It’s time for a pop quiz about cars, do you know what the lights on your car dashboard mean? They aren’t all bad, in fact, a bit of knowledge can help in the event of a crisis.
As always, PD Insurance is here to give you a helping hand in understanding your car. Read on to learn about 16 common dashboard warning lights.
Why Should You Know About Dashboard Lights?
It is important to understand what your car is communicating because it can help prevent serious damage and help you become a more confident driver. By reading the dashboard you will learn what is normal or hazardous so you can remain calm at the wheel.
The easiest rule of thumb for all dash icons is to think of traffic lights:
Green is good and mean a function is set or active.
Orange lights mean a fault has been detected, you may drive but need to visit a mechanic as soon as possible.
Red signals that a serious problem has been found and immediate attention is required.
16 Common Warning Lights You Should Understand
Low Oil Pressure
The oil pump plays an important role in car health as it keeps oil moving around bearings and moving parts to reduce friction and furthermore heat. The oil light will come on when your car registers low oil levels, which means it’s time to top up. Not confident on checking and topping up your oil? We have an easy 7 step guide to help.
Your car has a built-in computer that frequently scans for thousands of potential errors or malfunctions present in your car. There are two types of check engine lights that may appear on the dashboard, which will prompt a visit to the mechanic:
- solid orange/yellow will warn you that an error has been found. For example, new spark plugs are needed.
- blinking yellow/orange or solid red requires immediate attention.
ABS (anti-lock brake system)
The ABS control’s vehicle brakes to prevent your wheel from locking up and causing an uncontrolled skid. When this light comes on your ABS is active. The system functions by rapidly engaging and disengaging the brakes to help you maintain steering control, so you don’t skid and spin out of control.
Cars can get hot flushes too…
When you see this light appear your engine may be overheating, which can be commonly caused by a fault from the internal cooling system, that circulates air and coolant around the engine to maintain a steady temperature.
The tell-tale signs of overheating aside from temperature increase are smoke bellowing from under the bonnet and/or the smell of hot metal or plastic.
Cruise Control Indicator On
Self-driving cars are a thing of the future, but the cruise control feature is a smart feature you can enjoy today. With the cruise control function set your car engine will maintain a select speed until you press the brake. This is great to use when driving long distances where speed limits change less.
A green light appears when the set speed is achieved, prior to this an orange light will appear when cruise control is set.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
Tyres can get forgotten from everyday car maintenance, even though they can help you save fuel when maintained properly. If your car is equipped with this handy pressure sensor you’ll never forget when it’s time to pump up your tyres.
Engine Immobiliser or Engine Start Indicator
Some newer cars require the driver to press the brake at the same time as starting the car, either via a key in the ignition or push-start button. If your car starts by a push-start button it will illuminate to remind you to press the brake.
Have you ever struggled to get out of a tight parking spot? Many new cars have built-in parking assist sensors to help you park safely, that will chime if an object is within close range. When this light is yellow or orange the sensors have detected an object nearby.
The battery helps power everything electrical in a car, such as; the radio, headlights, ignition system and internal computer. As you drive the battery will recharge, if the warning light appears be aware that a problem has been found.
Wiper Fluid Indicator
Keeping your windshield clean will make it easier to see the road ahead, which can get dirty from dust, bugs and other debris that come from driving. The wiper fluid indicator will light up when more water (or specialty wiper fluid) is needed in the pump, which can easily be found when you pop the hood.
The parking brake light will appear when the car is parked and hand/foot brake is engaged, as well as to warn you that your brakes are due for inspection.
A few causes of why the brake light may appear can include:
- The brake isn’t completely released – check the hand/foot brake.
- Low brake fluid or a leak.
- Worn brake pads.
The airbag light is not one you should ignore, particularly as airbags provide security for those in the car. If this appears your airbag could be faulty and may not deploy if you are in an accident.
It is advised that you visit a mechanic who can identify the and repair any faults.
Your airbag may be affected by recent airbag recalls, visit Is My Airbag Safe to check if your airbag is part of the recall.
Trying to lower the running costs of your car? With ECO mode activated the engine will lower its response to acceleration, allowing it to reduce the amount of fuel it would normally consume so it can last longer. This is great for city driving where vehicles stop-start frequently.
Electronic Stability Control
The electronic stability control is a system that maintains the overall driving control of a vehicle. This happens by monitoring the rotational speed of the wheels and detecting a loss of steering wheel control or traction, the system will then reduce engine power and brakes so control is upheld. When this light is on the system has detected an issue and is trying to resolve it.
Lane Departure Warning
New technologies have allowed cars to contain better safety features, one of which is lane departure warning that alerts you if your car is moving into another lane. If you live in a busy city lane departure warning will help keep your car safe as the traffic builds.
One of the most recognised symbols in your car is the fuel light, giving you the heads up that it’s time to fill up.
Ever sat in a car for the first time and wondered “which side is the fuel cap on?”
The little arrow next to your fuel light points to the side correct side, making it easy to fill up any car. This clever invention has been traced back to an engineer who worked for Ford during the 1980’s.
For more information about the warning lights specific to your vehicle consult your vehicle owner’s manual.