In this article, we will explain what the Audi Pre Sense warning light means and go over some of the technology’s common faults. We will also explain some tips on how to fix the Pre-Sense warning light problem for yourself before resorting to a dealership or specialist.
What is Audi Pre-Sense?
Audi’s Pre-Sense is fast becoming one of the brand’s biggest selling points. Much like BMW’s popular Collision Warning System, it keeps you and your passengers safe through a combination of radar, sensors and some very clever software. Pre-Sense technology makes Audi vehicles some of the safest on the road, actively intervening to prevent crashes.
Pre-Sense is not perfect and still a relatively new technology. It can trigger unexpectedly and some drivers experience intermittent warning lights related to the system. If you have experienced this you’ll know how alarming it can be.
The technology relies on cameras and radar sensors on the front, rear, and sides of the vehicle to detect the predicted trajectory of other road users and even pedestrians. If the onboard computer calculates a high likelihood of a collision, it will engage the safety mechanisms available. This includes the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system to prevent skidding, brake application, and driver alerts. Most Audi vehicles now come with a pre-sense as a standard.
Why was it Introduced?
Pre-sense was first introduced as a feature of Audi vehicles in 2011. This technology suite is designed to react faster than human beings to potential upcoming hazards on the road. Upon detection of a dangerous situation, pre-sense automatically engages safety systems to protect those in and out of the car and avert collisions.
Pre Sense Options
- Pre-sense standard/basic: shuts windows and pre-tensions driver and passenger seatbelts if potential hazard detected.
- Pre-sense plus: visual and audible warnings of collision as well as priming of brakes.
- Pre-sense city: also activates emergency braking when driving less than 52 mph.
- Pre-sense side: includes radar sensors on the side of the vehicle to detect further potential collisions adjusting the suspension to absorb some of the impact.
- Pre-sense rear: monitors collisions from behind the vehicle, preparing onboard systems for impact.
- Pre-sense 360: detects potential collisions on all four sides of the vehicle. Audi Pre-Sense warning lights and messages
There are two common warning lights for Audi pre-sense to look out for. Though these will differ slightly from model to model, all Audi’s will show the following lights when engaging pre-sense or if there is a problem.
Pre-sense warning light
This warning light warns you that the Audi pre-sense system is unable to work properly. The symbol features a yellow circle broken into segments, intersected with a triangle exclamation point “warning” sign. There is a car symbol in the centre of the circle.
While this yellow warning light means there is something amiss with the pre-sense system, most often the problem is easily rectified and should not require the help of a dealership or garage specialising in Audi vehicles.
As a warning symbol, the car can still be safely driven, but the effectiveness of the pre-sense system will be impaired.
Pre-sense fault light
If your car’s computer detects a more major fault with the pre-sense system then it will display the red fault light on the dashboard array.
This light features the front of a car outlined with a red circle intersected with a star symbol. This is all encompassed in parentheses shapes.
Identifying the problem for a red pre-sense fault light is a bit more difficult and often involves specialist knowledge and diagnosing tools found only at dealerships and certain garages
How to fix Audi Pre-Sense problems
For all of the above warning lights and error messages, it’s worth considering the following fixes, starting with the easiest and least intrusive. These findings are based on the experience of Audi users and garages, as well as official information released by Audi themselves.
Give your car a wash
While the pre-sense system uses advanced technology, it still relies on being able to detect the road, cars, and pedestrians that use it. The vehicles do this through cameras and sensors that are embedded within the body of the car and also near the rear-view mirror.
If the car body and windscreen are allowed to become dirty, the capability of these sensors and cameras becomes inhibited. For example, if the side of your car develops a thick film of motorway grime after a long drive, the sensors on the side of your Audi may become ineffective. The onboard computer will be unaware that the issue is simply a dirty car and throw a warning light up on the dashboard.
Should you see a warning light, or experience an error message on the car’s display then, one of the easiest ways to resolve the problem is to simply wash your car, ensuring the windscreen, in particular, is clean. Many Audi owners have found this simple fix resolves the issue, with warning lights clearing off the dashboard array immediately.
Check paint protection films
If you recently had some bodywork done and now have pre-sense warning lights you may wish to discuss this with the third party involved.
While unconfirmed by Audi itself, some Audi owners have discovered that the application of paint protection films, such as Xpel can have an adverse effect on the pre-sense system.
It is currently not understood if the installation of these protective coatings obstruct or inhibit radar sensor but there are cases of owners finding the pre-sense warning lights occurring after application.
Whether the film itself is interfering with the pre-sense system or if, in the application, components have become misaligned or damaged, there appears to be a correlation that should be considered.
Change your Pre-Sense setting
Some owners have found that simply changing the pre-sense settings is enough to keep the warning lights from appearing, even after returning to the original settings.
Simply go to your console and choose Menu > Car > Driver Assist > Audi Pre Sense, here you will be able to adjust the sensitivity of the pre-sense system from early to medium or late. You can also disable the system entirely, though this will reset back to “on” come the next time the vehicle is started.
It is understood that changing these settings effectively recalibrates the pre-sense system with some owners finding that warning lights cease to appear. While this will not work in every case, it is a simple fix that is worth a try before exhausting more expensive options.
