What Does It Mean

Ford “System Off to Preserve Battery Life”: What Does It Mean?

If you’ve ever owned a modern Ford vehicle long enough, then you may have experienced receiving a notification on your dashboard screen saying “System Off to Preserve Battery Life”.

While the message itself already gives you an idea of what it is, it still leaves unanswered questions of why your vehicle says it and what’s going to happen next.

As a team of automotive geeks that have written tons of articles about Ford, we’ve got your back in answering what the exact purpose of this message is and what you can do about it.

What does Ford’s “System Off to Preserve Battery” mean?

The “System Off to Preserve Battery” notification serves as an alert or warning that your Ford’s battery is already running low, which can be due to its age, loose or damaged terminals, extreme temperatures, or a bad alternator.


As the message itself suggests, an issue with the vehicle’s battery is the main culprit behind the system getting turned off.

But another question you might be asking is, what does it exactly turn off in the system? Well, the battery powers lots of accessories on the vehicle, and there’s a chance that it can turn off several or all of these depending on how much battery life you have left.

Such accessories can include different interior lights, headlights, air conditioning, LED screen, and radio. These can be turned off to preserve your battery just enough for you to get a new replacement.

In worst-case scenarios, if you ignore the message and some accessories get shut off, you may even experience the car stalling, leaving you stranded while on the road.

However, the battery running low is only one of several possible reasons why a Ford vehicle gives you the “system off” message.

Hence, we’ll be enumerating and explaining the other possible causes for you to consider in the next part.  

Causes of “System Off to Preserve Battery” on a Ford

Ford’s “System Off to Preserve Battery” can pop up when the battery is running low, needs to be replaced, is exposed to extreme temps, or has loose/damaged terminals.

It can also appear when you have a faulty alternator, are experiencing a parasitic drain, or left something turned on in the car.

Battery is Running Low


The battery on your Ford simply running low on juice is one of the most common reasons why the “System Off to Preserve Battery” notification starts popping up on your dashboard.

In addition, you’re more than likely to have not that much life left on your Ford’s battery if it’s already getting old, as most batteries on Ford vehicles only last an average of 4 to 7 years before they need replacing.

Battery Needs to be Replaced

Apart from the “system off” message itself, if you start noticing symptoms such as the various lights on the vehicle getting dimmer or taking a long time to start the engine, then it’s definitely worth checking your battery if it already needs replacing.

It’s also important to remember that not using the vehicle for a long time can also drain the battery, as it still uses a bit of power to operate certain accessories like the dashboard clock, the alarm system, and the radio.

Resetting the Battery Monitoring/Management System

By the time you do get your Ford’s battery replaced, you also need to make sure that you reset the Battery Monitoring/Management System (BMS).

Ford’s built-in BMS maintains the battery’s charge while the vehicle is turned off and uses monitoring sensors on the negative terminal to give you data regarding things such as the current battery voltage and temperature.

As you’d expect, the BMS also saves such data within its system. But the problem is that the data still remains even after you’ve already changed the

battery, which can cause the system to not recognize that the battery has already been replaced.

In order to reset the Ford Battery Management/Monitoring System (BMS) to allow the saving of new data from the new battery, the following steps should be performed:
Turn the ignition to the ON position/push the start button only until the dashboard lights up.Flash the bright/high beam headlights 5 times.Push and release the brake pedal 3 times.Wait for the battery light on the dashboard to flash to finish the reset.

Battery Exposed to Extreme Temperatures


Your Ford’s battery, just like the rest of the components in the engine bay, can be subject to extreme temperatures whether you’re out and about or just parked under the sun.

Under constant exposure to either scorching or freezing weather conditions, the lifespan of a battery can get significantly affected in the long run due to how the battery chemicals react to such conditions.

Among the two extremes, very hot weather is more commonly tied to battery failure in vehicles, as the heat can cause the inside of the battery to corrode or even evaporate some of the water from the electrolyte inside it (for some batteries).

Very cold or freezing weather conditions, on the other hand, can slow down the speed of chemical reactions happening within the battery. 

This means that the battery will have to work harder in cold weather to do tasks such as starting an engine that contains the thickened engine oil.

Thus, if you start getting the “system off to save battery” message while knowing that you live in an extremely hot or cold climate, be sure to check the physical condition of the battery for any signs of corrosion or changes in its water level (if applicable).

Loose Battery Connections


Sometimes, the reason a certain component doesn’t work and triggers a warning notification is that it’s simply not plugged in correctly, and this also applies to your Ford vehicle’s battery.

Car batteries have two cable connections that can get loose or worn out over time, resulting in the battery not being able to provide power to various electronics on the vehicle properly.

