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A symbol guide will help you understand your vehicle’s status. Indeed, symbols can tell a lot about a car’s health; while the “Stop Vehicle, Leave Engine Running” implies a battery defect, the Check Engine light refers to various engine problems. How about the red lightning bolt on dash? What does it mean? 

Find out with Driverevolve. This sign might be more alarming than you think.

The Red Lightning Bolt On Dash: What Does It Mean?  

In older car models, your throttle and accelerator pedal were wired up through a cord. Your gas pressure determined how wide your throttle opened, which decided the amount of air allowed to be in.

However, due to its high fuel demand, this method wasn’t particularly effective. It prompted the development of electronic throttle position control.

red lightning bolt on dash - The 1990s saw the first widespread use of this automatic system in motorized autos. The goal was to upgrade from a mechanical mechanism that was not particularly effective to one that you could operate electronically.
The red lighting bolt is on the dash. – 4WD Life 

The 1990s saw the first widespread use of the automatic throttle control system in motorized autos. The goal was to upgrade from a mechanical mechanism that was not particularly effective to one that could be operated electronically and efficiently.

But sometimes, there may be problems with this intelligent system. The red lightning bolt symbol on car alerts drivers if this occurs; it indicates a problem with your car’s throttle control unit.

If this symbol flashes, it means there is a breakdown in the connection between your accelerator foot and the throttle.

3 Most Common Culprits Of A Red Lightning Bolt Symbol 

A Bad Throttle Body Position Sensor

There are sensors embedded in almost every part of a modern vehicle. They contribute to so many useful and protective functions, but if a single sensor fails, the whole mechanism might be completely inoperable. Your throttle body position sensor is no exception.

This device transfers data about the throttle body’s positioning to the vehicle’s inbuilt processor. The processor then uses this information to fine-tune the vehicle’s gasoline and timings.

red lightning bolt on dash - When your throttle cord is fixed too firmly, the throttle position sensor could become damaged and fail to perform as effectively as needed. Furthermore, it may have the same consequences as a slack gas cap, with air escaping via a weak gasket.
Get your car checked for any signs of a bad throttle sensor. – Auto Success 

The red lightning bolt logo, or ETC trouble signal, will pop up if your throttle position detector is defective and the ECU has no idea how to time appropriately. Another noticeable sign that may come along is your car shaking at idle but smoothing out while driving.

In the long run, the best solution is to install a new sensor. However, in some instances, you can efficiently address the problem by simply resetting or fixing the old one.

A Jammed Throttle Body 

When your car’s throttle body is filthy, stuck, or broken, your ETC mechanism may notify you by lighting up the red lightning bolt icon on the center console.

red lightning bolt on dash - A visual and technical check can assist you in determining whether your throttle body is functioning correctly. Try opening and closing your throttle body while keeping an eye out for any visible blockages. Your throttle body should lift with little effort and retract instantly when released.
A dirty throttle might be to blame. – Breaker Link 

A visual and technical check can help you determine whether your throttle body is functioning correctly. Try opening and closing your throttle body while keeping an eye out for any visible blockages. It should lift with little effort and retract instantly when released.

In this case, either clean or replace your throttle body. (Cleaning steps are in the sections below.) 

Defective Gas Pedal Or Module

Your electronic throttle control comes with a gas pedal position detector and a gas foot unit. The gas pedal position detector provides the controller unit with the actual state of your gas foot.

This unit then utilizes this data to determine the proper throttle position through data exchange with the throttle position monitor. Any malfunctions in these parts will cause an error message and improper operation of the mechanism.
Your gas pedal might be defective. – Your Mechanic

 This unit then utilizes the data to determine the proper throttle position through data exchange with the throttle position monitor. Any malfunctions in these parts will cause an error message and improper operation of the mechanism.

If you have a defective gas pedal sensor (or module), you might need a gas pedal reset or a replacement.

What To Do When You See A Red Lighting Bolt On The Center Console

Rush to the closest auto repair shop to have your ETC (electronic throttle control) system inspected. If you’re handy, you can conduct a pedal reset at home. In case the reset doesn’t help, bring your car to a reliable service.

FAQs 

How To Reset The Electronic Throttle Control System At Home?

If you adhere to the instructions correctly, resetting your pedal will be a simple and quick process.

Start the engine and push the accelerator foot once more to check whether your automobile reacts and the red lightning bolt symbol has gone from the center console.
Resetting your throttle body is an easy task. – Vehicle Freak

 To begin, insert your key into the ignition but do not start the automobile. Afterward, push the accelerator pedal down and release it.

Start the engine and push the accelerator foot once more to check whether your automobile reacts and the red lightning bolt symbol has gone from the center console.

If your throttle problem persists and the red lightning bolt sign remains, visit a technician to determine the source of the problem and resolve it.

How To Clean Your Throttle Body At Home? 

Note: Use protective gloves and eyewear while cleaning your throttle body for safety. Throttle body cleansing solutions may cause skin irritation and emit dangerous fumes. Because the cleansers are very combustible, stay away from cigarettes and flammable objects while working on this task.

Leave your car in an open, flat spot with good lighting. Because of the toxic smoke produced by the cleaner, do not undertake this task in an enclosed space like the garage.

Before beginning the cleanup procedure, unplug the ground connection from the batteries for safe operation. Name-tag any gaskets and bolts connected to your throttle mechanism or air vents before removal so you can remember where to put them back after the cleanup is complete.

Remove any electrical cables. You may need to use a Torx or Phillips wrench to loosen the clamp nuts that fasten the air vents. If you can’t loosen the air vents, bring your car to a qualified technician.

After removing the air ducts, you can now access your throttle body where the cleaner comes in handy. 

Use safety gloves and eyewear to protect yourself. - Car Treatments
Use safety gloves and eyewear to protect yourself. – Car Treatments 

After you’ve put on your protective gear, spray the cleaning solution onto the air ducts. 

Clean dust and unwanted sediments using a tiny brush, and then wipe them away using paper towels. It’s going to take many sweeps to get a spotless surface. You can use a flashlight to look for any dirt that you may have missed.

Apply a bit of multi-purpose oil to the throttle shafts with a cotton bud. This facilitates the easy movement of your throttle blades. Clean your motor and surrounding area with wet wipes to remove residual fluids or filth.

Assemble the air vents and ensure your clamps are tightly fitted. Take whatever you’re using out of the car’s hood before restoring the batteries. 

Then, get the motor started; car readjustment might take a few minutes. Warm up your engine by letting it idle for a couple of minutes.

Finally, take the car out for a trial run. How effective this cleanup is on performance depends on the amount of gunk cleaned out of your throttle body.

Can I Drive With the Red Lightning Symbol On? 

Yes. Technically speaking, you can run with a malfunctioning ETC, but you really shouldn’t. You can travel with a defective ETC for a short while, but doing so for a long time might cause problems and severe damage to your motor.

Getting behind the wheel is risky in this case, given your own safety. You should pull over immediately and gradually de-accelerate when your car’s control panel shows a red lightning bolt. Rapid speed changes may be life-threatening.

Lastly, all of the electronic throttle controls’ parts seldom fail at the same time. When you first discover the light, it will likely still function to some extent. However, the longer you neglect it, the worse the conditions will get, and driving your car may be extremely risky.

Conclusion 

The red lightning bolt light on dash is not a cause for fear. However, as with any other problem with your vehicle, you must pay close attention to these issues and take the appropriate steps to resolve them before any unwanted and irrevocable consequences take place. 

For similar content, refer to our Fun Driving section

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