What is the Meaning of the Wrench Lights on the Ford Escape Dashboard?: Exploring the 6 Causes of Wrench Light

Last Updated on February 18, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

The powertrain failure alert (Wrench lights) is the primary warning light on Ford cars. When it appears, it implies that the computer has detected a problem with the powertrain or four-wheel-drive system in your vehicle.

Key Takeaways

  • The wrench light indicates a powertrain or an electronic throttle control (ETC) fault on the Ford Escape dashboard
  • If there is any problem with the powertrain or ETC system then the wrench light will flash on and it will store a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in its memory
  • If the throttle body malfunctions then it can trigger the wrench light
  • If there is a problem with the transmission of your Ford Escape then the wrench light will flash on

6 Reasons That Make the Wrench Lights Illuminate

What Causes the Wrench Light to Illuminate

Ford Escape drivers have reported many reasons for the appearance of wrench lights on their dashboards. The following are the most typical causes of dashboard lights according to their opinions and analysis:

Low Voltage

When the battery voltage is low or dead, the wrench light may illuminate. Low voltages cause the computer system to malfunction, leading to the malfunctioning of the wrench.

A battery problem might include not just a low or broken battery but also any malfunction that affects the terminal voltage. Check for any corrosion on the alligator clamps and battery terminals to restore the proper terminal voltage. Remove any loose clamps and clean everything.

Advanced issues with the battery charging system, such as malfunctioning alternators or broken battery cells, are possible. In such instances, a battery and alternator tester is required. If you don’t have these tools, take your car to a technician.

Oil Cooler Failure

Engine oil performs two functions: cooling and lubrication. Sensors continuously monitor the state of the oil to identify any temperature variations. The driver receives the information by turning on the wrench light. A defective oil cooler is the most likely source of the problem.

When an oil change is needed, the wrench light will also illuminate. If you own a Ford Escape, the oil should change every 3-6 months. If you don’t have an oil change during that time, your car will alert you by flashing the wrench symbol.

Low Boost

A low boost can also trigger the wrench light in a Ford Escape. Broken hoses, damaged shaft bearings, leaking seals, contamination in the turbine or compressor sections, and damaged diesel particle filters, among other things, can cause low boost pressure.

A low boost can severely diminish the engine’s output. You may have the gas pedal depressed, but you cannot reach the appropriate speed. It usually initiates a fail-safe operation, limiting your vehicle’s power to just enough to assist you in pulling over.

Abnormal Temperature Variations between the Block and the Cylinder Head 

The cooling system or aberrant combustion in the cylinders are the most typical causes of temperature variations between the block and cylinder heads

When one of these two scenarios happens, the engine parts expand, causing different head gasket failures and other problems. In the worst-case scenario, the engine may break, requiring pricey repairs.

Sensors connect with the ECU; thus, a temperature difference on the dashboard will flash the wrench symbol. In this scenario, one should take their car for a repair for a thorough diagnosis.

Problem with the Electronic Control Body

An issue with electronic throttling is almost always the reason for the wrench light turning on. When you try to ignite your automobile, you may observe this light. It implies an underlying issue that requires more investigation.

Your car may also stall on the highway, causing a wrench light to illuminate on the dashboard. The throttling issue is most likely to blame. If the car is still operable, take it to the local mechanic. If your car doesn’t start, which is likely, call towing services to have it towed to a mechanic for inspection.

Problem with the Powertrain Sensor

Powertrain sensors connect with your car’s powertrain control module (PCM). PCM controls the engine, gearbox, and other subsystems based on data from the sensors. If the sensor fails, PCM’s functionality is severely limited. When this is identified, the wrench light on the dashboard will illuminate.

Sometimes the issue isn’t with the sensor but with the wiring. The wrench light on a Ford Escape might be caused by a loose wire, a broken wire, or an inadvertently detached wire.

Fortunately, the error code is available on the ECU and is easy to identify using a scanner. You should see a mechanic within 1-2 hours or less to get the problem fixed.

What Should You Do When a Wrench Light Turns On?

To begin with, you may not have many options other than pulling over because a vehicle’s acceleration or gearbox shifting may be severely hampered.

Even though your check engine light isn’t illuminated, the computer will likely record the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). Pending codes do not illuminate the check engine light. Get the codes if you have an OBD scanner. If you don’t have one, take your computer to a nearby parts store and get it scanned.

Because of the lower engine power, your car may be too challenging to go to the mechanic. In such a scenario, please switch off the engine and restart it after a bit; the wrench light should go away, and your car usually starts and drives. 

The light will come back on as long as the problem continues. As a result, scanning the computer and retrieving the DTCs as quickly as feasible is critical. 

If restarting the engine solves the problem, you may self-diagnose for as long as you feel comfortable doing so. It implies you may try to figure out when the wrench light turns on. For example, if after a few attempts, you discover that the wrench light illuminates whenever the automobile changes to third gear. You may deduce that the transmission is the source of the problem. 

Even if you’re not a handyman, this information will aid a technician in diagnosing and repairing the wrench light issue.

Is Driving with the Wrench  Light on Safe?

Is Driving with the Wrench  Light on Safe

The wrench light indicates an issue on the dashboard. You should not drive your car even if it does not appear to be serious. If the damage is significant, it will frequently slow and fail to start. 

Your Ford Escape will switch to Limp Mode to protect the system from additional harm if you’re lucky. It’s known as limit power. You will only get 5-10 MPH out of your automobile, no matter how hard you press the gas pedal.

Only under exceptional circumstances may you drive your automobile to a repair. An oil change may cause your automobile to work correctly. Others may cause the automobile to become immovable, and you should not push it since you may end up causing further damage.

What is the Distinction Between the Check Engine Light and the Wrench Light?

Many similarities exist between the two indicator lights. They could both turn on at the exact moment. The wrench light is part of Ford’s warning system, whereas the check engine light is part of the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system, standardized on all cars made in the United States after 1996. The wrench light suggests linked throttle control and gearbox issues.


The wrench lights indicate a more serious issue than the check engine light. Therefore, whenever your Ford Escape displays the wrench light, ensure you investigate the cause. Probable causes include low voltage, faulty body train sensor, faulty cooler, and many more. Taking your car to a mechanic for diagnosis could be a wise option.

Reference1: What Does The Wrench Light Mean On A Ford? (Car Safety Part 1) – YouTube

Reference 2: What Does the Wrench Light Mean on a Ford Escape? – VehicleHistory