When a car’s dashboard lights go on, it can be very alarming for the driver. These days, dozens of warning lights and symbols can appear on the dash of your vehicle. The lightning bolt symbol, however, can be startling to a new driver.
When the red lightning bolt appears, it means there is a problem with your electronic throttle control (ETC) system. This manages communications between the throttle body and the accelerator. It is also one of the most common reasons why your vehicle breaks down.
With my experience in the automotive industry, I will tell you everything you need to know about this signal and how to reset the red lightning bolt on dash.
What does the Red Lightning Bolt on the dash mean?
The electric throttle control (ETC) is represented on the dashboard by the red lightning bolt. This light switches on if the throttle system is malfunctioning.
How does this system work? The throttle is opened by a sensor in the gas pedal that measures the amount of pressure applied to it. Then, it gets converted into an electric signal that is processed by a motor which controls the engine throttle.
As you can see, the ETC system supports your vehicle’s optimal performance and fuel economy. When this does not work properly, the engine may experience erratic performance or stall. Even though it’s not ideal, you can still drive with the ETC indicator illuminated.
Symptoms determining the red lightning bolt on the dash
Although you can still drive your Jeep with the ETC indicator on, it is best to get it checked out immediately as there can be a number of reasons why this is happening. Here are some of the mostf common problems that can appear:
Car Losing Power
When the smooth flow between the depressed accelerator wires and the ETC is interrupted, the system could drastically cut the fuel going to the engine, rendering the vehicle powerless.
In the absence of adequately functioning controls, pressing the gas pedal will prevent the vehicle from speeding up as intended. In most cases, the system will only partially fail at once, leaving you with some driving time. But the longer you put off repairs, the worse the issues will get.
Wrong Idle Speed or Stalling Engine
A non-closing throttle body prevents the engine from idling normally. It might close only partially, leading to an excessively high idle. On the other hand, closing the throttle too much can occur during idling or while driving.
On average, most modern vehicles idle at speeds between 600 and 1,000 rpm. However, if your car is rugged, it won’t feel smooth.
Higher Fuel Consumption
One sign that appears most frequently when there is a problem with the ETC is a decrease in fuel economy. There may be a deeper issue here that this is merely highlighting. But if you also notice that your jeep regularly flashes a red lightning bolt symbol on the dash, you can safely assume that you have a bigger issue.
What Do You Do if Electronic Throttle Controls are the Problem?
An easy fix you can do yourself is disconnecting the jeep’s battery. Wait five minutes and reconnect it. Make sure you re-test the jeep’s performance to ensure that the issue is solved. If this didn’t work, take your vehicle to a mechanic.
Can You Drive With the Electronic Throttle Control Light On?
While you can drive with a damaged ETC, you shouldn’t. Although you can keep going for a while with a broken ETC, you run the risk of causing bigger problems and damaging your engine if you keep it that way.
The safety risks associated with driving while experiencing this are also increased. Sudden acceleration can have fatal consequences, so ensure that you fix this issue as soon as possible.
Other Issues that Cause Red Lighting Bolt on Dash
A defective throttle control sensor or throttle accelerator pedal position sensor are the two most common reasons an ETC light can illuminate. Here are some other reasons why an electronic throttle control light may come on:
Electrical System Malfunctions
The electronic control module (ECM) determines where the throttle should be set for the best performance based on what the sensors tell it. The wiring and electrical signals connecting all the parts must work properly for the whole thing to work. With no moving parts between the accelerator pedal and the throttle, a faulty electrical connection can quickly become dangerous.
If the throttle sensor fails, the electronic control module cannot correctly time the engine’s operation, triggering the lightning bolt symbol. The warning light for the ETC can be turned on by several electrical problems, such as faulty wiring, loose or corroded connectors, a broken module, or a broken electrical motor.
Faulty Sensor for the Accelerator Pedal
If the ECM cannot receive a reliable signal from the accelerator pedal, the desired acceleration will not be achieved. An electronic throttle control warning light will illuminate if the onboard computer determines that the sensor is malfunctioning. Moreover, this can lead to improper acceleration of the vehicle that can put the driver in danger.
Error in the Throttle Control Sensor
This sensor’s job is to report the throttle body’s position to the car’s electronic control module, which then uses this information to fine-tune the engine’s fuel and timing. This can cause a jeep starting issue.
When the sensor in the throttle body fails, it may be necessary to replace the entire throttle body, which can be expensive.
Stuck Throttle Body
Carbon and grime buildup in the throttle body can cause it to malfunction. The dirt prevents air from flowing, and the fuel/air ratio becomes unbalanced. In the worst cases, when dirt builds up, the butterfly valve can get stuck; then, when you apply pressure to the accelerator, the valve won’t turn, and air can’t get into the engine.
Corrosion, brought on by water and moisture intrusion, is another cause of the throttle body getting stuck. The lightning bolt light and check engine light will both illuminate if there is a mechanical issue with the throttle body.
How Do You Reset the Red Lightning Bolt on the Dashboard?
The first thing you should do when the red lightning bolt appears on your dashboard is to disconnect your battery for five minutes. If your warning light is still on after you reconnect the battery, you will need to take further action. Although doing it on your own is not advised, this is the best way to reset the warning light. Here are the steps:
- Pull out the negative terminal cable from under your steering column.
- Do not disconnect the battery’s positive terminal.
- Wait five minutes before reconnecting it.
- The red lightning bolt warning has now been reset.
If these steps fixed the issue, congratulations! But if the warning light is still on, you will need to bring the vehicle to a mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue. Then, they will be able to reset the indicator light on the dashboard for you.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix the Red Lightning Bolt?
Changing out the throttle body requires two considerations: the cost of the part and the cost of labor.
Depending on where you purchase it, you should budget between $450 and $600 for the part.
The labor cost depends on the mechanic you select; if you go to an official dealer, the cost will be slightly higher, but you can be sure that a warranty covers the work.
This represents the electric throttle control (ETC) warning symbol. If the throttle control system is malfunctioning, this light will come on.
When there’s an issue with the throttle, the dashboard will light up with a red lightning bolt.
This means the throttle does not work correctly when starting the vehicle. Every vehicle has a choke that is activated when the vehicle is cold-started.
It’s never a good sign when a warning light appears on your dashboard. The red lightning bolt on the dash signals a problem with the Electronic Throttle Control. There could be a number of reasons for this and the fix is easy. If the red lightning bolt doesn’t go away after you reset it, you will need to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic to stop the issue from worsening.
If you liked this article, share with a friend and feel free to contact us if you have any questions!