Skip to Content

Red Lightning Bolt And Check Engine Light On My Jeep Patriot – What Could Be Wrong?

Seeing your check engine light and red lightning bolt symbol appear on your dash might make you wonder what's wrong with your Jeep Patriot. That's why we searched the internet for the cause of this problem and here is what we discovered. 

Your Jeep's red lightning bolt is on because the electronic throttle control is compromised. Malfunctions in the electrical system and sensors can also cause this warning light to turn on. 

Other possible reasons they turn on include a loose gas cap, low battery charge, faulty spark plugs, malfunctioning mass air flow (MAF) sensor, damaged catalytic converter, and broken O2 sensor. 

Before you continue reading, let us say we hope you find the links here useful. If you purchase something through a link on this page, we may get a commission, so thank you!

Continue reading as we elaborate on why these problems cause your red lightning bolt and check engine light to come on. Additionally, we'll tackle whether you can drive with these warning lights on and many more. So, let's start.

Causes Of Why The Red Lightning Bolt Of Your Jeep Patriot Is On

View to the front of dark 2015 Jeep Patriot driving in the mountains during winter with trees covered in white snow, Red Lightning Bolt And Check Engine Light On My Jeep Patriot - What Could Be Wrong?

When you see that the red lightning bolt in your dashboard is on, it may cause concern and make you wonder what's wrong with your vehicle.  Here are the possible causes of why this warning light comes on. 

Electronic Throttle Control Malfunction

You'll know you have problems with the ETC when you observe communication issues with the EC module in regulating the speed and throttle opening.

This creates a gap in the electrical connection between two ETS parts or an electrical short in one of the sensor inputs on the TPS signal line that affects both high-voltage circuits.

Additionally, the ETC sensor informs the car's computer about the position of the throttle body so that the computer box can determine the appropriate fuel and timing ratios and change everything else. So, when this sensor malfunctions, everything the ECU controls will have messy timing and make the red lightning bolt turn on. 

Electrical System Error

An electrical system error occurs when one of the car's primary electrical circuits has a wiring or grounding problem. Check for and mend any broken or loose connections on your Red Lightning Bolt dash and any corroded terminals to resolve this problem.

Dirty Throttle Body

The system may detect an ETC issue by flashing the red lightning bolt icon on your Jeep dashboard when a dirty throttle body is stuck or broken. You may check to see if the throttle body is functioning correctly by performing a visual and mechanical inspection.

Before opening and closing the throttle body, be cautious and look around for any visual obstructions. When you release it, the throttle body should automatically close and open with minimal effort.

How Do You Know If You Have Problems With Your Electronic Throttle Control?

Using a scan tool for auto repair diagnostics and check engine

Here are the signs that you have a malfunctioning ETC: 

  • When the throttle body is malfunctioning, either more or less air enters the mixture, resulting in a lack of power and improper acceleration of the vehicle.
  • When you depress the accelerator pedal, the ETC instructs the throttle body how much to open. However, if the controls are broken, you won't be able to press the pedal and accelerate as you should.
  • One of the telltale indicators of a throttle body that isn't working correctly is poor or low idling. The throttle may close excessively while moving or idling. If this occurs, your engine may stall out because it isn't receiving enough air to function correctly.
  • On the other hand, a throttle body that never completely closes to a normal idle might occasionally result from defective electronic throttle controls. Instead, it could only completely close, creating an abnormally high idle.
  • The buildup of dirt and filth inside the component, also known as coking, is one of the main reasons the throttle body will become clogged. This results in a rough surface, which disrupts the flow of air and fuel and reduces the performance of your engine.
  • Similar issues are brought on by carbon deposits, which create an uneven surface inside the part.
  • The check engine light comes on as a result of the electronic throttle control being notified that there is a problem with the performance of the throttle body. A malfunctioning throttle body is merely one of several causes for illuminating this alert. 

Why Does The Check Engine Light Of Your Jeep Patriot Come On?

Car dashboard in close up

A check engine light may illuminate for various causes, and in this section, we'll elaborate on the typical reasons why this happens.

