“Service AdvanceTrac” Warning Light (What it is and How to Reset)

Last Updated on January 8, 2021

If you are the owner of a Ford vehicle, you might have come to notice a curious, yet somewhat concerning message displayed upon your car, truck, or SUV’s dash. Ford owners the world over have been greeted by a “Service AdvanceTrac” message at one point or another during daily commutes. 

AdvanceTrac problems are commonly described by Ford vehicle owners, and even the company’s most prestigious models, including the Ford F150, Fusion, Edge, Explorer, and Expedition are all susceptible to such issues.

Luckily, problems of this nature are far from the end of the line for your trusty Ford, and a solution to such issues is seldom as difficult to come by as one might believe.

Read on to learn more about AdvanceTrac, and how to handle any issues with this system as they occur.

What is AdvanceTrac?

Ford AdvanceTrac

AdvanceTrac is Ford’s proprietary version of Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This system is intended to prevent vehicle skid during extreme circumstances, thereby minimizing the risk of an accident.

Ford’s AdvanceTrac system is relatively complex in nature, and utilizes a series of sensors to monitor wheel speed, as well as various other facets of vehicle stability.

The system actually combines several individual safety systems into a single integrated system, in order to further minimize the chance of a traction-loss induced accident. The following capabilities are possessed by Ford’s AdvanceTrac system.

Anti-Lock Brake Function

Anti-Lock brake systems prevent a vehicle from skidding under panicked braking conditions. When one or more wheels lock under significant brake pressure, this stoppage is communicated to a vehicle’s ABS controller by way of a wheel speed sensor.

This software then commands the system’s ABS pump motor/valve body assembly to rapidly pulsate brake pressure to the affected wheel, thereby breaking the skid.

Related:  Why is My ABS Light On?

Traction Control Function

Traction control systems compare data from speed sensors at each wheel end location. If the system’s controller detects an irregularity in wheel speed from one wheel to the next, power to any wheel that displays excessive speed will be cut, or brake pressure will be applied.

This effectively evens the speed between each of a vehicle’s four wheels, thereby remedying any prior loss of traction.

Directional Orientated Stability Control Function

Vehicles now rely upon numerous sensors to identify vehicle instability, as skidding occurs. These sensors relay a comprehensive picture of the vehicle’s orientation while in a skid, to a specified controller, which adjusts power output and brake pressure to each wheel as needed for stabilization.

Sources of feedback for this operation include steering wheel angle sensors, yaw rate sensors, and accelerometers.

Why Does the “Service AdvanceTrac” Warning Light Come On?

AdvanceTrac problems

A vehicle’s “Service AdvanceTrac” warning light can be illuminated for a number of reasons, but most often pertains to sensor-related issues. In any event, the system controller has registered a fault, which makes proper operation impossible.

The most common root causes of an illuminated “Service AdvanceTrac” warning light are as follows:

Related: How to Reset a Check Engine Light

Can You Continue Driving With the Service AdvanceTrac Light On?

When faced with an AdvanceTrac system issue, you can still drive your vehicle without any ill-effects. However, most vehicles automatically disable all AdvanceTrac related functions, when an active system fault has been detected.

While this is never an ideal situation, you are no more in harm’s way, than when driving a vehicle that is not equipped with a stability control system. 

AdvanceTrac related issues are not detrimental to a vehicle’s driveability, as is often the case when an engine or transmission-based trouble code is stored. In this instance, your vehicle is simply attempting to bring your attention to an underlying fault in its stability system.

However, it is recommended to have your vehicle’s AdvanceTrac system serviced at the first available opportunity, to restore your car’s safety to an optimal level.

In the meantime, it is also imperative to take extra caution when traversing slick or hazardous roadways, such as those encountered following wintry precipitation or heavy snowfall.

How to Reset the Service AdvanceTrac Light

best automotive diagnostic scanner

In the case of a “Service AdvanceTrac” light, motorists have little recourse but to fix the root cause behind the light’s illumination.

While it might be tempting to simply clear all pertinent codes in order to disable the system’s warning message, this is nothing more than a quick fix. This light will almost certainly reilluminate with the next cycle of the ignition, as your vehicle performs its standard system self-checks.

In the vast majority of cases, diagnosis of the issue at hand will require the use of a premium scan tool, and a trained eye. However, the avid DIY mechanic can always perform their own visual inspection in an attempt to root out obvious concerns. 

When attempting to locate the root cause of an AdvanceTrac related issue, it is advisable to carefully inspect each wheel’s speed sensor and corresponding wiring harness pigtail. Look for any signs of frayed, pinched, or corroded wires.

Also, check to ensure that all connections between these sensors and their intermediate harnesses are viable. Unplug each speed sensor pigtail from its intermediate harness to check for water intrusion.

