When Your Check Engine Light Comes On: 10 Dash Light Symbols and What They Mean
Have you ever been driving your car when one of those pesky dash lights suddenly turns on? If you own a vehicle, the answer is likely yes. For the most part, we’ve all been there and while some of these symbols can appear self explanatory, others may leave you staring at it as if you’re trying to decipher a secret code.
Understanding what your car is trying to tell you helps you be better aware of the severity of the problem and can help our techs to more quickly diagnose what is causing your vehicle to turn on it’s own version of the batman distress signal.
Read below to see 10 common dash light signs and warnings.
1. ENGINE TEMPERATURE WARNING LIGHT
Unrelated to its sailboat-like appearance, this symbol shows when your engine is running hot which can be caused by a handful of reasons. When you see this symbol, you should not be driving your vehicle. To avoid more severe damage to your car it’s best to get it checked out as soon as you can.
2. TIRE PRESSURE WARNING LIGHT
At first glance it’s not always clear that the symbol is simply a tire with an exclamation mark in it. When this light comes on, one or multiple tires are low on air pressure and need to be filled up. This one is easy to stay on top of by regularly checking your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge or by coming into an OOROO Auto shop. Refer to your owners manual or the inside of the driver’s side door for the appropriate tire pressure.
3. OIL PRESSURE WARNING LIGHT
Sadly, this isn’t the genie from Aladdin coming to grant you 3 wishes. This is telling you that your engine oil needs to be filled or that the oil pressure system may have a problem to be addressed. You can also check your engine oil dipstick underneath the hood to verify.
4. TRACTION CONTROL WARNING LIGHT
Your traction control is alway on in your vehicle unless you press the button to turn it off. This symbol appears when you have turned off your car’s traction control as a warning that it’s not in use.
5. ENGINE WARNING LIGHT
No, that’s not the yellow submarine from the popular Beatles song in the 1960’s. This light indicates a wide range of issues that could be happening with your engine. Since it represents a larger variety and severity of concerns, it’s important to get it checked right away. Note, if this light is blinking, don’t operate the vehicle.
6. ANTI-LOCK BRAKE WARNING LIGHT
Don’t worry, this isn’t your car telling you it’s time to get to the gym, it’s actually telling you to have your anti-lock brake system checked. This system is important as it keeps your wheels from locking up in times of emergency.
7. AUTOMATIC SHIFT LOCK OR ENGINE START INDICATOR
This light may look like it’s telling you to put the pedal to the medal and step on it, but it’s really just a signal to let you know you need to step on the brake while you start your car’s ignition. It can also be telling you to change your gear out of neutral.
8. ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL MALFUNCTION
While our earlier symbol showed you when your traction control was turned off, you may want to pay close attention when you see this exclamatory pyramid before leaving your house in inclement weather. This symbol appears mostly just in European vehicles as a warning that you could have a problem as it relates to your traction control and/or anti-lock braking system. This light is not used in all cars.
9. WASHER FLUID INDICATOR
Do you like being able to squeegee those dead bugs off your windshield while you’re driving down the road? We do too! If you see this particular light turn on, it’s time to fill up that windshield wiper fluid.
10. AIRBAG INDICATOR
The orb floating in that passenger’s lap is simply a warning light that something may be wrong with your airbag system as a whole or that one or more of the airbags themselves are not working properly.
While this list covers many warnings that your car can share with you, it does not cover them all. See a symbol we didn’t share above? Our auto repair specialists are here for you to determine the cause of the problem and find the right solution.