Car Dashboard Warning Lights – What They Mean?

 

Images have been the best way to make a human understand since ages. We almost always picture the words when someone talks to us. If you still don’t believe me here is an example of it. Car, Apple, Phone, Ball, Rat. Now, I’m pretty sure that your brain did not flash you words but instead the images of all the examples of the words I mentioned above. That is the power of visualization that our brain has and understands that way.

Today, cars are equipped with electronics, safety devices and packed with sensors to monitor the condition of the car. Every time you turn your ignition key to the on position, there are various lights and symbols that illuminate on your dashboard. Also, when the key is turned on, your car performs self-test to make sure all the systems are working perfectly. And all these lights go off once the car starts. There will be times when one or more of these lights will stay on to inform you of potential problem that would need your attention.

The lights you see on the dashboard are colour coded meaning each colour has a different meaning associated with it. There are three types of colours used for indications – Red, Yellow & Green. Red coloured lights indicates a potential safety issue or a serious problem with the car or an important reminder that may need your attention. You should stop your car immediately and attend to the problem. Yellow or Orange lights in some cases indicates something to operate with caution or something that needs repairing or servicing. Green or Blue lights is a visual cue and also an indication that a system is on. A flashing light on the dashboard means it needs an urgent attention without any delay.

While manufacturers these days provide with a detailed car manual, explaining what different warning lights mean on the dashboard in order for you to be better prepared in case of an event. It is highly advisable to go through your car’s manual. The following are the most common warnings and information lights that appear on your dashboard and their meaning. Please note that every car dashboard may be different and symbols listed below may have different designs and colours.

Temperature Warning Light –
It is a serious indication that your engine temperatures is too high or your coolant level is low indicating that not enough fluid is in the system to cool down the engine. The same light in some cases also becomes blue indicating that the coolant temperature is below the optimum performing temperature. The engine should be shut off immediately. It may also indicate a faulty temperature sensor.

Engine Oil Pressure Warning –
This light comes up when there is low oil resulting in low oil pressure. It can also indicate a faulty engine oil pressure sensor. Low oil levels can cause some serious damage to the moving engine parts.

Battery Warning –
This light indicates that the voltage is below normal. This can also mean that the alternator is not working properly to charge the battery and hence the battery drains itself out. When the light comes up, the first that should be done is to switch off anything that draws power from the battery like air conditioning, heating system, music system, electrically heated glass and electrically heated seats. This leads to minimum power requirements from the battery till you reach a professional to help you out.

Brake Warning Light –
It indicates that the brake fluid is low or the hand brake is on. If the light does not go after the hand brake is released, your car would need a professional help.

Airbag Indicator –
It indicates that there is a problem with the air bag system. It needs to be resolved urgently.

Seatbelt Indicator –
In case you are not wearing your seat belt, it’s a safety reminder to buckle up your seat belt.

Door Ajar –
It indicates that one of the door is not closed properly or the door jamb switch has malfunctioned.

Check Engine Light –
It indicates an issue with the engine or can be a minor electrical issue. It can also mean a fault in the engine management system related to emissions or running. The car should be shown to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Traction Control Light –
It either indicates to warn you of a low grip condition for the car which should go off once the car regains traction or a problem with the traction control system.

ABS Warning Light –
It indicates a fault with the anti-lock braking system. This does not mean a brake failure but additional safety features are switched off and may not work during an emergency braking.

Tyre Pressure Warning –
It indicates a faulty tyre pressure sensor or one or more tyres has low air pressure. Tyre pressure should be inspected immediately to fill them to correct pressure.

Glow Plug Warning –
It is a warning for a diesel engine. Diesel engines require help in starting up during cold temperature. The glow plug is a heating element which is activated during the startup. It usually goes off after sometime but if doesn’t it indicated a faulty glow plug which should be replaced.

AWD Light –
This light indicates that the All-Wheel Drive system is activated.

ESP Light –
It’s similar to ABS indicator, indicates a potential problem with the Electronic Stability Program.

High Beam Light –
This light has been for decades indicating that the high beam light is turned on.

Low Windshield Fluid Indicator –
Indicates low windshield washer fluid which needs to be topped up.

Low Fuel Indicator –
Indicates Low Fuel and you need to visit the nearest petrol station.

Service Reminder –
The car’s on board computer shows this indicator to inform you that it’s time to give your car for servicing.

Before buying a second hand car, care should be taken to make sure that none of these warning lights mentioned above remain on after starting the engine. If any of these do remain on, it indicates a problem in the system that the warning light is associated with.

Have you ever had any warning lights on your dashboard? What was the problem and what did you do to solve it?
Let me know in the comment section below.

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