Ford Expedition In Fail Safe Mode – What To Do?

You're about to take your Ford Expedition for a drive, but its performance is less than satisfactory. Then, you notice an error that appears that says "failsafe mode" on the dashboard or the touchscreen interface. So what can you do in this situation? We researched the answer to this concern, and here's what we found.

A Ford Expedition in engine failsafe mode typically requires you to take immediate action to solve the car’s problem. Park the vehicle in a safe spot. Then, troubleshoot the issue to diagnose and identify the problem’s origin. That way, you can use the appropriate solution based on your findings.

Take note that a Ford Expedition’s failsafe mode can activate because of different reasons. So continue reading to know some of the potential harm to this SUV that can lead to its limp mode activating. We’ll also tackle some possible solutions to certain problems that may aid in restoring the car’s normal functions.

Ford Expedition seven passenger suv at a dealership, Ford Expedition In Fail Safe Mode - What To Do?

What Does It Mean When It Says Engine Failsafe Mode?

The engine failsafe mode in cars, including the Ford Expedition, generally means the vehicle will attempt to sustain normal operation despite worst-case scenarios. It’s like an adrenaline rush that allows the car to run even though it experienced harm that might otherwise put the engine out of commission.

Error icons on car dashboard

Also called limp mode, engine failsafe mode functions by ensuring the car’s motor stays functioning during the drive duration. Once you see the indicator for this mode is active, it’s best to drive to the nearest automotive service shop to help assess, repair, and/or replace damages to your vehicle.

Take note that engine failsafe mode can activate because of different reasons. Some possible triggers include:

Damaged Oil Pump

If the engine failsafe mode is the adrenaline of your Ford Expedition, the oil pump is the heart. It functions by pumping oil to different assemblies and components that need lubricant. So harm to the oil pump can mean serious problems for the engine, resulting in the failsafe mode’s activation.

Some possible causes that may lead to oil pump failure are:

  • Engine sludge and oil contamination
  • Improper oil pump installation
  • Oil line leaks
  • Low engine oil levels and irregular oil changes
  • Oil suction tube blockage

If you need help in checking if your car’s oil is low, read our post on that topic to know the appropriate steps.

Bad Torque Converter

A torque converter works the same as a manual vehicle’s clutch. It functions by allowing the car’s computer to modify the RPMs needed on-the-fly. That way, you won’t have to change gears manually, which you’d otherwise do while driving a manual transmission vehicle like some Ford Expedition models.

So a torque converter failure may significantly reduce the vehicle’s performance. Serious harm to this assembly might also promote the activation of the failsafe mode.

Keep in mind that it's still possible to prevent your Ford Expedition's torque converter from becoming irreparable. You can achieve this objective by understanding the symptoms of a torque converter malfunction like:

  • Loss of RPM and acceleration
  • Gear slips
  • Shift to park error message
  • Transmission overheat
  • Transmission leak

Watch the video below if you want to learn more about how a torque converter works:

Blown Head Gaskets

Engine head gaskets have an important role as a sealant. It seals the engine block’s combustion chamber, allowing the assembly to build the right amount of compression. That way, your Ford Expedition can sustain the appropriate engine power based on driving needs.

When the head gasket blows, an immediate pressure loss within the engine block will occur. This event will most likely lead to a significant power loss. If your Expedition’s other systems are still relatively intact, it may activate its failsafe mode to help you reach your destination.

Also, take note that head gaskets generally have lifespans. So this component in a Ford Expedition may have a different serviceable life when compared to a Toyota car. Learn more about the longevity of a Toyota head gasket by reading our post on that subject.

How Do You Fix A Ford Expedition In Failsafe Mode?

Ford expedition on the parking lot

Take note that repairing a Ford Expedition and removing its failsafe mode requires you to determine the exact cause of the issue. Also, the problems associated with this mode are often quite serious. So it's best to let expert technicians handle the repairs if you don't have the recommended level of confidence or skill to complete the task with as minimal risks of errors as possible.

Replace The Oil Pump


You can typically find a Ford Expedition’s oil pump behind the balancer and the timing chain enclosure. Once found, remove the oil pan and timing chain. Then, take out the oil pump screen. Don’t forget to remove its bolts, if any.

After removing those parts, you should now be able to take out the old and/or broken oil pump from the engine block. Once removed, continue this process by following these steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Automotive oil
  • Funnel
  • Fixed wrench
  • Angled ratchet wrench
  • Flexible head wrench

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pour oil into the new pump. You may need to use the funnel to reduce spills.
  2. Slide the new oil pump into its mount.
  3. Push the assembly at the top, which should help expose a bolt at its bottom.
  4. Secure the bolt using an appropriate wrench.
  5. Reinstall the removed parts, namely the timing chain, oil pan, and oil pump screen.
  6. Turn on the engine to see if the limp mode sign persists.

Check out this replacement oil pump for Ford vehicles on Amazon.

Watch this video to gain additional insight into the installation of an oil pump for a Ford Expedition:

Change The Head Gasket

Replacement of the cylinder head gasket

Replacing a blown gasket from relatively any vehicle often requires care and precision. Mishandling the assemblies and parts may lead to further complications.

Also, considerable strength can help make this procedure easier than expected. It’s because you need to pull parts of the engine block out of the Expedition’s hood.

Take note that the removal process is considerably lengthy. You can watch this video if you need help with this part of the operation:

Once removed, continue this operation by following these steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement head gasket
  • Bolts
  • Wrenches

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Clean the surface of the head gasket assembly.
  2. Place the new head gasket and ensure the holes align.
  3. Secure the assembly with the appropriate bolts.
  4. Adjust the torque of the bolts as recommended by the vehicle or head gasket manufacturer.
  5. Return all assemblies and parts into the Ford Expedition.
  6. Ignite the engine to check if the failsafe or limp mode notification persists.

Check out this head gasket set for different Ford vehicles on Amazon.

You can also watch this video if you need additional assistance with the head gasket installation process:

How Do I Reset My Ford Expedition’s Limp Mode?

First, check your Ford Expedition’s owner’s manual to see the exact steps to reset the failsafe or limp mode on your specific vehicle. If the information isn’t available, you may need to request help from the carmaker’s customer or technical help representative.

Still, it might be possible to reset or temporarily deactivate the limp mode by following these steps:

  1. Park the vehicle at a safe location as soon as the failsafe or limp mode indicator appears.
  2. Engage the parking brake (for manual transmission) or put the gear shifter to the “Park” position (for automatic transmission).
  3. Turn off the engine and let it cool down for at least 60 seconds.
  4. Restart the engine and continue to drive as normal.

Take note that these steps may not always work. If this procedure doesn’t solve the issue, send your vehicle to a reliable automotive technician as soon as possible.

Is It Expensive To Maintain A Ford Expedition?

Ford expedition display in international autoshow

Ford Expedition models are typically more expensive to maintain than other SUVs. Generally, Expedition owners need to spend about $361 to $1,949 in annual maintenance costs. In comparison, some other SUV models would only need approximately $310 in yearly care expenses.

Despite the expensive maintenance fees, Ford Expeditions are usually more reliable than some SUVs. In other words, an Expedition owner should expect the vehicle to malfunction or break down less frequently as opposed to driving a similar vehicle.

Final Words

Attempt to drive to the nearest safe parking spot when you see your Ford Expedition’s failsafe mode activate. If possible, drive the SUV to the closest automotive repair shop. However, don’t attempt to turn on the vehicle’s engine again after turning it off. Otherwise, it might lead to serious issues.

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