What Are The Different Lights on Cars and What They Mean?

Everyone has been in this situation at some point: You’re driving along, enjoying the scenery, then suddenly you hear a beep, and when you look down, a symbol has shown up on your car’s dashboard. You start to become concerned about the potential problems that could be affecting your vehicle.

There are a variety of lights and symbols on the dashboard of your vehicle, some of which are simpler to decipher than others. But, anyways, it is essential that you are familiar with the different lights on cars and what they mean unless you want to pull over and ask for assistance.

Types of Car Dashboard Symbols

Your dashboard may display a number of different symbols, and not all of them correspond to warning lights. Some of them are associated with the characteristics of the automobile, such as the lights and the cruise control, while others are associated with the safety features, such as blind-spot monitoring and lane departure alerts

When it comes to the lighting on the dashboard, colors make a difference! If a system is turned on and functioning properly, the green or blue lights will be illuminating there. Warning lights in orange or yellow typically indicate that your vehicle needs to have maintenance or repairs completed as soon as possible. These signs of caution are not nearly as important as they would be if you had a flashing red light in their combination.

When the light turns red, it implies that you need to take urgent action! Some of the red dashboard lights serve as safety alerts (such as a reminder to put on a seat belt), while others serve as indicators of mechanical issues. If a red mechanical light comes on, you need to pull over as quickly as possible to figure out the problem. If you continue driving, there is a good chance that you will do harm to your car or that it will cease working.

As you make your way through this list, there are a couple of things that you should bear in mind:

  1. Since each vehicle is unique, the icons that are displayed on the dashboard may be slightly different from those that are on our list. When in doubt, go to the owner’s manual that came with your car!
  2. When you turn on your vehicle, many of these car dashboard lights will activate for a brief period of time when the vehicle runs a system check. Everything is considered to run normally as long as the lights go out within a few seconds.

17 Important Lights on Your Car’s Dashboard and What Do They Mean

  1. Warning Light For Tire Pressure

This light indicates that there is a problem with either the tire pressure or the TPMS. In the event that the TPMS symbol is strongly illuminating, this indicates that the air pressure is either too low or too high in one or more of your tires.

 Even though your tires have the correct amount of air pressure in them, if the TPMS symbol blinks for sixty to ninety seconds as soon as you turn on your car and then remain lit, there is a problem with the vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) sensors.

Driving on tires with low or high pressure is not only dangerous but can also cause harm to the tires themselves. We strongly advise you to pull over as soon as possible so that you can adjust the pressure in your tires to the appropriate level.

  1. Oil Pressure Warning Light

If your vehicle’s dashboard displays an image of an old-fashioned oil can, it means that there is a problem with the oil pressure system. Either you don’t have enough oil in your tank or your oil pump isn’t pushing enough fluid through the system to adequately lubricate the moving parts inside your engine.

Due to the fact that inadequate engine lubrication might result in significant engine damage, it is vital that you pay attention to this warning! Stop the car as soon as possible, turn off the engine, and check the oil!

Check the engine bay for any visible signs of oil leaks, and once you’ve done so, remove the oil dipstick to examine the quantity of the fluid.

When you add more oil, the indicator light may turn off. If there is an adequate amount of oil but the engine is still producing noise, the problem may be with the car’s oil pump. If the engine is operating normally and the oil level is enough, it is possible that the oil pressure sensor is malfunctioning. In any event, you should bring your car in as soon as possible for your mechanic to have a look at it and fix the issue causing low oil level or low oil pressure.

  1. Traction Control Light

If you see this indicator on your dashboard, it means that the traction control system in your vehicle is engaged. The anti-lock brake system (ABS) in your vehicle is what the traction control system looks at to determine which wheel is spinning at a higher rate than the others. If it determines that one of the wheels is losing traction, it will apply the brakes until the vehicle regains traction. Driving in the snow or rain is where you’ll get the most benefit from this feature.

Keep driving, but exercise caution in slippery conditions.

  1. Engine Temperature Warning Light

If you see this symbol appear on the screen, it indicates that your vehicle’s engine is getting too hot. This is most likely due to your coolant, which is also known as antifreeze. However, there are many other possible explanations for why this is occurring.

To begin, you could attempt switching off the air conditioner and turning on the heater in order to recirculate the heat throughout the passenger compartment. If, after doing that for a few minutes, it does not work, you should pull over as soon as possible and turn off the vehicle. Please refrain from opening the hood until the engine has had at least 15 minutes to cool down! If the hood is opened while the engine is still hot, there is a risk that steam or smoke can spew out, which might cause burns or other injuries.

It would be a good idea to phone roadside assistance at this time in order to get your coolant filled or to get towed to the closest repair facility.

  1. ABS Warning Light

When you apply hard braking, such as when driving on slick roads, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) will pulse the brakes to keep the wheels from locking up. When the warning light for the anti-lock braking system (ABS) comes on, it indicates that there is a problem with the system.

Because this is such an essential component of the safety system, it is essential to have a professional diagnosis of the problem as soon as possible.

