Hill Start Assist Not Available for Ford

Hill Start Assist is a great feature. It’s designed to help prevent you from rolling back when you put your car into gear on a hill. When you have this feature on your Ford vehicle that isn’t working, it can be frustrating and make driving more dangerous than usual.

If the “Hill Start Assist Not Available” warning shows up on your Ford vehicle’s display screen, it could mean a software glitch, random error, issues with the traction control, a malfunctioning ABS sensor, or a simple brake light problem. Luckily, there are several ways to troubleshoot these issues and get back up and running again!

Read on to learn more about the hill start assist not available for Ford warning message, common causes for the issue, and troubleshooting tips.

Hill Start Assist Not Available for Ford

hill start assist not available ford

The Hill Start Assist Not Available warning is a message that appears on your dashboard for a brief period.

It means your Ford vehicle cannot use the Hill Start Assist feature, designed to help you in steep hill starts by keeping the car from rolling backward when you put it into gear.

Some old Ford models seem to have this issue. Let’s take a look at the problem for each Ford model below:

1. Ford Fusion

This message appears on Ford Fusion models when the throttle position is faulty. A problem with the traction control system might be the cause, as it is what keeps the brake applied on a hill.


Restart the vehicle. When you restart the vehicle, traction and stability controls return to preset settings. The Hill Start Assist feature will also be turned back on.

2. Ford Escape

Ford Escape users report this problem, especially when it gets colder. The vehicle starts up fine but seems to struggle when the heat is on. When checked at a service center, the battery tested bad.

At best, factory batteries only last between 3 and 4 years. And there’s a chance that older vehicles with bad batteries perform less efficiently than new ones.


Replace the battery and see what happens.

3. Ford F150

Some owners of Ford F150s also report this message. Initially, the problem is fixed by changing the throttle body. Although the vehicles are regularly maintained, the issue comes back after approximately 150 miles.

A reset was done with the key, and the problem was resolved. But again, after a few miles, the warning message comes back.


A code is needed to fix this issue. And to get into the control units, you need a dealer or compatible scanner. You’ll be able to trace the problem once you get the codes.

Another troubleshooting method is to disconnect the battery terminals for around 5 minutes. Also, ensure that the battery terminals and grounds are not damaged before resecuring them to the battery.

4. Ford Transit

The Hill Start Assist warning message occasionally pops up in this Ford model if the vehicle is on loose or uneven ground on startup. Some Ford Transit users have seen this message once or twice, and it just went away later without repairs or changes.

Having an early ABS module software version on Ford Transit models is another cause.


Update the ABS module software to the most recent version.

What Does Ford Hill Start Assist Do?

Makes Daily Commute in Hilly Areas Safer and Easier

In hilly areas, having a system like this can cause the daily commute a lot less difficult. Say you’ve come to a halt at the top of a hill and have to get going again. At this point, it is not enough to drive the car up and over the hill. You must also keep it from dangerously rolling down the hill.

Keeps the Vehicle from Rolling Backward

The Ford Hill Assist feature is designed to keep your car from rolling backward by automatically applying the brakes for you when necessary. It works by utilizing sensors that capture data about how steep the incline is and then adjust its operation accordingly.

Puts Pressure on the Brakes

It puts a lot of pressure on the brakes, which gives you enough time to step on the accelerator and move again. If that weren’t the case, you would have to use both the throttle and the brake simultaneously uncomfortably.

Why Does the Hill Start Assist Not Available for Ford?

You may see the “Hill Start Assist OFF” warning light if Ford’s hill assist system is malfunctioning. It can be quite challenging for most people to perform hill starts on their own in today’s modern times when people rely so much on driver-aid technology.

To determine what the problem is, you will need to use an OBD-II scanner.

If you are unable to do so, consider the following causes:

1. Software Issue

When an electronic component of a car stops working correctly, there is a good possibility of an issue with the software. This is one of the main factors contributing to the unavailability of the Hill Start Assist feature.

Ford issued what they call a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) a few years ago to address an issue that is quite similar to this one.

