We all are quite familiar with the car and its parts. One of the most important parts of a car is its Dashboard. The Dashboard of a car is also sometimes called a “dash” or “instrument panel” (IP) or “fascia”. It is a control panel, which is usually located directly ahead of a vehicle’s driver. It displays instrumentation, dashboard warning lights and control tools for the operation of the vehicle.
A car’s dashboard has considerably evolved through many designs, shapes, and technologies. As you may know, originally, the dashboard included an array of simple controls and instruments to indicate the speed of the vehicle, oil pressure and the level of the fuel. But today, the modern dashboard includes a broad array of gauges, climate control systems, entertainment systems, and other controls along with information on the same.
What are the various Dashboard Warning Lights?
A dashboard also has various warning lights that indicate different meanings to the driver and help him in taking an appropriate step in need of crisis. Let us discuss the various Dashboard Warning lights, their purposes, and required measures that need to be taken:
Engine Temperature Warning Light
What does Engine Temperature Warning Light mean?
- The Engine Temperature Warning Light indicates an overheating of the engine. It simply lets us know that our vehicle has been in use for a longer time than it should be.
- It also gets switched on if there is a lack of cooling water or a faulty cooling system. When the coolant is not of high quality, it causes a blockage during cold weather where the temperature drops below the freezing point.
- Sometimes, a small leak in the system lets air enter into it taking the shape of a bubble. The coolant cannot push through the bubble to reach the engine causing the radiator to lose coolant, thus turning the warning light on.
- A low level of oil is another reason for building up excessive heat.
- Another reason for a temperature warning light might be a broken thermostat.
- Sometimes, it might be due to the presence of a foreign object or mineral deposit, which blocks the flow of liquid through the radiator to disperse heat.
- We must keep in mind that this light gets turned on and the engine must not start heating up even if the cooling system is in good condition.
What to do when the Engine Temperature Warning Light shows up?
- In a situation where the temperature warning light gets turned on, you should immediately stop the car and pull over to the side of the road.
- Shut down the engine and open the bonnet to let it cool down. Do not open the radiator while the engine is hot.
- After doing so, you must try to find the main cause of overheating. Check if any of the above-mentioned reasons have occurred.
- Once the engine has cooled down, you can open the radiator cap or reservoir to check the coolant level. Do it slowly with the help of a rag or cloth to release the air pressure.
- Check the cooling water. Add water or coolant to the radiator if it is found to be low in level. Also, check if the water is at the risk of leakage.
- If neither of the mentioned methods helps, it is recommended to take your vehicle to the servicing centre and check it out.
- Carrying out a radio pressure check at the mechanic’s will help in checking an internal leak or cracked engine block.
What will happen if you ignore the Engine Temperature Warning Light?
- If you do not stop during engine overheating, the engine will start knocking causing ring, piston, head gasket damage.
- According to excessive heat, the internal parts of the engine will expand resulting in metal-to-metal occurrence.
- Severe overheating also causes thermal stress and leads to cracking or warping.
Engine Oil Pressure Warning Light
What does Engine Oil Pressure Warning Light mean?
- The Oil Pressure Light indicates that there is not enough oil in the engine. Sometimes, even when the correct amount of lubricant is added the oil gets consumed at a higher rate due to evaporation. It might also get leaked through seals or oil plugs.
- Another reason can be that the oil pump isn’t circulating enough fluids. These fluids help to lubricate the surfaces inside your vehicle.
- Sometimes, the oil pressure light comes on even when the oil level is correct and the engine is running perfectly normal. In such a case, the problem may be due to a defective sensing unit.
- The oil pressure light also comes on due to a plugged filter. During lubrication, the pressure gauge is installed after the filter. If the filter gets clogged due to any reason, the bypass valve will not operate properly causing lubricant starvation.
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What to do when the Engine Oil Pressure Warning Light shows up?
- The most important part of keeping your vehicle in a good condition is to keep a check on the oil level.
- When the Oil Pressure Light turns on, the first obvious step is to check the oil level of the engine in either of the cases.
- If there is a low oil level, make sure to refill the engine. In such a situation, you must change your oil of the vehicle. An oil change is considered as spring-cleaning quite often.
- It is advised to change the conventional oil every 3000-5000 miles and synthetic oil must be changed every 5000-7000 miles.
- However, every car is different and so is climate, thereby, one must also consider factors like weather, driving frequency, and car mileage.
- You must not avoid changing the oil in your vehicle because it causes junk to build up which in turn damages the engine of the vehicle
Battery Charging Warning Light
What does Battery Charging Warning Light mean?
