Hill Start Assist Not Available Ford-[Detailed Analysis!!]

It’s quite common to face Hill Start Assist or HSA issues just when you start to climb hills.

So, I want to know why hill start assist is not available ford? 

  1. The HSA system will malfunction if the Anti-lock Braking System or ABS sensor is faulty. 
  2. It won’t work if the Electronic Stability Control or ESC and Traction Control or TC system is turned off. 
  3. A faulty brake light fuse or transmission issues might be the cause. 
  4. Additionally, uneven and icy terrains can be responsible.
  5. Lastly, it might be a random error or the feature is off. 

Although, there’s still so much to talk about. Stay tuned cause all the necessary details will be discussed here. 

Hill Start Assist Not Available- Reasons And Solutions

There are quite some reasons why Hill Start Assist might be malfunctioning in your vehicle. First, let’s address them briefly: 

Faulty ABS sensorReplace ABS sensor to maintain traction while driving uphill
ESC And TC Turned OffRestart the Car and refurbish the battery to fix the ESC and TC
Faulty Brake Light FuseReplace the Brake Light Fuse to fix circuit and get HSA running
Transmission IssueReplace faulty transmission parts like shift solenoids, transmission sensors, and clutch packs
Random ErrorReset Hill Start Assist to fix random errors
Rocky Or Icy TerrainReturn to Even and non-icy ground 

Now, let’s talk about them in detail. 

Reason 1: Faulty ABS Sensor

The ABS (Anti Lock Braking System) sensor monitors the functions of the ABS. Essential activities like wheel speed, and traction control are maintained by it. 

Thus, if the ABS sensor fails, you won’t be able to maintain traction while driving uphill. So, the HSA feature won’t work properly. 

Symptoms of a faulty ABS sensor include an ABS warning light and traction control light illuminating. Your brake pedals and anti-lock brakes will also malfunction. It also takes longer to stop your vehicle. 

Solution: Replace The ABS Sensor

A faulty ABS sensor needs to be replaced. Following are the steps of replacing the ABS sensor for a 2009 – 2014 Ford F150:

Step 1: Remove the wheel from the side where you want to replace the ABS sensor. You’ll need either a 21mm socket or a 22mm socket depending on the condition of your lug nuts. Rusty lug nuts may require a larger socket.

Step 2: Unclip the ABS wire from the back side of the wheel assembly. Additionally, use an 8mm socket to unbolt the ABS wire from the knuckle. If the bolt feels stuck due to rust, apply rust penetrant and work it back and forth to avoid breaking it.

Step 3: Follow the ABS wire up along its path and unclip it from where it’s secured onto the frame. This might involve unclipping it from various retainers and clips.

Step 4: Look for the caliper and bracket assembly. To access it, use a bungee cord to secure the caliper and bracket assembly out of the way. This is done to facilitate easy removal of the ABS sensor.

Step 5: Proceed to remove the caliper and bracket assembly. Use an 18mm socket to remove the bolts securing the caliper bracket to the knuckle. Start with one bolt, leaving it threaded a few turns, and then remove the other.

Step 6: Carefully pull off the caliper and bracket assembly. If the rotor is stuck due to rust, tap between the lug studs to break it free without damaging the studs.

Step 7: Locate the five-millimeter Allen bolt on the wheel bearing side of the ABS sensor. Remove this bolt to release the ABS sensor.

Step 8: Gently wiggle the ABS sensor to remove it from its mounting position. Rust and debris might cause resistance, so work it back and forth if necessary. Avoid any sideways or twisting motions to prevent breaking the sensor.

Step 9: Feed the ABS wire through the backing plate and pull it out from behind. Clean the mounting area for the new sensor or the hub, if reusing the old one.

Step 10: Place the new ABS sensor into the mounting hole, ensuring the O-ring seats properly. Tighten the five-millimeter Allen bolt to secure it.

Step 11: Reconnect the ABS wire, making sure to follow the same path it took when you disconnected it. Secure it using any retainers and clips that were previously removed.

Step 12: Reassemble the caliper and bracket assembly over the rotor. Use an 18mm socket to tighten the bolts, torquing them to 136 foot-pounds.

Step 13: Finally, reattach the wheel, starting lug nuts by hand and then torquing them to 150 foot-pounds in a cross pattern.

Step 14: Take the vehicle for a road test to ensure the new ABS sensor is functioning properly.

With that, your ABS sensor is successfully replaced. You can watch this How to Replace Front ABS Sensor 2009-2014 Ford F-150 video for visual aids. 

You can also get it replaced by a mechanic for approximately $200-$450 including labor costs. 

Reason 2: ESC And TC Turned Off

The Hill Start Assist won’t work if the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and TC are turned off. Other than manual deactivation, it might get turned off because of faulty sensors or wiring in the system. It also gets turned off if the battery voltage is too low. 

Solution 1: Restart Car

If the ESC and TC were manually turned off, just restarting the car should fix the problem. Cause, with a restart, the vehicle will revert to its default settings. The ESC and TC (traction Control) will turn back on. So, the HSA feature will also work. 

Restarting your car is really easy. Just disconnect the negative battery terminal and wait for 5-6 minutes. Turn the headlights on to use up the charge left in the capacitors. Then, reconnect the battery terminal and start up the car. That’s enough to restart your car. 

Solution 2: Refurbish Battery

If your battery isn’t able to provide appropriate voltage, it needs to be refurbished or replaced. If the battery isn’t in too bad a state, refurbishing it should do the job. You’ll be able to use it for another five to six years. 

You can refurbish the battery yourself by watching this video: 

Since only the HSA feature is being affected, the battery isn’t in too bad of a state. So, you probably won’t need to change the battery just for this reason. 

