Beginner's Auto Maintenance & Repair

Dashboard Indicator Lights

Dashboard Indicator Lights:

The instrument panel on your dashboard has multiple gauges and indicators. Though many are self-explanatory, the one that may not be is the Tachometer, which indicates engine speed in revolutions per minute (RPM). It often has a red zone which you should always stay within.

Now we’ll discuss what these symbols mean. As always, the owner’s manual is a better resource for learning the meaning of each dashboard symbol for a specific vehicle. The ones included in each vehicle will vary by make and model.

Dashboard lights can be red, orange (or yellow), or blue. When a red light comes on while driving, you must safely pull over and call a tow truck. However, there are some exceptions – some lights, which are generally red, can be yellow or orange, and some red lights can be fixed immediately (seat belt light – put your seat belt on, door ajar Light – close all the doors). Orange or yellow lights indicate that even though there is a problem with your car, it is safe to drive to a repair facility or your home residence to investigate further. It also has some exceptions. It is always best to check your owner’s manual.

The following are the general symbols:

Airbag Light
Airbag Light

Airbag Light or Supplemental Restraint Warning Light: Red, Orange, or Yellow. Whenever this Light illuminates, the airbag system senses a problem, which could be a safety issue. The airbags might or might not still deploy during an accident. The Light means that a part of the airbag system may not work.

 

 

Anti-Lock Brakes Light
Anti-Lock Brakes Light

Anti-Lock Brakes Light: Orange or yellow Light. It indicates a failure in the anti-lock brake (ABS) system, and anti-lock brakes are disabled. The purpose of the ABS is to allow steering control of a vehicle while braking and to avoid skidding during a panic stop. If this Light is on, then normal conventional brake function will continue. If it’s on during a panic stop, the vehicle will skid. Have the car serviced

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Brake Light
Brake Light

Brake Light: Red Light, immediately pull over safely and have the vehicle towed (or disengage the parking brake if applicable). There could be a low brake fluid level, a hydraulic brake failure, or the parking brake being engaged.

 

 

Change Oil Soon
Change Oil Soon

Change Oil Soon: Orange or Yellow Light. This Light indicates that routine oil change and maintenance is due. It’s based on crankshaft revolutions, which is even more accurate than basing routine oil changes on mileage.

 

 

 

Check Engine Light
Check Engine Light

 

 

 

 

Check Engine Light: Red or yellow Light. There is a problem with vehicle emissions. The vehicle’s computer will have diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), which will be retrieved when the car is inspected. The Light may come on and then off. If there are any performance issues, then pull over and have it towed. If you have a Light that comes on and stays on, or comes on and then flashes during acceleration, then immediately pull over safely and have it towed to a shop. Try not to confuse the check engine light with the “service vehicle soon” Light below

 

Door Ajar Indicator Light
Door Ajar Indicator Light

Door Ajar Indicator Light: Red Light. One of the vehicle doors is open. Close the open door before proceeding to drive. There may also be a separate light for the trunk.

 

 

 

Glowplug Indicator Light
Glowplug Indicator Light

Glowplug Indicator Light: This Light is only seen in vehicles with diesel engines. The glow plug is a device used to help get the diesel engine started.

 

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High Beam Indicator or Brights
High Beam Indicator or Brights

High Beam Indicator or Brights. Usually blue, but it can be read on older vehicles. It indicates that your brights are on.

 

 

 

 

Low Coolant Level Light:
Low Coolant Level Light:

 

 

 

 

Low Coolant Level Light: Red, Orange, or Yellow Light. This one tells you the coolant level is low and could be due to a leak. It is safe to drive if the engine temperature light is not on. In some vehicles, the first symbol above, the thermometer symbol, can also be a temperature light. Some cars can have a blue thermometer symbol. Consult the owner’s manual for its description.

 

Low Fuel Light
Low Fuel Light

LoLow Fuel Light: Yellow or Orange. This Light indicates that fuel is scarce. It could also be a simple round light that illuminates when the fuel gauge is nearing empty.

