My Ford Fiesta is displaying an 'engine malfunction' message - should I be worried?

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Car Clinic: Ford Fiesta

Q. I recently bought a one-year-old Ford Fiesta with 3,000 miles on the clock. The message “Engine malfunction, seek assistance” is regularly displayed on the dashboard. If I switch the engine off then on again, the message goes away. Should I worry?
PD, Huddersfield

A. The computer is detecting that something is not working quite as it should. It may be a minor problem with a sensor, an occasional poor connection, or a software glitch, or it could be an indication that something more serious is developing.

Whatever it is, you need to take the car to a Ford dealer and let it investigate the problem. As your car is still under warranty, the cost of most repairs will be covered.

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If you ignore the warning and something serious fails as a result, Ford could argue that your inaction allowed the initial problem to develop into something worse and could ask for a contribution to the cost of the repair.

These messages are sometimes activated when something is worn rather than broken, enabling you to get a problem solved before the car suddenly lets you down.

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Tim Shalcross, advance driving advice

Tim Shallcross used to train AA patrols to fix cars. Now he advises the Institute of Advanced Motoring – read more from Tim here.

Email your question to or write to Car Clinic, Driving, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF, with a daytime phone number,
your address and as much detail about your car as possible. We can’t reply in person, so don’t send original documents or SAEs. Advice is given without legal responsibility.