Powertrain Fault Warning Light Mean

A Powertrain Fault Warning Light indicates there is an issue with the vehicle’s powertrain. This includes the engine, transmission and drivetrain. When this light comes on, it means that there is a problem with one or more of these components.

You will often hear the terms drivetrain and powertrain used interchangeably, and both can mean the entire system that makes your car move, from the engine to the transmission’s output. If you see this indicator light come on in your car, you should take it very seriously, as these parts are extremely complex, and can result in very costly repairs.

What Does a Powertrain Warning Light Mean?

A powertrain fault warning light means the vehicle’s diagnostic system detects a powertrain fault. The automotive powertrain is the group of components that generate and deliver the power required to move the vehicle. It includes the engine, transmission, drive shafts, differentials, and perhaps other components like a supercharger or torque converter. Within some or all of these parts are sensors. These sensors help your car’s diagnostic system determine if a problem exists somewhere in the powertrain.

Causes of Powertrain Fault Light

Since your car’s powertrain is complex and made of several moving parts, various causes can lead to a malfunction.

  • Sensors failed: Sensors are part of your car’s electrical system. Over time, sensors can wear out and stop working. Unfortunately, powertrain sensors can cause the Powertrain Fault Light to come on.
  • Wire is loose: Sometimes there is a loose wire or connection in your car’s powertrain system causes powertrain fault warning light to come on.
  • Engine’s Malfunctioning: This is big problem, as your engine is the most important part of your car. In this case, you need a tow to the nearest service station.
  • Transmission system is going out: This cause is obviously more serious, and you’ll need a tow. Although you could have dirty or degraded transmission fluid, there might also be damage to the car’s gears. Your mechanic will diagnose the extent of the problem and recommend appropriate repairs.

What to do if Powertrain Fault Indicator lighting on while driving

If the powertrain fault indicator light is on while you’re driving, it means that there is a problem with your vehicle’s engine, drivetrain or transmission. This can be a serious problem, so it’s important to take action right away.

Here are some steps to take if your powertrain fault indicator light is on:

  1. Pull over as soon as possible and turn off the engine.
  2. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see what the drivetrain fault indicator light means for your specific make and model.
  3. If you’re able to, call a tow truck or roadside assistance to take your vehicle to the nearest service station or dealership.
  4. If you’re not able to call for help, drive cautiously to the nearest mechanic or service station. Do not exceed 45 mph (70 km/h) and do not drive for more than 30 minutes.
  5. Once you’re at the mechanic or service station, they will be able to diagnose and fix the problem with your vehicle’s engine or transmission.

What Causes Powertrain Problems?

There are several different things that can cause powertrain problems. Here are some of the most common:

  • Transmission problems: If your transmission isn’t working properly, it can put stress on the driveshaft, axles, and differential. This can cause a whole host of powertrain problems.
  • Misfiring engine: If one or more cylinders in your engine aren’t firing properly, it can cause vibrations and shaking that will damage other parts of the powertrain.
  • Normal wear and tear: The parts of your powertrain are subject to a lot of stress and friction, so it’s not surprising that they eventually start to wear out. Over time, bearings can become loose, gears can strip, and seals can leak.
  • Low oil level: If your oil level is low, it means there’s not enough lubrication for the moving parts in your vehicle. This can cause premature wear and potentially damage bearings, gears, and other parts.
  • Coolant leaks: A coolant leak can lead to overheating, which can damage bearings, gaskets, and other parts of the powertrain.
  • Dirty oil: If your oil is dirty or has broken down, it won’t be able to lubricate your engine properly. This can cause the same problems as low oil levels.

Symptoms of a Bad Powertrain

There are a few different things that can go wrong with your powertrain, and they often manifest in similar ways. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to take your car to a mechanic for a diagnosis.

  • Shaking or vibration: This is usually indicative of an imbalance in the rotating assembly (rod bearings, crankshaft, flywheel, etc.), and is most noticeable at idle or when accelerating.
  • Strange noises: Grinding, whirring, growling, or humming sounds could indicate trouble with your bearings, gears, or other moving parts. These noises are usually most pronounced when starting from a stop or accelerating.
  • Leaks: Many fluids in your car (coolant, oil, transmission fluid) should never leak. If you notice a puddle beneath your car, it’s time to have it checked out.

How to fix a Powertrain Problems

The best course of action is to let an expert mechanic diagnose the problem and repair your car.

But if you have a good mechanical knowledge and you decide to try and fix the problem yourself, here are some steps to follow.

However, it’s important to remember that this is a complex system and you should only attempt repairs if you’re confident in your abilities.

First start by checking your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see what the powertrain fault warning light means for your specific make and model. This will give you an idea of what might be wrong with your vehicle. Second you need to scan for OBD2 Trouble Code (DTC) using OBD2 scanner.  Then you can take your code to the internet to find the cause of your fault and how to fix it. Once you know what the problem is and how to fix, you can purchase the necessary replacement parts and install them. Once everything is fixed, it’s time to erase the codes. Plug your scanner back in and erase the trouble code. You might need to confirm the changes. We recommend rescanning the engine to be sure they are gone. You will also see the powertrain fault warning light goes off.

If you can’t find the information you need online — or you don’t feel comfortable attempting repairs yourself—and the warning light on the car is still illuminated. We recommend getting to the service station to find out what the problem is or consider calling your local dealership for help.


The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or expert mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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