We’ve all been there: a light is flashing away on your dashboard with increasing alarm and you have no idea what it means. There are so many dashboard lights that it’s easy to be confused with what they all mean. So, to save you from flicking through your car manual, we’ve got an easy overview for you to get familiar with.
Red dashboard lights
These are the warning lights on your dashboard that you need to be most concerned about. They carry more severe warnings and should be acted upon as soon as possible: either by pulling into your nearest garage or stopping the car and calling a professional.
This warns you that something isn’t right with your oil: its temperature could be too high or its level and pressure could be too low. Oil protects the parts of your engine against friction by lubricating its parts via a pressure pump. If there is something wrong with your oil, you could be in for some expensive engine damage. Not good.
Your coolant helps to keep your engine’s temperature regulated: without it, your engine would overheat to the point where its components would start to warp. If this light starts flashing, either your engine is overheating or your coolant level is too low. This could be an easy-fix issue or a sign of a bigger problem.
Battery charge warning
This light comes on every time you turn on your engine and will usually turn off a few seconds after. However, if you see this light remains on while you’re driving, there’s normally a problem with your electrical system. This could be a bad connection, a dodgy battery, damaged cabling or a faulty alternator. All of these could cause the car to effectively shut off and break down involuntarily – get it checked.
Brake system warning
Your brakes are one of the most important features of your vehicle. If this light comes on and your handbrake is down, there could be something wrong with your braking system. This could be that the brake fluid level is low or a more serious issue.
Your airbag is one of the most modern and effective safety features in your vehicle. If this light comes on, there could be a fault with it. Without proper function, your airbag won’t go off in a crash and could cause serious harm to you and your passengers.
Power steering warning
Power steering is the technology behind your steering wheel that allows you to move it with ease. You might not have experienced what it feels like without it, but it’s a lot heavier to turn. This can be very dangerous for some drivers.
Amber dashboard lights
These lights indicate an issue with the engine which will affect the car’s performance and if left unchecked, could cause danger. It’s best to get these looked at sooner rather than later.
Check engine warning
This is a general warning light which indicates that there is something wrong with the engine that can reduce its performance. This could be anything from the ignition to the pistons.
The ABS light refers to the Anti-lock Braking System, which prevents you from skidding during heavy braking. Whilst the normal brake system will be unaffected, you should heed any consistent warning from this light as something could be wrong with your brakes.
Tyre pressure warning
This light indicates that the pressure in your tyres is wrong. If there is no noise from the vehicle and you get out and there is no sign of a flat tyre, you should be okay to drive on (cautiously) until you can check them properly.
The next time you see a symbol flashing away on your dashboard, hopefully, you’ll know what it’s trying to tell you. In any case, a warning light indicates that something isn’t right and you should get it sorted as soon as you can.