Warning Lights and What They Mean

It’s happened to all of us. You’re driving along and a warning light turns on. Should you pull over now, or is it OK to keep driving? Some lights signal an easy fix, such as low fuel or wiper fluid. Others indicate a serious problem that requires a trip to the mechanic as soon as possible.

Here are 10 common dashboard lights and their meanings, so you can be prepared next time an indicator illuminates in your car.

Battery Symbol

This light usually appears when your car won’t start or the engine barely turns over. While it often signals a dead battery, it can also indicate that the battery cables are loose or that the serpentine belt connected to the alternator has snapped, preventing the battery from charging. It might also be an indication that your alternator has died and needs to be replaced.

Charge the battery and have it checked. You may need to replace it soon. If the battery doesn’t take the charge and no cables are loose, visit a mechanic for a diagnosis.

Engine Temperature Indicator

If this light comes on while you are driving, pull over and wait about 20 minutes to let your engine cool. If it’s an extremely hot day, your engine may just need time to rest. If, however, you restart your car and the light is still on, it could indicate a problem with your car’s cooling system. Continuing to operate your car could cause serious damage. Have a mechanic check the coolant level, make sure the fan is operating, and examine the radiator for any cracks or a leaky hose.

Check Engine Light

This warning symbol turns on for a variety of reasons, often accompanied by another indicator light. In some vehicles, the Check Engine light will turn on if you didn’t fully tighten your gas cap. If that’s not the case, take your car to a mechanic. You may have a fairly simple problem, such as malfunctioning exhaust sensors, or a more serious issue.

Engine Start Indicator

If your car won’t start and this light comes on, it most likely means you need to engage the brake while cranking the car. If it comes on while you are driving, it might mean your battery voltage has dropped below a normal level. Pull over and restart your engine, which will recharge your battery.

Airbag Indicator

In all likelihood, this signifies a problem with the airbag system. If you were in a crash and your airbags deployed, the light will remain on until you have them serviced. If you were not in a crash, take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. In most vehicles, the airbags will not deploy while this light is activated.

Traction Control

If you have the ability to turn your traction control system on and off, this light may turn on briefly when you manually turn off the traction system. If the light comes on at another time, it could indicate a problem with the traction system or your anti-lock braking (ABS) system, if you have ABS brakes. Have a mechanic check your car as soon as possible.

Anti-Lock Brake Light

You could have a problem with your braking system. In addition to this warning light, the Traction Control indicator may also illuminate. Have your brakes checked as soon as possible. You don’t want your brakes to fail!

Tire Pressure Warning Light

This light usually comes on when the pressure in your tires is low, but it could also be an indication that the batteries in the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) need to be replaced. If you carry a spare that is the same as your other tires, it most likely has the same TPMS and can trigger the indicator like any other tire. Check the pressure of all your tires, including the spare. If it’s cold outside, your tire pressure will drop and cause this light to activate.

Oil Pressure Light

This indicator signals that your oil pressure is either low or nonexistent. Pull over as soon as possible and immediately check your oil level. If the oil is low, fill up your oil to see if the light goes out. If the light remains on, it could indicate an oil leak or an issue with your oil pump. Have your car checked as soon as possible, and avoid driving, especially at high speeds and uphill.

Security Light

If your car has a security system, you have probably noticed this light flash on when you start your car. If it stays on, it may indicate an issue with your car’s electrical system, which is tied to the security system. Have the car checked.

If your dashboard is lit up, contact Bavarian Body Works to schedule an inspection today.

At Bavarian Body Works, our trained technicians work on many types of cars. We can check any warning lights or indicators and fix problems quickly so you can get back on the road. We’ll evaluate the repair and replacement options with you, always with a focus on your safety. Contact us today for more information.