Car Warning Lights and What They Mean

Car Warning Lights and What They Mean

You’re driving along and all of a sudden you notice a warning light on your dashboard. If you’re not familiar with what all the symbols or notifications mean, this could make you feel a little uneasy. Is it safe to drive, or should you pull over? With this guide, we’re running through the most common car warning lights and what they mean. That way, you can know exactly how to respond.

Colour systems

The dashboard warning lights are often colour coded to help you assess their seriousness. The colours correspond to a traffic light system.

  • Green = systems are working fine.
  • Yellow = something isn’t working correctly, you should check as soon as possible.
  • Red = your car is experiencing a fault that could be dangerous, you should stop driving as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Common car warning lights to look out for

  • Brake warning light

This light appears in red with an encircled exclamation mark between two brackets. If your parking brake has been fully released, it can mean that your brake fluid is low. If you don’t know how to check this yourself, you should call your breakdown cover. It can also mean your braking system has malfunctioned if your ABS light is also illuminated.

  • Engine management light

This light appears in yellow and can mean that you have a minor or more serious engine fault. It’s best to get a diagnostic team on the case as soon as possible.

  • Airbag warning light

This appears in red and features a person sitting in a car seat with a circle beside them. You should get this checked immediately as it can mean your airbag system isn’t working properly – an essential safety feature.

  • Power steering warning light

This warning light appears in red and shows a steering wheel with an exclamation mark next to it. It may be a simple fix that can be resolved by switching your car on and off again. However, if the light is still showing, you should take extra care when manoeuvring and take your car to the garage as soon as possible.

  • DPF warning light

This is exclusive to diesel cars and is a yellow warning light that means your exhaust filter might be blocked. This should get checked to avoid an expensive replacement fee further down the road.

  • Engine temperature warning light

Marked in red, this warning light shows a thermometer dipped in liquid. It means your engine is overheating and could mean your coolant levels are low. However, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. If the same symbol is shown in yellow, it means your coolant levels need a top-up.

  • Engine oil warning light

This symbol appears in red and shows the outline of a can with a drop of liquid. You shouldn’t drive when this light shows. It usually means you need to top-up your engine oil levels.

  • Battery warning light

This is a red warning light that depicts a battery. It means that you have a problem with your battery charging. You should take it to the garage before you run out of power.

  • Anti-lock brake system (ABS) warning light

This is a yellow symbol that has ‘ABS’ inside a circle. You can still drive with this light showing, but should still get it checked as soon as possible. If it shows with the brake warning light, this can point to a more serious fault with your brake system that should get reviewed by a mechanic.

While some car lights are universal, others can be brand specific. To best understand your car dashboard lights, it’s best to refer to your owner manual.

If your car has an issue, your local car maintenance service in Peterborough, Vital Vehicle Care can help. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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