2. Random Error

It is not unusual for random messages, codes, or lights to appear on the dashboard of your vehicle. You might even get a warning that says “Hill Start Assist Not Available” on your Ford this way. Although the reason could be anything, one cause is the lack of miles on the odometer.

Some Ford drivers have mentioned on forums that they’ve seen this warning when they drove out of their garage with the hood up. Another culprit is holding the start button for too long. Doing so might also disable certain functions.

3. ESC and TC Are Turned Off

The next possible cause is when Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control are turned off. Both are connected and are related to the car’s stability, just like the Hill Assist feature.

Users who shared their experiences online said the issue was resolved after restarting their vehicles. After the restart, the traction and stability control automatically returned to their previous preset settings.

Because of this, the Hill Start Assist was also turned back on. Checking for the ESC and TC is one way for you to validate this information as well.

4. Bad ABS Sensor

A fried Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) sensor is also a common cause of this problem. Unfortunately, there is no troubleshooting for this problem. You will need to replace the sensor to resolve the issue completely.

5. Problem with the Brake Light

A blown fuse in the vehicle’s brake light system is one of the potential causes of this issue. This happens because of the HSA system’s constant application of force to the brakes. As a consequence, the electronic circuit will not perform properly sometimes.

How to Fix Hill Start Assist Not Available

hill start assist not available ford fusion

There is no formal instructed method to solve this Ford issue. However, you can restart or reactivate the Hill Assist Feature with the following tips and strategies:

1. Restart Your Ford Vehicle 

In some cases, restarting your Ford vehicle does the trick. Turning the engine off will reset the vehicle’s entire mechanism and solve minor issues or problems. After restarting, the system will likely function properly, and the Hill Assist Not Available warning may go away.

2. Reboot the System

If the issue persists, it is recommended that the vehicle be brought to a service center. A mechanic will either reboot the entire system or reformat it through the ECU below the steering wheel by utilizing the software that controls it. This will help resolve the issue.

3. Turn Off Hill Start Assist

When other approaches are unsuccessful, that’s the time to turn off the Hill Assist feature. Only follow this troubleshooting method when you have tried everything else. It’s not the ideal solution to fix the problem, as Hill Assist is beneficial and necessary when driving up hills.

Again, why does the hill start assist not available? You’ll get the “Hill Start Assist Not Available” notification on your Ford when it has sensor or traction control system issues.

How to Set the Ford Hill Start Assist

Both automatic and manual operation modes are available with the Hill Launch Assist. If you select the automatic mode, the HLA is activated if the car is on an incline and you apply pressure to the brake pedal.

If you choose the manual mode, you must press the brake pedal to activate the Hill Launch Assist.

How to Set the HLA Mode

Here’s how to set the HLA mode:

  1. You must press the steering wheel’s right arrow button to access the main menu.
  2. Highlight “Setup” by using the up and down buttons. Then press the right arrow button.
  3. Next, highlight “Hill Launch” and press the right arrow button again.
  4. Highlight the setting you want. To confirm the desired setting, press the “OK” button. If you select “Off,” the HLA is turned off. You cannot manually or automatically activate it.
  5. To exit the menu, press the left arrow button. Press and hold the left arrow button to return to the computer display.

Note: When using HLA in manual mode, only use it when pulling away uphill on more than 3% slopes. An active HLA will make it hard for you to pull away smoothly, regardless of whether the vehicle is on flat ground or moving downhill.

How to Activate the HLA

Only activate the HLA if all of the following criteria have been met:

  • The vehicle is running.
  • HLA is turned on in either manual or automatic mode.
  • A fully disengaged parking brake or electric parking brake.
  • The pressed clutch pedal on vehicles with manual transmission.
  • Closed driver door on cars with automatic transmission.
  • There is no failure mode.

How to Deactivate the HLA

To turn off the HLA, you need to do one of the following:

  1. First, apply the parking brake or electric parking brake.
  2. Wait for at least 2-3 seconds as the HLA automatically turns off.
  3. Select a reverse gear if you selected the forward gear when the HLA became active.
  4. Or select a forward gear if you selected the reverse gear when the HLA became active.

