A Quick Guide to Common Dashboard Warning Lights

A Quick Guide to Common Dashboard Warning Lights
| By: Posted by, Christian Brothers Automotive

Your dashboard is equipped with a large number of lights in many strange shapes. While these warning lights might look pretty and add some color to your instrument cluster, the truth is they’re actually telling you some vital information about the condition of your car. In many cases, these lights are trying to tell you that something is wrong and you could be at risk for a serious breakdown if you don’t get the issue fixed right away.

Here are some of the most common dashboard lights you might see and what they mean.

Engine Light

Engine Light

The engine light looks like an oddly-shaped box, and is usually yellow in color. It’s also a light that you should attend to immediately if it turns on. This is essentially a warning indicating that your car’s computer has detected an abnormality in your engine that should be looked at by a professional. If you encounter this warning light, please bring your vehicle to your nearest Christian Brother’s location to have an expert help you.

Temperature Warning Light

Temperature Warning Light

Your engine temperature light looks like a spiky thermometer dipped in water, and indicates that the temperature in your engine’s coolant has reached critical levels. In other words, your engine is too hot and could be at risk for serious damage if you don’t take immediate action. Don’t hesitate to pull over, pull open your hood, and let it start cooling off as soon as possible, then bring it in for an inspection as soon as possible.

Battery Light

Battery Light

Most people are able to recognize the battery light pretty easily: it’s a rectangle with a plus and minus sign in the middle, and is usually red, but is sometimes yellow. This is an indicator that your car’s charging system is experiencing an issue and that you’re running solely on your battery power. This usually means something has gone wrong with your alternator, a device that turns the engine’s cycling motion into power to charge your battery and power devices.

Airbag Indicator

Airbag Indicator

Usually red in color, this light looks like a stick figure cradling an exercise ball in their lap. In this case the exercise ball is supposed to represent the airbag, signaling you that there is an abnormality with your airbag system. The issue may be with a single airbag or with your entire airbag system in general. Sometimes simply turning your car off, waiting a few seconds, and then restarting it can make this issue go away. However, if it refuses to turn off after several tries, you should bring your car in for inspection as soon as possible.

Tire Pressure Light

Tire Pressure Light

Looking like an oddly-drawn semi-circle with an exclamation point in the middle and usually yellow in color, this is perhaps the most common warning light of the lot that we discuss here. This is known as your tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS light, which indicates that one or more of your tires is under-inflated and needs some extra air. Stop by a gas station or pull out your air compressor and top it off to the indicated PSI level and the light should go away within a few minutes.

Oil Pressure Warning

Oil Pressure Warning

Got a light on your dashboard that looks like a magic lamp with a teardrop? You’re not about to get a trip to Agrabah on a magic carpet; this is supposed to depict an oil can and indicate that there’s a problem with your oil pressure. Usually this is a sign that your oil level is too low and your cycling system can’t maintain enough pressure to keep your engine lubricated. While adding some oil usually makes this go away, it’s strongly advised you bring your car in for an inspection because the problem could be far more serious than that.

Traction Control

Traction Control

You may have a light that looks like a miniature version of the sign which indicates slippery road conditions. So it should come as little surprise that the meaning is closely related: your car is slipping. This is your traction control indicator light and it turns on when the traction control system engages to prevent your car from spinning out or losing control. This can usually be felt by your gas pedal suddenly ceasing to work momentarily as your car regains control on all four tires. It should shut off after just a few seconds.

Antilock Brake Light

Antilock Brake Light

This isn’t your reminder to go to the gym: that yellow, circular light that says “ABS” actually stands for “antilock brake system.” All modern cars are outfitted with an antilock braking system, which makes it far easier to bring your car to a stop without locking your brakes and skidding out of control. This makes it not only more effective at stopping sooner but prevents you from careening out of control when your tires lose their ability to stick to the road. This warning light comes on when there’s an issue with this critical safety system that needs addressed.

About Christian Brothers Automotive

Christian Brothers Automotive is the locally-owned car repair choice in markets all across the country. Since 1982, we’ve made it our mission to take the stress and headache out of finding a quality mechanic who can handle issues ranging from general maintenance to serious repairs. From Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho and beyond, we pride ourselves on offering our customers honest and reliable car care service.

For vehicle warning lights, diagnostics and repairs, visit your local Christian Brothers Automotive store today.

Posted by, Christian Brothers Automotive

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