 

 

 

Low Oil Level Light
Low Oil Level Light

Low Oil Level Light: Yellow or Orange. The oil level is low. Refill the Oil as soon as possible and bring the vehicle to a shop to see why it was low.

 

 

 

Low Oil Pressure or Engine Oil Pressure Light
Low Oil Pressure or Engine Oil Pressure Light

Low Oil Pressure or Engine Oil Pressure Light: Red Light (immediately pull over safely). Once you pull over, you could check your oil level and add Oil if it’s low. If the Light continues to be illuminated, you should have your vehicle towed to a facility. Catastrophic engine failure will occur if the oil pressure is low. Repairs for these damages can be costly.

 

 

 

Parking Brake Light
Parking Brake Light

Parking Brake Light: Red Light. The parking brake is engaged or not fully released. Release it entirely before driving.

 

 

 

 

Service Vehicle Soon
Service Vehicle Soon

Service Vehicle Soon: Yellow Light. You may have a problem with the anti-lock brakes (ABS), hydraulic brake system, traction control system (TCS), or electronic suspension system. Don’t confuse it with the “Service Engine Soon” Light, one of the possible check engines lights shown above.

 

 

Temperature Light
Temperature Light

Temperature Light (or Hot Light). Red Light (immediately pull over safely, turn off the engine, and have it towed). This Light means engine temperature has exceeded maximum parameters. Severe engine failure will result if you continue to drive. Turn the heater on high while finding a safe place to pull over, to help dissipate heat from the engine. The dashboard may also have a temperature gauge which has a thermometer symbol.

 

 

 

Throttle Control Warning Light
Throttle Control Warning Light

Throttle Control Warning Light: Yellow or orange. In some vehicles, the throttle has an electronic control system. There may be a problem with the system, and it needs to be serviced as soon as possible. In some make and models, the wrench light can be used for other purposes. Be sure to consult the owner’s manual.

 

 

Tire Pressure Warning Light
Tire Pressure Warning Light

Tire Pressure Warning Light: Yellow or orange. This Light indicates that one or more tires have fallen below 25% of the recommended pressure. Have the tires checked soon.
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Turn Signals and Hazard Light Display
Turn Signals and Hazard Light Display

Turn Signals and Hazard Light Display: These will only illuminate when a turn signal (left or right) or the hazard lights (both simultaneously) are turned on. If one stays on instead of blinking in rhythm or slower or quicker than usual, there is a problem. You may be having an issue with the circuit.

 

 

 

Voltage Light
Voltage Light

 

 

 

 

Voltage Light. Red Light (pull over safely and get it towed). This Light indicates that the voltage is below the minimum specification. Your vehicle will stop running once the battery dies. Safely pulling over and having the vehicle towed is even more critical at night since you’ll lose the use of your headlights, which tend to drain the battery even quicker. Some samples are yellow; in this case, you should still treat it as a red light.

 

Seat Belt Light
Seat Belt Light

 

 

 

 

Seat Belt Light. Red Light. Put on your seatbelts before continuing to drive. There is a reason why they show videos of people in car accidents to driver’s Ed students. Ideally, seat belts would be more like the harnesses used in roller coasters, which include two shoulder straps and a middle fastening device at the chest. The cross-over shoulder strap could be more effective in comparison. It is designed for commercial purposes and to account for typical human behavior. It’s easier and quicker to have one buckle where the belt can be pulled over and fastened swiftly while the person gets into the car. While the conventional seat belt isn’t 100% efficient, it is an essential safety feature because it keeps the body harnessed and in the seat. Wear your seat belt!

Traction Control Light or Low Track Light
Traction Control Light or Low Track Light

 

 

 

 

Traction Control Light or Low Track Light: Yellow, orange, or blue. It indicates drive wheel speed is higher than the coasting wheel speed. Be careful while driving in any condition, especially when turning.

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