Has it been a while since your last oil change service or your last car inspection? The good news is, your vehicle has numerous symbols on your dashboard that light up or blink when a section of the ride needs attention. The bad news is, many people are unaware about what each of their car warning lights mean, and certain indicators hint at more severe issues that require immediate care. Let’s break down the most common car warning lights to ensure that your vehicle is prepared for safe travel, starting with the color code.
Generally speaking, red colored lights indicate a serious issue that requires a car inspection and service from a professional right away. However, in the case of hazard lights, the seatbelt reminder, or the ‘door open’ alert, while these indicators flash red, they are obviously less serious and serve more as safety reminders.
Yellow or orange icons such as the check engine light, low fuel indicator, or tire pressure indicate a component of the car that needs repair or service. When blinking, these symbols tell that you may have a more dire problem on your hands, unlike the green and blue dashboard lights, which simply tells you when a function of the vehicle is active.
The Most Important Warnings
Above the rest, there are a few car warning lights that are especially important to keep an eye on. Without these components, you’re potentially a mile away from a breakdown, and the fix may be as simple as an oil change service. The most crucial symbols are the battery light, the brake warning light, the temperature warning light, and the oil pressure warning light.
The battery light, shaped like a rectangle with two mini square above the addition and subtraction symbols, will light up when your car begins experiencing battery issues. This indicates that your car’s charging system is running out of power due to a bad battery or failing alternator. This icon will typically light up for a brief second at the beginning of starting your car, so if it fails to illuminate, there may be some faulty wiring to get checked. Riding without proper battery power can do serious engine damage, so do not sleep on this indication.
The brake warning light (not to be confused with the antilock brake system warning), will have the text “brake” spelled out above a circle with an exclamation point inside of two parentheses. If this icon illuminates, that means you have a serious problem with your main or emergency brakes. Stop driving your vehicle, and call for a car inspection because this issue may be a brake fluid leak or sensor failure. If the ABS and brake warning lights both turn on, do not operate your vehicle before getting service.
The engine temperature warning light, which looks like a thermometer sticking out of two waves, has two types of signals that mean two different things. If this light is red, it means your engine is overheated. If the light is blue, that means the temperature of your coolant has fallen too low. If your engine is overheating, turn off your air conditioner and all other non-essential components to lessen the load on your engine. Pull over, and do not open the hood for a good thirty minutes if you plan on inspecting. If this problem persists along with the check engine light, you’ll have to take your car in for a check.
Lastly, the oil pressure warning light, which almost resembles the magic genie lantern or a cup with a spout pouring one drip, is an indication you’re probably ready for a routine oil change service. Without the correct amount of oil pressure, your car won’t be able to stay lubricated. Whether it’s a blocked oil filter or pump, this is a car warning light that requires an immediate car inspection before driving.