35th Anniversary Thunderbird Registry

Automatic Ride Control Light and Codes

Mounted on top of each shock absorber are electronic actuators. These actuators are used to rotate an inner shaft of the shock absorbers to the firm (clockwise) and soft (counter-clockwise) ride settings. When the green "Firm Ride" light begins to flash, it indicates a possible problem with one or more of the actuators or shocks. If the actuators are malfunctioning or the shocks have aged and become difficult to spin their shafts, the green dash light will notify you of a problem.
The FIRM RIDE lamp flashes indicate as follows:

1 flash = Driver side rear
2 flashes = Passenger side rear
3 flashes = Passenger side front
4 flashes = Driver side front

The actuators for the front shocks are located under the black plastic covers labelled "Auto Ride Control" which can be accessed from under the hood. The rear actuators are accessed from the trunk and under the factory padding.

One method to test the system is to:

1. Move the console control switch to the Soft ride position. This is to give you a starting point and to make sure all shocks and actuators are in sync.
2. Remove all four actuators from the shocks and then switch the system to Firm and then back to Soft. If the system changes mode and the green light does not flash, you have verified that your actuators are operating correctly.
3. Make sure the console switch is in Soft mode.
4. One by one, reinstall an actuator onto the shock and move the console switch to Firm and then back to Soft setting. If an actuator is attached to a bad shock, the green light will flash. You have found your culprit.

At this point, you might try spraying some lubricant such as WD-40 onto the shaft of the bad shock and then try to manually spin the shaft to loosen it up. It is your choice of course if you decide it's time to replace the shock.

Another problem that has arisen on occasion is the Hard or Soft relays going bad. These relays are the two small black square components that are located in the trunk wiring harness along the rear upper plastic tray on the drivers side with white plastic holders attached to the inside of the tray right next to the controller computer. If these relays become faulty, they can keep the car in Hard or Soft mode and not allow switching modes.

I hope you find this information helpful.

ARC Codes

The FIRM RIDE light will blink the following codes two times.

Code Description
All Four Actuator DTCs Recieved Problem in hard or soft damping relay.
11 (1 then 1) System pass.
10 (1) Problem in LH rear shock absorber electronic actuator.
20 (2) Problem in RH rear shock absorber electronic actuator.
30 (3) Problem in RH front .shock absorber. electronic actuator.
40 (4) Problem in LH front shock absorber electronic actuator.
50 (5) Short in soft relay.
60 (6) EVO steering open circuit.
70 (7) Replace shock absorber electronic system control.
12 (1 then 2) Soft relay circuitry open/shorted.
13 (1 then 3) Hard relay circuitry open/shorted.
14 (1 then 4) Problem in relay control circuitry.
15 (1 then 5) FIRM RIDE indicator circuit open/ shorted.
16 (1 then 6) EVO steering circuit short.
22 (2 then 2) Soft relay short to battery.
23 (2 then 3) Hard relay short to battery.
25 (2 then 5) FIRM RIDE indicator short to battery acuator.
26 (2 then 6) Power steering control valve/switch damaged.
00 Problem in tester communication circuitry.
Disclaimer: This article, and additional information, is for personal use only and for assisting owners in maintaining their vehicle. No publishing or reprinting is allowed unless by permission by the author of this article. The author is not responsible for any damage that occurs from the use of this information.