The check engine light on your Ford indicates a problem somewhere with the engine. Here’s how you can diagnose and fix the issue quickly.
A Ford check engine light could be triggered by a bad gas cap. But a flashing check engine light indicates a serious problem, such as a bad oxygen sensor, faulty EGR valve, or defective ignition coil. Do not continue to drive the vehicle with a flashing check engine light.
If you’re a car owner, chances are you’ll eventually find yourself dealing with the dreaded check engine light. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if you drive a Nissan, Buick, GMC, Hyundai, Mazda, or Ford – eventually you see the check engine warning light up.
And while this warning light can be unnerving – it doesn’t have to mean disaster!
But the reality is, a Ford check engine light can be caused by a handful of issues. Generally, if the warning light is a steady illumination, then the problem could stem from a loose gas cap or dirty air filter. And in most cases, the problem isn’t severe and you can continue to drive the vehicle.
However, if the check engine light is flashing, then that is an indication of a serious problem with the Ford vehicle. It’s recommended you pull over and turn off the car and call for help.
Simple fact is, when a check engine light is triggered, it’s your cars way of warning you something is wrong. And identifying the issue behind your check engine light may sound daunting. But the good news is – we have done the research, and compiled the most common reasons for that check engine light.
So let’s read on for tips and advice for troubleshooting that pesky Ford check engine light.
What Does The Ford Check Engine Light Mean?
The check engine light on a Ford vehicle is like your car’s way of crying out for help. The problem could be something as minor as a loose gas cap. Or, it might mean that their is an issue with the VCT solenoid.
Whatever you do, don’t ignoring this warning sign. Do so may lead to worse problems down the road. In fact, you may begin to notice decreased fuel efficiency, increased emissions, and possibly the vehicle even stalling or breaking down.
Of course, the behavior of the dreaded check engine light can give you some sense of how urgent the matter is.
As an example, a steady and solid illuminated light indicates a minor mechanical problem. Whereas a flashing check engine warning light means a serious mechanical problem.
However, regardless of the a steady or flashing light – when that light turns on – take action!
Why Does a Flashing Check Engine Light Indicate a Serious Problem?
A flashing Ford check engine warning light indicates a problem with a major component of the vehicle. Problems such as a damaged or failing catalytic converter. Or a bad fuel pump, which could cause a sudden loss of power while driving.
Also, a malfunctioning spark plug or ignition coil can cause misfires, which if continuous, will trigger the flashing check engine light too.
Some Ford models with illuminate the check engine light over issues with the transmission.
Simply put, when the vehicles ECU detects a problem, it will trigger the check engine light. But, it will trigger a flashing the check engine only when there is a serious problem that requires immediate attention.
What Can Cause a Check Engine Light to Come on in my Ford?
There are a range of problems that can cause the Ford check engine light to appear on your instrument cluster.
However, the most common reasons for a check engine light typically stem from issues that affect the vehicle’s performance, emissions, or safety systems.
Here are the most common reasons for a Ford check engine warning light:
Faulty Oxygen Sensor
One common problem that triggers a steady check engine light is a faulty oxygen sensor. Oxygen sensors monitor the airflow in a vehicle to ensure the fuel consistency is accurate. When this mixture is off, fuel efficiency can be negatively affected and can cause your check engine light to come on.
Overheated or Clogged Catalytic Convertor
A failing catalytic converter will also trigger this warning light. A overheated or clogged catalytic converter will reduce it’s ability to filter harmful emissions from the exhaust.
If you notice that your engine has oil consumption problems, it eventually will affect the catalytic convertors. This isn’t something you want to neglect fixing.
Dirty or Bad Mass Airflow Sensor
A mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine, and helps regulate the air-to-fuel ratio. It’s a crucial component for the engine control unit to accurately measure the air-fuel ratio.
If damaged or faulty, the engine will be affected and the Ford check engine light will appear.
Problems With The Fuel System
A malfunctioning fuel pump or clogged fuel filter can trigger the check engine light, and lead to a handful of problems. The fuel pump and fuel filter are both critical components of the fuel system, and problems here will almost certainly trigger the engine warning light.
Fact is, if the fuel pump is malfunctioning, or the fuel filter is clogged, it can lead to a lack of power, hesitation, and stalling.
Generally, Ford recommends replacing the fuel filter in most of their vehicles every 30,000 miles (48,000 km) or every two years, whichever comes first.
However, some newer Ford models have fuel filters that are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle and do not require regular replacement. It’s best to consult the owners manual for maintenance recommendations.
Ignition System Issues
The ignition system is responsible for starting and providing power to the engine of the vehicle. Common ignition system problems can lead to engine misfires, stalling, or failure to start.
Most commonly, a faulty spark plug or bad ignition coil is the culprit for ignition system woes.
Malfunctioning EGR Valve
A malfunctioning EGR valve, which recirculates some of the engine’s exhaust gas back into the intake manifold to reduce emissions.
EVAP System Problems
A malfunctioning EVAP system, which controls the release of fuel vapors into the atmosphere. A malfunctioning EGR valve can cause a slew of problems.
However, most common problems related to a faulty EVAP include reduced engine performance, elevated exhaust emissions, and in severe cases – possible engine damage.
Defective VCT Solenoid
Many four-cylinder engines, including those in Ford Fusions, can experience an issue with their Variable Camshaft Timing solenoid becoming defective.
The VCT solenoid is used to optimize the timing of the engine’s intake and exhaust valves. Generally, the VCT solenoid works in conjunction with the vehicles ECU to adjust the position of the camshaft and the opening and closing of the valves.
When a VCT solenoid goes bad, you may begin to notice a roughly idle, slow response when accelerating. Additionally, fuel economy will begin to take a hit, and the engine may start to misfire.
Most VCT solenoids can last anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Some unfortunately, may fail much sooner.
What’s The Easiest Way to Find Out Why my Check Engine Light is on?
Identifying why the check engine light is on only requires a quick scan of the vehicles ECU error codes. If you have an OBDII diagnostic scanner, you can connect it to the car to see a displayed error code that’s causing the check engine light to appear.
However, if you do not have access to a diagnostic scanner, just head down to the local auto parts store. They will gladly get those trouble codes read for free.
The bottom line is, if you see a Ford check engine light, pay attention and act accordingly. If the light is illuminated steadily, chances are it could be something as simple as a loose gas cap or dirty air filter.
But if it’s flashing, that could indicate larger issues like a bad oxygen sensor, faulty EGR valve, or defective ignition coil — all of which should addressed immediately by knowledgeable technicians.
Fact is, your overall safety depends on proper maintenance of the vehicle. So don’t take the risk and drive with any kind of check engine light remain active.
Get that check engine light fixed so you can drive your Ford safely and confidently each time you’re behind the wheel!
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Christopher is an internet technology expert and mechanical engineer. When he’s not at the local autocross event, he can often be found working on one of his cars. He loves nothing more than taking something apart and putting it back together again. Email me direct, or learn more about us