Guide to Dashboard Warning Lights

Published on 29 January 2020

In our hectic daily lives, it can be tempting to overlook a warning light on our dashboard while promising ourselves that we will get it looked at next week. However, continuing to drive can put us and others in danger while also increasing the chances of long-term damage to the car.

Warning lights are a signal that there's something wrong, and it could be anything from a faulty sensor to engine trouble. When it's safe to do so, pull-over and consult your handbook.

Below, we've listed the most common dashboard warning lights.

Battery Warning Light

If this light doesn't go off a few seconds after starting your engine, it means there's an issue with the car’s electrical system. This could relate to a number of issues, including a faulty battery, damaged wiring system or it could be due to your alternator drive belt braking. Don’t ignore this light - get it checked immediately by a mechanic.

Engine Management Light

If this warning light comes on, or is flashing, pull over when it's safe to do so and turn off your engine. Wait for two minutes and then restart your engine, as this may reset your engine management system. If the light comes back on, get it checked as soon as possible by a professional. It could be a small fault or a larger mechanical issue and continuing to drive the car could lead to long term costly damage.

ABS Warning Light

The Anti-Lock Braking System is designed to prevent your wheels from locking when the brake is applied and prevent your car from skidding. Consult your handbook to check if it's safe to drive your car when the ABS warning light is on. Drive with caution as your breaking distance may have increased. If there's a noise coming from the wheels or if your brake warning light is on, gradually reduce your speed, pull over somewhere safe and turn off your engine.

Airbag Warning Light

This warning light indicates a faulty airbag, which means that the occupants of the car may not be well protected in the event of an accident or the airbag could deploy unexpectedly causing injury. It’s important to get your airbags checked by a professional if you see this light.

Brake System Warning Light

If this light is on, first check to see if you have released the parking brake correctly. If this isn’t the case, pull over over safely and call for assistance. The brakes are the most important feature in your car, so don’t risk driving if there's an issue with them.

Temperature Warning Light

Don’t continue to drive if you see this light, as it could indicate that your engine is overheating. You may need to top up your coolant, but don’t attempt to do this while the engine is still hot. Alternatively, get a mechanic to do it if you're unsure.

Fuel Level Warning

This is an easy fix. Your fuel is running low; don’t delay getting a refill or you may find yourself stranded.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

Oil is what keeps your engine lubricated, and the oil pump is responsible for sending it to every part of the engine that needs it. The warning light may indicate that the temperature is too high, the level of oil is low or the oil pressure has dropped. If the light remains on after refilling it with oil, then this indicates a more serious problem and continuing to drive your car could result in irreparable damage to the engine.

Traction Control Warning

During adverse weather conditions, such as rain, ice or snow, this warning light will indicate that your wheels are losing their grip on the road. If the light is blinking, you need to gradually reduce your speed and drive carefully. If the light is constantly on, then it may need to be checked by a mechanic.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

If there's a drop in the air pressure in your tyre, it can have an impact on your driving ability and you may lose control of the car. The warning light will alert you when a tyre needs attention. If it's an obvious puncture, you'll need to change the tyre. Don’t attempt to drive with a puncture as this is dangerous and it will damage your wheel beyond repair.

Power Steering Warning

Loss of power steering will have a big impact on your driving as it will make turning much more difficult. The steering will feel heavier and driving around corners at high speed could be extremely dangerous. Reduce your speed and get it checked by a professional as soon as possible.

Windscreen Washer Fluid Level

It may not seem like a serious warning light, but the ability to clean your windscreen for improved visibility is very important.

Diesel particulate Filter Warning Light

The diesel particulate filter removes harmful soot from the exhaust gases in order to reduce emissions. The warning light could indicate that it's blocked and unless you get it checked, it will cause serious damage to your engine.

Seatbelt Warning Light

This light will probably be accompanied by a beeping sound to indicate that someone does not have their seatbelt fastened.

Door/Boot/Bonnet Warning

This is pretty self-explanatory. The warning light indicates that a door is open, so you will have to get out and check each door to find out which one is it.

It’s happened to the best of us, the feeling of dread when a light pops up on the dashboard. Sometimes it’s an easy task, like refilling the windscreen washer reservoir, but often it will require a visit to your mechanic. If you delay getting it checked out by a professional, it could result in you being stranded at the side of the road and a hefty repair bill. So, don't delay! 


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