Car Dashboard Warning Lights: The Complete Guide

Car Dashboard Warning Lights: Complete Guide

There are numerous dashboard warning lights in your car, designed to alert your attention if something isn’t working correctly or if there is an issue that needs repairing quickly. Most of these lights will briefly illuminate when you start your car, so you can check if the bulbs are working properly, but they should go out again once the engine is running.

If one or multiple lights remain on, it could be a sign there’s something wrong with your car and you must take action sooner rather than later.

What do the warning lights mean?

The warning lights are displayed in different colours that denote how serious the problem is.

  • Blue and green lights are usually the least urgent.
  • Amber and red lights are more serious and should be dealt with urgently.

Regardless of the colour, you should act quickly to prevent blue and green light problems from worsening and becoming more expensive and difficult to sort.

Most warning lights are universal for all makes and models of cars, which makes them easier for the driver to recognise. Keep your car’s handbook inside the vehicle at all times, so you can quickly reference it and establish exactly what the problem is.

Oil pressure light

Oil Pressure Light

An oil warning light is one of the most serious, hence the red colouring. Oil pressure is generated by an oil pump that keeps the engine oil circulating and ensures enough quantity of oil in the engine. A leak, fault pump or too little oil can cause damage to the engine, resulting in an expensive vehicle repair bill or even a write-off.

Brake system light

Brake System Light

This brake system light also requires urgent attention. It may be that you’ve left the handbrake engaged slightly while pulling away, so check first that it’s fully released. If this doesn’t solve the problem, pull over safely and call for roadside assistance.

The brake fluid level may be too low and it simply needs topping up. Alternatively, a brake pad wear sensor could be faulty. As a general rule of thumb, if the brake pedal feels spongy when pressed, or sinks to the floor, this is a sign that a significant issue has occurred and the car should not be driven any further.

Battery charge

Battery Charge Light

This warning light coming on can indicate several things relating to the car’s battery and charging system. Without a properly working battery, you are at risk of headlights, power steering, brake servos, and even the engine ceasing to work.

The cause may be as simple as a faulty battery that needs replacing. But it could also be an issue with the car’s wiring or a fault with its alternator or drive belt.

Temperature warning light

Temperature Warning Light

If you see this light on at any time after you’ve started your car, then the engine is running too hot or there isn’t enough coolant in the system. This could be due to various issues, such as a leaky or clogged car radiator, or faulty water pump.┬áMore seriously, it could be a blown head gasket.

Some cars may have this symbol but with a blue light. This means your engine is cold – it’s nothing to worry about but it’s advised not to push your engine too hard until it has gone.

Engine light

Engine Light

If this warning light comes on, you must get your car checked as soon as possible – even if it feels normal and safe to drive. This light warns of a potential problem with the engine, which is expensive to sort out once damaged.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

Anti-lock Braking System

When you brake hard, the ABS will activate and pulse the brakes to prevent other wheels from locking up. If the ABS warning light is illuminated, then something is wrong with the system. As it is such an important safety feature, you should get this looked at as soon as you can.

Low-fuel light

Low Fuel Light

This one is self-explanatory and most likely something you’ve encountered many times before. The low-fuel light will come on when your car is running out of petrol or diesel, and you’re approaching an empty tank. It will usually come on with 50-70 miles of range remaining. The light will disappear once you’ve filled it up.

Tyre-pressure sensor

Tyre Pressure Light

A tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is an increasingly common feature, and it’s been mandatory for carmakers to fit the system for several years now. The system constantly monitors the amount of air in the tyres. When the tyre pressure is getting too low, the warning light will display.

It is important to sort this issue out as soon as possible because low tyre pressure can affect braking, cornering and other such problems.

Traction-control light

Traction Control Light

This light will illuminate when your wheels lose grip on the road, commonly because of snow, rain, or other weather conditions. It serves as a visual indication that you’re close to the limit of grip.

If you would like to book your car or motorcycle in for an MOT, repairs or servicing, please do not hesitate to contact us at Pantech Auto Technicians today.