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What Do The Ford Dashboard Warning Lights Mean?

Ford Check Engine Light

Many Ford dashboard symbols are color-coded, with red signifying urgent issues and amber speaking to problems that need to be addressed but not as immediately. Green lights could just indicate that a certain function, such as your cruise control, is fully engaged or working properly. Blue often means the same as green, but in the case of your coolant temperature light, it might signify that your engine is too cold and needs time to warm up before you begin driving. Most lights that are flashing (especially if they are red or yellow) hint at something dangerous going on, and you should pull over your car to have the matter assessed.

Ford Dashboard Symbols And Meanings Cheat Sheet

Ford Dashboard Symbols and Meanings Cheat Sheet

If you've spotted a warning light on your car's dashboard, you might be wondering what all the different lights and symbols mean. Your vehicle's owner's manual provides a detailed list of Ford warning lights and what to do when a dashboard indicator light appears. However, if you don't have your Ford manual handy, we've compiled a brief overview of Ford dashboard symbols and their meanings for your convenience.

It's important to remember that not all dashboard lights indicate a problem. Some indicator lights, such as those for headlights, high beams, and turn signals, show that the corresponding systems are functioning correctly. If your car requires a check engine light diagnosis, don't hesitate to get in touch with the Veterans Ford service department. Our team will reset the tire pressure warning light, or whatever else is glowing, and get you back on the road.

With these general rules in mind, here’s a deeper dive into the specific meanings of different Ford dashboard warnings, with a focus on the red and amber ones.

A Guide to Ford Dashboard Lights

Warning Light Displayed1 Meaning
Warning Light

Master Warning Light

This light, which uses an exclamatory red triangle, provides a general warning of something amiss. It could be as simple as a door that was left open or as serious as engine trouble. However, in most cases, another warning light or worded message will appear on your instrument panel to give you a better sense of the problem.

Charging System Warning Light

Charging System

This icon indicates a failing battery or a malfunctioning alternator stopping the battery from charging. Its illumination means that your car will stop running shortly, so pull off the road as soon as possible and arrange for assistance.

Powertrain Fault Warning Light

Powertrain Fault

This wrench suggests a problem with your engine, axles, or ability to shift gears, such as with your automatic transmission system. Set an appointment for service to protect your safety.

Brake System Warning Light

Brake System Warning

This could mean that your emergency brake is engaged, so check that first. Otherwise, it likely speaks to a problem with your braking system that needs to be checked out as quickly as possible, especially if the weather is icy.

Engine Oil Warning Light

Engine Oil Warning

Engine oil helps prevent your engine from overheating, lubricates moving parts, and cleans the engine system. The oil can icon could mean your oil level or oil pressure is low. In either case, prioritize maintenance to avoid serious engine trouble.

Coolant Temp

Engine Coolant Temperature

Red means it's too hot; blue often means it's too cool. In the first case, turn your car off to give your engine time to cool down. If it’s blue, let your engine warm up a bit before driving.

Air Bag 
Warning Light

Air Bag Warning

While you may hope never to need your car's airbags, they are crucial for keeping you and your family safe in an accident. If this symbol lights up, there could be a problem with one or more of your car's airbags, so it’s smart to get your car serviced ASAP.

Check Engine Light

Service Engine Soon/Check Engine Light

While this light can turn on due to something as basic as a loose gas cap, it can also have many other causes related to your engine. The vehicle’s onboard computer will need to be scanned in order to determine the source of the light’s trigger. Trust our team to diagnose this message and get you back on the road quickly.

Device Failure

Device Failure

You might have a problem with your car's throttle or another facet of your electronic power control system. Get a service appointment with some immediacy.

Electronic Power Steering Trouble

Electronic Power Steering Trouble

If you see this symbol come on, pull over to the side of the road when it is safe to do so, turn off your car, and then turn it back on again to see if this light persists. If it does, you're likely experiencing power steering failure. You can still drive under these circumstances, but one of the trips you should take within the next week should be to have your car looked at.

Headlamp Out Warning Light

Headlamp Out

One of your headlight bulbs is burned out or is otherwise not working.

Low Tire Pressure Warning Light

Low Tire Pressure Warning

Most cars' tires should have a psi between 32 and 35. If yours are getting low, it makes your car less stable and decreases traction. Tread separation is also more likely. Therefore, heed this warning and pump up your tires to the psi indicated on the inside of the driver door or on the tires themselves.

Hood Ajar 

Hood Ajar Indicator

Close your hood to avoid loss of visibility or possible engine damage.

Ajar Indicator

Trunk Ajar Indicator

Close your trunk to avoid letting the elements in or having your belongings fly out, which can be dangerous in traffic.

Seatbelt Reminder Warning Light

Seatbelt Reminder

You or one of your passengers isn't wearing their seatbelt.

Fuel Warning Light

Low Fuel

Start looking for a gas station to fill up your tank.

Low Wiper Fluid Warning Light

Low Wiper Fluid

Wiper fluid helps you clear dirt from your windshield and can stop the wipers from scratching the glass. Top off your supply when this light brightens.

Stability Control Warning Light

Stability Control

Is this light flashing? It's likely that the stability control is engaged while your car conquers slippery roads. However, if it remains on, even when there is no black ice to speak of, there might be a problem with the system that needs investigating.

Anti Lock Braking Warning Light

Anti-lock Braking

Your anti-lock brakes help you maintain control when braking to combat a skid. Therefore, have our team look at your car if this light comes on while you're driving normally.

