today

Dashboard Ford warning lights are enough to make your heart drop. They’re usually the last thing you want to see when you’re on a road trip or commuting to work. But as long as you follow our guide, you’ll be prepared for any situations or dashboard lights your vehicle throws at you.

Furthermore, some Ford dashboard lights aren’t the end of the world, so knowing which lights are important to address right away can save you time, money, and a headache.