Reason 3: Faulty Brake Light Fuse

The HSA puts a lot of pressure on the brakes. Thus, the brake light fuse may get burnt. It’ll cause a malfunction in the circuit and the HSA won’t come on. As a result, the brake lights will not work as well.

Solution: Replace The Brake Light Fuse

If you think the brake light fuse is bad, test it first with a test light. Attach the cable of the test light to the negative terminal of your battery. Then, connect the probe to both contact points of the fuse. 

Source: Quora 

If the test light lights up on both contact points, the fuse is good. If not, it has to be replaced. Purchase the exact same fuse with the same numbering. Replace it in place of the previous one. With that, your HSA feature should come on. 

Reason 4: Transmission Issues

Transmission issues are responsible for disabled HSA features. The transmission sends your vehicle’s computer how and when to engage the brakes. Thus, faulty transmission parts like the shift solenoid, sensors, or clutch packs can cause HSA malfunction. 

Faulty shift solenoids will make the shifting rough. Occasionally, the transmission might get stuck in neutral or shift to the wrong gear. Thus, the HSA will malfunction.  

Similarly, the HSA will malfunction if the transmission sensor can’t detect the vehicle being uphill. It’ll especially show problems in shifting from the park and will get locked in a certain gear.  

Lastly, if the clutch pack is damaged, you won’t be able to hold the brakes. Thus, the HSA will malfunction. With it, you’ll hear a grinding noise while changing gears alongside a burning smell. The clutch pedal will also feel spongy. 

Solution 1: Replace Shift Solenoid

To replace the shift solenoid, first, you’ll need to remove the transmission pan. You can do it by watching this video:

Then, follow the steps below:

Step 1: First, disconnect the connector of the shift solenoid.

Step 2: Next, unscrew the bolt holding your solenoid and wiggle out the solenoid. 

Step 3: Then, take the new solenoid and apply some transmission fluid into its O rings. 

Step 4: Finally, wiggle the solenoid back in and reattach the bolt. Reconnect the connector.

With that, your shift solenoid is replaced. 

Solution 2: Replace The Transmission Sensor

Replacing the transmission sensor is really easy. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Locate the sensor in the center of the vehicle on the backside of the transmission. 

Step 2: Disconnect the connector. Use a socket and wrench to remove the bolt holding the sensor. 

Step 3: Next, wiggle the sensor out. Sometimes you might need to gently pry it out. 

Step 4: Finally, before installing the new sensor, lubricate the O ring. Position it correctly so you can bolt the sensor back on. Reconnect the connector and you’re done. 

Solution 3: Replace The Clutch Pack

You’ll need to replace the clutch pack if it’s worn out. But, replacing the clutch can be a bit tricky. A mechanic will replace the clutch pack for $1000-$1400 in total. But, if you are confident in your skills, you can also follow this video to replace the clutch yourself:

Reason 5: Random Error

It could also be that the feature is facing a random error. It doesn’t happen due to any particular reason. You might just suddenly get the “HSA not available” message. But, some users have complained that this issue arises when they drive with an open hood. 

Solution: Reset Hill Start Assist

As the user complains, you can try to close the hood and see if the HSA works. If it still doesn’t work, you can try resetting the HSA feature. Just turn the traction control off and back on. The Hill Start Assist light will come on indicating that it has been reset.

Depending on the model, you can turn the TC on and off from the settings menu. 

Sometimes there might just be a glitch in the software or it needs to be updated. The older and newer Ford models have different update processes.

Reason 6: Rocky Or Icy terrain

Sometimes the Hill Start Assist not available message pops out when driving on uneven grounds. A similar case happens when driving on snowy roads. In these cases, the traction is compromised, which leads to the HSA failure. 

Solution: Return to Even Non-Icy Ground

If the HSA feature doesn’t work because of the terrain, there’s nothing much to do. Carefully drive out of the area. With smoother grounds, the feature should come back on. 

Is Hill Start Assist Even Necessary?

Yes, HSA is especially necessary when climbing up a hill as safety matters a great deal. On an incline, the system automatically applies brakes to prevent the vehicle from going backward. It does so even if you release the brake pedal. Since it allows your foot to be off the brakes, it reduces wear and tear. 

Can I Drive Without Hill Start Assist? 

Yes, you can drive without Hill Start Assist. But, it’s always recommended to keep the feature on especially while climbing uphill. If you face any issues regarding the feature, fix it as soon as possible. 


Why Does The Hill Start Assist Light On?

The Hill Start Assist light on means there’s a problem regarding the Hill Start Assist system. If you can’t find and fix the reason behind it, get the vehicle inspected immediately. And, if the light appears with the message ‘OFF’, it means the HSA system isn’t working. 

Do All Fords Have Hill Start Assist?

No, all Ford cars don’t have Hill Start Assist. This technology was included in 2011 on various Ford models. It’s available in both manual and automatic transmission cars. But, its effects are more noticeable on cars with stick shifts. For example, Mustang, Fiesta, and Focus. 

Does Toyota Have Hill Start Assist? 

Yes, Toyota also has Hill Start Assist. It can successfully stop the car uphill and prevent it from moving backward. Although, older models don’t have this feature included. 

Bottom Line

Hope you got to know everything about hill start assist not available ford. Still, here’s one last tip from us. You can try using an OBD2 scanner or Forscan to identify the reason behind the HSA malfunction. Thanks for being with us till the end.

Leave a Comment

Written By

Photo of author

William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news

Fact Checked And Mechanically Reviewed By


Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at Autoglobes.com with a passion for the automotive industry.