These two cables connect to both the positive and negative terminals on top of the battery, so you can start inspecting if the ends of the cables are not properly connected and secured onto the terminals.

Depending on the shop and the exact model of your Ford vehicle, getting new battery cables can cost from $50 to over $200 in parts. 

Corroded/Rusted Battery Terminals


Aside from the battery cables, it’s also worth checking your battery’s positive and negative terminals to see if there is any sign of corrosion on them, as this may be the culprit that’s causing the “system off” message.

Corroded or rusted battery terminals can impede the normal flow of current from the battery to the engine and the different electronics of the vehicle.

In addition, any sort of dirt, grease, or deposits that accumulate on the battery terminals can also affect how the battery transmits power to various components.

In that case, you can simply use a soft cloth to carefully wipe and clean the battery terminals and the surrounding area free of debris. Just make sure you disconnect the battery cables first (negative one first).

However, if you need to clean and remove corrosion from the battery terminals, then use baking soda and a used toothbrush to properly get it off the metal components.


You can either directly coat the terminals with baking soda and then pour in a little bit of water on them before brushing, or you can mix the baking soda and water in a small container to make a solution.

After rinsing the battery terminals and surrounding area with water, be sure to properly wipe them dry with a towel. Alternatively, you can even use an air blower to dry them up faster before reconnecting the cables again (positive one first).

If the battery terminals have already been corroded beyond repair (or cleaning), then your only choice is to have them replaced for about $30 to $40 depending on the type of material and specific vehicle model.

Faulty Alternator


The alternator is one of the major components of a car’s electrical system, and if it ever becomes faulty on a Ford, it can also be the cause of the infamous “system off to save battery” message.

When the alternator begins to fail on your vehicle, your battery will not be able to get charged up and the numerous electronics will not receive an adequate supply of power to make them function properly.

Furthermore, all the electronics that are supposed to be powered by the alternator will now be solely powered by the battery, which can prematurely drain it and cause the vehicle to eventually stall.

This is where Ford’s “system off to save battery” feature also comes in handy, as it shuts off all unnecessary accessories to prolong the battery just a bit longer for you to fix the underlying issue, which in this case, is the alternator.

One part to look out for on a faulty alternator is one of its diodes, as a bad or burnt-out diode will not be able to let electrical current flow through it.


As a result, the alternator’s alternating current (AC) output cannot be converted to the direct current (DC) output that’s required to run the battery.

Common symptoms of a bad alternator diode can include the car not starting in the morning, the battery warning light illuminating, the headlights becoming dimmer, and even the engine running a bit rougher.

A mechanic can perform a diode test on your Ford’s alternator to determine if a burnt-out diode is causing the issue or if the alternator itself has already failed and needs replacing.

Parasitic Battery Drain/Draw


If you’ve left your vehicle just sitting in the garage for weeks or months without having started it once, then you’re more likely to experience the phenomenon known as “parasitic drain”.

Parasitic drain is one of the most common reasons why a battery just prematurely runs out of juice, and in the case of modern Ford vehicles, this can also cause the “system off to save battery” message to appear.

The reason why parasitic battery drain even exists is due to certain accessories like the dashboard clock, radio, and alarm system utilizing power from the battery even when the engine is switched off.

This is why it’s recommended to disconnect your battery if you do not intend to use the vehicle for 3 weeks or more to prevent it from being completely discharged due to parasitic drain.

This constant drawing and draining of battery power are further amplified whenever you accidentally leave something on inside the cabin, making the whole “system off” issue a possible product of human error as well.

Human Error


Another possible reason why the “system off to preserve battery” message appears on your Ford truck or car can be due to a simple error or mistake on your part, such as leaving the lights on or the door open on the vehicle.

Such mistakes can unnecessarily suck up more power from the battery, especially when left unnoticed overnight. They can even potentially cause the battery to prematurely drain, making it difficult to start the car the next day.

Leaving Lights On

The various lights on your vehicle, whether it be the interior lights or the headlights, are all obviously powered by the electrical system, and accidentally leaving them on for longer periods of time can certainly rob quite a bit of battery power.

It’s also worth mentioning that even forgetting to lock your vehicle can keep the dome light or other interior cabin light turned on depending on your lighting settings.

Leaving Door/s Open

Leaving one or several doors open unintendedly is another common human error that can significantly drain the battery if left for too long. 

Similar to leaving your vehicle unlocked, leaving a car door open also turns on the interior lights, as the doors have sensors that are programmed to turn on the lights every time it “thinks” that you’re getting inside the vehicle.

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