Ask the expert: ‘Is a dashboard warning light a sign of imminent engine failure?’

Alex Robbins is contributing editor at Telegraph Cars where, as well as responding to readers’ queries, he also contributes reviews of new and used cars, together with articles on buying and selling. 

His knowledge of the used car market informs his many buying guides relating to the best buys in particular sectors, with an emphasis on value for money.  Every week he will answer your questions on buying and selling, as well as solving your car problems, whether consumer or mechanical.

Do you have a motoring dilemma you’d like our expert to solve?  For consumer and used car advice, or car faults, email CarsAdvice@telegraph.co.uk and include your subscriber number. This week’s question…


Dear Alex…

I have owned a Ford Fiesta automatic since September. I am trying to ascertain what the blue and white “foot on pedal” symbol on the dashboard indicates as it seems to illuminate at random. I asked my dealership whether I needed to do anything about it. They said that “the warning is normal and references the hybrid system”, but gave no explanation and didn’t specify whether any action should be taken. Indeed, their email raises more questions than it answers, because I was not aware my car was a hybrid. Can you help?

– GS

Dear GS,

I agree that the response from the dealership wasn’t particularly helpful – and, as it turns out, it was completely incorrect. 

Firstly, the foot-on-pedal symbol is nothing to do with your car’s supposed hybrid system. And rest assured it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your car, either. It’s a system Ford fits to most of its cars these days, known as “Efficient Drive Mode”, which coaches you to drive more gently and efficiently.

The idea is that if you’re driving inefficiently – using lots of heavy pedal inputs on the accelerator and the brake – then the symbol will turn white. Once you drive more efficiently, with smoother inputs, it’ll go blue, or even green if you’re doing it really well. 

As to whether your car is a hybrid, it is admittedly a bit of a crapshoot. Ford introduced mild hybrid engines to the Fiesta in the latter part of 2021, but at the time automatic cars weren’t included so still had the non-hybrid petrol engine. Today, however, Ford lists automatic hybrids alongside the manual models, and I couldn’t find any documentation to say when they were introduced. 

To try and get confirmation either way, I asked Ford to double-check using your car’s registration. They dug up the exact specification of your car, and confirmed it isn’t a hybrid, which rather makes the dealership’s response to you look even more ridiculous. 

It’s hard to say for sure why they fobbed you off with such an inaccurate answer, but it is proof positive that one shouldn’t take everything even a main dealer tells you as gospel.


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