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Ford F150 Hill Descent Control Fault – What To Do?

Hill descent control (HDC) is a driver's support system. It allows drivers to slowly descend mountains and drive on loose or snow-covered surfaces. But what do you do if something's wrong with the HDC in your Ford F-150? Don't worry, as we have researched the problem for you.

The message HDC FAULT SYSTEM NOT AVAILABLE will show in the message center of your Ford F-150 if a defect in the HDC system is discovered. Here are some problems and possible solutions:

  • Hill Descent/AdvanceTrac Fault Issue
  • Service AdvanceTrac and Check Brake System
  • Overheating Protection

If a flaw is found, HDC will fade away, although the system is operational.

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Now that you know the common errors with HDC in the Ford F-150, continue reading to learn more about the HDC and other issues that might be related to it.

extreme photo of a ford f150 new model off roading on mountains beautiful sky at the back, Ford F150 Hill Descent Control Fault - What To Do?

Problems That Are Related To Hill Descent Control

Below is a detailed discussion of a few problems that are related to HDC, as mentioned above. Here they are:

The Hill Descent/AdvanceTrac Fault Issue

Many of you may have experienced seeing the warning message saying "Hill Descent Control Fault" and another about Service AdvanceTrac. We found out that mostly the issue is the alignment of the steering rack, but you should still contact your local dealer to check it.

Another thing that you can try is to use the dashboard in your Ford vehicle, go to the touchscreen settings and reset the system back to factory default. Check to see if that works. If not, we recommend bringing your truck to the nearest local dealer for servicing.

Service AdvanceTrac and Check Brake System

The truck is not equipped with the hill descent control feature, but the instrument cluster shows there is a fault. The instrument cluster reads "Service AdvanceTrac" and "Check Brake System" in succession.

Call for professional help to properly diagnose the problem, as your ABS could malfunction. You have to be ready to bring out some cash as there is a chance that your ABS needs replacing.

This can cost you up to $1000 and even more depending on the repairs that will be done. 

Overheating Protection

After some continuous use, the system would require a cool-down period. When the hill descent control system disengages for cooling, the message center displays a warning and a tone sound. When this pops up, apply on the brakes to make the system cool down. 

The amount of time the system may be operating before cooling varies depending on the vehicle's conditions, such as the weather, terrain, brakes, vehicle speed, etc.

At this point, you should manually apply brakes to maintain the descent speed as the HDC will disable itself until it's ready to be used again.

What Is Hill Descent Control?

Photo of a how hill decent control system works, blue car with HDC and other blue car without HDC

While descending a steep gradient, this technology continuously changes brake pressure to reduce slippage and maintain a constant preset speed.

This allows you to not step on the brakes at all or change the gear of the transmission. You only need to focus on the steering.

Hill descent control may keep the vehicle's speed between 2 and 12 mph on a downhill gradient. The device stays enabled over 20 mph, but the fall speed can be adjusted until you get under 20 mph.

It is primarily a driver assistance system that incorporates traction control and anti-lock brakes. While descending a steep gradient, this technology continuously changes brake pressure to reduce slippage and maintain a constant preset speed.

Enabling Or Disabling HDC

By pushing the hill descent control button on the instrument cluster above the infotainment touchscreen, you may enable or disable it. Light and a tone indicator can be heard whenever the system is turned on.

What Does The HDC Light Mean

photo of a vehicle stability button downhill assist control hill decent control

When this indicator illuminates, the system is engaged and monitors the wheels to ensure they are in proper working order. Remember that certain systems must be turned on manually, although others may do it automatically.

The owner's handbook will explain how and when to utilize your vehicle's hill descent control.

This warning light cannot warn you whenever the brakes are engaged, but it will turn on if your car maintains a steady speed without you stepping on the brakes.

Note that the hill descent control relies on the ABS to work, and any issues with your ABS will most likely prevent you from utilizing the hill descent control system.

Rough Terrain Low-Speed Cruise Control

photo of 2020 ford f150 raptor most extreme model blue color paint

HDC, like many other sophisticated driver assistance systems and automobile safety features, automates a process that a driver would otherwise perform manually.

