Understanding Dashboard Lights

If you’re a new car owner then you might not have paid much attention to all the details that are shown on the driver’s dashboard. There are so many small lights that mean different things, and it is important for road safety that drivers understand their meaning. For the most part, red or amber lights indicate a more severe problem, while yellow lights are a more minor issue (which shouldn’t be ignored nonetheless). Here are a few important dashboard lights to pay attention to.

Check Engine or Malfunction Indicator

Probably the most well-known and ambiguous dashboard light is the check engine light. The message is pretty straightforward – check your engine. The “checking” means you need to find someone with the best OBD1 and OBD2 scanner to decode what engine malfunction caused the indicator to light up. The check engine light can mean anything from a loose gas cap, failed sensors, or even more serious issues like major engine problems. Any powertrain malfunction is shown by this light.

Low Engine Oil Pressure

Ideally, you should be checking your fluids before driving your vehicle. However, if for some reason the engine oil is leaking or too low, this light (that looks like an oil can) will light up. Stop your car as soon as it is safe to do so. Driving with low engine oil can completely damage your engine beyond feasible repair. It could also mean your oil filters and or pump may need to be checked, so do not assume that simply adding oil is enough to remedy the problem.

High Coolant Temperature

This is an easy to understand and easy to figure out light. It shows a thermometer in liquid, and lights up red. It means your coolant is too hot, and that means your car is overheating. Of course, this is not a matter to be taken lightly. An overheated car can cause serious burns to someone inspecting it if they do not know what they are doing. Nonetheless, if you ever see this light up on your dashboard, turn off your car as soon as you can. Do not open the front hood if there is steam or smoke, and wait for the car to cool down. Preferably call an experienced mechanic. They might tell you to evacuate your car and to avoid driving it at all to prevent major engine damage.

Battery Light

This dashboard light generally means that something related to the battery is not functioning as it should. This could simply mean that the connections need to be tightened, or something more serious such as corrosion. 

Tire Pressure Light

Most modern cars have sensors that periodically check the tire pressure of all four tires. If the tire pressure is too low, this light will show on your dashboard. If you measure your tire pressure and find it is within the normal range, then it is probably the sensor that needs replacing. 

Learning the meaning of the different dashboard lights can help you take better care of your car. If you’re unsure what something means, just take it to a mechanic.