Dashboard Warning Lights and What They Mean 

dashboard warning lights

We’ve all experienced the dread that comes with having a dashboard warning light suddenly appear. Do I drive home or straight to the shop? Should I pull over immediately? Is this going to cost me a fortune? These are all understandable concerns, and the answer is that it depends on which warning you see.

Not all manufacturers use universal images so it’s important to check your owner’s manual for details, but below you’ll find the most common dashboard warning lights.

Common Dashboard Warning Lights

Check Engine Light
The check engine light, also known as the Service Engine Soon light, can illuminate for a few reasons, the simplest of which is that your gas cap is missing or loose. Among other things, it can also indicate that a sensor needs to be replaced or that you have a bad catalytic converter. It’s important to find the cause of the warning to avoid larger problems down the road. If this light flashes while illuminated it requires immediate attention.
Coolant Temperature Warning
The coolant temperature warning indicates that engine temperature has exceeded normal limits. This can be caused by a number of things, including low or leaking coolant, a loose or missing radiator cap, a malfunction in the electric cooling fan system, or a thermostat being stuck closed. Continued driving may cause extensive engine damage so pull over immediately if you see this warning.
Oil Pressure Warning
The oil pressure indicator is another warning for which you should immediately pull over. It indicates your engine is either low on oil or that the oil is not properly circulating. Continued driving could cause your engine to seize, which in addition to being bad for your vehicle, can cause an accident. Pull over and allow your engine to cool down before checking the oil level.
Battery Alert
This indicates that there’s potentially a malfunction in your vehicle’s charging system. If your battery alert appears, your battery terminals should be checked for corrosion, and you should have your vehicle’s charging and starting system thoroughly inspected. A simple test can be run that will test the performance of the battery, alternator and starter.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Seeing the tire pressure icon means either your vehicle has detected low air pressure in one of your tires or a sensor malfunction. Refer to your owner’s manual or the sticker in the doorjamb to find the recommended tire pressure.
Brake System Warning Light
Similar to the check engine light, the brake system warning has a wide range of severity. It can be as simple as your parking break being engaged, which is an easy fix. It can also indicate a loss of pressure in the breaking system, low fluid, or an ABS (anti-lock braking system) problem. Any of these issues are cause for concern and the vehicle should be inspected by a technician as soon as possible.
There are several other dashboard warning lights that can be illuminated in your vehicle. If you are unsure why a warning light is illuminated, refer to your owner’s manual or bring your car to a local AAA Car Care center. We can help determine the next best steps to fixing your warning light issue with an engine diagnostic.

Stop by or reserve your appointment today if you need any assistance from the above warning lights to other car maintenance and repair needs.
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