The 5 Most Common Dashboard Lights

Posted: January 20, 2022 | Categories: Tips for Car Owners

Check engine light

Today’s topic: the dreaded dashboard light. When a little icon appears, my first reaction is normally “oh crap”, followed by “I guess I’m making a trip to the repair shop this week”. It’s never exciting to see a warning light, but at least I know my vehicle is alerting me to an issue (I’m trying to focus on the bright side this year 😊).
Here’s a quick overview of the five most common dashboard lights, what causes them, and what you should do next.

1. Check Engine Light

check engine light

What it looks like: a motor/engine, usually yellow or orange.
What it means: The check engine light has the most possible sources. Issues can range from a loose gas cap to a transmission or ignition switch failure. Essentially, your car’s internal computer has detected a fault in the mechanical/electrical systems.
What to do: If the check engine light stays lit or flashes rapidly, you should take it to a repair shop ASAP. Because this light can indicate a serious problem, it’s recommended you avoid driving the vehicle until your appointment. Technicians can then run a diagnostic test to pinpoint the problem and begin the fix.

2. Tire Pressure Light

tire pressure light

What it looks like: a tiny cauldron (or a tire) with an exclamation point inside, yellow in color.
What it means: All 2008 and newer vehicles are equipped with sensors that monitor tire pressure and will alert you if it drops below a safe level. Underinflated tires can cause damage to your rims or accidents in inclement weather.
What to do: Use a gauge to check your tire pressure and refill air to the recommended amount. If the light keeps coming back on, you may have a leak. At that point, you should take the car to a shop for inspection.

3. Engine Oil Light

engine oil light

What it looks like: a genie lamp with an oil drop, yellow or red (depending on severity).
What it means: There are various reasons that this light may come on. One, you’re low on oil/need an oil change. Two, you’re leaking oil. Three, there’s something wrong with the oil pressure.
What to do: Check your oil level. If it’s low, you could fill it yourself or visit your local auto shop. Technicians can change out your oil, inspect for leaks, replace filters all at one appointment.

4. Battery Light

battery light

What it looks like: a rectangle with plus and minus symbols, red in color.
What it means: The battery light illuminates when the charging system is not functioning properly. A worn-out battery, disconnected/corroded terminals, or the alternator could be the cause.
What to do: If this light appears (and stays lit) while you’re out and about, it’s recommended that you drive straight home. Once the car is turned off, there’s a chance it may not start again. Get the vehicle to a repair shop for a more detailed diagnosis.

5. ABS Light

What it looks like: the letters ABS inside of a circle inside of parentheses, yellow in color.
What it means: Your Antilock Braking System (ABS) is designed to prevent skidding should you lose traction on the road. When ABS issues are detected, the causes can range from low brake fluid to faulty sensors to malfunctioning hydraulics.
What to do: Braking is an extremely important driving component and should not be ignored. Brake gently and with plenty of stopping space until you can take the car for inspection.

If you’re concerned about a light on your dashboard, schedule an appointment at one of our shops today!

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