If you’ve driven a vehicle for any length of time, odds are a warning light has flashed on on your dashboard. Some dashboard warning lights are specific to brands and models while others are common to all makes and models.
Not all warning lights are created equal, though. For instance, a red warning light usually warns of a potentially serious problem, possibly a safety issue. Or it could alert a driver to the need for service maintenance.
A yellow or orange light means that a mechanical or electrical component requires immediate repair or servicing. If the light is flashing, you should contact your local new car dealership right away.
A green or blue light is no cause for concern; it means that a specific system is operating as it should.
If a critical warning light comes on, it should be addressed immediately. In some cases, this means pulling the car over and having it towed to a repair facility.
Ignoring a critical warning light not only jeopardizes the safe operation of your vehicle, it could also compromise your manufacturer’s warranty.
Here are some common critical warning lights that are installed on modern passenger vehicles and light duty trucks:
- Oil Pressure light. This refers to possible low oil levels, a worn or broken oil pump or excessive main bearing wear. Ignoring this issue could result in a seized engine or major engine damage.
- Brake Warning light. This could refer to driving with the handbrake engaged, low brake fluid level or worn-out brake pads. Brakes are the most important part of your vehicle: they affect the safety of the driver and all occupants.
- Air Bag SRS. If this warning light comes on, your air bag is not going to inflate on impact, which could jeopardize your safety. Malfunction is usually caused by a crash sensor fault, bad electrical connection or air bag module malfunction.
- Engine Temperature light. This could indicate low coolant level, the cooling fan isn’t working or a thermostat that fails to open. If this light flashes on, stop driving immediately, turn off the engine, and seek mechanical assistance. Driving while the temperature light is on can do serious and expensive engine damage.
- Battery Charging System warning light. This usually refers to an alternator failure, loose or torn alternator belt, faulty battery or a broken wire. The light indicates a problem with the charging system. Get it repaired at your earliest convenience.
- Tire Pressure warning light. This light could be triggered by a flat tire, low tire pressure, tire pressure light not being reset or a bad air-pressure sensor. Excessively worn tires or insufficient tire pressure not only affects fuel economy, it poses a risk.
Some warning lights are less critical than others, such as Service Engine Soon, Seatbelt Warning Light, Low Fuel, Door Ajar, Over Drive Off and Service Reminder.
Sometimes a flashing light can represent a loose connection, or an on-board computer module that has to be reset, which is a quick and inexpensive procedure.
For information about dashboard warning lights, consult your owner’s manual, or contact a service advisor at your local new car dealership.
Written By – Doug Sullivan