Understanding common dashboard warning lights and what they represent

Common car dashboard warning lights

Modern cars have all sorts of electronics and sensors to monitor their overall health and make motoring easier. While this is generally a boon, it can be difficult to determine exactly what’s wrong when a warning light illuminates on your dash board. If you have your manual to hand then it’s fairly simple to check, but that’s not always the case.

To help you identify some of the more common car dashboard warning lights and what they mean, we’ve compiled this guide. You never know, it could end up saving you from an expensive repair bill.

Engine warning light

One of the more important car dashboard symbols to watch out for, this is often accompanied by some other signs, such as a lack of power or some stuttering when you press the accelerator. The light could indicate something small, like a faulty electrical sensor, or it could herald a bigger issue such as problems with the catalytic converter. Either way, it’s best to get a professional to check your car as soon as possible to avoid irreparable damage.

Brake system warning light

The brakes are arguably the most important feature on your car. If this light flashes up when the handbrake has been released, it may indicate that your brake fluid level is low. In this case, pop into your local dealer or mechanic to get it topped up.

If, in addition to the symbol, you are having to press the brake pedal further than usual to achieve the same braking feedback, one of the hydraulic brake circuits may have failed. This is a much more serious problem, and you should get your car to a garage immediately.

Coolant warning light

The engine coolant in your vehicle effectively prevents it getting so hot it welds itself together. The coolant light indicates levels of this fluid are running low, so when the car is cool, take a look under the bonnet to check the gauge on the side of the coolant tank. If necessary, top it up.

If the warning light is accompanied by the temperature gauge reading within the red zone, your engine could be overheating due to a gasket failure. It may, however, indicate a less major issue such as a leak.

Oil warning light

As with the coolant, the oil warning light usually suggests that oil levels are getting low. As soon as possible, check the level and top up if needed.

The oil light may also be a sign that the oil temperature is tool high or that oil pressure is too low. If you’ve check the levels and they’re OK, give your local service centre a call and get your car in as soon as you can – if you leave it, expensive engine damage could occur.

Power steering warning light

This car dashboard warning light pops up if there’s something wrong with the steering system. Failure of the power steering makes it go heavy, making it more difficult to change the car’s direction. While this is simply annoying at low speeds, it can be dangerous on the motorway, particularly if you’re required to swerve or change lanes to avoid an obstacle.

If any of the above symbols illuminate on your dashboard, Carwise can help. The technicians at our dealerships in Dunstable, Maidstone and Harlow can resolve issues and ensure your vehicle continues to run smoothly. Contact us today to make an appointment.