Reset the seat belt tensioner control module
For those who are comfortable diagnosing and resetting error codes themselves using VCDS, Ross-Tech cables or OBD-II scanners, you may want to try the following fix.
One of the safety systems Audi pre-sense employs is the pre-tensioning of seat belts before an expected collision. Sometimes, warning lights appear because the seat belt tensioner becomes uncalibrated and the control module needs to be reset.
If you are a mechanic or a DIY car enthusiast, you can perform a seat belt tensioner control module reset using diagnostic equipment to see if this removes your red or yellow pre-sense warning light. We have put together a list of The 4 Best OBD-II Scanners for 2023 to help you decide which one best fits your needs. If you are looking for a specific VW / Audi Group tool, our recommended scanner can be found here. If this is not something you are comfortable doing yourself, it should be left to a trained professional.
Take the car to a dealership
While these fixes may help with some minor issues that interfere with the pre-sense system, some issues require highly specialised equipment and the experience of professionals. Some owners have discovered that their pre-sense warning light was caused by faulty components at the heart of the computer array.
In cases such as this, the problem is not resolvable without taking the car to a dealership or garage that specialises in fixing Audi electronic faults.
Pre-sense Error Messages
In Audi vehicles with built-in displays, your car may also display a warning message when a problem is detected with the pre-sense system. This varies slightly between models and years, depending on the problem detected.
Below is a list of common pre-sense warning messages, with an explanation and recommended fix.
“Audi pre sense: currently limited/restricted. See owner’s manual”
This error usually indicates an issue with the ESC system. It could be that the ESC system has been switched off, or, in the case of more serious issues, is experiencing a failure that needs rectifying.
“Audi pre sense: currently restricted. Restricted sensor vision.”
If you experience this error, your sensors or onboard cameras are being obstructed. You may find clearing your dashboard and cleaning your windscreen and bodywork helps. If you’ve recently replaced your windscreen, the forward-facing pre-sense camera may need recalibrating.
Audi pre sense: currently restricted. Towing mode.”
If your Audi detects you are towing a trailer or caravan it will automatically disable pre-sense interventions such as pre-braking. If this error is showing on your in-car display and you are not towing, you should try the fixes above and then seek the help of an Audi specialist.
“Audi pre sense: emergency braking system off.”
This error shows when the pre-sense system has been disabled using the onboard display. It may also show if the system has yet to fully startup. If after a short while the error still displays and you have ensured pre-sense is not switched off, a full diagnostic may be needed.
Unexpected Audi Pre Sense Triggering
Pre-sense usually triggers from speeds upwards of 6.2 mph and below 52.8 mph (for most vehicles) under the following conditions:
- Sudden braking
- A forward collision is expected
- Side collision expected
- Rear collision expected
- Pedestrian/cyclist hazard detected
While pre-sense has been hailed as a proactive and life-saving feature, it does sometimes activate incorrectly. This is disconcerting for drivers and is potentially dangerous for other vehicles on the road, especially if driving at speed and pre-sense activates the brakes.
These false positives are largely down to miscalculations or judgements of the onboard computer.
If the system falsely identifies a tree, for example, as a reversing car, it may briefly engage the pre-sense system. You may also find pre-sense activates in less conventional driving situations such as manoeuvring around a blockage or in a tight passing spot. The system is currently unable to fully detect these situations as non-applicable for pre-sense.
Other than changing the sensitivity of your pre-sense system from early, to medium or late, Audi owners have come to live with infrequent false positives. These misjudgements are expected to become rarer as time goes on with Audi fine-tuning the algorithms and software for the detection of hazards.
Is it safe to turn off Audi Pre-Sense?
While individual features of pre-sense can be turned off, with settings stored on the ignition key for personalisation, the system as a whole cannot be truly disabled.
Coming as standard, Audi intends for pre-sense to become an integral contributor to road safety and, as such, intends for it to be used across their range of vehicles.
Nevertheless, the systems involved can be safely turned off for individual journeys through the built-in display. The only effect this will have is to remove the pre-sense features from engaging, as is the case with many other cars on the road. It is, therefore, safe to disable the pre-sense feature.
We hope you have found this article on the Audi Pre Sense warning light & system useful. If you have experienced your own issues with the Audi Pre Sense warning light or have suffered different problems from the ones listed above, please let us know in the comments.
Audi pre sense is a suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that are designed to help drivers avoid accidents and stay safe on the road. Some common questions about Audi pre sense include:
What is the purpose of Audi pre sense?
The purpose of Audi pre-sense warning light is to help drivers avoid accidents by providing advanced warnings and assistance in emergency situations.
What features are included in Audi pre sense?
Audi pre sense includes a variety of features, such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
How does Audi pre sense work?
Audi pre sense uses sensors, such as cameras and radar, to detect potential hazards on the road. When a potential hazard is detected, the system will provide visual and auditory warnings to the driver, and may even take action, such as applying the brakes, to help avoid an accident.
Is Audi pre sense standard on all Audi models?
No, Audi pre sense is not standard on all Audi models. It is typically offered as an option or included in certain trim levels.
Can Audi pre sense be turned off?
Yes, you can turn off certain features of Audi pre sense, such as the forward collision warning or lane departure warning, through the vehicle’s settings menu. However, it is not recommended to turn off the safety feature permanently as it may compromise your safety.