- Battery Charge Warning Light is indicated by the symbol of Math Lego.
- The battery charge warning light indicates that there is a problem regarding the charging of the battery.
- The most common cause for a battery light to get on is that the alternator belt is broken.
- Another reason is the corrosion of battery posts or terminal. It interrupts the flow of electricity and prevents the alternator to do its job. This will cause the battery charge warning light to stay on.
- A loose battery cable will also make the battery warning light turn on due to improper charging.
- Other reasons may be associated with your car’s alternator. An alternator is responsible for keeping your battery fully charged. A bad alternator or a faulty alternator belt will prevent the battery from getting the required charge.
- Sometimes, due to too many accessories, your car’s battery gets drained at an accelerated rate. This causes the battery warning symbol to turn on.
What to do when the Battery Charging Warning Light shows up?
- Today’s cars come with a rechargeable 12-Volt battery. The battery is responsible for the functioning of the ignition system, the headlights, radio and so on. It is very much essential for you to get your battery checked once the light gets turned on.
- Since a car is entirely dependent on the battery, thereby other warning lights might fail to show any problem if the battery dies out. Along with the alternator, the car also has a voltage regulator, which keeps the battery charged. Take your vehicle to the servicing centre and get the battery system check.
Tyre Pressure Warning Light
What does Tyre Pressure Warning Light mean?
- The Tyre Pressure Warning Light gets turned on when the tyre pressure is too low creating an unsafe driving condition for your car. If the light gets turned on it means that your car’s tire(s) could be under-inflated. Driving in such a condition might lead to undue tire and wear of the tire resulting in tire failure. Low pressure could result due to leak or simply because the tires have a normal tendency of losing a pound of air every month.
- Over-inflation can also be a reason for the tire to wear out thus prompting the tire pressure warning light.
What to do when the Tyre Pressure Warning Light shows up?
- Whenever the tire pressure warning light comes on, it is time to check the tire with a tire pressure gauge.
- A periodic check (preferable monthly) is very much recommended for your vehicle’s tires to prevent them from wearing out too soon.
Check Engine Warning Light
What does the Check Engine Warning Light Mean?
Engine Warning Light often comes on indicating that the part of the system of your vehicle is not working properly. There can be a couple of reasons for the Engine Warning Light to come on. These reasons are mentioned below:
- The first reason can be Emissions System Fault. To avoid pollution of the environment, cars today are designed with a system that reduces exhaust emissions. But at the same time a stifling car, so to make the drive pleasant they employ a variety of control systems. The oxygen sensor triggers the EML. If there is too little oxygen passing out or more oxygen is passing out, the light comes on.
- The second reason for the engine warning light to come on is an incorrectly installed mass airflow sensor. The mass airflow sensor is vital for the efficient running of the engine. If it is not properly installed, it will lead harmful particles to enter into the air passage if the engine. This will ultimately damage the sensor.
- It could also turn on due to the ignition system fault. A car’s ignition system is responsible for burning the fuel.
- Loose petrol or diesel filler cap could also be a reason for the engine warning light to come on. This leads air to leak into or out of the tank.
- The last reason is a Blocked Diesel Particulate Filter.
What to do when the Check Engine Warning Light shows up?
- When the Check Engine Warning light comes on, you should first try to find out if the problem is one of the above reasons.
- Once done, you can check your dashboard lights and gauges for oil pressure or overheating.
- You can try reducing the speed. You can also try tightening your gas cap.
- If the above steps do not help, take your vehicle to a servicing centre for professional help.
Service Engine Soon Warning Light
What does Service Engine Soon Warning Light mean?
- The service engine soon light indicates varied meanings depending on the model of the car.
- In most cars, this light simply means that there are some minor issues with the engine.
- While in some cars, this warning light indicates that it is time for the scheduled servicing of the car.
What to do when the Service Engine Soon Warning Light shows up?
- Start by checking all the fluids in the engine bay like oil level, brake fluid level, transmission fluid level, washer level, etc.
- Also, check if all the lights of your car are working properly.
- If everything above seems fine, then it is advised to check when the latest service of your car was done. Determine the next date for service. If it is due, then take the car for its routine service.
- If the routine service was recently done, then you might have to find out the trouble code memory to figure out the problem. Generally, this light only indicates minor issues. So fixing them won’t be a big issue for you.
- However, if you are still not successful in finding out the issue, take your car to a professional.
ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) Warning Light
What does ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) Warning Light mean?
- The Anti Lock Brake System is designed to maintain contact between the road and the vehicle. It enables you to make an emergency stop without delay.
