Nowadays, there’s a computer everywhere, including in your vehicle. Its microprocessors monitor all of your vehicle’s systems and display the results right there on your dashboard, telling you whether things are humming along well or in need of attention. So, it’s important to understand what those dashboard indicator lights mean.
There are dozens of these helpful lights, and they vary by vehicle. Mainly, though, there are two kinds: those that simply provide information about the current functions of the vehicle and those that give you urgent warnings about potential or detected problems. They may appear in the form of an icon or text. Here are some examples:
These lights are often green or blue and notify you of the status of basic functions, such as “cruise control is activated” and “high beams are on.”
As the computer monitors your vehicle, it will warn you if something needs addressed. The color is usually key to the severity of the issue. The light may be yellow or orange if something will soon need servicing but doesn’t interfere with immediate driving. A problem that could seriously affect the mechanics or safety of your vehicle right away will likely appear in red. Also note that if the light is flashing, it may be especially vital to take immediate corrective action, or it could indicate that there is a fault in the way the system is reporting. Here are some warning lights and their meanings:
Check Engine Light: In some vehicles it appearsas an engine symbol. There could be thousands of reasons why it would come on. The one you can check yourself is whether the gas cap is loose. If that isn’t the problem, service personnel will have to diagnose the cause.
Temperature Warning Light: Your vehicle’s engine is running too hot. Whether you are low on water or oil, or if there is some other cause, be aware that serious damage can occur if you continue to drive. Pull over safely, and call for assistance.
Brake Warning Light: This could mean your emergency brake is engaged. If you check it and find that it is not on, then there could be serious trouble with your vehicle’s brakes. Do not continue to drive until you have them checked!
Oil Warning Light: Check your oil right away. The oil level or oil pressure could be too low to drive without damaging your engine.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Indicator: One or more of your tires may be low on air. Inspect all to determine the cause and needed action. The light can also indicate the need for a system reset if tires have recently been changed or rotated.
Become very familiar with your owner’s manual’s explanations of your dashboard indicator lights. Prompt response to them could be vital to the operation of your vehicle, saving damage to systems and keeping you safe.
If you have any questions, just contact your local Best-One®. As always, we’re happy to advise and provide the service you need.
By Larry Knicely, Best-One Tire & Service Expert Panelist
Dashboard Indicator Light symbols courtesy of dashboardsymbols.com.