Electric Park Brake Warning

Electric Park Brake

This light being on could mean the electric park brake is in use. However, if the light flashes or is accompanied by an exclamation point or wrench, there is likely an issue with this system.

Schedule a service appointment today if you are worried about one of these Ford dashboard symbols and what it could mean for your car's performance or your safety.

Driver Assistance Ford Warning Lights

As cars have continued to evolve, many of them have been outfitted with driver-assistance features meant to reduce your risk of accidents. In many cases, a light will appear on your dashboard when you actively utilize one of these systems. However, if this program is malfunctioning, the same symbol may come on with a wrench or an exclamation mark beside it. Here are some examples of these types of Ford dashboard symbols:

Blind-Spot Monitoring System

This yellow light can let you know that a vehicle is situated in your blind spot. If there is a problem with this technology program, an exclamation mark might appear, or a text warning might show up on your instrument panel.

Cross Traffic Alert

This illuminates when there is a car approaching you from behind while your vehicle is set to reverse.

Lane Departure Indicator

This will brighten or blink when you are veering too much to the right or left of your lane (but only if your turn signal isn't on). A chiming noise often accompanies it.

Grade Assist and Overdrive Cancel

Your grade assist system, which helps meter out throttle levels and braking power during ascents and descents, is active.

Head-Up Display

This means that your head-up display, which can project navigation instructions and pertinent car information onto the lower portion of your windshield to help keep your eyes on the road, is on. Consult your owner's manual for how to turn this feature off if you find it distracting.

Tow Mode

If your vehicle is built with a Towing Mode and it is currently activated, this light will come on.

Adaptive Cruise Control

This can mean that your car is actively maintaining the correct distance between you and another car to help prevent a collision.

Other Dashboard Ford Warning Light Meanings

There are also some symbols that are unique to the type of fuel your vehicle uses to run. For instance, if you have an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, you may encounter symbols for:

  • High Voltage Electric System Failure: Your battery charge is low.
  • Hybrid Ready: Since EVs don't have the same loud roar that purely gasoline-run vehicles do, this is what lets you know your vehicle is ready to rumble.
  • EV Charging: This turns on when your vehicle is actively charging and will likely go away when your car is completely topped up.

Similarly, if you have a diesel engine, it comes with its own specific symbols:

  • Water in Fuel: The filter used to keep water separate from your fuel needs to be replaced.
  • Glow Plug: This light will stay on until your vehicle is sufficiently warmed up enough to start the engine.
  • Exhaust Particulate Warning: When green or yellow, there's no reason to worry. However, if this light turns red, you need Diesel Particulate Filter regeneration ASAP.

Turn to Us if You’re Concerned About Your Car

If you have questions about a Ford dashboard symbol meaning that wasn't answered on this page, or if you need automotive service to restore your car to health, turn to the professionals at our certified Ford service department. We respect how busy you are and will do our best to get your vehicle a quick diagnosis and fix using our inside-and-out knowledge of Ford vehicles.

In addition to regularly offering service specials, we can also apply any active warranties that your car or any of your Ford OEM parts have. Save time, money, and stress by coming in when one of your Ford dashboard symbols lights up and before your car shows other notable signs of malfunction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the check engine light mean on a Ford?

A "check engine" light could have a wide range of meanings. Your best bet is to pull over as soon as possible to see if it is caused by a loose gas cap and reattach it. If that doesn't turn the light off, see our staff, who can determine what the problem is, such as a faulty catalytic converter, ignition coil, or spark plug.

What does the wrench light mean on a Ford?

When standing alone, a lighted wrench symbol means that your Ford vehicle has a problem with its powertrain. Get it addressed quickly to avoid more extensive and expensive issues developing with your engine, transmission, or drivetrain. Alternatively, if a wrench or an exclamation mark appears beside another symbol, it could indicate that the system represented by the other symbol needs maintenance.

How can I reset the battery light on my Ford?

The battery light should go off if you resolve the issue. Therefore, try checking the battery's voltage and giving it some extra juice if it is drained. Inspect the connections at the terminals for signs of corrosion that may be interfering with energy flow. Disconnecting and reconnecting the battery cables or cleaning the battery terminals might resolve the problem. However, it's often best to leave this investigation to our professionals.

How can I reset the Ford ABS light without the scan tool?

Your ABS light may reset automatically if you adjust the emergency brake or flush out the oil brake fluid and replace it with a new supply, supposing that was the original problem. However, it's also possible that your car needs a new ABS fuse, a new wheel speed sensor, or a new ABS microprocessor. These more complicated procedures are likely best done by our professionals.

How can I reset an oil change light on my Ford?

After changing the oil and oil filter, reset this light by switching the ignition on (but not starting the engine). Then, press on the accelerator and brake simultaneously and fully. A notice should pop up within three seconds telling you that the resetting process has begun; it should finish within 25 seconds. Afterward, turn the ignition off. If you come to us for an oil change, we'll complete this step for you.

How can I reset the tire pressure light on my Ford?

This light should automatically turn off once your tires are at the correct pressure. You can figure out what pressure this is by reading the instructions located on the sticker on your driver's side door or on the tires themselves; then, you can use a pressure gauge and air pump to inflate them. If this doesn't cause the light to turn off, or if it relights soon afterward, there might be a hidden tire leak.

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