If deciphering your car dashboard warnings feels like a complete mystery, this guide is for you. Symbols like the low petrol light are familiar to most drivers. But what about all those other car dashboard warnings that pop up from time to time? Fortunately, we’re here to help! Read on for a complete guide to the most common warning lights and what to do when they appear on your dashboard.
Colour coded car dashboard warnings
Most car dashboard lights use a colour coded system.
Green lights are good and indicate a system is engaged or working as it should. Nothing to worry about here.
Yellow lights are a warning that a system or component isn’t working correctly. You don’t necessarily need to pull over and call a tow truck, but you should take extra care when driving and get your vehicle checked out ASAP.
When you see red car dashboard warnings, it’s best to pull over and switch off your engine as soon as possible. Red lights indicate a serious problem that could quickly escalate if not immediately addressed.
Now you know more about the colour coded system, let’s take a closer look at the most common car dashboard warnings.
Brake warning light
The brake warning light indicates a problem with your parking brake, or your brake fluid levels. Best case scenario, your parking brake is stuck, and you can get rid of the warning light with a quick readjustment. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to get your brake fluid levels checked.
ABS warning light
This light indicates a problem with your anti-lock brake system (ABS). This is a critical safety feature that helps you pull off emergency stops, especially in wet and slippery conditions. Depending on the issue, the ABS car dashboard warning light may be accompanied by the Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) light. If you notice either is lit up, it’s best to reduce your speed, avoid braking suddenly and pull over when safe to do so.
Check engine car dashboard warning light
Also known as the ECU warning light, this symbol could mean anything from a minor issue with an electrical sensor to a serious mechanical failure. You can usually continue to drive with the check engine light on, but it’s best to look into the issue ASAP to stay safe and avoid irreparable damage.
Airbag warning light
This one will light up in red and indicates that your airbag safety system is compromised. Also called the supplemental restraint system (SRS) warning light, it’s not one to be ignored.
Power steering warning light
As the name suggests, this car dashboard warning confirms there’s an issue with your power steering. Sometimes getting it to turn off is as simple as restarting your engine. Other times, you may need to book your car into a service centre for a closer inspection. If there is a serious problem, you’ll probably be able to feel it as you manoeuvre the car. You can still drive with the power steering light on, but you’ll need to be careful as your steering assistance is compromised.
Engine temperature warning light
The dreaded engine temperature warning light is a tell-tale sign that your engine is overheating. Possible reasons include a leak in your coolant system or a more serious issue, such as a blown head gasket. This one is red, which means you should stop your car and turn off the engine as soon as possible. If you continue to drive, you run the risk of seizing the entire engine and causing permanent damage.
Oil warning light
Of all the car dashboard warning lights that can appear, the oil symbol is one of the most common. Best case scenario, your oil is running low and needs to be topped up. This is an easy fix if you’re near a petrol station. You’ll need to act fast as your engine needs lubrication to run. Without it you can quickly cause serious damage. If your oil light comes on again a day or so after topping up your tank, it could indicate a more serious issue like a faulty pump or a leak in the system.
Low tyre pressure warning light
The tyre pressure warning light makes it easy to detect leaks and punctures in the earliest stages. Also known as the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), this light detects abnormal drops in pressure. You can still drive with the TPMS light on, though it’s best to reduce your speed and be extra vigilant. Pull into a petrol station, when possible, to top up the air or change your tyre if necessary.
Battery warning light
The battery warning light can be a tricky one as it can mean a few things. Ideally, it’s just a prompt to replace your battery. This usually needs to be done every few years anyway. It could also mean your battery isn’t being charged by the alternator, which may indicate a more serious problem like an overheating engine.
Say goodbye to car dashboard warning lights
Hate the wave of anxiety that comes with car dashboard warning lights? It could be time to upgrade your vehicle. Newer cars simply don’t have the same mechanical issues as older vehicles, meaning you’re far less likely to see your dashboard light up like it’s Guy Fawkes night.
If you’re thinking about upgrading to a more reliable car, we’re here to help. Say goodbye to car dashboard warning lights and use our tailored car finance solutions to secure your dream ride. We’ll match your application with a wide range of lenders to unlock the best rates and maximise your chances of success, even if you’re worried about car finance poor credit.
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