  1. Battery Alert Light

This light indicates that there is a problem with the charging mechanism of the car. A battery cable that is either too loose or too broken, an alternator that is not working properly, or another electrical defect are all potential causes. It’s possible that the light on your clock or in your headlights will begin to dim. Alternatively, there is always the possibility that your vehicle will not start at all.

You may seek help from a technician to diagnose any problems that may be related to the battery or the electrical system. If you put off getting it looked out for too long, you might have to jump-start your car in order to get it to the shop where it can be fixed.

If you need a new battery, check out which car battery works the best and go through the user reviews.

  1. Check Engine Light

There are a number of potential causes for your vehicle’s check engine light to illuminate. Sometimes it is caused by a gas cap that is open, loose, or broken, which allows fuel to evaporate and sets off the alarm. However, this can also be a warning sign of a more serious problem, such as low oil pressure or overheating.

You should be able to continue driving for a reasonable distance if you haven’t observed any changes in the way your automobile drives, and if you haven’t detected any weird sounds or smell either.

It is imperative that you come to a complete stop immediately if the check engine warning light is illuminated in a flashing red color. In almost all automobiles, the presence of a blinking check engine light indicates that there is a significant issue that, if ignored, could result in significant damage to the vehicle’s engine.

In either scenario, you should make it a priority to have the light inspected as soon as possible, and get the problem fixed.

  1. Automatic Shift Lock or Engine Start Indicator Light

If you notice this indicator on your dashboard, it indicates that you are most likely attempting to transit gears or start your ignition without first applying the brake. Your vehicle will remain in parking or neutral until you apply pressure to the brake pedal.

First, lift the brake pedal, and then either shift gears or turn the ignition key, depending on what you want to do.

  1. Low Fuel Indicator Light

This light on the dashboard is probably not new to you (in fact, you might be quite familiar!). It only indicates that your vehicle is getting too low on fuel.

If you still have a long way to go, don’t take the risk! Because it is impossible to predict how the weather or the flow of traffic will develop, it is advisable to stop at the gas station that is closest to you and fill up.

On the fuel gauge of most vehicles, you’ll find a pointer in the shape of a triangle positioned adjacent to an icon depicting a petrol pump. The direction that this arrow points in tells you which side of the car the gas tank is located on!

  1. Airbag Indicator Light

When the warning light for the airbag comes on, it indicates that there is a problem with either one of your airbags or the complete airbag system.

You need to get your car looked out as soon as possible! Because the airbags in your vehicle are responsible for keeping you safe in the event of an accident, it is essential to check that they are in good functioning order.

  1. Seat Belt Reminder Light

This car light serves as a gentle reminder for you and your passenger to buckle your seatbelts. In most cases, there is also a ringing or dinging sound that accompanies it.

Buckle up! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that using seat belts cuts the risk of serious injuries caused by crashes by fifty percent.

  1. Fog Lamp Indicator Light

This light indicates that your fog lights are now active.

In conditions when visibility is less than 100 yards, you should turn on your fog lights. When you turn them on when it’s not necessary, it makes it more difficult for other drivers on the road to see.

  1. Security Indicator Light

If your automobile is equipped with an anti-theft system, you will notice that this light flashes continuously whenever the safety system is activated. If the light is solid and the vehicle doesn’t start, this indicates that the immobilization system has been engaged as a result of a malfunction or a potential threat to the vehicle’s security. If it’s solid and the vehicle is operating normally, the security system likely has a defect and needs to be repaired.

If the car cannot be moved, deactivate the security system by following the instructions provided in the owner’s manual. If there is a problem with your security system, you will need to get it repaired in order for it to function properly again.

  1. Brake Warning Light

If you notice this light on your dashboard, along with the word “BRAKE” written in red, it means that either your parking brake is still applied or there is an issue with your braking system.

First, come to a complete stop and determine whether or not the parking brake is applied. Ensure that the car is in the parking position before attempting to set and then release the parking brake. If the indicator light is still on after disengaging the parking brake, have your vehicle towed to the closest repair shop as soon as possible. 

  1. Washer Fluid Indicator Light

This dashboard icon, which imitates the action of your windshield wipers, indicates that you need to add more windshield washer fluid to your vehicle.

As soon as you have a chance, make sure that the reservoir is completely full with fluid.

  1. Transmission Temperature Warning Light

If you see this light on your dashboard, it indicates that the gearbox in your vehicle is becoming too hot. It’s possible that this is the result of low transmission fluid, old transmission components, excessive towing, or something else.

Stop the car as soon as it is safe to do so and switch off the engine. Before trying to drive the car again, you should wait for it to cool down completely and then get to a repair shop. Calling for a tow is your best option if the warning light won’t turn off.

  1. Lane Departure Warning Light

Most cars produced today come with a lane departure warning safety feature. It activates the light on your car’s dashboard, which makes a beep-like sound when it detects that the car is getting out of the lane.

The Bottom Line

These are the different lights on cars and what they mean. Each of the above lights has its own significance and importance. Since we have defined what is their purpose and what to do in case of an issue, it will be of great help to you the next time you see some indication on your car’s dashboard.

Read more about avoiding the glare from oncoming headlights, for it may come in handy while driving in the dark with a self-obsessed driver riding their way with the full intensity of headlights.

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