Red Lightning Bolt on Dash? Don’t Ignore This Warning

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You were driving the car and suddenly noticed a Red Lightning Bolt on Dash. I know it is quite scary to some people since it is not something drivers often see on their dashboards. So what does Red Lightning Bolt on dash mean, and how to get rid of it?

This Red Lightning Bolt sign indicates the throttle system is malfunctioning. The throttle system controls all the electrical functions of an engine, and whenever there is a problem with it, PCM (powertrain control module) triggers the red alert.


Red Lightning Bolt on Dash: What Does it Mean?

Modern cars have electronic throttle systems instead of traditional mechanical linkage. It controls the throttle system of an engine, controlling the air input and power output.

Red Lightning Bolt on Dash means there is any fault or error in the ETC system. The electric dashboard shows this sign to warn you about the problem. It indicates that the ETC system is not working properly, which can destroy the accelerator system. Your car may accelerate too much or stall at any time.

Red Lightning Bolt on Dash Causes

It can happen for numerous reasons. Let’s discuss them one by one.

1. Faulty throttle body

A faulty throttle body can cause the entire ETC system to fail, triggering the red lightning bolt sign in the dashboard. It happens with old throttle bodies, in general. Some other reasons include faulty/stuck throttle valves, blocked air intake, leaks, loss of electric power, etc.

How to fix it?

You need to replace the throttle body to fix the problem. A certified mechanic is mandatory to get it fixed. Yes, repairing is possible in some cases. But the result will not be satisfactory, as per my experience.

2. Malfunctioned ECM

The engine ECM is the brain and heat of the engine system. When it malfunctions, the entire engine system, let alone the throttle body system, fails. It sometimes causes the red warning sign.

Wiring harness often causes ECM failure. The wires get corroded with time and lose the conductivity needed to pass the electricity.

How to fix it?

You must change the ECM to restore the conductivity. Make sure you do it with a certified technician.

3. A Dirty Throttle Body

Sometimes, the throttle body is filled with unburned oil and exhaust gasses. This blocks the throttle body, leading to air blockage. In such cases, the entire throttle system fails, and you get the red lightning bolt signal on the dashboard.

How to fix it?

  • Find the throttle body.
  • Use a cotton swab and place a few drops of general oil.
  • Then clean the body with a paper towel to clean the residue.

4. Bad communication between the gas pedal and throttle

The sensor passes the communication through the gas pedal and throttle. The system fails to provide the right signal when there is bad communication due to a faulty gas pedal or sensor.

How to fix it?

You need to diagnose and repair the bad communication with your favorite mechanic. Go to the nearest mechanic shop to resolve the issue.

5. Low battery voltage

The entire electronic throttle body runs on a battery. It needs enough voltage output to send the signal to ECM. Failing to get enough voltage can malfunction the throttle body sensor and trigger the red bolt signal on the dashboard.

How to fix it?

Inspect the charging system and recharge the battery. If needed, replace the battery to get things right again.

6. Any Electrical Malfunction

Since the entire engine system, ECM system, and throttle body run on electrical components, any malfunction in the electrical system can cause an error. It can happen due to poor connection, faulty wiring, malfunctioned modules, etc.

How to fix it?

Go to the nearest mechanic shop to inspect the electrical malfunction and resolve the problem.

7. Bad throttle control sensor or glitch

Nowadays, every part of the car runs with a computer sensor. The throttle system is similar. It provides a lot of effective and safety features. However, sometimes, it delivers faulty results due to a bad sensor or glitch.

If the sensor is bad or if there is any glitch, the sensor will send a wrong signal to the car computer, resulting in a faulty alarm.

How to fix it?

Reset the entire throttle system or replace the sensor to get it fixed. Make sure to consult a certified mechanic before doing so.

⚠️ Related Dash Warning:
|| Fixing “Check Charging System” Warning Light

How far can I Drive with the Red Lightning Bolt Warning Light On?

You can run as long as you want until the car stops. But that is not what you should do. You must stop the car immediately to the side of the road without a second thought. Try to visit the nearest car repair shop immediately.

What happens if I ignore it?

But in case you keep driving, you may face a deadly accident. Let me explain how.

Red Lightning Bolt Warning means the throttle body system is not working. That means your car may stop at any time, or you may experience lower acceleration. You may lose control over the speed, leading to deadly accidents, especially on busy roads.

This is not the end.

Driving with such a sign may damage other parts of the ECM system. It will cost more to repair. No one wants that, right?

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