- If the light comes on, it simply means that the ABS is not working appropriately. In such a case, the brakes work fine but one cannot make an emergency stop.
- A few reasons which are extremely common for an ABS light to come on includes:
a. Faulty Control Unit
b. Solenoid Malfunction
c. Failed or Failing Pump
d. Low Fluid
e. Bad Speed Sensor or Wiring Problem
f. Standard bulb check
- The ABS does a test by itself every time we turn on the ignition. The light briefly comes on and if the computer system of your vehicle finds a problem, it stays on.
- If in any situation the ABS and the brake system light comes on at the same time, it simply indicates that the vehicle is not safe to drive anymore. One must avoid driving the car if the Abs light comes on. Since it indicates that the ABS is not working properly, thereby, the car might not be able to handle the functions as it was designed to and might fail to take heavy brakes.
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What to do when the ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) Warning Light shows up?
- As there are so many reasons as to why the ABS light came on, the appropriate measure will depend on the reason. So the very first step would be to try to determine the reason for the same.
- If the light turns on every time you turn on the vehicle and turns off after sometimes, it is known as Bulb Check and it happens to let you know that all the warning lights are working properly. Thus, it is suggested to take your car to a professional to get it checked.
- If the lights do not turn on while the ignition is turned on, you should check the bulb. A burned-out Dashboard should be replaced without delay.
Automatic Shift Lock/Engine Start Indicator Warning Light
What does Automatic Shift Lock/Engine Start Indicator warning light mean?
- It simply means that the brakes need to be engaged either to start the car’s ignition or get it out of neutral.
- There are two kinds of transmission in cars – manual and automatic. Cars, which run on manual transmission have a clutch that the driver needs to push each time he wants to shift the gear. However, in the manual transmission car, there is no shift lock release.
- Automatic Transmission differs on a lot of factors from Manual transmission. People who drive either of the two transmissions find it difficult to drive the other type of transmission. Cars with automatic transmission have a shift lock. Here, you don’t have to shift gears manually. An automatic shift lock is used for switching among options like reverse, parking neutral, etc.
What to do when the Automatic Shift Lock/Engine Start Indicator warning light shows up?
If your car shift lock is stuck, the following things can be done to release it:
- Engage the emergency brake or the parking brake.
- Insert a key, nail file or screwdriver into the slot.
- Press the brake pedal.
- Shift gears as you normally would.
- Find the shift lock override slot.
- If the car is stuck and you are unable to get out of parking, it may indicate the shift interlock solenoid is malfunctioning. If none of the above steps helps, then seek a professional’s assistance.
Fuel Indicator Warning Light
What does Fuel Indicator Warning Light mean?
- The Fuel Indicator Symbol is indicated by a symbol of a simple image of a gas pump and filter hose in either yellow or amber. This indicates the amount of fuel left in the vehicle. It is often placed in or around a vehicle’s fuel gauge.
- Diesel engines are quite different from their gasoline counterparts. In your vehicle, inside the fuel filter, there is a fluid level sensor, which helps in keeping track of the amount of water that has been collected. If the level starts reaching maximum capacity, the fluid filter light will turn on asking to empty the filter.
- Cars with manual systems have a valve at the bottom of the filter that lets the water drain out upon opening. If the filter empties automatically and the light is turned on, it could indicate that an error or malfunction has been detected and it requires immediate attention.
- Such warning light should not be ignored as it can feel the system with water and start leaking it to the engine. The Warning Light goes out on its own after the water is drained out.
What to do when Fuel Indicator Warning Light shows up?
It might not be a situation of emergency when the light comes on at first. But it is advised to get the filter drained as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the water will build up and in turn damage the system. It is advised that you take the car to professional experts.
Seatbelt Reminder Warning Light
What does the Seatbelt Reminder Warning Light mean?
- Seatbelts are designed to avoid severe injuries in case of accidents by preventing you to move too much. Seatbelts will lock and keep you in your seat even if the car rolls in case of collision. Today, all the cars have sensors in the seatbelt for you to be safe.
- There is a switch in the Driver’s seat belt buckle as well the other front seat which activates when the belt is fastened or unfastened.
- When the car is started the light comes on for a few seconds.
- In some cars, there is a chime along with the light. The light, however, goes off once you fasten your seat belts.
What to do when the Seatbelt Reminder Warning Light show up?
- Well. It is quite obvious that there is nothing one can do in such a situation except fastening the seatbelts. Ignoring the sign will not affect the drivability but there will be a higher chance of getting injured in case of accidents.
