What do the lights on your Ford vehicle dashboard mean? Have you ever been on the road with your dashboard glowing like the fourth of July with fault codes?
Some car owners may show concern, while others will shrug it off and not pay it any attention since their vehicle still runs and drives.
These lights and initials are called error or fault codes and depending on the severity of the fault code can potentially be damaging costing you thousands of dollars in repairs.
You are wondering if you have to pull over, or if you will make it home.
It is important to note that not all fault code lights on your dashboard have immediate or urgent issues. Knowing what your car is trying to say to you might help you avoid a panic attack or the feeling of uncertainty.
What do Fault Codes mean?
These fault codes mean there may be a malfunction with one or more of your vehicle’s systems. They are often displayed in different colors depending on the severity of the potential fault with the car.
The three-color fault/error codes that will pop up on your dashboard are green, yellow, and the worst of them, red.
Green or blue indicates that your vehicle systems are functioning properly or have been engaged. You will often see this with your car’s lights, eco mode, cruise control to name a few.
Error/Fault Codes in yellow, on the other hand, indicates that a particular function requires attention – sometimes immediately or not. It is often a pre-warning that requires attention before it becomes a major malfunction. This is common with “Check Engine” light, “Service Soon ” indicators, or Brakes check lights when you need to change brake linings or pads.
Error/Fault Codes in red indicates that your car system needs immediate attention for a critical fault. The safest thing to do is to get your car to the nearest mechanic while significantly reducing your speed and being more cautious.
We’ll walk through some common fault codes you may encounter in your Ford car.
1. Auto Start/Stop Fault Code
In new manufactured Ford vehicles, the Auto Start/Stop system shuts down the car engine temporarily when the vehicle is not in motion. This is to help reduce fuel usage.
There are several causes to this system if the fault code kicks in. Auto Start/Stop may not kick in. If the weather is too cold, the battery needs to be checked, reverse gear or parking aid is selected, or a malfunction in the system.
When this fault code comes up you should rectify the issue or drive the car to your mechanic if the warning light persists.
2. Powertrain Fault Code
The powertrain fault code appears as a wrench on your dashboard. It comes on when there is a malfunction in the automatic transmission. This happens mostly to older vehicles or high mileage vehicles.
This fault code indicates that the transmission fluid temperature might be higher than normal. The warning light could also be a reminder to get your transmission fluid topped.
When the powertrain fault code comes on, your vehicle automatically goes into safe mode. You might experience a drop in performance, safe mode helps prevent further damage.
You can check the transmission fluid yourself and have it topped. If the fluid is checked and the fault still persists, you should have it checked by a mechanic. If the powertrain fault code is not checked, it could lead to severe damage to your transmission.
3. Stability Control Fault Code
Stability Control is a system that keeps the vehicle headed in the right direction. It helps with vehicle control and ensures you make sharp turns or quick maneuvers. It is mostly found in newer vehicle models.
This light comes on when your car is trying to maintain traction control. If the indicator light remains on it means your vehicle has no control. If the light stays on for a long period, it means that your vehicle’s stability control system has a malfunction or it was shut down manually.
4. Glow Plug Fault Code
Vehicles with diesel engines require a warm engine before it is started. Glow plugs are responsible for warming the engine and the light is activated when the engine of your vehicle is warming up. Before starting your engine make sure that the glow plug indicator turns off.
If the light flashes, it indicates that the glow plugs have a malfunction and need to be replaced. If you are having difficulty starting your vehicle and the glow plug indicator doesn’t come on when the ignition is switched on, there may be a malfunction with the glow plugs.
Sometimes this fault code is permanently on or flashes because there is a diesel fuel injection fault. A timer that turns off the glow plugs once the temperature is reached if it’s faulty will keep the glow plugs on.
Driving with the glow plugs on may not be possible in some vehicles because the engine may not start at all. Glow plugs need to be replaced due to wear and tear from warming your vehicle’s engine.
5. Water in Fuel Fault Code
Vehicles with diesel engines have a diesel fuel filter that filters traces of water found in the diesel before it moves to the engine. This is because, unlike gasoline engines, diesel engines require fuel to lubricate components of the engine, this fuel can have traces of water found in it.
If the water is not filtered before it gets to the engine it can cause damage to the engine. This water is collected in the fuel filter and once it starts to get filled the indicator light comes on. If the fault code is yellow, it means that the fuel filter is full and needs to be emptied. In some models, the filter is emptied manually while in some it is emptied automatically.
If your model empties automatically, the indicator may mean that the filter system has a malfunction. The fault code could also mean that the drainage is blocked and can’t automatically empty itself.
Even when the fault code comes on, it is safe to keep driving but advisable to have this checked as soon as possible. If the error is not rectified, and the water seeps into the engine it may cause serious damage.
- Used Ford Car for Sale: How to Choose the Right One
- 15 Error Fault Codes in your Toyota car – What do they Mean?
- Maintaining Your Car: Five Key Things To Consider When Servicing Your Car
- Everything You Need to Know about Buying Used Cars
6. Engine Check Malfunction Indicator
The Engine Check Malfunction Indicator (MIL) fault code detects problems with your vehicle’s engine, transmission, or emission control system. When the fault code flashes occasionally, it indicates a temporary engine malfunction which can become serious later.
When the fault code indicator light stays on it may mean a more serious malfunction and can affect the emission of the vehicle. If the fault code indicator fashes consistently it means your vehicle engine is misfiring.
This MIL fault code can mean that the catalytic converter malfunction which could mean bad mileage and lead to loss of power to the wheels. This a serious malfunction that can cause the catalytic converter to overheat or cause a fire. It is advisable to turn off the engine to prevent severe damage to the engine. When this error is traced, you need to replace the catalytic converter to clear this error code.
The fault code could also mean that there is a malfunction with the Mass Airflow Sensor which causes a clog in the airflow to the engine. The MIL fault code also indicates a loose fuel cap, oxygen sensor fault, or damaged plugs which can easily be replaced.
7. Engine Air Filter Fault Code
The Engine Air Filter restricts dust and dirt from getting into the engine, when the fault code is activated it means the air filter is clogged and airflow is limited. Reduced airflow affects your vehicle’s gas mileage and overall engine performance.
Once you have changed your air filter, you will have to turn off the indicator light with a reset button. If the fault code is still on, there may be a connection issue. You should have your mechanic fix it.
Fault codes may not have major safety implications but it is advisable to have them checked to avoid long-term damage to your vehicle. Having your vehicle serviced regularly by a reliable mechanic can improve your vehicle’s life span, avoid fault codes and ensure safety.