In some cases, it might also be possible to check for supply voltage and ground at corresponding modules within the system.

Without full system input voltage, and a stable, resistance-free ground feed, the AdvanceTrac system can experience interruptions in operation. In any event, a vehicle-specific wiring diagram or pin-out reference will be required to conduct such checks.

If you are still unable to locate any obvious source of failure, or simply do not feel comfortable tackling the diagnosis of the AdvanceTrac system yourself, contact a qualified service center for further evaluation.

In some cases, a simple programming update can be installed, to rid your vehicle of AdvanceTrac related software issues. In this case, a trip to the dealership will be necessary, as such software updates tend to be proprietary in nature.

 

19 thoughts on ““Service AdvanceTrac” Warning Light (What it is and How to Reset)”

  1. My service advance Trac light came on for a few minutes in my 2010 Mercury Milan. Do I need to get it checked out? Can it be replaced/repaired? If yes how much will it cost?

    Reply
    • I would get it checked out, yes. The code will still be stored so the mechanic should be able to see what happened even if the light isn’t currently displayed on the dash.

      It can probably be replaced or repaired. It’s hard to say how much it will cost until you know exactly what the problem is. You may have to pay a small diagnostic fee for the mechanic to solve the problem, but this charge for their time is more than worth it.

      Reply
  2. On April 14, 2021 the dashboard of my 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid displayed the warnings: Check brake system, service advance track, and ABS turned off. The brakes were not reacting normally to the point that it took a lot longer to stop. The brakes felt spongy.

    On 2/14/2021 we had the same thing happening. We then thought that the 12-volt battery needed to be replaced. So we did replace it and up to April 14, 2021 there were no more problems.

    So here we are again. I don’t trust this car anymore because at any time this can happen again with some bad consequences possible. I have barely 84,000 miles on it.

    We are going to have it diagnosed by a Ford dealer but I will like some insight into this very serious safety problem.

    Reply
    • Good, a professional diagnosis is needed. It sounds like there’s definitely something wrong with the braking system, but I’m not sure if it’s as simple as air in the lines or if there is a problem with a module. Did you check the brake fluid reservoir? Any fluid missing?

      A wild guess is perhaps there is a leaking brake line and there is air in the ABS system. I’d be interested to hear back after you get the issue diagnosed by a technician at the dealership, though.

      Reply
  3. Hi, I’ve had the same issue with my 2010 Fusion Hybrid. Let the car sit with no driving during the pandemic and one tire went flat for an extended period (probably was sitting on the rim) and the battery died.
    Took it into the dealership and they diagnosed a complete replacement of the powersteering ($2200). I’ve read several forums like this and the “flat tire and/or dead battery” seems to be thematic precursor to the power steering going out and “service advancetrac now”. It seems like some people get the dealer to ‘reset the code’ and that is successful. (sometimes only temporarily). Others seem to reset codes + install a new battery to have permanent success.
    Anyone else find a solution? Or specific direction to give the dealer to make sure one can ask “Did you reset code YYYYY? I’ve read this works to restore the power steering.”

    Reply
  4. I have a 2014 f-150 and today for the first time I have three warning lights come on at the same time. The ABS, the check brake system and the service advancetrac. Never had the slightest issue before.

    Checked the brake fluid level as I just had the oil changed and it was fine.

    Checked for leaking brake fluid–no issues there.

    What next????

    Reply
    • Sounds like a bad wheel speed sensor, maybe. The best thing to do is use a scanner to check the output of each wheel speed sensor. If one isn’t registering, that’s the problem wheel. Then you can use that data to determine if the sensor itself is wrong or if there is some other mechanical or electrical issue elsewhere in the system.

      Reply
  5. I have a 2011 Lincoln MKX and after changing to new battery I have service advancetrac light on now. I had a tire with low pressure also but after adding Air the pressure illumination light went away.

    Reply
  6. What a crock of garbage. 1 year old car and it shuts down. I’m already sick of all the other automated junk that doesn’t work on this car. Now my wife cant drive her car safely. Way to go ford!

    Reply
  7. My 2018 F150 had the same track lock problem with my Power steering drive mode and many others. Found issue two ground wires under the hood driver side fender well actually behind my airbox . It’s a bad connection And over torqued which cracks The connector. Install new Connector everythings fixed .

    Reply
  8. the service advancedtrack light on my ford f150 2012 fx2 came on after I installed a 2-inch level kit on the front side of my truck… what solution is needed to avoid further problems?

    Reply
  9. most likely its the big circut fuse on the positive battery terminal , it has 2 computer harness leads going to it held on by 2 10 mm nuts,,,,,,and 1 14mm bolt holding the big fuse on the terminal…remove and replace, problem solved

    Reply

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