Common Dashboard Warning Lights

Common Dashboard Warning Lights 

Your car is equipped with numerous dashboard warning lights. These lights are there to help you, but they can sometimes be difficult to interpret. Here are some of the most common warning lights and what they mean.

Check Engine

When this light turns on, there are a wide range of issues that can cause it. These issues can range from a loose gasket to something a lot more serious. It's best to have the check engine code read by a professional to see what is causing the problem.

Oil Pressure Warning 

If this light turns on and stays on, it indicates a loss of oil pressure. Check the car's oil level as soon as possible.

Coolant Temperature Warning

If your engine has exceeded normal temperature limits, this light will turn on. Check your coolant level, radiator cap, and fan operation.

Battery Alert

When your battery voltage is below normal or when your charging system is not working correctly, this light will turn on. Inspect your battery and/or have it tested.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

All new cars are equipped with this system. This light turns on when your vehicle senses the pressure is low in one or more of your tires. Check the pressure and refill as needed.

Gas Cap

This image is not a giant screw going into your car. This light means the gas cap may be loose or missing. Check it to make sure it's tight enough.

Airbag Fault

When this light turns on and stays on, there is a problem with the airbag system. Have your car inspected immediately, for your safety.

Lamp Out

This light doesn't mean it's a sunny day; it means there is an exterior light on your car that is not functioning properly.

Washer Fluid Reminder

This light means your washer fluid is running low. Refill the reservoir under the hood. Some vehicles have two reservoirs, one for the front and one for the back.

Here are some less common-but no less important-dashboard warning lights and what they mean.


Transmission Temperature

This light means that the transmission is functioning at a higher temperature than recommended. Your vehicle tests this by evaluating the temperature of the transmission fluid. To resolve this issue, you should check the transmission fluid level and the engine coolant level as soon as possible.


Service Vehicle Soon

When you see the little image of your car with a wrench, this usually means that that an exterior light is out, there's an electrical issue, or there's a traction control problem. You should check all your exterior lights. If all lights appear to be working, you should seek professional assistance.


Brake System

If this warning light appears, you will not want to ignore it. It alerts you of one of three things: there is an issue with your brakes or your brake fluid is too low, there is an issue with your anti-lock braking system, or your parking brake is on. Before taking the car out for a drive, you will want to check your brake fluid and ensure that the parking brake is not engaged. If both of these appear to be in correct working order, you will want to seek professional assistance because there may be an issue with your ABS system.


Cruise Control

You'll want to be familiar with what your cruise control light looks like, as it doesn't mean that anything is wrong with your vehicle, just that you have cruise control on. Yellow typically means that the system is activated but there is not a speed set, and green means that you are traveling at your designated speed.


Fog Lamp

The light with a squiggly line means that your vehicle's front fog lamps are on.


Traction Control/ESC System

When this light-which looks like a car with curving lines from the tires-is illuminated, it means that your vehicle's traction control or electronic stability control system is currently is use. If you see this light, you should be aware that road conditions are most likely slippery.



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