You may get an alert message “Keep Hands on Steering Wheel” in the instrument cluster display of your Ford vehicle from time to time even when your hands are on the steering wheel. Why does this happen? And how to disable it.
Cause of the alert message
The reminder alert “Keep Hands on Steering Wheel” is part of the lane centering assist in your Ford vehicle that helps the driver keep the vehicle centered in the middle of the intended lane.
The alert message “Keep Hands on Steering Wheel” appears in the instrument cluster display when the driver remove hands from the steering wheel while using the lane centering assist. But there have been numerous reports from Ford owners seeing the alert message even when their hands are on the steering wheel. The message disappears if you move your hands around the steering wheel or give it a little tug.
There are no official words from Ford on why the lane centering assist sometimes fail to detect hands on the steering wheel.
Disable the alert message
You can disable the “Keep Hands on Steering Wheel” alert message in your Ford vehicle by disabling the lane centering option in the cruise control settings of the SYNC 4 infotainment system. You will obviously lose the lane centering assist feature.
- Select Features on the center touchscreen.
- Select Driver Assistance.
- Select Cruise Control.
- Switch Lane Centering off.
Turn off Lane Keeping System
Lane keeping system can also trigger the “keep hands on steering wheel” warning message in the instrument cluster display.
Pressing the dedicated Lane Keeping System button on the steering wheel will turn off the system and also eliminate the hands on steering wheel warning message.
Driver Alert system has nothing to do with this message
It is often suggested by Ford enthusiasts to turn off the Driver Alert feature in the Driver Assistance settings of the infotainment system to get rid of the “keep hands on steering wheel” message. This will not work.
Driver Alert is a separate system that alerts the driver if it determines that you are becoming drowsy or if your driving deteriorates, for example if you are swaying in your lane.
Driver Alert system in Ford vehicles calculates your alertness level based on your driving behavior in relation to the lane markings and other factors through use of the front camera sensor behind the interior mirror.
Driver Alert system displays “Driver Alert Warning Rest Suggested” when the system determines that you’re getting tired and you need to take a rest soon.
The system displays “Driver Alert Warning Rest Now” when it determines that you’re tired and need to stop and rest as soon as it is safe to do so.
Lane Centering Indicators
Lane centering symbol illuminates in the instrument cluster screen when lane centering feature is turned on. If you see this symbol, it means you can get the “Keep Hands on Steering Wheel” message if the system determines with the help of the sensors that you’re not holding the steering wheel.
The color of the indicator changes to indicate the system status.
- Gray indicates the system is on but inactive.
- Green indicates the system is active and applying steering torque assistance input to keep your vehicle in the center of the lane.
- Amber with an audible tone and then gray indicates a system automatic cancellation.
Lane Centering Requirements
You must keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.
If it does not detect valid lane markings, the system stays inactive until valid markings are available.
The system only activates when all of the following occur:
- You have adaptive cruise control with stop and go on.
- Lane centering assist is enabled in your information and entertainment screen.
- You have your hands on the steering wheel.
- The system detects both lane markings.
Lane Centering Limitations
The driving assistance torque is limited and may not be sufficient for all driving situations such as driving through tight curves or driving through curves at high speeds. In exceptional conditions, the system may deviate from the center line.
Lane Centering may not correctly operate in any of the following conditions:
- Your vehicle is not centered in the lane.
- The lane is too narrow or wide.
- The system does not detect at least one lane marking or when lanes merge or split.
- Limited steering torque input is applied.
- Areas under construction or new infrastructure.
- When modifications to the steering system have been made.
- When using a spare tire.
- In high wind conditions.
Note that adaptive cruise control limitations apply on top of lane centering limitations.
Lane Centering Alerts
You must keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. When the system is active and detects no steering activity for a period of time, the system alerts you to put your hands on the steering wheel. If you do not react to the warnings the system cancels and slows your vehicle down to idle speeds while maintaining steering control.
The system also alerts you if your vehicle crosses lane markings without detected steering activity.
Note: The system may detect a light grip or touch on the steering wheel as hands-off driving.
When an external condition cancels the system, for example, no lane markings available, a tone sounds and a message appears in the instrument cluster display.
If your vehicle starts to slow down, provide steering input to the wheel and press and release the resume button to regain full system performance.
Note: The system disables until the next key cycle if your vehicle slows down due to driver inactivity twice within a key cycle.
When an external condition cancels the lane centering system, for example, no lane markings available, a tone sounds and a message appears in the instrument cluster display.
Automatic cancellation can also occur if:
- The lane becomes too wide or too narrow.
- The system cannot detect valid lane markings.
- Lane markings cross over one another.