What does a check engine light with a down arrow mean? causes and symptoms

Vehicle engines experience mechanical problems now and then as long as you drive the car. Some situations require immediate attention, while others might take a while and still not affect the vehicle permanently.

Therefore, you should understand the signals cars portray when there is a problem with their engine so you know when and how to respond.

When your car’s engine has a problem, it turns on the check engine light. However, other lights can appear on the display when the vehicle has some problems.

Though not a common error to see, a check engine light with a down arrow might appear, and if you clearly don’t understand the signal, there might be a problem.

Unlike the normal check engine light, which has multiple meanings and some of which indicate a minor issuer, where people often ignore and continue with their routine when this check engine light with a down arrow appears, you should react soon.

To learn what causes that specific light to turn on in your car’s dashboard, what it means, and what to do when it appears, continue reading.

What does a check engine light with a down arrow mean?

Also referred to as energy-saving light, the check engine light with a down arrow means that your car’s performance can be reduced significantly.

You can drive the car with minimal SD when the light is on, but the SD and acceleration will be reduced. The power reduction can continue till you drive the car again.

When the light appears on the dashboard, you should stop and figure out the problem or take the car for service as soon as possible. If you persist in driving while the light appears, you risk destroying the catalytic converter, which is pretty expensive to replace.

Causes of the check engine light with a down arrow

There are two primary reasons the check engine light with a down arrow might appear on display.

The PMC senses an issue with the car’s throttle actuator control

If this happens, you should stop the vehicle and check if the cables are in good shape. If they are, confirm if the sensor is working and if yes, then check whether the throttle is tight. Give the car a few minutes to cool down and restart it if it is tight.

However, if the throttle is not tight, tighten it and ensure you hear a loud click, then start the car. This does not cost you anything since you are the one operating. If all the suggested problems are not found, then ETC remains the light’s possible cause.

The ETC system of your car has a problem

If there is a problem involving the ETC system in your car, the check engine light with a down arrow will surely turn on. This problem requires urgent attention where you can take the vehicle for service or change the ETC itself.

The solution, in this case, is to take the car to your dealer to evaluate the extent of the problem and find the necessary solution.

Solving such a problem is quite costly, ranging from $ 300 to $1500, including labor. Whenever an electrically controlled throttle system is repaired, some cars require a particular re-learn procedure to operate, making the repair that pricey.

Doing any repair on the ETC system requires a lot of precision, and that is why you should look for a professional to do it.

What cars have the check engine light with a down arrow?

This problem does not occur in all vehicles but in cars with ECT systems though not all. Some examples include Buick Rainier, Saturn sl2, Buick Rendezvous, Buick Lucerne, and Buick LeSabre, to mention a few.

Does the check engine light differ from the check engine light with a down arrow?

Yes, there is a distinction between the two lights even though they both signal a problem in the engine.

The check engine light appears in every vehicle if there is a problem with the engine sensors, catalytic converter, or loose fuel cap.

In contrast, the check engine light with a down arrow is not ordinary and appears on particular vehicles with an ECT system.

While the check engine light appears due to the problems mentioned above, the check engine light with a down arrow turns on because of a problem with the ECT system, which requires an urgent check-up by a professional.


Check engine light with a down arrow appears in particular vehicles with an ECT system that requires care as soon as possible. Unlike the normal engine light, this light is pretty expensive to repair and needs a professional to correct.

The leading cause lies in the ECT system, which is not present in every vehicle.

Scroll to Top