How Do You Reset Hill Start Assist in Ford?

Hill Start Assist is a Ford option that helps you get going on a hill when you’re in your car. It’s a great feature, but you can reset it in just a few easy steps if it stops working.

Here’s how:

  1. Press the button to switch off the traction control.
  2. After that, you press it once more.
  3. You will then see the Hill Start Assist light on the instrument cluster’s right side.

Hill Start Assist systems are relatively simple to operate and use. They are often activated with a button on the side of the steering wheel or by tapping on the brake pedal.

Some systems also come with an indicator light that displays when it is active, allowing you to check if it is working properly at any time easily.

Why Do You Need Hill Start Assist?

hill start assist not available ford transit
Ford Transit

1. Useful in Areas Where Hills Are Common

Hill Start Assist is a feature that helps you get going from a stop on a hill, so you can have more confidence in your vehicle’s ability to handle tough terrain. It’s beneficial for drivers who live in areas where hills are common, and winter driving conditions are prevalent.

2. Automatically Brakes After Releasing the Brake Pedal

Hill Start Assist systems use sensors and electronics to detect when the vehicle is at a standstill and on an incline. When those conditions are met, the system automatically applies the brakes with enough force to prevent the car from rolling backward when you release the brake pedal.

3. Reduces Vehicle Wear and Tear

This feature can be beneficial for vehicles with a standard transmission because it allows you to keep your foot off the brake pedal while getting up to speed on a hill, reducing wear and tear on your vehicle and its components.

3. Promotes Safety and Efficiency

The Hill Start Assist can help you traverse slopes safely and efficiently, preventing your vehicle from crashing or tumbling down.

To engage the hill start assist, you must be on an inclination and press the brake. Cars like the Ecosport and other bigger Ford cars can turn off the Hill Start Assist feature.

But in some other Ford models, this feature remains on all the time, as long as the Hill Assist Not Available warning does not pop up.

Frequently Asked Questions – Hill Start Assist Not Available Meaning

What Is the Cause of Hill Start Assist Not Available?

It is usually a sensor issue. However, there could also be other problems, so it is best to scan them. Also, “hill start assist” may not work if the traction control system is faulty.

Do All Ford Vehicles Have Hill Start Assist?

This technology, which has become widespread in the automotive industry, is commonly referred to as “hill-holder” or “hill control.” These terms are used interchangeably. Since 2011, this technology has been included in various Ford manual and automatic transmission models.

Do All Cars Have Hill Assist?

Almost every automaker offers Hill-Start Assist as a standard or optional, extra-cost feature.

Is Hill Assist Important?

The hill hold control is beneficial, not only for the driver but also for the other drivers on the road. Because an uphill road prevents your vehicle from rolling backward, the traffic following your vehicle will be safe.

Additionally, the hill assist system lessens the wear and tear on specific components, such as the handbrake, the brakes, and the clutch plates.

What Year Did Cars Have Hill Assist?

As early as 2004, hill start assists were introduced to vans and cars with manual transmissions. They are mostly used for assisting hill starts in automatic/semi-automatic transmission systems.

Conclusion – Hill Start Assist Unavailable for Ford

The Hill Start Assist is a wonderful feature to have in your car. It gives you a sense of security and lets you drive on steep terrain without worrying about rolling backward as soon as you stop the vehicle.

The problem with the Ford Hill Start Assist feature, which flashes the warning message, “Hill Start Assist Not Available,” can be resolved as described earlier.

To recap, here are the possible causes of Hill Start Assist Unavailable for Ford:

  1. Software issue
  2. Random error
  3. ESC and TC are turned off
  4. Bad ABS sensor
  5. Problem with the brake light

And here’s how to fix the issue:

  1. Restart your Ford vehicle
  2. Reboot the system
  3. Turn off hill start assist

Follow the troubleshooting steps in this article, and you should be able to fix the problem. You can also contact an authorized Ford dealership if the issue persists.

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