Understanding Your Car Warning Lights Dashboard Warning Lights Explained

by | Jun 29, 2023 | Diagnostics, Driving

Your car is a complex machine with numerous components working together to ensure smooth and safe driving. However, sometimes these components malfunction and your car’s dashboard warning lights come on to alert you of the problem. Dashboard warning lights are a critical tool for car owners because they help prevent accidents and costly repairs. In this blog, we will explain the most common dashboard warning lights and what they mean.

Car Dashboard Symbols – What Do They Mean?

Car dashboard symbols are designed to be easy to understand and recognize at a glance. Here are some of the most common car dashboard symbols you’ll see:

Hand brake warning light

This is one of those car dashboard warning lights that every car owner will know. The letter ‘P’ within two brackets illuminates in red whenever the handbrake is applied. If this light stays illuminated or comes on whilst the handbrake is fully released and you are driving then it could be an issue with low brake fluid levels within the brake system which must be corrected urgently. Another brake system warning light may come on in conjugation with this.

Seat belt reminder light

Another warning light that everyone will recognise is the seatbelt light which illuminates in red until the driver has plugged in their seat belt. It may flash or sound an alarm if you begin driving without a seatbelt on.

Door or Boot Open Lights

Again, something that every car owner knows is the door or boot warning light. As a door being open is particularly dangerous when driving this light is red, whereas the warning light for the boot being open is yellow.

Fuel warning light

This yellow warning light comes on when you get into the last reserves of petrol or diesel in your tank. You should stop and top up your petrol as soon as possible… but there is evidence to say that you should be able to travel 20 miles or more before your engine cuts out so don’t panic if you’re not close to a petrol station.

Airbag Warning Light

This symbol we all know as the airbag warning light but should actually be called the supplemental restraint system warning light. The symbol is a person with a seatbelt on and an airbag deployed and will illuminate should there be an issue, not only with the airbags, but also the system that helps safely deploy the front passenger airbag and/or the system which assists with seat belt pre-tensioning, tightening the seatbelt in the event of a collision. As airbags are a key car safety feature, if this light remains on whilst you are driving you should get your vehicle checked over by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

Power Steering Warning Light

This light is a steering wheel with an exclamation mark beside it, some cars may have an EPS or EPAS light instead. They indicate a fault with your power steering system or that your power steering fluid levels are too low. Turn your car off, check your power steering fluid levels under the bonnet as soon as it is safe to do so and take to a trusted garage like us here at Peverell Garage should the light remain on.

Oil Light

The oil light looks like an oil can with a drop of oil dripping from the spout. This light usually indicates low oil pressure or low oil level. If you see this light come on, stop your car immediately and check your oil level. Low oil levels can cause serious engine damage.

Engine Check Light or Engine Management Light

The engine check/ management light looks like a small engine and is one of the most common warning lights. This light indicates a problem with the engine or emissions system. If this light comes on, you should take your car to a mechanic to have it checked as soon as possible, if the engine management light is flashing whilst you are driving you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and get immediate assistance as this indicates a more severe issue that has been detected.

Engine Temperature Warning Light

The temperature warning light looks like a thermometer in water and indicates that your engine is overheating. When this light comes on, if it is red, you should pull over immediately and turn off your car. An overheated engine can cause serious damage, so it’s essential to address the issue as soon as possible. If the light is yellow it is a warning to check and top up your coolant levels as they are running low although it may be worth checking that there is no underlying cause for this.

ABS Warning Light

If ‘ABS’ light comes on then there is an issue with your anti lock braking system. It may be a fault in the brake system or that the system has been switched off, or could indicate low levels of fluid in the reservoir, worn brake pads or damage to the wheel speed sensors, all of which need to be checked over by a qualified mechanic.

Tyre Pressure Warning Light

This symbol looks a bit like a flat tyre with an exclamation mark in the centre. It will be illuminated if tyre pressure monitoring systems pick up a pressure issue with one or more of your tyres. If you notice a significant loss of tyre pressure without this light coming on then it is still worth getting your car tyres checked over and replaced where necessary – something we can do here at Peverell Garage for you.

Car Dashboard Warning Lights – Understanding the Different Types

Car warning lights are designed to be a quick and easy way to alert drivers to potential problems. Here are some of the different types of warning lights you may see on your car’s dashboard.

Red Warning Lights – Red warning lights are the most urgent and require immediate attention. These lights indicate a severe problem that could cause damage to your car or make it unsafe to drive.

Yellow Warning Lights – Yellow warning lights are less urgent but still require attention. These lights indicate a potential problem that could worsen if not addressed.

Green or Blue Lights – Green or blue lights are typically not warning lights and indicate that a system has been switched on. Examples are your head lights which, when on, illuminate in green and blue for dipped and main beam respectively, or your indicator lights which are also green.

How to Respond to Car Warning Lights

When you see a car warning light, it’s essential to respond appropriately to avoid further damage or accidents. Here’s what you should do when you see a warning light:

  • Stop your car immediately if a red warning light appears, some cars may also have a ‘STOP’ warning that will illuminate in such cases.
  • Check your car’s owner’s manual to understand what the warning light means.
  • Take your car to a mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem, at Peverell Garage we are more than happy to help with diagnosing and repairing faults.
  • Don’t ignore warning lights, even if your car seems to be running fine, they could indicate a severe issue that, if left unchecked, could cause harm to you, other road users and your vehicle.

Dashboard warning lights are a crucial tool for car owners, they help prevent accidents, minimise damage to your car, and save you money on repairs. However, each car is different and understanding what each warning light means and how to respond is essential for safe and responsible driving so be sure to have a look in your owner’s manual and get to know the symbols your car has and what they refer to.

If you do notice a warning light then contact our expert diagnostic and repair team at Peverell Garage who will be able to assist and get you back on the road, whether your car is fuel-based, electric or hybrid.

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