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Dashboard warning lights – Are you aware of what these essential car symbols mean?


Dashboard warning lights

Dashboard warning lights communicate vital information about a car to the driver (Image: GETTY)

Dashboard warning lights convey critical information about a car to the driver. It is vital that motorists have an understanding of what certain warning lights are to ensure they remain safe on the roads in Britain.

As time goes on cars are becoming increasingly more complex with more signs being introduced. However, these technologies such as Lane Keep Assist, will not appear on every vehicle and are not crucial for you to know. 

All cars will have a certain set of lights which are necessary that you are aware of to prevent you from perhaps running into problems. If you have never seen these symbols before then they could be fairly incomprehensible.

However, this could have a detrimental effect on your vehicle as they can be trying to communicate messages about things such as an engine fault, or oil shortage which could damage the car or reduce your ability to control it.

Engine coolant light

If this light comes on then it means that your engine is too hot. You should park up your vehicle and turn the engine off for 30 minutes or so to allow it to cool down. You should also check the coolant level present in the engine and top it up if necessary.

If you do have sufficient coolant in your engine then you should take it into a shop to repair as it could be a bigger problem.

Engine light

The engine light can be triggered for a number of reasons. It could be due to a faulty electrical sensor, a misfire, or something else which is altering how your engine normally works. If this light appears you should take it to a mechanic to get it checked over and avoid driving it as that could cause more damage.

Oil light

This light will come on if the oil temperature is too high or the level of oil or the pressure is also too low. You should stop driving immediately as continuing to could lead to excessive damage and you should also get it checked at a garage as soon a possible.

Tyre pressure light

This lights simply illuminates if the tyres aren’t at the correct pressure or there is a potential puncture. You should pull over to look to see if there is ant visible damage or signs of wear and tear. If there isn’t then you should go and top the air up in the tyres to get them to the correct level outlined by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

ESP Light

The Electronic Stability Light or Traction Control Light and means that your car is losing traction. Typically it will illuminate when the road is covered in snow or rain as these road conditions can be more slippery. You should never accelerate to harshly in these weather conditions and you should drive extremely cautiously to avoid sliding around.

ABS light

ABS lights will come on if there is an issue with the anti-lock braking system or if the car is doing a bulb check. If it is the latter then you should pull over where it’s safe to do so and turn the engine off and on again and this should rectify the problem. However, it is always worth getting it checked over just in case there is a bigger issue with your car.

car garage

Drivers should get their car checked if a light appears (Image: GETTY)

Battery light

This should come on when you turn on your car but if it doesn’t go out after a few seconds then there may be a fault with the electrical system – this could cause you to come to a halt if the battery isn’t working properly.

You should get it checked asap as it could mean there is a fault with the battery or an alternator belt breaking.

Airbag warning light

This communicates faults with the airbag and should be looked at fair immediately as it may not release and protect the driver and passengers during a crash. On the other hand, a faulty airbag could go off at any time causing shock, injury or blocking your view.

Seatbelt light

This lights up if the seatbelt isn’t attached properly. If you ensure that the driver and all passengers have their belts plugged in before setting off then these lights should never show.

Brake System/Brake Fluid Warning

This can either mean that handbrake is on or if there is a fault with the brakes themselves. If the handbrake is on and the light appears then it could indicate that there is a more serious problem.

DPF/Diesel Particulate Filter Warning

A DPF filters the harmful soot out of exhaust gases, and most diesel cars are now fitted with one. If the system becomes clogged up, often caused by taking lots of shorter trips rather than long motorway drives, it can cause irreversible damage that is often expensive to fix. A light will illuminate if this is the case which could mean that it needs fixing.

Dashboard warning lights

Ignoring symbols could cause damage to your car (Image: GETTY)

Power Steering/EPS Warning

This symbol indicates an issue with the power steering, and you’ll notice that driving starts to feel very heavy and difficult. It can pose a huge risk at higher speeds if you need to change direction quickly.

Warning light colours

Red warning lights indicate a serious problem, but may also be a reminder, such as not putting a seatbelt on whilst driving.

Yellow or orange means a service is required or a part needs repairing. If this symbol is flashing, it means that it’s important that you contact a garage soon.

Finally, a green or blue light means that a feature, such as cruise control or full beam headlights, is currently switched on.



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