Dashboard Exploration

All vehicle manufacturers equip their cars with indicators on the dashboard to alert drivers when it’s time to seek professional attention for a problem or maintenance. Some lights indicate a malfunction, some flash to signal imminent breakdown. You may have seen the different colored symbols of the dashboard warning lights illuminate all at once when starting your vehicle. Drivers need to be able to differentiate these alerts to tell what’s going on with their vehicle and seek proper solutions.

Service Indicator Lights

Many of today’s cars come equipped with technology that monitors the health of the car and shares information for service schedules with the driver. Service indicator lights send the driver a message, but drivers have to be able to be able to recognize it to take proper action for their vehicle. You can learn more about what your specific vehicle’s lights are trying to tell you in the owner’s manual, as each manufacturer designs indicators a little differently. These indicators may track and tell you when it’s time for an oil change or tire replacement.

Check Engine Light

Engine warning lights generally look like yellow engine symbols, although some might spell out “CHECK,” or “SERVICE ENGINE SOON.” These lights tell you that something is wrong with your vehicle. It could be a loose gas cap or it could be a failing catalytic converter. The only way to know for sure is with diagnostic tools designed to read car codes. Always seek professional attention promptly for check engine light service to avoid further complications or breakdowns.

Brake Warning Light

A circular symbol with an exclamation mark is associated with one of your vehicle’s most important components — the brakes. If this light illuminates, something in the braking system needs immediate professional attention.

Coolant Warning Light

This warning lamp works with the temperature gauge to give drivers an idea of engine temperature. A reading the red accompanied by the coolant warning light likely means the engine is overheating. Coolant levels may be low, meaning the engine can’t be effectively cooled. Leaks and failures may also trip the light, so it’s best to see a professional as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

Oil Warning Light

An oil warning light is similar to the coolant warning light in that it tracks temperature. The light may turn on if oil temperature or pressure is too high or low. As the essential lubricant controlling engine temperature and efficiency, oil is essential to your vehicle’s proper function. Frequent checks and changes may help you avoid oil problems altogether.