In this scenario, the aim is to maintain traction while managing the vehicle's speed on a downslope. Drivers often do this by downshifting and hitting the brakes, which is also the fundamental mechanism used by HDC systems.

HDC functions similarly to traction control and electronic stability control. HDC can communicate with the ABS hardware and pulse the brakes without the driver's intervention.

Each wheel may be individually controlled in this method, enabling the system to sustain traction by locking or unlocking individual wheels.

Tips When Activating HDC Feature

  • When using hill descent assistance, do not attempt to go down a slope or other surfaces that are bumpier than what you would ordinarily attempt to drive on.
  • Some models of hill descent aid will trigger your brake lights whenever it activates; if it does not, keep softly pressing the brake to alert vehicles behind you that you may are progressively slowing.
  • When driving downhill, keep an eye out for any hazards and also be ready to steer to safety if required.

What Is AdvanceTrac, And Why Is It Related To HDC?

Ford's AdvanceTrac technology is rather complicated, employing a range of sensors to track wheel speed as well as numerous other aspects of vehicle stability. It shows or might pop up after the HDC fault notification.

In order to reduce the likelihood of a traction-loss-induced accident, the system integrates multiple independent safety mechanisms into a single integrated system.

What Exactly Is AdvanceTrac Service?

photo of a ford f150 2022 captured on the road on mountains

Service AdvanceTrac is a warning light that appears on the dashboards of Ford automobiles. It alerts the driver when the vehicle's electronic system has discovered a problem that requires quick attention.

Reasons Why The "Service AdvanceTrac" Warning Light Come On

The following are the most typical causes of an activated "Service AdvanceTrac" warning light:

  • Wheel Speed Sensor Failure
  • Rotational Speed Sensor Fault
  • Steering Angle Sensor Fault
  • Deficiencies in Steering System Components
  • Sensor Wiring Damage
  • Problems with System Programming

Can You Drive While the Service AdvanceTrac Light Is Still On?

You could still drive your car if there is a problem with the AdvanceTrac system. When an active system malfunction is identified, most cars automatically disable all AdvanceTrac-related functions.

Although this is never an ideal situation, you are no more at risk than when driving a car without a stability control system.

How Can I Reset My AdvanceTrac F150 Service?

You need to be capable of resetting the AdvanceTrac light by removing the battery's ground terminal. After disconnecting the battery, press the foot brake for a couple of seconds to ensure that any remaining power in the system is drained. After that, reconnect the battery.

What Is The Cost Of Repairing AdvanceTrac?

The cost of repairing the service AdvanceTrac light ranges from $100 to $250, depending on where you live and which vehicle repair shop you hire.

How Do Hill Assist and Hill Descent Control Differ?

Hill descent control can be applied to navigate steep inclines, especially in poor terrain, which might endanger your vehicle.

Hill start assist is handy in any case where you're stuck on a hill, especially while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic or up a sloped driveway or ramp.

Is It Possible To Use Hill Descent Control In Reverse?

HDC systems may not function correctly in all ratios and vehicle combinations. They will function in the first low and reverse, although potentially not in the high range if installed.

Can Hill Descent Control Function In The Snow?

It is very safe to use on icy pavement hills. We also recommend replacing your wheels with winter tires for the best grip in the snow. 

What Other Car Models Include Hill Descent Control?

Hill descent control is available as an option on these models:

  • Alfa Romeo (Stelvio)
  • Aston Martin (DBX)
  • Audi (A4 Allroad, A6 Allroad, E-Tron, Q3, Q5, Q7, Q8)
  • Bentley (Bentayga)
  • BMW (X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7)
  • Chevrolet (Colorado, Tahoe, Silverado, Suburban)
  • Ford (Explorer, Expedition, F-150, Super Duty)

Summing Up

extreme photo of a ford f150 new model off roading on mountains beautiful sky at the back

If the steering rack and not the system reset is the answer, then the best advice is you should contact your Ford car dealer. Sometimes, the HDC is not the problem. Maybe something in your car triggered the HDC fault to pop up.

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