red lightning bolt on jeep dash

What The Red Lightning Bolt on a Jeep’s Dashboard Means

Has the dreaded red lightning bolt appeared on your Jeep’s dashboard? It may be indicative of a dirty or damaged throttle body, which can lead to stalling, acceleration, or power issues. It’s typically best to call a professional when this occurs, but in the meantime, there are a few things to know that can help you understand your situation.

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What Does the Red Lightning Bolt on My Jeep’s Dashboard Mean?

Unfortunately, it’s not a simple answer, but basically, it means there is an issue with the Electronic Throttle Control or ETC. There could be multiple reasons why there is a red lightning bolt lit up on your dashboard, but the most common reason is a faulty throttle control sensor. A dirty or damaged throttle body can also be the cause, as well as a faulty sensor on your gas pedal, so it’s important to have the issue dealt with immediately.

What is the Electronic Throttle Control (ETC)?

The Electronic Throttle Control is a system that reads your usage of the accelerator pedal and relays that information to your throttle. The throttle then regulates the engine.

Simply put, it lets your car know how much power to use based on how hard you’re pressing the accelerator.

With a faulty ETC sensor, the vehicle is going blind and won’t know how to properly respond when you step on the gas pedal.

What Should I Do If the ETC Light Comes On?

You should bring your car to the shop. You can check to see if the throttle body is stuck by opening and closing it, but a professional should do the repair work.

You can try to inspect and narrow down the issue yourself if you would like, but electronic pieces that make up the ETC system are extremely sensitive and one damaged piece can cause the system to malfunction.

How to Reset the Electronic Throttle Control Warning Light

You can check to see if the ETC warning light is on due to a system glitch by attempting to reset it.

  1. Without starting the car, put the key into the ignition and in the “on” position.
  2. Gently press the gas pedal all the way down to the car floor, holding it there for about ten seconds, and then release it slowly.
  3. Turn on the car’s ignition, starting the vehicle.
  4. Press on the gas pedal again to see if the engine responds normally and to check for the red lightning bolt on the dashboard.

If the light is still displayed after attempting to reset it, then chances are there’s something actually wrong with your ETC system and you’ll have to bring it to a mechanic.

What Will a Mechanic Do First?

For starters, they have tools that allow them to read the codes off of the motherboard of the car (they read the log of the car through code numbers).

It could be something as simple as a minor glitch and the system just needs to be reset. If it’s not a system glitch, the next place they’ll check is your vehicle’s sensors. There are several sensors in the ETC system and one of them could be faulty or damaged.

If it’s not a sensor issue, it could be something more serious and you’re mechanic will be able to thoroughly inspect your vehicle to find the root of the problem.

How important is it to get the ETC fixed?

In short, it’s very important. Your ETC system is in tune with your gas pedal and other systems that can cause safety issues if not functioning properly.

When the ETC can’t read the gas pedal information, it can’t relay that information to the engine controller, thus the air-flow system won’t be adjusting to the needs of the car. That’s how you get stalling issues and acceleration differences.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to repair the ETC?

You’re looking at spending about $500-600.

Can I drive my Jeep with the red lightning bolt lit up?

Technically, yes, the car is driveable, but it is by no means safe. You shouldn’t be driving your vehicle if the red lightning bolt is lit up on your dashboard.

Can I clean the ETC myself?

Absolutely. If your throttle control is visibly dirty, it is definitely worth the shot of cleaning any muck, debris, and grime off of it before taking it to a mechanic for an evaluation.

Check out this guide from YouTube EricTheCarGuy on some quick tips for cleaning your Throttle


The red lightning bolt on your vehicle does not mean it is the death of your car; there could be easy fixes, such as cleaning the ETC yourself, that clear up the symptoms of a dirty / clogged ETC. If there is visible damage, that’s when you take it to a mechanic (or if you were not able to resolve the issue yourself).

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