Service AWD Light 101 – All You Need to Know

The All-Wheel Drive system, or AWD in short, is responsible for power distribution on all four wheels to enhance stability and traction.

So, when you see the service AWD lightturn on, you can assume that there is something wrong with the AWD system.

To determine the issues, you may have to do the following:

  • Inspect the component physically
  • Diagnose the vehicle with special tools
  • Get the car inspected by a professional

Once you find the reasons, just opt for the proper repairs, and your car will stop showing the AWD light on your dashboard.

6 Reasons Why Is The All Wheel Drive (AWD) Light Turning On

Here are some of the most common reasons why the AWD system may malfunction and trigger the AWD light:

1. Damaged or Malfunctioned Sensor

As you already know, the AWD system mainly works on the wheels of a vehicle, and it relies heavily on sensors to do that. If the sensors aren’t able to send data properly or provide false data, then the AWD light may light up.

There are sensors working on different sectors like wheel speed, traction, rotation per cycle, and others. So, even if one function is working properly, if the other is malfunctioning, then the service AWD light will be turned on.

2. Mechanical Component Failure

Component failure is often related to the light on your dashboard coming alive, and it goes for the AWD light as well. Mechanical components related to the AWD system can also trigger warning lights if they are damaged or malfunctioning.

The differential or driveshaft or faulty transfer case is often the most common part that triggers the AWD light. Apart from that, engine issues can also turn the AWD light on, but that is quite a rare occasion.

Therefore, look into the mechanical components and see if any of them are damaged, or having a leak, or just isn’t performing normally.

3. Insignificant Fluid Level 

AWD systems in the latest car models utilize different system fluids, such as differential fluid or transfer case fluid.

To cool off the temperature and lubricate the components, other types of fluid might also be used. This varies from one car model to another. You will have to look for leaks as well.

4. Electrical & Wiring Issues

Maybe the AWD system connectors aren’t working properly, or there is some damaged wiring that is stopping the system from functioning and the sensors from sending or receiving data.

This issue isn’t that common, but not impossible either. But you will need to have access to the proper tools in order to confirm that you are having an electrical issue that is triggering the AWD light.

For this reason, we recommend you get your vehicle checked out by a professional mechanic to determine whether or not the AWD lightis coming on due to any electrical problem.

5. Problem with the ECU or Software Malfunction

Modern vehicles come with a multitude of software to control various features and systems.If the system software glitches or malfunctions, then you may end up seeing the AWD light blinking.

On the other hand, if the ECU, the heart of the AWD system, somehow gets damaged, then you can be assured that you will see the AWD light illuminating.

Power surges or insufficient fuel, or overheating can lead to this but keep in mind that ECU malfunctions are extremely rare.

6. Environmental Factors

The environment and the surroundings can also play a part in the AWD light turning on. A heated environment can lead to the sensors malfunctioning or the wiring getting messed up.

During the winter, the parts may start to freeze up and break, and fluid can get frozen, which will obviously lead to the AWD light blinking.

How to Stop the Service AWD Light from Turning On?

When you can figure out what is the reason behind the AWD light coming alive on your dashboard, you can take proper steps to get rid of that problem. Here are some of the most common fixes for service AWD light blinking:

Repair or Replace the Sensors

If the sensors are damaged, then there is nothing you can do but replace them. Most of the time, repairing a sensor isn’t the best investment, as most repaired sensors start to go bad pretty soon.

But before you proceed to replace the sensors, make sure to check there isn’t some obstacle that was actually blocking the sensor from working. Sometimes dust, dirt & debris accumulate and cover the area that the sensors were supposed to track.

So, clean everything around the sensors and check your car before you proceed to replace the sensors for the AWD light to turn on.

Replace or Repair the Mechanical Components

It is quite obvious that if a mechanical component is malfunctioning, and that’s why we are getting the AWD light warning, then fixing or replacing the component will take care of the issue.

Replenish the Fluids

Find out what fluids are being used on your vehicle’s AWD light system. You should be able to find it by checking the car’s manual guide.

Then see if the tank is properly filled or not. You should also make sure that there aren’t any leaks going on, which may deplete the fluid faster.

Once that is checked, just fill up the tank with the recommended amount of fluids, and your service AWD light issue will be gone.

Check & Repair the Wiring

This is a tricky part, so unless you have hands-on experience with the car’s electrical connectors and wires, you should leave this job to a professional.

Find out which wires or connectors are to blame and replace them. Sometimes, they can get burnt due to overheating, so that may be a possibility for all the wear and tear.

When you are working with electrical issues, always make sure to turn off the car’s battery to avoid any unnecessary damage.

Reset the Software & ECU

If you are seeing the AWD light due to a software glitch, then just resetting or restarting the main software may take care of the problem. Also, make sure of the fact that your software is up to date.

But when the ECU is damaged, then you will have to get it replaced as soon as possible.

Similar to the wiring case, you may need to seek some help from a mechanic if you don’t have proper experience with ECU replacements.

Protection from Harsh Environment

When the weather condition is affecting the AWD system, then you will have to take precautions that will ensure your vehicle isn’t suffering from the environment.

These will depend on your situation, place, and environment’s temperature. For example, if it is too cold, then keep your car in a garage and turn the heater on if possible.

On the other hand, if it is hot, then don’t keep the car closed doors.

Why Should You Care About Service AWD Light?

Ignoring the Service AWD light and continuing to drive with a malfunctioning AWD system can have several consequences:

  • You Won’t Get Improved Traction

The AWD system is built to distribute power among all four wheels, improving traction and grip on the road.

So, when the system is not functioning properly, it can result in low traction, especially on slippery or uneven road surfaces. This will significantly increase the risk of losing control during acceleration, braking, or cornering.

  • Reduced Stability

A malfunctioning AWD system can impact the stability of your vehicle. The system is designed to assist in maintaining stability and preventing skidding or fishtailing. But that is compromised if you keep AWD light unchecked.

  • Damage to Other Components

In some cases, a malfunctioning AWD system can put additional strain on other drivetrain components, and if left unaddressed, this can lead to further damage and more costly repairs.

  • Decreased Fuel Efficiency

A properly functioning AWD system can optimize power distribution and improve fuel efficiency. Buy that is not possible from a malfunctioning system.

It may instead cause unnecessary power loss or imbalance, and that will result in a significantly decreased fuel economy and a higher fuel consumption rate.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. How much will it cost to fix the AWD system?

The cost will mostly vary depending on the specific issue and required repairs. That being said, you may have to spend between 1500$ to 3000$ for a complete replacement.

This price can go high or low depending on the model and manufacturer.

2. Can a loose gas cap trigger the Service AWD light?

No, a loose gas cap is unlikely to trigger the Service AWD light.

3. Is driving in two-wheel drive mode safe when the AWD system has a problem?

Yes, it is possible to drive in two-wheel drive mode but keep in mind that your vehicle’s traction and stability will be severely affected.

4. Can a dead battery trigger the Service AWD light?

Yes, it is possible that a dead battery may cause electrical issues that may trigger the Service AWD light.

Final Thoughts

The service AWD light turning on isn’t something you should sit idle with. As soon as you see the warning sign on your dashboard, stop driving your car, try to figure out the possible reason, and then act upon that information.

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