Ford owners may have noticed a peculiar and potentially alarming message on their vehicles’ control panels recently. Every Ford owner has seen the “Service AdvanceTrac” notification while driving their vehicle.
Ford’s AdvanceTrac system prevents oversteering and understeering by reducing engine output or braking individual wheels as necessary. For optimal control and stability when driving in adverse conditions, electronic sensors relay information to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM).
In wet conditions, AdvanceTrac excels at its intended function of preventing accidents. There is always a chance that problems will arise with a traction control system, even a brand new one. Here, we’ll investigate the meaning of Ford’s AdvanceTrac message and how to fix it.
What is Service AdvanceTrac?
Ford’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system is called AdvanceTrac. The goal of this system is to eliminate skidding and subsequent accidents in extreme conditions.
Complex in design, Ford’s AdvanceTrac system uses a plethora of sensors to keep tabs on things like wheel speed and the vehicle’s overall steadiness.
In order to further reduce the likelihood of an accident brought on by a loss of traction, the system integrates several separate safety systems into a unified whole. Ford’s AdvanceTrac system is equipped with the aforementioned features.
Anti-Lock Brake Function
A vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes is less likely to skid in the event of an unexpected need to brake suddenly. The ABS controller receives information from a wheel speed sensor about wheel lockup caused by heavy braking.
The skid is then broken by the rapid pulsating of brake pressure to the offending wheel, as an instructed by the software in the ABS pump motor/valve body assembly.
Traction Control Function
Sensors placed at each wheel’s hub provide data for a traction control system to compare. The controller of the system will either cut power to the wheel showing excessive speed or apply brake pressure if it detects a deviation in wheel speeds.
This effectively equalizes the speeds of all four wheels, restoring the vehicle’s traction if it had been lost.
Directional Orientated Stability Control Function
Numerous sensors in modern vehicles detect instability and skidding. These sensors send a detailed report on the vehicle’s orientation during a skid to a predetermined controller, which then modulates the amount of power going to each wheel and applies brakes as necessary to restore control.
Accelerometers, yaw rate sensors, and sensors in the steering wheel all provide useful feedback for this process.
Why Does the “Service AdvanceTrac” Warning Light Come On?
The “Service AdvanceTrac” light on a vehicle’s dashboard may come on for a variety of reasons, but it usually indicates a problem with a vehicle’s sensors. In any case, a fault has been detected by the system controller, rendering normal operation impossible. Listed below are some of the most typical triggers for the “Service AdvanceTrac” light to come on.
1. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
The ABS system’s wheel speed sensors keep an eye on how fast each tire is spinning to prevent skidding and tire lockup.
If your vehicle’s wheel speed sensor is broken or malfunctioning, it could compromise the vehicle’s stability, causing the warning light to turn on. Loss of traction is especially possible on slick surfaces like ice and snow.
2. Faulty Rotational Speed Sensor
When it comes to the proper functioning of your vehicle, nothing plays a bigger role than the engine. If this sensor fails, it could cause problems for the ABS control module, which could then cause the AdvanceTrac warning light to come on.
3. Faulty Steering Angle Sensor
Your vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU) relies on input from the steering angle sensor, which monitors the degree to which the steering wheel is turned. If the sensor fails, your vehicle’s stability may be compromised, prompting the warning.
4. Compromised Steering System Components
Different components of the steering system work together to keep your vehicle under control at all times. The service AdvanceTrac light will turn on if any of these parts are worn or damaged to the point where they no longer contribute to the vehicle’s stability.
5. Damaged Sensor Wiring
The AdvanceTrac system’s functionality can be negatively impacted, and the warning light can illuminate, if the wiring harness connecting any of the stability-related sensors becomes loose, disconnected, or damaged.
6. Broken Clock Spring
A clock spring is the component that keeps the ECU in communication with the steering wheel of your vehicle. The signals sent to the ECU by the steering angle sensor can be impacted by a broken clock spring, leading to instability.
7. Tire or Wheel Mismatch
Having tires or wheels that don’t match can also set off the warning light. Wheel speed sensors can become unreliable if you use non-standard tires or wheels on your vehicle (such as a donut spare tire).
The AdvanceTrac system can be set up to accommodate vehicles in which Ford originally installed tires of varying diameters on each axle. However, stability control and other electronic safety systems may malfunction if you decide to run non-OEM sizes on your own.
8. Low Brake Fluid
Finally, the “Service AdvanceTrac” indicator may come on if your vehicle has low brake fluid. The brakes may not work properly if the fluid level is too low, so the light will alert you to check it. The brake warning light should also be on in most instances.
Is it Safe to Drive with Service AdvanceTrac Light On?
If you have a problem with an AdvanceTrac system, you can count on AdvanceTrac to help you out. When an active system fault is detected, however, most vehicles automatically disable all AdvanceTrac-related functions.
While this is obviously not the best scenario, you are in no more danger here than you would be in a car without a stability control system.
Unlike when an engine or transmission-related trouble code is stored, driving with an AdvanceTrac-related problem is not dangerous. Your car is merely trying to alert you to a more serious problem with its stability system.
However, the AdvanceTrac system in your vehicle should be serviced as soon as possible in order to restore the vehicle’s maximum level of safety.
Meanwhile, it’s crucial to exercise extreme caution when navigating slippery or otherwise hazardous roads, such as those left in the wake of wintry precipitation or heavy snowfall.
How to Reset the Service AdvanceTrac Light
Verifying supply voltage and ground at matching system modules may be possible in some circumstances.
It is possible for the AdvanceTrac system to fail if the input voltage isn’t fully supplied and the ground feed isn’t completely free of resistance. In any case, performing such inspections will necessitate the use of a wiring diagram or pin-out reference that is unique to the vehicle in question.
Contact a qualified service center for further evaluation if you are still unable to locate any obvious source of failure or if you do not feel comfortable tackling the diagnosis of the AdvanceTrac system on your own.
A simple software update can sometimes be installed to fix AdvanceTrac-related problems in your vehicle. Such software updates are typically of a proprietary nature, so a visit to the dealership will be required in this case.
How to Prevent Future AdvanceTrack Issues?
There are a few things you can do to keep your Service AdvanceTrac warning light from coming on in the future.
Monitor and Maintain Wheel Speed Sensors
Wheel speed sensors are an integral part of the AdvanceTrac system, so keep an eye on them. The wiring of the sensors should be checked regularly, the area should be kept clean, and broken sensors should be replaced immediately.
Use Correct Sized Wheels and Tires
It’s important to have the right tires and wheels for your Ford. The AdvanceTrac system can be negatively impacted by mismatched tires, leading to false readings.
Be Prepared for Snowy and Icy Conditions
When it’s cold and icy outside, the AdvanceTrac system can struggle. Avoid speeding or stopping suddenly, put on your winter tires, and drive at a safe speed in these conditions. As a result, fewer false alarms and actual performance problems will be triggered.
Update System Programming
The Service AdvanceTrac warning light may come on if there is a problem with the software. Keep up with any recalls or software updates issued by your car’s manufacturer, and take care of them as soon as possible.