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Car Dashboard Warning Lights – What Do They Mean?

Car Dashboard Warning Lights – What Do They Mean?

Today's vehicles have several types of indicator lights to warn drivers of problems. Usually, warning lights shouldn’t cause any major concerns for drivers. However, if any specific warning lights do turn on whilst you’re driving, then you need to know exactly what they mean. The lights are coloured red, orange/amber and green.

Here are the most important warning lights to look out for; hopefully you will understand exactly what they mean and what to do when they eventually turn on:

Brake system/ brake fluid warning lights

The importance of your car's brake system is unprecedented. If the warning lights on your dashboard appear, it indicates that there is something wrong with your braking system, so it’s best to get them checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible.

ECU/ Engine warning light

Whenever drivers see an engine warning light turn on, they tend to panic and fear the worst (I know I do). There are many different reasons why an engine warning light is illuminated – These could include a lack of power, as the car has switched to ‘safe mode’ in order to protect itself from further damage, jerking or stuttering when you press on the accelerator, caused by engine misfits.

When the light does eventually come on, it should be connected to a code reader immediately to check the diagnostic code stored in the system; or you can get a professional mechanic to look over it, as you don’t want to be driving around with this issue because it can cause further damage and be quite costly to fix.

Air Bag Warning Light

Normally what happens when you go to start your car is the airbag warning lights appear for a short a while before disappearing. That usually means that your airbag system is working fine. But what happens when your airbag warning light comes on and stays on? Well, this means that you have a problem.

A faulty airbag is unlikely to go off in an accident, meaning both you and your passengers will be at severe risk of injury or even death, so be sure to get it looked at by a professional mechanic immediately.

Power Steering / EPAS Warning Light

If the warning light for your steering appears, then that indicates there’s a fault with your power steering. It could mean that there is a fluid leak if it’s for fluid steering, or if it’s for electric steering then there could be a problem with one of the sensors. It will most likely affect your steering on the road and can go very heavy, especially around sharp bends. This can also be extremely risky when reversing or changing lanes on the motorway Under these circumstances, you will need to book an appointment with your local garage for them to do a diagnostic check on it.

Coolant Warning Light

The coolant warning light indicates how hot your vehicle engine is currently at, it will appear on your dashboard if it is low; check your vehicle manual book for more information. If your coolant warning light comes on, ensure you stop your vehicle with urgency and let your vehicle cool down. Check for leaks in the coolant system, then check the coolant level, fans and radiator cap. If you need to top up your coolant, we recommend purchasing a high-quality antifreeze/coolant; it is available in most petrol stations and retailers and you can purchase it online. It will help protect your vehicle from corrosion and freezing when the temperature levels drop. All you have to do is unscrew the lid to your engine coolant and pour in the liquid solution. Again, avoid spilling the fluid over the maximum line shown because the fluid will expand as it heats up.

Oil Warning Light

If you get this light while driving, we highly recommend that you stop your vehicle immediately and turn off the engine. This light is a warning you that there is not a sufficient amount of oil pressure flowing through your engine, meaning there is no lubrication. If you have driven a long time with this light on, you risk seriously damaging your engine, which is very expensive to repair.

So - if you get this light, remember to pull over safely and turn off your engine immediately, then make sure you call a professional to help advise you on what to do.

Tyre Pressure Monitor Warning Light

The TPMS is there to warn you when the tyre pressure is too low, meaning it’s unsafe to drive. If your TPMS lights up on your dashboard, then it’s a sign that one or more of your tyres is underinflated and needs air immediately, otherwise, your tyre will lose wear whilst driving or get a puncture.

Note: If the TPMS illuminates and stays on, then you most likely have a flat tyre or puncture. But if the TPMS is continuously blinking, then there is a problem with the system, which is a different problem altogether.

Battery Charge Warning Light

The Battery charge warning light indicates that there is a problem with the electrical system. This warning can be triggered by a number of things, such as a faulty alternator, a bad connection or damaged cabling. If your serpentine belt (also known as an alternator drive belt, fan belt, or accessory drive belt) is not working, then you have a much more serious problem. It is used to spin, or drive various mechanical components connected to the engine of your vehicle. These can be quite expensive to replace.

If you ever encounter any of these warning lights popping up on your display and you would like more information/advice about what steps to take, please get in touch our Bosch Service Centre  Approved Bosch technicians on 01273 433 480.


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Driver advice
21 December 2018
Written by Ismael Soliman
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