Red Lightning Bolt On Dashboard – What Can You Do?

You may have heard the red lightning bolt on dashboard means you have some problems with the Electronic Throttle Control system (ETC).

However, if you still have no idea about the issue, we can help you dig in and clear all your doubts about it.

Let’s follow along to find out what the red lightning symbol on the dashboard means and what you can do in this situation!

Red Lightning Bolt On Dashboard

red lightning bolt on dashboard
Red Lightning Symbol On Dashboard

What Is Electronic Throttle Control?

There are many dash warning lights, and each blinking indicates one problem. You may even see multiple warning lights on the dashboard at the same time.

What is the red lightning bolt on my dash? When you see this signal, you should consider a possible issue with the Electronic Throttle Control (ETC).

This system is not available in old cars where people use the cable to connect the throttle to the gas pedal. The part will open according to the pressure the driver applies on the pedal.

However, this method is said to be high fuel consumption.

That’s why the ETC system started to be popular in modern cars in the 1990s.

It has a sensor-based mechanism that can measure your input pressure and send the information to the motor to open the throttle accordingly.

What Does A Red Lightning Bolt Mean On A Car?

ETC is a system based on sensors to maintain the connection with the gas pedal and throttle.

Sometimes, this communication can be lost and shown as a defect in the system through a red bolt on the dashboard.

The symbol shows that the two components are not connected as they are supposed to be, and there might be a need to restart.

What Causes The Issue Of Red Lightning Bolt On Car?

electronic throttle control red lightning bolt on dash
What Are To Causes Problem Of Red Lightning Bolt On Car

The faulty throttle control sensor is the main reason for the red lightning bolt on the dashboard.

Besides, if you have a dirty throttle body or electronic throttle control issues, you are likely to experience the red light illuminating as well. 

Plus, check the electrical system for any damage, such as broken or loose connection, that possibly causes the issue.

Faulty Sensor

One of the most common reasons for the lightning bolt light on the dashboard is the faulty throttle control sensor.

As mentioned above, since the system works based on the sensor, the other parts can’t work well and cause some issues if it goes wrong.

In this case, the throttle body position sensor fails to tell the computer its current position, leading to a malfunctioning system.

The ECU doesn’t understand what timing ratios and ideal fuel to adjust, thus, lightning light on the dashboard.

Electronic Throttle Control Issue

The electronic throttle control red lightning bolt on the dash indicates several problems.

It can be the communication issue with the engine control module (ECM), so the system struggles to regulate the engine speed and open the throttle.

Another problem is the shorted circuit in one of the sensor inputs, affecting the signal wires and resulting in a car light with the lightning bolt.

The electronic issue leading to the light illuminating also can be the dashboard itself. There’s a chance that the dashboard cannot read the data or has lines crossing it.

These problems usually require a professional inspection.

Damaged Electrical System

Damage to the electrical system, such as grounding or wiring happening in the car’s major circuit, may be a reason for the lightning light on the dash.

If you have experience, you can inspect the system by yourself.

You need to find out the loose connection, broken wires, or faulty fuse box and fix it to bring the system back to normal again.

Turn on the headlights, radio, etc., to ensure the electrical system works properly.

Stuck Throttle Body

A stuck throttle body may be the reason why you have the alert. The component can be dirty, but it’s definitely not good when it blocks or damages the system.

A damaged throttle body also makes the car accelerate without hitting the gas.

Visual inspection is highly recommended to ensure there’s no obstruction bothering the part opening and close as it’s supposed to be.

Regularly cleaning the component can protect you from having the issue.

What To Do With The Red Lighting Bolt?

car light with lightning bolt
What To Do When The Red Lightning Symbol

Once you see the red lighting bolt turning on, the first step to do is to stay calm, pull over, and turn off the engine.

After that, if you have a code scanner on hand, you can perform a scan to identify the problem and restart the car.

Safely Pull Over

When you see the lightning bolt light on the dash, don’t panic. Adhere to all safety precautions so both you and your vehicle can be safe.

Find a safe place to pull over and turn off the engine. You can also try to reach for your mechanic or any auto repair shop around to get help.

Scan The Engine

After pulling over and waiting for help, you can scan your engine by using a code reader. It’s a simple car diagnostic tool assisting you in identifying the engine light and other problems.

In this case, when you finish with the code scanner tool, you may need to replace the air filter or ETC sensor, especially when there is too much pressure on the accelerator.

Perform A Restart

Performing a restart is the next step you can do to troubleshoot the problem of lighting the bolt light on the dash. The process lasts less than 10 mins and is as simple as the following guide.

  • Switch the ignition key so that it is “on” but don’t start the vehicle and wait for the warning light to go away.
  • Apply pressure on the accelerator all the way down to the car’s floor.
  • Slowly release your foot until it is back to its resting position.
  • Turn the key to “off” mode and restart the car.
  • Press down on the accelerator pedal once more to see how it responds and if the light extinguishes. If it doesn’t, seeking professional advice is a must.


Is It Safe To Drive With A Red Lightning Bolt On The Dashboard?

No. It’s not advisable to drive with the lightning bolt on the dashboard. You may have trouble accelerating or experience a drop in fuel efficiency.

However, the scenarios above just mean you’re lucky. You’d better address the issue as soon as possible before you need to deal with more costly damage.

How Much Does It Cost To Troubleshoot The Problem?

The root of your issue identifies how much you should pay for the repair. If your car is diagnosed to have a problem with the electronic throttle controller, you’ll need to replace it. 

The price of replacement ranges from $300 to $1500. It may vary depending on the location of the shop and the time for labor to complete the job.


The red lightning bolt on dashboard should not be a reason for you to panic, yet not an issue you can linger on. When the light is on, it’s supposed to be some problems with the throttle body or the sensor.

Pay attention and perform some action as instructed to see whether you can make the alert disappear. Take your vehicle to the qualified professional service if the restarting trick above doesn’t help.

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