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The dashboard has signs, symbols, and indicators that display crucial information and warnings about your car’s condition.

If you’re driving a newer vehicle model, it might have a wrench light, and what it means would depend on your ride’s make.

What Does the Wrench Light Mean?

While the exact meaning of an illuminated wrench light on your dashboard depends on your vehicle manufacturer, it usually indicates that your car requires professional service.

Whatever the case, don’t brush it off as something you can deal with later. Here are some of the reasons the light illuminates according to different car brands:

Mazda Vehicles

Mazda uses the wrench light symbol to remind owners to take their vehicles to an auto shop for maintenance (usually just as an oil change. If you drive a Mazda, you can check your owner’s manual to see if the model you drive requires other maintenance services.

Nissan Vehicles

An illuminated wrench light on Nissan vehicles also indicates that need for maintenance. The service needed could be an oil change, spark plug replacement, and other common repairs.

The wrench light activates when your next scheduled maintenance is not far time-wise or mileage-wise. By design, it doesn’t automatically restart, so the mechanic has to reset it themselves after maintenance.

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If you recently took your car to an auto shop for servicing and the warning light still appears, it could be because the timer wasn’t reset.

Honda Vehicles

Similar to other automakers, Honda designed the wrench light as a way to alert owners that it’s time for their next scheduled maintenance appointment.

Ford Vehicles

Ford’s wrench light symbol indicates a fault in the powertrain system. This system is responsible for moving the vehicle, which involves the engine, motor, transmission, driveshaft, and other internal systems.

Here are some common issues that could lead trigger the wrench light on Ford vehicles:

Transmission Issues

The transmission transfers the power generated by the engine to the wheels using a system of gears and wiring. Because it’s part of the powertrain system, any issue that affects it could activate the wrench light.

The engine control module (ECM) or powertrain control module (PCM) usually detects issues by interpreting information from the engine sensors. If they identify faults, they would illuminate the wrench light to alert the driver.

Transmission problems could reduce your ride’s performance and make it risky to drive, so take your vehicle to a nearby auto shop immediately if your wrench light activates.

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If left unchecked, carburetor issues could cause your vehicle to jolt and overheat. Resolving them usually involves cleaning, rebuilding, or replacing the carburetor.

Battery Problems

Your car’s battery powers different electrical components, including the ECM or PCM. If the module doesn’t get enough voltage, it transmits a signal to the internal computer to illuminate the wrench light.

Check out these tutorial videos in case you need to replace your battery:

Not sure if you’re dealing with battery issues? Check your vehicle’s headlights and tail lights. If they’re dim, you probably have a battery problem.

Throttle Issues

A faulty throttle position sensor may send incorrect data to the PCM and cause the engine to malfunction, which will illuminate the wrench symbol. Similarly, a dirty throttle body may also obstruct airflow into the engine, resulting in similar issues.

Wiring Issues

Your vehicle has a complex and delicate wiring system that transmits and receives information from the internal electrical components.

If the PCM or ECM detects something is impeding the flow of information, it will trigger the wrench light.

There are different ways the wiring could be compromised, from loose connections to damaged or corroded wires. Don’t attempt to resolve connection issues on your own unless you’re a mechanic. One wrong move can make the problems worse, so it’s better to leave the task to professionals.

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Oil Change

In some cases, an illuminated wrench light means you need an oil change because the old one is affecting the performance of your engine.

Check out this video on how to change your oil and oil filter:

Can You Drive With an Illuminated Wrench Light?

Before driving with an illuminated wrench light, you have to figure out what’s causing it first. If it’s for an oil change or service, then yes, you can drive with one. Otherwise, it’s not recommended to take your vehicle out for long periods.

Before driving with an illuminated wrench light, you have to figure out what’s causing it first.

Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

In most cases, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic first to get a proper diagnosis.

About The Authors
Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
Reviewed By Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Technical Reviewer at

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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