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Car Dashboard Warning Lights

Posted by Andy Wright on

Guide To Car Dashboard Warning Lights

It's important to know what the dashboard warning lights are trying to tell you.  If something goes wrong with your car this may be the first indication you get of it.  Although the warning light may not tell you exactly what the problem is - it will point you in the right direction.  Addressing the issue at an early stage may prevent car break down and save you an expensive fix further down the road.


handbrake warning light 


There's a problem with the braking system.  It is usually triggered by one of three scenarios: handbrake is on, brake fluid is low or there is an issue with the ABS - anti-lock braking system.  The braking system should be checked by a professional mechanic.  It is imperative the brakes are fully functional at all times on any vehicle.


power steering warning light


There is something up with the power steering system.  The steering may become heavy and driving at speed may become difficult.  In the interest of safety the system needs to be assessed by a professional mechanic.  The solution may be as simple as requiring a power steering fluid top up.


diesel filter warning light   diesel particulate warning light


Both the above warning lights indicate that a problem has occurred with the diesel filter system.  There may be a problem with the DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) which indicates that the filter has failed and requires servicing.  Harmful materials are being released by the exhaust system.




coolant warning light


The coolant temperature has exceeded its operating limits - this could mean that the levels have run low.  A quick check under the bonnet will tell you if the reservoir needs to be topped up.  Coolant is essential for the safe operation of an engine and to prevent over heating.  If the warning light illuminates after topping up - you may have a leak.


battery warning light


There is a problem with the battery.  The system voltage level is sub optimal and the system is not charging properly.  The problem could be caused by a faulty alternator, dodgy battery or bad cabling connections.  If the battery is running out of power your car will eventually run out of power and grind to a halt.


oil warning light


There is a problem with the vehicle's oil.  It can be triggered by a number of situations - when oil temperature gets too high, when the level of oil is too low or when oil pressure is too low.  The latter two conditions are very serious scenarios and need to be addressed immediately.  Oil problems can result in expensive engine damage so you should stop driving and contact a mechanic immediately.


tyre pressure warning light


The tyre pressure monitoring system has detected a tyre with low pressure - or is itself experiencing a problem.  This used to be a warning system found only in high end cars - but nowadays it is becoming more common in everyday vehicles.  It's time to get out and take a look at the tyres.  Add some air if they seem a little soft.


check engine warning light


There is a problem with the engine.  When this light comes on you may notice that the car has gone into safety mode and there is a sudden loss of power.  This is a potentially very serious situation as any issue with the engine could lead to costly or irreparable damage.  You should really get a mechanic to take a look as soon as possible. 


air bag warning light


A fault in the airbag system has been detected.  The air bags provide critical safety in the event of an accident and should be assessed by a professional to determine the problem.  Potential problems include your airbag not deploying when it is needed or the possibility that it deploys unexpectedly when it is not required.  Both of these are very dangerous scenarios and need to be addressed.


Quick Overview - other common dashboard lights:

common car dashboard warning lights






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  • They should teach this stuff in schools.
    This and how to boil an egg.
    My life would have been a lot easier.

    will - sutton on

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