- It has been seen that most drivers and the front seater simply fasten the seat belt from their back and do not wear it. By doing so, they are just making themselves more prone to accidents.
Airbag Warning Light
What does Airbag Warning Light mean?
- When the Airbag light is on when there is a problem with the airbag system of your car. The airbag indicator light could turn on due to many reasons.
- If the airbag was previously deployed and hasn’t been rest properly, the light will come on as there the airbag cannot be activated.
- If you haven’t activated the airbag light and still the light is on, there must a problem with the computer system of your vehicle. In such a case there might not be any issue with the airbag.
- Sometime the airbag ECU must be cleared to shut off the warning light. You can remove the ECU airbag and send it to the company to clear it for you.
- You should not ignore the Airbag light as it will not deploy in case of an accident and thus might lead to severe injuries.
What to do when the Airbag Warning Light show up?
- One must not ignore the Airbag Check light and get it immediately checked after by a professional.
- The professional will look after the data in the ECU where all the data are stored.
- You must also avoid driving your car in such a situation. Because, in case of accidents, your car’s airbag will not be released and can lead to heavy injury.
Fog Lamp Warning Light/Indicator
What does Fog Lamp Warning Light/Indicator mean?
- Fog Light enables us to see through the fog and drive easily. It can be a very difficult situation to drive through fog. It can be really difficult to judge what is coming ahead with limited visibility. To avoid bad weather conditions, automakers have made the fog lights.
- These lights are placed lower to other driving lights so that there is no reflection coming back. Like other driving lights, there is a light on the dashboard which comes on in case when the fog light in on.
- Sometimes the light comes on for few seconds to check the bulb power. However, in some vehicles, there is a separate warning light for burned out bulbs.
What to do when the Fog Lamp Warning Light/Indicator show up?
- If the weather outside is foggy, and then it is necessary to use fog lights for better visibility. However, a lot of drivers often forget to turn it off when the weather is clear.
- It is advised to turn off the fog lights when it is not needed so that the bulb does not burn out.
- If the fog lights are on without any reason, it is advised to get the same checked by a professional. Since their life span is very short, it might cause a problem in using them when necessary.
Vehicle Security Warning Light
What does Vehicle Security Warning Light mean?
- Security Light generally comes on when the security system of the car is on the verge of failure or has failed.
- It is also quite common for the light to come on after the battery has died.
- When the security light is on, there is a high chance that the car will not start once it is cut off.
What to when Vehicle Security Warning Light shows up?
When the security light comes on, there is nothing much to be done by oneself. You must take your car to the professional to get your car fixed and get it out of trouble.
Traction Control/TCS Warning Light
What does Traction Control/TCS Warning Light mean?
- The traction control system monitors the stability and steering performance of the car. It is an important part of the car’s safety and helps you have control while driving.
- The Traction Control Light comes on when there is something in the car that needs fixing. If you are having proper control and the TCS is working properly, the light does not come on. There are numerous reasons as to why the light might come on.
- The first and the most common reason is a fault in the Steering Angle Sensor. This sensor indicates the position of the steering wheel and the rate of its return. It is a very important part of your vehicle. It accurately indicates the angle of the steering. Thereby, if there is a fault in the system and it fails to compute accurately, traction light comes on.
- The second reason might be a Broken Wheel Speed Sensor. In your vehicle, there is constant communication between the wheel speed sensors, which are in connection with the TLC System and the engine control unit. There is an individual sensor in every tire and if there is any change in either of the wheels, the traction light will come on.
- The third reason might be Bad Conditions on the Road. When there is a bad condition on the road, namely, heavy rainfall, potholes, ice, etc, the Traction Control might come on after the TCS fails to properly handle the conditions of the bad road. The best thing that can be done in such a situation is slow down the vehicle as there is nothing much you can do in such a situation.
- The fourth reason might be Problems with the Anti Lock Braking System. The Anti Lock Braking System and the Traction Control System both share the same control module and the internal diagnostics system. Thus, if there an issue with the Anti Lock Braking System, the traction light might come on.
- The fifth reason might be Computer Issues with the TLC System. If all the other reasons are ruled out, it only means that the problem is in the internal tracking system rather than an external cause. In such a case, the traction light might come on.
What to do when Traction Control/TCS Warning Light shows up?
- When the Traction Control Light comes on, first try to find out the cause of such happening and take steps accordingly.
- Very often, the light can be temporarily turned off. There is a switch marked TCS OFF or ESC Off, however, if you switch it off, it will come back on once you restart the vehicle.
