Although some check engine lights are self-explanatory, Ford’s service AdvanceTrac warning is unique to the brand and relates to a range of possible problems. If your vehicle suddenly issues this light, it indicates that one aspect of the complex AdvanceTrac system has failed. To figure out the exact issue, you’ll have to take your vehicle in for an inspection.
Ford’s AdvanceTrac system combines electronic stability control (ESC), electronic traction control (ETC), and electronic roll stability control (RSC) to monitor your vehicle’s wheels and prevent skids. If this system fails, your vehicle will issue a Service AdvanceTrac warning light, indicating that one part of the system has gone offline. Although not an immediate threat, it’s best to get the system checked as soon as possible.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at Ford’s patented AdvanceTrac system, discuss the component parts that make up the system, explain what it means if the AdvanceTrac warning light comes on, and explore how to turn it off again. As long as you are driving on a smooth road during safe weather conditions, the warning isn’t too serious.
What is Ford’s AdvanceTrac System?
The Ford AdvanceTrac system is a stability control system that helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle on slippery or uneven surfaces. It uses sensors to monitor the vehicle’s speed and wheel slip and can automatically apply the brakes to individual wheels and adjust the engine power to help keep the vehicle under control.
The AdvanceTrac system uses a variety of sensors located around the vehicle to monitor its speed, wheel slip, and body roll. These sensors send information to the system’s computer, which uses algorithms to determine when and how to apply the brakes and adjust the engine power.
The system also benefits from several advanced features, including:
- Hill Start Assist: This feature calculates the right amount of torque needed to engage the engine if you’ve parked on a hill.
- Hill Descent Control: Using careful braking, this system will help you descend a hill at a safe and controlled speed.
- Sports Mode: This mode is designed for performance driving and will allow for more wheel slip before the system intervenes.
- Four-Wheel Drive Traction Control: This system helps to distribute power between the front and rear wheels to maintain traction on slippery surfaces if you choose to drive offroad.
- Anti-Lock Brakes: Many drivers instinctively slam their brakes out of panic in an emergency situation. This feature prevents the brakes from locking, allowing the vehicle to safely slow to a halt without screeching or skidding.
By combining these features together, Ford has successfully created a power stability control system that keeps drivers safe, regardless of road or weather conditions.
What Can Cause the Service AdvanceTrac Warning Light?
If your vehicle has triggered a Service AdvanceTrac warning light, it could be caused by a number of issues but the most common problem is a failed sensor.
Nevertheless, we’ve detailed each possible cause below to help you figure out the problem:
- Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor: A faulty wheel speed sensor will cause the system to lose track of the vehicle’s speed and could cause your vehicle to unexpectedly apply the brakes.
- Faulty Steering Angle Sensor: The AdvanceTrac system uses the steering angle sensor to determine the direction the vehicle is turning. If this sensor fails, the system will not be able to correctly apply the brakes to individual wheels, which could cause the vehicle to lose control.
- Faulty Rotational Speed Sensor: The rotational speed sensor is used to measure the speed of the wheels and is essential for the system to function correctly. If this sensor fails, the system will not be able to correctly determine slippage and could cause your vehicle to suddenly engage the brakes.
- Faulty Brake Pressure Sensor: The brake pressure sensor is used to measure the amount of pressure being applied to the brakes. If this sensor fails, your vehicle will inaccurately apply pressure to the brakes at unexpected intervals.
- Damaged Wiring: If the wiring to any of the sensors is damaged, it could cause the sensor to fail or the system to lose track of the vehicle’s speed or direction.
- Faulty Computer: The computer is the brain of the system and if it fails, the system will not be able to function correctly. This will require a major repair and we do not recommend driving any further than necessary until you can get the ECU fixed.
To identify the exact problem, you’ll have to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop where they can check the warning with a code reader.
Is It Safe to Drive with an Active Service AdvanceTrac Warning Light?
As soon as your Ford activates the Service AdvanceTrac warning light, it automatically disengages the stability control system. While this may be a nuisance, it won’t affect your driving as long as your use caution. The AdvanceTrac system is unique to Ford vehicles so, if you’re used to driving without it, you likely won’t notice the difference.
Just be sure to follow the road and pull over if the weather suddenly changes or you find yourself on an unfamiliar road. The system is designed to help you keep control of your vehicle in slippery or dangerous conditions, so it’s best to avoid those situations as best as possible.
How to Fix an Active Service AdvanceTrac Warning Light?
Unfortunately, there is no way to turn off the Service AdvanceTrac warning light without first repairing the fundamental problem. However, if you are certain that the system is functioning correctly, you can reset the light by disconnecting the battery for 30 seconds. Be sure to turn off your vehicle before disconnecting the battery and, if possible, use a memory saver to preserve your radio presets and clock settings.
Once the battery is reconnected, the system will run a self-diagnostic test and, if no problems are found, the light will turn off. If the light remains on after resetting, then there is still a problem with the system and you will need to take your vehicle in for repair. A mechanic can test the warning codes and diagnose the exact issue before making any necessary repairs.
As we explained above, the warning light is usually triggered by a faulty sensor, which shouldn’t cost more than a couple of hundred dollars to replace. If you have experience changing sensors, you may even be able to handle to repair on your own. If not, consult with a professional to guarantee that everything works as expected.
After replacing the sensor, disconnect your vehicle’s battery one more time, wait 30 seconds, and then reconnect the battery before engaging the engine. As long as everything is in functioning order, the light should disappear.
Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability system helps drivers maintain control while driving. However, a failed sensor can trigger the Service AdvanceTrac warning light. Although you can drive with the light on, we recommend getting the system checked as soon as possible. A failed sensor is usually an easy and relatively inexpensive fix but it’s best to catch the problem early before it causes any further damage.