What Does It Mean To See A Red Lightning Bolt On Dash?

Our car dash shows a lot of warning signs and such to indicate different things about our vehicle. Sometimes you may not understand what some warning lights mean. Some are pretty straightforward while others make us wonder what it means. One such warning light is a red lightning bolt on dash. This article tries to explain what it means when you see a red lightning bolt warning light on your dashboard means so read on!

What Is Electronic Control Throttle, ETC?

The red lightning bolt on dash usually indicates that there is an issue with your car’s Electronic Throttle Control, ETC. The Electronic Throttle Control mechanism is a sensor-based replacement of the old mechanic throttle mechanism. Its function is to measure the pressure that you put on the gas pedal and sends it through the sensor to the motor that opens the throttle directly proportional to the pressure you apply. Older cars however did not have this sensor. They instead made use of a cable that connects the throttle with the gas pedal. 

When older cars had cables that connect the gas pedal with the throttle. In this situation, the pressure applied by you on the gas pedal determined how much the throttle must be opened which determines how much gas was released. This method, however, was not very efficient as it resulted in high fuel consumption. This is when Electronic Control Throttle, ETC was developed. 

What Does It Mean To See A Red Lightning Bolt On Dash?

As mentioned above, the Electronic Throttle Control, ETC has a sensor that senses the pressure applied by you on the gas pedal which enables opening the throttle directly proportional to the pressure you applied. This mechanism started appearing in cars from about the 1990s to succeed the less efficient mechanic throttle mechanism. But that doesn’t mean the Electronic Throttle Control, ETC is completely perfect. 

ETC is not immune to mechanical faults. And when it has some defect, the car lets you know by showing the red lightning bolt on dash. When you see the red lightning bolt on dash, it indicates that the Electronic Control Throttle has lost the communication between the gas pedal and the throttle. So when you see this warning sign, you have to know that the communication between the gas pedal and the throttle is not happening as it is supposed to.

Some Signs That Indicate That The ETC Has Gone Bad

Other than the red lightning bolt that appears on the dashboard there are some signs that your car shows when your Electronic Throttle Control, ETC has gone bad. Here are some of the common signs

1. Decreased Fuel Mileage

One of the most common signs, when the ETC has gone bad, is a decreased fuel mileage. This sign can indicate some other problems too. But if you notice this symptom along with your car showing red lightning bolt light occasionally on the dash, you can conclude that your ETS is faulty. 

2. Acceleration Problems

Sometimes your car accelerates for no reason. This may be a sign that indicates that your ETC is faulty. 

3. Sporadic Idling

If you experience random idle surges, it means that your ETC is no doing great. Along with sporadic idling, you probably will also experience engine misfiring, rough idling or stalling. It is also possible that your car idles too high or too low. 

4. Intermittently Flashing Indicator Light

If you notice that the red lightning bolt flashes intermittently even after doing pedal resets, it is an indication that the ETC has some serious issue. In such a condition, you must get your trusted mechanic to check your car and do the necessary. 

What To Do When The Electronic Throttle Control Light Appears On My Dash?

If you notice that the red lightning bot light or the ETC light appeared on your dashboard while you are driving, you do not have to stop your vehicle. Just drive as fast as you can to the nearest car mechanic shop to get your car’s electronic throttle control, ETC checked. You might need a pedal reset which can be performed on your own if you know what you are doing. If that didn’t work, take your car to your trusted mechanic. 

How To Reset The Electronic Throttle Control System?

When you notice the appearance f a red lightning bolt indicator on your dashboard, you have to know that it means that the pedal position is not lined up properly. This causes miscommunication with the sensors that control the motor which opens and closes the throttle according to the pressure that you applied on the gas pedal. 

The gas pedal position is what determines the extent to which the throttle must be opened. However, the gas pedal is prone to go out of alignment when you drive your vehicle for quite a long time, which may cause miscommunication. But there is nothing to worry about in such a situation because resetting your vehicle is quite an easy task. 

Steps To Follow

Following the steps carefully to reset your pedal will help you perform the task efficiently and easily. First, proceed to turn your key in the ignition on without starting the car. Then depress your car’s gas pedal to the floor and let it up again. Then start your vehicle and press down the gas pedal again to see if your car responds and the red lightning bolt sign has disappeared from the dashboard. However, if the throttle issue continues and the red lightning bot symbol is still on, you will have to consult a mechanic to find what the issue is and get it sorted out. 


The red lightning bolt light or the ETC light on the dashboard is not something that needs major concern. But like any other issue with your car, you must give enough attention and do the necessary to fix the issue. First, proceed to do a pedal reset and if this did not work get your car’s Electronic Throttle Control checked by a mechanic. And even if the pedal reset worked but the red lightning bolt light or the ETC light keeps flashing on and off, get your car checked by a trusted mechanic as soon as possible. This article explained everything that is to know bout the red lightning bolt light that appears on your car’s dashboard. Hope you found this article helpful. 

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