- If you look forward to solving the problem permanently, take your vehicle to a professional in a servicing centre. If the car is not checked, there is a chance of the car spinning or sliding out causing an accident.
Windshield Washer Fluid Warning Light
What does Windshield Washer Fluid Warning Light mean?
- This indicates that the washer fluid of the wiper is low and is in need to be refilled.
- Modern cars have small tanks, which are full of soapy water to help you keep the windshield clean. The automakers have made the fluid sensor to let you know if and when you are out of fluids. Once you fill-up the fluid, the light should g off immediately.
- However, if the light stays on, it might indicate that your car has a faulty sensor. In such a case, you must get your sensor checked and if it is faulty, get it replaced.
What to do when Windshield Washer Fluid Warning Light shows up?
- You might not need washer fluids all the time. But sometimes they become extremely necessary. It is important to keep the tank full and not allow it to dry out.
- It is advised not to ignore the sign and get your reservoir full and/or in other conditions to get your sensors checked.
Engine Immobilizer Warning Light
What does Engine Immobiliser Warning Light mean?
- The immobilizer/key symbol indicates that the car is not able to recognize its keys.
- Sometimes, it could turn on due to some other problems with the immobilizer system.
What to do when Engine Immobilizer Warning Light shows up?
- Try relocking your car a couple of times. This issue normally gets solved with this step.
- Try turning on your ignition a couple of times.
- If you can’t get the light off through any of the above-mentioned measures, it is recommended trying with another car key if you have one. The car starts with the other key, there might be a problem with one of your car keys.
- In case of any other issue occurs with the immobilizer system, then your car will get turned off 2-3 seconds after it gets started. As a result, your vehicle will cease to start. In such a situation, it is advised to take the car to a repair shop as soon as possible.
Power Steering Control Warning Light
What does Power Steering Control Warning Light mean?
Cars with an electric power steering have this warning light. This simply means that there is some problem with your power steering system.
What to do when Power Steering Control Warning Light shows up?
- The first step would be to check the level of the power steering fuel. (if possible)
- If the fuel is found to be on an acceptable level, then check the power steering control unit with an OBD2 scanner. Only an advanced OBD2 scanner can read trouble codes.
- Other reasons for the power steering warning light could be a faulty steering wheel angle sensor or a defective fuse.
- If you drive your car with the power steering warning light on, then you might incur serious damages to the power steering. Hence, it is recommended to get it to a repair shop for rectification.
Electronic Power Control (EPC) Warning Light
What does Electronic Power Control (EPC) Warning Light mean?
- As the name itself suggests, the EPC light turning on indicates that there are some issues with the car’s electric power control system.
- This light if present on a select few cars.
- The EPC light generally comes together with the ABS light, which will shut down the abs functions.
What to do when Electronic Power Control (EPC) Warning Light shows up?
- To troubleshoot such an issue, use an advanced OBD2 scanner to read the trouble codes of the engine and transmission control module.
- If the ABS light is also on, it is advised not to drive your car and immediately take it to a repair shop to seek professional assistance.
Why should you never ignore Dashboard Warning Light?
To save unwanted expenditures
If you follow your dashboard signs and take the steps to solve the issue, your car will be saved from major damages. If there is any need for repair, it can be done during the initial stage. This saves a lot of money because minor issues tend to get bigger when their repair is delayed.
To save your engine from catastrophes
The oil pressure light on your dashboard indicates that the oil is not getting to the vital components of the engine. With oil, the engine will get damaged soon. If you ignore this light and continue to run your car without oil, you will end up creating major issues for the engine. Replacing an engine is a daunting task besides being too costly.
To save important parts of your car
Warning lights also help you in identifying issues with different parts of the car such as tires, brakes, ABS, airbags, etc. If you ignore these signs, you will not be able to detect any issues with the components of your car. As a result, they will tend to get damaged with time.
To save your life
Ignoring some of the dashboard warning lights are too dangerous. If you continue to ignore and keep driving, you will only be putting your life in danger. E.g., if you keep ignoring the airbag sign and unfortunately you fall prey to a major accident, you will not be saved by your airbags because they will fail to function.
In Conclusion | Never ignore dashboard warning lights
In short, paying attention to a car’s dashboard is not just good for your car but also for your life and property. Many people tend to ignore dashboard signs due to their laziness, lack of time or due to financial constraints. But in the longer run, their ignorance brings them more troubles then they could imagine. With the above guide, we hope our readers will be able to understand dashboard signs better, take necessary steps that need to be undertaken and thus take good care of their cars.