Car Repair Prevention Tips : Dashboard Warning Lights
As cars have become more modern and integrated with computers, dashboard warning lights may start to appear that can confuse drivers as to what to do next. It’s essential to know whether your vehicle needs a tune-up, repair or if the warning self resolves over time. While dash lights are not universally standardized, car manufacturers do have their common warning light illustrations. Please be sure to check your owners manual first to fully understand what the warnings lights are.
We are covering some of the most common warning lights for educational reasons only, each manufacturer is different, rely on your owner’s manual only as to what to do in emergencies. The more you understand your car and preventive maintenance the longer it will run without costly repairs.
Brake Warning Light
There can be three possible conditions when the brake warning light is on.
1. The handbrake is engaged;
2. The brake fluid level is low; or
3. You have a mechanical problem that should be checked with a professional mechanic. NOTE: Never mix different brake fluids together.
Engine Warning Light
When the engine warning light is on, you can never ignore it. There are many reasons that cause the light to come on. Sometimes it can simply be a gas cap not seated properly or due to humidity in your gas tank causes vacuum locks, in particular in winter. If the engine light is flashing when driving, slow down the vehicle and stop at a safe place. Turn off the engine and wait two minutes, then restart the car to reset the engine management system. If it does not go out call a professional mechanic immediately as you can damage your car.
Battery Charge Warning Light
If the battery charge warning light does not go out after you start driving the car, it indicates the electrical system may have a problem. It can be the battery is running relatively low that needs to be charged or the alternator fails to provide enough charge to the battery. It could also be the alternator drive belt is broken or loose which may cause the engine to overheat and cause permanent damage.
Coolant / Temperature Warning Light
If the coolant warning light is on, the coolant levels might be below the standard level. Top up the coolant tank by using distilled water instead of tap water when the engine is cooled down as tap water may cause excessive corrosion. Alternatively for areas that are colder antifreeze is needed. Also, it can be a warning that there is a leak somewhere in the coolant system which causes the engine to overheat. An overheated engine may cause permanent damage.
ABS Warning Light
This could be a dangerous light to ignore. It demonstrates a problem might be in the anti-lock brake system which requires it to be fixed or simply brake dust covering the sensor. Regardless which situation it might be, take the car to a mechanic.
Oil Pressure Warning Light
Oil to a vehicle is like blood to a human body. Yes, it’s that important! When it starts appearing on the dashboard, most likely means the oil level is low. Top up the oil as soon as possible otherwise it can result in additional problems like a seized engine. It can also represent that the oil temperature is too high or the oil pressure is too low. The worst consequence can be severe engine damage. A reminder to not mix different oil as it does harm to the engine. If you are not certain about which oil your car is using or what type of problem exists take your car to a mechanic. Regular oil changes are essential in the care of your car.
Tire Pressure Warning Light
Just as the name implies, the tire pressure warning light warns you about the tire pressure. If the light is flashing on the dashboard, you should be aware that one or more of your tires has low air pressure and you should check tire pressure as soon as possible. Pump up the tire(s) if required as driving on low tire pressure tires might cause a tire blowout. Another possibility is a problem with the system or the sensor.
Dashboard warning lights can sometimes be terrifying if you don’t know what they mean. We can’t emphasize enough to fully understand your owners manual and when it’s necessary to get towed versus driving further and causing more damage. We hope we have provided a basic guideline as to what general warning lights mean and highly recommend developing a relationship with a reliable automotive service company that will get to know your car and you. Our professional automotive mechanic technicians are more than happy to help you at any time.