Red Lightning Bolt Symbol in a Jeep

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If you are like me, you may not understand all the warning lights that are on your Jeep dashboard or maybe you might. Most of the common warning lights are pretty much straight forward but what does the red lightning bolt symbol in a Jeep mean?

This warning light is particularly important as it relates to the vehicle’s throttle system, which is integral to the Jeep’s performance and responsiveness.

Quick aside, this is why having a good OBDII Scanner is a good idea!

The red lightning bolt indicates that there is a problem with your Jeep’s Electronic Throttle Control (ETC). This is a system that replaced the mechanical throttle body mechanism with a sensor-based one. It measures the pressure which you put on the faulty throttle control sensor and sends it, through electronic sensor to a motor which opens the throttle in direct proportion to this pressure.

Red Lightning Bolt Symbol in a Jeep
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When the red lightning bolt is illuminated, it is often accompanied by a reduced power warning. This is the vehicle’s way of telling you that it has entered a “limp mode” to prevent further damage to the engine.

What Does Red Lightning Bolt Symbol in a Jeep Mean?

The Red Lightning Bolt Symbol in a jeep means that your jeep’s Electronic Throttle Control has a problem. The throttle body could be damaged or stuck, causing the lightning bolt to turn red.

It’s also important to note that this could be indicative of a malfunction in the faulty electronic throttle control system, potentially due to electrical issues, such as a faulty sensor or wiring problems.

What Should I Do When the Red Lightning Bolt Sign Flashes On?

Older car models connected the throttle body and gas pedal through a cable. The pressure you applied to the gas determined how much the throttle opened and, therefore, how much gas was released.

Other symballs on Car Dashboard

This system was not very efficient and resulted in high fuel economy. That’s when the Electronic throttle controls module was developed.

In modern Jeeps, the ETC system’s sophistication means that a red lightning bolt could also indicate software issues, which might be resolved with a firmware update at a dealer.

This technology of warning light started appearing in cars from around 1990 and is designed to do away with the old mechanism. It is, however, not immune to mechanical faults and the way you know is through the red lightning bolt light on the Jeep dashboard.

When you see this light appear, it means that the communication between the throttle and gas pedal body is not happening as it is supposed to. In this case, you should also check engine light.

Regular maintenance and diagnostics are crucial to prevent the ETC light from coming on. It is recommended to have your Jeep serviced at intervals specified in the owner’s manual to ensure all components are functioning correctly.

In such an instance, you will need to perform a gas pedal reset which we will discuss a little further down this article.

What Do I Do If My Electronic Throttle Control Light Comes On?

If the ETC light comes on while you are driving, you don’t necessarily need to stop. You may continue driving but your Jeep needs to be looked at. You may need to do an accelerator pedal position sensor reset or take accelerator pedal in to a mechanic if the reset doesn’t work.

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Understanding that this issue might also affect the automatic transmission’s shifting patterns is essential. If you notice irregular shifting or the transmission is stuck in a particular gear, the ETC system might be the culprit.

How Do I Reset My Electronic Throttle Control System?

When the red lightning bolt symbol appears on your Jeep’s dashboard, it may mean that that the pedal position is not lined up properly causing there to be miscommunication with the sensors resulting faulty throttle control sensor readings that control the motor which opens and closes the throttle.

Additionally, it’s vital to check for any updates on recalls or technical service bulletins (TSBs) from Jeep that may address widespread ETC issues.

The extent to which the throttle opens and closes is determined by the gas pedal position. When you drive your Jeep for a specific amount of time, the gas pedal will get out of alignment, and resetting it is quite easy.

To reset it, turn your ignition key to on without starting the car. Next, depress the gas pedal all the way to the floor then let it up again.

Next, start up your car and press down the throttle to see if your Jeep responds. If you keep having issues with the throttle and the red lightning bolt light or the warning light remains on, you will need to have a mechanic look at it and get it sorted.

It’s worth mentioning that some Jeep models may require a more specific reset procedure, which can be found in the vehicle’s service manual or by consulting with a Jeep dealership.


The ETC light coming on is not usually cause for major concern but it does need you to pay attention to it. You can still drive your Jeep but make sure to take care of the issue by doing a reset or having a mechanic look at it.

If the light starts to flash on and off though, it means you definitely need to take care of it as soon as possible.

Being proactive about this warning light can save you from more significant repairs in the future and keep your Jeep running smoothly.

Who Worked on This?



A master of organization, Brian helps keep everything running smoothly for Your Jeep Guide.

No Jeep yet but we’re working on that!



Cory loves his XJ and frequently thrashes it through the hills. He’s constantly fixing something.

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