Loose Gas Cap

It's unbelievable that a gas cap might turn on your check engine light, but it has happened. Your gas cap serves as the fuel system's seal and aids in preserving the pressure in your fuel tank. Your gas mileage may suffer, and your car's emissions may rise if the cap is loose or damaged.

Low Battery Charge

In addition to providing the vehicle with electrical power, the battery regulates and stabilizes system voltage. It's crucial to always start by getting the battery tested when diagnosing a check engine light.

The right input voltage is essential for a car computer, just like any other computer. The computer and other electrical and electronic components can experience issues due to a faulty battery. 

Faulty Spark Plugs

Your car will operate poorly and have less power if your spark plugs or spark plug wires are defective or old. Your engine may have difficulties starting or running altogether in some rare circumstances. Worn ignition coils and O2 sensors can lead to blocked catalytic converters or break, requiring significant and expensive repairs.

Plug failure cannot be avoided, it simply occurs over time. Replace your spark plugs right away if they are the problem. A mechanic can complete the task quickly, and replacement plugs are typically cheap.

Malfunctioning O2 Sensor

Unburned oxygen is detected in the exhaust by an oxygen sensor, which provides engine efficiency and the correct air-to-fuel ratio information about engine efficiency and the proper air-to-fuel ratio.

A malfunctioning sensor won't give the onboard computer accurate information. Most cars have between two and four sensors. The mechanic will be informed which one is providing a reading outside of its range by the OBD II code.

Defective Mass Airflow Sensor

Based on the air entering the engine, this component tells the computer in your car to inject the right amount of fuel. When a mass airflow sensor begins to malfunction, the car will stall, idle badly, emit more pollutants, and get less mileage.

A malfunctioning mass airflow sensor may occasionally be caused by an air filter that has never been changed or that was put incorrectly. Every year, have your air filter inspected and changed.

Damaged Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters aid in lowering emissions of exhaust gases. The carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases are changed into less hazardous pollutants.

Your gas mileage will suffer if your converter fails, and if the damage is severe enough, you won't be able to accelerate your car any farther by applying more pressure to the gas pedal.

Broken O2 Sensor

Unburned oxygen is detected in the exhaust by an oxygen sensor, which provides information about engine efficiency and the correct air-to-fuel ratio. A malfunctioning sensor won't give the onboard computer accurate information.

In addition to lowering your miles per gallon, a bad sensor can damage your catalytic converter and the spark plugs in your 2016 Jeep Patriot.

The car's onboard computer receives data from the O2 sensor to determine the proper mixture of fuel and air that enters the engine's cylinders. A bad O2 sensor might also make a car fail an emissions test.

Can You Still Drive If Your Jeep's Check Engine Light And Red Lightning Bolt Are On?

Jeep Wrangler logo and interior detail

It is not advisable to do so. Even while you can get away with driving for a short while with a malfunctioning ETC, doing so repeatedly could lead to problems and damage your engine.

Driving with these problems can be risky. Consistently accelerating can quickly turn fatal, so you should avoid driving when your Jeep is flashing the red lightning bolt indicator.

Also, you shouldn't continue driving if your check engine light blinks. It frequently signifies an engine misfire. If you continue driving, the catalytic converter will likely sustain the most irreparable damage.

On the other hand, you can continue to drive the vehicle if the check engine light is on continuously. You have to ensure the vehicle's vital components, including the brakes and lights, are working.

Final Thoughts

Black Jeep Patriot car moving on the street

You know something is wrong with your Jeep Patriot when you see the check engine light and the red lightning bolt come on. Although there are a few reasons why the red lightning bolt turns on, including the electrical system and sensors malfunction, the main reason is likely a faulty electronic throttle control.

On the contrary, there are various reasons why the check engine light of your Jeep comes on. A loose gas cap, low battery charge, damaged spark plugs, broken MAF sensor, damaged catalytic converter, or faulty O2 sensor could all cause these warning lights to turn on. 

If you enjoyed this post, check out other related articles here:

How To Bypass The Check Engine Light For Remote Start [Quickly & Easily]

Check Engine Light Comes On And Off While Driving - What Could Be Wrong?